Barangay Nug-as, Alcoy, Cebu
Qualifier: approx. 2 km trail from N09 43.305 E123
27.427 to N09 42.679 E123 27.304
Elevation: 695masl (start of trail); 755masl (end of
Conditions: 2-3-2/8 cloud cover; chilly Date: December
Time: 7:55am to 2:10pm
Birders: Mads Bajarias and Nug-as forest warden Pedro
Villarta Trip report & bird list by Mads Bajarias
Thanks to Godo Jakosalem of Cebu Biodiversity Conservation
Foundation, I was able to locate forest warden Pedro Villarta
about 12 kilometers uphill from the poblacion of the town
of Alcoy in southern Cebu. Pedro lives with his wife and small
children in a hut on the edge of the Nug-as forest. He is
one of the 22 forest wardens employed by CBCF to monitor the
approx. 800 hectares (This is Pedro's estimate. Mallari etal's
figure is c.582ha.) of forest here where exciting flora and
faunal discoveries have occurred in the last couple of years,
and where more scientific breakthroughs are surely to be made,
as more local and foreign researchers visit the area.
conferring with my habal-habal driver for a pick-up time,
Pedro and I started walking along a trail that goes through
an old reforestation site by a carbon-mining company called
Manguerra. The company planted mahogany, gmelina and pine
trees in the area, although now that another set of owners
have taken over the company, it seems unclear if the reforestation
is still on.
Pedro told me that we will walk 2 kilometers to get to a particular
tree where he, Godo, Lisa, and other CBCF personnel have recorded
Cebu Flowerpecker, and that the walk will take maybe 1 hour
tops. I thought that 2 kilometers won't pose much of a problem
until I found out (while huffing and puffing) that our tree
was on the top of the next hill which means descending on
loose and slippery limestone bits down a gully and then a
taxing climb to 755masl.
Along the trail on three different locations, we encountered
singing Black shama individuals but managed to get a glimpse
of just one. Briefly, I tried luring them out with playback
but met no success.
When we reached our target tree, loud shouts of alarm greeted
us, I turned to Pedro who told me that those were the resident
On flowering vine where CBCF has recorded Cebu Flowerpecker.
After reaching the particular tree where CBCF and other researchers
have recorded Cebu Flowerpecker and the (it seems to me) even
more rarely seen bird-the local subspecies of the Orange-bellied
Flowerpecker, Pedro said that the tree is a local (not part
of Manguerra's parade of exotics) species called "Mala-iba."
However, it was not the "Mala-iba" itself that attracted the
birds but a parasitic vine (Pedro said he's seen host trees
die) that grafts itself on to the host tree. The vine is called
"Mampur" and its bright red flowers (the "Mala-iba's" is white)
provide food for the sunbirds and flowerpeckers.
Checking out the state of the Mampur's flowers, Pedro said
that there were more flowers last November, and back then
the place was very busy. Today, I counted the bright red flowers
I could see with my binocs and came up with only 8. Pedro
guesses that by the looks of it, the next big flowering may
occur in February so we were in the "off" season in terms
of visiting birds. Despite the low turnout for nectar-feeders,
I was happy to get excellent views of a brilliant male Lovely
sunbird (bonita spp) which kept going back to get nectar from
I racked my brain and figured that the only memorable view
I've had of this species was a male in the Kokos-Nuss resort
in Coron, Palawan (shelleyi spp.) but this "Mampur"-feeding
male in Nug-as (bonita spp.) is far more beautiful.
I've read an account of the "Sampinit" vine in Tabunan visited
by the Cebu Flowerpecker. The article said that the "Sampinit's"
flowers are greenish-white and the vine itself has been described
variously as "leguminous" and "thorny." I didn't see any thorns
on the "Mampur" and I'm not in a position to say if it was
An interesting project would be to catalogue the vines, months
when they blossom, and the host plants where the rare flowerpeckers
have been observed.
3) On Cebuano bird names learned from forest warden Pedro
1. Bag-hak (Slaty-legged crake)
2. Boriringon (Elegant tit)
3. Bulay-og (White-eye)
4. Buga-ongon (Pied triller)
5. Waw-ha (Pitta)
6. Aniniho (Whistler)
7. Salak (Balicassiao)
For Cebuano speakers, "bulay-og" means an uncoordinated person,
and when I was growing up it was a term of derision reserved
for athletes lacking in agility. I asked Pedro why the white-eye
may have earned this name, and he said that white-eyes at
high noon seemed to get confused by the bright light, become
uncoordinated and thus easily trapped.
In certain times of the year, Pedro says that "waw-has" have
been encountered within Nug-as in a locality named Kaw-rik.
At times when water is especially scarce (all-year round in
these parts water is always hard to source), he says that
pittas are so weak they can be easily caught.
4) Birds seen and/or heard.
1. Slaty-legged crake [Rallina eurizonoides] - 1 Heard in
a gully with thick grass. It must be a resident because Pedro
knows well its call and appearance.
2. Philippine coucal [Centropus viridis] - 2 heard only
3. Swiftlet [Collocalia sp.] - 6
4. Pygmy swiftlet [Collocalia troglodytes] - 6 5. Coppersmith
barbet [Megalaima haemacephala] - 2 heard only
6. Pied triller [Lalage nigra] - 1 fem Gleaning insects on
a pine tree locally called "Marabuhok."
7. Philippine bulbul [Hypsipetes philippinus] - 2 seen; at
least 2 more heard
8. Balicassiao [Dicrurus balicassius] - 1 seen; at least 2
9. Elegant tit [Parus elegans] - 4
10. Black shama [Copsychus cebuensis] - 1 male seen; at least
2 more heard Call partly tape-recorded.
11. Arctic warbler [Phylloscopus borealis] - 1
12. Striated grassbird [Megalurus palustris] - 1 in gully
13. Black-naped monarch [Hypothymis azurea] - 1 male
14. Olive-backed sunbird [Nectarinia jugularis] - 5
15. Handsome sunbird [Aethopyga bonita] - 1 male; 1 fem A
male kept going back to the "Mampur" the whole time we were
observing; we assumed it was the same individual. The female
appeared only once. In his experience, Pedro says that if
the aggressive male sunbird stays close to the "Mala-iba"
and the "Mampur," the flowerpeckers generally will not be
able to feed there.
16. Crimson sunbird [Aethopyga siparaja] - 1 male
17. Red-keeled Flowerpecker [Dicaeum australe] - 2 males;
18. Everett's white-eye [Zosterops everetti] - at least 10
From "Key Conservation Sites in the Philippines"
by Mallari etal. "Nug-as forest has fewer large
trees than the main forest block at Tabunan,
but it is much more extensive at c.582 ha. It
has been relatively isolated from habitations
and more rarely visited, and therefore under
less immediate pressure than Tabunan, but the
ongoing construction of a road to link Alcoy
with Alegria will greatly increase its accessibility.
Most of remaining forests at Nug-as are on karst
limestone slopes and ridgetops, and in gulleys.
There are two main forest types, secondary lowland
forest and scrub at 200-500masl, and transitional
mid-montane forest above c.500masl. Most of
have small stem diameters and grow very close together,
but there are a few large trees. There is an abundance
of epiphytes and moss on the trees and rocks. Around
the forests and scrubland are small farms with agroforests
of mostly coconuts and other fruit trees. Exotic trees
planted during a reforestation program are on the
adjacent slopes and along the main road.
Sightings of the Cebu subspecies of Orange-bellied
Flowerpecker (D. t. pallidus) at Nug-as are apparently
the only recent record of this subspecies."