Saturday 18 July 2020

Oooo Otter!

Today is Day 124 since our lockdown on 18th March 2020. I haven't been back visiting the mangrove since July 5th. I have already caught a glimpse of our Brown-Winged Kingfisher while kayaking with Mee Fung and her family. 

Mee Fung and her active family spend a full day with me starting with mangrove kayaking and then an easy jungle trek after lunch. It poured heavily while we were heading back to the jetty. All drenched when we were already dried up after lunch. Fortunately, the rain stopped when we arrived at the trekking site. 

I have seen our Mangrove Pit-viper on the 3rd of July while on the Mangrove Boat Cruise with Shahaanaz and her friends.

One of the wildlife that I also miss having to see is our mammal friend aka giant rat! The otter!

Blast from the past, I finally managed to edit this video taken in June 2019 with Mark, Kim, Alan, Emily, Robyn and Wayne. It was low tide when we started and I was hoping to bypass the narrow channel before the tide level reduce. We were blocked by a fallen tree and having no choice, we turned around. It was a blessing in disguise. If we had continued on, we would have missed this fella completely. 

This individual here has a shorten tail, likely from an injury. It was hunting and absolutely oblivious to our boat. We had a marvellous time indeed watching it dived, chasing after the fishes, chomping down the fishes and lastly the pooing! Strangely, it was on its own. When I encountered otter, it is usually a pair or a family.

This is a Smooth Otter Lutrogale perspicillata which is commonly found here and the only species that I have seen on Langkawi. I was told that the Asian Small-Clawed Otter Amblonyx cinereus occurs here but I have yet to see one. The difference between these two are the overall size, the size of their paws, nose features and the webbed feet. But if they are on the move or swimming, it will be difficult to observe the paws. The Smooth Otter has a larger nose (like mine). I have found an interesting link documented by the National University of Singapore (NUS) which describes the differences of these two in detailed. Click the link here

Smooth Otter is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and is threaten by the loss of habitats and illegal hunting. In Langkawi, they can be found in the the mangrove, the coastline and even the beaches of some resorts.

Thank you otter for being there. I have spend quite a fair bit of time editing this video. Hope you like it. If you can't view the video via the mobile version, you may click on this link:

Here's Mark and the gang. If it wasn't for the pandemic, they would have returned to Langkawi in June 2020. Oh well...see you guys next year then.

Friday 3 July 2020

First Official Excursion After the Lockdown

The drizzle after a short spell of heavy rain did not dampen the spirits of these four Malaysian friends. Instead, they were glad that such overcast weather was cool and pleasant. I agree and I am also glad that their presence marked my first official nature excursion since the Movement Control Order on 18th March. 

We headed out at 1:30pm and the clouds were lying low among the hills as a stunning backdrop of our  mangroves. This sight is not often and the rain is needed to create such landscape scene. And I didn't get any landscape photos because I was focused on my commentary.

As the tide receded, they had the opportunity to watch the antics of the fiddler crabs and mudskippers on the mudflat. 
Our Malaysian friends were intrigued with the varieties of these fiddler crabs that I had to signal our boat skipper to move on before the tide gets too low. 

I have been wondering on the situation at the usual feeding stations for the raptors and the Long-Tailed Macaques after the lockdown. 

Surprisingly, the Brahminy Kites and the White-Bellied Sea-Eagles were at their usual numbers when we passed by the area. The feeding practice has returned, sadly. A question came from one of them asking the reasons of not feeding them. It was my chance to educate. 

The feeling of being back into the calm and peaceful mangrove is indescribable. The calls of Collared Kingfisher, Brown-Winged Kingfisher and Mangrove Whistler. While we were absorbed into the enchanting forest in the narrowest bit of the tributary, I heard Yi-Wei asked, “Is that a snake?”
A Mangrove Pit Viper Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus

My boat skipper and I were keeping a lookout for one and Yi-Wei was the first to spot one. Well done! They were overly excited upon seeing the viper that the boat was tilted on one side and the current began to sweep our boat away. My skipper had to reposition the boat to get closer to the viper. 

The Long-Tailed Macaques were at their usual feeding site when we were cruising on that stretch of the channel to get to Gua Buaya. I was expecting them to have moved on and left the area. Looks like the feeding has returned, sadly. I was watching one of them climbing up the tree very swiftly and I knew what was coming. I was right! As soon as she landed on the roof of the boat, I immediately told everyone to put their water bottles and other stuff into their bags. My boat skipper quickly hid his water bottle. It was a bit of chaos and hilarious at the same time. The female macaque scrambled around the boat looking for opportunity to grab something. No one dared to take their phone out to video or a quick snapshot. 

That stretch of the channel is what I name it as the Monkey Cafe. Boats with tourists often stop to feed them while encouraging the fearless macaques to hop on the boat. They are so used to doing that and even on boats that are not feeding. If that situation ever happen to your boat, first of all, stay calm. Quickly put your water bottles or any plastic bags inside your bag otherwise these things will end up as trash in the mangroves.  There are littering along the stretch of Monkey Cafe. And remember, macaques can bite.

When the maqacue has made it onto the boat, ignore it, do not challenge it and pretend it isn't there. It will come close to you to check out and when you ignore it, it will move on (fingers crossed). Attempting to take a selfie with it is not a good idea. The one we had on our boat eventually gave up after 100 meters and she dived into the water. 

When we got to Kilim, the floating restaurants are still closed due to very low demand. The Bat Cave was super quiet when we arrived and it was good. Also, the fact that it was already in the late afternoon which is usually quieter. 

I was thankful that the sea was very kind to us to allow us to head back via the coastline. And yes! Two finless porpoises showed up and that was the bonus for the entire package.
I like to thank Shahaanaz for bringing her friends, Joyce, Joel and Yi-Wei as well as taking me out on a boat ride into the mangroves. 

There was something that I have been craving for during the lockdown and I had quenched it on my way home. Yumz! 
Prawn Pad Thai from my usual stall