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These are reports compiled by Arne Jensen and submitted to THE Oriental Bird Club. The reports can be found in OBC’s publication Birding Asia. This report was also featured in the souvenir program of the 7th Philippine Bird Festival.

Edited by Arne Erik Jensen, OBC Representative

Fifteen Greater White-Fronted Goose Anser albifrons present in Candaba Marsh, Pampanga from 5 December (AL) to 6 January 2011 made up a surprising new country record and a Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was photo-documented for the first time on Mt. Data, Mountain Province on 1 November (MZ). A perhaps bigger surprise was the first Philippine record of the world’s largest parasitic cuckoo, the Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae – in the brackish swamp area near Narra, Palawan in February 2011 (ATi).

flock of Greater White-Fronted Geese – photo by Tonji Ramos

The Channel-billed Cuckoo migrates to northern and eastern Australia from New Guinea and Indonesia between August and October each year. The birds leave Australia in February or March and the Philippine observation should be seen as a record of a stray bird. The Channel-billed Cuckoo is the largest parasitic cuckoo in the world. Almost 26 inches and with a body weight of about 600 grams.

Several accidentally occurring species that are more likely to be rare but regularly occurring migrants in the Philippines were reported for the period. A spectacular flock of 16 Pied Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta showed up in Candaba Marsh, Pampanga on 6 January (CP). The Marsh also had on 18 January what was probably a Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus at the same spot where it was recorded in 2008 (AL). Flocks of starling species rarely seen in the Philippines were observed during the winter months from December in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. They included up to 50 Red-billed Starlings Sturnus sericeus, 15 White-cheeked Starlings Sturnus cineraceus and 5 White-shouldered Starlings Sturnus sinensis (RR).

Pied Avocets in Candaba – photo by Rey Sta. Ana
White-shouldered Starling – photo by Rey Sta. Ana

During the Asian Waterfowl Census on 16 January, a flock of up to 30 Caspian Terns Hydroprogne caspia and two Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna were reported from Manila Bay at the Pasac River Estuary, Pampanga (AC, LW). A Caspian Tern was also recorded in Negros at Ilog River estuary, Negros Occidental on the 17th– 18th March 2011 (AB). There are previous reports of this species occurring in relatively large numbers in Negros.

Manila Bay also had five Pomarine Skuas Stercorarius pomarinus on 20 February (JB); in addition, a single bird was recorded on 28 December off Apo Reef, Mindoro Occidental (PB). Other records of species currently listed as accidentally occurring in the Philippines include a likely second record of Radde’s Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi on 16 November at Mt Makiling, Laguna (PB).

Among the rare and threatened migrants reported for the period are one Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor on Batan Island, Bataanes (GR) and up to four Yellow Buntings Emberiza sulphurata in Laoag, Ilocos Norte on 2 February and 12 March (RR). Other rare migrants recorded include an unidentified Spoonbill Platalea species observed on 25 February along the North Luzon Expressway near San Fernando, Pampanga (TM) and a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea on Mt. Banahaw, Quezon in October (IS). The Ferruginous Flycatcher was also seen in Metro Manila in Parañaque on 19 October (RO) and on 18 November in the Diliman Campus of the University of the Philippines, Quezon City (AV).

Ferruginous Flycatcher in Parañaque – photo by Sylvia Ramos

Reports from localities not often visited include a Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla photo- documented along the Ambangeg trail of Mt. Pulag, Benguet in December (IS) and on 2 May, a Hoopoe was photographed on Palaui Island, Cagayan (CM)

Hoopoe in Wack Wack  – phoby Ely Teehankee

A visit to the little-known Tayabas trail on Mt. Banahaw, Quezon in October revealed a Furtive Flycatcher Ficedula disposita, 4 Flame-breasted Fruit Doves Ptilinopus marchei and 4 Luzon Scops-owls Otus longicornis (IS). The only unusual record of a resident species was of an immature Spotted Imperial-Pigeon Ducula carola flying across the Coastal Lagoon, Parañaque on 11 October (RO).

Flame-breasted Fruit Dove in Sierra Madre – photo by Tonji Ramos

Balut Island, Sarangani Province was visited on 28 December. The island has been fully converted into agricultural land and is entirely covered with coconut trees. An inquiry was made with the local community about the Great-billed Parrot Tanygnathus magalorynchos which in the Philippines has an uncertain status. Several older community members interviewed knew the species well and remembered it was often seen in the island’s forest in the past. The interviewees confirmed that the Great-billed Parrot had been extirpated not only from Balut Island but also from the other islands in Sarangani Bay as a result of habitat loss and poaching (CP).

The Asian Waterfowl Census turned up an exceptionally high count of more than 28,000 waterbirds at Pasac River Estuary, Pampanga on 16 January (AC, LW). The count included 2,750 Great Egret Ardea alba, 3,000 Asian Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva, 8,600 Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus, 2,130 Redshanks Tringa totanus, 5,300 Marsh Sandpipers Tringa stagnatilis and over 6,600 Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus. For four of the species the numbers represent more than 1% of the East Asian-Australasian flyway population, a trigger for possible inclusion of the wetland as a critical conservation area under the Ramsar Convention. From the important wetland of Bicol River Estuary, 1,000 Wandering Whistling-Ducks Dendrocygna arcuata were counted at Magarao Wetlands, Camarines Sur on 13 March (LS).

Another noteworthy congregation occurred in December in the forest area of Subic Bay, Zambales where more than 80 Blue-naped Parrots Tanygnathus lucionensis were seen at night roost (AG). An estimated 20,000 Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica roosted in the city center of Davao on 16 December (CB). Thousands of Barn Swallows were also observed in December in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila (LR) and in March 10,000 at a mall building in Quezon City (AT).

video of Barn Swallows flying around SM North’s Sky Garden and roosted on the narrow ledges on the building facade, to the delight of mall goers – by Christine Española Telesforo

video by Trinket Canlas

From 7-9 May, a total of more than 24,300 adult individuals of eight regularly occurring seabird species were documented during the annual seabird inventory at the Tubbataha Reefs, Cagayncillo, Palawan (AJ). Among the seabirds where a first Philippine record of the subspecies of Great Frigatebird Fregata minor listeri only occurring on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Present in Tubbataha and from the same island were four individuals of the Critically Endangered Christmas Island Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi. This species was also recorded on 19 April at Cavili Island, Cagayncillo, Palawan (CP).

listeri subspecies of Great Frigatebird – photo by Sylvia Ramos
Christmas Island Frigatebird, 4th year female – photo by Sylvia Ramos

Raptorwach of north migrating raptors were conducted in March and April at the PAGASA weather station in Tanay, Rizal. Peak migration counts include 640 Grey-faced Buzzard Butaster indicus on 20 March (AT), 68 Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus    on 3 April (AT) and 804 Chinese Goshawk Accipiter soloensis on 22 April (JV).

  Abner Bucol (AB), Andrew Curtis (AC), Anna Gonzales (AG), Arne Jensen (AJ),  Agerico de Villa (AV),Alex Loinaz (AL), Arnel Telesforo (AT), Alex Tiongco (ATi), Carmela Balcazar (CB), Chen Mensia (CM), Christian Perez (CP), George Reyes (GR), Ivan Sarenas (IS), James Biron (JB), Lenny Worthington (LW), Lydia Robles(LR), Leni Sutcliffe (LS), Maxime Zucca (MZ), Paul Bourdin (PB), Romy Ocon (RO), Richard Ruiz (RR), and Tina Mallari (TM).

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