by Raoul J. Chee Kee
(printed with permission from the BusinessWorld Weekender)
of us who grew up in the city would be hard-pressed
to name another type of bird aside from the maya.
Yes, Eurasian tree sparrows are all many of us are familiar
I do remember gazing out the windows of my third year
high school classroom during particularly boring lectures
and seeing small green birds with long tail feathers.
I never took the time out to find out what kind of birds
they were since we were always too busy with geometry
or chemistry or some other school-related task.
is this mentality that members of the Wild Bird Club
of the Philippines want to address and, hopefully, change.
C. Lu, one of the club's founding members said that
when he started bird watching a few years ago, he also
thought that all the birds in his neighborhood were
lived my whole life in Manila and I thought that that
was the only species that thrived in this environment.
However, since we set up the club last year, we've listed
over 100 species. From one species, the list has 'grown'
to over 120 just because people started looking around
and taking down notes."
Dennis P. Liuag, a senior assistant manager at Planters
Development Bank, is also a bird fanatic.
WBCP co-founder Carmela Espanola
showing first-time birders illustrations in the guide
before anybody thought of putting up an e-group (internet-based
group) dedicated to bird sightings, he had been gazing up
at the skies.
an article he wrote for the Planters Bank News, the company's
in-house magazine, a couple of months ago, Mr. Liuag recounted
how his earliest memories of birds were of raptors.
A BIRD'S PASSAGE
mother] always pointed them out [as they soared] above
the house on hot summer afternoons in San Pablo [Laguna],"
he wrote. "Though I was born in the Year of the
Snake, I like to think that it was the kali (Brahminy
chose itself for me. I remember its passage directly
overhead, putting me in its shadow for a brief yet life-changing
moment. [Since] then, the presence of the kali has been
a source of comfort and assurance."
of us would consider a bird's flight a life-changing
moment, but from that day on, Mr. Liuag was hooked.
He spent countless mornings and afternoons looking out
for birds. Now, as a new father to a young daughter,
he makes it a point to share with Sasha and his wife
his love for the outdoors.
WBCP member Tim Fisher leads the birders at
the American War Memorial
Striated Heron seen at the
Tambo mudflats in Paranaque
we live in Bangkal, Makati, I often see terns, night
herons, kingfishers, swallows and fantails despite it
being a very congested neighborhood."
Liuag finds it easy to list the different types of birds
because he started bird watching quite early. By joining
some of the club's bird walks and taking down notes
in a notebook, it won't be long before one can tick
off some of the birds one may come across.
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines was officially launched
on July 14, 2003 but it actually started out as two
informal groups that freely exchanged information on
wild bird sightings and other related information.
McCarthy who lives in Silang, Cavite, is an experienced
birder and he was the one who brought up the idea of
formalizing the group," Mr. Lu said. "He said
that having an official group would give credibility
to our reports."
more pressing reason for the formation of the club was
in order to facilitate requests to check out other possible
we wanted to visit a certain place, we would invariably be
asked what organization we were from. Wala kaming maibigay
na sagot (We couldn't give them a straight answer). Once the
club was formed, we didn't have as hard a time as before,"
Mr. Lu said.
Mr. Liuag admitted that he continues to have "run-ins"
with policemen and security guards who cannot fathom why anyone
would choose to linger on the marshy, reclaimed land near
Roxas Boulevard, waiting for a flock of birds to appear.
DOING THEIR BIT FOR SCIENCE
While going around listing the types of birds spotted during
a bird walk might appear to serve no higher purpose than bragging
rights, Mr. Lu said that bird watchers actually help contribute
example, the Cebu flower-pecker that was believed extinct
in the 1960s was recently 'rediscovered' by a foreign bird
watcher. Apparently, it had never disappeared. It's just that
nobody had taken the time to take notes until then,"
we talk about bird watching, we are asked if [Mr. Lu] and
I have degrees in science and I say that we do, 'He has a
science degree in computer science and I have a science degree
in commerce,'" Mr. Liuag said.
say that to drive home the point that one doesn't have to
be a scientist to be a birdwatcher. While one needs to be
scientific, anyone can be a birdwatcher if one is enthusiastic
enough about the hobby."
the club was formed, the Philippines used to be a black
hole of knowledge when it came to the migratory patterns
of birds of prey.
of birds of prey travel from Japan, Siberia and Taiwan
towards the Philippines and the equator. Every year,
people in Taiwan count the number of birds and there
are literally thousands," Mr. Liuag said.
ng boundary ng Philippines and Taiwan, wala na. Lalabas
na lang ulit sila sa Malaysia (When they reach the
boundary of the Philippines and Taiwan, the birds 'disappear.'
They are only 'spotted' again when they pass through
like a black hole of data," Mr. Lu said.
aid them in identifying certain bird species, Mr. Lu
said that they rely on The Guide to Birds of the Philippines
by Robert S. Kennedy et al. Aside from the book which
costs roughly PhP1,600, the only other item to invest
in is a pair of
Liuag said one can buy a good pair of locally made 8
x 40 binoculars for PhP2,400 or less while the imported
ones go for PhP12,000 to PhP16,000.
A White-Collared Kingfisher perches on a
branch in the American War Memorial
the annual membership in the club is PhP300, Mr. Lu said one
can only become a member after joining at least one bird walk.
hold monthly guided tours that are open to the public. Those
who are interested in becoming members should try and join
at least one tour. Since these tours are easily filled, interested
parties can check out the website (www.birdwatch.ph)
for the next scheduled trip."
tours are usually held early morning and last around two hours.
Mr. Liuag gave a list of areas in the metropolis where one
can see a variety of birds.
list includes the American War Cemetery and the Libingan ng
mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig; the UP Diliman campus,
especially the area around the Math and NIGS buildings or
around the Lagoon; the Ateneo de Manila University, in particular
the edges of the Observatory and near the Church of the Gesu,
among other locations; the Tambo wetlands just off Macapagal
Boulevard, jump-off is the Coastal Mall; the Arroceros Park;
the Ninoy Aquino Park in Quezon City; and Nayong Pilipino
in Pasay City, although one needs a permit to go there.
what he got out of watching our feathered friends, Mr. Lu
put it succinctly when he replied, "It's like hunting
without the blood."