Environmentalists eye Isabela for birdwatching

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SAN PABLO, Isabela: Environmentalists and conservationists will soon have a site for birdwatching activity at one of the highest peaks in the Cagayan Valley region.

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The Sierra Madre Outdoor Club (SMOC) said it will finally establish its bird watching activity high in the heart of Mount Dos Cuernos located in this town.

“It is all system go for the said activity which will start anytime next month,” said SMOC president Pio Muñoz.

Also a pioneer on environment explorations in Cagayan Valley, Muñoz said SMOC is collaborating with the local government here with its technical assistance for the said activity.

“This has been the pet project of San Pablo town and has been in the drawing board for the last few years,” he said.

Muñoz said this has also been one of the most awaited special projects among environmentalists, conservationists and birdwatchers in Northern Philippines.

Mount Dos Cuernos is located at 5,538 feet above sea level in Barangay Tupa near Barangay Simanu Sur in this town. It is considered the highest mountain in Isabela and ranked 172nd highest in the country.

Six other peaks are within the area including Thumbs Peak, Nagtakneg Peak, Bukid Peak, Mount Cetaceo, Flat Peak and Mount Cresta.

Mount Dos Cuernos is second to Mount Pulag, the highest peak in Region 2 at 9,687 feet above sea level.

Mount Pulag is also Luzon’s highest peak and the borders between the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya meet at the mountain’s peak.

Muñoz said there are at least 38 bird species with materials recorded. These have been         listed by foreign researchers during irregular visits to Mount Dos Cuernos.

He said among the interesting species include Hawks and Eagles, Pigeons and Doves, Nightjars, Swifts, Trogons, Woodpeckers, Pittas, Fairy-bluebirds, Old World Warblers and many more.

Ornithologists said the Philippines is home to at least 600 species of resident and migratory birds, a third of which     is endemic.

Muñoz said Mount Dos Cuernos, from where the founding name of SMOC was taken, is one of the least climbed mountain peaks in the country.

“There are no established routes and rest areas along the way to Dos Cuernos top making it dangerous to climb,” Muñoz said.

Muñoz said could only count on his fingers the number of expeditions launched to conquer Mount Dos Cuernos.

“With the establishment of new bird watching sites along the way to the top, the climb may be easier this time,” Muñoz added.

Bird watchers claim that the country’s location in East Asia makes it as the “flyway” of migratory birds and an important destination for many threatened species like the Chinese and Asian Dowitcher.

SMOC said that once the project is fully implemented, “we will expect adventure tourists to book the earliest possible climb expedition to Mount Dos Cuernos.”

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