Monday, 9 April 2012

River Deep, Mountain High - Ike & Tina Turner


Each day has begun and ended in the same way during my all too brief stay here, with a sky full of birds. Included in their ranks are Asian Palm-Swift, Philippine, Island & Glossy Swiftlet, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Barn, Pacific & Red-rumped Swallow etc.

No visit here would be complete without a visit to the Botanical Gardens, so that was my target today, but not before greeting the dawn 'on the bridge'.

It was thought at least 5 STRIPE-HEADED RHABDORNIS were present there today, with what seems sure to be


Again the services of a Jeepny were required, but thus far they had remained absent so, with only one reason for having a thumb on your hand as Marillion would say, "the habit of a windswept thumb and a sign of the rain".

First vehicle, driven by one of the Lecturers, kindly did the honours and dropped me outside of the gardens. 35 minutes too early for opening, I was sent on my way only to spot a large raptor circling over-head.


is always a welcome sight, wherever in the world, but with all the other possibilities here the sighting was tinged with a little disappointment.

Hardly had it disappeared behind the trees and another Bird of Prey flew over, this time a CHINESE GOSHAWK

To make up the 'prile', what must have been the same PHILIPPINE FALCONET was preening in the same tree.

A quick look around some of the Uni Buildings produced nothing else, so was glad to see the gates of the

swing open.

A quick look at the map and my 15 pence paid (see just throwing it away) I was in to a fantastic sight

of tall mature trees everywhere.

An Insect that probably of the Demoiselle Family was first to show followed by some background to the


There were lots of creatures and plants to be seen, but seemed very strange that there wasn't even a bird in song.

It was a full hour of wandering the winding paths during which time only 2 birds were seen, both of which were


Taking a long look at hundreds of these 18 inch long seed pods, I noticed the gates to the Nursery were open and once again adopted the Banksy policy - " it is easier to get forgiveness than permission" - and wandered in. Doubtful the gates were to keep anybody out as the whole place had fallen to the forest, but it was interesting to find

what must have been, in its hey-day, a fine Field Station.

I would guess that 95% of the forest was in a natural state, augmented by a small number of other indigenous and endemic species, with these


being of particular interest,

particularly some of the parasites which on closer inspection

looked to be positively 'man-made'. I've seen loads of necklaces looking like this,

but don't know about man-made Fungi?

but for such a bird thought some sort of illustration was a must. Initially caught out of the corner of my eye, a SCALE FEATHERED MALKOHA was flitting from tree to tree. While watch via bins for a full minute, there was never a hope of bringing the camera into focus. Nonetheless, a fabulous addition to the list and another 'endemic'.

As I started the extremely slippery downhill walk I mused as to how life and luck could change in a split-second, with hardly a bird all this way then the Malkoha. Still very aware of the conditions underfoot, that is when my feet shot from under me and I was on an even more slippery and steeper slope down the mountainside. While I didn't recognise it at the time, there was still 50 feet below me before meeting the river, but did have the presence of mind to grab a sapling. With every orafice (of the camera and binoculars I should quickly add) filled with loam, badly shaken and clinging on like a Sloth, what was needed was HELP! There hadn't been a sole thus far, but there is still "an ANGEL standing in the Sun", and out of the jungle walked

This Dutch gentleman and his Filipina girlfriend were right on cue, both quickly scrambling up the sheer bank to my aid. Bloody Lucky is how I would sum up this episode as a twisted left ankle plus bruised knee & calf, a couple of trouser tears and a few pounds of soil to cart around I was otherwise in fairly good shape!

Back at the river crossing, where most of the Insect action had taken place earlier, there was time to

take stock, assess the damage then get on with it! My biggest concern was what Rogerman (the Shoeshine Man in Vigan) was going to think about all his hard work?

Whether it was the minerals in the soil, I was now carting around, or the smell of 'fresh blood' but the Butterflies now started landing on me - quite novel!

A selection of those lovely creatures and


before ending an eventful day with yet another TREE SPARROW and a bout of

Have been a little slack on the TOTALS of late, so here's the update:-

Trip Total - 236
Total Lifers - 92
Philippine Total Species - 84
Philippine Endemics - 20

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