DESPITE its small area to host an increasing number of flora and fauna, the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park in Davao City has so far recorded nearly 100 bird species—10 to 15 of which are endemic to the Philippines—making it an excellent site to see such creatures, according to a local birdwatching expert.
Davao-based birdwatcher Pete Simpson attributed this to its vast array of habitat types, complemented by the park’s safe and secure environment.
“It’s good for birdwatching because there is a range of habitats within a small area—the sea, the beach, mangroves, other trees and recently, a small grassland area,” Simpson said.
“Aach habitat has different birds specialized to live in these habitats. So, to be approaching nearly 100 bird species in such a small area and to be surrounded by an urban environment is excellent,” he added.
Approximately, about 20 bird species at the park are migratory, and a number can be found in other parts of the Philippines and throughout Southeast Asia.
Some of them are vagrant, rare birds that are only seen once at the site.
Simpson bared that he has already spotted a total of 98 bird species at the park since 2016. The striking one that he saw was the endemic imperial pigeon—a large of its kind usually found in forested areas in Mindanao.
“In terms of urban birdwatching sites, Cleanergy [Park] is, by far, the best in Davao City, and I would say it’s one of the best urban birdwatching sites in the whole Philippines,” he said.
Less than an hour ride, or 20 kilometers from the Therma South Inc. baseload power plant, the park is an eight-hectare ecological preserve nestled in Punta Dumalag that is home to the critically-endangered hawksbill turtle, endemic and migratory birds and marine species.
“The existence of nearly 100 bird species at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park is a remarkable achievement that reflects the Aboitiz Group’s strong commitment to sustainability and the preservation of an environmentally vital site in Davao and Mindanao,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, president and chief executive officer of Aboitiz Group.
“We will continue to work hard to ensure that the succeeding generations will also be able to appreciate the natural environment of the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park,” she added.
Conducive for birds
SIMPSON considers the park as one of the top five birdwatching sites in Davao del Sur, a remarkable feat considering its relatively urban location.
According to him, there are only 90 birding sites in the country that have reached the milestone of 100 birds recorded.
“Aboitiz Cleanergy Park will join that group soon. To be approaching 100 species in a site only a few hectares is excellent. To have that, and to be surrounded by an urban environment, is great,” he explained.
The birdwatcher recalled that this was a far cry from when he first set foot in the Punta Dumalag area when it was still undeveloped.
“Looking at it now, it tells me that the site is better for birds than when I visited them seven years ago, when I saw almost no birds,” he reminisced.
The Aboitiz Group’s commitment to sustainability and mindful operation of the urban-based biodiversity conservation hub has contributed to the flourishing of various plant and animal species in the area.
“The level of protection which Cleanergy [Park] has got is absolutely right and must be continued forever. But the way things are at the moment in the Philippines, it [park] needs to be there. It must be kept private and access-restricted,” he said.
“I would be happy if more people in the Philippines would know more about the amazing birds at Cleanergy Park,” added Simpson, a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines-Davao who has studied environmental biology and has been a birdwatcher since he was 11 years old.
Last year, the park welcomed 10,735 visitors and has so far released 4,811 pawikan hatchlings.
Since 2014, it has been home to 40 discovered pawikan nests. Early this year, two pawikans have been rescued and are currently under observation due to health conditions.
The park was recently improved, with the installation of a new playground made of used log poles.
Image credits: Aboitiz Cleanergy Park