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


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: