92,000 migratory birds documented in Sarangani

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY (October 16)– Around 92,000 migratory raptors flocked and took temporary refuge for at least three weeks in the last two months at an emerging sanctuary in the coastal municipality of Glan, Sarangani province.

Cornelio Ramirez Jr., executive director of the Sarangani Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC), said Monday the raptors were spotted by bird watchers from Sept. 17 to Oct. 8 at the Raptor Hill, Barangay Rio del Pilar in Glan.

Ramirez said the migratory raptor watch is part of an annual study spearheaded by the ECPC in coordination with the Raptorwatch Network Philippines.

Members of Raptorwatch and Birders Without Borders joined the first-ever Raptor Watch Festival in the area last Oct. 5.

Ramirez said they documented the presence of at least five migratory raptor species — Chinese Sparrowhawk, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Grey-faced Buzzard, Osprey, and Crested Honey Buzzard.

“The Chinese Sparrowhawk was the most dominant species observed passing over Raptor Hill in Rio del Pilar,” he said.

ECPC first documented in 2014 the presence of the migratory raptors in Rio del Pilar and adjacent villages of Laguimit, Cross, and Batulaki, which are part of the province’s Mount Latian complex.

The initial raptor survey was led by Davao City-based environmentalist, Lawyer Alex Tiongco, who currently heads Raptorwatch.

Studies showed that the birds mainly came from Japan and Taiwan, reaching the area by way of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, portions of Visayas and Cape San Agustin in Davao Oriental.

The Mount Latian area serves as a “stopover” and “roosting site” of the migratory raptors, which eventually fly off to islands in Indonesia.

Nearly 79,000 raptors were documented in the area in 2016 and increased to around 135,000 last year.

The provincial government and local stakeholders have been working closely to ensure the protection and conservation of the area’s raptor sanctuary.

Salvador de Gracia, Rio del Pilar barangay chair, said they have adopted an initial five hectares of Mount Taltak in the area for a reforestation project.

De Gracia said they have already planted some 2,500 seedlings of fruit and endemic trees in the area in partnership with ECPC and Japanese Society for the Preservation of Birds.

The barangay council sought the help last year of the Japanese birdwatching group for the reforestation initiative, he said.

Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon earlier vowed to sustain the annual raptor study and the conservation of the area through the local government’s “Sulong Kalikasan” program. (PNA)

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