What is it that is so appealing about reptiles and amphibians? Is it the fact that they are so very different from us -- so different from the furry, warm-blooded cute mammals that humans anthropomorphise and empathise with so easily? Is it because of how fragile they are, how susceptible to pesticides and other pollutants, that they have become such important indicators of environmental health? Is it because many of them, particularly frogs and lizards, eat insects that are disease vectors and thus provide biological pest control? Is it because they are mostly nocturnal, and therefore mysterious and fascinating? Or are they simply just beautiful to behold, and knowing that we share our Planet with such amazing living beings fills us with awe and joy?
Whatever the reason is, I've been spending so many of my Saturday nights volunteering with Reach Out Malaysia that I missed many opportunities to go on herpetology walks with the Malaysian Nature Society. I finally cleared my schedule and made up my mind to go on a herp' night walk at the Kota Damansara Community Forest with the MNS Herpetofauna Group, led by Steven Wong, on 6th Sept.
(Photos taken using an el cheapo compact camera and cell phone, hence the poor quality.)
Herp Walk participants gathering around Steven's car to sign the indemnity and waiver forms and spray on mosquito repellent.
A group photo for posterity at the head of the Harmony Trail in Kota Damansara.
The first frog spotting of the night was made just 30 seconds into the trail. Steven taught us to look for white eye-shine in order to spot frogs. This one is a Dark-sided Chorus Frog (Microhyla heymonsi).
A Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) waiting for his supper to come along.
One of the participants spotted and picked up this considerably rare Rhinocerous frog (Limnonectes plicatellus) at the semi-dried up stream bed. Now we have another species for our natural history journals!
A well-camouflaged Lesser Stream Toad (Ingerophrynus parvus).
A Bent-Toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus bintangtinggi ???) with giraffe-like patterns trying to get away from us.
A juvenile slender squirrel (Sundasciurus tenuis) ran out of the trees and fled up Danny's leg, much to our surprise. Maybe he was trying to stay warm and dry in the rain.
A rather common species, Garden fence lizard (Calotes versicolor).
We didn't get to see a very large diversity of herps on this walk, perhaps due to the rain, or perhaps they had just managed to hide themselves very well from our view, but I am grateful for the respite from the heat of the city, the litter-choked drains, the roads crawling with traffic and the dusty construction sites. Grateful for like-minded friends who are only too happy to impart knowledge and share their passion for wildlife and conservation with others. Grateful for the light rain falling onto our heads and in front of the beams from our flashlights, shining like swarms of gilded insects. Grateful that there are still green lungs and untamed wild spaces so close to our homes, where we can connect with nature and sit among the trees and put out roots and tendrils if we want to.
This fortnight's Photodump:
This is Miranda, one of the kittens rescued by Aravind last week. She was picked up from a rubbish dumping area and had sustained a big cut on her hind foot. We've taken her to the vet and got her all cleaned up and medicated. I am fostering her for the time being until her foot is fully healed and we can find her a good home.
We observed the Mid-Autumn Festival on 8th Sept with mooncakes and lanterns. I think this is the best use of our Nokero solar light bulbs ever!
One of my colleagues brought us this huge box of delicious pastries from her travels in Iran. Goodbye, Diet! Hello, Empty Calories! We all ended up standing around the Conference Table, munching away and saying to one another: "I really should stop eating now. OMG."
Skate park on a Friday evening.
Remember Chiquita, who was caught for Trap, Neuter and Release around 2 weeks ago? A very kind lady by the name of Sharifah offered to adopt her, so we went out and caught Chiquita all over again, gave her a bath and drove her to Sharifah's house. Chiquita must have thought she was in Kitty Heaven after living in the rubbish dumping site for most of her life. A scratching post, a nice comfy bed, a rug to lie down on, all the food she can eat and a loving family to give her all the cuddles and skritches she wants. Look how happy and contented she looks in this photo! And this was taken merely hours after her arrival at her new home! What a transformation!
Aravind and I are still in the process of catching all the stray cats in his area for neutering and release/rehoming. We managed to catch 2 more on 13th Sept, a baby and her Mama. This little one is about 3 months old. We've named her Munchkin. She has been bathed and Frontlined and I have also cleaned her ears with ear mite solution. The SPCA is helping us put her up for adoption. I hear she has been adopted already.
And this is Gaia, a 1-year-old domestic shorthair cat, and mother of Munchkin, Sierra and Sienna. She has been bathed, Frontlined and had her ears cleaned with ear mite solution. She was spayed on Sunday and will be released in the same area within 7 days if no adopter is found.
Bathing and tickwashing dogs at the SPCA animal shelter on Saturday afternoon.
I'm back in the groove of Postcrossing. Some of these postcards went to fellow Postcrossers, and others were mailed to my volunteers to thank them for their assistance during the World Environment Day celebrations. I love receiving postcards. I think they would, too.
I feel the same way about Mondays too, Puppy! (Photo taken at the SPCA, where the puppies have managed to climb up on the office chairs.)