Monday, January 7, 2013

Sarawak Stories 4 : in which we trace the source of the Sounds

It took us days just to get used to the jungle noises - their unnerving loudness and unfamiliarity.  This was despite the absence of the Great Cats in this terrain.  How were we to know then that the littlest creatures make the loudest nocturnal noises?  The violin-like humming of the stick insects, the piercing calls of small, beady-eyed frogs, the raucous chirps of innumerable insects.  These were magically turned off as dawn broke and the day saw us plodding through tracts of low light and silence.  In between, we would hit sunny patches, with more silence - flowers and creepers dangling unnoticed and hitting us on our noses, butterflies soundlessly drying themselves, snakes moving without disturbing a single tendril, dragonflies resting quietly on large leaves, spiders sitting still beside tightly woven webs.  Often we heard things we couldn't see - in the towering canopy overhead - birds, monkeys and other unknown creatures that were leaping or flying through the trees.

Every day we got a little better at spotting things - mostly insects, frogs and lizards.  Millipedes walked past us by the dozen - rolling up into little seed-like balls if accidentally touched and then emerging again within minutes to continue their stroll.

We walked along the same paths often - at dawn to see birds, at dusk to spot insects and night creatures (an unforgettable sight was a beautiful black and white snake skimming over a dark pool) and in between, to the waterfalls for swims.

Often we would first hear something - a call or the rustling of leaves and then we would stare endlessly in that direction until we caught sight of the creature that was making those noises.  It was a time consuming though exciting method.  These are some of our (more static) sightings:

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