sibol migratory waterbirds find suitable habitats 600pxA migrant Eurasian curlew is photographed on the beach of Masinloc-Oyon Bay.

Every year, waterbirds from temperate regions around the globe fly hundreds and thousands of miles to escape the winter season and look for suitable habitats (usually tropical regions) for feeding, breeding and raising their young. Records of a relatively high number of migratory bird species and even resident species usually indicate the presence of habitats that have favorable conditions for the survival of these birds.

The Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes (SIBOL) project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) spotted migratory birds during a waterbird census in Masinloc, Zambales last January 19-20, indicating the suitability of the protected area as habitat for various bird species.

Around 15 participants from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the municipal government of Masinloc joined the activity, where migratory birds such as sandpipers, little egret and Eurasian curlews were spotted. The team also identified resident waterbirds like the Philippine duck and great crested tern, which are considered vulnerable and critically endangered species, respectively. There were around 200 Philippine ducks observed in Magalawa Island alone despite the increased threat to the species due to over-hunting and habitat loss.

The census aimed to determine the individual count of bird species in Masinloc and identify factors which affect the presence of these birds and their habitat. Analysis of collected data last year revealed that there were 55 species of birds in Masinloc — 11 of which were migratory birds.

Results in the waterbird census will feed into the management plan of the Protected Area Management Office (PAMO). As of last year, through the waterbird census, the PAMO updated the species list for birds from 11 to 55. SIBOL recommended starting this year an annual conduct of the waterbird census, building of a database on bird species, and developing an updated field guide for monitoring activities. The Protected Area Management Board expressed support for these recommendations and suggested establishing a bird sanctuary in Masinloc-Oyon Bay.

The Masinloc-Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape is the only marine protected area under the Expanded National Protected Area System (E-NIPAS) law or Republic Act No. 11038 of 2018 in Central Luzon. It is home to long stretches of mangrove areas, coral reefs, wetlands, and various fish and coral species. The abundant marine resources serve as a source of food and income for the locals of Masinloc and help sustain wildlife in the area including waterbirds and other bird species.

SIBOL is collaborating with the DENR and the local government of Masinloc through training and lectures in the conduct of assessment and monitoring of coastal and marine habitats. SIBOL also introduced them to EarthRanger — an online software system used for detailed data collection on biodiversity, oceans and landscapes where data can be uploaded real-time and show a complete picture of all of the activity within a protected area. The government partners have also been trained in the initial processing and analysis of data. (SIBOL/ Wulmar Cerio)


Pin It