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South Reclamation Area

Location: SM Corporate offices grasslands, Asiaworld grasslands and Coastal Road lagoon
Date: July 6, 2003
Time: 5.30am-9am

Annabelle Plantilla, Joey & Maribeth Baril with daughter Sam, Lala Bautista, Reena Bernabe, Lemuel Ponce, Yasmin Mangila, Pilar Saldejano, Jerry Bernas, Mark Jason Villa, Chrys and Maricel Fernandez, Arne Jensen and Mike Lu

Report by Mike Lu with additional notes/figures by Arne Jensen

For as long as the grasslands are intact, I know I will be going back to the reclamation area again and again. Besides, we continue to add new species to our birdlist with each trip and today was no exception :)

I had invited some Haribon staff plus a couple of first-timer friends this morning. Arriving at 5.30am with Anabelle right behind me in another car, we alighted from our cars and caught a glimpse of the resident GRASS OWL. It glided low just above the grass towards the direction of the Senate building. Soon the other birdwatchers arrived. Prof Joey Baril of the UPLB gave a short orientation on birding basics before we set forth to look for the nesting pratincoles.

Arne and I led the way through the green carpet of wild grass wet with dew. Anabelle paused momentarily to identify 3 CHESTNUT MUNIAS and a STRIATED GRASSBIRD. A ZITTING CISTICOLA passed us by giving out its distinctive tsit-tsit call. Suddenly from a small clump of tall grass to our left, the GRASS OWL took to the air and silently flew away leaving us all mesmerized. We could see a few ORIENTAL PRATINCOLES on the ground in the distance. Arne had been here a few days earlier and had seen chicks on the ground and insinuating that the Grass Owl might actually be feeding on the pratincole chicks. We had no such luck and did not see any today.

Mark Villa called to say he is in the vicinity and I left the group to look for him. While I was gone the birding group saw a COMMON SANDPIPER, a pair of LITTLE-RINGED PLOVERS, and a pair of PIED FANTAILS. On the way back to rejoining the group, we flushed out 2 ZEBRA DOVES. We stayed a few more minutes observing the pratincoles flying above us. Two flocks of Rock Doves also flew in a tight flock overhead while a few EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS perched on a . From the far end of the grasslands a PHILIPPINE COUCAL gave us 2 great views as it flew back and forth in the tall grass. It was getting hot as we decided to head for the Asiaworld grounds at a quarter to 7.

Our 7-car convoy went past the lax security at the Asiaworld and parked our car just before the Washington Tower condominium. The cries of the BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS greeted us. There more herons than we saw last time, fleeing in front of us as we made our way through the tall grass. Chrys tried to take pictures of the herons then I noticed that in front of a clump of brown leaves just below the grass line was a camouflaged brown bird. With streaks on its wings and a black body, we almost missed the LESSER COUCAL sunning itself. Some birds in flight had nesting materials in their beaks while a few nests were already visible on the upper branches of the ipil-ipils. Arne spotted a nest with 3 eggs less than 2 meters above ground. He made a conservative estimate of a little more than a hundred herons out of an estimated breeding population of 150 pairs seen earlier on previous trips. Other members of the group have taken refuge in their vehicles. As we went back to join them, we flushed out 2 CINNAMON BITTERNS and a single YELLOW BITTERN.

We headed for last year's nesting area which had been disturbed by the presence of heavy activity this year. PACIFIC SWALLOWS flew in circles around us. On a grassy lot, a solitary STRIATED GRASSBIRD perched above a noisy flock of EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS. Further down the road, a pair of YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS hopped from twig to twig.

In an adjacent tree, was a pair of SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA joined by a green bird that we hoped was a parrotfinch or at least a colasisi. Unfortunately, it was just one of the so-called "Baclaran sparrows" - a Chestnut Munia painted green ! We made our way down the rocky garbage-strewn beach and as we turned left to the construction site I saw a flash of grey-white as the sparrow-sized birds took to the air. Arne identified them as the first pair of JAVA SPARROWS he has seen in the Metro Manila, escaped caged birds probably. The main site has a lagoon bordered with tall reeds and surrounded by the refreshing green of the ipil-ipils. Our unexpected presence scared off a foraging LITTLE HERON and 2 ZEBRA DOVES while CLAMOROUS REED-WARBLERS and WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHERS called from the thickets. It was a little past 8 and half of our group did not make it to this site. We rejoined and led them to one last site along the Coastal Road where migratory birds would congregate later in the year. It was high tide as our convoy parked in front of the gates to the Itla-Thai construction area. We managed to spot 2 LITTLE HERONS flying in the lagoon before the rest of the group protested for breakfast at Chowking :)

BIRD LIST:
*Unless otherwise specified, the birds were seen in front of the SM
Corporate offices grasslands

1. Little Heron Butorides striatus - 1 in Asiaworld, 2 in Coastal Road lagoon
2. Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax - 100 plus in Asiaworld
3. Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus - 2 in Asiaworld
4. Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis - 1 in Asiaworld
5. Little-ringed Plover Charadrius dubius -2
6. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos - 1
7. Oriental Pranticole Glareola maldivarum - 40+
8. Zebra Dove Geopelia striata - 2 in SM grasslands and 2 in Asiaworld
9. Lesser Coucal - Centropus bengalensis -1in Asiaworld
10. Philippine Coucal - Centropus viridis -1
11. Grass Owl Tyto capensis - 1
12. White-collared Kingfisher Halycyon chloris- 2, heard only at Asiaworld
13. Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica - 5-6 in Asiaworld
14. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier - 2 in Asiaworld
15. Clamorous Reed-warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus - 3, heard only at Asiaworld
16. Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris - 1 in SM grassland and 8-10 seen and/or heard in Asiaworld
17. Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis - 2
18. Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica - 2
19. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus - common throughout
20. Java Sparrow Padda oryzivora - 2 in Asiaworld
21. Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata - 2 in Asiaworld
22. Chestnut Munia Lonchura malacca - 50 plus seen and/or heard
23. Rock Doves- 2 flocks of 6-8 each