February 2010

The louvred sculpture by Darwin artist Brian Ash was destroyed in early February by strong winds that broke a branch from one of the Shorea materialis trees near the front fence. Asialink resident artist Brian Ash created this untitled work in 1999 from aluminium and mirror louvres to reflect the vertical nature of the young dipterocarp grove in the southwest corner of the garden. The long tailed macaques had repeatedly damaged the sculpture in the past, presumably because of the mirrors, or perhaps they just thought it a different kind of climbing frame.

S. materialis is an extremely heavy balau timber that used to be fairly common on the east coast of the peninsula from Terengganu to Endau, on low-lying usually sandy soil near the coast or on tidal reaches of rivers. Ten were planted at Rimbun Dahan where the soil is sandy and most have thrived. The tree which is the culprit of this artistic attack will be pruned further to reduce the canopy load, and a creeper will be planted at the foot to reinforce it and counter lightening strike.

For more information about the Shorea at Rimbun Dahan, see the plant list of Dipterocarps. For other outdoor sculptures, see selections from the permanent collection.

Breeding season is coming, and good nesting property is in short supply.

Our sole gold-whiskered barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon) industriously excavated a hole in the dead tree trunk near the main house, which is a favoured perch of all species of birds.

The family of black-thighed falconets (Microhierax fringillarius) then decided to move in, but were chased off by a pair of dollar birds (Eurystomus orientalis). However, the dollar birds found the hole too small for them and they in turn were forced off by the tenacious falconets. What is possibly the male falconet sits at the top of the tree on the lookout, with the female going in and out of the hole, resting in an adjacent tree before entering hole to make sure no one is watching.