Over eleven thousand (11,000) 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 Buga Lake at Libon, Albay; Juban Wetlands Critical Habitat and Prieto Diaz Wetlands in Sorsogon; Cabusao Wetland Critical Habitat at Cabusao, Camarines Sur; Mercedes Critical Habitat at Mercedes, Camarines Norte; Panganiban Wetlands at Panganiban, Catanduanes; Bongsanglay Natural Park in Ticao Island, Masbate; and Naro and Chico Island Wildlife Sanctuaries at Cawayan, Masbate, respectively.
Some of the waterbirds sighted were Yellow Bittern, White-browed Crake, Tufted Duck, Wandering Whistling Duck, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Garganey, Grey Heron, Javan Pond Heron, Purple Heron, Striated Heron, Moorhen, Kentish Plover, Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, Northern Shoveler, Black Winged Stilt, Common Tern, Greater Crested Tern, Whiskered Tern, Whimbrel, and Eurasian Wigeon.
The presence of vulnerable species such as Philippine Duck (Anas luzonica), and Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes), near threatened species such as Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), and Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), and Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis), which is identified as an endangered species were also recorded.
Held every January, the AWC runs parallel to other international census of waterbirds in Africa, Europe and Neotropics under the umbrella of the International Waterbird Census (IWC).
DENR Bicol Regional Executive Director (RED) Francisco E. Milla, Jr., calls for public support in protecting and conserving wildlife species and their habitat, which is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
The conduct of AWC aims to improve public knowledge of waterbird species and provide basis on the estimates of its population. It also aims to increase awareness on the significance of wetland sites that are important for waterbirds and those that may qualify as "Wetlands of International Importance" under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Photos courtesy of DENR Bicol Conservation and Development Division ###