Despite some large storms erratically wandering the landscape these last few days I think we can now safely say that "winter" has arrived in Thailand.
The forest is drying quickly, leaves are falling and the air and light now have that special "Thai winter" feeling to it. And my very own acid test - the "3 a.m. one sleeping bag is not enough" test - has been passed. Yes, that strange feeling when you wake at 3 a.m. in the forest and think "hell" and you huddle into a ball trying to make sure no parts of one's aging carcass are exposed to the cold crisp night air.
Its a time to try and sort the rear of my aging pickup again and try and create some order to the chaos that is piled unkempt camping gear, photo gear and musty forest gear. The detrious and aftermath of the wet season. It gives me both dread and anticipation to think about what odd bits of unused or forgotten dirt encrusted gear lurk under the piles of my more commonly used gear that holds place on the top of the pile. But as its a time of year I will stay in the forest more than any other, it just has to be done. From chaos should come order.
Its also a time of year to re-think ones intended photographic "prey". To try to take adavantage of the seasonal change as the different forest life forms change their habits, hang outs, routes and behaviour to counter for what is the start of hardship period for some forest dwellers. Indeed its a time of year when I, myself, get ready to concentrate on mammals again. There's currently a little too much foliage about for getting good light onto the forest floor but the open areas are now yielding impressive shutter speeds for those lucky encounters. And the ever important water sources are drying up already and creating nice margins by rivers and streams to spot some of the forest's mammalian inhabitants.
I always like to set each new "photographic season" with a quest, something that has eluded me or proven difficult. This dry season i plan to try some of the forest's squirrels. Try may be the operative word as I have found them incredibly difficult to photograph in the wild to date. Always elusive and scurrying, hidden by branches and twigs - but one has to have a plan! What's yours?
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Were these Dholes the result of a new season's unsuccessul squirrel-hunt?
Or digged up from the archives?
Either way great sighting & pics.
For me winter had arrived when I discovered 40 - 50 ticks stuck to my skin after the first night walk after the closing season around Ban Krang camp in KK.
From that moment I longed for the next leech season.
Oh, but wait, leech season had not finished yet. So this time of year it's double fun.
Or should I say triple...
Because for the third time in my Thai jungle travelling carreer, worms had travelled with a leech and started their quest for... uhhhm I don't know what their quest is.
The first two cases a year or more ago happened after leech bites on my feet, and that time I was not convinced that the worms had travelled with the leech. This time however, the bite was under my belly button, and from the beginning, the bite itched more than usual.
A day later I was fearing it would be a worm infection, and the second day it was sure. Worms were crawling under my skin leaving a redish trail starting from the leech bite, the itch is as annoying as the itch from the tiny ticks.
The previous two worm infections I solved by freezing the worms with nitrogen ice available in certain ice cream shops that use it as package material. But the ice burns the skin, leaving ugly scars, that take very long to heal.
One of the gibbon researchers in Khao Yai who had experienced the same worms from a leechbite, told us last year that he had used Albendazole tablets and managed to get rid of them. So I tried that this time, and after the 3 days of taking this medicine, the worms died.
Even despite risk of a worm infection, I prefer leeches over ticks. From the hundreds of leech bites over the years, only 3 carried worms, so not exactly something to worry about.
About the ticks, and especially the incredible itch, a medicine containing Hydroxyzine and Dihydrochloride helps very well to stop the itch. At least, it does for me.
Back to the jungle trip, another way to tell winter had not fully kicked in yet, was the fact I found 6 snakes that night. And that was just a short walk around the forest edge around the camp ground. A surprising result.
Good luck with the squirrel hunt, some are indeed hard to photograph.