Wednesday, 30 June 2010
It looked like a nice morning for a walk on the beach... so that was where I went. After all, Cenang Beach is barely 5 minutes away from home.
And as I had thought, it was perfect! At this early hour, apart from a few joggers, I had almost the whole beach all to myself.
The view looking out to sea was great too!
The sea was quite flat and calm. With a mild breeze blowing, the marker line and flag put out by the various watersports centres bobbed and swayed lightly on the water...
...while the outgoing tide had left streaks of its whispers on the beach.
As the run rose higher, its rays were reflected off the Mat Chinchang range in the background towards the north, giving an almost idyllic feel to the whole place.
The low tide was perfect for observing shore creatures and the shore came to live when the crabs and snails came out to feed.
If you stay still enough and long enough, you will see these sand crabs venturing out from their burrows.
Meantime, these tiny Sand Bubbler Crabs (Scopira sp.) feed on detritus from the sand and in the process form tiny sand balls that they leave in trails around their burrows.
The snails also make their own patterned trails as they glide along on the shore's glassy surface.
Several dead jellyfishes had also been washed up onto the beach. Here's one of them.
Apart from all that, I had an unexpected visit from both a dragonfly and a damselfly. Here's the Ischnura senegalensis perched on a seashell.
And this Brachythemis contaminata that kept flying around me in circles and then stopping occasionally to perch and bask in the sun.
But, within the hour, the skies had become overcast, engulfing the peaks of Mat Chinchang as the rain moved in...
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
This is another blue or bluish dragonfly that had me confused for a bit. I had initially thought that it was the Brachydiplax chalybea because I had seen one in this area just a few minutes earlier.
As it turned out, this is actually the Aethriamanta gracilis of the family Libellulidae. Other than its small size, with hindwing length of 22mm, the other feature that differentiates it is the more open venation on its wings. This species can be found in weedy ponds, it is local and generally uncommon though it is widespread in Sundaland.
I had managed to get only two photos before it darted off and I have not seen it again since.
Sunday, 27 June 2010
I was walking through the "Geopark campsite" at the Oriental Village when these notices put up on a tree caught my attention. Judging by the look of it, it must have been there for a while.
Naturally, I went closer for a look.
Arent' you curious what it says?
But then, it really isn't anything interesting at all and it is not saying that "trespassers would be prosecuted", which means I am not trespassing and that I can still walk through here whenever since this area is generally open to the public. And this is good news!
It is only the programme left behind by a group from the "Kelab Pencinta Alam" or "Nature Lovers' Club", who camped here a few months ago in April 2010.
What makes it interesting or ironic is the content of the programme itself.
Day 1 was the usual registration, setting up camp and briefing. The programme then started on Day 2 with a session on "Amalan hijau dan survei alam sekitar" or translated to mean "Green Practices and Nature Survey" that lasted the whole morning.
Day 3 included "Membersihkan tapak perkhemahan" or "Clean Up Campsite" as a pre-breakfast activity and the group dispersed after lunch.
I was wondering if the group had learned anything at all over the weekend about green practices, which would practically mean "Leave No Trace Principles" when you are talking about the outdoors.
Isn't that right?
And I am sure each camper that day would have been familiar with the phrase: "Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints".
I guess they did take out their rubbish.
Well, so much for leaving nothing but footprints, right? They left their programme tacked to a tree!
Should we laugh or do we just cry?
Well... I hope they did learn something anyway...
UPDATED ON: 27 JUNE 2010
ODONATA OF LANGKAWI ISLAND
Echo modesta (Laidlaw, 1902)
Neurobasis chinensis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vestalis gracilis (Rambur, 1842)
Heliocypha biforata (Selys, 1859)
Lestes praemorsus decipiens (Kirby, 1893)
Platylestes heterostylus (Lieftinck, 1932)
Aciagrion borneense (Ris, 1911)
Aciagrion hisopa (Selys, 1876)
Agriocnemis femina (Brauer, 1868)
Argiocnemis rubescens rubeola (Selys, 1877)
Ceriagrion auranticum (Fraser, 1922)
Ceriagrion cerinorubellum (Brauer, 1865)
Ischnura senegalensis (Rambur, 1842)
Pseudagrion australasiae (Selys, 1876)
Pseudagrion microcephalum (Rambur, 1842)
Copera ciliata (Selys, 1863)
Copera vittata (Selys, 1863)
Prodasineura humeralis (Selys, 1860)
Prodasineura laidlawii (Forster, 1907)
Ictinogomphus decoratus melaenops (Selys, 1858)
Paragomphus capricornis (Forster, 1914)
Anax guttatus (Burmeister, 1839)
Acisoma parnorpoides (Rambur, 1842)
Aethriamanta brevipennis (Rambur, 1842)
Aethriamanta gracilis (Brauer, 1878)
Brachydiplax chalybea (Brauer, 1868)
Brachydiplax farinosa (Kruger, 1902)
Brachythemis contaminata (Fabricius, 1793)
Cratilla lineata (Brauer, 1878)
Cratilla metallica (Brauer, 1878)
Crocothemis servilia (Drury, 1770)
Diplacodes nebulosa (Fabricius, 1793)
Diplacodes trivialis (Rambur, 1842)
Hydrobasileus croceus (Brauer, 1867)
Indothemis limbata (Selys, 1891)
Neurothemis fluctuans (Fabricius, 1793)
Neurothemis fulvia (Drury, 1773)
Orthethrum chrysis (Selys, 1891)
Orthethrum glaucum (Brauer, 1865)
Orthethrum sabina (Drury, 1770)
Orthethrum testaceum (Burmeister, 1839)
Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798)
Potamarcha congener (Rambur, 1842)
Rhodothemis rufa (Rambur, 1842)
Rhyothemis obsolescens (Kirby, 1889)
Rhyothemis phyllis (Sulzer, 1776)
Rhyothemis triangularis (Kirby, 1889)
Tholymis tillarga (Fabricius, 1798)
Tramea transmarina euryale (Selys, 1878)
Trithemis aurora (Burmeister, 1839)
Trithemis festiva (Rambur, 1842)
Urothemis signata insignata (Selys, 1872)
Zygonyx iris malayana (Rambur, 1842)
Saturday, 26 June 2010
In terms of dragonfly sightings, things have been a bit quiet.
Partly because when I was able to go out, the weather hadn't been the greatest in that it was overcast or threatening to rain. Either that or I would be holed up indoors because it was pouring cats and dogs out there.
Also, I had recently stubbed my toe on some rock solid structures, twice in that same evening, and my toe had become swollen making walking a bit difficult. After almost two weeks, the swelling has finally gone down a little and it feels better though I still won't be able to walk properly had I been wearing my walking shoes. In other words, I have been putting my feet up when I can!
Anyway, when I did get out there, if I do not see too many creatures around, quite often it can be an indication that the rain is coming and this reasoning had seemed quite true on quite a few occasions.
Meantime, I have been seeing a fair bit of butterflies fluttering about in the last few weeks so I had focused on these creatures instead. Here goes...
A Brown Skipper Butterfly (Hesperiidae spp) on the Ageratum whiteweed flowers.
The Common Sailor (Neptis hylas)
The Blue Pansy (Junonia orithya) on a Tridax daisy
An attractive-looking butterfly of the Euthalia spp
The Lemon Pansy (Junonia lemonias)
The Colour Sergeant (Athyma nefte)
The Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus)
The Striped Albatross (Appias libythea) that is commonly seen everywhere...
Several butterflies feeding on a watermelon skin left by picnickers. The Palm Kings (Amathusia binghami) in the centre, surrounded by the smaller White-Banded Bush Browns (Mycalesis mineus).
Friday, 25 June 2010
...but now that it is the monsoon season, there is so much more cloud cover on the horizon. Also, there weren't any fishing boats going out to see at dawn this morning and everything was quite still.
It almost felt desolate but for the grasses swaying ever so lightly in the breeze...
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
I did not see too many dragonflies on the trail today. There were several Trithemis aurora and only one Orthetrum testaceum, but there were lots and lots of butterflies and termites!
And these termites always fascinate me!
It must have been the break in the weather, such that every termite colony must have sent out groups of workers to harvest food!
Here's looking at a group of termite workers harvesting dead wood.
These are the Macrotermes species of termites that are found in abundance in our forests in Langkawi. While these termite workers cut away at the bark fragments, the large-jawed soldier termites stand guard around them.
You can also see one termite soldier in the foreground and another in the background in this next photo.
These termite soldiers would stand guard at intervals along the entire trail while the termite workers go back and forth carrying precious food home to its nest.
If any of the termite workers get confused or go astray, the termite soldier would admonish them, giving them the right signal to get them back on track again.
And if you observe these termites carefully, you will also see that along the termite trail, or "highway", as I like to call them, the termite workers that are loaded with food would walk in the centre of the trail while the ones heading towards the food source walk along the outer "lanes" of the "highway", almost like an additional barrier of protection for the harvested food.
Here's another look at a different section of the "highway".
And the termite trail stretches on and on for a long way...
Amazing insects, aren't they?
What do you think these termite soldiers are guarding against? One of their greatest enemies are the ants!
In all these years that people have been destroying ants' nests, indirectly we have also been encouraging the termite population to grow.
Although termites are generally considered pests because they eat dead wood and have caused the collapse of many homes, yet these termites are the ones who play important roles in the rainforest ecosystem, aiding in the decomposition of dead leaves and dead wood and nutrient recycling back into the soil.
Without these termites and millions of other insects, we wouldn't have our rainforests today.
Without these rainforests, what would happen to us?
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Or a worse doom?
This Hillstream Soft-shelled Turtle (Dogania spp) got caught in the current of water rushing into a sluice gate at one of the rivers in Langkawi. Now that it's been raining a fair bit, there's been lots more water in the rivers and forest streams and at some places the current can be quite strong for small creatures such as this little turtle. More so when you have man-made structures, such as the sluice gate, that gets in the way in the natural flow of things and the chances of the turtle saving itself somehow gets drastically slimmer.
Anyway, it was spotted by some homo sapiens and this little turtle was fished out from the water. A bucket was found and that was where the turtle ended up in.
For some reason, I did not ask what would happen to it. Or what they were going to do with it.
Perhaps because I did not want to know.
But with the locals here, whenever a creature such as this is caught, it either ends up at the dinner table or it gets sold for money and if it is lucky, become somebody's pet. Otherwise... perhaps, eventually... back to the dinner table.
Where do you think it would go?
Monday, 21 June 2010
A day like this is good for only one thing - sleeping in!
Yet, since I was up at dawn, I went out "exploring" anyway. As it turned out, it was not the most fruitful morning for such excursions and the rain came down soon after that.
Rainy days are certainly here.
We are in the midst of the South-West monsoon after all. It's just that the weather seems to have been more erratic than in the past and it does seem to me that perhaps we have not been getting as much rain as we did before.
The rain is certainly much needed and is a nice welcome!
Saturday, 19 June 2010
Charles Anderson discovers dragonflies that cross oceans | Video on TED.com
I had first come across this dark blue dragonfly early in the year and recently spotted it again in the last few weeks. Both times at two different areas in Langkawi.
This dragonfly is the Trithemis festiva of the family Libellulidae. The male has hindwing length of 28mm, it is common around streams and is widespread in tropical Asia.
The Trithemis festiva is often easily confused with the Indothemis limbata, another dark blue dragonfly of similar size.
The Trithemis festiva (L) and Indothemis limbata (R)
Looking at both the photos above, the following comparisons can be made: I. limbata has dark wing tips but not the T. festiva; the abdomen of the T. festiva is darker with orange streaks and lastly, the basal dark patch on the hindwing differs in shape for both dragonflies.
NOTE: Click on 'indothemis' in the Tags below for more info on this species.