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From the Field – Philippines
(reporting period 16 September 2010 – 15 March 2011)

Edited by Arne Erik Jensen, OBC Representative
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

Greater White-fronted Geese were a surprising new country record
Greater White-fronted Geese were a surprising
new country record

Fifteen Greater White-Fronted Goose Anser albifrons present in Candaba Marsh, Pampanga from 5 December (AL) to 6 January 2011 made up a surprising new country record and a Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was photo-documented for the first time on Mt. Data, Mountain Province on 1 November (MZ).

Several accidentally occurring species that are more likely to be rare but regularly occurring migrants in the Philippines were reported for the period. A spectacular flock of 16 Pied Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta showed up in Candaba Marsh, Pampanga on 6 January (CP). The Marsh also had on 18 January what was probably a Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus at the same spot where it was recorded in 2008 (AL). Flocks of starling species rarely seen in the Philippines were observed during the winter months from December in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. They included up to 50 Red-billed Starlings Sturnus sericeus, 15 White-cheeked Starlings Sturnus cineraceus and five White-shouldered Starlings Sturnus sinensis (RR).

A spectacular flock of 16 Pied Avocets showed up in Candaba Marsh
A spectacular flock of 16 Pied Avocets showed up in
Candaba Marsh

During the Asian Waterfowl Census on 16 January a flock of up to 30 Caspian Terns Hydroprogne caspia and two Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna were reported from Manila Bay at the Pasac River Estuary, Pampanga (AC, LW). Manila Bay also had five Pomarine Skuas Stercorarius pomarinus on 20 February (JB); in addition, a single bird was recorded on 28 December off Apo Reef, Mindoro Occidental (PB). Other records of species currently listed as accidentally occurring in the Philippines include a likely second record of Radde’s Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi on 16 November at Mt Makiling, Laguna (PB).

Among the rare and threatened migrants reported for the period are one Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor on Batan Island, Bataanes (GR) and up to four Yellow Buntings Emberiza sulphurata in Laoag, Ilocos Norte on 2 February and 12 March (RR). Other rare migrants recorded include an unidentified Spoonbill Platalea species observed on 25 February along the North Luzon Expressway near San Fernando, Pampanga (TM) and a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea on Mt. Banahaw, Quezon in October (IS). The Ferruginous Flycatcher was also seen in Metro Manila in Parañaque on 19 October (RO) and on 18 November in the Diliman Campus of the University of the Philippines, Quezon City (AV).

Reports from localities not often visited include a Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla photo- documented along the Ambangeg trail of Mt. Pulag, Benguet in December (IS). A visit to the little-known Tayabas trail on Mt. Banahaw, Quezon in October revealed a Furtive Flycatcher Ficedula disposita, four Flame-breasted Fruit Doves Ptilinopus marchei and four Luzon Scops-owls Otus longicornis (IS). The only unusual record of a resident species was of an immature Spotted Imperial-Pigeon Ducula carola flying across the Coastal Lagoon, Parañaque on 11 October (RO).

Balut Island, Sarangani Province was visited on 28 December. The island has been fully converted into agriculture and is entirely covered with coconut trees. An inquiry was made with the local community about the Great-billed Parrot Tanygnathus magalorynchos which in the Philippines has an uncertain status. Several older community members interviewed knew the species well and remembered it was often seen in the island forest in the past. The interviewees confirmed that the Great-billed Parrot had been extirpated not only from Balut Island but also from the other islands in Sarangani Bay as a result of habitat loss and poaching (CP).

The Asian Waterfowl Census turned up an exceptionally high count of more than 28,000 waterbirds at Pasac River Estuary, Pampanga on 16 January (AC, LW). The count included 2,750 Great Egret Ardea alba, 3,000 Asian Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva, 8,600 Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus, 2,130 Redshanks Tringa totanus, 5,300 Marsh Sandpipers Tringa stagnatilis and over 6,600 Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus. For four of the species the numbers represent more than 1% of the East Asian-Australasian flyway population, a trigger for possible inclusion of the wetland as a critical conservation area under the Ramsar Convention. Another noteworthy congregation occurred in December in the forest area of Subic Bay, Zambales where more than 80 Blue-naped Parrots Tanygnathus lucionensis were seen at night roost (AG). An estimated 20,000 Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica roosted in the city center of Davao on 16 December (CB). Thousands of Barn Swallows were also observed in December in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila (LR) and in March at a mall building in Quezon City (AT).

Contributors: Andrew Curits (AC), Anne Gonzales (AG), Agerico de Villa (AV),Alex Loinaz (AL), Arnel Telesforo (AT), Carmela Balcazar (CB), Christian Perez (CP), George Reyes (GR), Ivan Sarenas (IS), James Byron (JB), Lenny Worthington (LW), Lydia Robles(LR), Maxime Zucca (MZ), Paul Bourdin (PB), Romy Ocon (RO), Richard Ruiz (RR), and Tina Mallari (TM).