Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wet Wet Tuas

Today, I finally got the opportunity to visit the grassland at Tuas!

Although this is actually a piece of reclaimed land, it managed to establish itself as one of the best spots for checking out dragonflies in Singapore! Unfortunately, the entire area will be converted into a new motor racing ground soon. In fact, the bulldozers were probably just a few hundred metres from where we were just now. Will expect the area that we explored today to be gone perhaps within a month or two...

Anyway, with me today were LK, ST, SY, JL and HW.

Even before we entered the grassland, we saw this tawny coster butterfly (Acraea violae) which looked like it has just emerged from its chrysalis. It was still quite weak, and couldn't even stretch out its wings to fly.

Indeed, not too far away on a leaf blade just below the butterfly, we found the above broken chrysalis.

As we were heading towards the area with the most dragonflies, we saw lots of pretty wild orchids among the tall grasses. According to SY, its probably a ground orchid, Spathoglottis plicata.

The morning glorys were in their full glory too!

And hiding among the resam ferns were lots of slender pitcher plants (Nepenthes gracilis)! I noticed that those nearer to the ground were red in colour...

...while those higher up were greener. Not quite sure why though.

Several of the pitcher plants obviously just bloomed not too long ago, as we saw lots of dried flowers.

Some of them had bunches of fruits too.

And in some of the pitchers, we found crab spiders hiding in them. They presumably attack insects attracted by the sugary liquid secreted by the pitchers. The above is a female spider.

On some pitchers, we found the male crab spiders too.

Here's another species of pitcher plant which doesn't grew into a vine like the previous one. Not sure of the species though.

Like I mentioned earlier, Tuas grassland is a great place for spotting dragonflies. The above is a female Diplacodes trivialis. The male ones are blue in colour. Didn't managed to get a photo of the male ones, as they simply refused to stop at a spot long enough for a good shot.

By the way, you may notice that dragonflies have relatively large eyes. These eyes supposedly may each contain as many as 30,000 individual lenses!

This Nannophya pygmaea was supposed to be the smallest species of dragonfly in Singapore. The male ones are red in colour.

Here's another male, but somehow it's not as red as the previous one. Could it be immature yet? Not quite sure though.

And here's a female, which has a duller colour. Many female animals have duller colours so as to camouflage better from predators when they are breeding.

We also saw a Ictinogomphus decoratus, which is commonly found around drains, ponds and lake margins.

There were indeed many different species of dragonflies at the grassland, but unfortunately most of them were rather alert and refused to stay long enough at a spot for us to take good shots.

Apart from dragonflies, there were many damselflies too. Damselflies are closely related to the dragonflies. They are both insects from the order Odonata.

This damselfly is probably a male Ischnura senegalensis. It is quite a common damselfly in Singapore. From this photo, you can also see that the area is flooded, and that's why it's so popular with dragonflies and damselflies, as they lay their eggs in water and their nymphs spent their childhood underwater!

This one is probably a Ceriagrion cerinorubellum. Unlike dragonflies, damselflies hold their wings close together vertically when they are resting. The former usually hold their wings by their sides perpendicularly.

This unfortunate one got caught in a spider web. Not to deprive the spider of a good meal, we did not rescue it.

A red damselfly was even more unfortunate, and was caught by another orange damselfly, probably a female Ischnura senegalensis. This species supposedly has several colour variations for the females. As I watched, the red damselfly was still wriggling away as the orange one munched on its head.

All in all, today had been a great day. Unfortunately this place will be developed soon. Hopefully I can find time to revisit it before it's totally gone...

Thanks to LK for inviting us to this trip, and the rest for your great company!

See also:
1. Tuas Marshlands by SY
2. Discovery at Tuas Grasslands on 17 Feb 2008 by JL
3. Carnivorous Plants (Tuas) by ST


SJ said...

I'm so gonna knock myself... how can SBWR become Tuas... somemore I live so close. Arghhh....

Ron Yeo said...

Hahahaha... Well, u said u had an appointment... so we din inform u of the changes :P