More Life at Ukarumpa

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 17th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m writing this on Independence Day for release tomorrow, because I want to have a day off. It’s the time machine thing again. It’s only a small cheat. I still have to do the work. I just get to do it a day early.

I’ll toss out a few more images from my recent visit to Ukarumpa near Kainantu in the highlands. I wish I could name all of these plants. Botany was one of my favourite subjects at university, but it strains my brain just to remember a few hundred fish names, let alone try to remember plant names. There’s only so much room in my skull and it feels like it’s shrinking.

Anyway, I like the way this pretty little yellow flower seems to be growing out of a very messy bird’s nest:

Yellow flower

I showed this white one a couple of days ago. Here is what it looks like as it’s ageing:

White flower - young and old

It gives me hope that it’s still interesting. It’s colours are faded, it’s missing a few petals, it looks a little tired, but a bug still comes to visit. It’s not proud and glistening as is its younger mate, but it’s got a lot of character.

Here is another juicy spider for you: (click to enlarge and do a Save Image As – it makes a great desktop background)


I think these are a fairly common flower in gardens. Here, in this light, they seem to glow:

Orange flowers

Ukarumpa, being a high-altitude tropical place is, of course, a fern lover’s paradise. Here is a typical hillside:

Hillside ferns

I particularly enjoy the colours of this one:

Another fern

Here is another shot of the same hillside:


It’s ten in the morning on a holiday and I’ve been here since seven. I’m going home now to get ready to go up to Blueblood for party time.


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A Taste of Highlands Flora and Fauna

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 15th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m running out of time today, so I’m going to throw a bunch of images at you with little comment. These are from my recent trip to The Papua New Guinea highlands near Madang. The base at Ukarumpa (SIL) was familiar to me when my son was attending high school. We made the 466 kilometre round-trip every three weeks.

Here are some lilies in someone’s yard:

Lilies at Ukarumpa

Ukarumpa looks a lot like a little Kentucky town plopped down in PNG. Though it contains a variety of nationalities, it feels very American to me – no problem, if you like it. I prefer my surroundings a little less familiar and a little more exotic.

When I saw this little bush, I thought the leaves were pinkish. When I looked closer, I noticed that there were tiny red flowers between the bases of the leaves. On the flowers are tinier black bugs crawling around:

Tiny red flowers at Ukarumpa

The entire image above is only about three centimetres.

Here is a nice yellow flower without much special appeal, except, if you look at the small white dot to the upper left of the centre you will see a scale insect: (click to enlarge)

Yellow flower with scale insect

These captured my attention for their intense colour. There was no sun when I took this shot. The colours were so bright that they overload the capacity of the camera. They nearly overload the capacity of my eyes also. Like the old Jerry Seinfeld joke, “You don’t stare at it, you get a sense of it and look away”.

Day-glow Orange flowers

Here is a nice, big, juicy yellow spider for you:

Big juicy spider

It was about the size of a golf ball, nowhere near as big as I’ve seen elsewhere. A hand-sized spider would not be unusual in the lowland rainforest.

What is interesting about this spider image is that you can see that it is ‘listening’ to its web:

Spider listening to its web

It holds a special web filament that is connected just so to the rest of the web. This filament transmits any vibrations of prey landing on the net to the spider’s ‘ear’ leg.

I threw a hapless ant into the web. You can guess the outcome.

I know. I should grow up.

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A Visit to Nob Nob Mountain

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 5th, 2009 by MadDog
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A few days ago I had to haul my bosses up to Nob Nob Mountain  for a meeting. This giving me a couple of hours to kill, I took along a couple of cameras. One camera. One hour. What could be fairer?

Here is the view of Madang from the site of the communications tower:

View of Madang from Nob Nob Mountain

Someone has kindly cut down the trees that were blocking the view here for the last few years. It look now more like it did when I first saw it in 1981.

This is the main communications tower on Nob Nob Mountain:

The main communications tower on Nob Nob Mountain

It doesn’t seem as if there is much more room for antennae left. All along the pathway on this ridge there are about a dozen other towers now. None of them were there a couple of years ago.

Here is the view of Nagada Harbour  from a location in the Pacific Orientation Camp:

View of Nagada Harbour from Nob Nob Mountain

The shots above were taken with the Olympus SP-590UZ.

I switched to the Canon G10 for this macro of a very interesting spider:

Colourful Spider

I used to enjoy this location because I could always find preying mantis to shoot. On this occasion, they were all hiding out. I saw none at all.

What I did see is what is obviously a Tree Monster. Locally, we might think of this a masalai  at play. He’s just trying to scare me:

The Tree Monster as it was

He nearly did, too. Here is what it looked like to me in my head:

The Tree Monster as I saw it

Yes, it is a very strange place. Not Nob Nob Mountain;  I mean in my head.

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Bachelor’s Dinner – PNG Style

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on April 18th, 2009 by MadDog
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As a public service to all PNG men who are suffering, as I am, without a woman (temporarily, at least, for me), I’m going to give you a recipe for a delicious and nutritious dinner that you can prepare in fifteen minutes, not counting the time for the bush walk to collect ingredients.

Here is what you need:

Ingredients:  Magi noodles, aibika and tulip (the spider is optional)

From left to right we have Magi Chicken Flavoured Noodles, a spider (optional), and a package containing aibika and tulip.  The spider crawled out of the package during the night while it was in the fridge. I assumed he was dead.

First we need to prepare the tulip  leaves. The name tulip does not refer to the tulip flower. It simply means that there are “two leaves” at the end of each twig. Here are the distinctive leaves of the tulip  tree:

The distinctive leaves of the Tulip tree
The ones above are rather too large for my taste. I prefer the younger leaves. The flavour is more delicate. I like to cut out the tough vein in the middle:

Preparing the tulip

Next we prepare the aibika.  Don’t worry that it’s full of holes. The bugs love it. I’ve never seen an aibika  leaf that wasn’t holey. Cut out the tough vein in the middle:

Preparing the aibika

I like to crunch up my noodles so I don’t have to deal with them hanging from my mouth while I slurp them in. It seems somehow undignified. Put your noodles in a suitable bowl along with the aibika  and tulip.  Don’t forget to add the little packet of flavouring that comes with the noodles or it’s going to taste awful. Add salt and pepper and whatever other spices you like. At this point, I had not yet decided whether to add the spider. Finally, I declined. Put in some water and:

Noodles, aibika, tulip, salt, pepper - all you need (add water, of course)

Nuke it for ten minutes in the microwave oven. If you don’t have a microwave handy, a fire will do, but I would recommend a metal pot instead of a plastic bowl:

Nuke it in the microwave for ten minutes

At this point, I would recommend that you have one last look in the bowl to make sure that you did not forget to add the water. It’s surprisingly easy to lose track of that small detail. I set my microwave oven on fire once when I neglected to follow the check-list.

And here we have it:  Magi Noodles Aibika & Tulip Supreme  —  a meal fit for a tired old man;


Ah, but what about the spider? As I was preparing my dinner, I noticed that the spider seemed to be shivering as it lay there on its back. Optical Illusion,  I thought to myself. But NO!, The spider came back to life! If you doubt me, here he is:

The spider came back to life

I would have let him wander around the house to see if he could find a tasty cochroach, but he was acting so nasty towards me that I put him outside so that he could find something else to eat (other than me) after his long cold nap in the fridge.

Bon appétit.

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Today’s Invertebrates

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on January 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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The garden was busy this morning. Everybody was hungry. This spindly looking spider was laying in wait for a tasty bug:

A spindly spider

Here’s a Microsoft Photozoom rendition of him:

Here’s a different kind of spider on the same kind of flower:
Green spider laying in wait for breakfast One thing that I’ve noticed is that, no matter how many of these flowers are blooming in my garden (sometimes hundreds), about half of them will have a resident spider.

I went a little crazy shooting this caterpillar. I don’t often show four images of the same thing on a post, but I’ll make an exception this time:

Caterpillar on Curry Tree branch In the shot above, I like the way the sun slings the spiky shadows of the caterpillar’s horns on the leaf. The lower leaf is on a Bird of Paradise plant and the one that the caterpillar is crawling on is from a Curry Tree. (Yes, the leaves of a Curry Tree do taste like curry – sort of.)

Charlie, our security guard, is always on the lookout for interesting items for me to photograph. He enjoys the hunt and likes to observe as I shoot what he has found. Many of the creepy-crawlies that I’ve shown from my garden were discovered by Charlie.

Here’s a shot from the side with the sun behind me. The feet are very interesting. They are quite pudgy and remind me of spats – if anybody out there remembers what they  are:

Hungry caterpillar

The poor little critter (about 3cm long) became very confused because the twig on which he was crawling was only about four times his own body length. He went to one end and turned around, then crawled vigorously to the other end. There he found once again that he was at the end of his world and turned around again. Finally, he stopped for a minute in the middle of the twig and made another turn:

Confused caterpillar

The image above nicely shows his cute little feet.

Here’s one final image of the caterpillar going back the other way on the underside of the twig:

Caterpillar on a mission

In the image above you can see the tiny thread of silk that he trailed behind him during the entire horrifying experience.

When we were finished shooting him, we transported him safely back to his Curry Tree. Charlie said he would see if he could discover where it will build its cocoon. He wants to know what kind of butterfly or moth will be produced.

Charlie is a very curious fellow.

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Strolling Through My Garden

Posted in My Garden on January 4th, 2009 by MadDog
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I had a little stroll through my garden this morning, camera in hand.

I always check for insects. There are plenty of bugs that chew on my leaves, but I don’t worry much about foliage loss. Plants grow so quickly here that the insects can hardly keep up. If it were not for the bugs, we’d be buried in plants.

My insect inspection each morning is mostly so that I can see what might be posing nicely for a photograph. This tiny green spider is busy eating his breakfast – a juicy fly with polka-dot wings:

A little green spider enjoying his breakfast

If you click to enlarge, you’ll see that the spider has eight eyes. I’ve shown other spiders on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi here, and here.

I have many varieties of Coleus in my garden. They always make intriguing patterns to photograph:

Green and red coleusFixing on patterns now, I’m stopping at a coconut tree to see what the lichens are up to:

Lichens on coconut tree

Can’t get my mind off of patterns – probably leftover nitrogen from my last dive. It can make you a little trippy. These flame-tree leaves are too, too green:

Flame Tree leaves

This has to be the weirdest panorama that I’ve done. It spreads over more than 400°. You can see the house and car twice. It looks nothing like our front yard, yet everything that is visible in the yard is in the photo – just wildly distorted:

Dizzying front-yard panoramaOooo, head is spinning now. It’s Sunday. I’m going for a nap.

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Along Came a Spider

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on November 12th, 2008 by MadDog
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Well, nothing has happened at all concerning moving Madang – Ples Bilong Mi to a new server. It turns out that I’m a complete incompetent. I did my best, but it’s not working. So, we’ll stay put for the time being until I can get somebody smarter to help me.

When I got up this morning, I truly thought the world had caught fire. I stepped into the lounge and ghastly red light was pouring through the front windows – never seen anything like it. I ran to the front of the house and looked out. The entire eastern sky was bright fiery red and it was raining hard.

I ran to get my camera and a towel. By the time I had reached the dock and started to shoot, the show was mostly over, but the sky was still a nice orange colour:Orange Sunrise
Being already wet, I stopped to take this shot:
Water drops on a banana leafNever pass up a chance to shoot water drops.

Next, I went over to my funny little hibiscus patch where there are always several different kinds of bees humming about.

This little fellow was oblivious to me. His tiny hind legs fat with pollen, he gobbled away. Notice the Rule of Thirds again (and on the sunrise shot). It worked beautifully on this shot: (it’s quite nice if you click to enlarge)A busy little bee demonstrating the Rule of Thirds
On my way back to the house, I noticed this small spider. He’s about half the size of a pencil eraser. He was a very cooperative subject, sitting quietly while I jostled the leaf trying to get the right angle. Or maybe he was simply frozen with terror:

Along Came a Spider
I know that I certainly would be. I like the way the light plays with his legs to make spidery looking shadows.

I ran the full-sized image of the little spider through Microsoft’s Photozoom site so that you can see his gorgeous hairy legs:

I wouldn’t stare at the detail for too long.

Other planets couldn’t have things much stranger than our good old Earth.

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