Greetings everyone,

In this third blog from my Sabah trip, I am sharing a few details gleaned from walks in the forest – with a focus on the forest floor and shrub layers.  The tropical rainforest has five layers – the emergent layer where trees can grow to heights of 50-60 metres, the main canopy layer which is home to 50% of the plant species, the understory layer which only receives about 5% of the sunlight shining on the main canopy, the shrub layer where almost all of the rainforest animals are found, and the forest floor which receives only 2% of the sunlight and where ants, termites, worms and fungi recycle nutrients from dead plant and animal matter into soil which in turn nourishes the plants.

Taking a little time to observe the forest floor revealed all manner of delights. I loved the variety of fungi shapes and colours, the interesting patterns and habitats of the insects and the way the wild flowers and plants emerged through the undergrowth to attract the eye.

ff_01Just in case one thought otherwise, we were warned that the ‘forest floor’ could be a little wet and slippery 
ff_02We were also advised that there were plenty of leeches wanting us to donate our blood so ‘leech socks’ were required wear 

ff_03And indeed there were plenty, like this tiger leech, just waiting and poised to latch onto any available skin 

ff_21There were toadstools and fungi of all colours and shapes, for which only an expert would know the names

ff_20Some clinging to the sides of fallen branches

ff_17Or colonising rotting logs

ff_22Bright spots of colour against a moss covered log

ff_25Others already sprouting on living shrubs

ff_23And my favourite, an aptly named Red Cup toadstool

Then there were the lizards and insects to watch out for, many very difficult to see but our guides
had eagle eyes and knew of places where we were likely to see some

ff_32A beautifully spiked back warns off the predators of this lizard

ff_34And this colourful creature is a ‘Tractor Millipede’

ff_11Another one – the Dollar Millipede, so named because it curls into a ball when attacked, to look a little like a coin

ff_31A wonderfully coloured hairy caterpillar

ff_28And what about this pair of pink and blue insects – are they a couple or just friends stopped to gossip?

ff_29And then there were three Katydids, each to their own leaf

ff_09A cicada only really visible because he chose a dead leaf on which to perch rather than among the green leaves

ff_10Another cicada, one antenna missing, with his patterned back looking like burnished metal

ff_08A bright yellow moth, or is it a butterfly, resting among the leaves

And even with little sunlight, there were ferns unfurling and bright wildflowers tucked in between
the rotting branches and the mosses and fungi of the undergrowth.   ff_12This plant, whose name I can’t remember, is a cross between a fungus and a fern

ff_13But this is most definitely a young fern frond soon to unfurl 

ff_05The delicate tendrils of a wild begonia

ff_06  Another wild begonia set against the vibrant greens of its leaves

ff_37Bright yellow buds opening in the undergrowth 

ff_38A single purple bloom emerging from the stems and dead plants

ff_27A wild ginger flower

ff_36A beautiful waxy plant curling open to expose its stamen

And finally on some of our evening walks through the rain forest we not only heard, but were able to spot a couple of frogs
and with the aid of a spotlight managed to capture their colours and bulging eyes.

ff_14Only the eyes in focus, but this frog’s markings also clearly visible

ff_16This one may be called a ‘Green Tree Frog’ but if not it is certainly a green frog in a tree

So that was it for my discoveries of the forest floor, the plants and animals certainly not as dramatic as the previous post with the
elephants, alligator, birds, monkeys and orangutans, but equally interesting in their detail and diversity.

My next and last blog from my Sabah trip, coming soon, will feature a Baja Laut Sea Gypsy village.