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New Bilibid Prison Compound, Muntinlupa

Date: Friday, 13 June, 2003
Time: 0600H
by Mads Bajarias, Mike Lu, Jon Villasper

The three of us met in front of Jolibee, UST-Dapitan at 0530H. From there we went straight to the New Bilibid Prison compound in Muntilupa (first time there). Just past the gate, there was this pond which was landscaped by the administration with rock terraces painted white and a statuette of the Virgin Mary in the middle rock island. I recalled this pond being featured in one of those TV documentaries (think it was Magandang Gabi Bayan, incidentally they featured Samar Island last Saturday with Lala's mentor JC Gonzales sporting a moustache...new look...heheheh...). The TV doc said that this pond is a natural feature and frequented by the locals.

Anyway...Mike said we were to do the Dam site first and probably check the pond later, and so off we went.

The dam was next to the shooting range. As soon as we alighted from the car a single BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON flew over us. A good omen I thought. We

went down the shores of the reservoir and briefly scoured the area to familiarize ourselves with it. There were some fishpens in the middle of the "lake" and some stretch of lillies towards the dam. One or two men were perched on trees brandishing airguns probably hunting tilapia.

We went towards the dam to investigate any waders that may be hiding among the water plants. Nothing, except for a single loud splash which I think was just a fish. We wanted to get to the opposite bank but the dam was covered with mounds of lilies and the thought of having one or two holes along the wall has to remain a thought. No need to prove otherwise. Looking down the stream where the dam empties it's excess water, we resolved that it's a better deal and having a small stream with rocks and some good tree

cover, it might prove to be good habitat for wagtails. So down we went...No wagtails, just mosquitoes so we went up the other side and started birding again. The usual bunch of birds showed themselves, YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS, EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS, STRIATED GRASSBIRDS, and BRIGHT-CAPPED CISTICOLAS

then we took different routes to investigate. After a while Mike and I caught up with Mads who was stalking something when a black bird with a white wing stripe flew over. We were not able to identify the bird so we tried following it. Pursuing what we thought was its call, we went back and traced it to a tree behind some undergrowth. It took us sometime trying to act like cats when it flew away again. Another stalk session

verified our prey -- a striated grassbird. We were following the wrong bird!

@#%$#&*#$%!!!

Our efforts were rewarded as soon as we came off the trail to a dirt road. We ha d a good view of ths tall tree where our black bird (two of them) began showing themselves. We speculated Pied Trillers but cannot confirm yet so we left them and walked down the dirt road. We stopped at a fork along the road where we faced a field and a largish tree with some bare branches. I saw a small bird but as soon as I focused my bins it was gone. This fork and the dirt road going left proved to be the a good site. Another one of them black birds appeared and we identified it as a PIED TRILLER. Soon enough we were seeing trillers everywhere in two's or more. The small bird appeared once again and this time stayed a bit longer. Mads suggested a PYGMY FLOWERPECKER, and after scanning our bible, we placed it as such owing to the sound it made.

Another small, yellow bird appeared, this time we got to see the whites of his eye, a LOWLAND WHITE-EYE. Still at the fork, we were hearing coucals to the left so we proceeded down this direction then suddenly a Mike and Mads were pointing to the undergrowth at the right side of the road where a large bird with striations all over landed, an immature LESSER COUCAL. Not long after, Mike pointed out another coucal flying (or was it jumping) very low in the field. This time it's a mature Lesser Coucal.

We continued down the road where a small garbage dump was located. I immediately thought of Pied Buschats but none showed up this time. We were about to go back when Mads heard some melodious whistling atop some bamboo. I said it sounded familiar and could probably be just a Yellow-vented Bulbul or a Malaysian Fantail. Mike went don to the bamboo and tried to look for the bird. Mads followed suit and I said what the heck, it's still a bird.

The two suddenly pointed up the growth and there was this black bird with a white wing-stripe with its back towards us and perched like a flycatcher and a bit larger. It flew away without us being able to identify it once more.

All the likely candidates suddenly began flashing in our minds...Pied Triller...Black and White Triller...Pied Flycatcher...Minivet...Oriental Magpie-robin...etc. Magpie-robin seemed to be the most likely candidate but Mads and I did not see its front and it seemed to be too small to be one. Mike, being the nearest, confirmed some white in front. Having no other alternative, we can say we just found an ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN.

We also found two LEMON-THROATED LEAF WARBLERS just before the Magpie-robin, by the way...and a PIED FANTAIL along the way.

Commenting that we haven't heard any flyeaters yet, GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYEATERS suddenly made their presence heard.

Hoping to see the OMR once more, we went down to the field to look for it. The heat was becoming quite unbearable and while standing behind a tree, Mike called out to show a LONG-TAILED SHRIKE. We found three more of those in that area and a ZEBRA DOVE while going back.

We decided to go back after three hours of birding. We retraced our route but we hesitated for a while after hearing shots being fired from the shooting range. Think stray bullets...but having no other choice we continued and while negotiating the slope going to the other side, we heard a PYGMY WOODPECKER but were not able to see it.

We proceeded to Monument Hill where we briefly scanned the pond that I mentioned earlier. Being quite hot and devoid of good vegetation, the only living things there some goats, two truckers and a guy taking a rest, and a couple seizing the moment oblivious of our presence.

BIRD LIST:
1. Black-crowned Night Heron (1)
2. Striated Grassbird (3+)
3. Pied Triller (5+)
4. Bright-capped Cisticola (c. 3)
5. Pygmy Flowerpecker (c. 2)
6. Lemon-throated Leaf Warbler (2)
7. Lowland White-eye (c. 2)
8. Lesser Coucal (2)
9. Oriental Magpie Robin (1)
10. Pied Fantail (1)
11. Yellow-Vented Bulbul
12. Long-tailed Shrike (4)
13. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (...)
14. Zebra Dove (1)
15. Pygmy Woodpecker (heard only)

After the NBP we proceeded to bird at the...
Ever Memorial Gardens, Muntinlupa

0930H

This is the memorial park going to the left at the Susana Heights exit. The guards at the checkpoint asked where we were headed and we promptly said to the memorial park, upon which he opened the guard rail and we were in. I didn't quite get the logic since we were never asked for any identification.

What's the use of the checkpoint, pray tell?

The road leading to the memorial park had no people around, was quite Green and seemed promising. As we entered the park gate Mads and I spotted another LESSER COUCAL to the right. Mike, being on the wheel, wasn't able to see it. We drove around investigating the site and eventually stopped at the park's edge where some mausoleums were located along with the above-ground graves. We started with a large tree at the edge and by the creek. Again, the usual birds immediately presented themselves,

YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS, PIED FANTAILS, EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS, and STRIATED GRASSBIRDS.

A LOWLAND WHITE-EYE also showed up and just as Mads and Mike were moving away, a rather scrawny WHITE-EARED BROWN DOVE perched from where the white-eye last stood.

We were getting quite low-batt so we decided to tour the remaining areas of the park to look for Zebra Doves and call it a day. Driving along the sparsely-inhabited (can you say that given that it's a cemetery?) end of the park, we chanced upon a WHITE-REASTED WOOD SWALLOW perched on a tree. We found six ZEBRA DOVES feeding on the opposite block looking like randomly thrown rocks on the ground.

We parked at a dead end (how appropriate) where we saw two more zebras and walked towards an undeveloped area with lots of ipil-ipil and grass hoping to get another coucal. We found nothing except for another wood swallow flying over us from time to time and a coucal or two calling somewhere. While letting the car's interior cool down a couple of SCALY-BREASTEDMUNIAS alighted on a dead tree in front of us.

We took to the car and we came across two striated birds walking on the ground. We initially thought of Richard's Pipit but they seemed to be too thin to be pipits and they looked more like Striated Grassbirds which they were when one of them flew over to a low branch.

There was a LONG-TAILED SHRIKE somewhere here, too. Can't recall exactly where.

We think this site has to be revisited once more and much earlier.

BIRD LIST:
1. Lesser Coucal (1)
2. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (...)
3. Yellow-vented Bulbul (2+)
4. Striated Grassbird (2+)
5. Pied Fantail (1)
6. Lowland White-eye (1)
7. White-eared Brown Dove (1)
8. White-breasted Wood Swallow (2)
9. Zebra Dove (8)
10. Scaly-breasted Munia (2)


JON VILLASPER
Geographer