Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kambatik Park - an appreciation (Part 2)

The future happens here at the Kambatik Park

Eight years in days and nights of rain, sunshine, humidity and drought have gradually brought the park to its envisioned state.  It has become a sanctuary of wildlife.  A place where work is fun and joy to be.  A lowland dipterocarp forest environmental habitat enhanced with ecological diversity where oil palm farming is well-integrated into the culturally inspired native  agro-forestry practices.  It is here that I learn the meaning of ecopreneurship.  I am not the conventional planter  because I forever aim to  harvest 'green gold' together with a wealth of teeming wildlife every week in a month for the next 20 golden years (economic life of the oil palm trees) and more.   And this is made possible even without any single loan from the banking or financial institution in the development of the park since day one.  It is a fine example of where there is a will there is a way. 
I have answered the question that bugs and begs me. 
What is your contribution to the future, especially its environment and climate?  Is your contribution unique and of consequence?  I am getting ready to handover an environment where nature thrives ecologically and able at the same time to sustain itself commercially.  When all  the mainstream media currently report about  oil palm farming is the prevalence of  monoculture cultivation  and in its wake the destruction of whole forests, my experience has taught the contrary.  At the park oil palm farming is carried out in an eco-friendly manner.  It has passed the acid test of ecological diversity.  It is my hope that the authorities will see the model experimented here as iconic of the contribution of smallholders in the state in their safe practice of oil palm cultivation.  This model can make Sarawak into a destination with the broadest band of park lands and nature reserves  in Malaysia, if only leaders have the political will.
Overview of oil palm and agro-forestry integration - many more golden years ahead...

 This blog is testimonial enough on the practice of oil palm cultivation the eco-way, something that I would be pleased to pass on to my children and grandchildren and lovers of nature for posterity.  The future happens here at the Kambatik Park.

Photoshoot session with the Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

Devouring the rotting and over-ripe Jackfruit
Location : Zone C

Dark steel-blue  head and face
 It is interesting to note the habit of the Orange-bellied Flowerpecker when it comes to visit the over-ripe Jackfruit.  It appears that every time the Jackfruit bears many an over-ripe fruit, this flowerpecker will instinctively come to enjoy the fruit.  This provided another golden opportunity for me to have a photoshoot session with this seldom seen jewel of the forest.  It is one of the most colourful tiny birds of the park.  Today it is the male of the species that got into frame.  Here are the shots.... 

Back to rump is bright orange (partly seen above)

The chin and throat is dark grey, whilst the rest of the underparts are orange
Sepah Puteri Bukit (Malay) - Dicaeum trigonostigma

Monday, May 26, 2014

A digital touch to the Great Frangipani

A digital touch to the 'flower of the dead' by MOOD

Kemboja (Malay)
Plumeria obtusa
 With more than 10,000 species of flowering plants in Malaysia and a potpourri of cultures, we are bound to have different and contrasting attitudes towards flowers in this country.  The Great Frangipani is called 'Kemboja' by the Malays.  Both the Malays and Chinese consider this flower as 'flower of the dead', though it is an extremely fragrant flower.  There is so much unresolved mystery as to why children and even adults suddenly fear ghosts and conjure members of the spiritual world in their rich imagination once they smell the scent of the Great Fangipani, especially at night.  Thus to be on the safe side just be careful to use this flower.  Do not present it to anyone less they feel grievously insulted.  Your kindness and meaningfulness may be interpreted  by your girlfriend or wife that you cannot wait to see her die by sending her funeral flowers ahead of time!.  But I guess attitudes can change with time, travel  and new idioms.  For instance many Chinese and Malays now like to plant the newer varieties and colours of the plumeria than its original pure white colour.  This is probably to show off to their neighbours that they can afford travel abroad to Indonesia or Bali where  plumerias are extensively used in contemporary garden design and spa therapy.  For today's post I would like to share a picture of the Plumeria obtusa which I took at the park and use simple digital software to manipulate the image.  Enjoy the digital touch!
Plumeria obtusa
Family: Apocynaceae - Periwinkle family
Location : Botanic Walk, Zone C

Light of life

Wild minitaure orchid plant on tree trunk
Location : Zone C

Resam (Bracken fern) and jungle climber
 It is most interesting to see leaves against light.  Light that reaches the ground through the forest canopy possess much solar energy required greatly by living things.  The light  through photosynthesis nourishes leaves.  The absorption of energy for photosynthesis cannot take place without pigments called cholorophyll utilising most effectively wavelength spectrums around 440 millimicrons in the violet and 660 millimicrons  in the red.  In the white light, they transmit and reflect disproportionately in the yellow-green to blue sector and thus show the green colour our eyes detect.  Photosynthesis is second in importance for life only to the radiant energy in the sun.  Let there be light !
Red and green colours on one leaf in Bauhinia semibifidaLocation : Botanic Island One

Light green leaves of Anisophyllea disticha (Kayu Penahan Badan - Penan) at center.
Location : Botanic Island One

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chasing the Brown-throated Sunbird

A pair of the Brown-throated Sunbird, male is at right with metallic blue upper parts.

Ants and a little spider...
 On a Sunday morning (25 May'14)  my mind gets philosophical upon seeing the many tiny birds that paraded  themselves early just outside my verandah.  The colourful Orange-bellied Flower pecker made an early visit at the Jackfruit tree, the Eastern Crimson Sunbird with its beautiful scarlet feathers dropped by at the heliconia bracts and the Little Spiderhunter was the first to get a bite of little spiders.  Have we worked and not enjoy?  Have we looked but not see? Have we fought the power of nature than follow its rhythmic flow of events?  So today I decided to enjoy a little chase, so natural -  just like the early birds chasing insects and foraging for food.  There is much unspoken joy when I saw the Brown-throated Sunbird hunting in pair.  The male of the species typically in the animal world being more colourful than the female. The male of the species has very colourful upper body - rich metallic blue.  Splendid.  The opposite of the species possess a dull olive-green upper body, yet I was attracted to its ability in snatching a juicy red seed of the Simpoh Air while in flight.  Slightly later I chased it to the Botanic Island One where it successfully captured a tiny bee and about to devour the prized catch for breakfast.  All these happenings in just a turn of the hour makes me wonder how much more should I fill my life with the wonders of nature and the joy of living.  Life is not short, really.  It is long enough to fill it to the fullest.  Have I got an answer to this recurring question - Do you look at an empty glass with a smile? A philosopher does.  Do you?
Dull olive-green upper body of the female Brown-throated Sunbird.

A male Brown-throated Sunbird foraging for insects at the Pong-Pong branch

A frontal view of the female Brown-throated Sunbird at the Simpoh Air (Malay) - Shrubby Dillenia.

Female Brown-throated Sunbird successfully plucking a juicy red seed of the Shrubby Dillenia
Location : Provinsi Carpentaria, Zone F

Female Brown-throated Sunbird with a bee pinched at its beak
Location : Botanic Island One, Zone D

Hot ferns for floral art

Floral arrangement usinf the 'Paku Kelindang' fiddlehead

 One of the most sought-after ferns for the floral arrangement is the 'Rabbit's Foot' fern (Davallia denticulata) that grows naturally and profusely at the park, often hugging to the leaf bases of the cut oil palm fronds. But many other types of ferns are also suitable candidates for the floral art.  Over the years I have experimented with many ways how the ferns can be used creatively.  In the above picture I have used the broad and thick fiddlehead of the Paku Kelindang (Blechnum orientale) as part of a Kambatik-style floral arrangement.  It is very much left to one's imagination and experimentation on the use of tropical plants for the floral arrangement.  You can checkout my blog dedicated to floral arrangements here..>>. http://dailycutflowers.blogspot.com/

A lace-like fern and a fiddlehead are used as part of the Kambatik-style floral art as shown above.
 In this post I have attempted to show the the beauty of ferns for the floral art.  This is in comparison to earlier posts that emphasize the many types of ferns according to their habits - terrestrial, epiphytic and aquatic; and their uses for for traditional medicine, food and landscaping purposes.  Ferns indeed are intriguing and have one of the most beautiful plant shapes in the uncurling of the fiddlehead of the fern fronds.  It is my hope that more types of ferns will be added to the fernery at the park.  Meanwhile a walk along the trail will do to appreciate the range of ferns available for study, enjoyment and pleasure.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hot on heels on ferny trail (Part 5)

Paku Kelindang (Iban) - Blechnum oreintale
Location : Zone I

Fiddlehead of the Paku Kelindang
 The Paku Kelindang, which is Iban for the Blechnum orientale fern can be seen throughout the park.  It can grow tall to about 2 meters high.  At the inset is the fiddlehead of the Paku Kelindang, which will grow into the fern leaves or fronds.  For the natives of Sarawak the young fronds are consumed as vegetables.  What is more interesting is the practice of the Berawans here who pound these young fronds into a paste and then apply them to the skin that is affected by boils or 'Bisul' in Malay.  It is said to help out in fast recovery of the boil because it assist in  the removal of the pus.  The size of the fern and height makes it a good candidate for landscaping especially natural landscaping style.
Paku Kelindang fiddleheads at different stages of growth.

Young frond of Paku Kelindang

Paku Kelindang
Location : Zone I

Photoshoot session with the Little Spiderhunter

 It has been quite a while since I had a photoshoot session with the Little Spiderhunter.  Today she decided to drop by for another modelling session.  She was too  occupied moving about the Ixora coccinea flowers trying to sip nectar that she forgot I was aiming my lens at her.  Looking at her makes me realize how nature has perfected her gently curved bill to do the siphoning work in order to collect nectar from the flowers.  In Malay the bird is called "Kelicap Jantung".  She is often seen dashing in and out of the flowering shrubs foraging for nectar or insects.  The shrubs she loved are like the Heliconia 'Sexy Pink', the yellow Ixora coccinea and the Shrubby Dillenia.
Little Spiderhunter at the Ixora coccinea flowers

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hot on heels on ferny trail (Part 4)

Bird's Nest Fern - Asplenium nidus
Location : Botanic Island Two

 The Bird's Nest Fern is seen in abundance at the park.  Young ones start life early at the rotting cut bases of the oil palm fronds from which they can be easily removed and nursed elsewhere.  However to see them hugging jungle tree trunks at low level is a prized reward when walking the jungle. I have seen many examples of these ferns used extensively and effectively as landscape plants.  They could be grown in big pots, grown on urban trees, arranged on ground in formal or informal settings.  Here's some more images to show their landscaping uses.... 
Young Bird's Nest Fern growing well on decaying cut bases of oil palm fronds
Location : Zone C

Asplenium nidus arranged in formal setting

Asplenium nidus on urban tree

Asplenium nidus in natural and informal setting..
Location : Botanic Island One

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hot on heels on ferny trail (Part 3)

Tree fern (Cyathea latebrosa)
Going deeper into the forest, trying to catch a glimpse of the Tree Fern.  Found one good specimen.  The Tree fern has not grown old or big enough to show a big trunk size.  It is a beautiful sight to see the lace-like patterns of its leaves against the light.  The site was covered with a thick layer of leaves left hundreds of years ago. 

Tree fern (Cyathea latebrosa)
Location: Botanic Island Four
Licuala spinosa - solitary form
 The kind of environment the Tree Fern thrives are many in the park, well-preserved for posterity.  It is also home to the Licuala palms and terrestrial orchids.  On the more sunny areas of the park can be found the climbing ferns.  There are many species of this fern, the common one being the Lygodium flexuosum.
This species of climbing fern can be seen trailing up the oil palm trees, on ground, small trees and shrubbery and thickets of grasses.
Climbing Fern (Lygodium flexuosum)

Climbing Fern (Lygodium flexuosum) - on ground level

Climbing Fern (Lygodium flexuosum) - on oil palm tree

Climbing Fern (Lygodium flexuosum) - on Belian post

Orchids on damp forest floor
I consider myself fortunate in many ways.  To have a forest environment just a few yards where I stay is indeed a dream come true.  There is so much to discover and so much to build upon the present by introducing new ferns species for study and bio-diversity purposes.  Like today I was enthralled to see a green stick insect which I never encountered before.  The surprises I experienced daily at the park makes life worth living.

Stick insect