Thursday, November 27, 2008

Armada in the puddle

A fleet of tadpoles, likley of a toad, lining up in their little ocean - a muddy puddle beside the forest track.

Its the monsoon season again, and puddles are everywhere !

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Glorious red

Borneo is famous for its variety of pitcher plants. Even the common Nepenthes ampullaria occurs in many forms, and the red ones are reputed to be found only here. Apparently we are looking at a tri-coloured form which I think is the most beautiful of all. Behind the slope where these plants are found lies floral carnage after a visit by bulldozers. This area is slated for development, and soon all will be gone.

.... the prospect of a twentyplus hour flight is already overpowering me....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Land planarian

A spade-headed flatworm from the limestone of Sarawak. Planarians are Asiatic in origin and they are voracious predators of slugs and snails.

Should have brought some home as a biocontrol for the snail problem....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tractor Millipede

I have seen this animal several times both in Borneo and West Malaysia, crawling over the fissures of tree bark. The wave-like mechanical movement of the limbs makes it look like a some kind of high-tech robotic Japanese toy.

Well, I finally found its name on internet, its called Barydesmus – a tractor millipede from SE Asia. Its a strict vegetarian and preferred to be left alone – thank you.

This particular one was found in a limestone outcrop in Western Sarawak.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ladder to heaven

A tropical liana from genus Bauhinia with exotic texture.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another unknown Begonia from Sarawak

Growing on a steep slope at the edge of a black pepper plantation. Any ID suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Alocasia reversa in situ

This plant, first described in Britian by N.E. Brown in 1890 from plants brought in by commercial collectors, was thought to be from the Phillippines. Actually, they are from SW Borneo, not widely distributed and confined to soils around limestone cliff. The name describes to the darker colouration of the mid rib and venations of the leaf, which in the Alocasias are typically paler than the colour of the leaf lamina.

Borneo is the home to many small and horticulturaly desirable Alocasia, many of them of restricted distributions, mostly at limestone or sandstone hills. Thanks to tissue culture, this plant and many others in the genus are now commonly available in commerce. And very cheaply too.

However, an often-heard complaint about Alocasias is that they can suddenly die on you. This has happened to me on several occasions too, but it seems to affect the potted plants only. Specimens planted on the ground usually are more long lived.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A good place to engage in deep thoughts

Stopping to take a break and cool off and at a stream teeming with shrimps and fishes. Somewhere at W. Sarawak towards Kalimantan.

Now, to be reticent and reflective.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dark River

On our way back, we stopped by a bridge to take some photos. The scene seems idyllic but this river is reputed to have crocodiles hiding in its murky water. And Borneo is famous for giant killer estaurine crocodiles.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A stream at Kalimantan border

The guide brought us to a jungle path through the jungle, thick with interesting undergrowths, with pebbled stream teaming with barbs and rasboras. It was one of the most pleasant jungle walk I ever did. We trodded along this pristine land blissfully with no sense of time .... kind of like a honeymoon....

Then a thunder clap brought us to our senses.

We had to make a hasty U-turn before reaching the destination - a tall waterfall – as an impending storm in the mountains threatened to submerge the jungle path and cut off our return route criss-crossing the stream.

Reluctant I may be, I had to tell myself always to listen to the local guide when one is in unfamiliar territory. Water accumulated high in the mountain can turn a benign stream like this into raging torrents very quickly. Some of my mates have had nasty experiences of evacuating their tents overnight while camping beside a small stream due to flash flood. Just last month, a couple of Singapore city sleekers ignored the advice of a guide and was caught in a flash flood at a waterfall. They were lucky, but the heroic guide was not.

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