Navotas (Shoreline and fishponds behind shore)
Date: August 25, 2007
Time: 7:51 am to 2:45pm
Cloud Cover: 6/8, 7/8
Conditions: Cloudy, Shower
Observers: Tina Alejandro, Mads Bajarias, Carmela Espanola,
Debbie McGuinn, Felix Servita Jr.
Trip Report by D. McGuinn
You never know what you’ll find or be up against when
set out for a pleasurable day of birding. But whatever lies
ahead, you go out to embrace the adventure. This Saturday
at Navotas was no exception. And you could say it was
beyond expectations. We experienced so many things!
Just driving to the site where we ended up
parking was an adventure in itself. Some streets in Navotas
were still flooded, one week after Typhoon Sepat passed by
the Philippines, dropping lots of rain and causing flooding
in many places in Luzon. Then the elementary school gate was
not open, so we had to drive around more and were able to
park along a road near some construction work. After parking
and before getting to the coast, you have to walk along the
dikes of the fish agricultural ponds, and through a small
informal settlement by the ponds and at the coast. Felix commented
that each time he comes to the area, there are more people
The entire coastline was inundated with garbage.
It was an
unbelievable site. It seemed like it was household garbage
(flip flops, balls, plastic, styrofoam, plastic bottles,
food wrappers, plastic, flip flops, old tires, plastic…).
Medical waste was not evident, which was good. We wove our
way around and among mounds of garbage atop mounds of
Of course we were birding all along the way. Then we came
to the mud bogs. Oh my!
The mud bogs were intermixed with small mangrove
trees, and garbage, and we tried to get a view of the shoreline
and birds as we walked through the area. Lala and Mads were
more successful with getting through the mud and viewing birds.
After a couple of hours of slogging through
the mud bogs, trying to stay on top by flattening down the
ground cover plants but sinking in the mud much of the time
anyway, I felt that it was taking all my energy just to take
one step after another. A lot of the time I had to keep pulling
my feet, with boots, out of the mud. I felt that I was missing
the birding. One time Tina sunk a foot so low that she had
to just step out of her boot. She had to then step in the
mud with her nice white sock. Felix dug her boot out of the
mud, and she casually put it back on, with the muddy sock
on of course.
Dealing with these mud bogs added more time
to our outing
compared to past outings to this area. Looking at the list
that Mads prepared, I was happy to learn that I saw most of
the species of birds. So I thought I didn’t do too bad.
Then I looked more closely at the numbers of each species,
and realized that I indeed spent most of my time plodding
through the mud and missed most of the birds.
Lala unfurled her wings, as Tina said, and
the area with Mads. I was so thankful to have Felix and
Tina with me. Tina and I were tested that day, and Felix
kept us going, and made us rest, and looked after us.
When the end of trudging through the mud
bog was near, I had to just keep going, even though I wanted
to keep stopping and catching my breath, otherwise I didn’t
think I was going to make it out of there! I’ve trekked
across some difficult terrain before, in hot conditions sometimes
humidity but mostly without it, but this was the toughest
outing I’ve experienced. From Tina’s recollection,
Felix said "sometimes you have to experience these things".
I was exhausted by the time we got to the
dike. We had trekked quite a distance to get there, but we
still had to get back. At the dike we ate, hydrated and rested
for a while, and birded. On the way back to our beginning
point, we walked along a dike and canal by the ponds.
Shortly we were able, and happy, to hire
a small banca to take us back to the town. Then with a short
motor-trike ride and a short walk, we made it back to the
cars mid-afternoon. I asked Lala if the mud bog conditions
were normal, what she usually experiences, and she said “NO,
this was completely unexpected”.
The thought is that the rains and flooding
that occurred from the typhoon the week before had caused
the coastal area to be inundated by water and to cause the
boggy conditions we encountered. I was thankful now thinking
that this, hopefully, was the worse it could get, and I felt
I could try this census again.
It was a day that tested you; it tested your endurance,
determination, and attitude. We were all still smiling
after the mud bog experience and at the end of the day.
What a great group of people!
1. Purple Heron [Ardea purpurea] – 1
2. Great Egret [Egretta alba] – 1
3. Intermediate Egret [Egretta intermedia] – 2
4. Chinese Egret [Egretta eulophotes] – 2
5. Little Egret [Egretta garzetta] – 2
6. Egret sp. – 5
7. Striated Heron [Butorides striatus] – 41
8. Black-crowned Night-Heron [Nycticorax nyctirorax] –
9. Yellow Bittern [Ixobrychus sinensis] – 9
10. Barred Rail [Gallirallus torquatus] – HO
11. Asian Golden-Plover [Pluvialis fulva] – 11
12. Lesser Sand-Plover [Charadrius mongolus] – 1
13. Greater Sand-Plover [Charadrius leschenaultii] –
14. Whimbrel [Numenius phaeopus] – 12
15. Common Redshank [Tringa totanus] – 9
16. Common Greenshank [Tringa nebularia] – 5
17. Common Sandpiper [Actitis hypoleucos] – 13
18. Terek Sandpiper – [Xenus cinereus] – 1 (red-orange
19. Black-winged Stilt [Himantopus himantopus] – 35
20. White-winged Tern [Chlidonias leucopterus] – 16
molt: some with black heads; some with black upperparts and
white collars; some with black patches in underparts)
21. Whiskered Tern [Chlidonias hybridus] – 96
22. Tern sp. – 1 [Notes by M. Bajarias]
23. Zebra Dove [Geopelia striata] – 6
24. White-collared Kingfisher [Halcyon chloris] – 31
25. Bee- eater sp. – 4
26. Pacific Swallow [Hirundo tahitica] - 1
27. Pied Triller [Lalage nigra] – 12
28. Golden-bellied Flyeater [Gerygone sulphurea] – 12
29. Pied Fantail [Rhipidura javanica] – 6
30. Long-tailed Shrike [Lanius schach] – 5
31. Crested Myna [Acridotheres cristatellus] - 6
32. Eurasian Tree Sparrow [Passer montanus] – 60
33. Chestnut Munia [Lonchura malacca] – 4
Tern sp. [by M. Bajarias]
Individual seen morning of August 24 at Navotas with White-winged
and Whiskered Terns in general vicinity. First impression:
very white appearance. It stood out among the White-wingeds
which were in molt with varying degrees of black on upperparts,
underparts and head. It stood out from among the Whiskered
in that the latter had smoke grey upperparts and upper tail
coverts. Body of individual was slender with long narrow wings.
Entirely white and very light grey plumage (lighter than Whiskered
smoke grey) except for a black horizontal oval patch on the
ears (different than the more circular ear spots of White-winged
Tern). No black on wingtips, tail or crown. Bill black and
tiny. Body slightly longer than the Whiskereds. No discernable
fork in tail (or very shallow if it had one). No difference
between rump, upper tail coverts and lower back colors. Fed
by skimming low on the water and snatching prey with bill
on surface (similar to White-wingeds} Never plunged head-first
into water (as Whiskereds were observed to do). Single.
Notes on Chinese Egret [by C. Espanola]
notes on the Chinese Egret sighting at the dike: typical CE
posture of crouching low in mud with wings partially extended
then running to stab a mudskipper, legs suspected to be muddy
so it appears dark, bicolored bill, facial skin dark (glare
prevents accurate color ID) which contrasts with yellow of
Notes on egrets [by M. Bajarias]
We took extra care and time when scoping and identifying the
egrets but the lighting conditions made it difficult to pick
out the leg and facial colors except for a short time nearing
noon when the sun shone brightly and revealed the green legs
of a single Chinese Egret. We left other egrets unidentified
at species level due to low sunlight conditions that prevailed
for most of the time. High tide also meant that the muddy
part of the beach where the Club had encountered Chinese Egrets
numerous times in the past were underwater this time.
Notes on White-winged and Whiskered [by M. Bajarias]
This time of year the White-winged Terns were easier to
pick out from the Whiskereds due to the former’s molting
plumage. The White-wingeds still had varying degrees of
black in heads, underparts and upperparts. Some sported
white collars contrasting with black mantles and black
streaking on the crowns. It will be far more difficult to
tell these two apart in the coming months when the
White-wingeds had completely transitioned into winter
The combination of molt feathers, black “ear muffs”
observed tendency of picking up food with their bills from
the surface made identification of the White-wingeds
relatively easy work this time of year at Navotas.
The number of White-wingeds counted this time makes one
wonder if they are being undercounted in other months when
differentiating them from Whiskereds is a more difficult
Notes on Asian Golden Plover [by M. Bajarias]
The Asian Golden Plovers were all showing remnants of
breeding colors with their underparts sporting a splotchy
appearance which can be puzzling then they are viewed
directly from below. But when perched and scoped, they are
unmistakable this time of year at Navotas.
Notes on Whimbrels [by M. Bajarias]
A flock of ten Whimbrels gave us a treat by landing and vigorously
washing themselves in the water. Two or three waded into belly-deep
water and animatedly washed themselves. After washing, they
stood on the muddy beach and moved their long bills on their
upperparts. After an unseen signal, they all flew along the
shoreline towards the direction of Bulacan and Pampanga.
Note on Terek Sandpiper [by M. Bajarias]
A single Terek Sandpiper was picked out among the beach debris.
The individual had red-orange legs.
Notes on Greater and Lesser Sand-Plovers
[by M. Bajarias]
The Greater Sand-Plovers were seen either alone or in small
groups of three or four in both pebbly and muddy substrates.
When seen alongside a Common Sandpiper we were amused to see
how large the Sand-Plover really is. We took great care when
identifying the Greater Sand-Plovers, but the method of comparing
bill length with head size proved to be key in picking out
Lesser from Greater.