Love is in the air

Love is in the air

February 2006
This dry season is very stressful for a rainforest and when a rainforest does not get enough rain it begins to flower. The rainforest of Langkawi is slightly different to the rainforest on most of Mainland Malaysia.

This is because here on Langkawi we go through a distinct dry season that usually starts in the beginning or the middle of the month of December. This dry season is very stressful for a rainforest and when a rainforest does not get enough rain it begins to flower.

Thus the start of the dry season is also the start of the major flowering season. This is then followed by the gradual build up towards the major fruiting season and with the early fruit comes the early seeds and with the early seeds come the early rains. We are now in the months of March and April.

These rains will gradually build up towards the rainy season which is our South West Monsoons with our wettest months usually being September and October before the weather lightens up again by early November.Many animals especially the birds will choose the dry season as the season of love and courtship.

This is because when their young arrives it will arrive in time for the flowering, the fruiting, the seeding season and along with all that many pollinating insect too like bees, beetles and butterflies too. A season of plenty is here and there will be lots of food for the new arrivals, their parents and the many others. This is the best time to be in Langkawi.Love is in the air so to speak. Listen and you will hear the cooing love songs of our rainforest pigeons and the drumming of a lovelorn goldenback woodpecker.

And if you look up in the sky you will see the aerobatic courtship display of the dollar bird. Look into the trees and you may see the massive nest of the White Bellied Sea Eagle and if you are patient you will see the male bringing brunch for her.One of the most beautiful courtships that I have ever seen is the courtship display of the White Bellied Sea Eagle. In the fifteen years that I have been on Langkawi I have had the privilege to have seen the wedding ceremony of these birds three times.Why so few times you might ask, well these birds are monogamous i.e. they pair off for life so you do not see too many wedding ceremonies, only once in a pairs lifetime.

This bird reaches maturity at year five and can live for about twenty eight years.And when it is time for a young male to pair off he will find a potential mate and chase her. His job is to catch her so he relentlessly chases her while her job is to not make it easy for him. Sounds familiar I am sure. If he is unable to catch her he is probably too young or not strong enough.

But if he is strong, fast and fit he will come up close to her, he will try to get directly above her, now when he is just above her he brings his talons down towards her, and she turns over to fight him off. But after many attempts at fighting him off, she is now too tired and eventually relents by giving her talons to him.

Now unable to flap their wings the pair spins fall in a most beautiful slow spiral dance and just before they reach the top of the trees they let go and she then joins up with him and they fly off together into the sunset (Ok so I made up the sunset bit), that’s the wedding of the White Bellied Sea Eagle.

You just had to be there, my hair was on ends. Now the new pair has to establish a nesting site and it is usually a tall Meranti or Keruing tree not too far from the sea. The new pair will make a deep V shape gist with their wings, bring their talons down glide over their nesting tree, all along that time calling out with what I can only describe as a geese like call.

As a pair they are stronger than one because when an intruder enters their territory one can chase it out while the other climbs to keep the advantage of height at all times and in this way tire the intruder and send it out of its territory.

So folks when you here in February keep a good look out in our skies and who knows you might just be lucky enough and get to see the courtship display of the White Bellied Sea Eagle.

February 2006 – Irshad Mobarak


Pictures by Indera