Residents from this once restive town could have never thought that their quiet bird visitors that have arrived and gone for half of the year may have come all the way from a distant land.

“Some of the birds we see here in our shores were a bit unfamiliar; we hadn’t realized that many of them were actually migratory,” Popot Pereda, a Mulanay native said.

Migratory birds have been flying in on the town’s coast in small flocks since November last year, feeding on insects, small crustaceans and fish during low tide. Mulanay, in Quezon Province, lies along the eastern coast of the Philippines and offers a quick rest stop for birds passing through migratory flyways.

To help Mulanay authorities identify these birds, the Museum of Natural History’s Zoological and Wildlife section recently surveyed more than 20 kilometers of Mulanay’s coastline on February 7, 2015.

The survey is part of the project, “Biodiversity Studies of Selected Areas of Mulanay’s Protected Land and Seascapes.”

“People have yet to realize the birds’ environmental value, as they have not thought of really observing and studying them,” Prof. Phillip A. Alviola, a member of the survey group, said in an interview.

According to the Museum’s initial report, the migratory birds observed in the coastal areas included the following: Great Egret, Egretta alba; Little egret, Egretta garzetta; Little Heron, Butorides striatus (also a resident); Plover, Charadrius sp. (also a resident); Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus; Common Redshank, Tringa totanus; Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia; Common tern, Sterna hirundo; and the Whiskered tern, Chlidonias hybridus.

“We also saw some resident birds, i.e. Eastern Reef Egret, Egretta sacra; White-bellied sea eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster; Great crested tern, Sterna bergii and the White-collared kingfisher, Halcyon chloris,” said Alviola.

Popot, who also works for the town’s local government, quipped that “it is high time for Mulanayins to appreciate these birds.” He added that “having migratory birds in the coastline can strengthen the town’s resolve in rebuilding its mangrove resources.”

Mulanay’s mangrove forests were nearly decimated in the 70s to 80s due to charcoal production. In 2012, a study done in the municipality found that mangroves in six coastal barangays are disturbed by anthropogenic activities. In a bid the rally its people to protect and conserve the environment, the LGU declared the town as a “Museum of Trees” in 2012.

“Further knowing these birds is a step towards possible measures by the LGU to protect Mulanay’s remaining coastal biodiversity,” Prof. Alviola said.


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