Archive for the ‘Macritchie Nature Reserve’ Category

Venus Drive (X no. of weeks late orz, in slow progress D:)

sooooo it’s been ages since the last post (half a year D:), and i figured posting to facebook without elaboration wasn’t enough, so i’ll be reviving this blog!.. with a two week late post. Last last saturday, i made a trip down to Venus Drive again with bern, sam and cal-vin in tow in search of (well not specifically) damselflies. Around the entrance we were already greeted by these regular treehuggers Treehuggers (Tyriobapta torrida) female on left, male on right. This aptly named species is almost always found clinging to trees or wooden posts, hence their common name. Mystery orthopteran Mystery day-flying moth

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!

Venus Drive (COLUGO!) 9/7/10

Wow havent posted in a really long while, wasn’t intending to after my As actually, but today i had an encounter that warrants a post! So this week was bio week, and Abel, Bern and I figured we’d end bioweek with a nice stroll in nature. Decided to go further than Macritchie this time, so we took a bus to Thompson and headed to Venus Drive, a first time for the two of em. whats an adventure without some uncertainty! So we entered the trail and sighted the Venus Drive stream, which iirc is the last natural stream left in Singapore and then we spend a good 20 minutes around the entrance, cos there were so many bugs and spiders A green jumping spider im honestly too lazy to ID 😛 Beady eyes! Some sort of strange fly Horrible photo of a stalk-eyed fly. Now these guys are interesting, the males after maturing, inhale a bubble of air which they pump through their head into their eyes, inflating their eyestalks. during mating season they compete with other males for mating success by comparing the distances between their eyes. The larger the stalks, the more impressive the male. In the case of a draw, they engage in a friendly fighting match where the winner gets to mate Further inside we reached the bridge where I would usually turn right towards Macritchie or the HSBC treetop walk, but today i decided to do something different  and go somewhere I hadn’t gone before (adventure!) and turning left into the Venus Loop. Abel in a natural green tunnel This stump was full of pink mushrooms. Super cute! What i believe is the Variable Sentinel (Orchithemis pulcherrima) A hunter among the leaf litter The most beautiful fly i have ever seen (thus far), its cryptic black and white markings remind me of a zebra, and its eyes are an awesome red and purple! (bio CTs anyone) A grasshopper and a cricket on the same leaf. Can you tell the difference? It was around here when Abel and Bern saw a huge bird that was, according to Abel, “black, and larger than a white-bellied sea eagle”, how mysterious indeed. A chequered lancer i believe Strange fungus, which was quickly ignored when.. Suddenly Abel let out a cry, and we looked at where he was pointing, but we didn’t see anything “No no look right here! its just in front of us!” And then i looked at the tree right in front of us and WHOA COLUGO! And it just sat there. so we spent a good 20 minutes staring at it in awe. Was much bigger than expected, about the length of my arm. The awe that one feels in the presence of a rare and i could say, characteristic megafauna is just undescribable, i can attempt to capture the moment with a camera but its nothing like seeing the real thing yourself up close and personal. It was right next to the path, but it was rather high up so i couldnt get a good shot of its face ): Or its back. Got it from the other side though!

Colugos are commonly known as Flying Lemurs. However, they glide instead of fly, and are not true lemurs.

Like this.

Or this.

And though this is probably what first comes to mind for most people when they hear “flying lemur”, no, not this guy either.

Colugos have membranes of skin that extend between their limbs and give them the ability to glide long distances between trees. They are very much adapted to arboreal life (life in the trees) and have difficulty surviving once stranded on the ground, so they should not in any circumstance be removed from their perches! Colugos are shy, nocturnal, and restricted to the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. They’re rather rare in Singapore, and are usually only encountered in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and BTNR!

Then we walked another less than a hundred meters and found ourselves in the backyard of the landed houses nearby. It was like “HEY DOODS THERES A COLUGO IN YOUR BACKYARD” but we didnt actually say it cos we have a few drops of sanity and sensibility left. Wow. what an eventful way to end bioweek. not gonna forget this for sometime. In some ways, I think this has changed me. a little. Yeah. It just made me love nature even more (is that possible!?) Seriously not gonna post anymore after this till after As, lots of stuff happened between the last time I posted and this post that I have yet to show, but if you have me on facebook its all in my albums! Till the after the As, or at least after maybe I encounter something as cool as a COLUGO.

Curious Cricket and more – Macritchie 09/04/10

i had time to kill before biosoc camp last friday, so i decided to bring a whole bunch of people (8 this time o.o)

It was nice to see some familiar faces, as well as some new ones (:

The first thing we saw was this beetle with a green head and thorax, but blue elytra which i have not seen before and which i cannot ID D:

Then there were the usual spiders lining the boardwalk on the shrubbery next to the water.

Familiar face!

and a new one (although its face really can’t be seen. haven’t seen that abdominal pattern before!)

The forest ants were up and about as usual

Communication!

and here’s a video of one of them preening (:

Watch it in HD! bah you can hear my awful case of the sniffles D:

Hiding under a leaf was this Common Cricket, which i have come to refer to collectively as Jiminies (:

For a cricket, this guy kept pretty still its eyes seemed fixed on my lens, following it and staring with a strange intense curiosity. (usually i only get this from jumping spiders)

okay so hes not really looking at the camera in this shot.

last but not least, it was nice catching up with my favourite pitcher plant, Victreebel, who’s still hanging around (:

One of Victreebel’s many pitchers, no ants this time.

It’s really fortunate to have such a wonderful place so near school, and its kindof a pity how most of the students don’t know what they’re missing. even those who to go to the place don’t usually look out for life, hopefully programs like ecolit and biophilia will have some impact on students’ mindsets (:

Mad March (Macritchie!)

Macritchie reservoir, a place swarming with park-users who are, it seems mostly people (esp on e weekends). People go to Macritchie for strolls, to walk their dogs, to jog, run, kayak, do taichi, and in some cases, to watch nature.

Despite (and sometimes because of) its close proximity to urban areas, if people choose to slow down and open their eyes and ears, and perhaps see things from other perspectives, we’d start seeing another group of park-users (or maybe permanent residents). Macritchie is always crowded, even on weekdays. most people just don’t know it.

so earlier in march, Bernard and I decided to head over to Macritchie, even if it was only for an hour or so, on a weekday afternoon after school (spontaneous expeditions ftw!)

and we discovered this gossamer-winged beauty

Having trouble with ID-ing again. this guy was found within the first 5 metres of the boardwalk. and we spent about half an hour observing him o.o

Anyway, NParks and all have realised the usefulness and importance of Dragon and Damselflies in the control of ‘pests’ such as mozzies (their young feed on mosquito larvae underwater, and the adults snatch adult mozzies out of the air)

an article came out in the papers today, and Singapore’s International Year of Biodiversity 2010 blog has an article on them here: http://iyb2010singapore.blogspot.com/2010/03/dazzling-dragonflies-of-singapore.html

all dragonflies and damselflies are carnivorous, and their young are just as vicious, equipped with a modified lowerlip that can shoot out in less than seconds to snag unsuspecting fish, tadpoles, and mozzy babies.

also, dragonflies and damselflies are probably the only other group of insects capable of contending with the lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) in terms of aesthetic appeal (in other words, what we may define as ‘pretty’)

here are some that i’ve found in Macrtitchie and in School (which is only minutes away!)

Same guy as the dude above

A female Crimson Dropwing/Basker (Trithermis aurora) i think, found at our school’s biodiversity pond!

if you’re wondering why it ain’t crimson like its namesake, recall the point on sexual dimorphism in my previous post!

This is the male Crimson Dropwing:

okay so its kinda pinkish. but well.

the main way to distinguish between dragons and damsels are via their heads, abdomens and the position of wings at rest. Dragons have rather round heads in comparison to the cylindrical heads of damsels, and their abdomens are usually shorter and fatter. At rest, they also tend to have their wings spread out, while damsels fold their wings back.

like so. This is a Blue Sprite i think, (Pseudagrion microcephalum), also found at our school’s biodiversity pond!

yep its a damselfly.

As you can see, they all come in a myriad of colours 😀 (green yellow red and blue yay!)

Unfortunately, i haven’t been seeing the ones found in school around lately. My guess is that some of them moved over from macritchie, but disappeared after a while as the young which live in the pond would probably have been cleaned out (they eat fish after all) and as such new generations don’t take root D: (figurative!)

[fast forward]

the next week or so we returned again, with a few other nature buddies in tow.

and again we spent about 45 mins in total within the first 10 mins of the boardwalk, and this was what we found!

Iiits the primary colour gang! and i can’t ID any of them! i need help ><

the first two are herbivorous beetles, and the yellow dude is a spider. notice how in the beetles the antennae go from black to yellow near the ends? i wonder if they’re related..

Side view!

Continuing along the path, there were many other spiders as well!

a rather common weaver

a juvenile St Andrew’s Cross spider i think, they were everywhere lining the shrubbery at the water’s edge!

a really tiny spider! see it?

Zoomed in and cropped for close-up, just in case!

a common palmfly i think, taking a drink. the only time i get to shoot butterflies are when they’re feeding, srsly.

i believe this be a female Knight. Butteflies don’t only drink nectar, occasionally they may need to get minerals (salt?) from the ground which is why they sometimes land on the path, or from rotting stuff or poop. serious. butterflies feed on poop.

also, i finally managed to get a somewhat proper shot of this huge ants that are really common along the boardwalk.

It’s Spartant! with spiny golden armour! i never knew he looked like this heh (:

also as usual, the long-tailed-macaques were everwhere.

Family time! awwwww.

Then comes the highlight of the day, SKINKS!

The common sun skink/ many-lined skink

It wasn’t easy getting these shots i must say. Skinks are usually heard before they are seen, their presence given away by a characteristic slow rustling of dead leaves (which you can tell are made by an animal smaller than a monitor anw). they are often found swimming among the dead leaves, and are usually quick to run away. this pair seemed to be more interested in each other than me, so that gave me a chance to make my move >:D gooseberry! to get close enough i had to lie down on the boardwalk and inch my way closer though.

also, Skinks show variation in morphology (no not sexual dimorphism in this case i think). The colour of the flanks can vary from an olive-brown (above) to a reddish-orange (middle). Throat colour can vary from white to yellow as well.  It feeds mainly on insects and interestingly, gives birth to live young.

Skinks are diurnal and in the mornings, where there are sunny patches filtering through the leaves above to the forest floor, you may find them or other reptile friends basking, to heat up their bodies for the day. its interesting to look for the different animals this way, sun-loving animals such as reptiles and butterflies will be found in the patches of sun, while sun-hating animals such as scorpions and some spiders will be found at the opposite spectrum, hiding away in or under a rotting log.

yup so if you are someone who frequents parks and have never seen stuff like these before, well you’re missing out on life, quite literally.

just follow the guidelines for wandering and things will start appearing (: