Saturday, June 16, 2007

Semakau Public Walk (16th June 2007)

While waiting at the West Coast Pier, the wind was blowing from the South, we were hoping that the storm cloud that threatened the sky will quickly come to pass. Well it will be a wet experience for all of us!

Today walk, we were priviledged to lead the girls from St Nicholas, our team was the Turtle Team.

Reaching Semakau, we quickly make a dash to the entrance as the tide was already rising.

Well certainly we were not walking like turtle from the landing point tothe entrance.

Across the meadow, we chanced upon this Spider Conch (Lambis lambis) with its two protruding

A Spider Crab (Schizophrys aspera), looks at the size of this beauty. This was the first time I am seeing such a crab in Semakau. A close relative is the Snow Crab or the cold water Spider Crab which are delicacy in Japan.
The highlight of Semakau trip will be the Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus), not ONE but Three. Being cradled gently by the "Turtles"of St Nicholas.
Semakau Landfill has only ONE shelter which is at the entrance, and being on a mud flat is simply too dangerous for we became the highest point in the whole area. Not wise, if you received any Lightning Warning.

Alas, the coordinator received lightning warning, and the storm cloud that we saw earlier has shed its contents towards the East, hastily we beat a retreat, with some wiser ones donning poncho and retrieving their brollies. For the unprepared, a drenching experience it will be.

In the haste, some of the "Turtles" trod on untested land, and found themselves knee high in mud. Save for the pride, some shoes were stuck in the quagmire of Mangrove Swamp.

Shelter we reached, but simply too small for this crowd.

Guides will have to sacrifice and outside the shelter we have to stand, but honestly it is definitely cooler, and if not more pleasant!

Looks at their smile, and I believe they agree so.

Finally the rain cleared, and the land is once again refreshed!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Kranji Trail and SBWR (9th June 2007)

Sungei Buloh - I have been to this place numerous time, but each time - it is always something new. This time we accessed Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve via the Kranji Trail, a new walk for me as I have no notion that this trail exists.

As we entered the Kranji Trail, the pathway was still covered with dew, a renewal of day. A new beginning, creatures go about with their never ending tasks - and we started this day learning more and appreciating these beautiful creations.
As we entered the trail, our journey was welcomed by this White Bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), as it circled whether looking for food or taking advantage of the hot rising air, we will never know. But its flight is one of majestic and graceful motion.

Flowers - they are all around.

Picture 1 - Yellow Creeping Daisy (Wedelia trilobata)

Picture 2 - Unknown thing (flower, fruit ???). I simply have no clue.

Picture 3 - Rotan tikus (Flagellaria indica) growing toward the sun.

Picture 4 - Rattlebox Pea (Crotalaria sp.) When the fruit ripened and started to dry, shake the pod and it is akin to the baby rattle.

Picture 5 - Singapore Rhododendron or Straits Rhododendron (they are not true Rhododendron) (Melastoma malabathricum)

Sometimes it is good to let your "friend"walk ahead of you, well there are many spider webs that strewn the path, and with your friend"ahead, it means that the path will be cleared!

Picture 6 - Nephilia maculata - look at the beautiful web.

Picture 7 - Unknown Spider (probably a type of Lynx Spider)

Picture 8 - Another Unknown Spider

Picture 9 - Spider (Probably a Nephila)

Picture 10 - Unknown Spider

With the presence of the Arachnid, there are also a lot of insects.
Picture 11 - Leafhopper

Picture 12 - Unknown Insect (Possibly Juvenile Cricket)

Picture 13 - Shield Bug (Pycanum rubens)

Picture 14 - Unknown Wasp

Picture 15 - Juvenile Grasshopper

Picture 16 - This is a foamy nest of the Spittle Bug.

Picture 17 - Golden Back Ant

We finally reached the shore and this part face Johore (Malaysia).

In the tranquil of the morning, two herons were busied looking for their breakfast amidst the mangrove swamp. As can be seen - it was a hazy morning (not because of inadequate depth of field).

But look closely, and you will find rubbish abound in this area! Plastic, glass, wooden board - you named it, you can find it here.
Picture 18 - Onch - Shell-less slug.

Picture 19 - Fern (Stenochlaena palustris) The young leaf is edible but once the leaves become old, it becomes poisonous.

Picture 20 - A Climber (Cissia hastata)

Once we were out of the Kranji Trail, we entered the SBWR. Just outside the entrance, the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) was flourishing. The flowers are most spectacular, with a violet, blue and yellow spotted on one of its petal. BUT this plant is extremely hardy and flourished in most places. Now it is considered a pest as it clogged up most waterway and drive out the native water plants.

The Water Hyacinth is an introduced alien to our land, introduced to our soil in 1893, and eventually grown as pigs feed by the farmers. Soon this flourishing aquatic plant became a pest and covered the Kranji Reservoir in 1975. Problem was solved when these were physically removed, and pig farming stopped. (Source The Natural Heritage of Singapore 2nd Edition)

On the bridge, there is an unseen sentinel, ever watchful. The Stork Billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) hidden a distant away, perched on its favourite tree. It is called the stork billed kingfisher as its beak looks like that of a stork (refer to picture below of a stork)

We were at the blind, when the storks started to make their descent. Suspect that they may be escapists from the Jurong Bird Park or Mandai Zoo, but there were no leg tags!

As we were watching this pair, another one swooped down from above.

It was looking for a place to land.
Spotted and coming in to land.

Legs extended.
and chow time on the mud flat.

Picture 21 - Egretta gazetta. This one was busied running about catching its meals.

Spotted this Little Heron (Butorides striatus) on the mud flat. Suddenly it made a dash when it spotted a mudskipper, which became its meal. As the bird has to swallow the fish whole, it will first align the head to be swallow first, this will ensure no damage to the bird bullet from the fish fins and scales.

The Sea Hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus tiliaceus) last one day, and in the picture below, we can see the fresh flower in yellow and the one that blooms the day before and has already turned and will soon drop. Somehow, this has to do with our lives - the shortness of lives, and that we have to make proper and full use of our time, for soon it will pass away!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

St John Island (2nd June 2007)

St John Island - Lazarus Island
The last time I stepped on this island was so long ago - almost like 2 decades.
This morning we make the journey once again, and into the inter tidal area we went.

Like Lazarus who was resurrected by Jesus, the marine lives here apparently has a revival too and we feared every steps that we take will squash a coral here, or a sponge there.
We tread carefully, moving ever slowly across the tidal flat, taking pictures along the way.

Corals, nudibranch, crabs, sponges - they were everywhere.

Here are some sample shots.

Intertidal creatures are very resilient and to survive during low tide, they have adopted many techniques to keep themselves moist.
This soft coral above with the portion exposed to the air, the polyps are all withdrawn. But the ones that are still inthe water, you can see them exposed.

Similar for this soft coral

This Blue Beauties (Coral or Sponge) - I have no clue at this time. Will have to search the literature or some kind sould be so nice to provide the ID.
Was standing still, and this fish simply beckoned me to take some pictures. It kept swimming in front of me, and will not keep still. So have to resort to pre-focusing, and when it came within the viewfinder, simply snapped. I love this "plan" view of this unknown fish.

Flat Worm undulating its mantle as it swims in the water. Most graceful like the skirt of a spanish dancer.

I always wanted to see a Blue Dragon (nudibranch) and today I finally get to see one. This juvenile was really small (estimated to be 1.5 to 2 cm the most in length). But it is really beautiful. Observe the dark blue bands on the rhinophores (something like the "horns").
A spotted ray rested on the sea floor, docile and even tempered creature - but carry poisonous spines on its tail. I just realised that it has 2 blue stripes running down its tail. Docile creature

Sea Star there was none to be found, bu couple of cousins we did find. Sea Cucumber and Urchins are some of them. And below a Feather Star (Crinoid). This creature again will be my first time seeing them live.

Below, I believe is a Fan Worm but retracted to keep itself moist. Retracted partially into its tube with all its tentacles clumped together.

To keep itself from drying up, the Nerite can stay in its shell with the help of the trapdoor (operculum). This Nerite has a rough bumpy area near to the entrance - this area is called the "columellar shelf" and not all nerite has this bumpy characteristics which looks like the tongue of an ox. This one is most probably the Nerita albicilla Linnaeus.