Thursday, 29 December 2011

A Morning Jaunt

In recent weeks I have been going for walks in the parks, again. 

And it feels great! 

If I set out early in the morning, it is possible to get my dose of nature for a few hours.  By the time the crowd starts milling in, I would be ready to leave anyway.

It's been great to resume my rendezvous with the dragonflies!

Caught this pair of Orthetrum sabina in wheel on one of those mornings!

The sun had just come up behind these dragonflies..

Love them!
And I love mornings like these!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Mangrove Pit Viper

After all these years of kayaking in the mangroves and looking at these snakes hundreds of times, I have finally gotten a shot of the Mangrove Pit Viper, Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus.

And I have only this one photo.....

This viper grows to a length of about 105 cm only and it is actually a rather small snake, so don't be deceived by the perceived size of the snake in this photo, which had also been cropped a little.

On this particular morning, a total of three Mangrove Pit Vipers were spotted, two of which were within 2 meters of each other though the third viper was some distance away.

I had with me a camera with only 5.0x optical zoom and wishing I had 50x zoom!

Monday, 12 December 2011

My Potted Plants

I am very well aware that the full moon affects me in many ways...

With the lunar eclipse this past Saturday, I could almost be going crazy with energy! 
And I have certainly been feeling restless for a few days with all the energetic vibes from the full moon.

This photo was taken on Saturday evening just before the full lunar eclipse.
It won't make "photo of the year" but at least I did manage to get one decent photo.

Anyway, there has been some major renovation works downstairs that's been going on like forever!  Since then, layer upon layer of fine dust have coated my car and my plants.  Then, the contractor started painting the walls this week.  When I got home on Friday afternoon after a kayak trip in the mangroves, I realised the doors have been whitewashed.  Out of nowhere, it clicked in my head that this could only mean one thing - no more dust!

Feeling energetic,  I got out a bucket and sponge and washed my car. 
When that was done, I scrubbed my front stoop and stairs. 

Early the next morning, out came another bucket and a smaller sponge.
Then I practically spent over an hour wiping the caked dust off almost every leave on all my potted plants. 

Here's looking at the lacklustre leaves with a layer of dust covering its surface.

After the sponge job, I even used a tissue to wipe the remaining residual dirt off the leaves.  Now you can see a nice sheen on these leaves.

Did the same for the Birds' Nest Ferns too....

These plants need to breathe as well. 
All those layers of dust on the leaves would have been choking the plants, reducing its efficiency at photosynthesis. 
Now that these leaves can breathe easy, I know that I will breathe better too! 

Thanks to the moon!

Call me crazy.
Maybe even peculiar or eccentric, for doing what I did spending hours cleaning those leaves. 
Or perhaps, more aptly, loony or a lunatic!
But..... who cares?  What matters is that I do think the plants appreciated it!

Anyway, have you ever wondered how the words 'loony' and 'lunatic' came about?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Siamese Cat....

It's been quite a while since I started feeding this cat. 

Yet, till today, I do not have a name for him, except for the fact that I refer to him as the Siamese Cat.  After all, he does not exactly belong to me and I don't think he belongs to anyone else either.  He probably goes around to various houses in the neighbourhood according to his whims. 

At least, that is what I think!

Anyway, after he has had his brunch at my place this morning, he went about his own business as usual.  But this time, I chanced upon him playing in the gutters and managed to get a snapshot of him.

After that, he decided to stay nearby and slept just outside of my door the rest of the day...

It is always nice to hear his greetings when he meows at me as I walk up the steps when I get home in the afternoons! 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

In The Mangroves..........

It is already December.....  time really flies!

The last time I went out looking for dragonflies back in October had been rather disappointing.  Since then, I have been tied up with work and various other commitments such that dragonfly "hunting" trips have been pushed to the back seat.

It's been a few months.  And yet, there in the back seat it still sits!

Now that we are in the midst of the school holidays, I have put off going to any of these parks and ponds as I do realise that the last thing I will find during this busy period is peace of mind.  So why put myself up for more disappointments?

Fortunately for me, I can get close to nature at my work place and that has certainly kept me sane.  This is where I go on my kayak trips in the mangroves, several times a week, each week!

Yes, lucky me!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Sediment Pollution

It had rained quite heavily last night. 

I had thought it would be a good day to visit the parks and ponds.  But the sight that greeted me on my first stop was terrible.  Never mind that the grasses have had a mud wash in the deluge of muddy water and is looking half-dead but the pond is a murky, earthy yellow from sediment pollution.  The siltation and turbid water is the result of development on the hills further upstream leading to soil erosion when there is heavy rain. And there has been quite some rain in recent weeks and last night.

It is very disheartening indeed.

I could count barely a score of dragonflies buzzing around.  It practically broke my heart.  I had spotted a few rare species here before.  What will happen to the eggs they have laid and to the larvae?

The sight of even the most common of species was such a gift this morning.

Urothemis signata

Crocothemis servilia

Orthetrum sabina

I do think this construction project here is the culprit for the pollution downstream.....

With the removal of  the protective vegetative covering on these soils, loose sediments have been washed into the stream with surface water runoff when there is heavy rain.

This will definitely have a serious and adverse impact on the ecology and water quality in these streams and ponds.  The sediment will choke fish, plants and other life in these ponds.  Not only that, the sediment particles will also absorb warmth from the sun and increase water temperature. 

At the rate things are going, it would be very difficult and probably take a long time for recovery if it does happen.  Eventually, what we may have left is a degraded habitat void of healthy biodiversity.

I did not stay very long and went to another spot where I could sit next to a clear flowing stream.  The sounds of the gurgling water eventually calmed me down and the few dragonflies that flitted about brought some joy to my heart.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Libellulidae - Camacinia gigantea

Gigantic Indeed!

Started the day with a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and doing crossword puzzles at the same time.  Yes, that is another of my favourite things to do!  And I can easily get quite engrossed with it and totally forget the time... like this morning.

When I finally looked up and looked out the window, "Wow!  It's a beautiful morning!  Bright and sunny!" 

This must be one of the brightest mornings for the week thus far!  So I grabbed my bag and headed out to the park expecting to see the usual species of dragonflies and damselflies.  What does it matter when I will still have a good field day out there, right?  After all, it's been ages since I last had a date with these dragonflies.

When I was nearing the first pond, I could see what looked like one of the Neurothemis dragonflies fluttering up and down over the length of the pond.  But when I got closer, I realised it is a much larger dragonfly.  This dragonfly is huge in comparison!  And the way it was fluttering about patrolling its territory was slightly different as well, not the usual 'mannerisms' of the Neurothemis dragonflies that I have watched so many times before.  I waited... hoping it would perch on one of the lilies so that I can have a good look at it.

Instead, it flew off to perch on a twig high above the water.  I was certainly piqued by now.  That is definitely quite unlike the behaviour of the Neurothemis species I have been observing!  By now, I was absolutely certain this would be another species to add to the checklist for Langkawi.

And I was right!  This beautiful, dark-reddish dragonfly is not a Neurothemis after all!  I had  certainly been fooled by its similar colour and pattern!

This large dragonfly is quite appropriately named the Camacinia gigantea, of the Libellulidae family.  The male has hindwing length of 44-47 mm.  According to the Pocket Guide, this dragonfly can be found at ponds and lakes in open areas, especially along the landward margins of mangroves, widespread but rare in the Indo-Australian tropics.

I stalked this dragonfly until I was satisfied that I have at least a few good photos.  I had observed only two males of the C. gigantea dragonflies at the pond this morning...  where are all the ladies?

In the earlier part of the morning, this male dragonfly frequently left its perch on the twig to patrol over the pond and chase the other male dragonfly away, showing dominance over his territory.  Some time later, I had observed both male dragonflies perched within a foot of each other on the same twig.  Interesting!

It has certainly been a great morning with an unexpected bonus!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Bit Of Gardening

I don't exactly have green fingers. 

So far, it's been a 50-50 rate of success with the plant species I have tried to grow.  There was a time when I managed to have a few pots of Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) growing nicely and I could enjoy fresh herbs from my own 'patio' until my neighbour decided to spray weedkiller to get rid of the stuff growing by the roadside at his place and so it killed all my basil plants.  I suppose it did not occur to him that the breeze would carry the spray mists over to my place as well. 

And he must have had a very strong mixture to actually kill off a papaya tree in the backyard too.  Of course, it looked as if that was his intention as he was spraying directly at it.  I had always enjoyed watching the birds that come and go on that papaya tree.  So there goes the birding activities from my kitchen window!!

That was almost three years ago. 
I have since moved out to another place but it's been a futile attempt trying to grow these basil plants again.

I also had this little Staghorn Fern (Platycerium spp.) bought from the nursery some years ago.  It had probably suffered from some weedkiller too but it did not die then.  However, the fern had been struggling along in a half-dead state and finally I had killed it a few months ago, either with too much watering or not enough of it.

This past year, I have been away from home quite frequently and each time, I had left my potted plants at the mercy of the elements.  During this time, the few attempts at planting anything at all had been almost to no avail.  Each time I went away, some plants would die off by the time I get home again even if it had been less than a week. 

Apart from the Bird's Nest Ferns (Asplenium nidus), Crinum Lilies (Crinum asiatica) and Umbrella plant (Cyperus alternifolius) that I've had for many years, the Snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata and S. trifasciata laurentii) planted this year have also been growing very well.  That's mainly because these are hardy plants that are easy to grow.

The Umbrella plant. 
I had brought only one cutting from Penang a few years ago and it's been growing beautifully.

The two varieties of Snake plant. 
The 'laurentii' variant is a popular variety with its edges in golden yellow.

The good thing about making frequent visits back to Penang is that I can keep taking a few plants and cuttings from my father's garden and keep trying to get a 'garden' growing for myself.  I have been bringing home several cuttings of the Jasmine plant (Jasminum sambac) since the beginning of the year and have not had much luck with it till now.

Finally, two little plants have sprouted and the young shoots continue to grow!

One of the dead and dried up Jasmine plant still left in the pot.

The two little Jasmine plants from cuttings I had brought back in June. 
The cuttings had started sprouting at different times.

One of the other plants I had brought back from Penang early this year was the young offshoot of the Monstera species.  When I got home from work one afternoon, the pot had been knocked over and the young plant was crushed by the pot and buried in the soil.  It must have been in that state a whole day while I was out at work.  Anyway, I picked it all up and replanted it back in the pot.  It died a week later.  I had left the broken pot untouched and neglected since then as I was a bit disheartened by it. 

That was several months ago.

Several weeks ago, a young shoot started sprouting in this pot and I had almost pulled it out thinking it would be some weedy, invasive species but an inner voice stopped me.  Now that it had grown a few leaves, I have been quite elated because it is the Monstera plant that has come back to life! 

My precious little Monstera plant in the broken pot...

The Monstera plant is a climber and I do think this is a good spot for it.
All it needs now is a new pot...

I had grown up romping around in a garden that's full of fruit trees, flowering trees and plants, ferns... the whole works!  I wish I could have such a garden of my own but that is not to be.  But I can have a "garden" of potted plants. 

Slowly but surely, I hope I will eventually have a nice little cosy patio garden one of these days.

Friday, 2 September 2011

That Row Of Eggs!

Am sure most of you have seen at least once before, a line of tiny, dark, brown eggs on a window or wall; each egg measuring barely two milimeters in length and there would be ten to fifteen eggs all lined up neatly in a row?

Have you ever wondered which insect laid those eggs?  Well, I have! 

And I've actually wondered about that for quite a long time.....

What caught my eye was the dark cast of a weird-looking bug on my sliding door so I went closer for a good look.  As it turned out, what I had thought was a long tail was the row of eggs and there was this bug standing over it laying its eggs.

I watched for a few seconds and then grabbed my camera...

Here's my first glimpse of the insect in the process of laying its eggs.
A ventral view of the bug from behind the glass door looking out.

And here's another view of the insect, this time from the outside. 
Am glad it didn't fly away and continued to finish laying the last of its eggs while I set up my tripod and got this shot.

Looks to be some kind of Squash Bug, though I can't be certain of its exact species id. 
Anyway, this bug measured approximately 26 mm in length.

One bug mystery solved! 


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A Sunny Day After The Rain

I really do enjoy the view from my balcony..... whether it is a hot, sunny day or a rainy day. 
In other words, on just any day and I am actually out here each day even if for a short period of time.

I don't get the sea view or the pool view or even the hill view at all.  Just palm trees...

Quite often I would sit out here while having breakfast or lunch or while enjoying a glass of wine in the evening and sometimes I would just sit out here to ponder and take in the view of the greeneries, watch the birds and the butterflies.

A pair of Orioles have been dropping by. 
Here's a photo of one of the Orioles, taken yesterday evening.
Wish I'd had my tripod set up but it wasn't.

And this morning, the sun finally awoke from its slumber after five days of rain.  As it warmed up, the view from the balcony was full of activities.  I find it quite a treat to watch the antics of these birds.

There was quite a racket too, with all the birds chirping, especially from the Starlings.

A bunch of them were on the ground pecking on the fallen palm fruits.

All the birds were busy feeding as perhaps there would have been limited food or less foraging the last several days?

And then I spotted this little Starling partially hidden among the palm leaves.  It kept looking up and looking around.

And then I realised there were actually two little Starlings, waiting for their parents to bring food.  Just as suddenly, they were all eager and excited and kept calling relentlessly......

The parent then swooped down and got busy feeding them.

The view from the other balcony can be interesting too.  Though I do not spend as much time there, I would often be on the lookout for the Dusky Leafed Langgurs.

Two days ago, even in the rain, this Langgur came out to its favourite spot to feed. 

Not the best photo but can you spot its tail trailing down?  As the gusts of wind came up and shook the branch around with the Langgur nestled among it, my heart went out to this primate.  This is survival. 

And this morning?  Here he is again...

Nature at my doorstep.....

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Golden Orange Female Dragonfly With Dark Wing Tips

This golden orange dragonfly is good looking, isn't it?

This dragonfly had been spotted back in July while on a dragonfly hunting trip with Robin and Wei Ling.  After taking a few photos each, we stood around the dragonfly and tried to figure out which dragonfly species this could be.  The markings on the wing tips had us thinking for a minute that perhaps it is the female of the Cratilla metallica.....

But then Robin asked, "Isn't the female Cratilla metallica darker in colour?  Can you remember?"  I tried to search the images in my head and think, but was uncertain.  We could not be entirely sure of the id of this dragonfly.  Robin was quite certain it is possibly another species.

And thanks to Robin, he had recently had Rory Dow confirm the id of this dragonfly to be the female of the Lyriothemis biappendiculata of the family Libelliludae.

So here's another species to add to the Checklist for Langkawi.  Yippeeeee!

Thanks a million to both Robin and Wei Ling!

Odonata Checklist - Langkawi

UPDATED ON: 17 August 2011



Family Calopterygidae

Echo modesta (Laidlaw, 1902)
Neurobasis chinensis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vestalis gracilis (Rambur, 1842)

Family Chlorocyphidae

Heliocypha biforata (Selys, 1859)
Libellago lineata (Burmeister, 1839)

Family Lestidae

Lestes praemorsus decipiens (Kirby, 1893)
Platylestes heterostylus (Lieftinck, 1932)

Family Coenagrionidae

Aciagrion borneense (Ris, 1911)
Aciagrion hisopa (Selys, 1876)
Agriocnemis femina (Brauer, 1868)
Argiocnemis rubescens rubeola (Selys, 1877)
Ceriagrion auranticum  (Fraser, 1922)
Ceriagrion calamineum  (Lieftinck, 1951)
Ceriagrion cerinorubellum (Brauer, 1865)

Ischnura senegalensis (Rambur, 1842)
Pseudagrion australasiae (Selys, 1876)
Pseudagrion microcephalum (Rambur, 1842)

Family Platycnemididae

Copera ciliata (Selys, 1863)
Copera marginipes (Rambur, 1842)
Copera vittata (Selys, 1863)

Family Protoneuridae

Prodasineura humeralis (Selys, 1860)
Prodasineura laidlawii (Forster, 1907)



Family Gomphidae

Gomphidia maclachlani (Selys, 1873)
Ictinogomphus decoratus melaenops (Selys, 1858)
Paragomphus capricornis (Forster, 1914)

Family Aeshnidae

Anax guttatus (Burmeister, 1839)

Family Corduliidae

Macromidia genialis (Laidlaw, 1923)

Family Libellulidae

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)
Lyriothemis biappendiculata (Selys, 1878)
Neurothemis fluctuans (Fabricius, 1793)

Neurothemis fulvia (Drury, 1773)
Onychothemis testacea (Laidlaw, 1902)
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)
Trithemis pallidinervis (Kirby, 1889)
Tyriobapta torrida (Kirby, 1889)
Urothemis signata insignata (Selys, 1872)
Zygonyx iris malayana (Rambur, 1842)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Trithemis aurora

Recently took this pic of the Trithemis aurora in obelisk position on a hot afternoon.....

Friday, 29 July 2011

Morning Rendezvous

Spent a few hours this morning being mesmerized by dragonflies and damselflies at a pond.  The whole scenery was alive with the buzzing of various dragonflies and damselflies such that I was totally enraptured!

As I watched, my heart went out to this Platylestes heterostylus as a Pseudagrion australasiae kept attacking it as it perched on a stem, chasing it away.  It took a while, and several perches later, before it found peace of mind and eventually began its morning stretching routine by flexing and swinging its abdomen in an aerobic workout.

This Pseudagrion australasiae is really quite a bully...

One of the Lestes praemorsus at the pond.  There were quite a number of them, all perched quite inconspicuously, minding their own business, each in its own world of daydreams.

I wonder what happened to that wing of this Neurothemis fulvia?  Looks as if it's been scorched.  Doesn't it make you wonder?

The Aethriamanta gracilis was rather flighty but finally managed to take a few photos.  Spotted several of them this morning.

Also spotted about five of these tiny yellow damselflies of the species Ceriagrion calamineum.

A contrast to the yellow damselfly above is this dashing red dragonfly, the Urothemis signata.

A number of these hovered near my feet.  These really tiny Agriocnemis femina could easily dart away and disappear from sight in a fraction of a second.

These damselflies sharing a twig.

And another favourite hangout on a twig with more than just one damselfly.

And then, there was also this bee that had me distracted for a bit.....

What a great morning indeed!