Monday, March 23, 2009

A Wet Morning at Pulau Ubin

Due to the heavy rain the night before, everything was still dripping wet when I reached Pulau Ubin with a friend on Sunday. Fortunately, the rain had stopped when we arrived, and we could proceed with our exploration.

Durian flowers(Durio zibethinus)
The durian trees (Durio zibethinus) were blooming! Thinking about the yummy durians was enough to make me salivate. Was chatting with one of the older villagers (practising my Teochew at the same time), and he told me the durian flowers were exceptionally many this year. Can I look forward to a lot more durians as well in a few months time? Hmm...

Scaly breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata)
As we were walking pass a patch of tall grass, we saw several scaly breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata). They usually feed on grass seeds, foraging in small flocks.

Gedabu (Sonneratia ovata)
While we passed by a small stream, I noticed two rows of wild mangrove trees on either sides of it, some with the distinctive cone-shaped aerial roots (or pneumatophores). Taking a closer look, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were the uncommon gedabu trees (Sonneratia ovata). I had only managed to find another one previously along the Sensory Trail, though I have heard from Naparks staff that there were quite a few of them on Ubin. The fruit of this plant is edible.

This looked very much like the fruiting tree I saw at MacRitchie Reservoir earlier this month. Wonder if they were of the same species or related.

White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus)
Walking along the road, we heard a lovely bird call. It was a white-rumped shama (Copsychus malabaricus).

Rotan tikus (Flagellaria indica)
We noticed many plants blooming or fruiting today, including the rotan tikus (Flagellaria indica). This vine was used to weave into baskets in some places.

Nipah palm (Nypa fruticans)
The nipah palm (Nypa fruticans) blooms all year round, so I was not surprised to see many of them flowering today.

Tumu putih (Bruguiera sexangula)
During my last trip here, I saw the tumu putih (Bruguiera sexangula) planted by Nparks flowering, and it seemed like they were still flowering today.

Tumu putih (Bruguiera sexangula)
In fact, one seedling had even developed! This mangrove tree was previously thought to be extinct in Singapore, until a population was found on Pulau Tekong.

Bakau putih (Bruguiera cylindrica)
Not too far away, another related species, bakau putih (Bruguiera cylindrica), was found. This is one of the most common mangrove tree in Singapore though.

Lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora)
Yet another member of the same genus was this lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora), which was also flowering, but unfortunately for me, it has not developed any seedlings yet. The bark of this tree supposedly produces an odour which frightens away fish, while the seedling is eaten by some people.

Tengar (Ceriops tagal)
Several tengar trees (Ceriops tagal) can be found growing along the route we took. The trunk of this tree is sometimes used for building houses.

Ant house plant (Dischidia sp.)
Climbers like the ant house plant (Dischidia sp.) could be found on many of the mangrove trees. This one seemed like it would bloom soon!

Dungun (Heritiera littoralis)
The dungun trees (Heritiera littoralis) were blooming too!

Nearer to the back mangrove area, I tried looking for the chimney-building fiddler crabs (Uca sp.), but could only see the burrows. Not sure if they were hiding from the excess freshwater from the rain.

Bastard guelder (Premna corymbosa) with Atlas moth (Attacus atlas)
A bastard guelder tree (Premna corymbosa) was blooming too. I was about take a photo of the flowers when I saw that there were lots of Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) on it. The Atlas moth is the biggest moth in the world in terms of total wing surface area, and its wingspan is also one of the widest, up to 30cm.

Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) cocoon
We saw quite a few cocoons of the atlas moth too! The brown silk of the cocoon is known as fagara silk in India, and is supposed to be more durable that those produced by the silkworm. In Taiwan, these cocoon are made into pocket purses.

School of Fish
We eventually reached the jetty at Chek Jawa, and saw a huge school of fish underneath!

Slender needlefish (Strongylura leiura)
Once in a while, a slender needlefish (Strongylura leiura) would come along, sending the school of fishes into a frantic dispersal.

Jellyfishes appear to be in season, and we saw many of them. Kind of hard to try to tell what jellyfish they were since they were quite far and the photo I got can't quite show the details.. Could be a Catostylus sp. I guess.

Pacific swallow (Hirundo tahitica)
A few Pacific swallows (Hirundo tahitica) were spotted perching on the railings of the jetty at the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre when we are on our way back.

This was certainly a very fruitful trip for me, but due to the rain on the previous night, most of the photos of the plants did not turn out well since they were all wet. Well, guess I'll just have to pay Ubin another visit soon.