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Birding by the Bypass Road

By: Myles V. Holar

The MBA (Malagasang-Bucandala-Alapan) Bypass Road, as what as I recently found out the bikers and joggers call it was just opened last year. Most of the inner city roads here in Imus are narrow and some don’t even have sidewalks. MBA is much wider with space for joggers, bikers to enjoy and even just families to have a picnic at. Because cycling has become popular this past year, as a leisure and as an alternative mode of transportation, the timing of the opening of the bypass road could have not been more perfect but that’s not the reason why I love the Malagasang-Bucandala-Alapan Bypass Road. I love the green spaces between.

Cotton candy sky during sunset
During migration season, I would see hundreds of egrets in flocks fly by at sunset

Imus, Cavite is only one of the many cities in the country that have seen rampant progress in the past years. With so many subdivisions built and hundreds of thousands of people moving in from different parts of the country mostly from Metro Manila, open spaces have become fewer as the days go by. The MBA Bypass Road is a wide concrete road but you will be welcomed with green spaces left and right when you pass by it. I know my fellow birders would agree, green spaces are kind of like a magnet that’s pulling you. There are other green spaces near me but I keep coming back there because there is one species of bird there that I enjoy seeing. The Eastern Grass Owl, such a magnificent creature. The first time I saw this owl was at this patch last year. After seeing it a couple of times, I haven’t seen it since November last year.

You can always find Long-tailed Shrike perched on poles.

I was thrilled when Gwen finally reached out to me and asked me how to get to the patch to see the Oriental Pratincoles. They planned to check out the patch first and then go to Noveleta if they don’t see the Pratincoles in Imus. My husband Allan and I met Gwen and Ravi on a Saturday early morning. We saw the Pratincoles right away, then the Greater Painted Snipe, then the Watercock. It was a productive morning for us birders! It was only around 8 am when we realized we saw a lot of species already! It was such a fun experience that Gwen organized another trip to the MBA patch the next weekend for an Independence Day Sunday birding. We were joined by more people. The highlight of that day was when we saw a King Quail! Gwen organized another trip for the following Sunday, Father’s day! Some birders birded in Kawit, Cavite before heading to MBA and we did not expect what we’re gonna see there when we arrived! It was the Eastern Grass Owl, which they already saw two of in Kawit at sunrise!

It’s Grassbird galore in this patch. You’ll see and hear them all the time in the area

As much fun as our trips have been, there were downsides. While enjoying the Pratincoles and the King Quail some of us spotted a man walking in the field wearing a camouflage shirt and carrying what looks like to be an airsoft gun. That can only mean one thing, he’s a hunter. We can only hope that seeing us peeking through our binoculars and cameras stopped him from shooting a bird that morning. That is just one of the threats that the wild birds here in Imus are facing, I can’t help but think about the other birding patches I have been to a few times that have been turned into roads now. I hope there’s more that we can do but for now all we can do is spread the word.

A pair of Buff-Banded rails, as excited as we were we did our best not to spook the bird

Birding with the group the last three weekends was a game-changer for me. Usually, it’s just Allan and I walking on the roadside looking out in the fields through our binoculars while most of the people there are jogging, cycling, or just hanging out but that never stopped us. The more we do our thing the more passersby get curious so they ask us what we’re doing. Some are amused, some could care less and some, mostly Imus born and raised were not surprised as they are familiar with the wild birds that can be found here. There are more than 30 species sighted in this area and I’m sure there are more to discover!

Some of the birds* you can regularly see at the patch and even all-around Imus:

Red Collared-Dove – Streptopelia tranquebarica

Collared Kingfisher – Todiramphus chloris

White-breasted Woodswallow – Artamus leucorynchus

Lesser Coucal – Centropus bengalensis

Asian Glossy Starling – Aplonis panayensis

Black-crowned Night-Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax

Oriental Pratincole – Glareola maldivarum

Long-tailed Shrike – Lanius schach

Yellow-vented Bulbul – Pycnonotus goiavier

Scaly-breasted Munia – Lonchura punctulata

Chestnut Munia – Lonchura atricapilla

Rock Pigeon – Columba livia

Zebra Dove – Geopelia striata

Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis

Australasian Grass-Owl – Tyto longimembris

Brown Shrike – Lanius cristatus

Zitting Cisticola – Cisticola juncidis

Striated Grassbird – Megalurus palustris

Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica

Pacific Swallow – Hirundo tahitica

Crested Myna – Acridotheres cristatellus

Pied Bushchat – Saxicola caprata

Eurasian Tree Sparrow – Passer montanus

*Editor’s note: Kennedy guide bird names 🙂

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