Saturday, April 07, 2007

The wildlife of oil palm plantations - Part 3: Perak

This estate is in Perak and adjacent to the famous Matang mangrove forest reserve. The entire estate is actually below sea level, and maintained by a system of bunds and pumps.

Of the estates we visited it was the richest in terms of nocturnal wildlife, with Spotted Wood Owls being especially common. We counted 5 birds along one row of oil palms that was no more than a couple of hundred metres long.

Buffy Fish Owls were also quite frequent, and we got some close views of these beautiful birds.

Common Palm Civets proved to be accurately named, as they were the most frequently encountered nocturnal mammal. Some were rather shy...

... while others seemed curious to get to know us at close range!

In the daytime, the bund marking the boundary between the plantation and the mangroves was an especially productive area.

We surprised this troop of Long-tailed Macaques on their way back from breakfasting by the river.

As well as this male Red Junglefowl, the original ancestor of the Domestic Chook!

Brahminy Kites take over from the owls as top predators during the daytime.

Meanwhile dragonflies, such as this Orthetrum sabina, take care of smaller beasties.

A Crocothemis servilia brightens up its surroundings.

X marks the spot. This Common Palmfly butterfly has chosen to alight at the intersection of two branches.

The mangroves have their own highly distinctive flora and fauna. One of the commonest trees is Bruguiera gymnorhiza, but when its red calyxes emerge, it is also one of the prettiest.

A couple of likely lads. These two young macaques remind me of my brother and me in the days when we were young enough to climb trees. He's the one with big ears by the way!

The mangroves are rich in kingfishers, and five species can be seen rather easily in the northern winter months. This one is typical of the mangroves - a Collared Kingfisher.

This one is a migrant, and always a much shier bird - a Black-capped Kingfisher.

And here's one that is familiar from my years in the UK, the not particularly well-named Common Kingfisher.

We spotted this Oriental Whip Snake gliding through the mangroves overhanging the river. It's a non-venomous species which apparently preys on lizards.

A couple of marine species to finish off with; a kind of halfbeak - very common in the shallows. It has a jade-green tip to it's upper mandible, which I guess is to attract smaller fish within range of its jaws.

The local men called this strange beast 'umpun-umpun'. It's about a foot long, looks like a centipede, and apparently causes your whole arm to swell up if you brush against it. Our guide was keen to show us the oddest thing about these weird creatures. When he lobbed a rock into the water in the vicinity of one of these, it disintegrated in a cloud of green inky fluid (he said this was the poison in the body). When the water settled, the head of the creature could still be seen swimming as before, but all the rest of the body floated around in bits. Charming!


Anonymous said...

These naturalist's report are really good and enjoying! You are doing really good, David - and thanks for sharing Your great moments in nature.

digdeep said...

You're very welcome Jorn. Thanks for your kind comments.