October 28 – November 1
Location: Bgy Prado & Bgy Baruya, Lubao,
by Mark Jason Villa
went to Lubao, Pampanga last week at my uncle's place to check
out what birds were in the area. I originally planned to go
to Candaba but found out later that it was not too near, about
2 hour drive or less, so i decided to bird just near the area.
I was surprised at how many birds I saw because I've been
there before but never to bird. I ended up doing it the whole
week because I would find a new one almost everyday. I was
usually with my cousin Michael when I'd go out to bird except
for a number of times. He was a first-time birder but he proved
useful because I would ask him to check if he had seen the
1 (Bgy Prado ricefields)
the first day, we went out the house to see what were around.
We walked down the path where there were tall grasses to our
right and some rice-fields to our left. As I expected, there
were the Brown Shrikes, Tree Sparrows and a few Long-tailed
Shrikes. We saw a few kids with slingshots trying to shoot
at some Zebra Doves but were unsuccessful. They were successful
however, in catching a juvenile Yellow Bittern. We tried to
convince them to let it go but to no avail. They said that
they will put it in a cage to feed it with fish. Oh well.
So we continued looking at the rice-fields were there were
some Common Sandpipers. The bobbing of the tail was too cute
and obvious. Then all of a sudden from the distance, there
flew a big brown-streaked bird that I was not able to identify.
But it looked to me like an immature Night-Heron.
walked further until we got into a gate. Inside were more
and bigger rice-fields. The small house says it's the Lubao
Department of Agriculture. As we entered, we immediately saw
Cattle Egrets flying around and following the white cattles,
and the horses. We looked around some more and got us in front
of a very green rice-field, not dried-up or muddy. Barn Swallows
flew and dove low on top of the rice-field. They were too
near for us to take note of their beautiful blue colour and
white markings on their forked-tails. Farther in front of
us, white terns were also diving to catch insects. It was
mostly white except for the mask on their eyes. They also
had black bills and feet. Also, on the other rice-fields were
a group of Wood Sandpipers and Little-Ringed Plovers.
the way back to the house, perched on the telephone wires
were Tawny Grassbirds and a bee-eater. More of them were perched
on the young, short trees or gracefully flying. Their rusty
throats, olive upperparts and light yellowish underparts revealed
them to be Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. Perched on top of a green
bush was a Lesser Coucal preening its feathers. A rail proved
itself too fast and too shy to be identified.
2 (Bgy Prado fish ponds and dried-up ricefields)
The next day, we went to the opposite direction of the path.
This was a much longer walk than the other site. Again, we
didn’t know where we were going but depended on our
feet to hopefully bring us somewhere nice. Our more or less
20 minute-walk got us to a site where there were big fishponds
and more rice-fields. But these rice-fields were dried-up
and did not attract many birds. The fishponds however, attracted
a few. There was a nipa-hut and a chair so we got to sit down
and wait for birds. Just across us, birds will frequently
perch on the telephone wires. It was still early and perched
on the wire were what looked to me from afar as very small,
brown-faced and, munia-like birds. I thought they were chestnut
munias but as I approached them to take a closer look, they
had forked-tails similar to swallows. I checked my field-guide
to discover they were Plain Martins. They also had brown throats
and white underparts. Michael told me that they came from
small tunnels near the water.
seen perched on the wire: sparrow, shrike, Barn Swallows,
Common Kingfisher, a pair of White-Collared Kingfisher and
bee-eaters. The 2 bee-eaters were facing backwards and had
very prominent chestnut heads and upperbacks. Blue-throated
Bee-eaters! I did not see the color on their throat to be
3 ( Baruya fishponds)
The next day, our uncle asked someone to accompany us to the
Baruya fishponds. These were even bigger fishponds. I estimate
a fishpond to be about the size of 3 or 4 football fields,
if not bigger. And there were hundreds (it seemed) of fishponds.
Our guide, Rico, knew almost everyone in the area and would
ask permission for us to bird.
As we walked through the narrow walkway in between the fishponds,
terns were everywhere and they would fly around and dive for
fish. They moved beautifully in the air. But by mid-morning,
a good number of them were resting side by side on a clothesline.
We walked through all the way until we reached the fishponds
said to be owned by Danding Cojuangco. This is why they were
particularly strict in that area and permission is necessary
or bird at your own risk. We reached what seemed to be the
end of all the fishponds to our surprise. This particular
fishpond was not filled with water but looked sort of marsh-like
and had orange-beddings. And there were thousands of white
egrets all over the pond. I checked for the color of the bills,
legs and feet and their sizes and can confidently say that
there were Great Egrets, Intermediate Egrets and, Little Egrets
in that colony, more intermediates and littles than greats.
There were also thousands of terns in that area. A very conservative
estimate of a thousand Whiskered Terns were flying in a circle
just a few feet away from us. They had black bill and red
feet. Some would fly over us and we stayed there with nothing
to do but to admire the view.
was almost lunchtime and we were all hungry, so we decided
to go back home. On our way home through one of the Cojuangco
fishponds, we saw a group of duck-looking birds swimming far
ahead. We were delighted because we were hoping for wild ducks.
I looked through my bins and saw a duck? with chestnut-colored
neck and black face. It was there one minute and then gone
another. It was diving. It was a Little Grebe. There were
about 10 or so of them. But there were others kinds in that
group that were not grebes. A pair had black and white underwing
coverts. We headed home anyway without identifying the rest
and saw a pair of Purple Herons fly overhead us.
decided to go back to the exact same site where we had seen
the ducks the next day. Michael decided not to accompany me
because of a headache or because of all our walking. I went
alone and thankfully remembered my way. In a pond with shallow
water, I saw Black-Winged Stilts, more Little-Ringed Plovers,
and a small group of waders I’m not really sure what.
I reached my destination having seen a Little Heron, Cinnamon
and Yellow Bitterns and Clamorous Reed-Warblers. So I sat
down on the grass and was determined to identify the ducks.
I was looking through the field guide and nothing seemed to
match until I saw the black birds’ very colourful reddish
and yellow bill. They were Common Moorhens, a good number
of them. I had decided that the ones with black and white
underwing to be marsh sandpipers because they were brown and
had white faces and the book says they sometimes wade up to
their stomachs. But looking again, I saw that the bill was
comparably short and its face looked more like a waterhen,
but it was swimming. Then it struck me! and saw the yellowish
color on their necks. They were 2 immature Pheasant-tailed
Jacanas. That made my day so much. Also, right there and then,
a huge flock of egrets were flying in front of me, roosting
and decorating the green trees with white and a Purple Heron
was flying through and fro, appearing through my bins without
me focusing on it.
was so great! I chose a good spot and I thought the birds
must be putting up a nature show for me like in discovery
channel, only much better.
Birdlist of this Birding Report