DENR Regional Office 8 recorded over two thousand waterbirds during the recently conducted Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) held in seven (7) sites across the region.

Conducted from January 9-20, 2023, DENR 8 counted two thousand one hundred seventy-three (2,173) endemic and migratory waterbirds in the following observation sites - Lake Bito Inland Wetlands in MacArthur, Leyte, Carigara Bay Wetlands in Carigara, Leyte, Ormoc Bay Wetlands in Ormoc City, Tres Marias Islands in Palompon, Leyte, St. Bernard Sanctuary in St. Bernard Southern Leyte, Maqueda Bay Wetlands in Paranas, Motiong, and Jiabong, Samar, and Guiuan Intertidal Flats in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

This includes species of egret, heron, Philippine duck, shank, common sandpiper, plover, moorhen, curlew, tern, kingfisher, black-winged stilt, great knot, and crow.

DENR 8 also recorded a rare sighting of the Eurasian coot in the Maqueda Bay Wetlands. "This is our first sighting of the Eurasian coot since the annual waterbird census was conducted in the region," says Ms. Ingelina Lantajo, Chief of the Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation Section of the DENR Regional Office. "Eurasian coot is commonly found in Europe, Asia, Australian continent, and some parts of North Africa and prefers habitats such as wetlands, lakes, and ponds," she added.

"The presence of waterbirds breeding and feeding in our area is attributed to the abundance of food in the region's healthy wetlands and continuous public awareness campaign on the importance of protecting and conserving wildlife species," she said.

DENR 8 discourages the public from culling and chasing migratory birds to protect themselves from avian-related diseases. Also, killing and destroying wildlife is illegal and punishable under our wildlife law.

The AWC is conducted annually to provide the basis for estimates of waterbird population, monitor changes in waterbird numbers and distribution of waterbirds in wetlands, and increase awareness of the importance of waterbirds and their wetland habitats. The data collected by the AWC contributes to local and global conservation activities.