Saturday, 27 March 2010



This is not a very common sight in Langkawi.

No doubt it is quite common for the locals here to transport anything and everything they can using the motorbike, without thinking twice about safety aspects, recycling is still not very widely practiced by many people here as yet.

Seeing this motorbike piled high and wide with all those bags of aluminium cans did put a smile on my face though this guy was riding slow and holding up traffic along that narrow road.  And then he did flag out his arm to indicate his intention to turn. 

If only more people would recycle.

As for myself, I practice all the R's as much as I can.  I try to conserve and reduce wastage, I reuse and recycle stuff and I even have my own compost bin at home.  Also, I indulge in some R&R with nature to feed the mind, body and soul!

At the end of the day, it is not just about recycling and it is not just recycling that counts.  It is your lifestyle decisions and everything that you do on a day-to-day basis to minimise your impact on the environment.

I sincerely hope you are doing the same and doing your bit for the environment too.

Are you?



Friday, 26 March 2010

Coenagrionidae - Pseudagrion microcephalum

Coenagrionidae - Aciagrion borneense

Same Same But Different

I know, I know... it sounds so cliched!

But then, that is exactly how it is!  This is another tiny blue damselfly and to the naked eye observer, it really does look like just another tiny blue damselfly in the pond.  Almost!

And after sitting there for quite a long time staring into the pond like I'm hoping to see the Loch Ness, but all the while watching all these tiny blue damselflies going about their business, you sort of start noticing vague differences in some of them.  The slightly different shades of blue, slightly bigger, slightly smaller...  something is just not quite the same.....

I must sound like I am crazy!  But that is how I ended up with so many photos of these tiny blue damselflies because there were that many of them in that pond.  And that is how, by chance, I came across this species when sorting through all those photos.



This damselfly is the Aciagrion borneense of the family Coenagrionidae.  As described in the Pocket Guide, the male has hindwing length of 11.5mm, with very light build and narrow wings and a continuous pale green bar across the posterior part of the head.  The marking on its abdomen is slightly different as well; S8-10 is blue laterally and you can see the black marking in the upper area of S8 and S10 in the above photo.  This species is locally common.

Frankly, I couldn't see all those features through the naked eyes.  And I wasn't hallucinating after all when I thought it looked different.  Nevertheless, it is true that passers-by often think I must be out of my mind and a lunatic, especially when I am crouched there next to a body of water under the hot sun in the heat of the day.  And at first glance, there is nothing there but some water... and maybe some grass.  Perhaps I should get myself kitted up with a fishing rod?

Anyway, cliched?  I rest my case!


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Really Large Mandibles!

I have been on the lookout for this damselfly and finally spotted it this afternoon.  Today must be my lucky day?



The Platylestes heterostylus of the family Lestidae is not a very common damselfy.  I spotted it for the first time on 23rd March 2009 and have been hoping to find it again.  That's right...  I have seen it on only one day out of all the days I have been out exploring in the 365 days this past year.  And like the last encounter, I could find only one individual. 

Anyway, the abdomen of this damselfly has a "hockey-stick" appearance making it look like a deformity and I also had the chance to look at its face for the first time today.  It has really large mandibles!



Click on "platylestes" in the Tags below to read more on this damselfly in an earlier entry.


Lestidae - Platylestes heterostylus

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A Tie For Top Spot!

These two pics of the Copera ciliata remain favourites!  And I like both pics just as much.


A pair of Copera ciliata in tandem while the female oviposits into the flower of the Utricularia aurea or Golden Bladderwort.


The same pair of Copera ciliata, still in tandem, with the female ovipositing into the muddy pond, creating a mirror image.


Click here or on "copera" in the tag below to read more about this damselfly in earlier entries.



Monday, 22 March 2010

All Abuzz


There were dozens of the Diplacodes trivialis in the padi fields this morning.  And I really mean dozens!  As I walked along the bunds cutting through the fields, with almost every step I take, I would send a whole lot of them fluttering around to seek new perches.



A number of male dragonflies also kept busy engaging in aerial fights to chase away other males of the same species from their respective territories.

I took in the whole sight with a happy heart.  I have not seen so many of these dragonflies buzzing around in a while.  It was cloudy this morning... and in some places in Langkawi, there have been a bit of rain here and there in the evenings though it's been weeks since then.  Perhaps this is indicative of a change in weather patterns?  Perhaps that could explain the abundance of these dragonflies and all the activities? 

It was just the usual suspects up and about this morning.  The other species I spotted were Orthetrum sabina, Crocothemis servilia, Acisoma panorpoides, Brachythemis contaminata, Ischnura senegalensis, Pseudagrion microcephalum and Agriocnemis femina.  Yes, just a few species but there were lots of the Diplacodes trivialis everywhere, which made up for everything.

Anyway, one thing you can count on most days of the year is the Ischnura senegalensis.  Here's a photo of the male and 'andromorph' female in wheel position.



Apart from the dragonflies, it was also a morning for birds...


Little Egret - when breeding, it has long nape-, back- and breast plumes.  The nape plume can be seen in this photo below.


Chinese Pond Heron (I've just realised I took photos of the Chinese Pond Heron this same date last year...)


Baya Weaver


White-rumped Munia


Scaly-breasted Munia



Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Penang Botanical Gardens

I was in Penang recently and as I had a few short hours to spare in the morning, I went to the Botanical Gardens.

Horror of horrors! 

The approach to the entrance and parking area have become quite unrecognizable.  The trademark quaint little coffee shop selling coconut water at one corner of the parking area is now gone!  In fact, the whole area just outside the gate to the Gardens have been razed down and some concrete structures are being built instead.  There are now two tall arches, still under construction, that stick out like sore thumbs.  In my opinion, concrete monstrosities like these should not be built in gardens and parks in the first place!  But maybe it's just me.

I was also there on the wrong day of the week!  It was the weekend and the place was teeming with people - Penangites on their weekly morning walk for a bit of an exercise, joggers on some fitness routines, families on outings and tourists taking photos of macaques. 

If I had thought I could sit somewhere for a few hours of tranquility, I was totally wrong.  I had certainly forgotten how busy it can be at this place.  And the reality of the crazy crowds of Penang rushed at me.

I made my way to the Lily Pond, which is one of the quieter spots in the Gardens.  There were fewer people there and I could breathe easier but there weren't any dragonflies!  Later, when the sun was higher up in the sky and lit up the pond, two red dragonflies did visit.  Both were of the species Orthetrum testaceum.

On my way out, I took a different route by the stream and came across a few other species - a male hovering near an ovipositing female of the Orthetrum chrysis, a female Neurothemis fluctuans, Potamarcha congener, Prodasineura laidlawii, Pseudagrion pruinosum and another damselfly, which I have yet to identify.

Orthetrum testaceum


Neurothemis fluctuans, female


Potamarcha congener


Prodasineura laidlawii


Pseudagrion pruinosum


And this damselfly, which I have not identified yet...


Anyway, at the end of the day, I found more peace of mind sitting under the wild cherry tree in the garden at home.....



Coenagrionidae - Argiocnemis rubescens

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Protoneuridae - Prodasineura humeralis

Another Prodasineura Damselfly


This charming little damselfly is the Prodasineura humeralis of the family Protoneuridae.  It has hindwing length of 18mm and is a slender and dark damselfly with yellow-orange markings on its thorax. 

Apart from the colour, its size and markings are very similar to the P. laidlawii, which is a striking blue, and was featured in this blog some months ago.  Check it out here.

The Pocket Guide lists five different species of the Prodasineura damselflies to be found in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.  I wonder how many of these five could be found in Langkawi?

Questions, questions and more questions...  All these questions that I ask myself of these dragonflies and damselflies and the only way to find the answers is to keep exploring and looking.  Didn't I already say that this project will see me through retirement?  Funny, eh?

Anyway, during the current hot and dry season, there are less dragonflies and damselflies to be seen.  The water level in ponds and streams have gone down in most places.  The blistering heat is also making it quite uncomfortable to stay out in the sun and observe these creatures for too long.

I am certainly looking forward to some rain soon.  And I can imagine all these insects and other creatures will be out rejoicing when the heat dissipates and everything turns green again!



Thursday, 11 March 2010

A Skink And A Bronzeback?

On this particular morning, there were a lot of skinks actively moving around, perhaps looking for prey?  I easily counted at least six skinks of various species on the short walk towards a trail but managed to take a photo of only one of them.



Based on its size and the distinctive large orange patch, it is quite probably the Many-lined Sun Skink.  Skinks are usually quite elusive.  Sometimes you would see them basking in the sun but they will go into hiding among leaf litter or among rocks at the slightest distraction or movement within their sphere.  Quite often you would see a swift slithering creature and just a bit of the tail before it disappears out of sight and you would think it might have been a snake.

This skink here was chasing another smaller skink when it caught my attention.  When he realised I was watching him, he stopped to assess me for just a minute before disappearing.  I was lucky to have my camera in hand and ready to shoot a dragonfly when all that happened.

Anyway, as I walked further along, I spotted another tiny head and an eye staring at me from among some rocks next to a stream, very similar to the skink in the photo above but all I saw was just that bit of its tiny head.

I was thinking, "ok, another skink..." when it decided to move away. 

And a skink it was not. 

This time I didn't manage to get a photo.  When it started moving into the bushes, its long body slithered along and its length was at least a meter or more.  Its colours were very similar to the Many-lined Sun Skink and it was just beautiful.  All that was over in just a few seconds. 

Based on the markings, I would think it was the Common or Painted Bronzeback, which is described as having a bronze upper body and head, black face mask and yellow or cream stripe on the first two scale rows of the body bordered above and below by a black line (Cox et al, 2006).

One of these days, perhaps I'll manage to get a photo of these snakes too...


Reference:  Merel J. Cox, Peter Paul Van Dijk, Jarujin Nabhitabhata and Kumthorn Thirakhupt, A Photographic Guide To Snakes And Other Reptiles Of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore And Thailand (New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, 2006).



Monday, 8 March 2010

Another Confusing Damselfly

When I first came across this damselfly a few months ago, I did not manage to get good photos and I wasn't sure if I had gotten the species identification correct.  Instead, I got myself confused as I could not recall its dimensions.

This morning, I revisited the trail and was lucky to find them again.  This time, at least, the photo is acceptable and I also remembered to check this damselfly for size.

And if I am right, then it should be the Argiocnemis rubescens of the family Coenagrionidae.  According to the Pocket Guide, the male of this species has hindwing length of 17mm and this is potentially another confusing species due to age related colour variation, which is also the case with the Agriocnemis femina.



The above photo shows the mature male of this species with blue thoracic markings and blue marking on its abdomen.  The Pocket Guide says that immatures have pale green head and thoracic markings with abdomen red.  The females would also have red abdomen when young, maturing to olive version with abdomen entirely dark above.

This next photo shows the same species but a half-mature damselfly, looks like a female if I am correct.



I often find these tiny damselflies rather confusing and difficult to identify and I am still learning as I go along.  I guess it would be like putting a jigsaw puzzle together because you have to figure it out piece by piece and keep trying till it fits.

Anyway, I love jigsaw puzzles, so.....



Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Golden Award


The days have been very hot... and quite humid too.

But the heat is not a deterrent.

This afternoon I was awarded with the sight of these golden yellow dragonflies, the Crocothemis servilia, perched atop every one of these stakes that stand in a row to mark the boundary in the fields.  

Some of them were in obelisk.

Like a little golden statuette standing on a stake.



Quite a pretty, precious sight to behold!



Friday, 5 March 2010

The Dragonfly And I

Sometimes I wonder about myself.

What I meant is that I was probably quite a different person a few years ago.  Not that I have totally flipped to the other side of the coin but some things have certainly changed.  Not so much outwardly but innately.

Although I have had a dragonfly totem for many years, it all started because it was something I liked and my attention was drawn to it.  Perhaps the dragonfly, as a symbolism, did grow on me. 

The dragonfly knows it has a short life; it knows that it must live its life to the fullest each day.  The life of the dragonfly is really quite simple, though somewhat complicated and unpredictable.  It basks in the morning sun to get warmed up and get started for the day.  It hunts for food for its survival and it looks for a mate to ensure the survival of its species.  Yet it lives very much on its own.  And it has to strive not to be preyed upon so that it will see the next sunrise. 

Anyway, five years ago, I wouldn't have imagined that today I would be chasing dragonflies, spending so much time looking for them and looking at them, learning about them and being contented doing everything on my own.  Nothing had been planned.  Everything simply fell into place by going with the flow of things, being truthful to myself and following the voices of the heart that guide the inner sense of self.

Like the transformation a dragonfly has to go through, similarly it seems to me that my life has "transformed" so much from how it used to be.

I am certainly living a simpler life now, a simpler way of life.  I don't have to concern myself about survival of the species and I don't have to hunt for my meals.  Yet, life, no matter how uncomplicated you try to make it, remains as complicated as it can be in its very being. 

On a day to day basis, what I do seems rather predictable but who knows what tomorrow will bring?  Like the dragonfly, you can never know.  Perhaps it would be another day with the usual trimmings, perhaps not.  The truth is that you will never know what will happen the next day.

So, for today, live it!



Monday, 1 March 2010

Cute Chick

Chanced upon this chick in the padi fields early one morning. 

I wouldn't have known it is the juvenile White-breasted Waterhen had I not spied the parents of this little bird.  As soon as the parents noticed me, they quickly ducked into hiding, out of sight among the tall grasses but this little one was quite oblivious to everything. 



For a minute there, it must have wondered where the parents had gone to; but not sensing anything out of the ordinary, it went back to its business of conscientious preening.



And it continued preening itself for a long moment before it realised something must be amiss.  Only then did it finally venture out in search of its parents. 



And that was when it spotted me.....



Oops!  Quick as lightning it went into hiding in the brush too.

Cute chick, huh?