Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Impromptu Night Frogging

Life in the Wee Green Flat has been good to the cats and me so far, despite our recent bereavement of Shadow, Chloe and Mini-Me due to terminal illness. I would like to think that the three of them enjoyed their life in their new home as well, despite the fact that their time here was so short. We are surrounded by nature and flora and fauna galore. The forest reserve surrounding the apartments keeps our home cool even in the hottest weather. A little stream runs through the apartment complex, and often I sit by the stream to read a book, look at the starlit night sky or just watch the fishes and tadpoles in the stream and pond.


A well-maintained little gym provides me with the opportunity to work out on rainy nights without added cost, but nothing beats swimming in the apartment pool, especially at night when all is quiet and peaceful.
These are the simple things I am grateful for. I had spent so many years in a rundown rented house with messy, irresponsible housemates that to be able to go for a walk, sit by a stream or swim in a pool for an hour after work is a tremendous luxury to me. Previously I had spent hours on housework each night. Nowadays, I clean a couple of times a week and everything stays clean and tidy. I can invite people over anytime I choose and the Wee Green Flat is always visitor-ready.
I have been running regularly with my tribe on Tuesday nights at Gasing Hill for several months now. It was during one of these running sessions in January that I saw a young man with a powerful torchlight searching for something in the ditches outside the forest reserve. From his torchlight, large DSLR camera and backpack, I guessed that he wasn't from around these parts, and that he is probably a natural historian (professional or amateur) looking for specimens of insects or small animals to photograph.
Gasing Hill isn't the safest of places at night, and property crimes and robberies are frequently reported in that area, so I quickly approached him to see if I could be of assistance to him.
He had a small toad in his hands, and I spoke softly to the young man, introducing myself and identifying the toad as a Duttaphrynus melanostictus. The young man responded with a smile, and asked if I like herping too. I do, and I said so. He informed me that he is a biologist from Taiwan and is in Malaysia for a few days prior to spending a few months in Australia. We chatted about nature and I asked him how he knew about Gasing Hill and how he planned to get back to his hotel. Prem and several other friends joined us after their run and we talked about the flora and fauna we have spotted in Gasing Hill in the past.
I offered to take the young man, Li, frogging at Lembah Kiara Park the following night after work, and he agreed to wait for me at the LRT station.
I asked several of my other friends from the Malaysian Nature Society Herpetofauna Group if they would like to join us for a few hours of frogging the following night. Most already had other plans, but Vince said he might come after work. The following night was a very warm and dry one, and the gates to the Lembah Kiara Park were already locked by the time we arrived. We walked up the jogging trail at Bukit Kiara instead, encountering some of my running buddies as we walked up and looked amongst the leaf litter for geckos and frogs.
There were not many to be found, and the ditches were too dry to sustain anything more than milipedes and roaches. I asked Li if he would like to check out the stream behind my apartment complex instead. He was intrigued and said yes. I texted Vince our location and asked him to come to my apartment complex instead.

The water level in the stream has gone down due to the heatwave, but there were still lots of frogs, tadpoles and fishes to be seen. Vince arrived almost as soon as we did, and we clambered down into the stream with our flashlights and specimen nets.

What my apartment stream lacked in biodiversity, it made up for in numbers. We spotted, caught, photographed and released lots of Common Paddy Frogs (Hylarana erythraea) and Four-Lined Tree Frogs (Polypedatus leucomysytax).

Common Paddy Frog (Hylarana erythraea)

Four-Lined Tree Frog (Polypedatus leucomysytax)

I dropped Li off at his hotel in downtown KL afterwards, since I needed to go downtown anyway, to deliver ivermectin tablets to Mohala for a stray dog she is helping.
It was a really enjoyable night of frogging, and I am reminded yet again of what a beautiful world we live in, and that strangers are simply friends waiting to happen.

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