Date: June 13
Time: 6:00 am to 3:00 pm
Weather: Cloudy skies, fine, cool weather,
by Ned Liuag with Hans and Harvin Liuag
a whim, my brother Hans, his nine-year old son Harvin and
I, in the company of the three-year old retriever Sela, set
off for Makiling from San Pablo before sunrise this Friday
13th. Initially I'd worried about bringing the dog with us
- even if the retriever carried her own water and biscuits
in a backpack. Turns out she was a disciplined companion,
having to my surprise already been on hikes on the Mount Banahaw
Kinabuhayan-Tatlong Tangke trail and to the crater rim of
Imoc Hill in San Pablo. Our hike was part of her training
as a search dog.
objective for the day was to explore as numerous side trails
as possible and try for forest raptors, specifically Philippine
Falconets, the White-Browed Shama and a glimpse of long-trailed
arrived at a little past 6:00 and got off at our usual jump
off point near the Umali Theater inside campus. The first
bird seen was a YELLOW VENTED BULBUL in a tree by the road
followed by a PACIFIC SWALLOW. Further on, at the bottom of
Narra Road, we heard the White-Browed Shama singing in the
thicket. I tried for several minutes but failed to locate
the elusive bird and went on to follow the rest of the party
for the 10-minute walk to the registration point.
wasn't much to hear or see along this stretch of road this
morning, though as we reached the teachers residences, I could
identify the familiar vocalizations of RED-KEELED FLOWERPECKERS
high in the trees. There is an interesting piece of property
on the right side of the road before the College of Forestry
gate where we saw a pair of joggers enter, but turned back
because of the No Entry sign just as you got inside the lane.
It looked quite promising because it lay on the edge of the
Botanic Garden and had young trees and scrub in it. I suppose
people on campus ignore the signs, but to be on the safe side
we turned back.
left off Narra, we followed Makiling Road around the eastern
side of the building housing the UPLB Museum of Natural History.
Further up, just past the open utility hole, I discovered
the headquarters of the elusive ASEAN Center for Regional
Biodiversity Conservation! I made a mental note to drop by
their offices some time.
checked the dead tree where we'd seen the Dollarbird during
the Birdwatch e-group trip in January hoping for the Falconets
but came up empty. A few meters up the road, we saw the first
of several BALICASSIAOS that we would run across on this trip.
There was at least three flying conspicuously
between the huge trees standing behind the Forestry residence
The road to the Makiling Rainforest Park is notorious on the
feet because of the poor condition. So the mounds of gravel
dumped by the roadside was a welcome sign that roadwork had
commenced. Still it had been raining in the past few days
and the potholed, rocky-strewn, mud-slicked road also proved
slippery along parts.
far off a COPPERSMITH BARBET started calling and was answered
by another. I let my companions go ahead while I checked the
open area in the vicinity of the first switchback for birds.
Here I easily saw an ORANGE-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER and a PHILIPPINE
BULBUL. I didn't stay very long
because I could hear a bunch of out-of-town hikers boorishly
hollering to each other nonstop, being inconsiderate that
people living in the forest might want to start their day
as quiet as possible. Besides scaring off the wildlife, of
to the Makiling Rainforest Park, I decided to park myself
in the shade and wait for the birds to show up. Higher up
the trail, my brother was admiring six Balicassiaos as they
flit from tree to tree. Somewhere in the mahogany plantation,
a BRUSH CUCKOO called feverishly and a Woodpecker
drummed against a trunk but both remained unseen. From my
position, I caught sight of pair of RED-CRESTED MALKOHAS,
one of which perched only four meters away. More Philippine
Bulbuls were flying across the road.
thought I'd lost the hikers down the trail, when they showed
up again up ahead crashing through the undergrowth in a failed
and frustrating attempt at a shortcut to the Mud Springs trailhead.
They'd only gone two kilometers at pell-mell pace, and they
were quite surprised that I was overtaking them at my slow
pace. I casually mentioned that I could hear them thrashing
in the undergrowth before they appeared and that they had
not even made it halfway to Peak Two. These hikers miss the
point about the forest and the mountain.
In their quest to reach their destination, they miss out the
joy of making the journey. And for what, I wonder. When they
reach Peak Two they will be terribly disappointed because
it doesn't even offer much of a view!
avoid having them for our tails, I caught up with my brother
and nephew and took them down the muddy path behind the first
makeshift stall on the side of road. This is the same path
that Mads Bajarias walked off and got lost in the forest but
found the Philippine Trogon, Rufous Paradise Flycatcher and
a Pitta. I'd been down this path once in December but never
followed it past the edge of the clearing where some bananas
were growing. Well, turns out if Mads simply kept walking,
he'd emerge in one of several farms. We followed the path
till it terminated in a settler's yard, where a score of native
chicken were scrabbling in the dirt.
hike to the Makiling Rainforest Park was uneventful except
for the usual Balicassiaos and Philippine Bulbuls, and the
tonk-tonk of Coppersmith Barbets. While two hikers stopped
to pet the dog and strike a conversation with my brother,
I took off down the horse trail leading off one of the switchbacks.
Like the previous this also leads to somebody's yard and still
the rundown park - which for reasons unknown is padlocked
every time I visit - you can take a trail that runs alongside
the fence of the tree nursery. A narrow paths branches off
towards the west, which eventually leads to the Clearing -
which must have been part of an abandoned geothermal project
site. I doubled back because the path led down to a gully.
I decided there was an easier way getting there than going
The Clearing figures in foreign birders reports as a site
for Purple Needletail. I've regularly visited this place going
through here since last year but have not seen a single one.
I'd come across a pair of Chinese Goshawks
and lots of Philippine Bulbuls, but no Needletail.
can enter the Clearing two ways. One is a wide lane a few
meters beyond the Mud Springs trail head. Or the narrow path
that goes through the trees and undergrowth, reducing visibility
to a couple of meters. I took the latter.
emerging from the forest gloom, I noticed movement on the
left side of the trail and discovered three Red-Crested Malkohas
perched in the low branches beside the trail. I had the opportunity
to watch these closely before being startled by the unexpected
lowing of cattle out to pasture in the Clearing.
realized that the Clearing was larger than I originally thought.
I found the cow in the eastern half of the Clearing, a grassy
depression separated from the one with the rusting, overgrown
basketball court. And also a new bird that from afar I'd mistaken
for a small reed warbler as it flew into a bush. Following
its call chirping call, I sneaked up and located a GREY-BACKED
TAILORBIRD in one of the upper branches five meters away.
I watched it for five minutes, as it turned this way and that
revealing chestnut crown and tail, yellow-greenish wings and
grey back and rump, and some grey streaks around the neck
and breast that looked like a necklace. I was about to leave
it to its business when I saw a second Grey-Back emerge
from the neighboring bush and respond to the other's
the thickly forested western side of the Clearing, I could
hear the far-reaching call of a forest dove. I'd been hearing
this call on every hike but could never find the source. I
was thinking that this might be a
Reddish Cuckoo-Dove. The calls were coming from close by so
I opted to follow the trail that skirts the ravine on the
southern edge of the Clearing. The muddy trail goes deep into
the forest with canopy so thick the sun barely filtered through.
My main concern was that I'd blunder my way into a balatik
and get speared through the legs or blown up by ping-pong
balls containing powder and shot that hunters use for getting
large game. I surprised another Red-Crested Malkoha along
the dim trail. Didn't find the dove but from the crowing of
roosters knew that once I emerged into the sunlight again
I would find myself - in another backyard!
with the result I returned to the Clearing, where I saw several
sparrow-sized birds flying from the forest edge to the tree
growing in the center. Initially, I thought they were oversized
sunbirds. When I found a nice shady spot to count and observe
the birds, I realized these were STRIPE-HEADED RHABDORNIS.
I could see five of them hopping up and down the branches
looking for insects. I watched them at length before the birds
flew back to the forest, startled by the approach of a farmer
on horseback. Walking back to
the road, I saw another five Rhabdornis take flight from the
White-Browed Shama startled singing again in the thick section
of the forest between both trails to the Clearing. I got off
the trail in search of the songster but had no luck again.
Hearing my brother blow his whistle and their voices calling
for me in the distance, I headed down to Mud Springs where
I expected them. (Turns out they put the retriever on my scent
and followed me all the way into the forest.) I didn't see
any other birds on the trail to the Mud Springs except for
a BUZZING FLOWERPECKER feeding on figs midway down the trail.
caught up with Hans and Harvin at the stores. My brother said
a tiny green frog had hitched a ride on Sela while they were
at the Mud Springs. He was positive it was not a Common Green
Frog, which until recent occurred in our garden in San Pablo.
Shama was singing again, this time inside the campground.
It was almost noon and we had originally planned to be home
by early afternoon. On the way down, Hans spotted a juvenile
LONG-TAILED MACAQUE on the western side of the road near the
first switchback. I missed the monkey but heard it moving
noisily among the branches. This is the third time we've seen
macaques along this stretch of road: a female with an infant,
an adult male and this one. So there must be a band somewhere.
my nephew Harvin wanted to visit Flat Rocks and Hans wanted
to take Sela for a dip in the creek. While the retriever and
my nephew scrambled up and down the channel all the way to
the steep drop, I climbed up to the mahogany plantation ridge
trail across the creek. Sat there for a quarter of an hour
but heard and saw nothing. This is the third time in five
months that I've been to this particular section of the ridge
trail and each time I find nothing. I suspect this is due
to the disturbance by visitors - students trapping specimens,
picnickers on their way to the pool upstream, hikers, settlers
and the occasional hunter. On the way back to the road, heard
the chime-like calls of a COLETO but did not see it. Otherwise
the trail was very quite.
stop, the Botanic Garden where they let dogs in, too! While
the dog was sent off for a swim in the pool downstream, I
went off towards the Raptor Center. Heard but did not see
the Red-Keeled Flowerpeckers again. Nothing else except for
a pair of Philippine Bulbuls and close-up views of a pair
of Balicassiaos near the greenhouse. This last species I nearly
mistook for Philippine Fairy Bluebirds because of the bluish
gloss on the wings until I spotted the flared tail. Also spotted
a large bird with brown
mottled wings in one of the huge trees at the top of the steps
overlooking Molawin Creek. Could have been a raptor but it
had moved away on both occasions for a positive ID. Ended
the day with more two Balicassiaos at the far end of Maralas
Creek towards the Hortorium but quite pleased with the day's
it strange that I didn't notice a single Eurasian Tree Sparrow
during the hike today.
Crested Malkoha (6) - A pair along road midway to the Rainforest
Park, three at edge of the Clearing, one flushed in forest.
Cuckoo - Heard in a number of sites during the hike to the
Rainforest Park. Feverishly calling weep-weep-weep.
Barbet - Common, but only heard during the hike
Swallow - 1 in UP Los Baños campus
Headed Rhabdornis (10) - Tree in Clearing east of Forestry
Road near Mud Springs trail head
Bulbul - 1 in UP Los Baños campus
Bulbul - Common in secondary forest
(15) - At least three in trees behind Forestry Residence
Hall, eight along road to Makiling Forest Park, and four
in Botanic Garden
Shama - Heard only along Narra Road and in several sites
along route to Makiling Rainforest Park
Tailorbird (2) - In bush in Clearing
- Heard one on the Flat Rocks trail
Flowerpecker - Common. Heard only along the trail.
Flowerpecker - 1 seen feeding on figs on trail midway to
the Mud Springs