Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mushrooms and Bugs and Plants, Oh My!

In addition to orangutans and proboscis monkeys, Borneo's jungle contains all sorts of cool plants, mushrooms, flowers, bugs and other wildlife.  Eileen was particularly enamored of all of these things, so many of the photos are hers.  Also, please excuse my lack of knowledge about what all these things are, and jump in if you can identify them!!

First, bugs.  Lots of photos of bugs, butterflies, moths, spiders are below... not pictured are the ants the size of small dogs we saw, as well as the mass of fire ants we stumbled upon during a nighttime hike through the jungle (there is a story associated with that mass of fire ants*).

Cool beetle:

Not sure what this guy is, but he was cool:


Praying mantis: 

Something kinda gross looking:

Tarantula!!!  We went on a night hike one evening through the jungle where we saw all sorts of cool stuff, including a couple tarantulas.  This one was pretty huge and pretty pissed off when our guide poked him to get him out of his hidey hole:

Pretty maroon dragonfly:

All manner of pretty moths and butterflies.

 This one we also saw on our night hike.  Our guide informed us that in Bahasa Indonesia, they call moths "kupu-kupu malam," which literally means "butterfly of the night," but also means prostitute:


 This one is super cool... even when going back through the photos, I was thinking to myself, "Why did Eileen take a picture of a leaf?"  Then I realized it was not a leaf, but a well camouflaged moth:


I absolutely adore these photos Eileen took of these beautiful flowers with this cool, bright orange bug.  Amazing:

Some sort of baby pine?  Fiddlehead ferns... 

For me, the coolest plants we saw were these pitcher plants that we passed, both hanging and growing on the ground.  These plants are carnivorous- they gather water when it rains, the rainwater mixes with a liquid produced by the plant, insects find their way inside, drown and are then digested.  Apparently these pitcher plants are also called "monkey cups" because scientists have seen monkeys drinking the water from them.

We also saw an assortment of other pretty flowers along the way, some of which are pictured below:

Mushrooms... so many mushrooms.  We saw some really cool mushrooms in an array of sizes and colors, many of which Eileen captured on camera... the two coolest fungi by far, though, were the ones we saw on our night hike, which were unfortunately impossible for us to capture in photos:

First, we saw a massive fungus thing growing off the side of a tree.  It appears to be smoking- large plumes of misty, smokey stuff caught our flashlights are we shined them in that direction.  Turns out the mushroom was sending off spores. So cool.

Second, our boat captain (who was hiking barefoot and without a flashlight like a total badass) stepped off the trail for a moment and returned with a handful of glow-in-the-dark mushrooms.  Amazingly trippy.  Bio-luminescent mushrooms are apparently pretty rare, so I feel pretty awesome about having seen them.

Other critters:

We all felt kinda rididulous taking photos of a squirrel, but this squirrel (who was taking advantage of the fruit on the orangutan feeding platforms) had the coolest coloring I'd ever seen.  One of the guides told us that it looked like it had a toilet cleaning brush for a tail.

 This pheasant-looking bird was also in on the orangutan feeding party:

Wild boars were a frequent sight, generally foraging in packs, except for this ugly guy, who knew it was easier to just wait below the orangutan feeding area to catch errant banana peels and the like:

We also saw a fair number of lizards:

This is a small monitor lizard, I believe, which is a relative of the komodo dragons I saw earlier this year.  A water monitor I would guess, based on his affinity for swimming:

We also saw his larger brother hanging out under the dock:

Our captain, who insisted he was the best fisherman on the river, caught this fish while we were docked one afternoon.  There was a little bit of a language barrier in trying to figure out what type of fish it is, but we think perhaps it's a type of snakehead fish (like the ones invading U.S. waterways)?

And finally, a blurry photo of a crocodile.  After many false alarms (Crocodile! Oh wait, no, it's just a log. A log-o-dile?), we finally saw this croc (or maybe it's a caiman? or a false gharial?) hanging out with his mouth open.  We also saw a baby croc swimming across the river, but didn't catch it on camera.  Throughout the trip we were encouraged to stay out of the water because of the crocs, so there must have been many more hiding out of sight.  Our guides also told a gruesome story about a British tourist who refused to take their advice, jumped in the water, and was almost immediately torn up by a large croc.  I wasn't sure if they were exaggerating, but some Googling tells me their story is unfortunately true.

* The fire ant story goes like this:  during the night hike we hiked single file along a path, following behind a park ranger guide, when he warned us that there was a mass of fire ants ahead of us.  He said that we should run through it so they wouldn't have a chance to latch on and bite.  Eileen, Chrissy and I all did as told, but somehow the message didn't quite make it through to Jenny at the end of the line.  She stood her ground and repeatedly yelled "I can't see it!  I can't see it!" while we yelled back "It's fine!  Just run to us!  It's fire ants!"  Her panic must have made her deaf to our explanation because she continued to think it was a snake, but she eventually sucked it up and sprinted across to us as fast as possible, at which time she revealed that she hadn't understood that it was fire ants.  She had misheard the warning as "python."  Snakes being her least favorite thing in the world, she freaked out a little bit thinking we were having her blindly running past an angry snake.  And fin.

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