The Untamed Creatures

Mapawa, with its 300ha of natural forest, offers a refuge to many species of animals whose previous habitats may have been converted, degraded or destroyed by humans for agricultural and industrial purposes.

While wandering, we were able to witness a variety of animals be it ground dwellers or the winged ones but when it comes to abundance and richness, birds were at the top of the list. Birding in Mapawa was a splendid experience we ought not to forget. Different calls and songs were broadcasted in all angles, some of it were easy to familiarize like the call of Black-faced Coucal, Philippine Coucal, and Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove.

Black-faced Coucal_Dan Jones
Black-faced Coucal by Dan Jones
Phil. Coucal_Romy Ocon
Philippine Coucal by Romy Ocon
Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove_Talalak
Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove by Talalak

To not startle the birds, we acted like snipers – with stealth! We walked slowly and as soon as we spotted our target we immediately positioned ourselves on a comfortable ground. We aimed with perfect precision by the use of binoculars and shot them with our cameras. We were able to observe Colasisis eating fruits, some Brown Shrikes flying from tree to tree, Yellow Vented Bulbuls, and a Blue-tailed Bee Eater. At night, we were able to hear the territorial calls of the endemic Giant Scops-owl and Philippine Scops-owl. Also, the Philippine Nightjar was easily spotted because their eyes will shine like a jewel if it is hit with flashlight.

Colasisi_Sylvia Ramos
Colasisi by Sylvia Ramos
Brown Shrike_HBW
Brown Shrike (photo courtesy of HBW)
Yellow-vented Bulbul_Gerard Visser
Yellow-vented Bulbul by Gerard Visser
Blue-tailed Bee Eater_Akshay Harith
Blue-tailed Bee Eater by Akshay Harith
Phil. Night Jar_Jonet Carpio
Philippine Night Jar by Jonet Carpio

When it comes to herpetofauna, we were not able to satisfy our excitement since the only species that we found were Cane Toad and Common Tree Frog for the anurans, Misamis Waterside Skink for the skinks, and Philippine Blunt-headed Tree Snake for the snakes. It’s very ironic that we only saw a few species of herps during a rainy night.

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For the mammals, only two species were caught in the mist net. These were the Greater Musky Fruit Bat and Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bat.

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It’s very odd for a forest to establish itself in an urbanized area especially a very developed place like Cagayan de Oro but thanks to the efforts of the Pelaez family, the forest now is home to 115 species of birds and to add to the excitement of birders, the population is growing numbers and maybe in the near future this forest will make its way to the top as the best urban birding spot in Mindanao (assuming that it remains untouched in the coming years). As for herps and mammals, not much of their diversity is known and this is good news for those who are expert on these fields to conduct a study.

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