Archive for the ‘Pulau Ubin’ Category

Giant Spider Season!

So after a long nature hiatus, I decided to revisit good ol  Ubin on Saturday, accompanied by Sam and Ruici. It’s always an uncomfortable feeling, trudging through bicycle alley with all the rental shop owners trying to convince you to rent their bikes. It’s hard to patronize one without feeling kinda bad for rejecting the others, especially when there aren’t a lot of other people so you’re the only customers. So after renting our bikes, we headed out, and it was soon very apparent that it was once again Nephila season! I spotted at least 10 females of varying sizes in the fringing trees in the first 50 metres or so, so many I eventually stopped bothering to look at each individual. Along this journey, the Great Mormons and many other butterflies were out in droves, since it was the active time for butterflies. Also spotted were a Changeable Hawk Eagle sitting in a tree (photo will be posted when Sam sends – Edit: and here it is! ) and an Emerald Dove waddling about the forest floor. Somewhere along one of the off-road bike paths, we encountered a Nephila (pilipes) actively wrapping it’s moth victim in silk, so i finally decided to bring out Snowy (my camera). Not sure if moth or butterfly.. Pardon the darkness, failed to notice i was shooting against the sun. The calls in the background are from four Stork-billed Kingfishers, according to Ruici’s estimates. So as seen, the conventional way of embalming the prey involves spinning the prey with the front feet like a reel, while pulling silk threads from the spinnerets over the prey with the hind legs. After a few more layers of silk wrapping

Spider webs are truly amazing structures

This one looks like a space station (Photo by Sam)



And you can see the slightly golden sheen in this web that gives the Nephilas their common name, the Golden Orb Weavers (photo by Sam)

We also encountered two baby monitors (one malayand and one clouded), both the sizes of  Changeable Lizards! So cute! The only shot i could get, before it scampered off :/ And here’s a horrible photo of a garden spider We then headed over to the small butterfly garden, where we took photos of everything but butterflies. (note – dollarbird and strange raptor sighted from here!) Fancy little orthopteran nymph Dew-covered web, feat. spider. Quite strange, since it was already late morning! One of a pair of cyptic heteropterans

What we referred too as the blue aluminium baseball bat. It’s defininitely a beetle, just not sure what kind.


And then there was this grasshopper that shied away from Snowy




Speaking of orthopterans, on a leaf further up lurked this katydid (which is a name totally begging to be used as a bad pun)

Interesting fact about katydids – their hearing organs, unlike most other insects, are located on the “knees” of their forelegs, instead of their chests

Also seen was this common leafhopper

Nothing to say!

And this ant-mimic salticid

Whiiiiich cannot be seen clearly ><. The spider is the one on top, grasping onto its ant prey with its mouthparts (chelicera). This guy had a zipline between a tree and a fence that was swarming with kerangas, my guess is that it swiped an individual from under (or over, in this case) it’s sibling army’s noses and took it out to the middle of the zipline so it had no way to escape.

Overall it was a fruitful, refreshing trip, and this was a very laggy post. I really need to get out more :/


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

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.