Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Feathered Migrants

Yes! They have arrived and it is the time of the year again, at least for Langkawi. 

Depending on the species, some of them came all the way from Europe, Japan, the Himalayas, Taiwan West and North China.The island maybe a stop over or they can stay on until the end of the season.

Take out your binoculars, clean those fingerprints off the lens, dust off your tucked away guidebook, get a new fine drawing pen and put on your hiking shoes. For the feathered migrants have arrived.

Aida getting excited
Who are the early ones?

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common sandpiper was spotted exactly a month ago on the mudflats and mangroves of Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi. Through my naked eyes, I have also seen lots of Plovers (Charadrius genus), about 12-15 of them.

While in the garden and at the edge of the forest, my cute little Brown Shrike has been spotted too.

Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)

Are there any other migratory birds spotted besides these three birds in August and September this year? 

Did anyone spot these three birds earlier than the month of August?  

Common sandpipers were spotted exactly the same time last year.  And I am not too sure about the Plovers and Brown Shrikes. If there is anyone out there doing such observation, it will be great to share. 

Langkawi is now experiencing a dry rainy season this year. I feel like Langkawi has entered the dry season  again and it is the rainy season with the lowest rainfall as compared to those six years ago. While  the visitors here felt they were lucky to have such hot sunny weather, it is a worrying factor for the locals in the agriculture sector. If this year's rainfall is very low, will this affect the natural water supply to the agriculture like the rice field?

It will be interesting to know how our climate change can also affect the migration of birds.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Take Cockroaches, Leave Tokays Alone!

Amazing discovery. These little dark smelly pests living among us could be more of a health benefit than a health hazard according to scientists from University of Nottingham, who have discovered powerful antibiotics properties in the brains of cockroaches and locusts.

Published by the ScienceDaily as at 6th September 2010, here is what they said:
Simon Lee, a postgraduate researcher who is presenting his work at the Society for General Microbiology's autumn meeting in Nottingham, describes how the group identified up to nine different molecules in the insect tissues that were toxic to bacteria. These substances could lead to novel treatments for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

The group found that the tissues of the brain and nervous system of the insects were able to kill more than 90% of Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Escherichia coli, without harming human cells. Studying the specific properties of the antibacterial molecules is currently underway in the laboratory. "We hope that these molecules could eventually be developed into treatments for E. coli and MRSA infections that are increasingly resistant to current drugs," explained Mr Lee. "Also, these new antibiotics could potentially provide alternatives to currently available drugs that may be effective but have serious and unwanted side effects," he said. The pharmaceutical industry is generating fewer and fewer new antibiotics due to lack of financial incentives, meaning that alternative sources of new drugs are much needed.

Mr Lee explained why it is unsurprising that insects secrete their own antimicrobials. "Insects often live in unsanitary and unhygienic environments where they encounter many different types of bacteria. It is therefore logical that they have developed ways of protecting themselves against micro-organisms," he explained.

If this prove to be a success, I would say another innovative pest control? We can do away with those bug sprays thus keeping our environment greener and cleaner.

And to you, tokay gecko poachers... now go lurk around in the sewage, drain and dirty food eateries. There are plentiful of these creatures you go around making bucks. Besides, you will be doing a great favor in pest control.

I was approached by a tokay gecko supplier recently here in town. According to this supplier, the source of these geckos are from Thailand because those found on the island are too small. Strange. Why bother bringing in these geckos from Thailand and then going out of Langkawi?

If these tokay gecko suppliers and poachers can be arrested for their acts, I will definitely work with the Perhilitan and set a nice trap for them. Unfortunately, this species is not listed as a protected species. But it will soon be!!


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