Tungtong River Conservation Project

an environmental advocacy of the Holistic Education and Development Center

Category: Aves (Birds) (Page 1 of 4)

Hoos that? (New bird record for Tungtong, 20 Jun 2016)

IMG_3220The security and maintenance staff of a grocery store near to TRCP’s host school of Holistic Education and Development Center gave to us a Philippine Scops-Owl (Otus megalotis) that they found in their parking lot.  They reportedly saw the owl dropping from a nearby tree.

Upon examination, we did not find any obvious injuries so after documenting and getting morphometric data, we kept the owl in a cage with water.  We tried feeding it with a small lab mouse but it didn’t want to (maybe because it was noon time?).  We released the owl by dusk and it flew to a nearby cluster of bamboo trees and stayed perched for some time before flying off.  Unfortunately, we were unable to collect blood feathers for DNA fingerprinting and had no access to a bird tag at the time.

Bill length – 20mm; Bill depth – 18mm; Wing length – 190mm; Tail length – 95mm; Tarsus length – 50mm; 250 g

This is exciting for us since it confirms the presence of the species in the Tungtong River watershed.  We’ve been hearing them for sometime and even receiving anecdotal reports of sightings but this is the first time that we have concrete proof.

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Many thanks to Sir Ton Nakpil (HEDCen’s Multimedia and Information Technology Subject Area Coordinator) for the cool pictures!  Teacher Rubby Alcaraz (HEDCen’s Math Coordinator) and Sir Henry Calilung (TRCP Coordinator) took morphometric data while some Grade 2 and 3 students looked on.

PS If anyone out there has an alternative ID, we’d be glad to hear from you.

Makes me wish TRCP had a real camera! (18-second Spotted Wood Kingfisher clip)

SAM_2519It was an ordinary school day when an out-of-breath student called me out of the faculty lounge to go to HEDCen’s Sampaloc Garden.  She said they spotted a kingfisher.  I ran out with her and was treated to a full 3-minute viewing of a Spotted Wood sitting on the garden’s fence.  I was amazed that this normally reclusive bird stayed in the open so long in spite of the noise (the garden is surrounded by Grade 5, Grade 7 and HSIII classes so you can just imagine the ambient noise).  I borrowed the school’s point-and-shoot and this is what I got (obviously no tripod; I know, the clip is LOUSY!).  This sighting made me wish so bad that the TRCP had a more capable digital SLR!

O well, any birder out there willing to come over and shoot some videos?  This bird doesn’t show up regularly though and we’ve only seen it thrice in the garden.  But who knows?  I don’t really monitor its comings and goings but if it can sit-out in the open when the garden is reverberating with the joyful noise of children learning, then perhaps it will come on a quiet Sunday or Saturday morning…

PS The clip was taken last Monday, March 3 at 8 in the morning.

When luck becomes scientific


From left: Arturo Alleje (Grade 8), Mariah Dichoso, Teacher Rubby Alcaraz, Zoren Valmonte, and Jowb Borja (all Grade 7)

Our regular school routine last June 25 was interrupted by the entrance of an immature Brush Cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus) caught in the kitchen of our very own Center Director Teacher Emma Gutierrez.  She sent the bird to the Tungtong River Conservation Project staff at the Holistic Education and Development Center (host school of the TRCP) for study.

I received the bird and, along with Teacher Rubby (Physics, Math teacher and bird enthusiast) and some wide-eyed students, took the necessary measurements, fed it with sugar water and released it.

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This lucky capture is significant for us because it confirms the presence of the Brush Cuckoo in the watershed.  I sighted an adult two years ago but the encounter was too brief for a confident ID.  Now we can be sure of the species’ record.  Indeed, this serves as a classic example of Lady Luck favoring scientific discoveries.  

It seems that Teacher Emma’s kitchen harbors plenty of good luck (she also caught a Luzon Scops Owl there:  see related post here).  Cheers!

To learn more about the Brush Cuckoo, visit the following links:

BirdLife International

Birdwatch.ph (Official site of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines)

Here's looking at you

The Philippine Frogmouth recently discovered in the Tungtong River watershed is becoming very popular among bird photographers.  The latest to visit us is Atty. Ramon J. Quisumbing who dropped by yesterday morning for a quick photo shoot.  The result is an unforgettable mother and child capture:

Phil frogmouth RJ Quisumbing watermarkedThe chick has now moulted its newborn plumage of white to one of salt and pepper.  Pretty soon, it will start learning how to fly and fend for itself.  Cheers Sir RJ for the shot!

Sir RJ Quisumbing is not a newcomer to the Tungtong River.  His first visit was with a group of bird photographers from the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP) led by Sir Olan last March 10, 2012.

To see previous posts, click:

New birder in Tungtong and new record for me!

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

To learn more about the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines, visit their page here.

Capturing Nature's Works of Art

No one produces better imagery than Nature herself.  Any landscape or wildlife artist can attest to this.  The challenge lies in immortalizing the image, complete with all its splendor, in ink, paint, or in pixels.  I would like to share with you the following photos of Mr. Alain Del B. Pascua who once again was able to capture Nature’s works of art in glorious bytes.

Mr. Alain del Pascua visited the Tungtong River watershed last June 1 accompanied by fellow bird photographers Rocky Sison, Roy De Guzman Daantos and Jigger John Delgado (Roy and Jigger are Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines who came all the way from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).

elegant_tit_ADBP4491The Elegant Tit (Periparus elegans) is a Philippine endemic that is commonly found throughout the archipelago.  It is a small (4.5″) perching bird (passerine) that mainly feeds on small fruits and insects.

philippine_frogmouth_ADBP3786The Philippine Frogmouth (Batrachostomus septimus) is also a Philippine endemic.  Though widely distributed throughout the islands, it is rather an uncommon bird to spot much less photograph.  The Philippine frogmouth spends most of the day in the classic camouflage pose shown above- it looks just like a dead branch to the untrained observer.  A night hunter, the frogmouth is known to eat grasshoppers, cicadas, crickets, beetles and other such small animals making it a valuable predator, helping to maintain balance in the forest environment.

phil frogmouth chickThe photo is even rarer since the chick of the nesting adult can be seen.

The presence of the Philippine frogmouth in the Tungtong River watershed further highlights the importance of preserving this 3km square riparian ecosystem.  These masterful photos of Mr. Alain fuels our drive to protect, restore and conserve our adopted river watershed.

For works of Mr. Alain posted here in the TRCP blog, click:

Photos of Tungtong River birds

Plain Bush-hen video

For more samples of his digital art, click:


To learn more about birding in the Philippines, visit:

Wild Birds of the Philippines Gallery

Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP)

To learn about the Holistic Education and Development Center (parent school of the Tungtong River Conservation Project), visit:

HEDCen Media

Bird Survey done by LDS YOUTH Cainta 2nd Ward Environmental Camp, May 3, 2013

A total of 18 species was documented.  Of the 18, 7 were Philippine endemics.

The following images were taken from the internet.  Although, we did our best to cite our sources, we would appreciate immediate notification should you notice anything amiss.  Thank you.

HEDCen Science in Mindanao – Diversity of Birds in Maharlika and Beverly Hills by Jibril Cabiles

urlThis is the video of the High School Scientific paper presentation delivered by Jibril Cabiles in the 22nd Annual Symposium of the Wildlife Conservation Society of the Philippines held last April 16 to 20, 2013 at the Central Mindanao University, Musuan, Bukidnon.

The research behind this report was done by Bea (Jibril) along with her group mates Frances Briñas, Basil Nacionales, and Harry Shon.

Bea is a High School graduate of the Holistic Education and Development Center batch 2012-2013.


Go back to Day 2 – Opening Program

Proceed to Day 4 – Awarding of Best Scientific Paper Presentations

View Institutional Posters’ Exhibit

View presentation of Juan Angelo Frejas (Philippine Flying Dragon)

View presentation of Nicole Cabuquit (Tungtong River Microbats)

View presentation of TinTin Capulong (The Asian Palm Civet of Tungtong River)

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

The title is a quote from Lou Holtz (an American college football Hall of Famer turned motivational author) and serves for me as a delightful summary to the latest batch of images graciously donated by Atty. Ramon Quisumbing (see related post).  These photos are so alive you can almost hear the birds’ songs!  Kudos to you Sir Ramon!

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Atty. Ramon Quisumbing is a member of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines.  Sir Ramon (with his partner Sir Dion Pullan) is maintaining an eco-friendly resort and mountain lodge which doubles as a nature conservatory at the foothills of Mt. Banahaw- check out the following links:

BK Valley Resort

BK Mountain Lodge

New birder in Tungtong and new record for me!

Atty. Ramon Quisumbing visited the Tungtong River watershed (one of 6 bird photographers brought by Sir Olan) for the first time today, March 10, 2012.  At the very start of our 3-hour walk, we were blessed with a sighting of a pair of ashy minivets (Pericrocotus divaricatus), a new record for my personal bird list (for bird nuts, a sighting that creates a long-lasting impression is called a lifer; this is definitely one for me!).  He also took excellent photos of the White-throated Kingfisher.  See Sir Ramon’s great images below:

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Sir Ramon was impressed with the conservation work the students of HEDCen are doing with Tungtong River.  As an avid naturalist himself, he knows how important it is for the youth to step up and take a more active role in protecting and preserving this Earth for after all, the youth shall inherit whatever is left.

PS  Sir Ramon and the 6 other birders shooting that day are members of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP).  Atty. Ramon (with his partner Sir Dion Pullan) is maintaining an eco-friendly resort and mountain lodge which doubles as a nature conservatory at the foothills of Mt. Banahaw- check out the following links:

BK Valley Resort

BK Mountain Lodge

Nature’s tree planters by Olan Balbido

Mr. Olan Balbido visited the Tungtong River watershed last September 14, 2011 and took this great picture of one of nature’s tree planters- the Yellow Vented Bulbul.  Bulbuls and other fruit eaters cannot digest the seeds they ingest and so they excrete it with their feces.  These seed and bird dropping combos help maintain tree diversity and the over-all health of the forest.  For birders, the shot of an eating bird is called the “money-shot” because of its rarity.  Truly a great capture Sir Olan! Other shots by Sir Olan on that day:

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Today (March 10, 2012), Sir Olan came back and brought 6 bird photographers with him.  We spent some 3 hours walking around the watershed and managed to bag great shots of the White-collared and White-throated Kingfishers, Elegant Tits, Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers, Philippine Bulbuls, Grey-streaked Flycatchers, Lowland White-eyes, and Golden-bellied Flyeaters.  The birders are members of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP).  Their digital catch will be posted here soon!

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