Wemce: Youngest bird photographer in PH

Apo Myna - another Near Threatened species, found in the mountain forests of Mindanao only.
Apo Myna - another Near Threatened species, found in the mountain forests of Mindanao only.

Wemce, fondly called by family and friends Wem-wem, is a young boy who started birding at the age of 10. It was at the height of the pandemic when he noticed the different birds outside his bedroom window at Monteritz Classic Estates while having an online class.

After asking his aunt about them, he was given the assignment to watch out for the migrant Brown Shrike which normally arrives in the neighborhood by late August or early September. Then for the first time, he saw the Little Egret perched on the tree across their residence. He ran and called his aunt who gave him her old wildlife camera, the Canon Powershot SX50 HS, so he can start documenting the birds he sees.

That was the start of his wildlife love affair, particularly his love for raptors.

Wemce has a bird guide book and he continues to study about birds. Currently, he can identify more than 200 birds and he is very much willing to teach children about the birds he knows.

He has been to the mountains of Surigao del Sur, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, and Davao del Sur in search of rare birds together with his family.

In Surigao, he was able to photograph the very rare WRITHED HORNBILL which the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed as Near Threatened due to hunting and habitat loss. This bird’s population is continuously declining to date, which deeply saddens him. He is worried that someday, kids like him will no longer be able to see them.

At Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental, the very rare MINDANAO BOOBOOK or MINDANAO HAWK OWL perched near him. Even if partially hidden, he was very happy that he got a shot of this Mindanao endemic because this specie is already Near Threatened due to habitat loss. Other favorite birds in the same area are the noisy and beautiful MINDANAO HORNBILLS.

At Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon, he was able to take photos of the very rare SOUTHERN SILVERY KINGFISHER. Another Near Threatened species that Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park is protecting.

In September 2022, Wemce together with naturalists from both Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP) and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines braved the leech-infested forest of Mt. Kitanglad Range to see for the first the five-month-old Philippine Eagle named "Pamarayeg III". An hour of uphill climb and almost six hours of waiting for Pamarayeg in its habitat taught him patience.

After overcoming his fear of being bitten by leeches, he was so happy because he realized that he can do anything if he puts his mind to it. On that day, he made everyone excited and happy when he pointed out his sighting of the APO MYNA. There have been talks of these birds' presence in a lower elevation. And with Wemce's sighting, he now has proof that it is true. Apo Mynas are also listed as Near Threatened species.

Wemce, despite being the youngest member of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines, gave a talk about his Birding Experiences during WBPP's Christmas Party via Zoom.

He was also acknowledged by the Philippine Bird Rarities Commission for his record of the SPOTTED KESTREL on Samal Island in February 2022. It was the Number 1 record in the Island Garden City of Samal and the 4th record in the Philippines. The Spotted Kestrel is a native of Indonesia and a visitor here in our country.

Wemce C. Bueno, just turned 12 years old. The year 2023 is his 2nd year in birdwatching and bird photography. Asked by his family what he wanted for his birthday, he said that he dreams of having a new camera. His old Canon SX50 got some damage when he accidentally rolled down during their Mt. Kitanglad adventure. His other wish is to see the Malkohas which can be found in Luzon.

At a young age, he understands how important nature conservation and preservation is. He hopes to encourage kids like him to enjoy the outdoors, and love nature and the wildlife that lives in it. PR


If you want to learn more about birding, contact Wemce's aunt - Lea C. Walker at Allea Real Estate, Allea Building, Blk 1 Lot 7 Sto. Nino Village, Maa, Davao City. Tel. No. 2939685


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