Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's flooding time

The stream overflows and create a unique and beautiful waterscape at Zone F plain area.

 It is really out of the ordinary.  It is, however, a very much welcome change even for a few hours.  The Kambatik stream overflows this morning after a torrential downpour which lasted for  2 hours, between 9.30 - 11.30 am.  The presence the  flash floods is a spectacular phenomena as a result of the park's location in the headlands section of the lowland dipterocarp forest where it is situated.  It is a wonderful feeling walking through the flood water because of the element of fluidity, its sound and speed and the feeling of wetness as I waded against the flow to capture photographs from low camera angles.  If you are slow or your camera is out of battery or not willing to get wet, you'll miss the scenery by remaining indoors during the rain.  This is because the flash floods disappear soon after the rain stopped.  Below are some memorable shots of this morning flash floods.
View of Provinsi Carpentaria, looking upstream

View of Provinsi Carpentaria, looking downstream

Zone D
Location : Road culvert area, view towards Zone B

Flora photography

Pseuderanthemum reticulatum
Family : Acanthaceae - Acanthus family
Location : Zone D

Pholidocarpus sumatranus
Family : Palmae - Palm family
Location : Zone I

Bunga Raya (Malay) - Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Family : Malvaceae - Hibiscus family
Location : Zone C

Bird's Nest Fern - Asplenium nidus
Family : Fern family
Location : Zone D

Pick of the park - Cream Fruit (Strophantus gratus)

Cream Fruit (Strophantus gratus)
Syn: Roupellia grata
Family : Apocynaceae - Periwinkle family
Location : Butterfly Garden, Zone C
It is a beautiful shrub which bears close clusters of attractive all year round funnel-like pink flowers.  The flower buds are dark crimson in colour and somewhat waxy.  It is possible to plant them from cuttings, though I find the success rate by this method is not so good.  A very characteristic feature of the flower is the presence of scale-like appendages on the throat of the funnel.  It  has a semi-climbing habit and some varieties are vines.

Parasol and purple Cup fungus

Purple fungus having cup features, growing close to base of the oil palm tree.
Location : Zone A

Purple parasol or umbrella-like fungus
 Today I stumbled upon two types of fungus but with one similarity, both are purple in colour.  They were seen growing near decomposed branches of the oil palm and other organic matter around the base of the oil palm tree trunk.  The fungi is conveniently placed under the plant kingdom but in reality they are very different from plants. Fungus don't have chlorophyll, their cells are not made of cellulose but of another complex sugar-like polymer called chitin.  However, it is because that they enter into all sorts of relationship with plants that they are included in the plant kingdom.  For example, they live on dead plant matter and by the same token can cause diseases to plants which can result in entire crops being wiped out by fungal attack. For humans there are of course some useful things derived from fungus  e.g. penicillin for clinical medicine, yeast for cheese.  Then,  there are the many types of edible mushrooms that are grown on commercial scales for human consumption the world over.

Parasol or Umbrella-like fungus, growing next to decomposed oil palm branches
Location : Zone A

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sunset from the Abag

View of Sunset from Abag, 29 April'15
Zone C
The Abag in Bintulu Melanau means verandah.  It is the place where we carryout many home or domestic chores but is also a place for recreation, especially passive recreation.  It is a relaxing place to enjoy the Bintulu sunset especially its varying colours against the oil palm and jungle tree leaves.  For more Bintulu sunsets close to the beach areas in Bintulu pleased follow the link here

Monday, April 27, 2015

Photography at the park

The "We are together" bird

Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) - Kunyit Kacat (Malay)
Location : Zone C
It is becoming a common bird at the park.  I call it the "We are together" bird.  It produces a long drawn out weeee tu sound.  The weeeee is long and then ends with an abrupt tu.  Or in short -  "We too".  Yes these tiny birds can just be corporate darlings for hasn't it not today's corporate organisations  trying hard,  very hard,  to get 'buy in' from its employees.  Most corporate leaders want their  team to become a formidable fighting force through working together. Back in my corporate days I used the phrase "Cooperate for Excellence" typed at the bottom of memos I signed.  Today, the corporate world is even more competitive and so some organisations even go more intimate in this togetherness thing i.e. using emotional intelligence to get to touch the heart of their workers.  Well, the heart of the matter is how to align the employee or individual personal goals to the organisation goals or mission.  How to touch their hearts?   It is to make them passionate in what ever tasks or job they do.  I am wrong.  It is not job or task, it is fun in whatever they are doing.  How?  Check the answer below:-
" Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your heart.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens." - Carl Gustav Jong.

A lovely couple of the Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

Male Orange-bellied Flowerpecker with diagonistic bright orange rump and belly

Female of the species,, in Malay the bird is called 'Sepah Puteri Bukit'
Didaeum trigonostigma dayaknum
The trick works again.  How would you attract the Orange-bellied Flowerpecker if not for the over-ripe Jackfruit?  So the lovely pair is back again wanting more of the sweet pulp. Their arrival or presence is easily heard by the familiar  short shrilling chirp..sounding like sit...repeated many times.  Today, the both of them posed well for the lenses.  It is my belief that in Sarawak's town landscape there should be planted more fruit trees to attract wildlife.  The current paranoid attention to just ornamental trees is not good for the preservation or conservation of wildlife in urban environment.  Take a lesson from the Orange-bellied flowerpecker.
Female has grey breast and yellow abdomen
Location : Zone C

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Clear stream revival, sounds familiar?

Location : Provinsi Carpentaria
Does it sounds familiar?  Clear stream revival! This is the phenomena after every major flash floods that happen in the park.  Follow the stream and you will discover its beauty after it is washed off all the unnecessary debris and murky water that abounds by its sides under normal conditions.  After every torrential rains the stream gets spring cleaned.and refreshed with cleaner water. Because the standards of development at the park are high, the water quality is very good.  In fact, you can bath using the stream water.  The stream is a reflection of life.  The only constant in life is change.  There  are always changes in  contemporary life, the changes are increasing accelerated and becoming more complex.  As the stream flows downriver and into the open sea, it slows down.  It faces friction, conflicts as it lands itself in more level-playing field.  Competition hots up.  What are we to do with life?  Two things I learned today by watching the stream.  Firstly, it is to accept change as part of life and complexity a challenge as we advance in years.  Secondly, what is more important is to understand the direction of change.  By having a good grasp of where we are going we are every ready to face life's complexities and opportunities.  Precisely at this point of writing these words somehow pop out of the blues ...Opportunity awaits the prepared mind.

A young pair of Magpie-robin

A pair of Oriental Magpie - robin (Copsychus saularis)
Left is female, right is male of the species
It briefly poured heavy this morning.  Soon after the rain stopped I noticed a young pair of Magpie-robin was flying about the low branches of trees just outside the verandah or 'Abag' in the Bintulu Melanau lingo.  These chattering birds make one of the best melodies in the park which can be heard just after daybreak till about sunset time.  I noticed that the pair was busy foraging for food on the wet ground.  Their feathers were drenched and I could see that both tried many times to shed the wetness by shaking and spreading out their wings to dry.  These birds are slowly increasing their numbers in the park as more and more are apparently born here. 
A section of the stream that received flash flooding because of the torrential rain early this morning.
Location : Zone F

The Greater Coucal dries its wings

But-But Cari Anak (Malay) - Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) spreading out its wings to dry.
Location : Botanic Island Three, Zone I
The Greater Coucal with its long tail,
bluish black head and chestnut wings
There was a brief heavy rain early this morning which was a boon considering the long drought which we experienced for the last few weeks.  After the rain stopped I took a walk to Botanic Island Three.  At the edge of the forest that is part of the Botanic Island, I saw a large bird perching on a small tree branch.  It was the Greater Coucal taking a rest on the branch while spreading out its wings to dry after the rain shower.  The Greater Coucal is often heard with its characteristic 'But-But' sounds, but seldom seen.  It prefers to move quietly among the trees and branches from where it scouts for small animals like lizards, frogs and insects.  It usually makes short flights interspersed with gliding.

The Greater Coucal  takes short flights interspersed with gliding.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The running bird

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
Location : Kruak Wetlands - between Zone B&C
It is often seen at the park especially at the Kruak Wetlands.  It has a habit of running fast and furious at the sight of anything that comes close to it.  Only in extreme cases of near-death encounters it would spread its wings to fly.  So I call it the running bird.  It forages near small streams, areas of grassland and ponds.  This rather shy and panic-striken bird finds home at the park where food and shelter are a plenty.  Besides its fast moves, this bird is attractive for its contrasting white and dark grey body, feet and legs in orange and beautiful cinnamon colour to its underparts especially from lower belly to under-tail section.  The Malay word "Kruak' refers to the distinguishing 'wak-wak' sounds it utters.  Why wait? Run, run  and hunt for insects and small fishes!!

Two pale red flushes and a Pink Poui tree

At left of the picture are the pink flowers of the Poui tree (Tabebuia rosea), and on bottom right are the pale brown to red flushes of the Mango tree (Mangifera indica)

Trumpet-shaped flowers of the
Tabebuia rosea
 Just outside the back door are two trees that are producing new leaves and one tree that bears beautiful pink flowers.  These trees provide much shade when I rest in the afternoon or anytime of the day to enjoy filtered light and shade.  Not merely in the park, it seems that this month the Poui trees are flowering all over Bintulu town where ever  they are planted mainly as roadside trees and in green open spaces.   I have planted two varieties at the park, the pink and white varieties.  In other parts of the tropics it has been reported that yellow flowering varieties are available.  Other common names for the tree is 'Tecoma' and 'Trumpet 'tree.  The Jambu Bol tree last year bore a few fruits only, the very first ones.  I hope that towards the end of this year most probably in December the Malay Apple tree will bear an abundance of fruits.
Pale red flushes of the Malay Apple tree or 'Jambu Bol' in Malay (Eugenia malaccensis)
Location : Zone C

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Photography at the park - Orchid and Tree Lizard

A jungle treelet with atttractive pale yellow flowers

Flowering jungle treelet
Location : Botanic island Two

 There are four botanic islands at the park.  These islands are areas where the original lowland dipterocarp forest characteristics and habitat are preserved. Occasionally I would venture carefully  into them in order  to discover new plants, animals, fungi, birds or any form of wildlife.  This morning has been a successful search.  I bumped into a treelet which was having pale yellow flowers.  It was a magical moment  in a jungle preserved here.  The location was at Botanic Island Two.  Below is shown the flowers in closer range.    

Close-up of the flowers.
Identity of the treelet is presently unknown.
Location : Botanic Island Two

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Highlights today at the park - 21 April'15

Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis)
This is male of the species, distinguished by broad white wing-stripe, more whiter underparts of its body and tail.
Location : Cempedak Hill, Zone G

"Tekukur" - Malay  or Spotted-necked Dove (Streptopelia chinensis)
Location: Cempedak Hill, Zone G

Leaves of the "Tongkat Ali", front of picture.  The Staghorn fern is seen hanging from the Lumok tree branch.
Location : Zone C

Friday, April 17, 2015

Intense heat and flushing on Mango trees

View of park, looking at Zone F from Pazau lookout point, Zone C
In the middle ground are flushes of the Eugenia oleina trees and in the distance are flushes of the Mango trees.

Closer view of the flushes or young leaves of the Mango tree
Zone C
We are experiencing some drought season at the moment.  There are speculations or forecasts that the drought this year could be rather long, starting now till August and all because of what climatologists call the 'El Nino' phenomena.  One effect of the drought is the distinctly dry and hot weather which stimulates the trees to flower and in the above case to flush new leaves just as well.  Three trees that show new leaves profusely presently are the Mango trees, Eugenia oleina and the Jering trees. I have noticed that on some Mango trees the flushing is accompanied by the production of new flowers.  Hopefully, with this type of intense hot weather the Mango trees will successfully produce more fruits after the flowering season is over.