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Another Go at the American War Cemetery

American War Cemetery
February 28, 2004
1:50 pm to 5:00 pm
Clear skies, sunny, wind from south, dusty
by Ned Liuag

Yes, as part of my commitment to the Club for this quarter I had another go at the American War Cemetery on Saturday, 28 February. The objective this time was to report on the habitat around Fort Bonifacio Global City via Fort Bus. Enroute, I couldn't help overhear two passengers talking about the radical changes in the scenery. The bus stop at the edge of the Manila Golf Club where the bus switched drivers used to be a marsh, one of them said.

I got off at the corner of Lawton Avenue and McKinley Drive in what used to be the South Post and walked back towards the War Cemetery gate. This section of the Fort used to be extensive grassland hosting zebra doves, cisticolas and grassbirds. The area is now almost bare, except for clumps of grass. There is construction ongoing near McKinley.

The lot across Lawton Drive opposite the northern perimeter fence of the War Cemetery is being prepped for escavation. Work in the property beyond the southern perimeter is constant and because there was a brisk wind rising from the south, a thin veil of dust washed that section of the Cemetery, getting into eyes and optics. The noise from the heavy equipment was ceaseless.

There is an unnamed road that runs west from Lawton Drive behind the Gate 2 jeepney terminal. Both sides appear to be grassy lots.

There also was another landscape change at the junction between the E and F lots downhill from the Memorial. I could not find the tree stump beside the road. It has been replaced by a row of foliage plants with a concrete gutter around the bed to catch the runoff. Hopefully, the rails from the restricted area will be attracted to seek cover there later.

Since a number of trees that shed in November-December are regaining their foliage, it will be more difficult to spot smaller species in the next four weeks when the canopy is thicker.

It was very hot and I turned a tone darker after my three hour hike. And, there were very few birds in sight. I managed 21 birds, of which 18 were seen. Because raptors were very visible this afternoon, the smaller birds would suddenly disappear for lengths of time.

American Cemetery
[ american cemetery ]

  1. Gray-Faced Buzzard - 1 seen flying west of Memorial at 3:12 pm in same section where same species was sighted on February 22.
  2. Eurasian Kestrel - 1 seen, first in the southwestern corner flying above the road bisecting A and B lots. Very nice views. Long tail with dark subterminal bar. Bouyant flight before disappearing towards National Heroes Cemetery. Kestrel was seen at 3:00 pm flying in the vicinity of Neese residence in the northeastern section. Unmistakably a male falcon, with black wing tips. Had a good look from my vantage point at the top of the hill. Lost sight of it near the Memorial.
  3. Barred Rail - Saw 3. 1 flushed from hedge in the northeast of the Memorial. Two seen chasing each other west of Memorial at sunset.
  4. Zebra Dove - a total of 20 counted, with the largest concentration being 5 behind the washrooms near the War Memorial.
  5. White Collared Kingfisher - though this species was heard throughout, I only saw 2. One in the eastern section and another in the northwest section.
  6. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker - None seen but hear trilling in the usual vicinity near gully and along Lawton Drive.
  7. Pacific Swallow - 4
  8. Yellow-Vented Bulbul - at least 19, more in the trees at the edge of the Cemetery
  9. Pied Triller - 3 in separate points in the Cemetery.
  10. Black-Naped Oriole - didn't see this one but heard it calling again somewhere in the western restricted area.
  11. Pied Bushchat - 6, three pairs occupying separate territories: north of Memorial between the inner and middle ring roads; the northeastern section below the Memorial and among the headstones south of the Memorial between the middle and outer ring roads.
  12. Boue Rock Thrush - 1 male among headstones south of the Memorial.
  13. Golden-Bellied Gerygone - Species singing everywhere all afternoon but none seen this time.
  14. Striated Grassbird - 3, possibly driven into the Cemetery by construction. One was seen in hedge by the middle ring road near the E and F junction. One made a display flight from hedge northeast of the Memorial. The third flew into the hedge bordering the Memorial parking lot washrooms and was heard singing from cover.
  15. Arctic Warbler - Finally, identified 1 with certainty while it was calling from perches in trees beside the A and B junction southwest of the Memorial. Good look at the eyebrow and body.
  16. Pied Fantail - 8 seen and keeping close to the hedges.
  17. WHite-Breasted Woodswallows - 3 flew in from the western restricted area then perched on bare branch near the A and B junction. The birds were still there when I called it a day.
  18. Brown Shrike - 24 seen, of which 13 were identified on my second lap around the Cemetery. Number 18 was later seen carrying a large dragonfly in its bill to a perch high in a tree.
  19. Lowland White-Eye - 7 seen, flock of at least 5 in the tree on the corner of the E and F junction and a pair flying to roost from the western section. Several more were heard in their favored roosting place in the western edge beside Lawton Drive but none were seen.
  20. Eurasian Tree Sparrow - 6 seen, but more heard in trees, especially those east of Memorial.
  21. Ring-Necked Parakeet - a pair in their favorite tree just off the A and B junction.