Archive for January, 2011

Venus Drive – Abuzz with Activity!

Had some stuff on back in school today, and in between i had some time so i decided to drop by Venus Drive  with Abel, Bern and Mark since it’s so nearby.

This time we didn’t even get to reach the bridge, there was just so much going on! Mating, eating and being eaten, there was a flurry of life on both sides of the trail.

Grasshoppers and katydids and their nymphs abound!

 

There were also a number of hemipterans, some of which resemble moths on first glance. While being similar in shape, the wing patterns vary, are they the same species or different ones?

There was a wingless one too! Either its wings aren’t obvious, or it could be a nymph.

 

Spiders were everywhere as well!

As usual, jumping spiders (salticids) were the cutest.

This guy was behaving funny, waving its forelegs like claws and waving its butt in the air, perhaps mimicking a scorpion?

Lynx Spiders

 

Wolf Spiders, who were particularly active

A female individual with an egg sack (ootheca), when the babies hatch they cling on to the mother’s abdomen in a clump ball thing. There were a number of females running around with egg sacks today

This one was feeding on a freshly caught wasp

There were also other spiders i couldn’t ID

This tiny spider has an abdomen that reminds me of a Nautilus shell!

I’m not sure what these two spiders are up to, but it sure looks intimate

And there were other bugs as well

an out of focus wasp

This wasp mimic is actually a fly in disguise!

Mimicry in the animal kingdom serves to help in either hiding from predators, ambushing unsuspecting prey or both. In the case of this fly which is probably a scavenger, it is likely that the former applies here.

A forest fly

A dragonfly i have not yet ID-ed

Lastly, Mark shows us how to beat the mozzies!

Ninjas can hide from anything, even them mozzies.

 

Venus Drive really has so much to offer, we spend more than an hour within the first 50m of the trail, and this isn’t even all we saw!

A new toy and a ladybird

Got a conversion lens today that can be attached to the lens i already have, for either wide angle or macro functionality! Quite useful since i’m on the lookout for bugs most of the time

Testing the lens

Can actually make out the words on that tiny line on the $2 note!

Close up!

Quite handy indeed, lots of bugs whose photos i had to crop to make things out clearly can now be taken straight from the camera! cropping produces even finer detail, but heh don’t really have to spend time cropping anymore.

Seems to be a rather worthy investment so far, though it’s quite a hassle to mount. This will last me till i’m out of NS, when i’ll probably invest in a DSLR and proper macro gear!

Tested it out in Pasir Ris Park’s kitchen garden earlier this evening, but the sun was setting so the images are kinda noisy due to high ISO. Looks like a flash would be really handy..


Tried it on the resident keranga ants, none were in focus though ): need to work on that


Sadly, the photo with the best focus.


One of the many resident metallic green flies. I used to have to crop to see these guys properly!

A nice surprise! I went out really late and wasn’t really expecting to see much, but this guy suddenly popped out from behind a wooden signboard! It’s been a looooong time since i’ve seen a red ladybug, the ones i usually see are either yellow or black with red dots. Too bad i couldn’t get any good shots before it flew away..


Had to crop for this one, i really love how nature is so symmetrical in its design (:

Yay, can’t wait to try the lens out again!

 

Starting off 2011 with Seagrass Monitoring at Chek Jawa!

Wow my first post since July last year! i meant to do a consolidation of the stuff that happened between then and now but the post kinda died halfway, so i’ll just post photos with captions detailing the organism and the event some time in the future.

It’s a new year, and my first visit to a natural place is to Chek Jawa together with Teamseagrass (more about the trip at the blog, click the link!)! Kinda nostalgic, my first trip with teamseagrass was also to Chek Jawa two years ago.

To quote the Teamseagrass blog, “As part of Seagrass-Watch, we are a team of volunteers from all walks of life. We regularly monitor the seagrasses on Singapore’s shores, gathering data that will help us better understand and manage our seagrass meadows. Yes! Singapore has wonderful seagrass meadows!”

And indeed we do! Singapore has, at present, 12 species of seagrass out of the about 60 species worldwide, in other words 20%, quite impressive for a small island! Chek Jawa alone is home to 8 species,  which is twice the number of species found in the whole of Europe (that’s 4 species for people too lazy to work it out)

However, in spite of the relatively large diversity of seagrass species present at Chek Jawa, the only species present in my transect this time was Halophila ovalis (codename HO), commonly known as the Spoon seagrass  for it’s well, round, oval spoonish shape. It’s likely the most common species of seagrass here, and is also dugong food! And since there was only one species of seagrass present in our transect, Marcus and I blasted our way through and finished up our monitoring in a personal record of 13 minutes, leaving us much time to wander.

Marcus surrounded by HO and other seagrass species

Unfortunately even with much time on our hands, we were unable to see much today, perhaps because the day’s low tide was in the mid-afternoon which was blazing hot, so the animals were all probably hiding from the sun.

But there are always things to be seen! (“the usual stuff”, as described by Ivan)

Probably Lesser Crested Terns (thanks Marcus!). Many shorebirds were out today, including herons, egrets, plovers and kites, as it is the migratory season! Siti was sharing about how different countries have bird tags of different colour codes, so it’s possible to see where else on the planet a bird has visited, pretty cool. Having so many birds on the shore is also a good thing, as it means lots of bird poop, which is beneficial to seagrasses!

A fly with a long nose, that is only found at the shore. This tiny thing was spotted by Marcus on the barnacle encrusted metal beneath the boardwalk. More info on this fly at Marcus’s blog. This fly lays it’s eggs in crevices, where the carnivorous young hatch and feed on barnacles it seems. Such an interesting ecological niche!


Close up of the fly.

A Noble Volute, or Cymbiola nobilis laying eggs, they seem to be pretty common now, and almost all i have encountered were laying eggs o.o

Scallop!
This scallop is different from the ones that can swim, and instead attaches itself to a surface such as that of a rock and holds fast, unmoving.

A Sea Cucumber! Not sure which one this is though, but it really looks just like a giant turd. Sea Cucumbers, unlike their namesake, are animals and not plants.

Marcus trying to photograph two grappling Fiddler Crabs. As the crabs were male and female we suspected they were courting, which would be unusual as mating usually takes place in their underground burrows.

One of the many Peacock Anemones, this one has its tentacles retracted.

A Cake sea star

Embarrassingly, my first time seeing a Moon snail, i usually just see their sand collars. These guys are carnivores. Interestingly, this Ball moon snail is rather fat, and i can’t imagine how it can  squeeze into its shell! can you see its two tentacles?

CJ is looking a lot browner that i last remembered it, has sand piled up nearer the shore? This area used to be a huge mat of seagrass..

A strange bug on a plant on the way back to the visitor’s hut, there were quite a number on this plant. The term bug has two meanings, it could mean a creepy crawly in general, or in this case refer to an order of insects known as true bugs (hemiptera) of which this individual is a member. True bugs are characterised by their mouthparts, which have evolved to become long straw-like tubes for sucking, unlike the jaws (maxillae) present in most other insects which are used for chewing. The order includes cicadasaphidsplanthoppersleafhoppersshield bugs, and heteropterans like this individual. Recognisable heteropterans include pond skaters and cotton-stainer bugs.

Oh well finally posted! Will be off to Tanah Merah tomorrow for Project Driftnet business, will blog about it too, and when time permits will work on the 2010 stuff.