Banded Malayan Coral Snake

Banded Coral Snake
Originally uploaded by _Cheng Puay.

One last post before leaving for Kinabalu. This banded coral snake (Maticora intestinalis) (see Nick Baker’s site ) was lying on the path of the Tekek Juara Trail. A group of students (around 25) walked across it before the one of them noticed it lying amongst the leaf litter. Fortunately we verified its identity quickly before anyone decided to prod it with a finger. What was really interesting was that the snake was apparently playing dead, possibly waiting out this huge stampede of humans to cross by before moving to safety.

And this snake packs a powerful neurotoxin in its bite. Which makes the situation all the more interesting, why didn’t it attack?

Unlike what we see in movies (think Anaconda), most animals in the forest are shy, unless they are provoked, disturbed or forced into a corner. In the case of the banded coral snake, it is apparently highly disturbed by the sudden activity, some of us may have stepped on it (shudder… i was wearing slippers then), but still it did not attack. Reason being venomous snakes value their store of toxins. They will not utilise it unless truly neccessary.

Something to bear in mind when one encounter snakes, unless you are a trained handler, leave it alone and always give it space to move away (which will be its first instinct). If you have unwittingly corner it, move away slowly.

Well, a snake sighting is always exciting. Especially a close encounter with the likes of Manticora.


Lyssa zampa

Lyssa zampa
Originally uploaded by _Cheng Puay.

Seen this huge moth in school near end of May. My student (Anna) living in Bukit Timah found one flying in her apartment. To my surprise, I saw lots of them in Paya Beach in Tioman Island. The cats were having a good time entertaining themselves by pouncing on an unsuspecting moth. It must have been mating season or something for the moth. Siva has more records of it. See Habitatnews

Canopy shyness

Canopy shyness
Originally uploaded by _Cheng Puay.

Canopy profile one evening in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Hindhehe Park, when the sky is a beautiful greyish blue. Shot this frame with the last bit of my battery.

I have seen this described in the textbooks, canopy shyness; where the crowns of the trees do not overlap, instead leaves a regular gap between the edges of their crowns. What results in this intricate jigsaw where the pieces are laid in the right places, but not attached fully.

What causes canopy shyness is still not fully explained, we can only make a few guesses. Possible reasons are:
1. Mutual shading by adjacent trees, as a result the leaves on the outer edges fall off. Leaving a gap.

2. Leaves and small branches could have fallen off when the edges of 2 adjacent crowns brush against each other (which happens pretty frequently when the wind blows).

Still, questions unanswered, how far do each crown extend? Why isn’t there one crown which dominates and grow into another tree’s area? I could envisage a healthier tree expanding its crown and pushing away weaker competitors, diminishing the size of their crowns.

Anyone out there with other explanations?

Meanwhile, I’ll just enjoy the sight.

Neil Gaiman is in Singapore

One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, the creator of the incredible ‘Sandman’ series is coming over to Singapore on a book signing tour and also to share his new film “Mirrormask’, a collaboration with his long time partner, Dave McKean.

I can’t wait.

Visit Neil Gaiman’s Website

Here’s a sneak peek excerpt* from ANANSI BOYS the much anticipated new novel from Neil Gaiman…

It begins, as most things begin, with a song.

In the beginning, after all, were the words, and they came with a tune. That was how the world was made, how the void was divided, how the lands and the stars and the dreams and the little gods and the animals, how all of them came into the world.

They were sung.

The great beasts were sung into existence, after the Singer had done with the planets and the hills and the trees and the oceans and the lesser beasts. The cliffs that bound existence were sung, and the hunting grounds, and the dark.

Songs remain. They last. The right song can turn an emperor into a laughing-stock, can bring down dynasties. A song can last long after the events and the people in it are dust and dreams and gone. That’s the power of songs.