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Englishman in Bandung

Blipfoto.com

Friday 6 January 2012: Chik-chak

Today I decided it prudent to photograph one of my many residents, because to leave the house for any longer than ten minutes would have been extremely dangerous. As some of you are no doubt enjoying your breakfast while catching up on blip and others may be of a nervous disposition, rather than tell you the problem, I'll just give you a clue:

Which muscle in the human body can usually tell the difference between a solid, liquid and a gas - but not always?

I would like you to meet one of my favorite house guests. It is actually a gecko, but locally known as a chik-chak, due to the sound that they make. They wander in and out of the house through the window ventilation gaps. It is not unusual to have as many as twenty of these scaly critters in the house, but usually two or three can be found which generally means that there are more.

Rarely in Indonesian houses are the windows totally closed, often they are slats. The windows in my house do actually close, but I always keep them open in combination with an extractor fan down stairs, so I have a steady stream of fresh air flowing through the house.

So why not lock them out! They do have disadvantages: they can wake you up with their chik-chak calls in the dead of night and they crap everywhere, so anything to do with food, dishes, pans etc, has to be covered.

Quite a few times a chik-chak has fallen onto me, usually when I am relaxed, watching a DVD or doing internet. When that happens, you have no idea what it is, you just know it's BIG. Imagine a tribal war dance viewed at X16 fast forward followed by a change of underpants and you will get the idea of the effect.

Another one that always gets me is the trash can trick. You throw something in the bin, the bin then starts rustling and a chik-chak jumps out. More laundry.

The advantage of having a few chik-chaks around is that they eat bugs, especially mosquitoes. They are worth putting up with just for this one fact.

My stalking skills, learned since joining blip, are improving each day, a few months ago this shot would have seemed impossible. Many times I have tried to photograph a chik-chak but was not able to get anywhere near enough for a decent shot, they are so shy and fast.

They are fascinating to watch hunting. They see an insect land as much as twelve feet away. They sprint to about four feet away, then advance a few inches at a time and pounce the last six inches or so. They rarely miss.

The tiny hairs on their feet give them incredible grip on even the smoothest of vertical surfaces, the force required to break the grip being many times the weight of the lizard, but still, as mentioned above, they do make mistakes.

Hopefully it will be normal coverage resumed tomorrow, with a solid insect blip from the common.

I got half way through my comments and felt feint. I will finish later or tomorrow.

Dave

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