Sepilok - Hole of Watering Eyes and is it a Boar, no it is a Lizard! And finally Ant Showers....

Published: July 6th 2007
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Well we have just completed our last Orangutan Nest Survey today though not the last of our surveys as tomorrow we start Small Mammal Surveys. We have now had our last couple of difficult days of trekking in the morning - I say that slightly with tongue in cheek because I couldn’t really call today’s trek that tough because we ended at a Water Hole where we could swim!

The treks themselves had been pretty routine - can’t believe I am saying that ion this beautiful place but it is pretty much the typical hot and sweaty trek up and down hills looking skyward spotting Orangutan Nests.

Yesterday we went to Bird Tower Trail and there was a sign to the Water Hole. In Malay it is Kolam Mata Air - which I think translates to Hole of Watering Eye which I think sounds much nicer than Water hold and which is quite apt because the pool is from a natural spring so I guess is a bit like a watering eye. Anyway Gabili mentioned if we brought our swimming gear the next day then maybe we all go there as it is safe to swim so the next morning we all set off with our swim gear under and trekking gear. Unfortunately it did meant we had to go across some of the same route as the day before so couldn’t start the survey until after this section and that the survey trail (transect distance) was going to be pretty short today which maybe was a good thing because once we were heading in the direction we were anxious to see the Watering Eye and even more excited by the idea of cooling off in it as it was pretty hot in the forest today.

The forest dips into a bit of a valley and even us with a our little bit of forest knowledge could tell that water was close. Other than the ground underfoot changing the plants and trees began to change and soon we rounded a bend to come across like a wide stream of muddy coloured water which did leave me wondering whether the Water Hole was as clear water as Gabili had said. The effect of coming across a forest stream deep in the jungle was slightly destroyed by the rickety bridge across it - think I was slightly hoping for a log across it and a bit of ‘Indiana Jones’ type experience but as this is on one of the tourist trails I guess that was too much to expect plus knowing how some of the tourists walk the trails in flip flops I could see a endless list of causalities and rescues if it had been anything other than a bridge.

Eventually we arrived at out destination and yes the pool did definitely have a decided brown tinge and most definitely not the crystal clear vision I had in my head but it did have the small waterfall leading from it which was really pretty. We all hesitated for a few minutes to verify this pool was actually leech free and free of anything else that could bite, nibble or chop parts of our body or swim into orifices we care not to think about but as Gabili stripped to his trousers and jumped in we took it to be safe. As he failed to be eaten or nibbled as we stripped to our swim gear then it took very little to persuade us to join him and get away from the hot sticky heat. The water was cool and pleasant and around the edges clear though to the deep part it was dark and murky but seemed to hold nothing bigger than a the old small minnow type fish and a few fresh water prawns though the branches and roots that touch your legs as you swim do play pretty much on the imagination and probably just a bit too much so for Katy who abandoned us for the shore to become the photographer whilst we splashed around.

Often wondered what it would be like to swim in a pool in the middle of the forest and now I know. It was a really great experience and we were lucky because shortly after we had finished the hordes of tourists started to make it along the trail and arrive at the watering hole and very much destroyed the peace and tranquility but did remain oblivious of the potential to swim which I am secretly glad about as for one day it remained a special for us.

On the way back we looked for the Maidens Veil Funghi that we had seen on our trek out to the Water Hole which had just that we had seen on our trek out to the Water Hole which had just burst open to have a beautiful (in a funghi type way) orange mesh trailing from it but by the time we had started our journey back it was collapsed and life over and slowing fading away. I suspect by the end of the day there will be little or no sign that it ever existed and guess goes to highlight the short lived nature of the forest and some of its fragility.

I guess today was more eventful than previously because on the way back I was in the lead when I heard a crashing through the undergrowth on the trail ahead (Gabili was some distance behind) so it was just us three wondering if this was a wild boar about to round the corner (seemingly a female with young can be vicious and attack unprovoked) but we didn’t end up scattering for our lives. Instead we came face to face with a small dragon - ok slight exaggeration it was actually a large Montour Lizard running down the track to escape some tourists and on seeing us it jumped in the air made a 90 degree turn and plowed into the dense vegetation to the side of the track leaving us to watch a rapidly departing tail and waiting for Gabili to catch up so we could excitedly tell him what he had missed.

Though the surveys are serious there is still plenty of time for some fun. Leaves always provide a good source of amusement, hats and headdresses. Seemingly today Gabili though I looked like a Woodpecker so a mimicked hitting my head against a tree until I saw Gabili’s shocked face and quickly tried to explain I was been a woodpecker and hadn’t really gone mad - well no madder than I am already am! Which made him laugh when he realised he didn’t have to go make and explain why the English girl was hitting her head on trees whilst on one of his treks 

Really sad the treks are over as I love been out and about in the forest and only wish we had found out about the possibility of doing an extended trek sooner where we would have had lunch out in the forest and covered longer distances. I am secretly hoping I can persuade Gabili to take me out on one as I know Karen is keen too so maybe on one of our few days off.

If you think all I am doing is trekking though the jungle then you are wrong. We have started to make progress on the project of fixing up the Orangutan Play Area so maybe will have a bit more news next time but so fare we have now concreted one of the posts in. How long it will stay standing is another matter because after a while of mixing the concrete in the barrow Ellis decided to quicken the process up and just mix it in the hole - I thought concreting was a very precise mix so I am really not so sure 2 handfuls of sand here and a handful of cement here and enough water to make it a coffee mixture is quite correct so I would not be surprised to find the post fallen down tomorrow!

Additionally we have enjoyed Ant Showers was we removed the roof from the old play area which was infested and as we had to hit the old reed type roof off from beneath we were showered by ants that have a vicious bite which is not so pleasant when the term ‘ants in your pants’ become literal!!! Still makes me shudder to think of it. P.S I should mention that they seem to have a large variety of ants over here ranging from the very tiny to over an inch long, the ones in the roof sate somewhere in between and were bad enough but if they had been the inch long ones I can but imagine the pain I would be in now.

Anyway the next blog should be about small mammals because as mentioned tomorrow we start capturing things in traps (no injury to the animals) which I am looking forward though the rats may be questionable part of the Small Mammal Survey.

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