Over ten thousand (10,000) waterbirds were sighted at the various identified sites during the recently conducted Annual Asian Waterbird Census at the Cabusao Critical Habitat, Cabusao, Camarines Sur, Naro and Chico Island Wildlife Sactuaries at Cawayan, Masbate, Juban Wetlands Critical Habitat and Prieto Diaz Wetlands in Sorsogon and Mercedes Critical Habitat at Mercedes, Camarines Norte, respectively.
The Annual Asian Waterbird Census was spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led by Conservation and Development Division (CDD) through its Protected Area Management and biodiversity Conservation Section (PAMBCS) Team. Representatives from the different divisions of the Regional Office, Office of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENRO) Camarines Sur, Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) Sipocot and Local Government Unit (LGU) Cabusao also participated in the activity.
Out of the 10,000 waterbirds, 7,000 of mixed flock of Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata) and a flock of Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) waterbirds were sighted at the three (3) sites at Cabusao Critical Habitat at Cabusao, Camarines Sur.
However, a notable decrease in number of waterbirds was observed in Cabusao, Camarines Sur this year due to the successive typhoons that hit the province.
The DENR Masbate, meanwhile, also conducted the Annual AWC at Naro and Chico Island Wildlife Sanctuaries located at Cawayan, Masbate. Naro and Chico Island Wildlife Sanctuaries are Protected Areas in the Bicol Region. Its mangrove and mudflats are abundant, which serves as feeding and breeding ground for both endemic and migratory avifauna species.
Meanwhile, some two thousand ninety two (2,092) waterbirds were identified at the Chico Island Wildlife Sanctuary and over three hundred sixty six (366) waterbirds at Naro Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Grey Herons, Little Heron, Little Egret, Rufous Night Heron, Great Egret, Chinese Egret, Intermediate Egret, Grey Tailed Tattler, Common Redshank, Grey Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Whimbrel, Bar Tailed Godwit, and Whiskered Tern were the migratory bird species counted and sighted during the census.
Moreover, in view of the initiatives to expand the Annual AWC sites throughout the Bicol Region and to monitor equally important waterbird species, the same Team from CDD together with PENRO of Sorsogon and LGUs of Juban and Prieto Diaz, respectively, conducted the site validation for Annual AWC at Juban Wetlands Critical Habitat and Prieto Diaz Wetlands on January 19, 2021. A total of one hundred forty (140) waterbirds were spotted at Juban Wetland Critical Habitat in Juban, Sorsogon and 37 waterbirds at Prieto Diaz Wetlands. The validation recorded some noteworthy species such as the presence of the vulnerable species Philippine Duck (Anas luzonica) and a possible new regional record of the migrant species Great Carmorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).
A total of 172 waterbirds were also observed in another site validation activity for AWC at Mercedes Critical Habitat at Mercedes, Camarines Norte led by the Technical Team from the Regional Office together with some personnel of PENRO Camarines Norte and LGU Mercedes.
Asian Waterbird Census is conducted annually every second and third week of January. It is simultaneously observed with other international censuses of waterbirds in Africa, Europe and Neotropics under the umbrella of the International Waterbird Census (IWC).