17 January 2009

Sunny mangroves of Pulau Semakau

A glorious blue sky day with Butterfly Circle at Semakau! As usual, the BC team were relentless at capturing those butterflies, on cameras of course.Jimmy and the Bird Group, and Eric and Marcus were also on the trip. All for the Semakau Book project.

With such gorgeous blue skies, it was no problem finally for Eric and Marcus to get nice photos of the mangroves.This may look like a boring bunch of trees. But after Dr Jean Yong's eye opening explanations, we see so much more. It's a beautiful mixture of many different trees. Which shows it's a natural mangrove.The circular leaves of Sonneratia and pointed oval leaves of Rhizophora.Possibly two different kinds of Avicennia.And large expanses of very tall Lumnitzera littorea with their little bright red flowers, which Dr Jean Yong says is a sign of a good mangrove.Eric and I head off to document the special plants, and the big Sonneratia on the shore is in full bloom! Well, actually, WAS in full bloom as these trees blossom at night and most of the flowers had dropped their long white stamens.Later on, we came across one tree with many of the flowers still in bloom. Sonneratia's puff-ball night-blooming flowers are visited by bats. These bats pollinate the Sonneratia as well as other trees including the Durian! It is mangroves with trees that bloom regularly, that support a population of these bats and make it possible for us to enjoy our favourite durians.We trekked all the way to the end to finally take a nice photo of this very pretty Ceriops tagal in sunshine. All my previous encounters with the tree was in the rain.This tree has neat knee roots!
And finally, some nice photos of fresh blossoms of this pretty little tree.

Later on, I came across another tree that looked like a Ceriops.With the textured 'fruits', is it a Ceriops zippeliana?

Eric also took lots of photos of the rare Cerbera manghas and Avicennia marina.
The mangroves sure were pretty in the sunlight and incoming tide.
High on the back mangroves, a patch of fiddler crabs were still busy. They were Porcelain fiddler crabs (Uca annulipes). Elsewhere, all the sand crabs had already sealed themselves into their burrows as the tide was fast in coming.

As we turned to the foliage on the high water mark, I noticed like these nests.
'Fire ants' had built two nests in this mangrove tree. Also called 'weaver ants', these ants join the leaves together with the silk produced by their larvae!They can give a nasty bite, so I keep a good distance from them.

For some reason, I seemed to come across a variety of grasshoppers today.Green ones.Brown ones.
And this odd patterned one. I have no idea about grasshoppers as I so seldom look at anything above the high water mark. Ha ha.

Marcus stalked tiger beetles and other shore insects that I was too lame to attempt.

Thanks to the kind NEA officers, we got a ride out and a ride back! What a treat! They also gave us ice-cold water and lovely blue towels. All very much appreciated.It was a very windy and splashy ride back with white-caps on the waters. But nice and warm for a change!

Looking forward to another sunny day tomorrow at Pulau Semakau again.


  1. wow, finally we get blue sky. Otherwise, Eric will forever be remembered as the 'rainmaker'. Great finds and excellent shots! This place never fails to amaze! Alicia

  2. Yes, Congrats again to the first record of Ceriops zippeliana on P. Semakau!

  3. Thanks Dr Jean! All due to your wonderful sharing and great patience with slow learners like me. I can't wait to go to Semakau with you again!



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