Frogs & Toads
Dragonflies & Damselflies
In addition to these fearsome monsters, I also found these beautiful and delicate dragonflies and damselflies at a return visit to Hagimit Falls near Pena Plata.
A recent visitor suggested a dusk tour of the Monfort bat cave (just north of Babak). He understood that this was far more interesting than looking at a couple of million roosting (and it has to be said), smelly bats. We drove there and were turned away on our first attempt (at about 5pm) as the Monforts had changed the rules the previous day about dusk visitors (without fully explaining the rules to the guard – or the Joker – at the gate, it seems). We returned a little earlier the next day and squeaked in, but then had to negotiate an evening pass, as the attendant confusingly tried to charge us the day rate plus the evening rate – the Riddler, maybe.
It takes a long time for 2M bats to get airborne and it’s a gradual process of the swirling tornado getting more intense rising up from each of the cave apertures. Unfortunately, I only had my pocket camera with me, which has a weak flash. Next time, I’ll take the big brother and snatch some better photos. Still, it’s an impressive event and worth the wait.
Arachnaphobes need to look away now…
In the little spare time available during my most recent trip, I captured a few more interesting creatures on film. Better than this was the news that the campsite has a tree regularly visited by Fruit Bats (aka Flying Foxes). Apparently, these huge bats wait for the full moon to raid the tree causing a shock to the geese (and human residents). When I get to see them, I’ll be taking lots of photos. Also present on the land are Coucals, the biggest cuckoos around.
Birds of Samal – from the balcony
For any interested ‘twitchers’ reading this, here’s a short list of birds I’ve spotted from my balcony recently:
Birds of Samal
Red-keeled Flowerpecker – Diceaem astrale (Philippine endemic)
Chestnut Munia – Lonchura malacca
Pied Fantail – Rhipidura javanica
Large-billed Crow – Corvus macrorhynchos
Black-naped Oriole – Oriolus chinensis sp.
Collared Kingfisher – Halcyon chloris
Philippine Coucal – Centropus viridis
Asian Koel – Eudynamis scolopacea
Emerald Dove – Chalcophaps indica
Peaceful Dove – Geopelia striata
Philippine Glossy Starling – Aplonis panayensis
Brown Shrike – Lanius cristatus
Olive-backed Sunbird – Nectarinia jugularis
Pied Triller – Lalage nigra
Brahminy Kite – Haliastur indus
Whale Sharks in the Gulf of Davao
Around the beginning of August 2011, as the vehicular ferry neared the dock in Samal I saw the fin of a large fish or dolphin break the water right next to the dock. Despite keeping watch for a few minutes, I saw nothing else so couldn’t identify the creature. This week, at the end of August, my son saw the same thing in almost the same place. His shout alerted me (and many other passengers on the ferry). This time there was no doubting what we saw: a large shark tail followed the fin and then as the boat neared the dock, we were able to look right down on the slow moving and unmistakable Whale Shark. (And for the sake of one of our fellow passengers, no, this was not a dead cow floating in the sea!)
If you are taking the Samal Ferry, keep your eyes open for Whale Sharks (the gentle denizens of the sea) – they are about!
It could be a good thing if Davao and Samal tourism capitalised on the presence of the Whale Sharks; but only if they did it more sustainably and with more forethought than the undignified scramble underway in Tan-awan (near Cebu).
Towards the end of the 2nd week of December 2011, my eagle-eyed son saw the head of a huge Sea Turtle break the surface near the ferry before we left the wharf in Babak. Again I was too slow retrieving my camera, but the head was about the size of a soccer ball. By far the biggest Sea Turtle I’ve ever seen.