Monday, November 29, 2010

My First Visit to Bidadari Cemetery

Some people may find it hard to believe that although I live so close to Bidadari Cemetery, I have never visited it until recently.

Went on a night walk with Marcus last Friday, and was really hoping to see some night life such as civets or owls. Unfortunately, we did not see either. We saw quite a few nightjars, bats and moths though, which I did not managed to get any photos. The most exciting find was probably this terrestrial flatworm - my first time seeing this species too!

Initially, I had intended to visit it again on Saturday, but was too tired and overslept. And so it ended up that I only got to visit it again on Sunday afternoon. While most nature photographers go to Bidadari for the birds, I was there for the squirrels, and so I wasn't too bothered by the fact that I wasn't going there in the morning, where there will be more feeding birds.

Variable Squirrel (Callosciurus finlaysoni)
My luck wasn't too bad, as not too long after I stepped into the cemetery, I saw a Variable Squirrel (Callosciurus finlaysoni) on a figging Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa)! It was happily feeding on the figs, which didn't appear to be ripe yet to me.

Variable Squirrel (Callosciurus finlaysoni)
Variable Squirrels are actually non-natives. They are possibly escapees or introduced to some of our parks by irresponsible pet owners.

Variable Squirrel (Callosciurus finlaysoni)
It was a really cute squirrel though. In fact, the genus name Callosciurus means Beautiful Squirrels. Hopefully it will not spread to other parts of Singapore and threaten our native squirrels. Had always wanted to see this squirrel, since I have a weakness for furry and fluffy animals. I saw at least 5 of them today, but only managed to get decent photos of this one on the fig tree.

Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus)
At another part of the cemetery, I saw a few Plantain Squirrels (Callosciurus notatus). These are native to Singapore, and are very cute too!

Both species of squirrels feed mostly on fruits and leaves, though they may also eat insects and bird eggs.

While it was in the afternoon, and weather didn't look too good, I managed to spot a number of common birds too. The bird photos I took weren't exactly good, since I wasn't an SLR user. But I decided to post them anyway just for record purpose. Haha... :P

Pink-necked Green-pigeon (Treron vernans)
There were lots of Pink-necked Green-pigeons (Treron vernans) in the cemetery. One of the Benjamin's Fig (Ficus benjamina) was figging, which attracted lots of them.

Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea)
Several Asian Koels (Eudynamys scolopacea) were also spotted. The above is a male. The koels were really noisy, and their calls were making echoes.

Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)
Due to the backlight, I only managed to identify this Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) after I took its photo and view it on the screen.

Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)
The Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) is possibly the most common kingfisher in Singapore.

Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus)
Heard the lot repetitive knocking sound made by this Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus), and it took me quite a while before I managed to locate the tree it was on.

As I was heading home, I spotted this pretty bug laying eggs!

Here's a look from the front.

Heard that some people have spotted owls here before, and Marcus and I heard their calls on Friday night as well. Think I will probably coming back here again on another day to try my luck again :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Another Visit to Sengkang Riverside Park

I didn't have much time to properly explore the new Sengkang Riverside Park the last time, and hence I decided to visit it again on 26 Nov 2010.

Sengkang Riverside Park
The park is located at Anchorvale Street along Sungei Punggol. In the middle of the river is a constructed wetland that collects and filters rainwater naturally through its aquatic plants.

Sengkang Riverside Park
Many of the aquatic plants were flowering, and attracted several sunbirds. There were also several herons and kingfishers, but unfortunately I did not get any decent photos of them :P

 Water Horn Fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides)
The Water Horn Fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides) that I spotted during my last trip was still there!

Crinum Lily (Crinum asiaticum)
Next to a patch of pandan leaves, I saw a lonely Crinum Lily (Crinum asiaticum). Suspect it's either a naturally occuring one, or the workers planted it here wrongly, as there was a planted patch not too far away. I later found a naturally occuring Crinum Lily among the mangroves plants though. Was quite sure it is not planted as it was a very mature plant right among the other wild mangrove plants.

Standing on the bridge over the constructed wetlands, you could see the nice stretch of mangrove trees on the river bank.

Api-api (Avicennia alba)
I did not really find any rare true mangrove species, but most of the usual suspects can be found here. The most abundant mangrove tree should be the Api-api (Avicennia alba). I later found a few Avicennia rumphiana and Avicennia officinalis too!

Mangrove Apple (Sonneratia alba)
Several mature Mangrove Apple (Sonneratia alba) can also be found here.

Bakau Putih (Bruguiera cylindrica)
There were several Bakau Putih (Bruguiera cylindrica), including a few young ones.

Bakau Kurap (Rhizophora mucronata)
I also saw a few Bakau Kurap (Rhizophora mucronata), with their long seedlings. Some people actually use these seedling to cane their children, and they supposedly do not leave much markings!

Among the minor local mangrove species, I only saw the Blind-your-eyes (Excoecaria agallocha)...

Dungun (Heritiera littoralis)
and Dungun (Heritiera littoralis).

Sea Hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum)
There were quite a few mangrove associates though. As per the other mangrove forests in Singapore, I saw many Sea Hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum) trees. The flowers only last for a day - starting off yellow in colour, and eventually turning orange towards the end of the day. It will usually drop off the next day.

Portia Tree (Thespesia populnea)
The rather similar-looking Portia Tree (Thespesia populnea) was interestingly rather abundant here.

Mangrove Trumpet Tree (Dolichandrone spathacea)
I saw a young Mangrove Trumpet Tree (Dolichandrone spathacea), but did not see any mature plant.

Sea Poison (Barringtonia asiatica)
They authorities planted quite a few trees too, including the Sea Poison (Barringtonia asiatica), which was fruiting. The seeds are ground into powder in some places and used as a poison to stunt fishes. The poison is destroyed when the fish is cooked.

Mempari (Pongamia pinnata)
Several Mempari (Pongamia pinnata) were also planted. All parts of this plant are also poisonous. The oil extracted from the seeds is known as honge oil, and has been used in soap making, as a lubricant and as lamp oil for thousands of years!

Wild Jasmine (Clerodendrum inerme)
I found a few Wild Jasmine (Clerodendrum inerme), but mangrove climbers on the whoel were certainly not as abundant as other mangrove forest in Singapore, since Sungei Punggol had already been made into a reservoir and the water was no longer brackish. Most of the climbers I saw were the usual secondary forest climbers instead.

Sea Derris (Derris trifoliata)
Another mangrove climber I saw was the Sea Derris (Derris trifoliata), again another poisonous plant.

 Yellow Flame Tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum)
I later went over to Serangoon River, and again saw the same old usual mangrove plants. An exception was this naturally occuring Yellow Flame Tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum). Naturally occuring Yellow Flame Trees are considered to be critically endangered in Singapore, even though there are many planted ones in parks and along the roads! Wild Yellow Flame Trees can still be found on some of our islands, such as Pulau Ubin, Pulau Semakau and a few other of our southern islands.

Saw several of these birds at Punggol, but can't remember its name and too lazy to search my books. Have seen it several times at Semakau as well, and the name is definitely in my head some where. Maybe I'll remember it after a while. Haha...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Love Owls!

Owls have always been one of my favourite animals, and I was hence rather glad that a friend told me where to find them!

Spotted Wood-owls (Strix seloputo)
These are the Spotted Wood-owls (Strix seloputo).

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Taking a nap...

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Hmm... Are you looking at me?

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Now you see it...

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Now you don't!

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Looking at the sky... Looks like it's going to rain soon...

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Who's the idiot who slammed the car door?

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Don't try to hide, door-slammer, I can see you!

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Huh? You are still here?

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
And it gave me a wink when I was walking away...

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Here's the other one...

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
And it spotted me...

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
I can even see it from the main road!

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Someone at the carpark slammed a car door, and it flew to a nearby tree in a carpark.

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
I went back another day, and spotted one of the owls. Possible that the other one was a female and could be nesting some where, as a friend saw them mating a few days ago.

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
It was looking around, appeared like it's rather bored.

Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo)
Might as well take a nap!

So super cute!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Keruing Flowering at Bukit Timah!

When I went to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve earlier this week, I had a pleasant surprise.

Keruing (Dipterocarpus caudatus)
One particular Keruing (Dipterocarpus caudatus) was flowering! This certainly came as a surprise, as there was just a mass-flowering last year! I couldn't really remember if this particular tree flowered during the last mass-flowering though. Still, I guess we could expect to see the fruits in a few months time.

The huge Benjamin's Fig (Ficus benjamina) at Bukit Timah's summit was figging, and I was there on Tuesday and last Saturday with a few friends to check out the birds attracted by the figs. Here are some of the birds that I managed to photograph.

 Thick-billed Green-pigeon (Treron curvirostra)
There were several Thick-billed Green-pigeons (Treron curvirostra) on the tree. I have seen this bird before, but never managed to get a decent photo until today!

Pink-necked Green-pigeon (Treron vernans)
There was a huge flock of Pink-necked Green-pigeons (Treron vernans), and when they flew off, one of them accidentally slammed into the nearby fence. It appeared to be alright though, and flew away with the rest.

Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus)
There were many different species of bulbuls, and here's a Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus).

Black-crested Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus)
This is the rather seldom seen Black-crested Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus).

I think this is a flycatcher, but not sure what species is this.

Apart from the birds, there were other animals too!

Malayan Colugo (Cynocephalus variegatus)
I was glad to find a mother Malayan Colugo (Cynocephalus variegatus) with a baby! Try spotting the baby in the photo above - it's on the right.

Malayan Colugo (Cynocephalus variegatus)
And here's a clearer view of the baby.

Clouded Monitor Lizard (Varanus bengalensis)
We saw several Clouded Monitor Lizards (Varanus bengalensis) foraging on the forest floor. They were digging through the leaf litter using their sharp claws.

Black-bearded Flying Dragon (Draco melanopogon)
Bukit Timah is also a great place to spot the Black-bearded Flying Dragon (Draco melanopogon), and infact, we managed to witness it gliding from one tree to another!

This is probably some kind of Imperial Butterfly, but part of the wing was damaged, and hence I am not really sure what it is.

Archduke (Lexias pardalis dirteana)
There was also an Archduke (Lexias pardalis dirteana) along the trail.

There were also a few interesting flora along the way.

 Belinjau (Gnetum gnemon)
The Belinjau (Gnetum gnemon) near the visitor centre was fruiting. The fruits turn red in colour as they ripen.

Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia)
I have been walking along this trail so many times, but this was the first time I noticed a very mature Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) not too far away from the trail!

One of the fallen trees near the trail was covered with mushrooms!

Here's a closer look.

Anyway, I guess I probably need to make another trip to Bukit Timah and possibly MacRitchie too within these few days to check if any of the other dipterocarps are also flowering :)