Tuesday, November 27

ROX Bird Race Challenge

Recreational Outdoor Exchange (ROX) of Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City, the biggest recreational outdoor sports hub in Southeast Asia, is taking a bold step for adventure racing in the country with the ROX BIRD RACE CHALLENGE, the first and only race of its kind in the Philippines in partnership with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP).
Taking cue from events like the famed Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race in Malaysia, Hong Kong’s Big Bird Race and the Singapore Bird Race, the ROX BIRD RACE CHALLENGE aims to draw
public attention to Metro Manila’s remaining green spaces and threatened wetlands, parks and grassland habitats, which racers will visit in order to record as many bird species possible within a 24-hour period.
“The WBCP expects an exciting race and good numbers of bird arrivals based on our initial surveys and bird counts,” says urban planner and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines vice president Anna Gonzales. Bird species recorded in Metro Manila numbers more than 100 species at this time of year, when migrants from mainland Asia and Japan stay the duration of the winter.
“Bird watching as a popular recreation is fairly new in the country,” according to Gonzales, who hopes the bird race will spark ideas about conserving the urban green areas of Metro Manila and “getting our kids high on outdoor activities and science.”
The ROX Bird Race Challenge is open to experienced bird watchers and new hobbyists, first-time adventure racers, outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers of all ages. Teams of 4 members each, consisting of 2 to 3 birdwatching hobbyists and at least one first-time birdwatcher, will be given a checklist of birds to tick off as spotted during the course of the race from 3:00 p.m of December 1 to 3:00 pm of December 2.
“We hope to provide the outdoor experience that will sustain the consciousness for the conservation of the environment,” according to Roel Chan, marketing manager of Primer Group, the firm managing ROX. “You can’t say let’s save the habitat when you haven’t seen the habitat. We want people to go out there and have that positive feeling when they come back from this race and get into positive action.”
To highlight the culmination of the race, ROX is holding a series of activities starting 2:00 pm December 2.  A tent set-up along the promenade fronting Recreational Outdoor Exchange in Bonifacio High Street will host environmental exhibits, lectures, an activity corner where kids can practice art skills and enjoy face-painting and a wildlife conservation show featuring animals from the DENR Wildlife Rescue Center. These activities are open to the public free of charge.
Recreational Outdoor Exchange at Building 1, Bonifacio High Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig or call: 856-4638-39 or email the organizers at: Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, attention Michael Lu, myckle@thenet.ph

Saturday, November 3

a week in palawan

I'm back from (almost) a week in Sabang, Puerto Princesa.

I absolutely love Sabang!  The beach, the mountains, the forest, the rivers and the streams... what else could I ask for?

Stayed 6 days & 5 nights at a cottage on the beach at Taraw.  Woke up at 5am, had breakfast (I miss the vegetable and cheese omelet already!), went nature-tripping, came back for lunch, took afternoon siesta, went out again and returned for dinner and to chill out and in bed by 9pm.

It was absolute bliss. 

Funny how familiar you get with the people and the place in a few days. Small town, regular routine.  Every hello and good morning and smile is returned. How very comforting. 

And of course the birding!  Got a few more Palawan birds on my list: Javan Frogmouth, Hooded Pitta, Palawan Blue Flycatcher, Blue Paradise Flycatcher. Tabon Scrubfowl, Common Iora, Crested Goshawk, Common Flameback, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Fiery Minivet; most thanks to Nicky (bird guide extraordinaire!).  Plus, several great upgrades from the last trip:  sooo many blue-headed racquet-tails, yellow-throated leafbird, black-headed bulbuls.. and of course... the palawan peacock-pheasant!  The birding was extremely fulfilling.  My bird list never fell below 35 species everyday!  and not once did I spot a eurasian tree sparrow at Sabang!  Still... some birds were a no-show to us, and I still have several reasons to go back... slaty woodpecker, stork-billed kingfisher, and now, even if babblers were never my thing, the falcated ground babbler (after Nicky made us walk through that only to have complete silence in response to playback, I feel I HAVE to see it).  Note on the peacock:  it was absolutely beautiful.  Makes me realise how poor my glimpse of it was last time in the low light.  Out in the open, responding to coaxing, it reminded me of the fur-kids!  It was amazing.  How I wish it had a mate to keep it company, and not just those chicken-y scrub fowl.

It was my third trip to Sabang, each trip progressively longer than the one before, and I'd still welcome any chance to go back. Before I left for Palawan I had dinner with the F-8ers and also dinner with the MBB kids.  Of course the former couldn't understand my attraction to Sabang (Richie just had to say "no electricity" and I could hear the groans), and the latter could imagine, but were all busy with work and family.  I'm definitely not a Boracay girl, and while I wouldn't say no to a weekend in Bora, I'd gladly exchange the pristine white sand and the tequila shots and the dancing for the wild waves and quiet, star lit nights and long bumpy road to get there.

(For more pics check out: http://katrinket.multiply.com/photos/album/21)