All Creatures Great and Small

We fell in love with Raja Ampat because of the incredible diving and snorkelling here, but since living on the island we’ve also been amazed and delighted by the variety and abundance of wildlife that we share this little patch of land with.  So, as a small interlude between the re-building blogs, here’s a brief introduction to some of our fauna friends on Pulau Dayan…

Our friends are mostly of the bird and insect variety – there are, of course, some annoying little mozzies, and ants of many varieties.  My favourite ants are the tiny black tree ants that every so often have a mass pilgrimage from one tree to another, often long distances apart.  It’d be like doing a marathon for these little guys, but it happens often so we have to be careful not to tread on the wide black trails they make around the property.

Millions of these little ants setting off on another pilgrimage

We also have grasshoppers, crickets, and at least one praying mantis.

here’s a chirpy little fellow
And a very elegant praying mantis

When we first arrived, I got the shock of my life one morning when I went into the kitchen and found a giant cricket sitting on top of the freezer.  After that initial fright, we got very fond of our resident pair, Jiminy and Jemima, who used to hang out on the kitchen walls and chirrup away to us as we cooked dinner.  

Jiminy. Or maybe Jemima.

We were a bit sad after the fire, thinking they may not have made it, but Bruce found one in the battery shed not long ago, so we like to think it’s one of our original pair.

Butterflies abound too – of all sizes and colours.

And plenty of small lizards and geckos.

The teeniest baby gecko
And very fat lizards who gorge themselves on ants

My favourites are the birds – there’s a resident pair of Radjah shelducks that fly from one side of the bay to the other ever since we’ve been here and  sometimes stop by for a snack.

And just lately they introduced us to their new brood of eight ducklings. How lovely!

We have the occasional hornbills that fly over, sounding like helicopters with the “whump, whump” of their huge wings beating the air.  They’re pretty shy so it’s hard to get a picture of them.

A beautiful brahminy kite comes fishing off the beach most days, and we have egrets and curlews that occasionally show up.

Another favourite is our resident palm cockatoo, “Elvis”.  He’s loud and brash, with a swagger to match.

Most days he’ll walk along the beach looking for fallen palm nuts, and he often sits in the tree above our dining room throwing nuts on the roof in a bid for attention. 

You know you’ve been living on an island too long when you start playing music for the birds….. I thought he might like some Elvis (hence the name).  So far he hasn’t started dancing, but I’m convinced I just have to find the right music!

And then, of course, there’s the crabs.  So many crabs. The small, scuttly ones on the beach, and the myriad of hermit crabs of all shapes and sizes. When the kitchen was operational, our waste water from the sink went into a bucket under the house so we could water the plants. The hermit crabs were in heaven and congregated around the bucket waiting for the Overflow Party to start.  It’s been a bit light-on lately, but i’m sure they’ll be very happy once we’re back in business.

The overflow party in full swing

We also suspected that we had coconut crabs here, but hadn’t seen any until Hans came over for dinner one evening and chopped up some coconuts for them.  They’re a beautiful blue colour, but distinctly odd-looking, like a cross between a lobster and a crab. They’re also protected, so there’ll be no eating these fellas.  

This one’s a decent size

We had a little mystery a while ago, when I kept finding the aluminium drip-tray from the BBQ on the ground in the morning, slightly chewed.  We’ve never seen any rats here, but we thought only a rat could climb up the stand and pull off the tray.  So imagine my surprise when I came out to cook the other night and found the culprit – a cheeky coconut crab who obviously has an oil addiction!

He even checked out the cooktop too!

There’s never a dull moment living on an island.

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