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Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) -
News from the Field

Highlights from January – June 2004

Compiled by: Arne E. Jensen and James McCarthy

Contributors: Arne Jensen (AJ), Arnel Mallari (AM), Alice Villa-Real (AV), Asian Waterfowl Census (AWC), Babuyan Island Expedition 2004 (BIE), Birdquest (BQ), Carmela Espanola (CE), Conservational International-Philippines (CI), Carl Oliveros (CO), Desmond Allen (DA), Genevieve Broad (GB), Harvey Garcia (HG), Juan Carlos Gonzales (JG), Jon Hornbuckle (JH), Jill Lucas (JL), James McCarthy (JM), Jonathan Rossouw (JR), Jonathan Villasper (JV), Kitty Arce (KA), King Tours (KT), Lisa Marie Paguntalan (LP), Mads Bajarias (MB), Mike Edgecombe (ME), Mike Lu (ML), Marisol Pedregosa (MaP), Marijn Prins (MP), Mark A. Reyes (MR), Mark Villa (MV), Merlijn van Weerd (MW), Nilo Arribas (NA), Ned Liuag (NL), Pia Belardo (PB), Rene Bajit (RB), Stef Saño (SS), Tim Fisher (TF), Tubbataha Reef Marine National Park Management Office (TMO), Todd Pepper (TP), William Rutchert (WR), Wouter Thijs (WT), WWF-Philippines (WWF), Zardo Goering (ZG).


The intention of the WBCP News from the Field is to provide regular highlights from the field; particularly on the most threatened species, unusual records; whether these are new observations outside of known home ranges or new or accidental records to the Philippines and news from some of the least known important bird areas (IBAs). Some 50 observers and birders contributed to this report covering 167 localities, but with most reports coming from Luzon (103) compared to Visayas (39) and Mindanao (25). We are grateful to the DENR-PAWB and the Babuyan Island Expedition 2004(BIE) for allowing us to extract selected data from the annual Asian Waterfowl Census and from the BIE report, respectively. We also acknowledge the Tubbataha Reef Marine National Park Management Office and WWF-Philippines for permitting us to publish data on accidental and non-breeding birds from their project area in the Sulu Sea.

We request our birding friends abroad to join WBCP's effort to strengthen and expand the Philippine reporting system. In particularly from poorly known regions, important bird areas and of threatened and rare species. By far too many new country records and other important data are still being “lost” because the lack of reporting and documentation.

News From the Field will include what we believe are good records of accidental occurring species. It contains confirmed sightings as well as unconfirmed records in need of further documentation for peer review, if such records shall be included in the official Checklist of the Birds of the Philippines. Such records will, however, not but be included in WBCP's bird lists or website without adequate documentation. We encourage therefore all observers/birders to stay loyal to the reporting requirements and report to us full details on species that are listed as RARITY RECORDS (RR). RR-species are marked with an * in this report and in the updated WBCP Preliminary Checklist of Philippine Birds.



NEW COUNTRY RECORDS

Field staff of WWF-Philippines was able to document the presence of the critically endangered Christmas Island Frigatebird* Fregata andrewsi within the Philippine archipelago. From the Sulu Sea, one was photo-documented on April 15 and 3-4 birds were seen on May 7-8 on Cawili Island and North Islet, Tubbataha Reef (AJ; TMO, WWF-Philippines). A Northern Goshawk* Accipiter gentilis was reported on February 14 from Mt. Palay-Palay National Park, Cavite (AJ, MV). This is the 2nd record from this area and for the Philippines in just one year. Although there are 2 undocumented records of Eurasian Hobby* Falco subbuteo from previous years (TF), a detailed description was submitted of 2 birds migrating north on April 8 together with other raptors in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Tanay, Rizal (JM). This would therefore be the first documented country record, if accepted by peer review.

 

The findings of a new rail species to the World on Calayan Island, Cagayan on May 11 definitely put the Philippines on the global ornithological map once again. The existence of 100-200 pairs of the endemic Calayan Rail* Gallirallus calayanensis documented by the Babuyan Island Expedition took everyone by surprise (CE, DA, CO, GB, MP, HG, MR). A Jacobin or Pied Cuckoo* Clamator jacobinus was recorded on Dalupiri Island, Luzon on May 21 (DA) and an Orange-flanked Bush Robin* Luscinia cyanura on Calayan Island, Luzon on May 10 by the same expedition (MP, CE, DA). These would both be first records for the Philippines.

Calayan Rail

ACCIDENTAL VISITORS AND RARE RESIDENTS

The country's 2nd record of Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii was video- recorded on June 5 between Aparri and Camiguin Island, Cagayan, Luzon. Another petrel showing characteristics as Bulwer’s Petrel was observed at the same time (DA).

Although identification of Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes is difficult 580 individuals from 10 sites (AWC) were reported during the Asian Waterfowl Census in January. Many of these records need further review but we choose to include the data to give an idea of the possible main overwintering sites including those on Cebu, Bohol and Leyte. Other observations include several birds from Rasa Island and White Beach, Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Feb. 17 and 19 (BQ). Chinese Pond-Heron* Ardeola bacchus was observed on Babuyan Claro Island on April 17-18 (BIE) and Schrenck's Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus on Camiguin Island on April 11 (DA) and a male and a female May 24-27 on Dalupiri Island, Cagayan, Luzon (BIE). In the fishponds of Iwahig, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, 3 Black-faced Spoonbills* Platalea minor (first reported in December 2003), were still present up to end of May (AM, JR). In June only one bird remained (AM).

Black-faced Spoonbill

Only one Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus was recorded this year from Malasi Lakes, Isabela (WT). This is the first Luzon record for many years. Another, now very rare, raptor, Grey-headed Fish-Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, was observed in the Callao Cave area, Cagayan, Luzon (WT). A Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi was seen in February (KT) and May (JR) in its known breeding area of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Mindanao and on 13 February an immature bird was observed in another breeding area in North Cotabato, Mindanao (BQ). Good news also includes a positively identified breeding pair from the Sierra Madre Mountain Mountains (CI), and 1 bird on 10 March from Mt. Los Dos Cuernos, Cagayan Province, Luzon (JH). A Black Kite* Milvus migrans was seen from Mt. Palay-Palay National Park, Cavite on May 24(JM). This would be the country's 3rd record though it is probably the same bird as seen in 2003 in the same area.

Adult and juvenile Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca were observed in February and March in the Parañaque wetlands, Metro Manila. (NL, JH, AJ). Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla was recorded May 26 on Dalupiri Island, Cagyan, Luzon (DA) and the only record of Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio for many years came in from Bonifacio Wetlands, Mizamis Occidental in January (AWC).

Grey-headed Lapwing* Vanellus cinereus was recorded in Balatubat, Camiguin Island on April 12 (DA) and is the 4th Country Record. A 3rd country record of a 2nd calendar year Common Ringed-Plover* Charadrius hiaticula was present at Tambo Mudflats, Parañaque in January (JM, JV, TF, AJ). Two Nordmann's Greenshank* Tringa guttifer (AJ) shared lagoon on January 19 with Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis in Barangay Baluarte, Bulacan, Luzon ( AJ). This would be the country's 4th record (9-10th birds) and the first since 1967, if accepted by peer review. A woodcock species showing characters as Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola was observed on Babuyan Claro Island, Cagayan on April 23 (DA). Among the uncommon waders observed during this period were 4 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers Calidris acuminata (Jan: 2, Feb:1and March:1) recorded in the Metro Manila area (AJ) and Candaba Marsh (TP) and additional 3 birds between April 12 – 17 on the Babuyan Island Group, Luzon (BIE), Ruff Philomachus pugnax were reported in March (2 in Paranaque Wetlands, Manila and 1 in Baluarte, Bulacan, Luzon (AJ)). The fishponds of Baluarte also revealed 6 Broad-billed Sandpipers Limicola falcinellus on March 16 (JM). On May 7, in the Tubbataha Reef Marine National Park, Palawan, 14 Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus migrated north (AJ; TMO, WWF-Philippines).

Two Pomarine Skua* Stercorarius pomarinus were seen in Manila Bay on February 18 (TF). This would be only the 6th country record and the first since 1986 of this probably overlooked species. Local residents of Calayan Island, Luzon have kept 2 Black-tailed Gull* Larus crassirostris as pets since January 2003 (BIE). Two other individuals were photographed offshore Calayan Island, Babuyan Islands, Cagayan on March 2003 (CO; WWF-Philippines). This gull species appears to be a fairly regular visitor to Northeastern Luzon. A Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii and 6 Bridled Terns Sterna anaethetus were observed off-shore Puerto Princesa on May 9 (AJ; TMO and WWF-Philippines) and up to 10 on May 29 west of Pamocatan Island, Babuyan islands (DA). One Brown Noddy Anous stolidus was recorded between Cebu City and Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental on April 20 (WR).

A flock of 6 Flame-breasted Pigeon Ptilinopus marchei and a big flock of 20 of the increasingly rare Spotted Imperial-Pigeon Ducula carola was reported from the forest of Mt. Los Dos Cuernos, Peñablanca, Cagayan near the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park in May (JR). The Spotted Imperial-Pigeon was also reported from Trail Hill 394, Subic Bay, Bataan on February 28 (TF). Luzon Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba luzonica was only reported from Mt. Los Dos Cuernos in May (JR) and twice from Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve (JM, MB).

The population of Philippine Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia on Rasa Island, Palawan is reported to have increased to around 100. On May 28, 11 birds were observed on the island (JR). Records of a Blue-naped Parrot Tanygnathus lucionensis and 3 Green Racquet-tail Prioniturus luconensis in the forest of Subic Bay, Bataan on February 8 and another 3 in Mt. Palay-Palay National Park on March 28 and February 15 expands the known Luzon range of this rare species (AJ). Other records of Blue-naped Parrot included 3 on May 8 from the Subic Forest Reserve, Bataan (SS) where it is still relatively common. Blue-backed Parrot Tanygnathus sumatranus on the other hand had only 3 individuals reported from the PICOP logging concession area, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao in February (BQ) and May (JR).

Ryukyu Scops-Owl Otus elegans were recorded on Camiguin, Pamoctan and Calayan Islands, Babuyan Islands, Luzon in April-May (BIE). Philippine Frogmouth Batrachostomus septimus from Mt. Talinis, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental on April 21 is a good record (WR) and so are 20 Purple Needletails Hirundapus celebensis on January 5 in Ateneo de Manila, Metro Manila (MV). A male Visayan Tarictic Penelopides mindorensis was seen in Casa Rosa, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental (JR) and 2 adult Writhed Hornbill Aceros leucocephalus in the PICOP area, Mindanao on April 28 (MB). Three Palawan Hornbill Anthracoceros marchei seen from El Nido, Palawan on April 7-10 (JL) is one of the first records from this protected area. On April 25 up to 9 Rufous Hornbills Buceros hydrocorax including two pairs with juveniles were observed in Mt. Palay-Palay National Park and White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis on March 28 is only the 2nd record from the same area (AJ).

Isabela Oriole

Wattled Broadbill Sarcophanops steerii was observed in May in the PICOP-area, Mindanao(JR) although an important roost was reportedly destroyed due to illegal logging (ZG). In March a pair with nest was found in Rajah Sikatuna National Park, Bohol (JH) and the first ever documented nest of Whiskered Pitta Pitta kochi was found in May near the Hamut Camp, Mt. Los Dos Cuernos, Cagayan, Luzon; a minimum of 6 birds were reported from this area (JR) and 4 from Mt. Polis, Benguet, Luzon (ME). Streak-breasted Bulbul Ixos siquijorensis of the critically rare Cebu subspecies monticola was recorded at Tabunan (2 on May 31) and 3 on June 10 from Nug-as, Alcoy, Cebu (LP). Another world-class record for 2004 is a pair of Isabela Oriole* Oriolus isabellae of which one was netted on April 3 (MW). The birds were first found in May 2003. Details and pictures are published in Birding Asia Volume 1, June 2004.

White-fronted Tit Parus semilarvatus: 3 observed on February 28 at the forest trail to Hill 394, Subic Bay, Bataan (TF) and a pair with 2 young in May in the foothills of Mt. Los Dos Cuernos, Cagayan, Luzon (JR) are the only records from this period. From the same mountain area came reports of 7 Rabor's Wren-Babbler Napothera rabori in May (JR). A pair of Flame-templed Babbler* Stachyris speciosa was seen at the well-known locality of Mt. Talinis, Negros Oriental (WR).

A male Black Shama Copsychus cebuensis was observed at Tabunan on May 31 (JR) and 8 birds including 2 females at the small forest of Nug-as, Alcoy, Cebu on June 10 (LP). The elusive Ashy Ground-Thrush Zoothera cinerea were reported from Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve, Laguna on January 31 (BK) and on February 8 (BQ) and Batulao Forest, Batangas, Luzon on February 29 (TP). No less than 3 Manila observations on February 17 (1), March 8 (2) and March 21 (1) of White's Thrush Zoothera aurea in the Ateneo University compound, Quezon City, is unusual (MV).

Middendorff's Grasshopper-Warbler Locustella ochotensis in the Parañaque wetlands was reported as new to the Metro Manila area with more than 4 birds on Jan 20 (JV, JM) and 2 on February 24 (AJ, JH). A male Narcissus Flycatcher roosted in mangrove forest near Bais Harbor, Negros Oriental (WR). A single Little Slaty Flycatcher Ficedula basilanica was observed in the forest of PICOP, Mindanao in May and the rare Palawan Flycatcher Ficedula platanea was seen on February 20 (BQ) and May 29 at Zig-Zag Road, Puerto Princesa, Palawan (JR). On Luzon a Furtive Flycatcher Ficedula disposita was recorded also in May from the foothills of Mt. Los Dos Cuernos, Cagayan (JR) and in Talaytay Watershed Reserve, Aurora on February 2-4 (BQ). Up to 3 Celestial Monarch Hypothymis coelestis was seen in the forest at Apaya, San Mariano, Isabela in February (ME) and 2 on February 2-4 in Talaytay Watershed Reserve (BQ). Only other records are 2 birds from the PICOP forest on March 3 (TP) and 1 in May (JR). Received reports from the same area are on Short-crested Monarch Hypothymis helenae with 8 on March 3 (TP) and a pair in May (JR). An active nest of the relatively common, resident population was found breeding on Camiguin Island, Babuyan Islands, Cagayan in April.

The only Forest Wagtail Dendronantus indicus reported was from Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve, Laguna, Luzon on February 8 (BQ). On March 8 a White Wagtail Motacilla alba of the subspcies lugens was photographed at St. Ana, Cagayan, Luzon (CO). Another bird was observed on March 21 at the Tambo Mudflats, Paranaque, Metro Manila. This bird showed characteristics similar to the subspecies leucopsis that still is unreported from the Philippines (MV, JV). A report has been received of 2 Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus observed on Jan 15 at Musuan, Bukidnon, Mindanao. The near-extinct Cebu Flowerpecker* Dicaeum quadricolor was seen on May 31 at the known locality of Tabunan. Another very good news from Cebu is that 2 males of this species were recorded from a new locality of Nug-as, Alcoy (LP). An immature Java Sparrow Lonchura oryzivora was observed for a week at Ateneo University area, Metro Manila (MV) and on June 13, 3 adults were found at the American War Cemetery, also in Metro Manila (ML).

LARGE CONGREGATIONS AND UNUSUAL NUMBERS

Two good flocks of 110 and of 60 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis on March 31 and April 1, were observed in the inland wetlands of Manila Bay, Pampanga (MV). A flock of 150 unidentified Frigatebirds Fregata sp. was observed on June 23 at Nagtabon, Palawan (JH).

Although considered uncommon, relative high numbers of Grey Heron Ardea cinerea were reported in January from Manila Bay (Cavite Bay: 168 and Paranaque wetlands: 110) (AJ). The largest congregations of Great Egret Ardea alba was reported by field staff of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are 2,070 from Puerto Rivas fishponds, Bataan and 740 in Paitan Lake, Nueva Ecija in January (AWC). Congregations over 1,000 individuals of Little Egrets Egretta garzetta were reported by the AWC in January from Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Agusan del Sur (4,050) and Bonifacio Wetlands, Misamis Occidental (1,020).

Philippine Duck

A stunning 3,200 Wandering Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna arcuata were reported from Malasi Lakes, Isabela, Luzon, in January (AWC). These lakes are among the country's most important sites for overwintering duck species (5,000 individuals on February 7), and the only site that reported Green-winged Teal Anas crecca (15), Garganey Anas querquedula (900) and Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope (150) (WT, MP). Mainit Lake, Agusan del Norte had 5,300 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula in January. Although considered Vulnerable 4,600 Philippine Duck Anas luzonica were reported from 24 localities (AWC) and in May-June from five other localities. Highest numbers were from Malasi Lakes (1,420), and Magat Dam (1,060), Luzon. Wetlands of Negros also held good numbers (1,095), and even Dalupiri Island, Babuyan Island (BIE) and Metro Manila could add this species to their lists; 12 birds were seen in the last wetland of Paranaque (ML,NL).

Raptor bonanza
Although more than 140,000 raptors annually migrate from Taiwan to the Philippines, there have been no successful attempts to observe the in-migration on Luzon. However, the spring migration was this year successfully observed on three days (April 7-10) from Tanay, Rizal in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, where Oriental Honeybuzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus (36), Chinese Goshawk Accipiter soloensis (12,500), Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus (14) and Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus (2) migrated north (JM). The only other noteworthy reports on migratory raptors are of Eastern Marsh-Harrier Circus spilonotus (8) and Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos (4) on February 7, Malasi Lakes, Luzon (WT, MP). A concentration of 60-100 Brahminy Kites Haliastur indus on May 24-25 in Mt. Palay-Palay National Park, Luzon is unusually high although it is this species' supreme stronghold.

Shorebirds
The highest count of migratory shorebirds(Charadriformes) from January 2004 (AWC) are presented in Table 1. Most noteworthy is a flock of 503 Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola from Olango Island, Cebu, 248 Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus from Cordoba Wetland, Cebu, and 575 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 619 Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and 438 Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis from the wetlands of Parañaque, Metro Manila.

At least 12,600 terns (6,600 Whiskered Terns Chlidonias hybridus and 5,600 unidentified terns) were in January recorded from 8 sites of Manila Bay together with 320 Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus (AWC). A single fishpond in the near-coastal wetlands in Pampanga, Luzon hosted a flock of 3,000 individuals of Whiskered Terns late March (MV)

Table 1. Highest counts of migratory shorebirds( Charadriformes), January-April 2004, the Philippines. Source: Asian Waterfowl Census 2004 (DENR-PAWB) and own records of Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP)

Species

Number

Locality

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

503

Olango Island, Cebu

Asian Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

1500

Balauarte Coastal fishponds, Bulacan, Luzon

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

235

Puerto Rivas, Bataan, Lzon

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

405

Tanza Coastal Wetland, Navotas, Meanila

Lesser Sand-plover Charadrius mongolus

1205

Olango Island, Cebu

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

248

Cordoba Wetland, Cebu

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

262

Olango Island, Cebu

Common Redshank Tringa totanus

325

Coastal Road Lagoons, Paranaque, Manila

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

575

Coastal Road Lagoons, Paranaque, Manila

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

619

Coastal Road Lagoons, Paranaque, Manila

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis

438

Coastal Road Lagoons, Paranaque, Manila

Terek's Sandpiper Xenus cinerea

73

Olango Island, Cebu

Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes

255

Olango Island, Cebu

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris

657

Olango Island, Cebu

Rufous-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis

1632

Olango Island, Cebu

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea

200

Balauarte Coastal fishponds, Bulacan, Luzon

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

519

Vitalis Wetlands, Zamboanga, Mindanao


More than 100 Fork-tailed Swift Apus pacificus were sighted around Guinapao Rocks, Babuyan Islands on April 1 (BIE). The species is almost certainly breeding on the islet. Up to 20 Spotted Wood-Kingfisher Actenoides lindsayi on April 11 and 23 Tarictic Hornbill Penelopides manillae on March 5 recorded in the primary forest of Mt. Palay-Palay National Park ,Cavite, Luzon (AJ, JM) are just two examples of the abundance of uncommon endemics in this protected area . An impressive flock of 800 Yellow Wagtails Motacilla flava was recorded on March 3 in the PICOP area, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao (TP). Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus appeared this spring to be less common in the Metro Manila area, compared with the 2003 reporting. Chestnut-cheeked Starling Sturnus philippensis was only reported from April where a minimum of 200 birds roosted in the American War Cemetery, Metro Manila on April 17 (NA). The last record from here was 109 on April 25 (AV). A very good total of 10 Naked-faced Spiderhunter Arachnothera clarae were observed on 10 Mar at PICOP, Mindanao (TP).

Green-faced Parrotfinch Erythrura coloria was recorded on Luzon in unusually high numbers due to the presence of flowering bamboo, one of its favorite food sources. At Ambakok, San Mariano, Isabela 195 individuals were observed in February (ME) and 30 in March (JH) and in May a minimum of 300 was seen in the Hamut Camp area at Mt. Los Dos Cuernos, Cagayan (JR).

NEWS FROM NEW BIRDING AREAS AND IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS (IBAs)


Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Cebu together with Manila Bay, continues to represent one of the best wetland sites of international importance. More than 9,400 birds of 28 species were counted on Olango Island during the AWC in January including Chinese Egret (11), Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis (3), Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus (23) and Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris (657). Other less known but important wetlands includes (number of water birds in brackets):

Asian Dowitcher


Luzon: Puerto Rivas, Bataan (12,600 waterbirds), Cavite-Bacoor Bay area of Manila Bay (5,000), Paranaque Coastal Wetland (4,700 including more than 1% of the flyway population of Common Greenshank), Tanza Coastal Wetland, Navotas, Manila (4,000 including 17 Chinese Egret). These are just four out of several potential very important wetlands of Manila Bay area that in total are likely to host more than 100,000 waterbirds from August to May.

Other important wetlands are found in Visayas: Cordoba Wetlands, Cebu (3,500).Himamaylan, Kabangland & Ilog Wetlands, Negros Occidental (3,100) and Mindanao: La Paz Carmen, Davao del Norte (9,800), Lake Mainit, Surigao del Sur (5,800),Bonifacio Wetlands, Mizamis Occidental (5,200) and Agusan Marsh Wildlife Santuary, Agusan del Sur (5,000)

A neglected, but excellent Important Bird Area (IBA No. PH011) is the Mt. Palay-Palay Mataas Na Gulod National Park, Cavite, Luzon. Just 2 hours drive from Manila, it is one of the Club's favorite destinations. Very little is known about the birdlife of the Park's more than 4,000 hectares of primary lowland forest but it appears to be as diverse as the forests of Mt. Makiling, Laguna and Subic Bay, Bataan. After one year's birding in the area, the number of species stands at 136 compared to a minimum of 150 for the well-known Mt. Makiling area. Highlights include Philippine Duck, 14 species of raptors including records of Black Kite, Jerdon's Baza Aviceda jerdoni and Northern Goshawk, 9 species of pigeons and doves including Luzon Bleeding-heart Callicolumba luzonica, Philippine Eagle-Owl Bubo philippensis, 4 species of woodpeckers, and a surprising density of endemic forest birds such as Philippine Trogon Harpactes ardens, Spotted Wood-kingfisher Actenoides lindsay and White-browed Shama Copsychus luzoniensis. It also one of the very last breeding areas for Rufous Hornbill Buceros hydrocorax on Luzon outside of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and the Cordilleras.


NEW RANGE DISTRIBUTION


In particular the Babuyan Island Expedition added as expected numerous new island records of resident and migrant species. We have, however, chosen only to include a few of these until more details are published.

Barred Rail Gallirallus torquatus was reported from Dimakya Island, Coron, Palawan on April 25 (KA) and from Cawili Island and the islets of Tubbataha Reef, Palawan on May 7-8 (AJ; TMO and WWF-Philippines). These reports add to this species island distribution and perhaps also show some seasonal inter-island movements. Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii on April 27 from the Bislig Airstrip, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao (MB) and 2 birds May 7 on Calayan Island (GB,CO) and at least 6 on Dalupiri Island, Cagayan, Luzon in May are new range/locality records (BIE). Surprisingly, Bukidnon Woodcock Scolopax bukidnonensis was found on Babuyan Claro Island with up to 4 on April 23 (BIE). This is the first record of this species from a small island and at a low altitude.

Whistling Green-pigeon Treron formosae were noted in April-May on Camiguin and Pamoctan Islands, Cagayan (BIE). Just on one day 31 individuals were observed on Pamoctan and a total of 117 were recorded from three of the islands of the Babuyan Group. A record of Amethyst Brown-Dove Phapitreron amethystinus from La Mesa Dam, Metro Manila/Rizal (AJ) indicated the increasing value of forest rehabilitation in this area resulting in the return of more forest endemics. Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucephaeus in Subic, Bataan on March (TF) might prove to be the first Luzon-record.

Black-crowned Night Heron

 

Although considered a migrant species, Black-Crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax appears to be a locally common resident breeder. A breeding colony of about 150 pairs was first documented at Asia World City, Metro Manila in 2001 and was still breeding in this area, although in reduced numbers in 2004 (AJ). An even older colony of about 600 pairs have existed at the least since around 1990 in the wetlands of Valenzuela, Metro Manila according to local residents (AJ). Outside of the Manila-area only Taal Volcano Lake, Batangas with 200 on February 28 (TP) and a fishpond near Lubao, Pampanga, Luzon (150 on April 1) showed good numbers (MV). Elsewhere this species is relatively uncommon.


ODDS AND WEIRDS

An escapee American Vulture Coragyps atratus reported late 2003 was still hanging around in the same area of Cainta, Rizal, Luzon where it was first recorded (PB) and 1 white morph of Little Ringed-Plover Charadrius dubius remained resident most of March on the mudflats of Tambo, Parañaque, Metro Manila (ML). The breeding population of the introduced /escaped Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri in the American War Cemetery, Metro Manila is still around 3-4 pairs (NL). A flock of 7 birds in February from Greenbelt, Makati in February might well be that of the cemetery population. Additional records are of single birds from Valenzuela., Metro Manila on February 28 (ML) and from Sampaloc Lake area, Laguna, Luzon on April 6-7 (NL).