To gather vital basic ecological and habitat requirements of the Philippine Duck, I visited the Philippines with funding received from two Manchester Metropolitan University awards. Dr Carmela Española and I visited four wetland habitats, two of which are Ramsar sites. Hunting continues at all sites; however, at the Ramsar sites, prosecutions for Philippine Duck hunting had been made.
We first visited Candaba Marsh, Luzon (categorised an IBA); an important wetland site for resident waterbirds and migratory species with recorded sightings of Baer’s Pochard (Aythya baeri; Critically Endangered) and Streaked Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus sorghophilus; Endangered). Candaba Bird Sanctuary, a 100-hectare private property of the former mayor Jerry Pelayo, acts as a wetland fragment in an agricultural landscape and is under threat from agriculture expansion. Large numbers of Wandering Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arcuata and Philippine Duck were present, along with many other wetland bird species. We recorded over 300 Philippine Duck at the site and whilst interviewing local farmers we observed a man standing on a water buffalo collecting eggs, possibly Philippine Duck eggs.
We also conducted a site visit to the river mouth at Subic Bay, Luzon, which has historically recorded 400 Philippine Ducks congregating in a large group in the mangroves. We found no ducks, but we gathered valuable nesting and habitat data from local people.
Our third site was Naujan Lake (14,568 ha) in Mindoro, designated a Ramsar site, and the fifth largest lake in the Philippines. The lake supports large numbers of ducks and other waterbirds. The duck may occur at low densities due to the availability of many suitable wetland habitats or as a consequence of increased hunting pressure from the local people that live next to the lake.
The final site was Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (175 ha), a coastal wetland within Metro Manila, and designated a Ramsar site. The area supports large numbers of resident and migratory birds (including the Vulnerable Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes) and is a breeding site for the Philippine Duck. We found 25 Philippine Duck using the shallow lagoons within the mangrove forest.