Cebu Flowerpecker has recently received the Bird Life Species Champion award in the British Birdwatching Fair 2009 in Oakham, Rutland, United Kingdom. Known as the ‘Woodstock of Birders,’ the British Birdwatching Fair is an exclusive event where all sectors in birdwatching and wildlife conservation from all over the world gather.
Presented by BirdLife International, the award was given to the Department of Tourism (DOT) which was also named as the Species Champion for the said endemic bird. “This award seals our country’s status as a premier birdwatching site in the global birders’ community. More importantly, it will draw further support for biodiversity awareness and wildlife preservation from our local sectors,” said Tourism Secretary Ace Durano.
The Cebu Flowerpecker has been rediscovered by renowned birder and zoologist Dr. Rob Timmins who saw it in 1992, 100 years after its last sighting. The bird was found in the village of Tabunan, and small numbers can also be seen in Nug-As and Mount Lantoy, also in Cebu. Presently, an estimated 100 birds of this specie may be living in the area.
British birdwatchers have also confirmed new sightings of the elusive bird. Matt Merritt, Features Editor of the noted BirdWatching Magazine, wrote about his party’s glimpses of the rare specie in their visit to Cebu recently. He described it as stocky, 12cm-long, with a distinctively red back, grey-white underparts, blue-black wings and a black head with short stout bill.
Capturing the bird in a photo has long been every birder’s dream, as no photo of it yet exists due to its size and elusive nature, some of UK’s birders said.
Touted by the British wildlife enthusiasts as the bird that’s ‘back from the dead,’ the Cebu Flowerpecker was also cited as the flagship specie at the UK Birdfair. The event theme for this year was ‘Lost and Found,’ highlighting winged species which were known to be extinct but have been recently rediscovered.
Apart from the Cebu Flowerpecker, Merritt named other prized winged species that his group saw in their treks to other birding sites of the country which are Pampanga and Palawan.
Some which he mentioned include, the Philippine Duck, Cinammon Bittern, Night Herons, Luzon Hornbill, Philippine Hanging Parrot, Bar-bellied Cuckoo Shrike, Philippine Falconet, Sooty Woodpecker, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Brahminy Kite, Great Sand Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Palawan Peacock Pheasant, Tarictic Hornbill and Black Shama.
“With one-third of our birds endemic, birdwatching is a viable tourism product for serious birders who make up a sizeable part of our high-spending segment,” added Durano.
The country’s participation in the recent Birdfair has likewise shored up gains for the country, said Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque, Jr., Tourism Planning and Promotions.
“UK’s biggest bird tour operators have included us in their packages and some well-known birders are expected to arrive in the country in several batches,” Jarque said.
Rockjumper Birding Tours, Ornitholidays, Birdseekers, Nature Trek, and Birdquest are just some of the major tour operators which have added the Philippines in their program and brochures as one of the world’s premier birdwatching sites.
The country was well-represented in the Birdfair, with noted speakers Dennis Salvador, Nicky Icarangal, Jr., and Lisa Marie Pagnutalan giving a forum on subjects which include, Status and Conservation of the Great Philippine Eagle, Birdwatching in the Philippines, and Conserving Core Habitats in Cebu, respectively.
Stanie Soriano, Corporate Relations Manager of Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation, further shared that the country also won second place for the Best Stand Awards, having the most popular booth in the venue. “We gave out a comprehensive Birdwatching kit with books, CDs, and flyers on the tourism product. Our local Banda Kawayan also created a very festive atmosphere in the booth, delighting guests with our local music,” shared Soriano.
Based on Press Release from the Department of Tourism or DOT