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!