Sunday, December 07, 2008

Mangrove Walk at Pulau Ubin

Since the last mangrove workshop, a number of the volunteers had feedback to me that they would like to go for a field trip to see the "real" thing. As such, I decided to organise a trip to Pulau Ubin to show them how the mangrove plants look like in their natural habitats, and at the same time, to test whether they can still remember what they have learned :P

Pulau Ubin was chosen because a high diversity of mangrove plants can be found there growing close to each other (unlike Sungei Buloh, where I have to walk a long distance to cover the same number of species, if not less), and since I go there regularly, I know where I could find the various species. But still, along the way, we had quite a few surprises!

Berus Mata Buaya (Bruguiera hainesii)
And this must be the biggest surprise of the day - Bruguiera hainesii, a very rare mangrove tree. This was spotted towards the end of our exploration, when I was only left with 2 other volunteers following me! While I knew it can be found on Ubin, I never expect to find it since it's so rare! This species is listed by the International Union for Conservation and Natural Resources (IUCN) as critically endangered. It is also called Berus Mata Buaya in Malay, which means crocodile eyes, refering to the large lenticels on the bark.

Kacang-kacang (Aegiceras corniculatum)
Another highlight was that I actually managed to find the kacang-kacang (Aegiceras corniculatum) that I spotted like donkey years ago! The bark of this tree contains a poisonous saponin which was used as a fish poison in the past. This is also a rather rare mangrove plant.

Sonneratia ovata flower
Yet another highlight for some of us was probably this Sonneratia ovata, also a rather rare mangrove tree here. I found this tree just earlier this year and knew exactly where it is. Still, I was glad to find it still surviving well.

Sonneratia ovata fruit
Here's the fruit. Unlike the more common S. alba, the calyx grips the fruit instead of being reflected backwards.

Nyireh batu (Xylocarpus moluccensis)
I also managed to find several nyireh batu (Xylocarpus moluccensis), which has pointed leaf tips instead of rounded ones.

Will not go into the more common mangrove species we saw since there were too many of them. Here are some of the interesting animals we saw :)

blue nawab butterfly (Polyura schreiber tisamenus)
Near the Ubin jetty, we found this blue nawab butterfly (Polyura schreiber tisamenus), which just emerged from its chrysalis.

Stick insect
We also spotted 2 stick insects, and here's one of them.

Dragonfly (Camacinia gigantea)
I was rather excited to spot this huge dragonfly, which is a female Camacinia gigantea. This is quite a rare dragonfly in Singapore.

Also found this other dragonfly which I wasn't sure of the species.

Cotton stainer bugs (Dysdercus decussatus)
There were lots of the usual cotton stainer bugs (Dysdercus decussatus) on several of the sea hibscus trees (Talipariti tiliaceum).

Cotton stainer bugs (Dysdercus simon)
And yet another highlight of the day was these Thespesia firebugs (Dysdercus simon). While they look very similar to Dysdercus decussatus, the latter have red heads, while the former have black heads, and feed on the seeds of the portia tree (Thespesia populnea). The two bugs above were mating.

Juvenile (Dysdercus simon)
We also saw lots of juvenile Dysdercus simon on this portia tree fruit.

Mating grasshoppers
Somehow, many animals were in the mood for love, and we found several mating pairs, such as the two grasshoppers here.

Mating millipedes
So were these 2 millipedes here.

Passion fruit (Passiflora laurifolia)
To end this blog entry, I thought I'll just include this very pretty passion fruit (Passiflora laurifolia) flower here :P

A very long and tiring day, but certainly still a very worthwhile trip :)


Anonymous said...

Ah nice to see some insects. There are very few about at the moment (certainly no dragonflys), as were well into winter with frost and everything. great pics as ever :)

Ron Yeo said...

Great to hear from you again, Neil :)

At least you don't have to worry about mosquitoes whole year round :P

Anonymous said...

Fair point! Although Im one of those lucky people that tend not to be bothered by them.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Bruguiera species you found on P. Ubin's northern coast is indeed Bruguiera hainesii! Excellent.