Philippine field guide

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Philippine field guide
From: "Suzanne Beauchesne" <>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 22:12:41 -0800
In response to the Philippine guide querie:
There is a book by John E. duPont which was not terribly expensive in
Canada ($35 - which is considerably less than most other foreign guides are
here) but it is hardly a field guide. It's huge and printed on very heavy
weight paper, with lots of space to spare all around the edges. So much, in
fact, that I took it to a book binder and had it cut down, saving myself
several kilograms of dead weight. Other whinges about this book are that
the text is very limited and the plates aren't great. And finally, the red
cloth cover, once wet, as it will get if you take it to the Philippines,
will stain all of the clothing it comes in contact with. Other than that,
it's a great book! It was also the only book available at the time (1996),
and there's way too many endemic birds (around 180, depending on your
lumping or splitting preferences)  to try to use another book from the
region, and guess at the unidentifiable. 

There is, however, a new book which should be fresh off the press, or
should soon (in 96 the estimate was a couple of years, so who knows). The
author, Rob Kennedy, is from the Museum of Cincinatti which was involved in
a biodiversity project there. I'd be tempted to wait for the new book if I
thought there'd be any birds left once it gets published (warning: some
ranting and raving follows). The Philippines is the most depressing place
I've ever been, and I've been to a few depressing places. The forest has
almost all been flattened, and the remant bits are increasingly fragmented.
For example, Mt. Apo, on the large southern island of Mindanao, is
advertised to be the last safe haven of the Philippine Eagle. It appeared
to be a large protected park on the map, but on the ground, it was a large
park, with a road into the middle to a geothermal project with 5000 people
officially living there, and anybody's guess how many times more than that
unofficially living there. A tiny park on the the island Bohol actually had
CUSO there helping to 'solve the problems in the park'. I had to ask the
warden what he perceived were the problems and he explained that the CUSO
workers were building cages, so that they could catch some animals and
attract more people to the park that way. While flipping through the bird
book, he recognised some birds and related how long they had survived in
captivity. Included in this was a Philippine Frogmouth, which for some
strange reason only lasted a couple of days.
I could go on and on, without even mentioning the coral reefs. Suffice it
to say, if you're heading to the Philippines, prepare for the worse. And if
you can think of any positive ways to slow the impending disaster, please
let me know.

Suzanne Beauchesne

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