Mud fight at the Buhing Kalipay reservoir.

Mud fights, Pomelo Harvest, Medicinal Vines, and Some Boxing Day Birding.

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On the morning of December 26th, Boxing Day, we decided to take a walk and work off some of the heavy holiday meals. We headed out for the village of Buhing Kalipay (also known as Borawin) here on Siargao island and for once it was a nice sunny blue sky day (it’s been pretty wet recently).

At least the wild ducks seem to be thriving in this wet weather and there were plenty around as usual:

Wandering Whistling Ducks on Siargao, Buhing Kalipay
A pair of Wandering Whistling Ducks in flight.

 

Philippine Ducks on Siargao island, Buhing Kalipay
Philippine Ducks on Siargao island.

We saw quite a few Barred Rails today. They’re shy and always quick to run/fly away when they’re spotted. Managed to get a close-up of this one though

Barred Rail (Gallirallus torquatus) on Siargao island, Philippines, Buhing Kalipay
Barred Rail (Gallirallus torquatus) on Siargao island, Philippines.

Rounding out the list of ‘The Usual Suspects’ was this Javan Pond Heron

The Javan pond heron (Ardeola speciosa) on Siargao island, Buhing Kalipay
The Javan pond heron (Ardeola speciosa) on Siargao island.

…and of course, a Purple Heron in flight:

The Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) iseen in flight on Siargao island, Buhing Kalipay
The Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) iseen in flight on Siargao island.

But then we spotted something quite different far off on the top of a coconut tree. It appeared to be a raptor of some sort:

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) on Siargao island, Buhing Kalipay

Soon, it started to take off and make repeated sorties over the rice paddies and a nearby mountaintop. We waited patiently and at last it swooped down right over our heads. The Peregrine Falcon’s diet consists mainly of other birds so I imagine that was what it was hunting for. We also got the feeling it came right at us to check out what we were up to!

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) in flight on Siargao island, Buhing Kalipay
The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) in flight on Siargao island.

Shortly after getting a thrilling view of this raptor at work we arrived in the small farming village of Buhing Kalipay. This village is home to a reservoir which supplies water to much of the surrounding area. There was some improvement work and concreting happening on the embankments. One of the workers told us there were even plans to put in a swimming pool on the side of the reservoir. That will certainly be a welcome addition; it’ll be great to take a dip there after a sunny birdwatching stroll through the rice fields. It can certainly get hot out there some days without any shade!

Buhing Kalipay reservoir
Buhing Kalipay reservoir.

But the reservoir already has recreational uses. Here you can see a boy cooling off in the overflow as other village boys engage in a mock war of throwing mud clods at one another…

Mud fight at the Buhing Kalipay reservoir.
Mud fight at the Buhing Kalipay reservoir!

We were getting thirsty at this point and walked into the village proper to find something cold to drink. The local sari-sari shop had some Coca-cola and we sat down to rest. On the way we spotted a pomelo tree which had some promising looking fruit but we were told they weren’t ripe yet:

A Pomelo tree in the village of Buhing Kalipay on Siargao island
A Pomelo tree in the village of Buhing Kalipay on Siargao island

Adjacent to the shop my wife spotted a healthy cluster of the makabuhay vine (known in Visayan as paliahan). This vine grows all over the Philippine archipelago and has many uses in traditional medicine; it’s used to treat everything from malaria to intestinal worms to indigestion. One popular cure for a toothache is to squeeze the juice from the stem and put a drop or two in your eyes!

The Makabuhay vine (Tinospora rumphii Boerl), Buhing Kalipay
The Makabuhay vine (Tinospora rumphii Boerl)

We asked the shopkeeper if he would let us take some cuttings from his makabuhay vine and he was kind enough to oblige…

The Makabuhay vine (Tinospora rumphii Boerl), Buhing Kalipay

 

The Makabuhay vine (Tinospora rumphii Boerl), Buhing Kalipay
Here’s Mrs. WildSiargao with a large handful of the makabuhay vine which she plans to take home and soak in alcohol to make a topical ointment.

Since the shopkeeper was being so helpful we asked if there were any pomelo trees around bearing ripe fruit and he directed us to a nearby tree behind his shop. We found the pomelo tree easily enough and it was indeed loaded with ripe fruit. We weren’t sure how to go about collecting it though as neither of us was up for any tree-climbing this morning. But then some local girls who were playing volleyball on a village street came to see what we were up to..

Buhing Kalipay village. Siargao island, Philippines, Buhing Kalipay

The girl in the red T-shirt introduced herself as Venus and said she’d be happy to do the climbing and harvest the pomelo for us and a few moments later she had scampered up the tree with a bamboo pole in her hand:

Pomelo harvest in Buhing Kalipay village. Siargao island, Philippines, Buhing Kalipay
Venus collecting pomelo fruit.

Shortly we had way more fruit than we expected but it was a lot of fun (though the distracted photographer nearly got beaned by some falling fruit a few times!)

Pomelo harvest in Buhing Kalipay village. Siargao island, Philippines
Pomelo harvest in Buhing Kalipay village. Siargao island, Philippines

There was plenty of fruit to go around and everyone took some home.

Pomelo harvest in Buhing Kalipay village. Siargao island, Philippines

Heading back out of the village with our newly acquired medicinal vines and ripe pomelo we passed by rice drying on the main street (they don’t get a lot of traffic up here). The village chickens seemed to be enjoying the free feed:

Buhing Kalipay village. Siargao island, Philippines

A farmer was just coming in from the rice field with a catch of snails. These are similar to the kuhol golden snails but these particular snails are known in the local dialect as kayambuay.

kayambuay rice field snails Buhing Kalipay
These kayambuay snails, seen here in a hand-made net, will be steamed and then cooked in coconut milk.

On the long walk back home we saw another Purple Heron. This one wasn’t flying but rather trying to camouflage itself amongst the weeds bordering a rice field pond.

The Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) on Siargao island, Buhing Kalipay
The Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)

A little farther on I noticed a Spotted Dove in a very muddy patch of rice paddy. It seemed to me it was a bit out of its normal habitat as it usually collects fruit and seed from drier ground. This was more like sandpiper habitat.

The Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) on Siargao island, Buhing Kalipay
The Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)

And finally a White-breasted Woodswallow seen on a tree branch. These artful fliers are ubiquitous around the island and most often seen in large groups on the electric lines which run along the roadside.

The White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) on Siargao island, Philippines, Buhing Kalipay
The White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus)

Well, I think we achieved our goal today of burning off some holiday calories. We also got to witness a mud war, collect medicinal vines, harvest some ripe pomelo fruit, see a Peregrine Falcon close up in flight, and meet some very friendly Siargao people. Another great day in the field. Happy Holidays everybody!

 

 


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Ray
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You take some really nice photos. Never been to Siargao. Seems to be a very nice place to spend your life.