Friday, April 29, 2016

Hawking for bees

Blue-throated Bee-eater (Berekberek Tadah Hujan - Malay)
Merops vividis
Location : Cempedak Hill, Zone G

 It was  still early in the morning, around 8 am and the cheerful calls of the Blue-throated Bee-eater were distinctively heard in the cool morning atmosphere.  The sole bee-eater had decided to make a pit stop at the Cempedak tree perch.  I climbed the hill to get closer and the climb was well rewarded with images of the bee-eater with a prey  caught between its beak which it hawked in mid air nearby.  Incidences of the bee-eater coming to the park is a daily phenomena.  The park lies in  their north -south flight path (from Bintulu towards Tatau ) which they habitually follow in the morning and in evening return flights. The bee-eater has striking turquoise-blue for its throat and greenish-blue for its breast. It possess green wings.  Its head or crown is a beautiful chestnut colour.
Partial view of the neighbourhood as seen from Cempedak Hill, looking south-west.

Bee-eater  settles on a twig with a bee hawked from mid air
Location : Cempedak Hill
Zone G

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Black Hornbill sighted again

Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus) - male of the species
Location : Licuala Hill, Zone I

Botanic Island Two in the background.
 It was another rare moment I encountered today. The Black Hornbill suddenly flew overhead while I was relaxing from work at Zone E, next to the Botanic Island Two,. I thought I saw some black object flying above the trees and was heading towards Zone I.  Fortunately, I had my camera handy.  Without wasting time I rushed towards Zone I making sure I was under cover of the jungle canopy.  At about 50 meters from my hideout I saw the Black Hornbill perched on tallest tree located at Licuala Hill.  My camera went clicking away.  The sighting of the Black Hornbill made my day.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Silk Hanger

A caterpillar hanging on to dear live is photographed at about a meter  from the ground.
Pix 1

Clinging on the string the caterpillar wriggled its way up its  fine silk girdle that was  stretched from a leaf above.
Pix 2

It inches its way slowly for about less than 20 minutes to reach a leaf from which the silk girdle is attached.
Pix 3
Higher and higher it went.  The whole episode of climbing up a length  of about 3 meters of the silk girdle string  took about less than 20 minutes.
Pix 4 

The caterpillar successfully reached the leaf from where it fell.
Pix 5
This is a story about a caterpillar that fell from a leaf and somehow managed to suspend itself in mid air.  The length of the fine silk string was about 3 meters and the caterpillar (larva) had no choice but to keep on climbing the string to save its dear life.  The pictures beginning from the top above depicts its movement up the string from about a meter above the ground to about 3 meters high from which its silk girdle is attached.  The whole climbing episode took less than 20 minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The mating process of the Shield Bug (Pycanum rubens)

The Approach

The Climb

The Copulation

The Consummation

Shield Bug - Pycanum rubens
Host plant - Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffructicosa)
Location : Zone I

Highlights today at the park - 21 April'16

An Oriental Magpie-robin finds shelter from the light rain
Zone c

Messina Creeper or Mile A Minute Vine (Ipomoea cairica)
Zone C

A caterpillar (larva) is seen hanging on a silk string
Zone E

Close-up of a stick insect
Zone I

Flushes of a jungle tree
Zone I

View of the park, looking south.
The Bintulu sunset viewed from Zone C

Flushing today at the park - 21 April'16

Maroon flushes of the 'Jering' (Pithelobium lobatum)
Zone G

Flushes of the Eugenia oleina
Zone B

Flushes of a jungle tree (unidentified)
Zone I

Beautiful flushes looking south of the park, from Zone C.

Maroon flushes of the 'Jering' tree at the center of picture
Zone C

Flushes for FB cover page (21 April'16)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pruning works to oil palm trees

Oil palm trees and cut branches seen at foreground
Zone E

A long pruning pole and cut base.
 One of the toughest job at the nature park is the pruning works involving the oil palm trees. Since three months ago some of the oil palm trees weren't fruiting well due to excessive rain, haze and later the extreme dry weather .  All these conditions happened continuously over 3-4 months period (since December)  and it would seem that the dry conditions will persist till May. The extreme temperatures stressed the plants while the haze drove away useful insects especially bees and weevils that help pollinate the oil palm flowers.  These matrix of factors resulted in undeveloped flowering and fruiting sets thereby thwarting production of fresh fruit bunches for sale. In this respect it is no wonder that the prices of oil palm fruit bunches is at their best this month compared with last year average  i.e. RM 440 per ton at ramp price (i.e.  middleman's collection centre  price).   With some of the undeveloped flowers and spoilt fruit bunches  on trees, it is necessary to remove them to divert food to new and  upcoming inflorescenes or young fruit bunches.  Below are examples of the pruning works done to majority of the trees at Zone E.
Zone E

Note the cut bases
Zone E

Zone E as seen from inside the Botanic Island Two.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Walking the Licuala trail

Licuala ferrugina in front, and in the background is the Pholidocarpus sumatranus palm (partly seen in the center)
Location : Provinsi Rattan
Fan-like leaves of the Licuala
Location :  Licuala Hill
The Licuala trail is what I have been missing for a while.  The trail covers low lying areas, slopes and hills.  A good one hour walk through the jungle will acquaint me with the status of the jungle and the wildlife.  In walking the trail, I took time to clear some of the bushes (mainly bracken ferns), small trees and jungle shrubbery that unnecessarily are in the way of a pleasant walk.  The best aid to do the clearing is our local matchet called the 'parang'.  In some areas the trail is littered with fallen leaves while in others there are plenty of logs and vines that need to be walked over.  All in all, the one hour walk was rewarding as I countered a small party of three Bornean Falconet that kept surveillance over the neighbourhood from the tallest perch above the Licuala Hill.  I noticed too a well-grown fungi species on the trail.
Note the Licuala palm at the left of the picture.

A small party of three - Bornean Falconet resting on the tallest perch at Licuala Hill
Location : Licuala Hill

Licuala ferrugina inside Botanic Island Two.

A fungi species.
Inside Provinsi Licuala

"Murai Rimba" or White-rumped Shama - a lifer!

White-rumped Shama - Murai Rimba (Malay)
Copsychus malabaricus
Location : Botanic Island Two

"Murai Rimba" perching on oil palm leaf.
 I saw some movement on the leaves of the oil palm tree just outside the Botanic Island Two.  My curiosity was answered when a bird flew down on the open ground.  It was no ordinary bird.  It is a lifer for me.  Fortunately I had the camera in my hand and quickly tried to photograph it.  The bird did not remain long on the ground and in a matter of seconds it flew away.  Lucky me, I have on record the sighting of a White-rumped Shama at the park.  It is my fervent hope that in future the bird will come back again so that I could get better images of it.
View of the jungle from which the White-rumped Shama flew out.
Location : Botanic Island Two.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Up close and personal

Black Tipped Butterfly on damp cement floor
Zone C

Skink on 'Belian' plank.
 In between work I noticed two wildlife close by -  a butterfly and a skink.  I decided to get close and personal with them when I took a brief rest from work later.   The Black Tipped Archduke ( Lexias dirtea merguia) was flying low and moved close to the ground.  When it rested on the damp and littered old cement floor close to where I rested,  it gave me a rare opportunity to get as many pictures I wanted.  The butterfly was in its best form and colours.  On moving to another spot for another brief rest I chanced upon a skink that looked curiously at me.  The skink seemed to be motionless and thus enabled me to get sharper images of it and for stock photography.
Black Tipped Archduke

Zone C

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