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Journey to Marikina River Bank, PIMECO plant,
Pasig Rainforest Park, Libingan ng mga Bayani

Date: 18 APRIL 2003
Time: 6:00 am to 10:30 am
Weather: Clear skies, fair weather, quite hot by midmorning
Birders: Jon Villasper and Mike Lu

And so it went...Mike Lu and I did a Good Friday quest for that mysterious "rainforest" in Pasig the mayor was talking about. Based on 1990's information, we had three sites in mind that would make for possible "forest."

The plan was to go to the first two sites at the bank of Marikina River accross the Concrete Aggregates compound in Libis, Quezon City, and from there pass by the open lot beside PIMECO plant near J. Vargas Ave, then as a consolation in case the recon turns poop, proceed to the Libingan ng mga Bayani and the American Cemetery.

We met in front of McDonalds Sta Mesa at 5:30 am (not sharp, my fault). On the way to site 1, Mike said somebody told him of this place in Pasig that locals caledl "rainforest" with lots of trees (it should be) but full of joggers. So we added it to our itinerary given that we had the feeling that the three sites would not turn out as "forest."

SITES 1 and 2. Marikina River bank (Concrete Aggregates compound and Steel Center Phils)
As expected...grassland with lots of heavy equipment. We went straight to the bridge beside CA to try viewing the Steel Center at the other side. Again, it was a NO. Just grassland and scrub. Next site...

SITE 3. PIMECO plant
Grass, grass, grass and more grass (plus around ten trees and some rusty machinery).
It's GSIS property, by the way.

SITE 4. Pasig Rainforest Park
They have trees alright, it's a park, BUT IT'S NO RAINFOREST!!! They also have joggers, and the noisy tennis players, basketball players, and the usual teenagers practicing their dance moves. In fairness though, we got within one meter of the TREE SPARROWS playing on the low-lying branches near the entrance. They didn't seem to mind all the activity around them. We went to the grassy area at the back of the building that houses the gym. There we found lots of our favorite YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS, STRIATED GRASSBIRDS, EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS and BROWN SHRIKES. After indulging in the avian "feast" we walked through their small version of an open dumpsite and through a dried-up kangkong plantation. There we saw more grassbirds and a ZITTING CISTICOLA.

So much for the mystery of the "Pasig rainforest"...and so off we went to

SITE 5. Libingan ng mga Bayani
It was getting quite late, about 7:30 am, and quite hot. It was my first time in the LnmB so Mike took me to the creek where most of the birds were expected. The creek has dried up and the only birds you can hear are sparrows, grassbirds, zebra doves and some munias. A flock of munias flew by but we weren't able to take a good look at them but I spotted a solitary CHESTNUT MUNIA on a branch on the other side of the creek. Every once in a while, while waiting for other birds to show up, STRIATED GRASSBIRDS, YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS and BROWN SHRIKES would fly by. We found lots of this bird called Passer montanus (Tree Sparrow) all over the area, too. It was brown with white throat and a noticeable black beard. We hiked back and went down to cross the other side of the creek. As we aproached the shrubs and grass on the bank, a large bird suddenly flew away and transferred to another part of the thicket with neither of us being able to do anything but say "Nakita mo yon?" We were not even able to make its type, form or color (ok, it had a light color but that's it). It did not move quite far so we waited for it to reappear, but it didn't. So we crossed the creek and finding nothing we hiked towards the World War II pylon stopping along the open dumpsite and the shack beside it (we're getting quite fond of dump sites). Dump sites are actually good areas to observe terns. Anyway, there we were immediately able to add PIED FANTAILS, PIED BUSHCHATS (males and females), and two CRESTED MYNAHS to our list.

Back along the lawn to the WWII Pylon, we got our first glimpse of the WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHER.

We stayed at the Pylon with nothing else to add but ZEBRA DOVES. Mike pointed out across the cross-covered lawn from where we came from to the base of a tree where there was this bird on the ground which looked like a Pipit based on the silhouette so we went there to check it out. By the time we got there, it was gone so we stayed there as it was a better deal than the pylon. Suddenly, Mike called out to say that he saw a large bird quickly fly and disappear in the clump of trees and grass. He thinks it was a COUCAL but was only able to see it in a flash. It had a dark body with red-brown wings. Probably a Lesser or a Common Coucal.As we were making our way, Mike wanted to see the GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYEATER which I haven't seen yet. Asking how it looked like, he said it's quite a small bird and is more frequently heard than seen but that's the bird that's making all the whirring noise that we were hearing at that moment. So I looked up and said, "Is that it?" And so there it was, and there they were. About 4 individuals. So much for the "hard-to-find" title. We, spent the ramaining 15-30 mins watching the flyeater and fantails while waiting for the American Cemetery to open at 9am.

As we got out of LnmB, I got a salute from the guard to boot. That's what you get for sporting a crew cut. Nice.

SITE 5. American Cemetery
The gate was still closed so we drove to the side of the site. As we got of the car we suddenly heard a lot of calls from some bird on the other side of the wall. It sounded like rails, around 3 individuals (I think).

We were back at the gate in 10 minutes and got in. As we were driving to the parking lot, we saw what seemed to be a Glossy Starling. But we're not sure. Walking down the road from the parking lot, I saw another starling perch on a tree near the toilets and I pointed it out to Mike. We went closer to study it and as we got nearer it seemed to lose it's black, glossy color and was more grey than black. It wasn't a starling after all but a BLUE ROCK THRUSH.

While walking down the road, I spotted something crawling on the sidewalk one block away from us, I took a second look and it turned out to be a MONITOR LIZARD. First time to see one in the wild. Stopping by a
large tree, Mike told me to watch out for the squirrel and suddenly, a SQUIRREL. We had a good look at it and started to walk again. We had the usual STRIATED GRASSBIRDS, PIED FANTAILS, YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS, TREE SPARROWS, ZEBRA DOVES and BROWN SHRIKES all throughout the park, but the most prominent bird for the site would have to be the WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHERS. They were everywhere. We must have seen around 10-20 individuals there.

It was really getting quite hot and we had to stop at every tree for some shade. In one of the trees, there were two DWARF TURLTE DOVES and before calling it a day and proceeding back to the parking lot, we had our chance to see the GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYEATERS once more. Although we were several plots/blocks away from the original squirrel site, the squirrel was back to indulge us with a second look. After a minute or so, a white bird the size of a shrike came to our tree and indulged us, too. Looking at it from below, I thought it was some albino shrike but we realized we were actually looking at a small PIED TRILLER.

Happy with what we got, we went back to the parking lot and sat in between the walls with names of soldiers to take a rest and maybe chance upon some rails. And so we did. One BARRED RAIL came out from one of the bushes at the base of the trees. Also, two more squirrels, smaller and with shorter tails than the first two, showed up convincing us that there are at least four individuals in the park.

BIRD LIST:

PASIG RAINFOREST:
1. Striated Grassbird (at least 5)
2. Yellow-vented Bulbul (at least 10)
3. Ziting Cisticola (1)
4. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (lots)
5. Brown Shrike (at least 5)
6. Zebra Dove (1)

LIBINGAN NG MGA BAYANI:
1. Striated Grassbird (lots)
2. Yellow-vented Bulbul (lots)
3. Pied Fantail (at least 5)
4. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (lots)
5. Brown Shrike (lots)
6. Zebra Dove (around 10)
7. Pied Bushchat (4)
8. White-collared Kingfisher (1)
9. Golden-bellied Flyeater (4)
10. Crested Mynah (2)
11. Pipit? (1)
12. Chestnut Munia (1)
13. Coucal (Lesser or Common) (1)

AMERICAN CEMETERY:
1. Striated Grassbird (lots)
2. Yellow-vented Bulbul (lots)
3. Pied Fantail (lots)
4. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (lots)
5. Brown Shrike (lots)
6. Zebra Dove (around 10)
7. Blue Rock Thrush (1)
8. Golden-bellied Flyeater (at least 4)
9. Barred Rail (1)
10. Pied Triller (1)
11. White-collared Kingfisher (around 10)
12. Red Turtle Dove (2)

EXTRAS:
13. Squirrel (4)
14. Monitor Lizard (1)


JON VILLASPER
Geographer