Mostly nature and photojournalism of amateur standard.

By: Amir Ridhwan

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Monday, 15-Oct-2007 15:10 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The Leucauge genus

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Order: Araneae
Sub-order: Araneomorphae
Family: Tetragnathidae
Genus: Leucauge

One of the spiders that sparked my early interest in studying them is this. It was near the end of 2006 and a macro war was waged between me, Boogey and Ikelah. All of us were shooting macro subjects and boasted at our respective fotopage- ants, hornets, spiders, wasps and all. Then one day when I was in Batu Pahat I encountered a Leucauge for the first time and its beauty immediately struck my heart. It was the weirdest looking spider I have ever seen and it was then that I know I'm gonna smite both Boogey and Ikelah in the macro war.

Leucauge spiders are among the most fascinating to see due to their elegant shape and colorful stripes. The abdomen is significantly larger than the cephalothorax with a large hump. The legs have short tiny spines and this can be used to determine certain species.

This genus is very large and member species can be found in tropical areas worldwide. They weave an orb-shaped web which very often looks too perfect. The webs are usually between grasses and low branches. In my observation, most of the webs I found are below waist height. If the spider sense any danger, it will run to one end of the suspending silk thread and try to hide.

A female L. decorata, Bukit Belacan. Notice the abdomen has a profound hump.

L. celebesiana with a huge prey, Bukit Belacan.

L. fastigata at her web, Gunung Soga, Batu Pahat.

An unknown species. Bukit Gasing, PJ.

Another unknown species. Bukit Gasing, PJ.

Courtship between L. celebesiana in Bukit Tinggi. Both spiders court each by dancing from a silk thread. Female is the green one on the right.

Mating between a pair of L. celebesiana. Bukit Fraser.

Moulting of a Leucauge. Bukit Fraser. Spiders perform this several times before reaching adulthood and becoming sexually mature. It is basically to discard the outer shell once the spider has outgrown it.

One of the first Leucauge I found in Batu Pahat.

Being a member of the Tetragnathidae family, the Leucauge has large and powerful jaws. When they a prey landed on her web, she will spin it into a coccoon before administering vernom.

Monday, 1-Oct-2007 13:10 Email | Share | | Bookmark

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Spiders lay eggs. Some species actually guard the eggs until they hatch. Some goes beyond that where the mother carries the spiderlings until they reach their first molting. Looking at the life cycle of these little critters can be truly amazing. How such small and simple beings can mimmick the behaviour of much complex mammals in breeding.

A female Theridula caudata with its offsprings. Bukit Belacan.

Nest of a jumping spider. The mother guards the eggs against predators which include other jumping spiders such as the Portias. Bukit Fraser.

A female Lynx spider with the egg sac just hatched. Lynx spiders guard their egg sac ferociously against predators. She can go babysitting without food for 2 weeks and it is not uncommon to see the mother ended up dying of starvation. Bukit Belacan.

A mother and her babies clustering together on a pine tree in Bukit Tinggi.

Female wolf spiders (Lycosids) carry their babies on their back. The babies drink from dew and eat yolk from their eggs. They leave their mother's abdomen after the first molting. Kuantan.

Thousands of spiderlings hatched from a single egg sac. They are so small, less than 1mm in length. I did not see the parent, therefore could not identify the species. Bukit belacan.

A huge egg sac just burst. Bukit Fraser.

The spiderlings up close. Bukit Fraser.

Tuesday, 25-Sep-2007 07:24 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Salticidae- Jumping Spiders Part 1

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I'm back to the old habit! To be frank, I haven't been taking a lot of spider photos recently. It is Ramadhan hence a macro safari outing is not really the kind of activity that I choose to endure. Even the past few months have not been very prolific since I was putting more focus in using the Zuiko 40-150mm while the 35mm macro is mainly used to take portraits. The images here are mostly those compiled a while back.

This entry is about the largest spider family in the world- the Salticidae which is commonly known as the jumping spider. They are usually small and mid-sized and comes with a variety of colors. The easiest way to identify one is to look at the eyes. The mid anterior eyes are the largest while the rest are relatively smaller. They also have a pair of apparent posterior eyes at the sides. From the front, they might look as if wearing a pair of glasses.

A jumping spider. See what I mean by the eye formation.The large anterior eyes are the huge yellow ones in the front.

The males and females are about the same size in most species. In most cases you tell the males by looking at the dark-coloured and hairy front limbs. With thousands of species coming with various color combination, it is difficult to trace down a single individual to its species name. Some are quite apparent in appearence such as the mangove jumper and the Siler semiglaucus. Others might need a more detailed inspection and cross reference. I tried to get as many identification as possible without compromising accuracy and here are those which I managed to obtain. There are six times as many species I have photographed but are yet to be identified.

Salticidaes are natural hunters. They stalk and ambush their prey silently. Their diet may include fly, mosquito, beetle, ant, cicada, damselfly and small bugs. Once a prey is caught, the Salticid will administer a lethal injection. It will inject digesting enzymes into the body and suck the nutrients.

1. Epeus flavobilineatus. A common spider found on shrubs and in particular hibiscus trees. They are quite shy and prefer to lay quiet at the underside of a leaf whenever hazard is spotted. Shown here is a male, found in Kuantan.

2. Ligurra latidens, commonly known as the mangrove jumper. They are usually found in mangrove and coastal areas. This male was found near a man-made saltwater lake in Kuantan.

3. Phintella versicolor. A common jumper that can be found throught out South East Asia. It's domain ranges to Myanmar and Japan. They can be found on grasses and low vegetations. This male was spotted near my apartment in Puchong.

4. Phintella vittata. Another common spider in Malaysia which is usually found near flowery plants. It's presence has been reported as far as in India, Vietnam and Southern China. It is very small with body length of 5mm. This female was found in Kuantan.

5. Portia fimbriata. This weird-looking spider can easily passed as a chipped wood bark. It can sit motionless even when being approached. Onceit sensed threat, it will move slowly to take cover under leaves or twigs. A peculiar behavior of Portia is it's tendency to invade another spider's nest and eat the host and its eggs. This one was seen in my first trip to Bukit Belacan.

6. A Portia sp seen in Bukit Teresak, Kuala Tahan.

7. Siler semiglaucus. This flamboyant little spider is hard to miss with its attractive colors. It usually marauds dense foliage to hunt crawling insects. Sightings have been reported throughout South East Asia up to Sri Lanka. This was photographed in Ayer Kuning, Taiping.

8. Siler semiglaucus among pumpkin leaves and stalks. Taken near my apartment in Puchong.

9. Telamonia festiva. A small salticid with a widespread range and can bu found up to Southern China. Best place to look for it is in low vegetation. Very common in suburban areas. Puchong.

10. Telamonia festiva male. Puchong.

11. Thiania bhamoensis. Males have hairy and dark-coloured front limbs. This species is found throughout the year in shrubs and small trees. Used by naughty kids for duel. Bukit Belacan.

12. Thorelliola ensifera. A small spider with body length of 5mm and found within the Malay Archipelago. It wears a yellow-black band. Bukit Belacan.

There are more than 5,000 species of salticids. Scientists believe there are a lot more waiting to be discovered. I believe there are a whole bunch of them here in Malaysia only that no one put a real effort to cultivate the publlic interest in knowing them more. Spiders are predators and they help to keep pests at bay.

Friday, 14-Sep-2007 16:06 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The past few weeks.

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It has been quite hectic since I came back from Sabah. I took a 6-day leave for the Sabah vacation and to take a visit to Kuantan for some family function. Apparently my father hosted a dinner in honour of my nieces Sarah and Safiyah. I don't remember having such priviledge before, no matter what kind of accolade I achieved. Maybe such things only done by a grandfather for his grandchildren. If that is so, i could not complain much. My forthcoming children also cannot complain to me.

1. ikelah and his second daughter Sopi. She's studying medicine in Russia. Sopi is a very active person- plays tennis, karate and whatever that interests her impulsive mind.

2. Hasya is the reigning Aki's favourite. She grew up with him for a few years and now staying in Kuching. I wonder why I was not a favourite too considering the time I spend in the house was wayyy longer than her. Was I not as cute?

3. Mutton curry at the dinner. This was the major cause of sibling rivalry in our family. We use only local mutton to ensure authentic taste and masculine stench.

4. Chilli prawn cooked by my nieces. Very succulent but lost popularity to the mutton. Sarah was the chef with Sopi assisting.

After the kenduri, I came back to KL and back to work after one week plus of tasting life to the fullest. All the backlogged duty has to be cleared which left me with not really that much time to work on my camera. One fine day P5 and Boogey invited me to go shoot the fireworks competition in Putrajaya. I have never shot fireworks and have no clue how it should be done. What the heck, it won't hurt to add more crappy pictures to my photo portfolio.

5. Fireworks competition in Putrajaya. This is the first time I shoot fireworks and took me quite a while to get the settings right. Actually I spent more time readjusting the tripod legs.

6. I'm not good at this . Check out P5's and Boogey's shots as well. Boogey was using a manfrotto.

7. Perut tembikai contest. This year's champion is Maman, runner-up is Danial. The finals was hosted in KLIA in conjuction with the departure of Sarah and Sopi.

Sometimes I just go somewhere and take street photos with my beloved Zuiko 40-150mm. I cannot give enough accolade to this wonderful cheapo lens. By the way, Olympus annouced an upcoming economic 70-300mm lens which will be released in a month. By 4/3 standard, it gives and effective 140-600mm focal length! Best aperture at tele end is f5.6 but that is good enough for 600mm papparazzi gun. It has 3 ED lenses, weights just 620g and circular iris- just what bird photographers would dream for. Price has yet to be announced but many Olympus users worldwide have pre-booked this baby months before it hits the store. Perhaps because so far there has never been a Zuiko lens that turned out as a disappointment.

8. A dude nearby KLCC. Mas went to Kinokuniya and I took a walk near the pool. There was a bunch of Malay teenagers hanging out doing nothing. Then I spotted this guy from a nice angle.

9. Macro of a robber fly. This was taken in a public park in TTDI one cloudy afternoon. Mas wanted to take a look at the place so she can jog there in the weekend. I need to justify the macro-dweller's density before investing a precious weekend morning there.

While the 70-300mm is very very attractive, I would point my radar elsewhere. Should I have the resource to expand my gears, I will go wide. My prime candidate is the Zuiko 11-22 f2.8-3.5mm, the legendary lens with no sweet spot but the entire frame. Another candidate would be the upcoming Zuiko 12-60mm f2.8-4 SWD. Its performance is still unproven but the specifications say it all. Alas for the time being, I just stick with my standard-grade glassware.

Sunday, 2-Sep-2007 13:03 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Merdeka: Malaysia's 50th independence anniversary

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The day was August 31st and a huge crowd enmassed at Dataran merdeka for the 50th celebration. I have never been to any of the celebration as I am not very fond of huge crowd. Over the course of almost 10 years of my staying in Kuala Lumpur, I only went for several midnight countdown. I didn't go to this year's countdown because I was having diarrhea.

Nevertheless I would not want to miss the official celebration and parade on the big day itself. I took my bike down to KL at abot 7:45 but the route I intended to take was closed. I had to make several rounds until I found an opening to go to Jalan Masjid India to park my bike.

Even at about 8am, the was already a massive crowd. I tried to squeeze through the lines but could not get to the front. Frustrated, I made a detour and ended up next to Dayabumi where the parade begun and the crowd was sparse. Of course I had a pretty lousy background but that was the only place I can shoot with peace. After the last contingent walked to the square, I followed suit and made my way not far from the grandstand.

1. Malaysian Main Battle Tank.

2. A girl on one of those parade cars.

3. King and PM.

4. Pak Lah.

5. Tun Mahathir and somebody I don't recognize.

6. Merdeka spirit!

7. RAMD band playing in front of the grand stand.

8. Performers on the stage. I think they wave flags and sing songs under the sun.

9. Air superiority fighter- Sukhoi Su30MKM

10. Multirole fighter- MiG29N

11. Single MiG making a pass for the grand stand.

12. An RAMD officer.

Announcement #1:
The current Fotopages Photo Challenge is Marketplace People.
Post your images of people working in the marketplace at the PC thread here:

Announcement #2:
My PC broke down recently where casualty includes the motherboard, a RAM stick, hard disk and the mouse. For 3 days I tried in vain to revive it and perhaps retrieve some photos from the hard disk. In the end I decided to go for a major upgrade hence currently running on an AMD Athlon64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+.

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