Thursday, October 13, 2011

End Game

Lindsey and I apologize about not having posted in so long. Our professor and a couple of his colleagues came for a one week visit to the cave so we devoted the majority of our time to them.

What a great week we had with Dr. Sherwin. We went to a press conference in Davao, had 3 DELICIOUS meals at Precious Garden Beach Resort, visited the Hagimit waterfalls on Samal, and went snorkeling twice.

In other news, for those of you who do not already know, Lindsey and I have come back to the United States! We arrived home yesterday at about 3:30 PM.

Our trip was cut short because CNU decided that the area was too unsafe for students to reside in - apparently the area we were living in has been issued a "travel warning" which is the same status given to places like Afghanistan. 

We are more than happy to be home to see our friends and family (and in my case, pets) and to eat all of the delicious foods we have missed, but our departure was abrupt and not in the least bit anticipated - we didn't even have time to say goodbye to Quincy Cow. 

I know I speak for both Lindsey and I when I say that we had a great time on our trip and we are going to miss the Philippines and the bats tremendously.

This shall be my last post. I will finish by adding a few amazing pictures from our week with Dr. Sherwin. 











Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I have no idea what to title my posts anymore...

It is a well known fact that Lindsey and I go out on a "daily" basis to film the bats at the cave. However, what do we do to occupy ourselves while the cameras are rolling? Well, we CATCH (and release) ANIMALS!! Some of you, based on the content of our previous posts, might have already caught on to this fact.

Yesterday represented yet another successful day of animal round-ups. 

While we were sitting in the pavilion just minding our own business, a snake decided to drop down from the roof in order to pay us a visit. Naturally, we decided to run the snake down and capture it in order to force its participation in a photo shoot.

It was an intense animal showdown. The snake escaped once into the trees, but it made the unfortunate mistake of coming back for Round 2. The snake was fast and had great camouflage, but Lindsey and I had sticks and smarts on our side.

After much running, jumping, and sweating, we finally caught the little beasty. We have asked our friend Jared if he can help us determine what species it is...

In 3 months we have managed to snare bats, cats, dogs, a cow, snakes, skinks, grasshoppers, spiders, toads, sea stars, a chicken, and a sheep. I don't what is left out there for us to catch, but you can bet if it's out there we WILL find it! 



Monday, September 26, 2011

Our Most Recent Captives

Since we've been here, Ambre and I have been taunted by animals which constantly elude our grasp. Try as we might we are neither fast enough, nor sneaky enough, to grab them. However, over the past two days, luck seems to have been on our side. Yesterday when Ambre was up at the cave I managed to catch a lamb. While I was very pleased with myself, I highly suspect that he was the weakling of the bunch and made my job easy.

Today was even better because we finally managed to trap one of the six baby chickens we are always chasing. After some serious strategizing, we managed to chase them into a bush. All of them got away except for the one that got itself stuck. Ambre had to pull him out and after taking his picture we tried to return him to his family. He called to them for a long time so we are hoping that they were all reunited. If they didn't manage to find each other, then we are very bad people and have earned ourselves another new pet. In this case, he will be named Colonel.



Another Herptastic Voyage

I have been pressured into writing this post even though I am supposed to be reading a very important book but anyway, here it goes. Recently we had another incredibly successful herping adventure. While Ambre was away doing absolutely no work on her mini-vacation at the pearl farm, I was lucky enough to spot this yellow-headed water monitor living under a tree near the cave. Now we see him almost everyday. He is one of the largest lizards in the Philippines and is related to the komodo dragon.

Upon Ambre's return we found a huge python at the cave's fourth opening. I tried to get her to hurry up so we could take a decent picture of it but my efforts were worthless, hence the awful photo of a single coil which you can barely see. Squint if you must. Additionally, we happened to find a common house snake and I enjoyed chasing him into a metal bowl so that we could take pictures of him. We also saw a small frog and a creepy bug thing which we have not bothered to identify.

Enjoy the following pictures.


Yellow-Headed Water Monitor


Reticulated Python


Common House Snake


Unidentified Frog


Weird Bug Thing

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hooray For Halfway Day!

When we first got here, Ambre and I made a countdown calendar so we would always know how many days we had left and on Tuesday of this week we reached an important milestone in our journey. We can now say that our trip is officially half over. As of today, we only have 72 days left! I have a feeling time will start going by much faster now. Everyone get excited!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Introducing...

Well, we figured that it was about time that we created a blog post featuring Norma Monfort, the lady who owns the Monfort Bat Cave and helped make our trip a reality. Norma has been a huge help to Lindsey and I during our stay in the Philippines, never hesitating to give us assistance or advice when needed. Now all of our followers will know who this wonderful lady is and what she looks like, too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our New Best Friend

About a month and a half ago one of Norma's three cows had a calf in the middle of the night. Because we hadn't realized that the cow was pregnant, we were very surprised when we woke up the next morning. We named him Quincy and since then we have been doing our best to bond with him, despite his protective mother's wishes.

One of our favorite hobbies is trying to sneak past the older cows to pet Quincy. Lucky for us, they have ropes tied through their noses which keep them from getting too close. At first it was really difficult and we weren't able to do it without getting caught. However, now that Quincy is a little older, he and his mom don't seem to mind us as much.

Quincy enjoys having his neck scratched and is finally comfortable approaching us. If he feels that we are not paying enough attention to him, he proceeds to rub his face all over our legs. He is still a little bit temperamental but we are doing our best to work on that. Sometimes, when I turn my back, he tries to run up behind me. I think he learned this from his mom when he saw her chase me behind a coconut tree. We are not sure if he's being friendly but either way, he is getting a little too big for us to play with. Today he even felt the need to step on my feet but I still can't seem to get upset with him. For me, it was love at first sight. He may not always show it but something tells me that Quincy must feel the same way...



Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lon Wa Temple

We toured a Buddhist temple in Davao when Tristan came to visit - one of only a few touristy things we have actually done since we came to the Philippines. Visiting the temple was actually a really awesome experience. The building and grounds were stunning and it ended up being a beautiful day outside. As it turns out, we actually retained a few of the things we learned in religious studies, too! Here are a few pictures that we took.




Where Animals Go To Die

So, one of the top ten places to visit in Davao is the Crocodile Park. We had time to kill yesterday before taking Tristan to the airport so we decided to go see what the park was all about. As it turns out, the park is actually one half crocodile breeding facility and one half zoo. The total entrance fee for the three of us was 450 pesos (approximately 10 US dollars), which is actually considered fairly expensive by Filipino standards.

I think the general consensus about our visit was that is was a very depressing yet eye-opening experience. It was sad to see the conditions that the animals have to endure day in and day out, but it made us appreciate how well the animals in our zoos back home are treated.

Now for a description of what we observed at the park...

Regardless of its habitat requirements, each animal in the zoo was given a total allotment of 1 stick and a water bowl (usually), nothing more. For some reason, the park's 2 Siberian tigers were in the same small lock-down pen instead of being allowed in their enclosure. There was a civet attached by a leash to a stand that sat in front of a wall of too-small cages housing highly intelligent birds who didn't have access to even a single form of enrichment.

An eagle was attached to a stand that anyone could walk right up to. While we were watching, the bird was startled several times. It attempted to flee from the people frightening it, but simply crashed to the pavement instead because of the restraints placed on both of his legs.

The pythons on exhibit were continuously poked at by adults and children alike. The largest saltwater crocodile that we have ever seen was in an exhibit by himself where he was laying in the bottom of a pool that was too small for him; there wasn't a single drop of water in his entire exhibit.

However, the worst part of the park had to be the monkeys and apes. Two of the monkeys were kept in side by side cages that had to be less than 5 square feet in size. The very first line on their species description sign said that the monkeys are "intelligent and highly social creatures" yet they were kept separated and given absolutely nothing in their cages (not even water bowls). Tristan figured out that the monkeys really enjoyed playing with leaves so we spent a few minutes collecting some good ones and gave them to the animals to rip apart and chew on.

Here are some pictures to help you get a feel for what we saw on Saturday.






Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday Night Surprise

Well, it turns out that Lindsey and I weren't satisfied just being featured in newspapers - yesterday we took our stardom up a notch when we were interviewed/filmed for a TV show in Manila! :)

Tristan and I spent the day touring and grocery shopping in Davao, while Lindsey had a nice day of rest. We returned to the cave around 5 - just in time for the TV crew to show up and tell us we were going to be interviewed...what a surprise that was for us.

It turned out to be a fantastic experience, everyone on the crew was really nice and seemed genuinely interested in the bats.

Here are some pictures that Tristan took during all the craziness.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mystery Starfish

Guest Author: Tristan

Hey everybody! Hello from Samal Island in the Philippines!

I weathered my 30 hour journey around the world and survived with minimal jet-lag - a miracle considering I only got 7 hours of sleep over 3 days! I have been enjoying the company of our very own researchers Lindsey and Ambre as they guide me through the culture shock that is Davao. I have settled in and yesterday we explored the water nearly 1000 feet from the shoreline and discovered something new: another starfish!

We have yet to identify the species, but it looks really cool regardless.

Enjoy the photos:


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Almost Famous

Lindsey and I recently attended two press conferences and now we've made it into the newspapers! When Norma visited the cave a few days ago she brought this little gem with her - enjoy!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fact of the Day No. 8

Bats are a highly diverse group of animals: the world's smallest bat, the bumblebee bat, weighs less than a penny, while the world's largest bats, flying foxes, have a six-foot wingspan.



Image obtained from acidcow.com.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fact of the Day No. 7

The Philippines is the No. 1 texting nation in the world. Between 350 and 400 million texts are sent daily in the Philippines, which is more than the U.S. and Europe combined!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fact of the Day No. 6

One little brown bat has the ability to eat ~1000 mosquitoes in just one hour.


Image obtained from blog.duncraft.com.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fact of the Day No. 5

As of July 2011, the population of the Philippines was estimated to be 101,833,938. This makes the Philippines the 12th most populated country in the world.


Image obtained from art.com.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Visas

We passed another major milestone in our trip yesterday. Four hours and $350 dollars later, Lindsey and I successfully renewed our visas. Now we are legally approved to stay in the Philippines until November 4th!

Fact of the Day No. 4

There are only 3 species of vampire bats and they all live in Latin America. Contrary to popular belief, vampire bats do not suck blood, but actually lap it up like kittens instead.


Image obtained from topnews.net.nz.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fact of the Day No. 2

There are over 1200 known species of bats. As a result, bats make up about 25% of all known mammal species!

(Image obtained from decktheholidays.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fact of the Day No.1

We have decided to post a daily "fact of the day" on the blog so that there will always be something new to read. This way, even if we have nothing new to post about our adventures you can still learn something new about the Philippines, bats, etc. Hope you enjoy these and maybe even learn some things you didn't know before.

_________________________________________

FACT OF THE DAY:
  • The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands.


This picture was obtained from the CIA World Factbook website.

Kadayawan

First off, let us apologize for the lack of activity on the blog recently. We have spent almost an entire week at Norma's house in Davao where we generally do not have internet access. It was a very busy week; we went to two press conferences, a rotary club meeting, a photo shoot in the rain, watched a parade from a famous Filipino fashion designer's house, and attended a fashion show.

The parade we attended was for the Filipino festival called Kadayawan, which celebrates the country's bountiful harvest. The parade was basically like a mini Rose Bowl parade full of dancers, drummers, celebrities, and floats. We watched from the balcony of a house instead of from the street so we had an amazing view of the parade.

It was quite an amusing experience for Lindsey and I. Our favorite moments were when celebrities would approach in a float and the crowd would practically start to riot around us - meanwhile Lindsey and I were busy trying to figure out what was going on and who the famous people were.

___________________

Based on our experience, Lindsey and I were able to determine the following basic rules of a Filipino parade (hopefully, these will give you an idea of how to behave if you ever find yourselves attending such a parade):

1. It is 100 percent okay to jump in front of a float to take up-close pictures of said float and have your friends take pictures of you standing in front of the float.

2. It is okay that Rule Number 1 forces the float to stop and the parade to temporarily halt and become divided into sections that independently travel the parade route sometimes 20 minutes apart from one another.

3. If you see a celebrity in a float do the following: scream your lungs out, run down the street to the float, push through the crowd, throw yourself at the float, take tons of pictures. That is all.

4. Feel free to just walk directly through the middle of the parade at any time you please - it is definitely more important that you cross the street than it is for the parade to keep running.

5. If you want really good pictures just climb onto an available roof to take them.

6. If the crowd or heat becomes too much for you and you feel the need for a bit of a rest, just grab a few friends and lay down on the the street in a puppy pile to take a nap.

____________________

I leave you with the best pictures of the parade...