There are the exotically named Great Cormorants, Pied Bushchats, Brahminy Kites and White Browed Crakes; and then there are the less extravagantly named Egrets, Wandering Whistling Ducks, Grey Herons and Common Sandpipers.
But names are just names, these fantastic birds all flock the same pool in Ilocos Norte; a huge pool that is the Paoay Lake. 470 hectares of water playground to be exact, the Paoay Lake is landlocked body of water that has been declared as a National Park in 1969. The lake is one of the northernmost in the country, making it a feeding point for birds going south.
The Lakbay Norte team arrived at the bird watching platform overlooking the lake at nine in the morning. There were hardly any clouds above and the hut was a welcome respite for the searing heat. We were greeted by Dr. Petrus “Pete” Calope of the Ilocos Norte Bird Watchers for our bird-watching activity.
Armed with a telescope, he guided our eyes towards some little specks of dots on the far distance; Philippine Ducks he says. We looked in, and there they were indeed. He pointed towards another patch on the sparkling lake; Egrets he says. I zoomed in with my telephoto; and there it was, gliding smoothly above the waters of Paoay Lake.
The day however was too late for more birds. We came in too late; our feathered friends according to our esteemed guide show up very early in the morning, disappear in the middle of the day and reappears only at sundown.
A board posted on the deck with exotic bird names showed us just how many species of birds we missed.
With the sun high up, we decided to change location for better luck. A few minutes of driving and we were back down the lake; this time at the Paoay Lake National Park Protected Landscape area.
The place is filled with eons old trees; great hiding place for the birds it seems as we spotted zero avis.
Farther on, the team settled on another viewing platform at the banks of the lake. A few Egrets were making their rounds across the vast lake, but that was about it; we were really too late for the great show.
But birds or no birds, I still enjoyed the visit to Paoay Lake. Local folks setting their beautiful fishing traps and carabaos dipping undisturbed, chewing their neverending chews were enough a spectacle for a city guy like me who’s only too familiar with the polluted esteros of the metro.
Barangay Suba, Paoay
GPS Coordinates: 18.121096,120.537701 | Click to view location on Google Maps