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DENR-8 conducts annual waterbird census in Eastern Visayas, records increase in bird count

DENR-8 conducts annual waterbird census in Eastern Visayas, records increase in bird count

DENR-8 conducts an annual waterbird census in Eastern Visayas and records an increase in the bird count, including a rare sighting of the Eurasian coot, attributed to the abundance of food in wetlands and public awareness campaigns. Photo: DENR-8

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 8 recently conducted its annual waterbird census from January 9-20, 2023. 

The census was conducted in observation sites across Eastern Visayas, including Lake Bito Inland Wetlands in MacArthur, Leyte, Carigara Bay Wetlands in Carigara, Leyte, Ormoc Bay Wetlands in Ormoc City, Tres Marias Islands in Palompon, Leyte, St. Bernard Sanctuary in St. Bernard Southern Leyte, Maqueda Bay Wetlands in Paranas, Motiong, and Jiabong, Samar, and Guiuan Intertidal Flats in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

During the census, a total of 2,173 endemic and migratory waterbirds were counted, including species such as egret, heron, Philippine duck, shank, common sandpiper, plover, moorhen, curlew, tern, kingfisher, black-winged stilt, great knot, and crow.

A rare sighting of the Eurasian coot at the Maqueda Bay Wetlands was of particular note. According to Ms. Ingelina Lantajo, Chief of the Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation Section of the DENR Regional Office, "This is our first sighting of the Eurasian coot since the annual waterbird census was conducted in the region. The Eurasian coot is commonly found in Europe, Asia, the Australian continent, and some parts of North Africa and prefers habitats such as wetlands, lakes, and ponds."

Ms. Lantajo also shared that an increase in bird count was observed this year compared to last year's census. She attributed this to the abundance of food in the region's wetlands and the continuous public awareness campaigns on protecting and conserving wildlife species.

The DENR 8 also reminds the public to refrain from culling and chasing migratory birds to protect themselves from avian-related diseases. The killing and destruction of wildlife are illegal and punishable under our wildlife law.

The Annual Waterbird Census (AWC) is conducted to provide the basis for estimates of waterbird population, monitor changes in waterbird numbers and distribution of waterbirds in wetlands, and increase awareness of the importance of waterbirds and their wetland habitats. The data collected by the AWC contributes to local and global conservation activities.

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