Blog for 2010-06-02

From BioDivBorneo2010

Jump to: navigation, search

Alex Kim

After a brief flight from Kota Kinabalu to Miri, we proceeded by road to the Lambir Hills, arriving at the titular national park by midday. Past the windows of our bus zoomed a landscape dominated by sedimentary rock – alternating layers of hard, white sandstone and darker, softer mudstone. It was the variable resistance of these rocks to erosion, Cam explained, that accounted for the rolling topology of these hills. Vegetation grew noticeably taller and thicker as we drew nearer to the park, but most of what we saw en route was still secondary forest (no 70 m Dipterocarps here).

The first representatives of the local fauna most of us saw were large (6cm) scaraboid beetles trundling beside the trail which ran past our chalets. Shortly after unpacking, the bulk of our group went for a short exploratory walk, proceeding from the bridge all the way to the “swimming pool” below Latak Waterfall.

A juvenile Macrobrachium

Along the way, we sighted numerous Odonata (metallic dragonflies), freshwater shrimp (Palaemonidae: Macrobrachium: multiple size classes in slow-flowing, shallow water with sand and leaf litter substrate), several species of ants (some as large as 3cm, along with innumerable smaller forms, one species of which was seen porting leaf snippets up a tree trunk), and a blue Agamid lizard. At the waterfall itself, we picked out a dozen swiftlets which occasionally interrupted their capture of flying insects to skim the surface of the water. Among the more easily recognizable plant species were a range of palms, tall Dipterocarps, and mosses; as for fungi, a number of fruiting bodies were visible on exposed wood. While returning to our chalets, we were fortunate enough to observe a tree fall from the bridge – a large bough which clattered down from the canopy to the forest floor, tearing free a burst of leaves and twigs.

We held our first formal introduction at 8 PM. Immediately after, a large cicada careened elliptically through the lecture hall, slamming into the walls with single-minded enthusiasm. Held in Cam's hand, it emitted an incredibly loud stidulation. Other nighttime sightings included an immense moth which circled the patio light of Chalet 6 and geckos on the walls.

The forest at dusk left an instant -- and unforgettable -- sonic impression. A low current of white noise was broken with shuddering flakes and trills of animal sound: insect, bird, and frog. So this was Borneo.