Admitting total defeat in seeing Candaba’s migratory birds, we finally decided to just hike back to town and maybe do a river tour instead.
As the grand sunrise we witnessed at the ricefields slowly dissipated into the early morning, a tricycle stopped in front of us and the woman driving it asked us if we were interested in doing a bird tour. Well of course we were, this was what we came here for. It turned out she’s one of Candaba’s Bird Sanctuary guide. A light at the end of the tunnel, finally!
We hitched our way back to the sanctuary and after arranging everything with our guide; she gave each of us a pair of binoculars. I declined mine since it was kinda hard hoisting two cameras along with it.
According to our friendly guide, the Pelayo Resthouse, the one found at the Candaba Swamp and not the one in town, is available for overnighters for a minimal fee. There are no rooms and beds here though and visitors who wished to stay overnight should bring their own sleeping materials. They then have a choice of either sleeping on the available benches or on the cold hard floor. There’s also no place to buy food here, this is in the middle of a farmland, so you’d have to bring your own. For those afraid of the dark, be sure to bring a lamp as it can get quite dark come sundown, there is no electricity at the compound.
We’re willing to endure all of those just to experience a sunset / sunrise combo at the Bird Sanctuary and this was really where we should have stayed for the night instead of at the comfy resthouse in town. It was apparent that a huge miscommunication regarding the house we were gonna stay in was the cause of so much wasted time and money. And I guess I’ve only myself to blame for not researching more.
Anyways, what’s done is done and after much trouble, we’re finally going to see them birds.
The Doña Simang Bird Sanctuary is a 70-hectare protected land decreed by Candaba’s Mayor Jerry Pelayo as farming started to encroach Candaba’s lowlands. The area is now a safe haven for birds migrating from Alaska, Russia, Japan, Korea and China.
The tour however, does not cover all 70 hectares, the birding trail circles only a small portion of the reserve.
The path is lined with six-foot tall bamboo fences with small peepholes every few feet. The fence, according to our guide, keeps the visitors from disturbing the migratory birds, and at the same time, prevents any disease that the birds might carry from being transmitted to the visitors.
The fence was installed during the bird flu scare of previous years, but as our guide explained, contacting disease from these migratory birds was quite a long shot since infected birds would not have survived the grueling miles of migration. Logical, if you really think about it.
The sun was already heating up; it was at last time for our bird tour!