Thursday, January 2, 2014

Candaba - 2nd Jan

A twitch to Candaba to catch up with some recently discovered rare migrants, in the company of several Manila-based birders. First order of the day was scanning the enormous egret roost for the three Black-faced Spoonbills that have been hanging around for a couple of weeks. It took a while but we eventually got on to them, about 500m away. We then faced a dicey trek across the rice fields, balancing precariously on slippery logs, and making several wrong turns before we got to a good distance. The birds were completely unconcerned at our approach and we ended up with superb views. After half an hour or so they took off and headed to another area of the fields to feed.

A scan of the rest of the area produced large numbers of Kentish Plovers behind the flocks of Black-winged Stilts, and a group of 14 or so Sharp-tailed Sandpipers.

We followed the Spoonbills to their new area, a similar group of fields full of waders, including a group of 3 Black-tailed Godwits.

We carried on to the mayor's ponds. At the smaller one the winter duck flock was excellent. The first oddity was a Spot-billed Duck spotted by Rob, a female Common Pochard also showed itself. Other species present included Philippine Duck, Garganey, Shoveller, Tufted Duck and Common Teal. The larger pond held Wandering Whistling Duck, and on our return to the smaller one several Pintail and 2 Gadwall had arrived. 10 species of ducks in one area, not a bad duck day!

Other birds in the area were mainly the usual Candaba set, including brief views of a Middendorf's Grasshopper Warbler, and a flyby Black Bittern.

Black-faced Spoonbill. The right-hand bird looks to be an adult with the small yellow pre-orbital patch, neither of the other two show this and are presumably juvenile. The adult also has a somewhat shaggier crown.

The middle bird seems to have darker greyish primaries, also an indicator that it is a juvenile.
Three Black-tailed Godwits.

Spot-billed Duck. Annual in the far north, these are still quite rare as far south as Candaba.
Female Tufted Duck and Female Common Pochard. Pochard are annual in very small numbers at Candaba.
Female Gadwall. A rare migrant, though surely under-reported