Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Still No Dragonflies...

We are just getting to the end of March now... but the rain is already upon us!

We have had rainy days consistently in the last several weeks and the odd days in between would be scorching hot!  When it rains, it is not just a light drizzle here and there but it really has been coming down hard.  Like this morning...

Looking on the bright side, we do need the rain to replenish our natural resources for fresh water, for as long as it is not pouring down acid rain!

In the past, the weather would still be hot and humid in March and we would only start getting some rain towards the end of April.  That is how I remember the seasons to be when I was growing up.  And then there was this one year, about 6 or 7 years ago, when the hot spell stretched through April and we did not get even a drop of rain till at least mid-May.  And I remember looking at the surrounding limestone hills and you could not see a single green leaf on those trees.  Everything had looked brown, dry and almost dead though it was still a strangely beautiful sight.

The shifting season is not totally new to us.  If you have been observant of the weather patterns in general, you would have noticed these changes over the last several years.  As an example, it rained in January about 3 years ago when this would have been totally unheard of in previous years.

These are the effects of climate change that scientists have been talking about for so many years now.  What we are experiencing now is one of the effects of rising global temperatures, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities.  According to one of the fact sheets on climate change and global warming, the increasing temperature is likely to lead to increasing precipitation globally although some areas will experience less rainfall.  And we will be getting more extreme weather.  We have been forewarned.

Another consequence of climate change is rising sea levels due to shrinking glaciers.  Believe me, I have met people who had thought that it would not affect us in the tropics, along the Equator, because the glaciers are not found here and we are so far away.  Duh!

Yet, there are many people out there who are as ignorant and still many more who choose to continue with their selfish ways and indulgences and choose convenience for their own sakes rather than the environment.

There are many simple things you can do to become more environmentally-friendly and to reduce your carbon footprint and help make a bit of a difference.  These are so easy to achieve and I am sure it is not the first time you are reading them:

- practice the 3Rs to first Reduce, Reuse & Recycle as much as you can.
- use less plastics and bring your own bags when you go shopping.
- use less electricity and conserve water too since you're at it.
- eat more vegetables and eat less meat!
- and, now that it's been raining and the nights are cool, how about switching off that air conditioner and sleep with just the fan instead?
- help spread the word among your friends and convince your friends to join you in efforts to be green and eco for the environment!

And there are many, many more.

Climate change will affect everything on earth.  It will impact on nature and people.

Anyway, the other day, I went out to one of the parks hoping to have a field day with dragonflies.  It had started raining when I got there.  I sat in the car and waited, hoping it will pass soon but the rain just kept coming down.  I had my rainjacket but... no dragonflies...  Besides, the rain made it quite impossible to take photos.

Eventually, I headed home. 

And with another rainy day today, still no dragonflies.

Monday, 21 March 2011

4,287 Steps!

Through the powers of persuasion of wchinner, we de
cided to spend the morning walking up the steps to Gunung Raya.

Anyway, it was a good thing I was feeling rather energetic.  When we got to the Book Village this morning, where the steps are to start our walk, it started drizzling and the rain eventually did come down quite hard.  Both of us donned our rain jackets and walked on as planned.

We had the canopy to shield us from much of the rain so it was nice and cool.

There was not much activity around due to the rain.  And we see
med to be the only ones crazy enough to get out there in this inclement weather... just for the fun of it!

But, like I said, it was nice and cool and it is always great to be one with nature. 
Besides that, we were breathing in lots of fresh air while walking up.

A total of 4,287 steps...

Just as we reached the top, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  Great timing! 
We got to enjoy the misty view and see the rising cloud cover over the forests and enjoy the coolness at that altitude.

I am happy to know that I can still make it up those steps without too much difficulty though it was nowhere near my personal best of 45 minutes from some years ago.

On our way back down, we saw a pair of Asian Fairy Bluebirds, heard the Great Hornbills and the song of the Striped Tit BabblerThere were leeches as expected, though none managed to get a drink.  Also, the mosquitoes had come out to feed so we had to keep moving. 

But after the rain, the air is as fresh as it can be in the forest!

It was definitely a great way to spend the morning and I am certainly glad to be out there instead of staying indoors...

Ahhhhhh.....  I do love being immersed in nature!

P/S:  The above photos were taken last year.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

More Cat Pics

Yesterday, I was "stuck" at home for a bit and decided to take more pictures of the cats while they take a long nap after breakfast.

Wish I could snuggle up with them and sleep just like that...


Finally, at noon, it was time to get up and groom.

And then a nip to get his buddy to wake up too.

Not happening... still in dreamland...
After a while, he decided to groom his mate before he goes off...

This sleepy head then watched his friend go...

And decided he'll continue to snooze a bit more.

These two male cats are really affectionate cats.
Beautiful cats.

I know... I really do need to clean those kitchen windows, don't I?

Sunday, 6 March 2011


It started with him sleeping on the mat outside my front door. 

Every night. 

And from time to time I would chance upon him sleeping on the shoe cabinet during the day.
But the slightest sounds of approaching footsteps would send him scrambling and I could only catch glimpses of the Siamese Cat before he disappears from sight.

The image of its scrawny physique gnawed at me. 

I started putting out a bowl of water and some cat food in the evenings.  For many weeks, I did not even catch sight of him eating... but I would collect the empty plate a few hours later.

Eventually, he started to show his presence and would watch me as I put the food out but would keep a distance.  Soon after that, he brought along a companion to share the meal.

These beautiful cats now greet me each morning and they come calling for breakfast and dinner too.

Both these cats are still quite wary, but they do get affectionate at meal times; holding their tails high and rubbing against my leg.

And sometimes they would just hang around outside my kitchen and snooze the whole day. 

Do you know that cats can spend an average of sixteen hours per day just sleeping?

Anyway, I do sometimes wonder what May would be thinking if she's looking down from dog heaven and sees these cats?

She would love to chase them for sure! 

May was really just amazing!
The very best companion I could ever ask for.
And I certainly do miss her lots!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Yellow Petals

One of the first things that caught my attention when I got to the stream was all the yellow petals floating on the water.  These petals must have fallen this morning as most of them still looked very fresh.

Seeing all these petals prompted me to look up...

Nice indeed.

No leaves... just all these bright yellow flowers and the buds, and perhaps even fruits, on the bare branches high above me.

Deciduous trees in our tropical forests will shed their leaves in hot, dry conditions as the tree is not getting enough water.  During this season, these trees will also have an increased propensity to flower.

I started wondering if I can find out the name of this flower?  What species of tree is this?

I looked around and found the remnant of one of the flowers that had dropped onto the ground.

Only one petal had remained intact in the fall but the sepals and stamens are still in one piece. 

An interesting looking flower.

It looks to be one of the Dillenia species (Family Dilleniaceae).

I don't have a clue which is it exactly.

Please do drop me a note if you do...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Rendezvous with Nature


That's right... finally made it out there on the trails. 

There was an orchestra of singing cicadas, yelping, honking hornbills and chirping birds... and the gurgling stream played the percussions in the symphony.  How not to love nature?

Despite the hot spell and a lot of deciduous trees being shed of leaves, it was as beautiful as it can be out there on the forest trail.  And the whole place was certainly alive and buzzing with dragonflies, butterflies, skinks, lizards, bees, tiger beetles, robber flies and plenty of other creatures.

As for the dragonflies, only the common species could be seen.  Even then, it was fun just to watch the antics of these insects as they stake their claim on a territory to find a mate.  While waiting, these dragonflies would engage in aerial displays as they chase away other males who trespass into their territories.

As for this Ictinogomphus decoratus and Neurothemis fulvia sharing a perch, I have observed the N. fulvia fiercely guarding its spot and would chase away other dragonflies of various species who attempt to take over its perch including the I. decoratus.  Not just on this day, but on many previous occasions.  Yet, it is only this larger dragonfly who would succeed in sharing a spot in such close proximity to this smaller dragonfly.

The park itself gives rise to a different story though. 

Due to the current dry season and with the smaller volume of flowing water, a lot of algae can be seen in areas of stagnant water, turning the stream green.  These big, scummy algal blooms are mainly in sections where embankments have been built, which is supposed to enhance the aesthetic feel and beauty of the park, and interrupting the water flow to create ponds for cool dips on hot days.

What a waste of time, manpower, money and resources. 

How is it better when the stream is dammed and damned?  The natural beauty of a slow trickling stream is a much more beautiful sight than these green stagnant pools. 

What is done is done.  The trouble is that all the major waterfalls and rivers in Langkawi have been dammed for one reason or another.  It certainly makes you wonder if any environmental studies and assessments were carried out at all?  More so when it is for recreational purposes at these parks.  Were any considerations made as to its impact on the river ecology and biology?  Not that I have studied this, though it is, after all, a lot of common sense.  And yet...

This is not the first time I have expressed concerns about the excessive algal bloom.  As it happens, each year when the dry season comes around, I will rant when I see the sorry state of things in these parks. 

And I am not alone.  The same sentiments have been expressed by wchinner: http://wchinner.blogspot.com/2010/04/temurun-waterfall-now-is-dammed.html

And now, I need to get myself lost in the forest trails again to calm my mind and heal my soul...