Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wildflowers in Semakau

What was once a dumping site at one of the cells of Semakau had now been colonised by a variety of shrubs and grasses. Just look at the variety of flowers that we saw last Sat when we were with some students doing a project inside there.

Bua Susu
This is the flower of Love-in-the-mist (Passiflora foetida).

Common Asystasia
The Common Asystasia (Asystasia gangetica) has a purple 'tongue' that acts like a landing pad, helping to guide insect pollinators to it.

Introduced from South America, the Touch-me-not plant (Mimosa pudica) has sensitive leaves that will close quickly when touched upon.

Mimosa bimucronata
My first time seeing this other species of mimosa which has white flowers (Mimosa bimucronata).

Mimosa (Neptunia sp.)
Here is another similar plant with sensitive leaves, Neptunia sp.

Common Snakeweed
The common snakeweed (Stachytarpheta indica) is so named due to the spikes which bear their purple inflorescence.

Here was a spider motionless on the swaying grass, perhaps waiting for a prey to ambush on.

Amata huebneri on Mile a minute
As I crossed by the Mile-a-minute (Mikania micranha) plant, there were lots of Amata huebneri moths sucking nectar from its inflorescence. Truely, this grassland is just full of beauty and life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

15 March Semakau Public Walk

It has been a long time since I last guided at Pulau Semakau since I am usually the coordinator for the walk. It felt good to once again getting down to lead participants to show our diverse marine life in the intertidals.

Having missed out the Knobbly Seastar (Protoreaster nodosus) last time, the hunterseekers, Helen and LK found a juvenile one just right after the seagrass meadow. Another name for it is the chocolate chip seastar, which to me seemed like the Toblerone chocolate which the knobs jutting out.

And here is the my group the Pufferfish with the knobbly.

Hairy crabs (Pilumnus vespertilio) are one of the most common crabs in the intertidal zone. Even though they looked adorable, they are known predators of snails, bristleworms and even slugs.

As we head out to the seafish minefield, we saw that many of these common seastars (Archaster typicus) were paired together, one on top of the other. Because they practise external fertilisation, being so close to each other increase the likelyhood of insemination.

We managed to find one that is not paired and examined the underside. To our surprise, jelly like bobs were extended out from the mouth area. I have seen the green stomach of this seastar before, so this is unlikely to be that. So what could these things be?

We also saw many nudibranch along the way, including this Ceratosoma sinuatum.

We were really lucky today to see a live bombing exercise at one of the three military islands, Pulau Senang (if I did not recall wrongly). This is in fact, my first time seeing it, after repeating it so many times from my script.

As usual, a lack of photos whenever I am guiding, but it was a nice day with good discoveries with a fun loving group of participants.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Otters and more sightings at Sungei Buloh

Spent almost an entire week at Sungei Buloh guiding students at this nature reserve. Even though we did not managed to see a crocodile, but we were still rewarded with many other exciting discoveries to compensate for it.

The best sightings are of course the smooth sea otters (Lutrogale perspicillata). This one popped its head out of the water cautiously after I stepped on a branch when I was inching closer to get a clearer shot.

And I saw 4...

No, 6 of them swimming and walking up the opposite bank!

The second most exciting was seeing this paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi). As if this was not enough, it also performed for us by gliding to another tree!

I also managed to see a juvenile Malayan Water Monitor Lizard hunting, it managed to catch and gulp up a mudskipper at the mudflats before scrambling to a Bakau tree, probably to get some vinegar crabs for dessert.

Mangroves are an important food source for humans, and one of them is the favourite food for many, the chilli crabs (Scylla sp.)!

Even though it was drizzling miserably today (besides being Friday the 13th), we still saw two mangrove whiprays (Himantura walga). They are armed with one or two venmonous stingers that can deliver a painful wound if threaten.

Obelisk posture
Besides the mangroves, there were also several ponds with lots of beautiful dragonflies. This one is assuming an obelisk posture believed to reduce the body's exposure to the afternoon sun's heat.

And we ended the walk with some long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), sitting on the roof of the nature gallery.
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