Through the binoculars: Bataan and the migratory birds

22 Mar


“What would be more boring than looking through binoculars, searching and waiting for some ‘interesting’ flying creatures in the sky to pass by the lens,” I thought. That was my mindset before going to Bataan for a bird watching activity.

Thank God I was wrong.

As we stepped our feet in the sandy grounds from the four hours trip from Manila to Bataan, I immediately noticed the difference between the two places—not a sound of raging buses and jeepneys and not a hint of polluted emissions. The place was peaceful. Calm, so to speak. The waves of the beach were moving slowly as if it was inviting people to swim and bathe in the sun. But there was no one wearing colorful two-piece swimsuits nor board shorts. There was only one thing common among people who go in the deck near the sea— all of them were carrying binoculars. Maybe that is why birds chose to be along the shores and horizon of the province. The place is not too developed making it more enticing for birds to stay in the area.

Slowly, Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park is making an impact in maintaining what nature has given to us. Here, only a few establishments are built along the shore, just enough for people who would stay for a while to look for rarely seen migratory birds. Migratory birds from different countries come to Bataan to escape from cold season. The provincial government supports the park which is located at Barangay Tortugas in Bataan through funding and publicity.

So we went to the deck together with our binoculars to see the beauty of the birds. It was hot yet the air and the waves of the sea gave us a refreshing morning. Experienced bird watchers were already gathered, looking for rare species of birds. Photographers also brought their gigantic lenses just to have snapshots of the birds.

As I fixed my eyes on the binoculars, picture perfect scenery of the sky showed up. A distant blue sky and cottony clouds registered the lenses. I quickly looked for my life bird or the first bird that you will see in your first bird watching activity. As I pan it down, a group of white birds where flying sidewards. I turned my head to their direction and there were more birds. More white birds. The bird watcher beside me told me that they are whiskered terns, my life birds.

It was relaxing. The more birds you see, the better you feel. It was as if you were having a de-stressing activity only that it was natural. It was not as adventurous as climbing a mountain or as exhausting as kayaking in the sea. All you have to do is to look for a place where you can sit or stand, then that’s it! Just use binoculars or a telescope then you will enjoy a scenery that you only see in pictures.

Unconsciously, our group consumed more than an hour. A trip that I thought was going to be waste of time suddenly became an experience I wanted to do again. Surely, even first time visitors would love to see the migratory birds in Bataan.

Bird watching is not just a simple activity. It is also a way of knowing the exten

t of the harm we caused to the environment. Before, birds just fly everywhere. Pigeons and maya birds used to freely spread their wings in the sky even in Manila. But as the landscape in the city changed and skyscrapers started to be built, it seemed that birds found no reason to see it as a home.

Birds are important to the ecosystem. Nectar-feeding birds help spread pollens and seeds. These birds help in spreading plants which are also essential for other animals. Some of them also feed on insects which can ruin plants.  The decline of bird species affects biodiversity and the vital ecosystem processes.

The activity is simple yet the effect of it cannot be measured. By simply being informed that birds still do exist and that we are continually ruining their habitat, we are slowly making a change. The only thing left for us to do is to materialize what we have learned during the trip by saving the environment and saving these wonderful creatures.

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