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PICOP, Bislig, Surigao del Sur


PICOP, Mangagoy, Bislig, Surigao del Sur


PICOP Roads 1-4, 4, and Bislig airport


April 27, 2004


4am to 6pm, with lunch break 11:20 - 12:20


Rainy from 4am to 1pm


Sunny between 1pm to 2pm


Overcast from 2 to 6pm


Felizardo Goring


Lu-Ann Fuentes


Mads Bajarias

Trip Report: Lu-Ann Fuentes and Mads Bajarias
Bird List: Mads Bajarias

Bislig town lies on the eastern coast of Mindanao. It's the main point of access into the vast concession area of the Paper Industries Corp of the Phil (PICOP), about four hours' drive from the Davao City airport.

According to the "Key Conservation Sites in the Philippines" by Mallari et al, the concession area covers about 182,682 hectares and extends from the lowland forests inland from Bislig to the higher altitude forests on Mt. Pasian and Mt. Agtuuganon.

The concession includes large areas of logged lowland forest, primary lowland forest, and over 40,000 hectares devoted to plantation forestry.

"PICOP operates a fully-integrated wood industrial complex at Bislig, the first and only one of its kind in Asia. It includes the first newsprint plant in Asia. It is a popular destination for birdwatchers, as it is one of the best places to see several scarce lowland forest birds."

We were in Bislig primarily to attend a wedding, but we wanted to allot one day for intense birding. We were told that most birdwatchers, earmark an average of four days to explore the intersecting Roads 1 and 4 (also referred to as Road 14) to tick every bird on their wish list.

But since we had only one day, we hooked up with local bird guide Felizardo (Zardo) Goring who was initiated into guided birding tours by Tim Fisher 10 years ago. Zardo describes himself as "Tim Fisher's student. "

Zardo knows very well the local birds, their calls, and where to look for specific endemics, including the Philippine eagle. He’s used to people handing him their bird wish list. He’ll ask you a day before what birds you want to see. He'll suggest how you can make the most of your birding time—where’s the right place and the right time.

Zardo showed up outside our door just before 4 am with a jeep and driver in tow. The jeep followed us at a distance --in case, the rain poured (it usually does), and, we suspect, for security reasons. He says he has met and exchanged nods with armed insurgents within these parts. Fact of (birding) life here, he shrugs.

Bislig did not disappoint. On our single day of birding (even without a field recorder for enticing the birds, and with rain until mid-morning), we listed over 70 species at the intersecting Roads of 1 and 4.

Among these were what we could refer to as the "blue troupe" of Road 4 --Blue Fantail, Short-crested Monarch, and Black-naped Monarch.

Road 1 offered the Rufous Hornbills, Little Spiderhunter, Naked-faced Spiderhunter, Rufous-Lored Kingfisher (watching us watching him), Violet Cuckoo, Philippine Falconet, Crested Goshawk, Pied Imperial-Pigeon, Black-chinned Fruit-Dove, and the Pompadour Green-Pigeon.

A black-and-white Silvery Kingfisher repeatedly performed stunning dives into a pond from its perch. It shared the same pond with a Rufous Night-Heron and a turtle that was sunning itself.

Several times during the day, when Zardo heard a Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher or Celestial Monarch or Philippine Leafbird, he’d say: “If only we had a taped call, we'd lure them out easy.” I wanted to say to him, “Shhhh, it's okay.”

We later visited the abandoned Bislig airport where we sat on the roof of the jeep waiting for the twilight and for the grass owls, but they didn't emerge from the marshy fields. But a large male breeding Water Cock—with its prominent red frontal shield –sure did.

We also came across a man pumping an air gun, warning us not to go down the side trail because he spotted two duck targets. We looked at each other in horror and Zardo and I both said, rather meekly, "Huwag na lang." (Please don't.) He disappeared into the trail. We tried to assure ourselves that the ducks could get away. Soon, a disturbed pair took to the skies. The man burst from the marshes, hurriedly got on his bike, and pedaled after what could have been the family's dinner.

On the way back from Hagonoy Island, we spotted from our banca, a pair of Lesser Frigatebirds. Later, we saw a pair of Common Koel on a tree across the Bayview Hills guesthouse, grey wagtails on the road, and monkeys scampering uphill.

These unexpected delights, contrasted with the intermittent sound of chainsaws that were tearing down trees at Roads 1 and 4. At one point, our group saw six large trucks overflowing with sawed trees. Not for the faint-hearted.

Zardo said that settlers have also torn down the favorite haunt of the Wattled Broadbill, which is why we didn’t see it. The area is also near the haunt of the Steere's Pitta.

A beautiful nesting-tree of the Rufous Hornbill still stands, but after seeing the destruction around us in Road 1-4, even that magnificent tree might very soon disappear.

Finally, on the day of the wedding, I sat with the bride in a car speeding from PICOP Compound to the church at Forest Drive Village. Just then, as we passed by the old airport, more than 20 Philippine Ducks flew overhead. Before that, we had only seen only nine at most at one time. I pointed in amazement, ducks! They’re said to be symbols of fidelity in Asian culture. Now, that’s an auspicious sign for the bride on her wedding day.

Note: To contact Zardo: 09207168379. For longer stays, it might be better to coordinate with Tim Fisher.

1. Purple heron [Ardea purpurea] - 1. At Bislig Airport (BA)
2. Cattle egret [Bubulcus ibis] – about 30 (BA)
3. Rufous night-heron [Nycticorax caledonicus] - 1 imm. at a creek shared with Silvery Kingfisher along a road between Rd 1-4 and BA
4. Cinnamon bittern [Ixobrychus cinnamomeus] - 2 (BA)
5. Phil duck [Anas luzonica] – About 20. Hunted with airguns. (BA)
6. Barred honeybuzzard [Pernis ptilorhynchus] - 1 at Rd 1-4
7. Crested goshawk [Accipiter trivirgatus] - 1 at Rd 1-4
8. Phil hawk-eagle [Spizaetus philippensis] - 1 heard only (HO) while at Rd. 4
9. Phil falconet [Microhierax erythrogenys] - 1 at Rd 1-4
10. White-browed crake [Porzana fusca] - 1 at BA
11. Watercock [Gallicrex cinerea] - 2. Male and female seen flying low over the grass at BA
12.Plain bush-hen [Amaurornis oliveceus] - HO at BA
13. Swinhoe's snipe [Gallinago megala] - 1. Seen only by Zardo
14. Pompadour green-pigeon [Treron pompadora] – about 20. Saw 8 at most at one time.
15. White-eared brown-dove [Phapitreron leucotis] - 3 seen. More heard at Rd 1-4
16. Amethyst brown-dove [Phapitreron amethystina] - HO
17. Yellow-breasted fruit-dove [Ptilinopus merrilli] - HO
18. Black-chinned fruit-dove [Ptilinopus leclancheri] - HO
19. Green Imperial-pigeon [Ducula aenea] – about 20. Saw 8 at most at one time.
20. Pied Imperial-pigeon [Ducula bicolor] - 1
21. Spotted dove [Streptopelia chinensis] – About 20 at BA
22. Zebra dove [Geopelia striata] – About 10 at BA
23. Common emerald dove [Chalcophaps indica] - 1
24. Guaiabero [Bolbopsittacus lunulatus] - 2
25. Colasisi [Loriculus philippensis] - 1
26. Violet cuckoo [Chrysococcyx xanthorhychus] - 1
27. Drongo cuckoo [Surniculus lugubris] - 1. More heard
28. Common koel [Uedynamys scolopea mindanensis] - HO
29. Phil coucal [Centropus viridis] – About 10 at BA
30. Phil frogmouth [Batrachostomus septimus] - HO
31. Pygmy swiftlet [Collocalia troglodytes] – About 10
32. Phil needletail [Mearnsia picina] - 4 at Rd 1-4
33. Whiskered treeswift [Hemiprocne comata] - 4
34. Phil trogon [Harpacted ardens] - HO
35. Silvery Kingfisher [Alcedo argentata] - 1.
36. Rufous-lored kingfisher [Halcyon winchelli] - 1.
37. Tarictic hornbill [Penelopides panini] - 2
38. Rufous hornbill [Buceros hydrocorax mindanensis] – 6. Saw 3 at most at one time.
39. Coppersmith barbet [Megalaima haemacephala] - HO
40. White-bellied woodpecker [Dryocopus javensis] - 1
41. Red-bellied pitta [Pitta erythrogaster] - HO
42. Steere's pitta [Pitta steerii] - HO
43. Pacific swallow [Hirundo tahitica] – About 5
44. Pied triller [Lalage nigra] - 2
45. Scarlet minivet [Pericrocotus flammeus] - 1
46. Phil leafbird [Chloropsis flavipennis] - HO
47. Yellow-vented bulbul [Pycnonotus goiavier] – 2. More heard
48. Yellow-wattled bulbul [Pycnonotus urostictus] - 1. More heard
49. Phil bulbul [Hypsipetes philippinus] - 2. More heard
50. Yellowish bulbul [Hypsipetes everetti] - HO
51. Spangled drongo [Dicrurus hottentottus] - 1. More heard
52. Phil oriole [Oriolus steerii] - 2
53. Black-naped oriole [Oriolus chinensis] - 4
54. Large-billed crow [Corvus macrorhynchos] - 1
55. Brown Tit-babbler [Macronous striaticeps] – Difficult to determine number but definitely more than 1.
56. Oriental magpie-robin [Copsychus saularis] - 6
57. Oriental reed-warbler [Acrocephalus orientalis] – About 10 at BA
58. Tawny grassbird [Megalurus timoriensis] - 1 at BA
59. Striated grassbird [Megalurus [palustris] – About 5 at BA
60. Phil tailorbird [Orthotomus castaneiceps] - HO
61. Black-headed tailorbird [Orthotomus nigriceps] - HO
62. Bright-capped cisticola [Cisticola exilis] -About 5 at BA
63. Zitting cisticola [Cisticola juncidis] – About 5 at BA
64. Grey-streaked flycatcher [Muscicapa griseisticta] - 1
65. Pied fantail [Rhipidura javanica] - 1
66. Blue fantail [Rhipidura superciliaris] - 2
67. Rufous paradise-flycatcher [Terpsiphone cinnamomea] - HO
68. Black-naped monarch [Hypothymis helenae] - 2
69. Yellow-bellied whistler [Pachycephala philippinensis] - HO
70. White-breasted wood-swallow [Artamus leucorynchus] - 2
71. Asian glossy starling [ Aplonis panayensis] - 5
72. Coleto [Sarcops calvus] - HO
73. Olive-backed sunbird [Nectarinia jugularis] - 4 at BA
74. Purple-throated sunbird [Nectarinia sperata] – About 10
75. Naked-faced spiderhunter [Arachnothera clarae] - 1
76. Little spiderhunter [Arachnothera longirostra] - 1
77. Red-keeled flowerpecker [Dicaeum australe] – About 10
78. Orange-belled flowerpecker [Dicaeum trigonostigma] - 4
79. Eurasian tree sparrow [Passer montanus] – About 20 at BA
80. Chestnut munia [Lonchura malacca] – About 20 at BA


Other birds seen in PICOP on other days

Where: Bislig Airport
Birders: Mads Bajarias, Lu-Ann Fuentes
Date: April 26, 2004
Time: 8:20am to 10:20am
Conditions: Overcast with intermittent showers

1. Purple heron - 2
2. Cinnamon bittern - 3 ad and 1 juv
3. Phil duck - 8
4. Little ringed plover - 5
5. Pink-necked green-pigeon - 5
6. Spotted dove – About 10
7. Zebra dove – About 10
8. Phil coucal – About 10
9. Pied triller - 2
10. Yellow-vented bulbul – About 5
11. Striated grassbird – About 5
12. Tawny grassbird - 1
13. Bright-capped cisticola - 1
14. Zitting cisticola – About 5
15. Asian glossy starling – About 10
16. Brown shrike - 1
17.Eurasian tree sparrow – About 20
18. Chestnut munia – About 20

Where: Abandoned PICOP airstrip
Date: April 26, 2004
Time: 10:45am to 11:40am
Conditions: Overcast with intermittent showers

1. Cattle egret - 12
2. Cinnamon bittern - 2
3. Malaysian plover - 1. (It took us some time to figure this one out. Initially, we had narrowed ID down to either Kentish or Malaysian. The clincher was the extent of the black collar which went all the way to the back of the neck.)
4. Spotted dove - 5
5. Phil coucal - 1
6. White-collared kingfisher - 7
7. Pacific swallow - 4
8. Yellow-vented bulbul - About10
9. Striated grassbird - 1
10. Warbler sp. (possibly Clamorous reed-warbler) - 1
11. Zitting cisticola - 1
12. Asian glossy starling – About 10
13. Brown shrike - 1
14. White-breasted wood-swallow - 1
15. Eurasian tree-sparrow – About 10
16. Chestnut munia - About20

Where: Bayview Hill (dam site and water filtration system site inside PICOP compound)
Date: April 26, 2004
Time: 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Conditions: Overcast

1. Pygmy swiftlet - 1
2. Pacific swallow - 5
3. Grey wagtail - 4 in breeding plumage
4. Asian glossy starling - 4
5. Purple-throated sunbird - 6
6. White-breasted wood-swallow - 1

Where: Bayview Hill (dam site and water filtration system site inside PICOP compound)
Date: April 28, 2004
Time: 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Conditions: 2/8 cloud cover

1. Rufous hornbill - 3 (2 ad and 2 juv)
2. Koel - 2 (male and female)
3. Pied triller - 1
4. Phil needletail - 2
5. Pacific swallow – About 5
6. Pygmy swiftlet - 1
7. Asian glossy starling - 2
8. Purple-throated sunbird - 4
9. White-throated kingfisher - 1
10. Large-billed crow - 1

Where: Causeway (part of coastline inside PICOP Compound)
Date: May 1, 2004
Time: 12:30pm
Conditions: 1/8Cloud cover

1. Lesser frigatebird [Fregata ariel] - 2. Male and female