Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ghost Crabs @ Tanah Merah

Is been quite a while since I last explored inter-tidal area. I was at the Adex yesterday with CH and she reminded me that the tide although not too low but good enough to explore some inter-tidal area.
After get in touch with a few contacts, RY suggested that we go Tanah Merah and here I am at Tanah Merah at 4+am.
The minute we step onto the sandy area, there a lots of fast running animals!?... It was Ghost Crabs running every where. They rush to their burrow before we even get near.
However, we saw one crab didn't run away from us nor have any intention to run at all.
I slowly walk near the crab and get this shot. This is the first time I take photo of ghost crab just right in-front of me in less than 20cm. Is a real and live Ghost Crab (Ocypode ceratophthalma). The horn eyes, a characteristic of ceratophthalma ghost crab is clearly visible.I'm too curious to find out why this crab unwilling to move. I move to the front of the crab and realised that this crab just caught a rabbit fish and the fish is still struggling. This crab have not got time to enjoy his big catch and unwilling to lose this big meal. So rather stop and wait till the fish to stop struggle.
After a few shots and is time to move back as the tide is also coming back. I will post other things that I saw in my next posting. :-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Encounter with Fireflies

What a sad story to hear that another fireflies breeding area is diminishing soon. People around the world paid to get to the site where fireflies can be found to look at these wonders created by nature. Yet, there are people just didn't realise what they have lose. Is always the coolest thing to do just sit down and watch their luminous flashes of light that is truly a magnificent after the sun-set and right before the night falls.

On my recent trip to Taiwan, I was lucky enough to visit 2 areas with fireflies. Fireflies watching are usually carried out during summer when the temperature are warmer. I was told to try my luck by the locals as it is still early spring when I visit those 2 areas.
The first site that we went was a forest about 5 km away from our accommodation. After dinner about 7pm, we decided to try our luck to see if there are any fireflies. We were told not to turn on torch light as it will cause the fireflies to go hiding. The sky was quite bright as it happens to be full moon on that night and we have no problem walking without turning on our torch.
Yes. We are lucky that there are some fireflies activities. I’m using long exposure time to capture the blinks of these synchronous fireflies.

It was during day and totally not planned for when I visited the 2nd site. We were at a hill top for bird watching and were told by locals that there is a very nice valley not far away. So I decided to give a try and it turns out to be another fireflies breeding area. Yeah! How lucky!
The path to the valley are covered with pebble stone and looks like a dry river bed.
The road became narrower and the air are more humid as I go deeper (and there are more ferns include tree ferns too).
The entire path are in fact covered with pebble stones! There are water ponding on some part of the trail and there are lots of mosquitoes. Whenever it rains, the rain water will flow through this tiny valley to the lower area. This valley or ‘crack’ was actually the creation of prolong flowing of rain water.
Half way through the trail, I saw lots of flying insects hovering in front of me and whenever I get near, they flew off and I don't know what they are. So I just simply take out my camera and take a photo. After upload to my pc then I realise they emit lights!I search the floor around that area and I saw something very familiar! Yes is fireflies! I been trying to find out more info on fireflies on what they do during day and if they really hide during day time. Does this means that fireflies also active in the day?? Could the flying insect fireflies too?? ... i really don't know

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Purple Milkweed Butterflies of Taiwan

Is my first visit to Taiwan to witness the great migration of milkweed butterfly and I’m certain that this will not be my last. Taiwan is among the only two known country where mass migration of butterflies overwinter is observed.

Like the winter swarming monarch butterflies in Mexico, purple milkweed butterflies in Taiwan arrive in large groups every winter, gathering in some 30 "purple butterfly valleys" of Kaohsiung, Pingtung, and Taitung and will travel north during spring when the temperature is warmer.
I visited Yunlin County’s Linnei (林內) Township on 5th April joining the celebrations for the migration of purple milkweed butterflies from the south of the island to the north. Pingding Village in Linnei is one of the best-known rest stops along the butterflies’ biannual migration route in the spring and late fall. After Linnei, the butterflies fly over National Freeway No. 3 on their way to breeding grounds in the north. Linnei is considered the best place to view the dazzling display of milkweed butterflies.
[protective net to guide the butterflies to fly above traffic]
[cherry picker is used to observe & monitor the butterflies too]

A series of protective measures include a driving speed limit of 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph), blocking a two-mile stretch of the road when butterfly numbers exceed 500 per minute, and a 13-foot-high protective net guiding the butterflies to fly above traffic are in place to reduce the number of butterflies being killed on the highways.

The volunteers for the research project which involve catch and release are there too. Catch & release of butterflies is necessary to better understand the migration includes the pattern, the route, etc. Few stations have been set up and butterflies caught are tag, record & release at each station.

[one of the volunteer at the monitoring station]
[net with long pole is used to catch the butterflies][butterfly is remove from net carefully for id & tagging][butterfly is measure, tag, record & release][signs are every where along the migration route]

I wish to Thank Mr. Tsai Tin Ling (蔡汀霖) (Secretary, Linnei Township Office, Yunlin County) and his team for their time in sharing the valuable knowledge of this lovely butterfly and personally guide us on the route of the migration. Mr. Tsai and his team has been actively involve in promoting eco tourism, ways to identify the butterfly, correct way to help the butterfly safely completed their migration, etc. His contributions surely helps in maintaining the sustainability of the purple milkweed butterfly.
Not forgetting Anson who has been ‘tortured’ by us to wake up early, sleep late at night, follow us to all the out of normal tourist route. Thank you!

[Linnei Township Office]

[a glimse at the Linnei town]
[Mr Tsai, 2nd from right][Mr Tsai, right no 1][Thanks to Mr Tsai for this lovely souveniors for the celebrations]

Let's look at the beautiful butterflies that fascinated visitors from around the world.




非常感谢蔡汀霖先生 (雲林縣林內鄉公所秘书) 和我们分享这么多有关于紫斑蝶的知识和亲自带的领我们参观紫斑蝶的迁移的路线。使我们对于紫斑蝶又有了更深一层的了解!蔡先生 对于紫斑蝶有着非常大的贡献,各种各样的庆祝活动如促进生态旅游,如何辨认紫斑蝶有助于人们对紫斑蝶的认识并大大的提高了紫斑蝶的生存率。