Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy birthday!

This morning I rolled out of bed, drew back the curtain and was faced with a volcano and about 2,500 Muslims in white responding to the call to prayer. In some time-zones it's still my 37th birthday.

The  (inactive) volcano Klabat. The active one is to the right.
My view of the call to prayer. Usually this is a playground. A military statue in the foreground is covered up in green cloth.

Today is Eid, the end of Ramadan, the biggest holiday of the year in Indonesia. 

Yesterday was spent on a tour of Tangkoko Nature Reserve in North Sulawesi. When we left in the morning, the hotel was running on an electric generator, the internet was down and the water pressure was low because the hydropower plants were straining under a two week drought now near the end of the dry season.

The day started off taking snaps of the streamgage (the yellow box) on the Kuala Tondano (Tondano River) where it crosses the Jalan Martadinata bridge. This is the largest river above Madano, draining a major lake.

As we walked into Tangkoko, we heard that Lonely Planet was filming a nature documentary there. The jungle has a very high Leaf Area Index, green everywhere.

Tangkoko's real draw however is the wildlife. It takes a careful eye to spot...

...unless a pack of 30 Black Macaques comes storming up...

Jungle Kitty and Black Macaque in tree.
We briefly merged with another group and their guides. 

The Black Macaques are expressive...
expressive in many ways. Here's the rest of the above photo, with modesty bars included:

We first heard about the park from a French diving instructor with a thick accent. She was enthusiastic about a certain kind of bear that she struggled to describe. She said they're like "Koala Bears"... They keep babies in a pouch. They have big eyes. They have a long tail that wraps around the tree. They have a long body. They are named like the pasta. It felt like the longer she talked the less we understood. We eventually found out the "Long Bears'" real name is Sulawesi Bear Cuscus, pronounced like "cous cous". 
My photo of the long bear
A better photo (source)
Not too different from a Koala Bear that was spotted nearby (staged).

We waited an hour for a Hornbill to come feed at its nest. 
Look closely for the flapping wings in the center of the photo. 
Someone else's photo (source)
What draws film crews in from all over is a small monkey that lives in a Strangler Fig tree.

Hiding in the gaps and only coming out at twilight is the Tarsier, the world's smallest primate. Note the two small glowing dots for eyes:

It jumps out, grabs its food and jumps back faster than you can see, much less take a photo of. This photo gives an idea of the relative size of its head to its body.

The Tarsier is also an Internet sensation for being the cutest animal ever found. 
On the way out of the jungle there was a tarantula:

and Kitty was menaced by a "75 centimeter long" cockroach in the Ranger Station office, captured here:

The ranger convinced us that they best way to combat jungle mites was a impromptu swim in the ocean.

Arriving back late to Manado, the streets were filled with a massive party. There were people dancing on top of parked cars, riding around blaring music, setting off fireworks. On getting back to the room, we turned on the TV and ran across an Animal Planet documentary that featured the wildlife (literally, the same animals) we had spent the day with ("I know that beach! We were at that tree!").  It was humbling to realize that the Tarsier monkey is nearly extinct and we were able to see them up close in their own habitat.

1 comment:

  1. Another blockbuster day for Tom and Kat, er, Kitty. In contrast, I spent the week observing several species of scientist (homo hydrologicus, homo climaticus) in the natural/cultural preserve of Boulder, CO, engaged in such behaviors as foraging for new ideas (unsuccessful), occasional teeth-baring, chest-beating and communal grazing on small pastries. Not quite as exciting.