Date: 01 March 2003
Time: 2:30 PM
to 5:00 PM
Weather: Dry conditions, sun, brisk southeast wind
took off for the American War Cemetery this afternoon, March
1, to check on conditions and bird prospects at this time
of year. My 16-kilometer endurance hike in Makiling the previous
weekend turned up no bird sightings, though the team was able
to follow a new trail and explore a little visited section
of the forest.
was my luck that a Fort Bus was about to pull away from the
McKinley stop, just off the MRT stairs. A P9.00 ticket saved
me the waiting time at jeepney terminal. The regular Fort
Bus offers a cool, relaxing ride through plush Forbes Park
but you must be prepared to walk the last quarter of a kilometer
to the War Cemetery gate from the bus stop on 5th
Avenue a distance from the Regent Parkway condominium (ref
CitiAtlas Map 87).
was oven-hot as I walked towards the entrance on Old Lawton
Drive, My approach sending the basking sun skinks skittering
off the pavement.
outside the gate, I spotted my first bird of the day - a GREY-STREAKED
FLYCATCHER sitting motionless on the branch of a leafless
tree. The EURASIAN TREE SPARROW perched in the same tree provided
a point of comparison to this winter visitor. Straightaway,
I could pick up the familiar wheezy song of the GOLDEN-BELLIED
GERYGONE from the trees near the Superintendents residence.
up the avenue that leads to the War Memorial, I paused to
take a look at a close flock of LOWLAND WHITE-EYES foraging
in the branches high above. From this point, I also caught
sight of the first of several ZEBRA DOVES and BROWN SHRIKES
of the day.
afternoon, I decided to switch from a mobile to a positional
strategy. I selected a shady spot on the south slope below
the parking lot. With its near 180-degree view of the site,
this position allowed me to cover More ground with the least
energy. This also meant being able to spend more time counting
the birds and observing their activity.
discovered two old nests high in the narra trees located behind
the washrooms. The nests consist of a platform of sticks and
dried grass positioned in a fork. These appear large enough
to support night-herons. Idid not observe any activity there,
but the nests appear to be recent.
me, I counted three PIED BUSHCHATS, including one female,
watching over their territories from the headstones. From
time to time, these birds would fly to the ground to capture
prey. Sharing that section of the Cemetery with them was a
trio of Brown Shrikes, which were content to remain motionless
on their perches.
of the resident WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHERS staked out its
patch of ground near the tree where we spotted the gray squirrel
on November 24.This section proved quite productive for the
Kingfisher, which dropped on the grass several times within
a minute I spent observing it.
hour into my bird walk, I aimed for the tree line on the western
perimeter of the Cemetery. I found more Brown Shrikes hunting
here. These ones were not shy, allowing me to approach them
as near as six meters from their perches. I did notice at
least one undersized Brown Shrike, about two-thirds the size
of the others. I have observed similar sized Brown Shrikes
in the Tripa de Galina area and wonder how these managed to
make the trip from mainland Asia or whether they will survive
the return which begins any day now.
was hoping to find flowerpeckers or sunbirds in the dap-dap
tree here and came up with an active flock of at least 10
YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS. These birds will eat almost anything
and everything, owing their success in Metro Manila. While
some would reach deep into the throats of these flowers, I
observed others nibbling on tender shoots of the neighboring
moved in for a closer view of the Yellow-Vented Bulbuls a
startled rail scurried deeper into the bamboo hedge and a
PIED FANTAIL flew off calling sharply to protest my intrusion.
search for the rail turned up a single SPOTTED DOVE, which
I saw through a hole in the hedge before it flew off into
the restricted area.
must note that the zeal of the new administrator for landscaping
has severely reduced the thickets and hedgerow habitat favored
by the Pied Fantail. I only managed a handful of this species,
usually the most conspicuous bird in this site. My visit also
turned up no sign of grassbirds, owing further reduction of
the grassland in the restricted zone and outside the perimeter
fence. The area surrounding the American Cemetery is tinder
dry and a recent grassfire consumed the habitat beyond the
northeastern wall, just up Old Lawton Drive.
followed the outer ring road and keeping a sharp eye for starlings.
Surprisingly, I saw a male BLUE ROCK THRUSH in the same spot
where we had seen it during our December 22 bird trip here.
As noted in previous reports, this one does not appear as
plump as the individual showing up in the Tripa de Galina
down the outer ring road a bird that I tracked in flight to
a tree behind some hedges on the eastern section turned out
to be a male PIED TRILLER. Later in the day, I came across
the bird again northeast of the War Memorial. I now realize
it was a Pied Triller that Kitty Arce had pointed to as it
flew over us during our birdwalk with Mrs. Neese in November.
it neared closing time and the day got cooler, I noticed that
the numbers of Zebra Doves started to increase. I spooked
a flock of five into hedges, and was coming across more individuals
and started hearing their calls on the hike back to the War
I took up my position on the western side of the War Memorial,
a dark shape flew in the direction of the gate, its white
wing patches diagnostic of a CRESTED MYNAH. I had only 10
minutes left and I was about to call it a day when finally
a BARRED RAIL emerged from the bushes and slowly picked its
way across the lawn before it ducked for cover again. The
rail emerged a second time as I packed up to leave. I got
very good looks at it and felt relieved that this species
was still present in the area.
Zebra Doves became more vocal as the sun went down and started
showing up on the lawns at this time. They were no longer
shy these doves and I enjoyed the peaceful sound of their
cooing as I made my way to the open gate and reentered a world
teetering on the brink of war.
like to add for the record that five HOUSE SWIFTS were spotted
high above the Tripa de Galina creek from our third story
flat on 27 February.
to inform that the next day, I saw clutches of COMMON MOORHEN
being sold by the road to Sta. Maria in Bulacan.
Rail - 1
2. Spotted Dove - 1
3. Zebra Doves - Common towards evening; flocks up to 5 seen
at one time
4. White-Collared Kingfisher - 1 seen and heard, very conspicuous
5. Pied Triller - 1 male
6. Yellow-Vented Bulbul - Common, concentrations up to 10
7. Pied Bushchat - 3, including one female
8. Blue Rock Thrush - 1 male
9. Golden-Bellied Gerygone - Easily heard but not seen
10. Grey-Streaked Flycatcher - 1
11. Pied Fantail - Few
12. Brown Shrike - Common, seen up to 3 individuals at any
13. Crested Mynah - 1 in flight
14. Lowland White-Eye - Flock of 8
15. Eurasian Tree Sparrow- Common but few