Date: August 31, 2003, 6.30 am
Weather: Overcast skies, heavy downpour obscuring the Makati skyline
by Mike Lu & Ivor Lee
Acting on a tip from the security guards at the Ital-Thai
construction area that there are many waterbirds in the early
mornings, I passed by the site before heading for Pico de
Loro yesterday. With Singaporean bird photographer, Ivor Lee,
we arrived at the site at 6.30am. The resident Little Heron
flew in a huge arc on the lagoon surface, a pair of Yellow
Bitterns and a Cinnamon Bittern made a brief appearance. I
was getting ready to leave when Ivor spotted 2 white birds
perched on the tops of the mangrove across the lagoon. Training
my binoculars, I guessed "Little Egrets, probably"
A minute later, a group of egrets began a slow circle of out
of the mangrove clumps. Flashes of white coming out of the
expanse of green. It was joined by another group as they begun
a slow descent to the air. The birds were heading south towards
our direction. I was busy counting the birds ... 10, 20 ...
"Hey Mike, look at the feet, they're all black !"
... 30, 40 ... "Mike, they are not Little Egrets!"
... 50, 51, 52 ... "Great Egrets !" ... 53 Great
Egrets ! Huh ? A few minutes later, another flock took to
the air with 22 birds. My eyes were still trained on this
second flock when Ivor casually whispered "Raptors ..."
I dropped my binocs and look at a gliding bird in the north.
As it came nearer, Ivor asked if White-Bellied Sea Eagles
have ever been recorded in Manila Bay. To my knowledge, our
birding club has never seen any. Another raptor came to join
the first one and this time Ivor positively identified it
as an Osprey. Ned and I had previously seen a pair of Ospreys
in this same site earlier this year. In the distance, 2 more
flocks of Great Egrets were arriving from the north. A White-Collared
Kingfisher also made it's first appearance in this site after
disappearing during the summer months. It was past 7am when
we left the area. Here is my birdlist for a little more than
half an hour's birding :)
1. Great Egret Egretta alba - 100+, 2 flocks taking off from
mangroves & flying southward while others were arriving
from the north
2. Little Heron Butorides striatus - 3, one more other than
the usual resident pair
3. Black-Crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax - 3
4. Cinnamon BIttern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus - 1
5. Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis - 2
6. Osprey Pandion haliaetus - 2
7. Common Sandpiper Tringa nebularia - 3
8. White-Collared Kingfisher Halcyon chloris - 1, first record
since disappearing during the summer months