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Death Traps in Tagaytay Highlands

Death Traps in Tagaytay Highlands
5th May 2007
Tagaytay Highlands, Cavite

Birders: Alex Loinaz, Mike Lu, Henry Ocier, Arnel Telesforo, Alex Tiongco
Trip report by Mike Lu
Birdlist by Mike Lu, Alex Tiongco, Arnel Telesforo

Upon the invitation of fellow birder, Alex Tiongco, our small gang of birders went birdwatching at Tagaytay Highlands. We invited Henry Ocier, from the Special Projects Office of Tagaytay Highlands to join us and help us gain access to the restricted areas of the residential resort.

White-breasted Swallows and Zebra Doves perch on the lines as we negotiate our way through the dusty roads. At a certain junction where the trees grew lush by the ravine, our convoy rested to allow birders to alight. Bird calls pierce the air but the birds were not easy to find. The birds were highly elusive despite the presence of forest trees heavy with fruit. We were sure that the birds were being hunted for them to behave in this manner. It took awhile for the birds to get used to our presence and showed themselves ... White-throated Kingfisher, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis, Coppersmith Barbet and even White-browed Shama !

The guards informed us that Tarictic Hornbills frequent the ravine in the Midlands area during the late afternoon. We headed for the site and indeed heard the squeaky calls of the Tarictics further up the slope. We were luckier though with the Balicassiao, Red-keeled Flowerpecker, Bi-colored Flowerpecker and Long-tailed Shrike.

During brunch at the clubhouse, we noticed that there were no sign of birds or butterflies in the gardens. We can only surmise that pesticides were being used to maintain the flowerbeds :( Furthermore, the resort continues to plant exotic trees ie. African tulip and pine trees, which are not beneficial to the local wildlife.

We continued on to Anton's Point where the mini-zoo display cages too small for most birds to move about or even spread their wings. It's in such a sorry state and pathetic for a resort that claims to be world-class.

Black-naped Oriole 
Black-naped Oriole (left) and Oriole carcass hanging from a cage at Anton's Point in Tagaytay Highlands (right)

At the ridge, Black-naped Orioles dominate the surroundings but our fears of poaching were realized when Arnel pointed out a tiny cage hanging on a branch with a dead oriole. Further down, we saw a working trap big enough for civets cats or monitor lizards. We called the attention of Henry Ocier and he was just as surprised. While we do believe the Highlands management does not tolerate poaching of wildlife, they must be held responsible for incidents that happen within their property.

Birdlist:

Oriental Honeybuzzard - 1
Red Junglefowl - heard only
Barred Rail - 1
White-eared Brown-dove - heard only
Spotted Dove - 1
Zebra Dove - 13
Common Emerald-dove - 3
Colasisi - 1
Philippine Hawk-cuckoo - heard only
Philippine Coucal - 3
Glossy Swiftlet - many
Pygmy Swiftlet - many
White-throated Kingfisher - 6
White-collared Kingfisher - 5
Blue-throated Bee-eater - many
Blue-tailed Bee-eater - many
Tarictic Hornbill - heard only
Coppersmith Barbet - 7
Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker - 6
Pacific Swallow - 4
Red-rumped Swallow - 8
Pied Triller - 4
Ashy Minivet - 4
Yellow-vented Bulbul - common
Philippine Bulbul - common
Balicassiao - 5
Black-naped Oriole - common
Large-Billed Crow - 3
Elegant Tit - 3
Stripe-headed Rhabdornis - 2
White-browed Shama - 2
Pied Bushchat - 4
Tawny Grassbird - 2
Striated Grassbird - common
Grey-backed Tailorbird - 2
Bright-capped Cisticola - heard only
Grey-streaked Flycatcher - 1
Black-naped Monarch - 2
White-breasted Wood-Swallow - 12
Long-tailed Shrike - 6
Brown Shrike - 4
Olive-backed Sunbird - 5
Metallic-winged Sunbird - 2
Bicolored Flowerpecker - 1
Red-keeled Flowerpecker - 4
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - common
Scaley-breasted Munia - 4
Chestnut Munia - 10