On January 25, I joined the 2013 Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) spearheaded by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and Department of Environment and Natural Resources. An annual endeavor since 1987, AWC aims to identify and monitor wetlands of international and national importance.
Our mission for this day: count the waterbirds in the Las-Pinas Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPCHEA).
LPCHEA hosts the few remaining mangrove forests in Metro Manila. It is a declared bird sanctuary and provides temporary haven for thousands of migrating birds taking the East Asian Flyway during the months of September to March.
We started at the break of dawn and instantly saw flocks and flocks of little egret, great egret, black-winged stilt, common greenshank, common redshank and whiskered-tern. We also saw flocks of black-crowned night heron, little heron, Asian golden-plover, Kentish plover and even endemic Philippine duck.
After four hours, we counted a total of 2,230 water birds!
LPCHEA is an important ecosystem and yet, it is besiege by different ecological problems such as marine pollution, solid waste and the threat of continuing reclamation project by the national government. If the project pushes through, LPCHEA’s mangroves, ponds and lagoons will be wiped out of the map.
LPCHEA is located along the Coastal Road going to Cavite. The WBCP and other environmental organizations, fisherfolk groups and communities continue to oppose the planned reclamation project at LPCHEA.