Monday, March 22, 2010

A few highlights from Lambir Nitewalk

A curious little dragon by Sara Wong.

By six pm 20th March, we've gathered 10 individuals keen on exploring Lambir Hills afterdark. The plan was to enter the trails before sundown, spend some time at Latak waterfall and slowly make our way back to the main gate.

We did just that. The walk over to the falls was pleasantly interupted by stops to gawk at a couple of tarantula's nest right beside the trail. We must've have been walking this route for the umpteenth time, if not for Kamil's help we would've not notice the perfectlt shaped hole on the mudbanks of the trail, nicely lined with cobwebs. Who other would occupy it that the tarantulas? The tow nests added a couple more interest points for our nitewalk.

A short peek at the arboreal tarantula's nest we discovered not long ago was a dissappointment. The Malayan Tiger used to occupy the treeside hole was no longer there. Several prior visits by Peter and Musa also didn't spot the beautiful creature. It must have relocated.

All along the trail towards the waterfall we spotted many geckos, stick insects, large snails, crickets and a couple of frogs. We were ardently looking for signs of snakes. Peter and Musa were fortunate enough to spot a fairly large reptile under some rotting logs in Spider's Alley a few months back. Last year the spot yielded Coral Snake, a juvenile dogtooth cat snake and a juvenile Wagler's pit viper. Not so lucky this nite.

We spent roughly half an hour at Latak waterfall gawking at the nocturnal shrimps in the shallows. They seemed to be ruling the streams in the dark, every submerged leaf we lifted revealed 2-3 hiding little shrimps. A quick shine through the banks and canopy didn't reveal any eyeshine, it would've been an extra bonus. Slow-loris, giant squirrels have been sighted before on previous nitewalk trips.

On the way back, we saw many more stick insects, praying mantis, and large ground hunting spiders. Extra effort schecking the branches overhanging the stream didn't produce anything more exciting than what we've already seen.

Our luck started to change by the time we made our way back to the site of the tarantulas nests. While busily gawking at a huge hairy critter at the mouth of it's resident, Kamil pointed out to a larger slithering quarry not five feet away from the spiders. Right there in front of us, in small peaceful movements was a banded krait. From the elapidae family, banded krait belies it's deadly venomous bite with it's graceful slow movement on the forest floor.

The krait and the tarantula definitely made our nite! The reptile is probably our 6th species so far, stumbled upon during a nitewalk just like this. We hope to see more!

Banded Krait

Terestrial tarantula.

A groundhunting spider.

Another groundhunting spider.

A many legged centipeded, note his missing limps.

A weird looking beetle we haven't encountered before.

A leaffrog, one of our regulars.

A stick insect.

Another regular hanging out.

If you haven't experienced Lambir at nite perhaps you should join us on a short trek through Lambir under the moonlight one of these nites. It's an altogether different feeling from trekking it during the day. The sights and sounds of the forest comes out more lively sometimes without the sunlight.

Nazeri Abghani, Mar 2010

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