Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ghost crab

Clueless camouflage at Trou d'Eau Douce, Mauritius

Striated Heron

Enroute Cilaos Beach Resort, Trou d'Eau Douce from La Valee de Ferney, Mauritius

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

European Starling

Sturnus vulgaris
When I tried identifying this bird, the pointed yellow bill, pink legs, short tail, small body, geographic location and feather patterns all matched the European Starling, except for the iridescent purple and green colors which I failed to see in the photograph. I hope to have identified it right, but will be thankful to whoever can confirm it. While scavenging the internet for this one, I stumbled upon this useful website -, that has introduced a multimedia software program that bird watchers could use on a PDA to identify birds, generate vibrant bird calls, etc.

Inca Doves

Columbina inca

The inca doves and pigeons are the most common birds around where I live, but these birds are shy, when compared to the lazy pigeons that they hang out with. These inhabit residential areas, and can be mostly seen feeding on the ground. These birds can very easily be identified by the scale-like pattern created by their broad, dark edged feathers. The reddish-brown color on the underside of their flight feathers are very apparent when they fly.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Swallowtails

A swallowtail coat is waist length in the front and sides, and has two long tails reaching to the knees in back - this is probably where the swallowtail butterflies get their names. These are from the Papilionidae family that includes the largest butterflies of the world. Here are a couple of swallowtails that I found in Taman Negara.

Four-barred swallowtail

These butterflies are known to have anatomical differences from the rest of the butterflies, like the catterpiller having an extra organ - osmeterium behind its head, but the only apparent difference that I could use is the very obvious and distinctive swallowtail extension that the adults have in their hind wings. But I now read it is not even mandatory for all the swallowtails to be tailed - Talk about identifying butterflies!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Giant Wood Spider

For those of us who think spiders are insects, here is a cute little song, which tells us that spiders and insects are two different things.

Spider or an Insect? - Ron Brown

Is it a spider or an insect?
A spider or an insect
Is it a spider or an insect?
I really want to know. Let’s go!

Insects have six legs
Three body parts - A head, abdomen, thorax.
They all have feelers waving on their heads
Oh those insect facts.

Is it a spider or an insect?
A spider or an insect
Is it a spider or an insect?
I really want to know. Let’s go!

Spiders have eight legs
And two body parts - A head and an abdomen
You won’t see feelers on their heads
Moving and waving.

Is it a spider or an insect?
A spider or an insect
Is it a spider or an insect?
And now I finally know!

These are pictures of a Giant Wood Spider that I found next to our accomodation in Durian Chalet, near Taman Negra National Park, Malaysia. This one is the biggest spider I have ever seen, and spanned close to 8 inches in length. The yellow spots at the joints in its legs, on the underside, are characteristic of these spiders. Its golden web gives it the alternate name Golden Orb Web Spider.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Is that a fish? Is that a tadpole? No, it is a mudskipper!

I had first watched this animal on one of Jeff Corwin's shows on Animal Planet. I was too excited to see it live by the sea at Kuala Kedah Jetty Point, Malaysia. We were rushing on the walkway towards the ferry to Langkawi that was almost about to leave the port, and did not have time to get down and take a closer look. Time always ticks faster when you need more of it!

A very unique creature - this is a wonderfully adapted amphibian. Its locomotive organs are a pair of pectoral fins that aid both swimming in the water and 'skipping' on the land. Underwater, the mudskippers breathe using their gills, just like a fish. On land, however, they retain water in enlarged gill chambers. These act like a scuba diver's oxygen cylinders, and supply oxygen for respiration while on land. In addition to this, it also is capable of cutaneous breating through its moist skin and lining of its mouth and throat. The eyes are placed on the top of its head, and are retractable into eye sockets. This helps in keeping the eyes moist on land.