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Birding and Caving in Wawa Dam

Jops Josef writes about the recent club trip to the wawa dam in rodriguez, Rizal

WAWAWOW!                                                                                                                         by Jops Josef

The Club was invited by the Gaia Exploration Club (GEC) to do a bird survey at Wawa Dam and to experience caving the Pamitinan Cave – the birthplace of the Katipunan. Both the Wawa Dam and the Pamitinan Cave are part of the Pamitinan Protected Landscape in Rodriguez, Rizal. The area also covers the Montalban Gorge.
The Wawa Dam. Photo by Maia Tanedo.
Since the dam closed operations, land titles have been awarded to the locals within the area.  Houses lined the entrance and the trail, while picnic tables were built on the limestone rocks and on the beach to accommodate weekend picnickers.  It all came as some sort of a shock for the team.  Add to that the not so cooperative weather that morning, I think the entire team was quite skeptical if there were birds to be seen in the area.

So you could just imagine our pleasant surprise with the species we saw and observed – Scale-feathered Malkohas flying among the trees within meters of the houses, a juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle perched within 15 meters from our group for a 10-minute stare down, an Indigo-banded Kingfisher not even flinching from its perch despite a local walking in 5 meters from him, plus Elegant Tits, Purple-throated Sunbirds and Black-naped Monarchs to name a few.
Immature Crested Serpent Eagle. Photo by Maia Tanedo.
We shared this observation to the DENR Protected Area Supervisor who came with us, saying that one of the reasons why birds are not afraid to come this close to human activity is that the locals do not hurt or hunt them.  She said that hunting has long been stopped in the area, and that residents have formed an organization that does regular reforestation programs within the area.  With the help of the local DENR implementing policies to protect the area and with GEC adopting the area to help promote responsible eco-tourism, this could well become a very good site for various eco-toursim activities.
Now if only the Rodriguez LGU could understand that zip lines and cable cars do not equate to eco-tourism…
Birding was only limited to 3 1/4 hours and only to a tiny fraction of the trail, as caving was part of the activities.  Congratulations to the brave birder-cavers Christian Perez, Jun Osano, Yana Osano, Karen Ochavo, and Jasmin Meren who went up to the last chamber in the dark and damp Pamitinan Cave and were able to relive an important part of our history.  They were guided by some GEC members, headed by Meyan Mendoza, who has recently signed up as a WBCP member. Special mention goes to Yana, who decided to push through when her group was asked if they should continue or turn back.  Bravest 6th grader we know! The rest of the group who decided to pass on the caving experience, who Christian loving called “chickens”, were Anna Gonzales, Jops Josef, Maia Tanedo, Raul Alibutud and Rissa Katigbak.
Birder cavers half-way into the cave. Photo by Christian Perez.
 Needless to say, a whole day club trip should be organized for the next Wawa trip, as the GEC and Brgy Rafael say that there are a lot of more birds to be seen up the trail.  Takers, anyone? 🙂

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