Saturday, 8 November 2008

Nocturnal Tarap Eater

One of the animals that come to eat the tarap fruits at night in my backyard that I was able to photograph is the Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). Possibly another species of civet - the Malay Civet (Viverra tangalunga) also does so though I've never seen it.

A nocturnal omnivore, the palm civet hunts alone. They are expert climbers and spend most of their lives in trees. They eat small vertebrates, insects, ripe fruits and seeds. They are very fond of palm sap, therefore their common name. The sap is used by natives to make a sweet liquor called "toddy", which gives the palm civet its other common name. The palm civet is also fond of coffee cherries. They eat the outer fruit and the coffee beans pass through their digestive tract. An expensive coffee called kopi luwak is supposedly made from these coffee beans. Kopi luwak is said to have a gamy flavor and sells for more than $100 per pound.

More Tarap Eaters

The biggest of the birds that come to the feast is the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris), there's a semi-resident pair of them in the neighbourhood.

At least two species of bulbuls - the Olive-winged (Pycnonotus plumosus) (above)  
and the very common Yellow-vented (Pycnonotus goiavier) (below)

The smallest - the Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum trigonostigma)
sometimes feed on the wing, hovering like humming birds. The photo below is 
that of a female (or possibly a juvenile). The bottom photo shows a mature male. 

Tarap Eaters

A large ripe fruit of the Tarap (Artocarpus odoratissimus) overlooked by the farmer is a bonanza and day-long feast for the neighbourhood's birds, squirrels and other frutivorous animals. Usually a squirrel would have found and made an opening in the thick spiny skin to get at the sweet pulpy flesh in the morning. Then the birds would follow; by late afternoon most of the fruit is gone and if anything is left in the evening, bats would clean it up. 

Photo 1 & 2 : Plantain squirrel (Caloscuirus notatus)

Photo 3: Slender-billed Crows (Corvus enca) are early birds

Or a civet would come in the early evening and open up a just ripened fruit; even a big civet would have difficulty finishing it so when it has had its fill there will be plenty to share with bats and other nocturnal animals and some left over even for the early birds and squirrels.

In this post, and more following posts I hope, I will present photos I took of some of the visitors to MY tarap tree in my backyard when it's in season. I rarely pick the fruits as they are literally for the birds, and squirrels and civets and bats...