Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bird Race through the eyes of a novice

Through the persistence of WQ and L, I was roped in to join in the yearly Bird Race organised by the Nature Society. This year, the race will be conducted through the Rail Corridor and its adjoining forests and parks.

I had set my alarm to PM instead of AM, and as a result, I had to waste $20 of cab fare to fly down to Dairy Farm Nature Park to meet my friends and was late for registration. =.=’’


And off we go! Our team, the nOObs, was (obviously) registered as a novice team and we first headed down the Dairy Farm trail to the Singapore Quarry.


Along the way, we heard a lot of noisy chatter in the forest so we went in to find a bunch of Asian Glossy Starlings, which were pretty much found everywhere here.

However, we were rewarded with beautiful rays of sun flecks penetrating through the forest canopy~ so nice…


This was my first time in Dairy Farm Nature Park, and I get to admire this platform facing the Quarry, where we noted quite a few birds, some with the help of the expert teams and their awesome scopes.


Along the way, we found many large nests on Albizia trees and this reminds me of Dr Ho Hua Chew’s talk of the importance of these trees for the nesting of large raptors.


Seems like bees also have a liking for this tree. WQ found this bee hive high up on another Albizia.


We headed towards the Rail Corridor and were rewarded by a small flock of Scaly-breasted Munias flying among the tall grasses.


I find this stretch of the corridor a pleasant place to walk by, as there was a small stream flowing beside the trail, and a lot of dragonflies as a result.

The highlight of the day for me was not a bird, but rather a Common Bluebottle butterfly puddling around us. Another check in my butterfly list!


Some other fellow birders on a bridge at a distance.


We heard some loud crashes at one point of the trail and saw a changeable hawk eagle (kindly ID-ed by HC) fighting with some long-tailed macaques.

SD had previously witnessed, photographed, and subsequently published his encounter of this eagle catching a banded leaf monkey in Panti (Link), so perhaps this eagle was indeed attempting to subdue a macaque. We watched for awhile but the commotion subsided without us knowing whether the eagle was really successful.


It was noon when we reached Bukit Batok Nature Park, and the place seemed practically devoid of any bird calls. Fortunately, we were still able see to this Asian Paradise Fly Catcher,


and the loveable White Crested Laughing Thrush.


Our last stop was at Kent Ridge Park where we recorded a few more species, ending up with 28 species in all~

While I am not a bird fanatic, I did enjoyed myself thoroughly today, especially because of the good company. Also learnt quite a number of new birds! :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Butterflying in Orchard Road

Last week L and I went for a visit to the butterfly trail created by the NSS along Orchard Road. Really nice to have a butterfly hotspot at a convenient place for amateurs like me to learn more about butterflies.


Here is a Pygmy Grass Blue feeding on Lantana.


Plain Tiger feeding on Snake Weed.


Two mating Common Grass Yellow just under the cover of a Lantana leaf.


The Giant Milk Weed flowers seem to be a favourite for carpenter bees. Its legs are even covered with pollen!


I considered myself lucky to get a shot of this fast flyer, the Lemon Emigrant.


Just outside the Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, a black-naped oriole seemed to be feeding on the fruits of the Royal Palm.


I was really excited to see a large butterfly fluttering about. This Common Mime rested on this Heliconia flower, allowing me to go close enough to take a beautiful shot.


We went to search under the leaves of Pseuderanthemum carruthersii for the larvae of the Autumn Leaf. Unfortunately, there was only remains of their empty pupal casts around.


The Singapore Rhododendron is another plant that the carpenter bees love. I thought this picture really shows how the flower is adapted to be pollinated by carpenter bees, with its stamens almost clasping on the bee so that the pollen can be caught on its body.


There are two magnificent trees that we saw along the way. One is this Ficus elastica just outside the National Museum.


The other was this huge Artocarpus elasticus with beautiful buttress roots.


We also took a visit to the National Museum to have a glimpse of William Farquhar’s collection of water colour paintings on Singapore’s natural history.


Turning back to the shopping district of Orchard Road, I had a pleasant surprise when I found a dense cover of nationally threatened Geophila repens in Istana Park.


Some of you might have watched the news of this public speed dating in Orchard Central. I was there! As an on-looker of course~ :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bukit Brown @ night

A much dated post of 2 weeks old.

Then, RY had invited me for a night walk with some other friends to the Bukit Brown Cemetery to look for some creatures of the night.


The flaking bark of the rain tree provide much refuge for many tiny creepy crawlies. Here is a pretty big centipede half hidden by the tree bark.

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Another tree was a haven for tiny Tarantulas. This was my first time seeing one, and my… they are really small compared to their counterparts that I often saw on TV.

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RY pointed out this scorpion with a clutch of tiny babies clinging on its back. Can you see the many scorpion tails on the mother?


Night jars are a common sight here. I wonder why they like to sit in the middle of the road. To warm their butts perhaps? Since tar roads retain more heat compared to the surrounding forest. heh~

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This is really one gross and evil looking spiders.

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A dog faced fruit bat munching on a fruit.


A collared scops owl, perching on a branch of Croton. Seemingly common here, as the gang found about four individuals after a round about the cemetery.

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