Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Dragonfly And Various Visitors

There was this one morning when a dragonfly flew smack onto my windscreen while I was driving.  And then it got wedged on its back on my wiper blade.  Its abdomen was folded in at a ninety degree angle, perpendicular to its torso. 

I pulled to a stop as soon as I could, hoping to free it and let it fly away.  It did not move.  I picked it up and placed it the right way up on its legs.  Still no movement...

I've got myself a dead dragonfly!

In the end, I brought it home and took a picture.

Anyway, I've had various other visitors over the past few weeks as well...

This moth must have been attracted to the light and flew into the back of the wall light.

Next was this bee who also took a fancy to this very same wall light.

And, other visitors include this pair of bulbuls perched on the coconut tree in the garden...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Vallaris glabra

I will always remember the fragrant scent of these flowers.

This creeper plant had grown quite luxuriantly over the shed outside my bedroom at home when I was a child.  Whenever it blooms, its fragrant scent would waft into the room through the open windows.  And you would always smell its fragrance if you walk near it... particularly in the evenings.

Growing up, we referred to this plant as "bunga nasi".

It was only in recent years that I came to learn that the correct local name of this plant should be "bunga kerak nasi".

For the longest time, this name never did have any significance to me. 
It never did hit a chord because it was one of the "first smells" in the garden that I knew as a child.  And its name was only a name to start with.

Yet, if you ask most people, they would say that the fragrance is like steamed rice.  Sometimes, even being likened to the scent of the pandanus or "pandan" leaves.

Well, is that any wonder at all?  Isn't it? 

After all, the name "bunga nasi", when translated to the English Language, literally means "rice flower", while "kerak nasi" refers to the burnt rice that's stuck to the bottom of the rice pot if you had overcooked the rice.

And "pandan" leaves are also often placed in the rice pot to make the rice more fragrant.

How apt.

But then, I have also recently learnt that its common or given name in English is actually "Bread Flower".

I wonder why?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

More Pics of the Ceriagrion cerinorubellum


The Ceriagrion cerinorubellum is indeed a colourful and attractive-looking damselfly! matter how you look at it!



Hopefully, one of these days I will get to observe a pair in tandem, or in wheel, and get even more pics!

Anyway, it was in the afternoon on a beautiful day when I spotted these beautiful creatures.  And for some reason, even those man-made structures looked kind of "alright" as they stand tall on this hill in their attempt at grandiosity even as they add a finishing touch to the scenery.



The monstrosity of those towers have been dwarfed by the expanse of the clouds.

I'd say the skies made all the difference!  Wouldn't you agree?



Friday, 12 November 2010

Libellulidae - Tholymis tillarga

The Ghost Dragonfly

I was walking along the path and looking out for dragonflies but not finding any at all. 

So I started thinking, "This seems to be a quiet season for dragonflies...", when I noticed a red marking on the stem of some low shrubs.  What could it be? 

I sneaked closer for a look and as it turns out, this is the highlight of my walk today. 

The Tholymis tillarga when I spotted it today by chance this afternoon.



I started walking in closer very slowly and very quietly, each step as carefully as I can and took a few more photos as I approached it.  This dragonfly did not seem to mind my presence at all.



Once I had taken enough photos, I retraced my steps so as not to disturb it.  Could it be in a deep snooze?  I doubt it.  But I am glad it did not take off.

In previous encounters with this species, the Tholymis tillarga have always been such a relentless flier and would always be zapping up and down over the pond without stopping.  Such energy!  It had always been quite impossible to even try to take a photo of it.

Today, this dragonfly seems to be perched there, just posing for me.

It must be my lucky day. 



Monday, 1 November 2010


It had started raining last night. 

The rain had continued the whole of today too.  It was not a heavy downpour but just a constant drizzle.  And it just rained and rained and rained.

I stood outside on the balcony for a long time this afternoon.  To watch the rain.  To take in lungfuls of fresh air.  To feel the cool air. 

To listen to the rain.

And then I was watching this Common Myna that had taken shelter in the palm tree.



It sat there very still, with its feathers all fluffed up.  The trapped air between its fluffed up feathers provides insulation against the cold and helps keep the bird warm.  And I wondered if he was enjoying the fresh air as much as I did?

When I looked up towards the hills, I could have thought I was up in the highlands!  It was all misty.



There is a quiet and serene beauty to it in its own way.

The forests will definitely be looking fresh and green tomorrow morning.  How many people would actually appreciate the rain for what it can do for Mother Earth? 

I do realise that it could bring floods in many places too.  But a lot of the causes of flooding have been man-made and had been brought on ourselves by our actions.  After all, for every action, there is a consequence.

When forests are cleared of trees, we lose the canopy that had cushioned the impact of the rain on the forest floor.  Instead of drops of rain dripping off the leaves and slowly dripping and seeping into the ground, we now get a deluge of rainwater on the bare earth.  With the forest gone, we no longer have the tree roots that used to hold the soil together.  The rush of water down the exposed hill slopes then results in mud slides and flash floods in the foothills and valleys below.

Add to that, all the rubbish that had been thrown into the drains and streams and rivers and had caused the waterways to clog up, blocking the flow of all that rush of water towards the sea.

So... do you just blame everything on Mother Nature when it rains and it floods?



The Setting Sun


Now that we are way past the September Equinox and moving into the December Solstice, the sun is clearly in a position heading towards the south.

The setting sun can now be seen from my back balcony and no longer from the front as in previous photos I have taken of the sunsets and dusk skies in recent months.  Instead of a building blocking its view, I now have palm trees in my sunset scenery. 


Stuff like this... the position of the sun throughout the year as it moves from Solstice to Solstice... I had first learned about them when I was a kid.  Not at school and not from books but from my father.  He would be telling me about the shadows...

Up till this day, he still observes the shadows cast by the trees by the morning sun or the afternoon sun because that is where the shade is.

And the coolest spot is always under the shade of the tree!



Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Great Mormon

It's taken quite a few trials on several excursions to finally get a butterfly photo like this...  just about right.

This butterfly, Papilio memnon or The Great Mormon, is always just fluttering and fluttering and fluttering all over the place in all directions and barely stops even when collecting nectar.

Times like these, I do sometimes wish I have a DSLR with great continuous shooting speed, yet I am not exactly a serious photographer in this sense and certainly won't be keen to lug all the gear everywhere...

Anyway, will still be trying for more pics whenever I get the chance!  After all, it does have a lot to do with timing and being at the right place at the right time!

That's where all the fun is, isn't it?


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Orthetrum chrysis In Wheel

This is the first time I have managed to get a photo of a pair of Orthetrum chrysis in wheel.

If this pair of dragonflies hadn't been in pursuit by another amorous male, I would not have spotted them from across the pond.

I had to practically run around the perimeter of the small pond as quickly and as quietly as I can to get to them.  I was lucky on this day.  This pair was still in wheel when I got close enough for a photo.

And not just one lucky shot this time, but two!

Based on what I have seen of this species, the Orthetrum chrysis has a very short courtship-copulation period and would usually be in wheel for only a brief moment before they separate.  Almost immediately after that, the pair will fly about to look for suitable egg laying sites before the female begin laying her eggs in the pond by flicking the tip of her abdomen in the water in succession at quick intervals while the male dragonfly hovers over her in close proximity to keep guard and will give chase to other male dragonflies that come too close.

After that, the male will perch nearby in the same vicinity while the female flies away to hide. 

There have been times when the pair gets assaulted by another male before ovipositing is completed and sometimes the female may even be caught by another male before the egg laying can occur.

The whole cycle then starts all over again!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Another First

I finally did go out exploring.....

It was not a long walk but it was a good one.  And that's the whole point of it.  It does not have to take up the whole day but just a bit of an effort to get up and get out there just to do something else for a change.

On this day, I came across the Prodasineura humeralis again and this time I found a pair in wheel, which is a first for me...



Here is another male damselfly of the same species that was perched nearby.



Although I had found these damselflies next to a fast flowing forest stream, they were perched on the grassy edge of the stream where the water was just so still, there was an almost perfect mirror image of the damselfly reflected off the water.



I had a good few hours out there and I felt so much more rejuvenated after a walk in the forest... 

...after my rendezvous with nature.

And I wondered why I have not gone out there for so many weeks? 

I couldn't find a real answer.  I can say that I have been busy with work, I have been tired, I have been doing other stuff, the weather's not been cooperative, I've been under the weather, etc, etc, etc...

All of which is quite true too but are still excuses. 

Who are we bluffing?

For many of us, getting up to get going or getting started on a project or going for a run or finding the time to do something can be a bit challenging and take a bit of an effort sometimes.  It is easy to just procrastinate and to find many excuses for not doing something that would be important for ourselves.  But once you get started and get going, it is not so difficult after all, isn't it?

I hope if you have been putting off doing something important for yourself, you will get to it now.  Why wait till the New Year to make a new resolution?

Do it now.

Go for it!



Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Nature's Creations



Mother Nature is truly amazing in all her creations.

Just look at this leaf... the way it curves, the lines...

The way it all comes together as one.

It looks so simple yet it is a complex thing.

It speaks harmony.

It is beauty!



Sunday, 17 October 2010

Holding Your Breath


The current Southwest monsoon season can be a bit of a damper for dragonfly excursions.  Sometimes. 

Some days start out nice and sunny in the morning but the weather suddenly changes.  It then starts raining and the sky is overcast for most of the day after that.  Sometimes, the weather would be really nice but I would be tied up with work and other stuff instead.

Also, I have to admit to being a bit lazy sometimes, not wanting to do anything at all, even on a day when it is really nice but maybe a bit too hot as I have already been out in the sun quite enough during the week.

Ahhh... humans!  We are such complaining souls!  Without the sun and the rain, we would not have this beautiful, big blue marble!

Anyway, I have been wanting to share with you an observation about the ovipositing behaviour of these damselflies but for some reason, I have been putting it off till now.  These damselflies are of the Pseudagrion spp, Pseudagrion australasiae if I am correct.

There was this one afternoon a few months ago when I was at this pond filled with murky-looking stagnant water.  Yet, it was buzzing with activities. 

It's like there's been a mass wedding! 

There were lots of dragonflies and damselflies flying around.  A few were in tandem and in wheel, and even more were ovipositing in the pond.

With the P. australasiae, the male is in tandem or contact guarding while the female oviposits.  The reason for this behaviour is to ensure that the female can complete laying the eggs that have been fertilized with his sperm. 

In most species of dragonflies and damselfies, both the males and females may mate repeatedly.  Therefore, due to sperm competition, the males maintain tandem contact to prevent other males from displacing their sperm from the female damselfly before ovipositing is complete.  Contact guarding during oviposition also increases the probability of the female laying a complete clutch of eggs.

Sometimes, other male damselflies may attempt to disengage a pair in tandem to disrupt the copulation or oviposition process, clamoring to be her next suitor.

What do you think the male damselfly would do?


Here's a pair of damselfly with the male in tandem guarding during oviposition.


There was another male damselfly hovering around, so the female was pushed deeper into the pond.


And they kept going deeper till the female is now completely submerged.


As the place was still buzzing, they kept descending.


Until the male is also submerged and the female can now oviposit in peace.


This must be a favourite spot for these damselflies... another pair of damselflies started ovipositing here as well.


That female damselfly was submerged for quite a few minutes.  Most people can't even hold their breath underwater for that long!

Fascinating creatures!



Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Another Little Birdie...

I can't believe I have left my camera sitting around for such a long time... almost to the point of collecting dust! 

And I did not really realise how long it's been till when I picked it up this morning for a few quick shots.  As can be expected, the rechargeable batteries were dead and I was almost afraid I could not be quick enough for those few quick shots I wanted to take.

I had heard the little thud on the sliding glass door and through my "temporary make-do curtains", which is actually a light tent tarp, I had glimpsed the shadow of something dropping onto the balcony.  The next thing I did was to get down into a crawl and, as stealthily as I can, crept towards the door to take a peek out there.

A tiny little bird had crashed into the glass door again.

How did this happen?  I mean, I have my drying rack with laundry out there.

Anyway, this is a series of shots I took of this little birdie.  Here's the first shot...



Just looking at that face, all I could think of was that I hope he'll be ok.  And I tried to keep my distance in case he panics and tries to take flight and gets hurt further.



When he saw my presence, he did get a bit startled and tried to get up.



And I am sure that would have been painful because it looked like he winced!



After a while, he looked up again...  perhaps to orientate himself?  To plan his escape route?



But... nope... he decides he still needs to rest and get his wind back!



So he continues to sit there.

I guess it is still too soon to move anywhere yet.  I can just imagine it would hurt.



Eventually he did feel better, though I don't like the look of his right feet.



And then after a while, he starts to wonder.... in which direction should I be taking off?



So he looked left, then right...



It took him about 30 minutes to recover from the crash.  I was relieved to see him taking off again without further incidence.

Maybe it's a bit of an overkill with so many photos of just one little bird.  Front profile, side profile, front profile...  you said it.

I must be mad!

But my heart totally goes out to this little birdie!


...and I think he's cute!



UPDATE 14 Oct 2010: 

wchinner and birding friends have kindly confirmed this little birdie to be a juvenile Flyeater, Gerygone sulphurea, that grows to a length of only 9cm from tip of bill to tip of tail.



Friday, 24 September 2010

A Colourful Damselfly

Recently visited a pond and found a good number of these damselflies there.



The Ceriagrion cerinorubellum... a rather colourful damselfly indeed!

Quite striking, actually.



Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Red Skies At Night.....

Here's a look at the setting sun this evening.



Ooohh... the red skies!

Perhaps it will be another hot day tomorrow...

Do you reckon?



Friday, 17 September 2010

Fishing Boats

Fishing boats anchored around a wooden jetty or stranded on the beach by the low tide is a common sight here in Langkawi.  Yet, not many appreciate these "quaint" sights and take these scenes for granted.

It is a fact that we are slowly losing a lot of places like these due to development.  More buildings, more land being reclaimed, loss of our mangrove forests, dwindling breeding grounds for fish and these small wooden fishing boats losing their ground as they are slowly driven out by modernisation, development and the concrete jungle taking its place.







Friday, 10 September 2010

A Bit Of Everything

The last several weeks have been almost hectic!

Anyway, here are some photos I'd like to share though these were taken not on the island of Langkawi...


Cratilla metalica


A damselfly... have not had the chance to really look into its id.


Another damselfly...


A tall tree with buttress roots.


A beautiful, colourful grasshopper.


Nannophya pygmaea


Brachydiplax farinosa


Stormy skies in the evening....


Misty hills the next morning.


Brachygonia oculata (male).


Brachygonia oculata (female).


A canoe.


A caterpillar.


Basically, that is how I've been spending my time...