ECO INDICATORS. Black-winged stilt bird species abound in Sarangani province wetlands and are noted during the Asian Waterbird Census by DENR-12 on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Soccsksargen Region said Thursday (Jan. 26, 2023) at least 15,700 water birds of various species were seen across the region's wetlands. (Photo courtesy of DENR-12)

TACURONG CITY, Sultan Kudarat – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Soccsksargen Region (DENR-12) said Thursday it has sighted over 15,700 water birds in fowl sanctuaries across the region.

DENR-12 data showed that 6,171 water birds were sighted in Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat province; followed by Sarangani with over 4,000; and the cities of Tacurong and General Santos with 2,964 and 2,593 species, respectively.

In this province, the DENR-12 team has sighted various species of water birds at Baras Bird Sanctuary here and the Lake Buluan Natural Biotic Area in Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat.

DENR-12 Director Felix Alicer said the sightings were noted during the annual Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Their (birds) presence is one of the key indicators which tell whether wetlands, such as mangrove areas, are still ecologically healthy,” he said.

Dr. Badjury  Mustapha, Tacurong’s community environment and natural resources officer, said the annual census is to monitor the population and distribution of water birds, including the condition of the wetlands.

Mustapha identified sighted species of birds as the Great Egret and the Black-Crowned Night Heron at the Baras Bird Sanctuary.

A variety of bird species such as the Great Egret, Chinese Egret, Cattle Egret and Brahminy Kite were also seen by the team at the Lake Buluan Natural Biotic Area.

In Sarangani province, DENR-12 personnel also monitored water bird species in eight wetland sites.

Provincial environment and natural resources officer Maria Elvira Lumayag said the species include both resident and migratory birds that use wetlands for breeding, feeding and resting.

Water bird species sighted in Sarangani included the Cinnamon Bittern, Black-winged Stilt, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Whiskered Tern, Lesser Frigatebird, Wandering Whistling Ducks, Curlew and Common Ringed-Plover.

“Sites in the village of Kawas, Alabel town; Badtasan in Kiamba, and Old Poblacion in Maitum were also visited in addition to the usual five sites that we monitor annually,” Lumayag said.

In General Santos City, at least 2,593 water birds were observed by the CENRO conservation and development section personnel in Barangay Buayan.

The most common species observed during the census were the Little Egret, Great Egret, Black-Winged Stilt, Lesser Sand Plover and Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygninae). (PNA)