Friday, 20 October 2017

My Serpent Lifer - Xenochrophis trianguligerus

If it wasn't for my silly boy who glorified himself by smearing his cheek with the stinky mud left behind by the wild boar, I wouldn't have taken him to the nearest stream to clean him up. As I was tying the leash to a tree, I spotted this little colourful serpent resting in between a rock and a tree root beside the stream. Yay!
Without wasting any seconds, I quickly grabbed my camera out of my dry bag. 

It just had lunch
And thankfully on that day, I decided to carry my macro lens and so I managed to get some closeup shots.

Dorsal view of its head

The patterns
The scales

I only had about ten minutes with this fella until it decided to slither into the stream and swam across to the opposite side. Back at home, I flipped through my book on reptiles and finally concluded that this snake is a Red-sided Keelback Watersnake Xenochrophis trianguligerus. 

It is also known as Triangle Keelback which occurs around small streams, ponds and swamps in primary forest, the edges of wet fields and villages. This species of Keelback feeds on frogs, tadpoles and frogspawn. It is a common snake and yet my first time seeing such beautiful keelback. According to IUCN Red List, this species is not under threat and it is thriving! 

About a meter above this snake, an amphibian was sitting on the larger rock. The only resource I have on amphibian is the world wide web. I posted this photo on social media of a herp group.  Thank you to Vince Adam, Neoh Hor Kee, Parinya and Mohd Abdul Muin who have responded.This is a juvenile River Toad or Asian Giant Toad Phrynoidis aspera. 

Das, Indraneil. "A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia"; New Hollands, 2010, pp. 158.

IUCN. The IUCN Red List of Threaten Species, 18 Oct 2017,

Ahmad (Ph.d),Norhayati, Amphibians and Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, 19 Oct 2017,!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Langkawi Birdwatching: Friday Gloom

22nd September 2017 early morning and half of the islanders are still in bed. It was drizzly, windy and cloudy. Nice :) I was up early trying my luck on any rare shore birds coming in. 

Starting from Teluk Ewa, Langkawi, only two Pacific Reef Egrets were seen feeding on the sandy beach and there no other birds around. 

Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra dark morph, our resident wader
When I looked across towards the Dangli Island, there were about thirty fishing boats lining up behind Dangli to take shelter from the bad sea condition out there. 
At Dangli Island
The sea did look calm from where I was standing. The backdrop is Tarutao Island, Thailand.
The drizzle turned heavier and I decided to take shelter in my car and had my packed nasi lemak for breakfast. Meanwhile, these two elderly couple caught my eyes. While is windy and cold out there, there were in the water putting out the fishing net. Nice to see their hard work did not go to waste.  
They were beating the water to chase the small fishes into the netting area.

After being a "paparazi" for awhile, I moved on and made a detour to check out the mangrove area. I parked my car and just less than 10 meters away, guess who was waiting quietly. It didn't seem to be bothered as I gently place my umbrella on the ground.
Brown-Winged Kingfisher, our resident kingfisher and star bird of Langkawi
Pelargopsis amauroptera allowed me to get closer
And then the drizzle got heavier
It was beginning to look slightly grumpy now as the rain started to get heavier.

From drizzle to rain and pouring harder. can't take it anymore and it decided to look for shelter
Armed with my little umbrella, I walked around the area and suddenly a tiny fella flew in front on me and disappeared into the trees. I knew what it was! A Common Kingfisher. Alas! A migrant for the gloomy morning! Yay!

I walked around the area for awhile before returning to that spot when this Common Kingfisher came out for a short perch.
A 16-18cm female Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis, our migrant kingfisher perched on the stilt root of a Rhizophora genus
Moving on from there towards Pantai Kok. No shore birds except for some tourists at half past eleven.

I continued my aimless journey and went into Telaga Harbour Park. A wagtail like zipped past my car! And it is not the regular Grey Wagtail. I chased it around from the scrubby bit to the car park area.
An uncommon Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus trying to run away from me.
Constantly moving in and out of the vegetation...aii!
Our migrant wagtail stopped for awhile to wag its tail. It must stop with its bum towards me! And my camera setting was not right. Overexposed...AAAaaaRRRggggGGHHHHH!
From Pantai Kok area to the nearby paddy fields. Only our migrant Pond herons were around. Apart from that, absolutely boring rice field on that day.

No migrant shore birds! At least I went home with a Common Kingfisher and a Forest Wagtail. Ta!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Bird and Local Tour: With Calvin Godfrey

A journalist who has written for VICE, Al Jazeera and the Guardian as well as a former NYC Park Ranger, Calvin Godfrey booked me for a half a day birdwatching tour. When he first contacted me, he was very interested to understand the in-depth of eco-tourism on Langkawi. I gladly proposed a tour for him so he can experience the nature, our local food and the insights of Langkawi. 
Here's Calvin on Gunung Raya and we managed to see a pair of Great Hornbills which showed up quite close but very briefly. Gunung Raya was not intense with birds on that day. When we arrived at the peak, it was cloudy and there was no view at all. The nice cool temperature compensates the clouded view.

It wasn't difficult for me to convince him to try out our locally made buffalo ice-cream at the Buffalo Park Langkawi. And he went on to order some mozzarella buffalo cheese on toast. 

Buffalo Park offers freshly made mozzarella cheese, ricotta, yogurt, milk or flavoured milk and meals like buffalo steak, mozzarella cheese on toasts and a few more. All produced by the Murrah breed of water buffaloes and made by the local community of the nearby village. I especially love the variety flavours of the ice-cream and frozen yogurt. Will have to wait for the durian season to return so they can make the durian buffalo ice-cream.

He also had some of our Roti canai black pepper for breakfast which is a fusion of local roti canai and Western flavor. I remember vividly his comments on the Roti canai black pepper. "It is very intense!" I think I know why. Black pepper beef burger patty wrapped in roti canai with the topping full of black pepper sauce and mayonnaise! It was kinda like American flavour to him. Alright, Calvin, the next time will be local spicy curry breakfast!

Calvin also wanted to go on a durian binge but unfortunately, our local durian season is over. You have to come back, Calvin!  

Calvin's bird list for the morning:
1. Red Wattled Lapwing
2. Little Heron
3. Brahminy Kite
4. Lesser-Whistling Duck
5. Common Myna
6. Purple Heron
7. White-Bellied Sea-Eagle
8. Pond Heron spp
9. Yellow-Vented Bulbul
10. Collared Kingfisher
11. White-Headed Munia
12. Dollarbird
13. Ashy Drongo
14. Scaly-Breasted Munia
15. Spotted Dove
16. Zebra Dove
17. White-Throated Kingfisher
18. Grey Wagtail
19. Great Hornbill
20. Cattle Egret

The above is a customised tour and can be arranged on a private birdwatching tour. However, meals are not included in the pricing. This sort of private tour is suitable for anyone who like to observe some birds of Langkawi and getting some local experience on the island.
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