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Raptor release at Corregidor Island

May 31, 2006
Corregidor Island, Manila Bay

WBCP birders: Mike Lu, Ipat Luna & Ixi Mapua
My Zoo Foundation members: Gerswin Qua & Mel Tan
PAWB reps: Joy de Leon & Dr. Toledo
Manila Zoo rep: Dr. Bernardo

Trip report and bird list by Mike Lu

The much-delayed raptor release by the Wildlife Rescue Center (WRC) of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) finally pushed through today. Two years ago, we shared our club bird list data for Subic Bay and Mt Palay-Palay to the PAWB in preparation for wildlife release in these sites. In September 2005, PAWB had requested assistance from the Wild Bird Club to purchase leather to make the leash and hood to be used during the raptors' transfer to Corregidor Island instead. The club complied within the week and also supplied the bird list for Corregidor Island. Due to red tape within the government agency, the typhoon-damaged flight cage at the site and the conflicting schedules of the VIP government officials (namely DENR Secretary, Undersecretaries, PAWB director and other VIPs), the release date kept on being re-scheduled. Eventually the raptor release was finally set on May 31 on a date where not one of the VIPS could make it and hence no press coverage for a milestone event.

Nevertheless WBCP members deem it necessary to witness the event. The large flight aviary seemed intact but we were told that one of the 11 White-bellied Sea-eagles died last week during a typhoon. The eagles had been in captivity for more than 2 years (including more than a month spent on Corregidor) and have grown accustomed to humans. The caretakers teased them out of the aviary with fish. Most of the raptors had to be bodily carried out of the cages. Once out of the cages, the eagles begged for more food and stayed around the cages waiting to be fed. We left the area to let the birds finally discover that they are free.

Common Emerald Dove

Brahminy Kite

Golden-bellied Flyeater

Corregidor Island was bombed out during World War 2, but now the forest has grown back and flourished. We were birding in the heat of the day between 1000 and 1400 and had a total 17 species. Glossy Starlings and Black-naped Orioles dominate the landscape. Emerald Doves were quite easily seen. I was told that more than 40 Brahminy Kites had been released on the island some years back. We were fortunate to see a number of them and hope the sea-eagles likewise dominate the skies soon. My personal highlights, not lifers though, were Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher and Red Junglefowl. An overnight stay at Corregidor would surely yield much more species including the reported cockatoos.

Brahminy Kite - 10+
Red Junglefowl - 2
Pink-necked Green Pigeon - 2, male and female
Zebra Dove - 12+
Emerald dove - 6+
Glossy Swiftlet - common
White-collared Kingfisher - 5+, more heard
Striated Swallow - 1
Pied Triller - 1
Yellow-vented Bulbul - 6+
Black-naped Oriole - 15+
Golden-bellied Flyeater - 2+, more heard
Mangrove Blue Flycatcher -2, male and female
Pied Fantail - 1
Asian Glossy Starling - 50+, probably more
Olive-backed Sunbird - 1, male
Lowland White-eye - 2+