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Leisure Farms

Date: June 20, 2004
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Birders: Mike Lu, Mark Villa, Orly Punzalan, LuAnn Fuentes and Mads Bajarias
Landco personnel: Nela Natividad and 4 other staff

WBCP was invited by real-estate property developer, Landco to come up with a birdwatching activity for the lot owners of the Leisure Farms in Lemery, Batangas. Leisure Farms targets the executive turned weekend farmer by offering substantially larger lots where owners have the option to turn their lots
into farms.

I opted for afternoon birding for this ocular trip. Our group of birders arrived at the site at 4:00 pm, stopping at the Marketing office for some drinks. Mads immediately spied on the green birds gliding in the gully below and called out: Bee-eaters! Turned out there was a flock of BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATERS flying back and forth. Our van drove downhill and parked by a bridge.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater

We were amazed to discover the whole hillside studded with holes made by the bee-eaters! Landco's Nela Natividad exclaimed that we finally solved the mystery for them. They were wondering what was making the holes on the hillsides in different areas of their property which even had the engineers perplexed. I teased her that there might be giant earthworms inside! Other birds seen in this area included the PIED BUSHCHAT, WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHER & the OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD. However I learned that Landco intends to enact soil erosion measures by putting burlap material on the slopes. We fear that doing so might trap the fledglings inside the holes and requested them not to resort to such drastic measures for the meantime. The breeding season might soon be over and the bee-eaters might leave the area in the next month anyways.

Next stop was the site of the soon-to-be-built clubhouse. I headed for the ridge to admire the breath-taking scenery. A BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE was easily seen perched on a leafless tree. 2 others joined it later. Turning around we saw a few more birds perched on the electricity lines, SPOTTED DOVES, WHITE-BREASTED WOOD SWALLOW and STRIATED GRASBSIRD. But best of all, further down the road a CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE was perched on a tree giving us good views. We went back to the van to get nearer to the perched raptor.

As the van rumbled on, one could easily see more blue-talied bee-eaters by the roadside. Suddenly I saw the raptor flying overhead and had the driver parked the van. All of us got off and noticed there were actually 2 Serpent Eagles - one an adult and another a juvenile, circling low overhead. Out of nowhere a pair of LARGE-BILLED CROWS passed by. Mads clambered a steep incline followed by LuAnn and Mark. They reported 2 more crows and probably more on the other side of the valley.

Next stop was the edge of the property where the scenery reminds me much of Westgrove but magnified many more times. Here we saw a PIED TRILLER, YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS and a pair of BLUE-THROATED BEE-EATERS perched up close had the Landco staff ooohing :) We then proceeded to the place called the "Linear Lake" It turned out to be a hiking trail carved into the side of a ravine. It is asphalted and features at least 5 hanging bridges. The bottom of the ravine though is lined with something that looks like canvas to trap rainwater. There was not much rainwater to start with and in the upper slopes it was dry but in the lower part the water was muddy. I personally believe it was an ill-advised feature recommended by the landscape architect. In this area we saw a small flock of LOWLAND WHITE-EYES, an ELEGANT TIT and the calls of the PHILIPPINE COUCAL. Birding was difficult and there did not seem to be much bird life.

The sun was starting to set but since there was enoguh birding light left, I requested to be taken to another ridge. The lookout point has views of the forest below and the coconut plantation on the opposite ridge. Birdcalls can be heard coming from the valley below. I distinctly heard a trilling sound several time before a pair of PHILIPPINE PYGMY WOODPECKERS finally showed. A PHILIPPINE COUCAL also made a brief appearance as it flew above the grasslands.

Over dinner at Dencio's, we started making the birdlist and was surprised to come up with 22 species in over 1-1/2 hours of birding time only. I may have no life birds on this trip but we all agreed that the area holds great promise if we start early in the morning next time around.


BIRDLIST:

1. Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela - 2, one adult and one juvenile
2. Spotted Dove Streptopelia striata - 3+
3. Philippine Coucal Centropus viridis - 1+, heard in different sites
4. Swiftlet sp - 5+, possibly Pygmy and Glossy swiftlets
5. White-collared Kingfisher Halcyon chloris - 3
6. Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis - 2+
7. Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus - 50+
8. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos maculatus - 2
9. Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica - 1
10. Pied Triller Lalage nigra - 2
11. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier - 3+
12. Balicassiao Dicrurus balicassus - 1
13. Black-naped Oriole Priolus chinensis - 5+
14. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos - 4+, more heard in the valley below
15. Elegant Tit Parus elegans - 1
16. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata - 4, with 3 male & 1 female
17. Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis - 2+
18. Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris - 1
19. White-breasted Wood-Swallow Artamus leucorynchus - 1
20. Olive-backed Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis - 1
21. Lowland White-Eye Zosterops meyeni - 6+
22. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus - common