Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Navy Intercept Tunnel and bye-bye eaglets!

Steve has long wanted to explore the "Navy Intercept Tunnel" on Tailside, near Kindley Field.  It was the scene of a huge interior explosion in February of 1945, when 200 Japanese soldiers inside the tunnel and 50 American soldiers above the tunnel were killed during the fight to liberate Corregidor.

Steve waited until we had guests willing and eager to accompany him.  Chris, the man who donated two chainsaw for trail clearing here, along with his friend DonDon and Chris's wife Lani, came out to the island for a couple of days.  When we all reached the tunnel entrance, Marcia and Lani chose the better part of discretion and remained outside, helping with the ropes required to enter and exit the tunnel.

The tunnel is shaped and situated like a capital Y, with only the northwest entrance still open.  It requires going through a small opening, straight down about six feet, then a fifty-foot descent at about a forty-five degree incline.  Going down is a lot easier than coming up, as you can imagine, thanks to our rope with strategic knots to control one's descent.  The temperature inside the tunnel was no cooler than it was outside, definitely over 90 degrees and humid.  By the time the three  guys were done exploring, Steve was soaked with sweat and very tired, and required help from Chris, who boosted Steve up the incline while DonDon assisted from above.  A true adventure!

Overgrown stairway to the NW entrance of the Navy Intercept Tunnel

Passageway inside the tunnel

The inside of the tunnel was mostly collapsed from the explosion, so what you see today is fallen concrete ceilings on top of lots of soil that is mostly volcanic ash.  At the junction of the three tunnel branches is a concrete air shaft.  The explosion was so great that all of the dirt that had been back-filled around the shaft after it had been poured was blown away, leaving a twenty-foot high tube, which is clearly visible on the surface, standing in a huge crater.

Ventilation shaft near the junction of the tunnel's three branches

Later, Marcia accompanied Chris and DonDon down a steep hill to look for the main, southern entrance.  Steve was sure he could make it down but so hot and tired that he wasn't sure he could make it back up, so he passed on going down the hill, as Marcia had done on going into the tunnel.

Concrete walls, one standing and one fallen, and concrete rubble near the main entrance, below and south of the road

Base of a very old telephone or telegraph pole near the main entrance

Concrete wall believed to have been for handball, also near the main entrance, with Chris and DonDon to give you some size perspective.

Marcia continues to look for bird photo opportunities.  She was pretty excited to finally get decent photos of Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers last week, after having seen one or more several times, and having one of them play 'peek-a-boo' from behind a branch without ever coming around so she could get a shot of it.

Three Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers in a tall front yard tree

 Two woodpeckers busy eating, and a third one flying in from the right to join them - note the beautiful color pattern on the wings

Two Blue-throated Bee-eaters recently perched in our back yard, giving Marcia a chance to get a closer photo of their beautiful and brilliant colors

A Lowland White-eye adult feeding its hungry chick in their nest in our jackfruit tree.  Not exactly the cutest baby; a face only a mother could love!

A Brahminy Kite (bright reddish brown body just upper left of center) on its nest, with two chicks in the foreground - yes it takes some hunting and imagination to pick out the two yellowish 'blobs' in the shadows, but we are standing atop a very high cliff and their tree top nest is at least 150-200 feet below us.  Our 320-zoom lens is struggling to get this good a shot!

If you've been following our recent blogs, you are aware that we have been watching two White-bellied Sea-eaglets as they have been growing.  Day after day we went back, expecting that the eaglets would have "flown the coop."  Alas, it has finally happened, but not before they gave us a month of opportunities to witness them grow, all under the watchful eyes of one or both parents.  As soon as they noted our approach, the parents would circle above the nest, trying to draw our attention away from the eaglets with loud sounds that fall somewhere between a caw and a honk.

'Our' White-bellied Sea-eaglets, fully feathered and looking almost ready to fly, May 8

Eaglets, old enough to know that they should watch us as well

Eaglets, May 10, still nest-bound.  The only difference Marcia has noticed between the two eaglets is that one has more brown - and the other more white - on its head.

The bolder eaglet, the darker headed one, is perched on a branch outside the nest, May 11

The more cautious eaglet, the whiter-headed one, flying to perch on a branch above the nest, May 12

The eaglet, having reached the branch, seems to be a little unsure about it

One of the adults, watching us as we watch its young

An adult Sea-eagle makes a tight turn above Battery Cheney, screaming its complaints about a Brahminy Kite that is 'dive-bombing' it from overhead (not seen in photo)

The eaglets are gone now from their nest, although at least one of the parents has still been near the nest.  We are not sure if they will all leave the area soon, or if they are planning on raising another family.  If they should decide to reuse the nest, we will not be able to see the eggs, since the nest is at eye level, as opposed to last year when we could peer down on the nest.  But if you remember, last year's pair of eaglets barely survived pass their hatch date, while this year we have two new juvenile eagles!

Steve and Marcia on the Rock

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