Wednesday, September 9

Sunday Garden Buffet

The last of the ripe rambutan has been gathered from our garden, leaving only some of the fruit on the tree for our regular guests.  The Colasisi are always expected this time of the year, dropping by and perching for long periods (rather than just the quick twittering call as they fly past the house's airspace).

A Colasisi surveying the scene before committing to the feast.

This female was partaking of the remaining feast, quite oblivious to our admiring eyes and lenses.  She patiently took bites of the thick red rind, until the juicy white pulp was exposed.

Dainty bites.

We have garden benches that are situated under the rambutan trees, and a sure sign of a feeding colasisi (they are quite quiet as they munch along), are bits of red fruit skin falling on your hair or lap from above.

Unfortunately, the sweet scent of the juicy white fruit soon attracts huge wasps (hornets? I confuse the two). They quickly come around, buzzing all over the hard working Colasisi.

And along came a big, buzzing wasp!

Soon, the Colasisi is so bothered by the large hovering insect that it takes its leave, twittering harshly as it flies off.

This year, many of us rambutan pickers fell victim to the painful sting of hairy caterpillars (higad).  These large creepy crawlies love the rambutan leaves, but it is only this year that the height of the hairy caterpillar population boom coincided with harvest season.

So it was good to see that the caterpillars fall victim too, we saw a strange-looking bug (beetle?) grasping to one of the caterpillars, sucking up its juices through its mouth parts. Sluuuuuuuurp. Yummy.

Predator and prey. Sluuuuurp!

Of course many of the backyard birds also scour the leafy foliage for these juicy prey.  

The Pied Triller is a regular visitor to the Flamboyant Tree in front of the garage, just across the garden from one of the rambutans.  Its soft che-che-che-che can often be hear as it ambles about the branches looking for smaller hairy caterpillars.

A Pied Triller patiently looking for creepy crawling food.

While we were watching this particular male individual, a flash of yellow in the Narra beside the Flamboyant Tree caught my attention.  A young (and very quiet!) Black-naped Oriole was also on the hunt!

Soon it had in its beak a wiggling, huge hairy caterpillar!  

And another caterpillar falls prey!

It hopped and down a large branch, slapping the prey on the wood.  Does the slapping stun the caterpillar? Does it remove some of the stinging spines? Maybe both? (Does it tenderize the soft body even further?!?)

Oriole versus hairy caterpillar.

SLAP, slap, slap. Back and forth (somewhat violently!) until it is quite satisfied, and gulps down the caterpillar in one swallowing motion.

Some violent slapping going on.

I eat rambutan, I get stung by a caterpillar. Caterpillar gets slapped silly and then eaten by the oriole.

(In the meantime, a Colasisi is quietly eating rambutan at the top of the tree I can't reach. And the bug is still sucking up caterpillar juice.)


Fair enough.