FLOCK IN FLIGHT. A flock of great egrets is seen flying over the Prieto Diaz Wetlands in Sorsogon during the recently conducted Asian Waterbird Census in Bicol. Over 13,000 waterbirds were recorded sighted in different sites in the Bicol Region. (Photo courtesy of Anelisa Ariscon/DENR-Bicol's FB page)

LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Bicol (DENR-5) reported on Monday that over 13,000 waterbirds were sighted in the recently conducted Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) in Bicol Region.

In a social media post, DENR-5 said the AWC is an annual event coinciding with other international censuses of waterbirds in Africa, Europe, and Neotropics under the umbrella of the International Waterbird Census (IWC).

“The conduct of AWC aimed to provide a baseline data on the estimates and monitor the changes of waterbird population, improve knowledge of waterbird species and wetland sites, identify and monitor sites that are important for waterbirds in general and those sites that may qualify as ‘Wetlands of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and increase the awareness on the importance of waterbirds and their habitat,” the post read.

Some of the waterbirds sighted during the activity were the cinnamon bittern, yellow bittern, great cormorant, white-browed crake, white-billed crow, and different species of kingfisher, dove, heron, plover, sandpiper, swallow, and tern, among others.

Vulnerable species such as the Philippine duck (Anas luzonica), common pochard (Aythya ferina), and Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes) as well as near-threatened species like the red-necked stint (Calidris ruficollis), grey-tailed tatler (Tringa brevipes), and Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) were also recorded.

The identified sites for the activity were the Cabusao Critical Habitat in Cabusao, Camarines Sur; Naro, and Chico Island Wildlife Sanctuaries in Cawayan, Masbate; and Juban Wetlands Critical Habitat and Prieto Diaz Wetlands in Sorsogon; Mercedes Critical Habitat in Mercedes, Camarines Norte; Panganiban Wetlands in Panganiban, Catanduanes; Bongsanglay Natural Park in Batuan, Masbate; Lake Bato in Libon, Albay; and Malison Lake in Ligao City.

DENR-Bicol Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla Jr. enjoined the public in the protection and conservation activities of wildlife species and their habitat biodiversity, which is mandated by Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. (With a report from Eliakim Neric/PNA-OJT)