Wednesday, 4 April 2012

University Challenge - Asking the Questions Bamber Gascoigne

My day really started yesterday, when finally and with great reluctance I left Playa de Oro and caught the 21:30 overnight, deluxe coach to Pacay, Manila. A nine hour trip of wall to wall OTT American videos at warp factor 10, Ice Cold in Alex A/C (the deluxe part I guess) and the coach 'full as an egg' - but we arrived safely.

Last thing I remember I was running for the door.
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before.
"Relax, " said the night man, "We are programmed to receive,
you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave! "

Despite the hour, we were met at the Pacay Coach Station by the usual 'wall' of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, selecting one and agreeing a price it was grab a coffee and away. Good choice of driver, as not only did he get me across town to the right bus stop but also waited a full 20 minutes to see me onto the right bus and brief the driver.

All of this stems from what on the face of it looked like a great idea and region to visit via advice supplied by Langton's own Steve Smith, and how right he is! A little before 09:00 we arrived at the bustling, South Luzon town of Los Baños where having been shown the way to go by the bus driver my destination was now the

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looking around to assess my bearings, a young lad approached me saying the Bus Driver was pointing me in the right direction, and then asked where I was going. Needing accommodation as well as the forest the young man advised that it would be his Grandmother who I should meet and took me to her house only a few hundred yards away. Instead I was introduced to Uncle Al, the biggest, fittest looking Filipino I had seen yet. A font of knowledge, he described his plan, loaded me and my bag into his 4 x 4 and whizzed me off to the campus.

Arriving at the Searca Residential Hotel (on campus) the news was initially bad, inasmuch as there was a strict 'reservation policy' in place, which Al got round in about 90 seconds flat. Another bunch of lovely people, a great room, all the facilities and a Mountain to climb.
Not quite ready for a Mountain after the effects of the past 12 hours, it was decided on a more sedate cursory look around. The school holiday was getting youngsters out onto the Baseball Pitch, with 100 other activities also on campus. Al dropped me part way up the hill before we said our goodbyes, with a gentle decent before me.

Apart from the inevitable Tree Sparrows outside of my latest front door, I did not identify another single species of bird for 2 hours - this is Forest (Canopy) 'birding'.

However, there was a fine selection of Insects, mostly Butterflies, so something for the log.

Some egg-laying going on here I fancy!

and then there it was - the first BIRD - but not just a bird, as the

is also an ENDEMIC and


Another Butterfly plus a much shorter wait for a real GEM of a find


again ENDEMIC and of course new to me

but what I am having difficulty getting my head around, is a FALCON the size of a BULLFINCH and half the length of Europe's smallest Bird of Prey, the MERLIN!

'Flowers in the Rain' by The Move (first record ever played on BBC Radio One)
and yes it was raining!

In these conditions all I could do was by-pass the Gardens, but expect this brings back memories Steve?

Surprisingly, the first and only ARACHNID of the trip, but I was now under the hotel porch.

From there a pair of SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA

were seen, along with BICOLORED & RED-KEELED FLOWERPECKERs (both Endemic), the first ASIAN PALM-SWIFTs for the trip (which I see as the 'anorexics' of the avian world, so tiny and thin-winged) and just as I was about to give up checking a 'call from above'.

Shifting to the 'bike shed' there high above me was a most noisy and colourful little thing which took quite some time to identify as a Parrot.

The same size as a CHAFFINCH the 'endemic' COLASISI was my bird of the day as I know

my Rig Mate Dave Penney will get as much of a kick out of this as I did, having been a life long lover of the Psitacine group.

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