The Asian Water Bird Census (AWC) is a waterbird counting activity held every second and third weeks of January conducted by the government, non-government offices, nature club members and many other volunteer groups in different wetland sites in the world. In the Philippines, it is conducted in each region and is spearheaded by the DENR- Biodiversity Management Bureau.
The AWC is done to monitor the number and types of birds present in a designated site as this is one of the key indicators of wetland health. Healthy wetland ecosystems mean food and roosting area for migrating avifauna that visits our country each year.
Information generated from this activity is not only used for monitoring but also for increasing awareness on the importance of waterbirds and their habitats as well as in discovering new sites qualified to be included in the Wetlands of International Importance or Ramsar Sites (know more about Ramsar Convention here)
AWC at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA)
Joining the Department of Environment and Natural Resources National Capital Region for their annual count, I visited the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA)- one of the Philippine Ramsar sites.
LPPCHEA is a 175-hectare island in Manila Bay which is home to more than 80 species of migratory birds and the endemic Philippine Duck. The area also boasts of its extensive mangrove stands which make up the last few remaining green spaces in Metro Manila.
Easy as it may seem, bird counting is exhausting- more of mentally than physically- as one tries to categorize the many waterbirds which look almost the same. Thorough knowledge of the different species of avian fauna is needed especially that identification sometimes rest only on the color of the legs ( Greenshank vs. Redshank), the shape/color of the beak / eye color / feather.
Nevertheless, bird counting is always a rewarding activity for it is not every day that we get a chance to see a great diversity of birds, especially near the city centers. Between looking in the binocular or spotting scope and consulting the bird identification guide, we get to take a peak in the colorful world of the earth’s avifauna.
More interesting to note is that the migratory birds which makes LPPCHEA their home comes from countries as far as Russia!
Thirty (30) different species of birds were identified.
For this activity, total number of bird species present is high, but total number of the birds is significantly low (just a thousand!) this 2018 compared to other years. This can be due to conversion of wetlands along the flyway (routes that the birds follow) to other uses, according to DENR NCR and Wild bird Club representatives. This or the birds flew directly to the next country in their route: Australia. Let’s hope it’s the second reason.
Activities for you
Attractions in LPPCHEA include the walkways which will let you through the mangrove stands. If lucky, you will be able to spot birds also! Bikers may also visit and bike around inside the park.
Good to remember: Don’t forget to bring your re-usable containers/ water bottles when going inside. You don’t want to contribute more to the trash in Manila Bay!
Interested to learn more about birds? Check out the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines here.
- Know more about wetlands and different wetland types here.
- See identified inland wetlands in the Philippines listed in the 2016 Atlas of Philippine Inland Wetlands and Caves