SPOTTED: Endemic Bird Species in La Mesa Ecopark

By: Maibelle Aure

Rare bird species flies over urbanized Metro Manila. Known as Ashy Thrush Zoothera cinerea, the bird was discovered by a group of birdwatchers from the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines around the vicinity of the La Mesa Ecopark (LME), a 33-hectare public park within La Mesa Watershed in Quezon City.

The group accidentally spotted Ashy Thrush late last year while looking for Red-bellied Pitta Pitta erythrogaster that had been reported to be in the park. Ashy Thrush is a small, elusive, ground dwelling thrush whose natural habitats are on subtropical or tropical moist lowland and mountain forests. This bird is very uncommon that Wild Bird Club of the Philippines’ Records Committee only recorded 56 sightings from 2004-2009 at merely seven sites including Mt. Makiling. At least five Ashy Thrushes have been recorded in the LME since its first sighting. Birdwatchers were able to observe and document up close the behavior of the bird such as gathering of food, feeding and nesting.

Aside from the Ashy Thrush, other bird species like the Emerald Dove Chacophaps indica and Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata were found nesting within the area. There are also newly fledged and young species of Red-bellied Pitta Pitta erythrogaster, Grey- backed Tailorbirds Orthotomus derbianus and Mangrove Blue Flycatchers Cyornis rufigastra among other more species.

The continuous presence of Ashy Thrush as well as other bird species in the La Mesa Ecopark highlights the importance of green places within the city that can serve as sanctuaries for wildlife. Yes, even within the busy city of Metro Manila, endemic species can still find their safe haven.

Based on Adrian Constantino & Trinket Canlas’
BirdingAsia Article: Rare Bird in the City: Ashy Thrush Zootheracinerea in La Mesa Ecopark, Metro Manila, Luzon, Philippines- First Breeding record.