- Species of birds never-before documented in the Philippine were found in the Candaba Swamp
- The birds were different migratory waterfowl “wintering” in the country
- The discovery highlights the ecological importance of the Candaba Swamp
Several species of rare birds and fowls were spotted at the Candaba Swamp in Pampanga; including a species of migratory bird that was previously undocumented to visit the Philippines.
Respected birdwatcher Robert Hutchinson, who co-authored A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of the Philippines, spotted male Baikal Teal amidst the thick aquatic vegetation in the swamp.
The teal, which is a kind of small freshwater duck, originate from Eastern Siberia and then flies south in the winter to areas such as South Korea, Eastern China, and Japan; sometimes turning up as far as Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The one Hutchinson found at the Candaba Swamp, however, was the very first of its kind to have been spotted “wintering” in the Philippines.
“I’ve seen Baikal Teal before in China and Japan but finding the first for the Philippines is a massive thrill, especially as it’s one of the best-looking ducks,” he told GMA News.
Just a week prior, Hutchinson found another rare and endangered migratory species called the Black-faced Spoonbill which usually spends winters as far as Vietnam but rarely makes it to the country.
There are currently an estimate of only 2,700 of its kind still in the wild.
Meanwhile, Kevin Carlo Artiaga, a researcher from the University of the Philippines (UP) spotted another rare find which Hutchinson had identified as the nearly threatened Falcated Duck — the first of its kind to have been documented in the country.
“Falcated Ducks breed in a similar area to Baikal Teal but stretches a bit further south into Mongolia, North China and northern Japan. They winter in a wide band across from Japan through East China, northern Vietnam, Myanmar to northeastern India,” he explained.
These discoveries were made in only a period of nine days, indicating the ecological significance of the Candaba Swamp, which is also home to indigenous bird species such as the Philippine Duck and the Philippine Swamphen, that are both facing threats to their natural habitats.
It also serves as an important wintering and staging area for migratory waterfowl where the birds can land to rest and stock up on their energy before making their long flight back to their native lands.
The Candaba Swamp spans the towns of Candaba in Pampanga and San Miguel and San Ildefonso in Bulacan.