Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tagged Myna feeding nectar

The Sea Apple (Syzygium grande) out my kitchen window has been flowering luxuriously  recently and I decided to get some photos of their pom pom-like flowers for my collection.


There were many little pollinators buzzing around the flowers.

A Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) flew in after I finished taking the pictures and it hopped around the tree putting its beak into the flowers. It was only later when I was processing my images that I realised that this bird was tagged (Look the the grey ring at its leg).

Another picture of the bird on the another nearby inflorescence.


At first I had thought that it was just feeding on the insects attracted to the flowers. But it should be instead feeding on the nectar since BESG blog had recorded this bird doing it before.

I wonder what research this bird was ringed for. Any ideas?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tigers from the Past

NeI find the Newspaper SG which Ria used to dig out some past of Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng very interesting. I decided to try to see if I can get some articles from our natural history and wala! Managed to find some articles on tigers in the past. Click on the picture to enlarge.

I used the keywords ‘Tiger’ and ‘Bukit Timah’ to search since searching ‘Tiger’ came out many entries from Malaysia rather than Singapore and searching ‘Tiger’ and ‘Singapore’ came out more soccer stuff and tiger beer than the animal itself. Bukit Timah is known to be a ‘Tiger Resort’ last time so this is the best bet for a successful search.

The last suspected tiger killed was in 1930 near Chao Chu Kang Village. But I found one dated 1935 whereby someone seemed to heard a tiger roar at Bukit Timah Hill. I guess that was never verified. Have a fun read!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Back to Buangkok

Decided to went back to the Buangkok grassland for a short walk just to relax myself during this weekend.

Here is a close-up of what I thought to be the Buffalo Grass, Paspalum conjugatum.

Possibly Smut Grass, Ischaemum ciliare.

Another flower of a an unknown grass.

And another…

There is a drain there and I jumped inside, wondering if there are any Kangkong, Ipomoea aquatica. Sure enough there are some down there. Do you know that it is actually a kind of morning glory?

Here is a wildflower that I have never seen before.

And lastly, as I was leaving, I caught a glimpse of a day flying moth, Amata hueberi on a Coat Button, Tridax procumbens.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Grasses and Sedges

I find it quite cool that I can appreciate those once boring lawn plants now. Imagine, they are basically found everywhere and I can be easily satisfied basically anywhere! LOL~ 

St. Augustine Grass, Stenotaphrum secundatum is an exotic plant that seldom flowers but spreads vegetatively.

KY is right when he said that I should learn the vegetative portions for ID-ing since they don’t always flower. But I guess I can take it slowly. Moreover, taking pictures of their inflorescences satisfy my thirst for macro photography. This is the inflorescence of the Seashore Centipede Grass, Ischaemum muticum.

There were lots of these sedges popping out from the carpark in NUS. CK said that they look like Fimbristylis sp. Not sure about their exact species though. There were some insects on the spikelets. I wonder if they are pollinators of these plants.

Here is a wasp with a big head on the sedge.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Grassland in Buangkok

Overcame by an impulse to learn more about about our grassland vegetation, I cycled to the nearest empty stateland at Buangkok to take a look.

Here is the nicely maintained grassland. I initially thought that there will not be much variety there but there is apparently more than enough for me to learn.

The Sedges (Cyperaceae) are an interesting group of monocots. This is Kyllinga polyphylla.

I think this is a Pycreus sp.

Not sure about this. Need to investigate.

No idea too. :(

Same for this…

This should be another Pycreus sp.

Most Sedges have a triangular stem, but this is one that does not seem to have this feature. This should be Fimbristylis dichotoma.

My focus today was the grassland monocots but the pretty flowers of the dicots in grassland are hard not to take a shot or two. This plant is known as Oldenlandia corymbosa, formerly Hedyotis corymbosa in the BP book on wildflowers.

Here is another tiny but tiny plant, which I think is Lindernia crustacea.

A short trip about half hour but I am already too saturated with these different plants. Went back to meet RY who went to take a few pictures of the painted Jezebel caterpillars and collect a few pupa to rear. There were about 14 in all, and basically scavenged all the leaves which they were hanging from. Hope to see them morph soon again!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life Cycle of the Painted Jezebel

I never realised that my dad’s bonsai plant has a mistletoe (Dendrophthoe sp.) parasitising on it till he told me. He also said that there are lots of caterpillars there.

These are the caterpillars of the butterfly, Painted Jezebel (Delias hyparete metarete).

I took one caterpillar for rearing and it just happened that it pupated on the same day.
As time passed, about a week later (today), the pupa is finally at its last stage.

Sure enough, the chrysalis cracked soon after and the adult pushed its way out.

And out it emerged.

With very winkled wings

And an inflated abdomen, which seemingly deflated after squirting some liquid.

I suspended the leaf upside down to allow its wings to slowly open.

Into a beautiful butterfly.

And here it is, still resting on a leaf after I released it.

I wondered how many generations of painted jezebels my dad’s mistletoe had supported. There is a new lot of caterpillars there again!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A sneak preview: The Natural Heritage of Singapore 3rd Edition

The Natural Heritage of Singapore is out again! Revised and better than its previous two predecessors! I am not sure whether it is for sale yet, but at least, it should be available in the NUS Co-op bookstore now or within the next few days since I have seen cartons of them packed inside the shop. (Update: the book is on sale now in NUS Co-op)

This is my complementary copy which I got from the main author Prof Hugh Tan, for giving some contributions to the book. This time, the highlight in the cover page is our critically endangered Banded Leaf Monkeys (Presbytis femoralis).

I thought the publisher did a great job in revamping this new edition. The aesthetics has dramatically improved – from the black and white in the 1st edition to colour photos in the 2nd edition. Now, in the 3rd edition, the beginning of each chapter has a nice design and a nice symbol accompanies the page number. Word spacing is wider now and the font is changed from Times New Roman to this new font, which increases the ease of reading, at least for me & RY. The picture layout are neater also but some pictures I thought, could be bigger for better illustrations.

Content-wise, most of facts and figures have been updated, together with more information being added in several portions. Some erroneous text and organisation issues have also been corrected. A good improvement is that the references have now been placed after each chapter, reducing the ease of searching aimlessly among the lot in the past edition.

There is also an effort to put more pictures in the book. About 60 more photos are added and a lot of the old photos are also replaced with better quality ones. Alex also kindly helped to draw some nice maps using his superb skills with the GIS.

Some hardcore nature bloggers might find several pictures familiar, like KS’s sea fans in his East Coast post in his God’s wonderful creations blog.

Or RY’s mud lobster posting in his Tiderchaser blog.

This picture at the last page might be confusing but there is a meaning behind it. Can you guess it? For a hint, part of the answer is bolded in that chapter.

One thing to lament about is that this edition (Right) is much heavier and thicker than the last one (Left)! But then again, this shows how much our Singapore’s natural heritage has to offer right?

I will highly recommend this book for any lay person or student of biology as this is probably one of the most comprehensive and updated publication to learn about our natural history. I don’t make any money for making this post and the above remarks btw. :)

Lastly, as a contributor, I will naturally be slightly bias to praise it and would probably have miss out other things that could have made this book better. Looking forward to other reviews after this book is out.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pink Moth

Dan found and took this picture of the beautiful moth in orange with pink lines across its wings. Damn nice right?

Eumelea sp.
Geometridae, Desmobathrinae.
Location: Bukit Timah Hill, Jungle Fall.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Back to Tuas

As I was heading back school anyway to bring back my laptop cooling fan, I decided to just go down Tuas to visit the pitcher plant haven which LK brought us to last time.

Here is my cooling fan, nice right?

With the opening of Joo Koon MRT, I can reach the destination faster. This place is pretty much a wasteland visible from these common shrubs and trees like the Simpoh Air, Dillenia suffruticosa,

the common Acacia (Acacia auriculiformis),

and Singapore rhodedendron (Melastoma malabathricum).

There are also lots of mangrove ferns (Acrostichum aureum) here.

Weedy plants like this climbing Morning Glory (Ipomoea cairica) also bring a beautiful identity to this place.

I realised that I had missed this small but common plant, Cassytha filiformis. The picture above shows the flowers.

This is a parasitic plant and you can see the bulbous like structure that is attached on its host. These are the haustoria that penetrate into the host and suck water and nutrients from them.


These yellow ones also belonged to the same species. There were so many of them like green and orange threads running through the grasses.

It was only a short distance later when I reached this pool.

Here is the place where lots of Slender Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes gracilis) are found.

And more!

Found one that is floating on the water surface.

Here is another cute tiny one arranged in a rosette.

These numerous elongated structures are the developing fruits of the pitcher plant.

Most of us should know that the pitcher is a pit fall trap which ‘digests’ and absorbs the nutrients of animals. However, some other animals like the crab spider above makes use of this trap by just waiting there for unsuspecting victims to fall in.

I found two ground orchids here today. I love the fact that they are not planted and can be found in their natural habitat. This one is Spathoglottis plicata.

Here is the other one, Arundina graminifolia.

It is known as the bamboo orchid because, I suppose, the leaves look like those of the bamboo.

Seems like this place has not changed much from the last time and the construction has not penetrate the pool yet, even though lying adjacent to it. Anyway, I made an error in my previous entry, because the dirt biking race is actually located further down and completed by now. It is called Circuit@Tuas.

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