A Real Adventure

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On the last night at Barangay Maddiangat, the town officials hosted a dinner for us. I guess one of the assistants to one of the officials was really charmed by me. Peelan (sp?) couldn’t really speak English, but the officers and the Philippino members of our field trip were more than willing to pass on the message that he wanted a picture with me. Over a few bottles of tanduay and leftovers from the dinner, my conversation with the town officials took an unexpected turn near the end of the evening. It went something like this:

Tag and Tagalog

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I’m in Manila, flying home tomorrow on the 21st. Let me sum up my last few days at the Barangay Maddiangat. Again, cold, rainy weather resulted in poor collecting at our third and last site. We collected about 580 specimens total on our three week expedition. I think we were estimating a collection size of 600 to 800 specimens. I was really hoping to find some Draco – the flying lizard. Arvin had miraculously caught a single specimen up on Mt. Palali near the end of our stand on the mountain.

All good things must come to an end.

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After two weeks of diving and snorkeling the beautiful waters of Moorea to collect sea anemones, my time on the island was coming to a close. Which meant it was time to pack all my gear and specimens. My dive gear was dried by the tropical breeze while I packed up my laboratory equipment. The specimens I had collected had been stored in 10% formalin or 95% ethanol. For transportation, I removed the specimens from their jars filled with liquid preservative, wrapped them in damp gauze, and sealed them in plastic bags.

Allie Palali

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On the morning of the 16th, we hiked down from the second camp to spend a few days herping around the Barangay Maddiangat (elevation 200m) at the base of Mt. Palali. Once again, unexpectedly cold weather at the second camp resulted in low amounts of specimens being collected – at least for the herpetologists. I think the ornithologists were doing really well the whole time on Mt. Palali. Hopefully the lower elevation of Maddiangat would have hotter, more humid weather that would result in better herping conditions.

Lil' Jaws of Death

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Today was cold. Very cold. Too cold to find any herps – except one. Perry brought a tiny snake from the genus Calamaria that he found near his tent.

A Reptilian Present

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Today is my birthday. It is also Linda Trueb’s birthday. I don’t know if she knows that we are birthday buddies.

Spying and Catching

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I’ve discovered on this trip that one of the most satisfying things for a herpetologist is for them to spot and catch a herp. I was a bit mopey yesterday because I failed to spot AND catch a single thing the night before. The boys, trying to help out, would point out a frog or gecko to me and let me catch it. But it is much more satisfying if I actually spot it myself and make the capture on my own.

Strategically Falling

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Today we moved down to the lower elevation camp on the mountain (721m). The hike down was steep and slick with mud; it involved a lot of tripping and sliding. I call it “strategically falling down the mountain.” 

A day on Palali

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Right now I’m relaxing in my warm, yellow tent. We’re still on the high elevation camp. On the second night of herping I caught my first Philippine frog – an unlucky Platymantis montanus perched on a palm-like plant over the stream. I also caught some frogs from the genus Rana. Luke pointed them out to me. That was two days ago on the sixth. Yesterday was a bit dreary. My tropical field clothes are definitely not warm enough for the chilly, foggy weather we’re experiencing up at the high elevation camp. Herping wasn’t as successful as previous nights.

Herping

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I just got back from hiking up to the peak of Mt. Palali, which is just under 1700 meters elevation. For some absurd reason I thought it would be more of a gentle, nature walk to the peak – just a little ways up from our camp. It ended up being pretty challenging and I got covered in mud and sweat in no time! We went up to rake for skinks. Skinks usually can be found by breaking up decaying logs and raking around leaf litter. We came back with one juvenile skink. Too bad we didn’t find more.

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