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Pico de Loro Nightmare

March 22, 2008
Mt Palay-Palay National Park
Ternate, Cavite

Birders: Trinket Canlas, Tere Cervero, Adri Constantino, Lala Espanola, Ulysses Ferreras, Leny Ledesma, Mike Lu, Debbie McGuinn, Rich Pijuan, Dave Robbins, Lydia Robeldo

Trip report by Mike Lu

I was so very excited to go back to my favorite birding site ... I hardly slept a wink. By 4:30 am, I was already on the Coastal Road entering Cavite.

Arriving way ahead of everyone else at the site,
I was told by the guards that I had to get a permit from the Puerto Azul chief of security.

Our birding site is a road under construction that would link the provinces of Cavite and Batangas and provide an alternate faster route for wealthy Manila residents to their holiday mansions in Batangas. But the proposed road also cuts through the forests of the Mt Palay-Palay National Park, the last remaining lowland forest in the whole province of Cavite. The site is better known as Pico de Loro to mountaineers.

Disappointed with not being allowed to enter the road, I had no recourse but to go to the Puerto Azul Beach Resort, a few kilometers back, to speak with the chief of security.

Fortunately, Pssupt. Domingo T. Pilar - PNP (Ret) was a very nice fellow. He explained that there were complaints of illegal logging and hunting along the road that was why no one was allowed inside anymore. He further stated that the illegal logging was sanctioned by a police official in Ternate. I explained to him that we (WBCP) were the ones that complained to the Director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) about the logging and the hunting. He readily gave permission for us to enter the road.

The Ternate-Nasugbu road will provide an alternative road for wealthy Manila residents to their vacation houses in Batangas but it will also cut through the last remaining forest in the whole province of Cavite.

The Puerto Azul bird list is a summary of incidental birding by Mike and Tere while getting the permit inside the resort and by Trinket and Adri while waiting at the gate.

Puerto Azul bird list
List by Adri Constantino, Trinket Canlas, Tere Cervero and Mike Lu

Brahminy Kite - 3
Crested Serpent-eagle - 2
Common Emerald Dove - 1
Guaiabero - 4
Scale-feathered Malkoha - 1
White-throated Kingfisher - 2
Luzon Tarictic - 2, male and female
Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker - 1
Coppersmith Barbet - HO
Pied triller - 3
Yellow-vented Bulbul - 5
Philippine BUlbul - 4
Black-naped Oriole - 2
Large-billed Crow - 2
Stripe-headed Rhabdornis - 2
Oriental Magpie-robin - 1
Golden-bellied Flyeater - HO
Grey-backed Tailorbird - HO
Asian Glossy Starling - 3
Coleto - 2
Lowland White-eye - 2

Nasugbu-Ternate Road

Going back to the birding site, everyone noticed the newly-installed GMA Cares sign announcing the cementing of the Ternate-Nasugbu Road. True enough, portions of the road are now cemented. I thought all along that this project has been abandoned. Even our contact at Hamilo Coast told me that the road through the mountains will not be built anymore as they have found a better route.

Along the road, forest trees were either in full bloom or were fruiting, even the orchids were in bloom. The birds were clearly disturbed by the habitat destruction. While we were still able to list 37 species, the numbers seen were far lower than in previous visits. Some highlights were a small flock of Black-chinned Fruit-dove gorging on berries oblivious to the birders, and a rare glimpse of the white-phase Philippine Coucal.

The usually noisy gang of up to 20 Tarictics only afforded us a glimpse of a single fleeing male. No sightings of the resident Sooty Woodpecker nor the White-bellied Woodpecker. Most birds were heard only. At times it was eerily quiet except for the call of the cicadas .

On the way back, we stopped by the road where one easily overlooks the ever-growing destruction created by the Cavite Ideal Quarry Company. DENR Region IV-A insists that the national park does not have any clear boundaries so they do not have anyway of determining if the quarry is within the boundaries of the protected area.

View of quarry from the road just before Puerto Azul


List by Mike and Trinket,

Brahminy Kte - 13
Crested Serpent-eagle - 1
Grey-faced Buzzard - 2
Philippine Falconet - 12
Junglefowl - HO
Crake sp - 1
White-eared Brown-dove - 1
Black-chinned Fruit-dove - 5
Colasisi - 1
Philippine Hawk-cuckoo - 1
Scale-feathered Malkoha - 1
Red-crested malkoha - 3
Common Koel - HO
Philippine Coucal - 2, including one white-phase
Glossy swiftlet - X
Pygmy Swiftlet - X
White-throated Kingfisher - 8
Spotted Wood-Kingfisher - HO
Coppersmith Barbet - HO
Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker - 3
Blackish Cuckoo-shrike - 2
Ashy Minivet - 15
Yellow-vented Bulbul - 2
Philippine BUlbul - X
Balicassiao - 1
Black-naped Oriole - 2
Philippine Fairy Bluebird - 2
Elegant Tit - HO
Stripe-headed Rhabdornis - 2
White-browed Shama - HO
Blue Rock Thrush - 1
Grey-backed tailorbird - HO
Black-naped Monarch - HO
Coleto - 10+
Brown Shrike - 1
Red-keeled Flowerpecker - 2
Pygmy Flowerpecker - 2