Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Kubah National Park Visit


It has taken me more than a year to finally able to update my blog. It has been a long wait.


Recently I had a replacement for my old camera with the new Canon 70D, partly the reason why I was on a long photography holiday was due to my broken camera. Time by time…I have also forgotten the password of my blog! Ahaha….just managed to retrieve it again. Well..enough with excuses, credit to Sam and Kubah to get my blog up and running again..

In Kubah I met a new friend Sam Yue from Hong Kong who is also a photography enthusiast on frogs and snakes as I know from our chat in Kubah. I only had a chance to go out with him on my final night in Kubah as I way on official work there this time.

We started walking along the road to the telecommunication tower from our hostel at 6.00pm. It was a very nice walk with some wind and evening breeze at the higher elevation. About an hour later rain was pouring down with mist covering everything around which made visibility up to only few meters. 

I was so determined to get my first frog shot in Kubah even though it was raining. I was also keen to test my DIY diffuser that I have made before coming to Kubah. At last the commonest species you can see along the road in Kubah is where I land my first shot at

 Limnonectes kuhlii

The rain stopped for a while and Sam was telling me how he wants to have a photo of Microhyla nepenthicola on a pither plant. That is when I start to hear this clicking sound that goes like Trrrtt..trrrttt…crttt… and there are that sound coming from all over the place at the roadside. I saw Sam looking through the bushes with his torchlight and he told me 'nepenthicola!'.

I also was looking around trying to find anything that moves from where the sound was coming. The sound was literally everywhere and I have to find a spot to look at next to the roadside. As I was on my knees, I could hear a clicking sound in front of me, I saw some movement..a tiny object jumping and then stopped. I was trying hard to see where it was when suddenly it jumps again and landed on top of a dead leaf.
I finally got my first Microhyla nepenthicola!!! Not on a pitcher plant though.

 Microhyla nepenthicola

After taking some photos of the M. nepenthicola we continued our walk uphill. It started to rain again.I had to dismantled my DIY diffuser and put my camera in the bag because the rain was pretty heavy.

About half an hour later the rain again stopped and I took out my camera with the diffuser..but this time my diffuser was all wet…it was not really made of a stronger material either. The front of the diffuser is made of paper while the whole body was made of plastic cupboard attached with staplers. I then replaced the paper front cover with thin polystyrene sheet. Took a couple photo of frogs with it including this one of which Sam don’t think I will be able to do…taking photo of a Limnonectes kuhlii submerged underwater in a pond in the middle of the road.

Limnonectes kuhlii 

Then it rain again and it was misty too….we reached approximately 2500 feet then decided to turn back down again...visibility was very poor with I would say five meters only. 

On the way down, rain had stopped. We saw more of L. kuhlii on the roadside, then I found this one of which I heard the calls the day before near our hostel.

There it is..Megophrys nasuta!

I was looking forward to test my diffuser on this species as it was always hard to get a good photo of it. Not the best I have seen though. I need some more adjustment but I can’t do it there at the moment. 













Megophrys nasuta

In my opinion the light was still a bit harsh, not enough background lighting as I intended to get, shadow looks just too hard. More example in these shots too:

Probably Limnonectes kuhlii. Just a record shot.

Record shot of Limnonectes malesianus

But, if I go a closer to the smaller subject such as this Katydid (I’m not sure what this is) the direct light coming from the flash actually goes to the background meanwhile the bounce off light produce a nice diffuse light as shown on the insect. However, the shadow still looks a bit hard and too dark.

After taking few hours of walk back, we finally reach the Frog Pond. I then replace my polystyrene front diffuser with a double thin white plastic bag. Actually it diffuses the light far much better than the polystyrene!

Here are all the shots I took at the frog pond. Really the Frog Pond. I was surrounded by so many frogs mainly calling all around the pond and I really love the Rhacophorus pardalis, so I took a lot of shot from different individuals at the pond.

The first species I spotted at the entrance of the Frog Pond was a species that I am not sure of. Probably a juvenile of Limnonectes sp just not sure.


And then this is probably Microhyla borneensis…a bit larger than the M. nepenthicola that I saw earlier..not sure though

Polypedates macrotis
 
First shot of Rhacophorus pardalis. What a beautiful colour, love the eyes too.

With the diffuser doing great…so more R. pardalis shot!
 

Then another Polypedates macrotis

Polypedates otilophus

Again I turn back to another R. pardalis

After spending roughly an hour at the Frog Pond we head back to the hostel and look for more frogs along the way back.

Here are some more things we found later on.

Leptobrachium abbotti

Meristogenys sp possibly M. jerboa

Ingerophrynus divergens

And lastly our prized found was this species...was approximately 200 meter from our hostel. Sam spotted this one...he has better eyes than I am!

 Rhacophorus kajau

We reached our hostel around 12.30 am. 

It is really satisfying for me. A couple of hours of walk for a night I already seen and photographed approximately 13 species of frogs. I recall Sam was saying he got more than 20 species from his night walks since he arrive at Kubah. 

Pretty nice place to do some frog photography, especially for a place that has a record of 55 amphibian species (www.frogsofborneo.org). 

I only wish I could have done the night walk since arriving at Kubah..well maybe next time.

References:
http://frogsoftheworld.webs.com
http://www.frogsofborneo.org

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bukit Sarang 2nd Day


(NOTE: Click on the photo to view bigger photo in my Flickr account)

It was raining the next morning. Nothing much to do other than editing the photos from last night’s walk.
Only by 3 pm the rain stopped and I quickly head out to check was I can find to photograph.

As it is still a bit wet and I guess all the small critters and stuff were still lazy to go out, I only managed to take some shots of snails and plants around the limestone cave. But the light was not so good, so I went back and wait for the night walk again.

Just to share an old photo of the field station where we are staying during flood season few years ago


It is getting dark and we start to move out to the other side of the limestone compared to yesterday’s route. This time the walk is a bit tougher than yesterday, we have to climb some steps, passing through the limestone wall and go through some small caves. Yesterday was more on swampy bits and flat ground.

As we went out early, frogs are the first thing we saw and photographed. Here are some early shots of frogs that I took that night.


We can see forest gecko hanging on small branches and on the limestone floor waiting for food, some are on the tree root and some are on the limestone wall.

Almost half an hour later one of our friend almost step on this snake. With only flash light it is very difficult to differentiate it with a stick!



As we move on, more and more stick insects were seen at this part of the limestone hill.

Man..I have never seen so many stick insects in one night other than here! I assume there are at least five to six species with so many male and female individuals.


 

 

Another interesting observation was the presence of this Pelophryne sp., at least there are 10 to 15 individuals around as I have lost count of it since I was photographing them.


It was indeed an interesting night walk. Two snakes, Geckos with so many stick insects and frogs, what else can I ask for…a heaven for macro photographer like me.

After a long night we slowly head back to the station. Just before that, I found this interesting looking frog of which I am unsure of what species
Is this a Philautus sp?

The dark spots became more obvious due to disturbance by the photographer :P
Here are the rest of the shots that I took along the way back



Not to forget my best photo of this species
 I was very satisfied…a full memory card and interesting find of things I have never seen before, here or anywhere. 

Downloaded the photos on the laptop while having hot tea and a bowl of instant noodle with my friends. It was already 12 am. I was too excited and I can’t wait to do some editing on the photos I took.

While doing my editing and having a chat with my friends, suddenly a bat went in to our room. It came to my mind that the only thing I did not managed to photograph this time was Bats!. We quickly roll out our nets and try to catch the bat. Here is a shot of the bat.

After taking few shots of the bat I was completely worn out. Switch off the lights and head on to sleep with a big smile on my face J

Next day we pack our things. The boat came in on time, the weather was bright and sunny..I wish this was the weather yesterday…but at least I got interesting things this time from this unique place.

Until next time..I’m sure I will find more things when I visit this place again. It is still a long journey back home.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Bukit Sarang Visit for Herpetofauna - DAY 1


The weather was very good, the sun was out from early morning and all our gears are packed in two 4x4 cars getting ready to move to Ulu Kakus for the trip to Bukit Sarang. Three of us are ready for two night trip to Bukit Sarang to do some photography on Herpetofauna and other interesting things that may come to our lense.

After almost three hours drive we reached Rh Ado, a Punan community in Ulu Kakus. It was a good bumpy ride as the road was pretty much dry and dusty. 

We settled our gears and rations on to two small long wooden boats prepared by our local boatman. Things are packed and covered with canvas, getting ready for any rain that might fall during the two hours boat ride up to Bukit Sarang. 

As we move on the boat it was very hot until we have reached under the tree canopy at Sungai Mayeng, a tributary that will lead us to Bukit Sarang. 

It is here where the birds are easily seen and heard flying across the dark shaded stream when our boat passed by. Kingfishers, flycatchers, lots of bulbul species and Fish Eagle can be seen easily accompanied by the sounds of male and female Paradise flycatchers. (No photo of the birds, keeping my camera in a save place during the boatride!)

Our first glimpse of the wildlife here was a dead baby crocodile on a fisherman’s net. Been left here for few days because the guy who owns the net was probably scared of the mother croc.


Only halfway of the journey I can see the dark clouds on top of us, as expected. Soon the rain began to hit us and we are almost one hour more to our destination. Everything was wet, I manage to put on my raincoat and the boat was filled with water instantly. We arrived at Bukit Sarang field station at around 3.30 pm with to my surprise my laptop was half submerged with water in the boat. 

Quickly open it up and take off the battery. Hoping that it will work after I dried it up later. I hope so!

Took our late lunch and turn on our generator set. While I was drying my laptop using the food dehydrator in the field station, we anxiously wait for the sun to set down. Hoping to find interesting frogs and other creatures that might lurks around in the dark environment of Bukit Sarang at night time and not to forget my very wet laptop to work!

Before we head out after another early meal for the night, I turned on my laptop and….it works!

Lucky…

I was so worried that I might not have any storage for my photos during the whole trip. All of us are gearing up for the first night walk at Bukit Sarang. Keeping extra batteries for our lights and flash in case it would be a long night if there are many things to be photographed.

The cave at Bukit Sarang is just 20 meters from the field station and I was already taking photos of frogs along the way to the cave from the station. Some Limnonectes spp and Rana glandulosa can be seen perching along the banks of Sungai Sarang next to the field station.

 
 
As we reached the cave, the huntsman spider is always the first to greet me. 

Not long after that I saw this big gecko on the cave wall. I was kneeling and at an awkward angle trying to photograph the Gecko with my big homemade diffuser.

Here are some more shots of things that I took that night.







It was very fun trying to look for this rhacoporus appendiculatus by listening to their sound, I mostly found them right next to me on leaves and branches.

 We walked for two hours and realized that we have drained our torch light batteries to nothing. We have to rush back before all of us lose the only light that we have. 

The shot of this Mock Viper was the last shot I took for the walk that night.

It was around 12 am when we reached back to our comfortable station. 

Downloaded all the photos and quickly jump to the bed, getting ready for tomorrow.

To be continued...