The Visitors

6 Aug

(Originally posted on March 24, 2010)

The Migratory Birds in Coastal Road

Everybody enjoys having guests from time to time. In the Philippines, this happens regularly in the case of migratory birds –birds that journey from one place to another in a given season that has been caused by changes in weather, food availability or scarcity and habitat.

Now who wouldn’t want to see these beautiful creatures? Being an archipelago consisting of 7,100 islands, the country provides several spots that attract migratory birds. The good news is that one of them is very accessible as it is just located within Metro Manila – the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area. This area is just a few minutes near the International airport.

Ever wonder what could attract these birds in the city? Surprisingly, there are still mudflats, marshes and mangrove areas in this part of the city. And these provide perfect stopovers and shelter for the migratory birds.

The best time to go there would be in the morning just before the heat of the sun starts to irritate the skins of the observers and of course, the birds.

In just a few hours, as much as 22 species of birds can be observed in the said area. Here are some of the species that were seen in a very short trip in the coastal area, with the help of the guides from the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.

Black winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

As can be observed, these birds have long pink legs, a long thin black bill and are blackish above and white below, with a white head and neck with a varying amount of black.

Total number found: 535 birds

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus)

The whiskered tern eats small fish, amphibians, insects and crustaceans (form a very large group of arthropods, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters etc..)

It has a short, forked-looking tail and dark grey breeding plumage (the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers) above and below. The sides of the neck are white which sometimes continues across the nape. The collar is less sharply defined.

Total number found: 143 birds

Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

The Common Greenshank is a large, rather heavily built wader. The head and neck are flecked with dark grey. The bill is dark to green-grey and is long with a slight upward curve. There is a narrow white eye ring and the long legs are yellowish-green. They are rarely seen in groups but in twos or individually.

Greenshanks eat insects, worms, molluscs, small fish and crustaceans, feeding both by day and night. They feed by picking from the surface, probing, sweeping and lunging at the edges of mudflats or shallows. They may walk along the shoreline and even chase small fish in the shallow water.

Total number found: 45 birds

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

The grey heron is a large, wading bird standing 90-100 cm tall, with a 175-195 cm wingspan and a weight of 1-2 kg. Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill. It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped).

Total number of birds found: 14

Little Egrets (Egretta Garcetta)

Little Egrets are small white heron with black legs and bill and yellow feet. It sports two long plumes from the back of the head and plumes on the back and breast.

Total number of birds found: 11

Common Sandpiper (Actitis Hypoleucos)

Common Sandpipers are easily identified by their habit of “teetering”: constantly bobbing head and tail while on the ground, particularly when feeding.

This bird is small (19-21cm), has white eyebrows, brown side of breast, faintly barred wing coverts; bill short (2-3cm); legs short and greenish.

Total number of birds found: 10

Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

They have a black crown and back with the remainder of the body white or grey, red eyes, and short yellow legs. Young birds are brown, flecked with white and grey. These are short-necked and stout herons.

Total number of birds found: 10

Grey-tailed tattler (Heteroscelus brevipes)

The Grey-tailed Tattler is a medium-sized wader, with long wings and tail. The bill is rather long and straight. There is a white eyebrow. The eyes are dark brown, bill black, short legs and feet bright yellow.

Total number of birds found: 10

Other birds that were found include Great tailed Tattler, Marsh Sandpipers, Great Egrets, Barred Rail, Intermediate Egret, Moor Hen, Brown Shrike, Barn swallow, Zebra Doves, Red Shank, Long Toed Stilt and Wood Sandpiper.

In a span of more than two hours, an estimate of 800 birds can be found in the Coastal Road. Now these visitors are worth welcoming, aren’t they?

Note: Photos used in this article were taken from


2 Responses to “The Visitors”

  1. Dedot August 6, 2010 at 5:20 PM #

    nice shoot,regard from Bali…

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