For the spring migration raptor count 2012, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines conducted 11 raptor count trips at the Pag-Asa station in Tanay (Rizal) from March 3 to April 22. A total of 13,011 raptors were counted led by Chinese Goshawk (9445), Grey-faced Buzzard (1699) and Oriental Honey Buzzard (829). More Ospreys (19) were counted this year and both Barred Honey-Buzzard (1) and Brahminy Kite (1) were recorded for the first time on this site during a raptor count.
Another site, San Mateo (Rizal), was visited 4 times and had a significant count (1947) of Chinese Goshawk on one of the 4 days.
A flock of Grey-faced Buzzards (30) were seen in downtown Manila (by Manila Bay) on March 30 and Chinese Goshawks (200) were seen in Mt. Palay-Palay on April 1. Based on the location, we believe these two sightings were probably flying in from the west from the Mindoro-Palawan.
There had been random reports of raptor movements even earlier than 3rd March, the earliest of which was on the middle of February where Grey-faced Buzzards were seen thermalling over Bankong Kahoy in Dolores (Quezon Province) and then heading off north. Some more sightings were recorded in the following days at Villa Escudero in Tiaong (Quezon Province)
Random reports still trickled in from Makiling early May of Chinese Goshawks flying north. Perhaps more migration information could be obtained if the watch were to commence much earlier and much later than that of Taiwan.
Over the 7 week raptor count period only 11 watches were held on week-ends and holidays. Our raptorwatchers here have day jobs and can only afford the time to watch during week-ends. Another problem would be that of proper identification. Our club members have very little information and knowledge about raptor identification so even if some members have some time to go on their own, they would refrain from going simply because of their inability to identify raptors. It is recommended that more raptor identification seminars be conducted by knowlegeable resource persons.
Our main raptor count site at the Pag-Asa station in Tanay (Rizal) has proven to be a reliable place for both Spring and Autumn seasons and the following has been observed from the few watches that we have had so far:
Spring season: More raptors are observed and counted flying in greater flocks compared to the autumn migration and they seem to be flying with great urgency. At the start of the season bigger flights generally commence around 1000 hours but towards the end of the season huge flights have been observed just before 0800 hours. Since we commence our watch just about 0800 hours, we have no records of what time flights actually commence in the morning. More time is required on a daily basis to complete the record.
This season flights were observed generally east of our watch site over the higher elevations of the Sierra Madre – those areas must be inspected for a possible watch site.
Autumn season: Raptors are not reported in great numbers, they generally fly low and scattered. They do not fly with urgency like in the Spring. Perhaps the reason could be that many raptor species make the Philippines their wintering grounds. Most of the sightings in Autumn last year were observed on the western part of the watch site.