Fraser’s Hill (3) : Night Ramble on the Telecom Loop, Girdle Road

When:  August 2015            Weather : Cool 20C

Leica Q, Nikon P900

As the sun goes down on Fraser’s Hill, a new world of life emerges….and these night encounters with the fauna of FH were one of the highlights of our few days here, largely thanks to the local knowledge and generosity of Stephen from Stephen’s Place (see my last blogpost)….indeed an evening of viewing and shooting good enough to warrant a post dedicated to it….

Now Stephen had been placing some food out in the garden as there was a masked palm civet in the vicinity and he had been conditioned enough by this food that he would come every night for his supper…he was so consistent with this appearance that Stephen had set up a camera trap with several flashes that would be triggered by the civet as he crossed that sensor….

Camera, remote triggered flash units and sensor awaiting our visitor...

Camera, remote triggered flash units and sensor awaiting our visitor…

And at about 730pm just before it became completely dark, Bob the civet appeared on the left, triggering the first flash....

And at about 730pm just before it became completely dark, Bob the civet appeared on the left, triggering the first flash….

He headed straight for the chicken....and I was able to shoot him through the french windows with the 28mm Leica Q F1.7 lens...

He headed straight for the chicken….and I was able to shoot him through the french windows with the 28mm Leica Q F1.7 lens…

Quite a large animal, he looked to measure about 4-5 feet from head to tail

Chicken in his mouth, he posed a bit…

Quite a large animal, he looked to measure about 4-5 feet from head to tail...and just as quickly as he came, he melted into the night after his supper

Quite a large animal, he looked to measure about 4-5 feet from head to tail…and just as quickly as he came, he melted into the night after his supper….this was such a thrilling encounter for us city folk!  And Stephen was so kind as to help two of our party with Canon cameras set up their own cameras to shoot Bob….amazing pictures resulted.  Oh, and Bob has a girlfriend, Bobbette who would sometimes also appear…

About 9pm, Stephen and his young son Adam took us all out for a 2 hour night ramble on the upper Telecom Loop with our torches and cameras…..

As we ambled on the road, we cast our torchlights around....

As we ambled on the road, we cast our torchlights around….

And one of the first things we saw was this pair of eyes gazing at us from way up a tree....with my binos and through the EVF of the P900 I could make out that it wasn't an owl..it had a triangular fox like face....likely another civet...but too dark to get a decent picture

And one of the first things we saw was this pair of eyes gazing at us from way up a tree….with my binos and through the EVF of the P900 I could make out that it wasn’t an owl..it had a triangular fox like face….likely another civet…but too dark to get a decent picture

Shortly after, Adam whispered excitedly 'Dad, dad, there's another one here....!'

Shortly after, Adam whispered excitedly ‘Dad, dad, there’s another one here….!’

And indeed there was something lurking behind the leaves.....we thought this was going to be as close as we could get to it...

And indeed there was something lurking behind the leaves…..we thought this was going to be as close as we could get to it…

And then amazingly it decided to climb up an adjacent wire to have a look at us!

And then amazingly it decided to climb up an adjacent wire to have a look at us!

A palm civet!  Smaller than the masked palm civet that we had shot earlier in the garden....it was a beauty!

A palm civet! Smaller than the masked palm civet that we had shot earlier in the garden….it was a beauty!

Well it couldn’t get any better could it? You bet it could…..We then started looking for tarantulae holes in the bank on our left

Tarantulae homes were apparently on the left bank....

Tarantulae homes were apparently on the left embankment….

Training our torches on the bank..

Training our torches on the bank..

Adam finds a taratula nest and starts tickling the edge, mimicking a cricket moving around to entice the tarantula out

Adam finds a tarantula nest and starts tickling the edge, mimicking a cricket moving around to entice the tarantula out

A tarantula sitting in its nest...a hollow cylinder lined by its silky web...

A tarantula sitting in its nest…a hollow cylinder lined by its silky web…

scratching the edge of the nest with a twig

scratching the edge of the nest with a twig…and you can see the tarantula’s legs emerging

And the tarantula duly emerged

And the tarantula duly emerged…

just spectacular...

just spectacular…

and another....

and another….and incidentally this tarantula species is actually named after Stephen Hogg himself as he had researched it intensively a decade or more ago!

Even the trees looked good that night!

Even the trees looked good that night!

After the tarantulae, this Huntsman spider seemed almost mundane....

After the tarantulae, this Huntsman spider seemed almost mundane….

And then Stephen shows us am embankment no bigger than a bedroom wall and asks us to look for two trapdoors which housed ‘trapdoor’ spiders…..we failed miserably until he pointed it out to us…..

trapdoor?

trapdoor?

After scratching a bit, lo and behold, the wonderful trapdoor spider darted out looking for food and dashed straight back...

After scratching a bit, lo and behold, the wonderful trapdoor spider darted out looking for food and dashed straight back….this is a prehistoric spider which has not evolved for millions of years….just amazing how well the trapdoor is constructed and hinged…

it wouldn't come out again though when we opened the trapdoor

it wouldn’t come out again though when we opened the trapdoor

there was another trapdoor, but the spider wasn't in...

there was another trapdoor, but the spider wasn’t in…

The trapdoor spider was just an amazing creature and we all realised how privileged we were to have witnessed it in the wild, thanks to Stephen and his local knowledge. Sadly, poachers collect this uncommon spider and the tarantulae and sell them in the USA to collectors and there is a constant struggle to protect them.

By this time young Adam was feeling a tad sleepy and so we headed back...

By this time young Adam was feeling a tad sleepy and so we headed back…

We had time for one more encounter...with the 6 inch caterpillar of the magnificent Atlas moth...

We had time for one more encounter…with the 6 inch caterpillar of the magnificent Atlas moth…

This night walk was truly the highlight of this trip and indeed of the many night time rambles I have done, usually looking for snakes..but this was special….very special….to see what we saw in 2 short hours.  We would never have found most of these creatures had we done it on our own….Grateful thanks to Stephen and Adam!

Must do activity!

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