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Team Explorer joins Tambo Birding

Date: August 29, 2004
Time: 6:00 am – 10:00 am
Location: Tambo mudlats and Coastal Road lagoon, Parañaque
Trip report and birdlist by Stef Saño Jr., Mike Lu & Mark Villa

WBCP birders: Nilo Arribas, Romel Barrera, Mike Lu, Jill Lucero, Stef Saño Jr., Charlie Te, Val Toral, Mark Villa and Geri de Villa
Non-WBCP members: Pinky Alano, Daniel Cercado, Catherine Dy, Rommel Gonzales, Macky Lovina, Inna Luengas, Zen Olalia, Roland Reyes, A. G. Saño, Mila Tan
Team Explorer crew: Jeffrey Hidalgo, JV Noriega, Julius Ramos, Kikoy Rapadas

Meeting Place: Petron station, EDSA cor Diosdado Macapagal
Weather: Sun fully up. Clear skies with patches of cirrus. No discernable wind.
Surface: Tidal currents incoming, water rising to cover most of river. By 700h, river navigable by rowboat.
Vegetation: Mostly tall grass about 2m. Shrubs and small trees also present, including ipil-ipil.

Mike Lu, Mark Villa and Nilo Arribas guided the tour. Along with several new birders, the Team Explorer crew led by host Jeffrey Hidalgo was also present, as well as 5 other Club members. By 5:50 am, the stragglers had arrived at Petron, and off the convoy went to the parking lot, just west/ south of the Nayong Pilipino area along Diosdado Macapagal Avenue.

Upon arriving, birders new and old were welcomed by Mike Lu and half a dozen Eurasian Tree Sparrows in the parking lot. Nilo oriented everyone on binocular use, as Mike handed them out. The group then started walking the trail to water's edge.

Within a minute into the trail, a Lesser Coucal was visible, perched on grass on top of a mound. A Bright-capped Cisticola was also visible, perched on a grass stalk as well. At least two more Cisticolas flew around the same area.

Birders continued walking until they reached water’s edge of the "river", at which time a flock of 15 egrets flew south along the bayline, at least 1 km away. Over the land from the northeast, the first of a few Black-crowned Night Herons flew to the southwest, presumably returning to its roost after some night hunting. Then, due west, about half a dozen Philippine Ducks flew from north to south.

Two Little Egrets were spotted perched on trees west of the birders, beyond the "island" in the middle of the river. At least one Clamorous Reed Warbler was heard by Nilo, apparently from the tallgrass, back near the trail. Stef heard a Collared Kingfisher, eventually spotted by Mike on the south banks along the river and seen by other birders.

Another Kingfisher came around, this time a Common Kingfisher, showing its diagnostic pale ear coverts. It flew around, just across the river from the birders, east of the island. Then it flew away downstream and farther east.

Egrets in V formation
coming in from the north

Looking West-Southwest at Asiaworld, Mike and Mark suspected a raptor flew past but it was too distant for identification. Another flock of about 15 egrets flew along the skyline of Asiaworld, from north to south.

A Yellow Bittern was spotted on the water, among the debris, west of the birders and south of the island. (Later, the Team Explorer camera crew captured footage of a yellow bittern that showed up later, possibly this same one, in the same area.)

Similarly, a Striated Heron was seen by Mark, walking among floating debris. Later, there were a couple more sightings: one in flight and one feeding among the debris. Across the river, a few birders were busy observing a Clamorous Reed Warbler perched on grass at water's edge. It flew upwards to higher grass, then hid behind the thickets.

Sightings of three Zebra Doves were reported by Mike as one Pacific Swallow flew overhead. Mark mentioned that there were three other Pacific Swallows seen earlier.

Mike Lu being interviewed
Mike Lu being interviewed by
Team Explorer host Jeffrey Hidalgo

Back to the southern shore, a Common Sandpiper was spotted by Mark and shown to new birders. Overhead, one Barn Swallow flew by, with the diagnostic deep fork tail and no striations underneath. Another Barn Swallow flew by, followed by five more. Three more Philippine Ducks showed up at about 15m altitude, this time a bit closer to the birders, and going south to north, the opposite direction from the earlier sighting. Another Black-Crowned Night Heron flew around, northwest of the birders, then headed south.

Meanwhile at least a dozen Eurasian Tree Sparrows busily flew around the house on the island, and Mike mentioned seeing at least one Yellow-vented Bulbul back in the grass and shrubs. Then, all of a sudden, a mixed flock of roughly a dozen shorebirds showed up, about 20m above the ground, from the northeast heading southwest, beyond the island. At least eight (8) were Pacific (Asian) Golden Plovers, and a few others were Common Redshank.

Birders walking through the lush Tambo grasslands

As new species sightings slowed down and birders were talking amongst themselves, a flock of about a dozen Egrets (black legs and feet) flew directly overhead at about 15m above ground, from inland to the bay (East to West). Everyone was directed to look skywards and gasps of surprise and the ruffling of binoculars were heard. Mike, who thought the group had observed a different Egret from the ones foraging around the bay, later conferred with Stef, who mentioned looking at and positively describing the black legs and feet, but not getting a good view of the bills. These were likely to be Intermediate Egrets.

The group began heading back to the parking lot. As people turned around to leave, Stef spotted a Striated Grassbird on the grass along the western shore, momentarily perched about 2.5m high, then dashing into the thickets. As the group walked back, Mark mentioned also seeing four Striated Grassbirds from the trail, as well as hearing possibly an Oriental Reed Warbler.

Near the trailhead, about 30m from the parking lot, a pair of Lesser Coucals showed up, perched on top of a young ipil-ipil, between the last few birders and the parking lot. Team Explorer crew were able to start their cameras rolling and film the birds.

1. Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 12 east to west
2. Little Egret Egretta garzetta 2
3. Egret sp - 15
4. Striated Heron Butorides striatus 5+
5. Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 2
6. Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis 2
7. Philippine Duck Anas luzonica 10+ flying south, then later 3 flying north.
8. Pacific Golden-Plover Pluvialis fulva 10+
9. Common Redshank Tringa totanus 5+
10. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 1
11. Zebra Dove Geopelia striata 3+
12. Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis 2+
13. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
14. Collared Kingfisher Todirhamphus chloris 3
15. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 7
16. Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica 4
17. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier 1+
18. Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis 3+
19. Clamorous Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus 3
20. Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris 5
21. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 1
22. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 12+

By 8:30 am, more than half of the birders were ready to call it a day. The hardier of the birders Nilo, Mark, Jill, Mike, Val, Rommel, Dan & Macky continued on to the Coastal Road lagoon with the Team Explorer crew. It was high tide and as there was a strong wind, all the trash were blown close to shore which made the lagoon looked " "clean," picturesque even. Except for some Black-crowned Night-herons and a few Common Sandpipers, there were no signs of other birdlife. Later on, a disturbed flock of Little Egrets flew out from the mangroves and settled back. A Purple Heron flew towards north towards Asiaworld. But the best is yet to come, 2 flocks of Intermediate Egrets flew just above the water surface as they head southwards.

1. Purple Heron Ardea purpurea - 1
2. Intermediate Egrets Egretta intermedia - 30+
3. Little Egrets Egretta garzetta - 60+
4. Striated Heron Butorides striatus - 2
5. Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax - 20+
6. Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus - 1
7. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos - 3+
8. White-collared Kingfisher Halcyon chloris - 2
9. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 5+