Bird watchers, environmentalists gather in Glan for 2nd Raptor Watch Festival

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 01 October) — Bird watching enthusiasts, environmental researchers and other local stakeholders will gather anew on Wednesday, Oct. 2, in an emerging bird sanctuary in Glan town Sarangani province for the 2nd Raptor Watch Festival.

Cornelio Ramirez Jr., executive director of Sarangani’s Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC), said Tuesday they are all set for the day-long festival, which will be held anew at the Raptor Hill in Barangay Rio del Pilar, Glan.

He said spectators will have a chance to watch thousands of migratory raptors, mostly coming from Japan and Taiwan that made the area as their “stopover” and temporary “roosting site.”

These include the Chinese Sparrowhawk, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Grey-faced Buzzard, Osprey and Crested Honey Buzzard.

Teachers from Mingkat Gampal Elementary School watch the arrival of migratory raptors at Raptor Hill in Barangay Rio del Pilar in Glan, Sarangani on Thursday (26 September 2019. Parts of Mindanao are known destinations of birds from temperate countries at the onset of fall and winter. Photo courtesy of Tres Besana-Joshua John Pantonial/SARANGANI COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE

Aside from bird watching, Ramirez said they lined up several support activities such as kite flying, poster making contest, environmental games and massive tree planting in Mt. Taltak, the roosting site of the visiting raptors.

He said around 2,500 seedlings of fruit and endemic trees were planted at the site in last year’s inaugural festivity in partnership with local residents and the Japanese Society for the Preservation of Birds.

“The bird watching and the rest of the activities are for free so we’re encouraging everyone to come and see these spectacular raptors,” Ramirez said in a statement.

He said Raptor Hill is very accessible as it is located just beside the Sarangani-Davao Occidental national highway.

The provincial government, through the ECPC, launched the festival in 2018 to highlight the arrival of the migratory raptors in the area every year and raise awareness on the need to protect and preserve the site.

Last year, the ECPC documented around 92,000 raptors that flocked and took temporary refuge in the area from Sept. 17 to Oct. 8. It peaked at 135,000 in 2017.

ECPC first documented in 2014 the presence of the migratory raptors in Rio del Pilar and adjacent villages of Laguimit, Cross, and Batulaki, especially in Mounts Gulo and Taltak.

The initial raptor survey was led by Davao City-based environmentalist, lawyer Alex Tiongco of Raptorwatch Network Philippines.

The Environmental Conservation and Protection Center of Sarangani counted a total of 16,235 birds — Chinese Sparrowhawk, Crested Honey Buzzard and Osprey — during the monitoring and observation of migratory raptors on September 26 at Barangay Rio Del Pilar. On October 2, the Raptor Festival will be celebrated on its 2nd year where thousands of migratory raptors and scores of birders and environmentalist are expected to be in the area. Photo by Tres Besana – Joshua John Pantonial/SARANGANI COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE)

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 migratory raptors stop by the area for several weeks, peaking at the last week of September to the second week of October, before eventually flying off to nearby islands in Indonesia.

The 2nd Raptor Watch Festival was organized by the provincial government led by Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon in coordination with Raptorwatch, Philippine Eagle Foundation, Protect Wildlife-United States Agency for International Development, Department of Education Sarangani and the municipal government of Glan.

It is also supported by Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao and Sarangani Rep. Rogelio Pacquiao. (MindaNews)