Monday, February 8, 2010

Punang River Firefly Night Time Assessment

Punang River Firefly Night Time Assessment

Observers Name : Musa (writer) , Sara, Norzie , Shaban and Musli.

Jetty/Berth Location: Kampung Punang Jaya. Location Location “A”: N4 53.129 E115 20.760

Survey River: Along Sungai Punang, Lawas, From Punang Jaya Jetty up river.

The Track 2.1 Km of Punang River and Display trees of Firefly survey.

Date :6th. Feb 2010

Field work START Time: 19:30 Field work FINISH Time: 20:20

MNS Miri made a trip to Sundar to conduct the Asian Waterbird Census 2010. We took the opportunity to do a quick night fireflies assessment along Punang River. This river is not a Sonneratia caseolaris populated forest, but of a regrowth of a previously harvested bakau swamp forest.

The survey was conducted by 5 persons on board one boat.

Our boat driver, Musli steered the boat and kept watch for logs and the surrounding. Sara scanned the river and pointed with a green laser any trees that has fireflies. Once she pointed to a display tree, I would log the coordinate and counted the fireflies using a night-vision scope. Norzie took notes of the GPS waypoints and number of fireflies counted. Shaban also took note trying to pickout what firefly watching is about.

The air was cool and with slight breeze blowing. We decided to do survey on the right side of the river first, this side is not populated by people. On the left side of the river we could see some display tree too. We decided not to count it, and would do it on the return trip. We went up river and the first display tree was at WPT 477 that had some 50 individuals. We took note of the display tree and it's WPT.

The firefly flashing color was green and the rate was noted to be a flash per two seconds and in synchronisation.

We also found individual fireflies flying along the river. Though the wind was blowing intermittently the fireflies did show up. There were no mosquitoes that nite and only few moths were flitting about.

We went up river until WPT 496 when the wind started to blow hard.

We back tracked and as we returned to the display trees that we noted a slightly reduced number of fireflies flashing. On some trees, the fireflies stopped flashing altogether. We only noted 7 trees on the left of the river.

We concluded with some 26-display trees of along the survey area. A few trees had +100 individuals.

We completed our assessment at 8:20 pm.


a. Moon Phase
Last Quarter.

Moon Light : None.

b. Weather
Dark sky, with rain cloud hanging, Lightning in the distance at South East. Distance thunder.
Relative Humidity: Low
Temperature: cool.
Water temperature 29.7 ° C
Air temperature 29.3 ° C

Wind : Slight breeze, and windy at the end of the survey.
Haze : No

c. River Condition
Current: Slowly moving down

Boat used : Yamaha 40 hp.
Survey Average Speed 9.5 Km/hr.
Tide: High

Time : 19:30 sighted first single firefly at the starting Point at WPT 477.

WPT 477 Time : 19:45:42
+50 individual fireflies
Our first encounter a Display tree at WPT 477.

WPT 478 Time : 19:47:21
+50 individual fireflies

WPT 479 Time : 19:48:02
+50 individual fireflies

WPT 480 Time : 19:50:08
Three close together trees average of +50 individual fireflies per tree.

WPT 481 Time : 19:50:08
+150 Individual fireflies.

WPT 482 Time : 19:51:46
+200 Individual fireflies
Watch a synchronised flashing of around 2 seconds per flash.

WPT 483 Time : 19:51:46
+30 Individual fireflies

WPT 484 Time : 19:52:47
+100 Individual fireflies

WPT 485 Time : 19:54:23
+30 Individual fireflies

WPT 486 Time : 19:54:30
+20 Individual fireflies

WPT 487 Time : 19:55:21
+15 Individual fireflies

WPT 488 Time : 19:56:21
+15 Individual fireflies

WPT 489 Time : 19:56:54
+15 Individual fireflies

WPT 490 Time : 19:58:47
+200 Individual fireflies

WPT 491 Time : 20:00:01
+10 Individual fireflies

WPT 492 Time : 20:01:54
+50 Individual fireflies

WPT 493 Time : 20:02:34
+20 Individual fireflies

WPT 494 Time : 20:03:58
+10 Individual fireflies

WPT 495 Time : 20:04:22
+20 Individual fireflies

WPT 496 Time : 20:07:06
+30 Individual fireflies

WPT 497 Time : 20:08:04
+30 Individual fireflies

WPT 498 Time : 20:09:16
+100 Individual fireflies
Display in High tree.

WPT 499 Time : 20:13:00
+50 Individual fireflies

WPT 500 Time : 20:14:52
+20 Individual fireflies

WPT 501 Time : 20:16:01
+200 Individual fireflies

WPT 502 Time : 20:20:01
+10 Individual fireflies

WPT 503 Time : 20:21:37
+20 Individual fireflies

End of survey: Location "B" N4 52.357 E115 20.951 Time : 20:07

We decided to return and stop the survey when the wind started blowing even harder. On our way back, we still observed some fireflies on the display trees, but only 7 trees at the left side of the river.

We reached the Jetty at 20:45.

The area was once a huge bakau forest and had been harvested to make charcoal and pilling. Now there are newly growing bakau and Sonneratia caseolaris trees. According to the locals, the area around Awat-awat and Sundar River has greater number of fireflies.

The fireflies of Punang is probably trying to make a come back, that is if present situation wrt the mangroves continues to improve. As it is there much less mangroves left between the coast at the oil palm plantation compared to when there wasn't any plantations.

Overview of Punang River Map.

Musa Musbah, February 2010

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