Over thirteen thousand (13,000) waterbirds were sighted during the recently conducted Annual Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) in the Bicol Region.
The AWC in the region was spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol led by the Conservation and Development Division (CDD) through its Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation Section (PAMBCS) together with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs) and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs), various Local Government Units (LGUs) and some bird photographers.
The identified sites for the AWC were the Cabusao Critical Habitat at Cabusao, Camarines Sur, Naro and Chico Island Wildlife Sanctuaries at Cawayan, Masbate, Juban Wetlands Critical Habitat and Prieto Diaz Wetlands in Sorsogon, Mercedes Critical Habitat at Mercedes, Camarines Norte, Panganiban Wetlands at Panganiban, Catanduanes, Bongsanglay Natural Park at Batuan, Masbate, Lake Bato at Barangay Buga, Libon, Albay and Malison Lake in Ligao City, respectively.
Some of the waterbirds sighted were Cinnamon Bittern, Yellow Bittern, Great Cormorant, White-browed Crake, Tufted Duck, Wandering Whistling Duck, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Pacific Reef Egret, Garganey, Black-headed Gull, Black-crowned Night Heron, Grey Heron, Nankeen Night Heron, Pacific Reef Heron, Pond Heron, Purple Heron, Rufous Night Heron, Striated Heron, Common Moorhen, Northern Pintail, Greater Sand Plover, Grey Plover, Kentish Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Barred Rail, Broad-bellied Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, Northern Shoveler, Black Winged Stilt, Long-toed Stint, Green-winged Teal, Common Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-breasted Waterhen, Whimbrel, and Eurasian Wigeon.
The presence of vulnerable species such as Philippine Duck (Anas luzonica), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes), and near threatened species such as Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), Grey-tailed Tatler (Tringa brevipes), and Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) were also recorded.
DENR Bicol Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr., CESO III enjoins the public in bird watching or birding as well as in the protection and conservation activities of wildlife species and their habitat biodiversity, which is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
The AWC is held every January, which coincides with other international census of waterbirds in Africa, Europe and Neotropics under the umbrella of the International Waterbird Census (IWC).
The conduct of AWC aimed to provide a baseline data on the estimates and monitor the changes of waterbird population, improve knowledge of waterbird species and wetland sites, identify and monitor sites that are important for waterbirds in general and those sites that may qualify as “Wetlands of International Importance” under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and increase the awareness on the importance of waterbirds and their habitat.
Photos courtesy of DENR Bicol Conservation and Development Division