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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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November 5, 2009

candaba swamp: a solo trek on the day of saints

Typhoon Santi derailed my plans to go to Polilio island on the long weekend of Nov 1 (All Saints Day). Flights were grounded and boat trips were canceled. Everyone braced for the incoming storm.

When it came it blew strong winds for a couple of hours and poured several millimeters of rain. And then as suddenly as it came, the rain stopped and the sky cleared. So there I was with nothing to do on a cloudless Sunday morning, too late to go to where I planned to spend the weekend.

Without thinking too much on where I was going, I grabbed my pack and headed to the bus station. By the time I arrived at the station, I had decided to catch the sunset in the bird sanctuary in Candaba wetlands. Its bird season and I thought I might get lucky with some bird shots, with a beautiful sunset as bonus.
Wide Open Country
candaba's wide open space

Weather was perfect when I got there but the trails going to the usual birding areas were gone, buried under mud and lotus plants. So much for birding. I trekked back to the main road, found a tree with a nice shade and decided to just wait for the sunset. Luckily, the spot I picked turned out to be in front of a feeding area. The birds came soon enough.

Stick Legs
blackwinged stilts

The trick is to just stay put and not make too much noise. I found the usual Lesser and Greater Egrets foraging for food. Blackwinged stilts made occasional appearance, some straying to a few feet away from me.

In Flight
whiskered tern in flight

But what really made my day were the flock of Whiskered Terns which arrived to feed an hour before sunset. The late afternoon sun made the terns glow golden. They dove for snails and small fishes a few feet away from my spot, practically ignoring me!


I snapped away with my cheap Nikkor 70-300mm lens (considered grossly inadequate if you are a serious birder). I caught a pair doing something like a choreographed dance while another showed perfect form.

Perfect Form
perfect form

Another one seemed like its tracking a target and planning a precise and surgical strike. The rest simply hustled about, constantly jockeying for key spots.

Target Tracking
target tracking

This went on for a good hour. I almost forgot that the sun's getting really low and I still have to verify if the location I scouted earlier was good enough.


shadow play

By the time the feeding frenzy subdued, the sun was a few minutes from completely calling it a day. I moved to my sunset spot while most of terns headed home, or probably just to another feeding location.

Heading Home
terns heading home

As I watched the sky get painted with sunset colors I can't help but think that the day terned out pretty well.

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witsandnuts said...

I've been to Candaba many times. Now I want to go again for the sake of taking photos. Well-captured!

Unknown said...

excellent shots! these photos make my heart sing. exquisite birds!

i've been to Candaba a few times, usually during the fiesta. how i wish i had the chance to explore this part of Candaba.

escape said...

beautiful shots bai! pwede na sa natgeo.

Oman said...

wow. 70-300 mm lang yan? ang galing mo talaga idol. sulit na rin ang weekend kahit di tayo natuloy sa polillo.

Marites said...

we passed by Candaba several times and always, there were rains. You took great captures! and your camera really did well!

Anonymous said...

hanep bro! ang gaganda ng kuha mo.

Lantaw said...

@witsandnuts - November and December are perfect months for birding :)

@luna - thanks! if you go via Baliuag to Candaba, you will pass by this place. Kaso the road disappears every now and then :D

@dom - thanks bai!

Lantaw said...

@oman - oo bai, 70-300 lang, na timing lang location ko hehehe. Me kasabihan kami: "Sobra pa sa tanda ang jackpot" or "luck beats skills" :D

@erick - punta ulit tayo dun next time

@marites - yung area na ito is on the outskirts na ng Candaba, border ng Bulacan at Pampanga.

dodong flores said...

Hi, Allan. Nice shots here. I love all of the photos. I wish I was going with you. I missed using my telephoto lens already (also a cheap one).

dodong flores 도동 플로오리스 said...

By the way, do you plan to come into this place next year? If you do, please let me know. I might go with you. And we can ride our bike going there for an added flavor to the adventure...

Lantaw said...

@dodong - sige bai I'll PM you pag may sched. I plan to go back either December or January to see if the ducks have arrived.

we can bike going there, pero lugi ako sa iyo, roadie ka, MTB ako :D

zherwin said...

kaya siguro di ka pinapansin nung mga ibon kasi lagi ka na raw nandun hehehe. gaganda ng shots syempre.

ALiNe said...

Solo trek e? andanda ng mga shots!

AngelMD said...

hay pariente! bilib gid ya!hehe i wish i have even just a little of your talent in photography.hehe

Lantaw said...

@ALiNe - oo nasa sementeryo lahat e hahaha

@AngelMD - salamat ^^, musta imo camera?

Anonymous said...

wow, these pitcures are amazing! ang husay ng kuha mo sa mga ibon. these are really magazine/prinotout worthy. galing!

Lantaw said...

@docgelo - thanks bro!

Dennis Villegas said...

Galing mo talaga, Allan. Your photos always inspire me. National Geographic ang quality. Thanks for sharing :)

Lantaw said...

@dennis - thanks bro! I hope you can join us this coming weekend :)

dodong flores said...

Okay lang na, Bay. I may be using a road bike but I'm not a sprinter. I'm now pedaling at a lower pace and enjoying every bit of it...
The kind of bike we will be using to go into this place will not matter at all. What matters most is that we would travel safe and enjoy bird watching here in Candaba to the fullest :)

Lantaw said...

@dodong - tama ka bro :). schedule natin yang ride na yan

carlotta1924 said...

love those captures of birds in flight. grabe super ganda!

Lantaw said...

@carlota - thanks! :). ang kukulit ng mga ibon na yan :D

Uno said...

nakapa ganda talaga ng mga ibon sa candaba, visit http://centralluzon.info for more info about Candaba

Lantaw said...

salamat Herbert!

Anonymous said...

this should be prime spot for sport fishermen (not meat fisherman)to do "catch and release" method.

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