20 December 2009

Sonneratia and streams on a sunny Sunday

Finally I got a real close up look at the wild Berembang flowers at Woodlands Park.
But I was out today for an entirely different reason!

Dr John Yong was looking for photos of freshwater streams with vegetation on both banks. I thought I should try to take some and headed for the stream at Woodlands Park. The ponds in the Park are fed from a huge canalised man-made waterway.
But right next to the manicured, kitschy park is a wilder edge.
A little bit of bashing gets me through to a little freshwater stream!
I'm not sure where it starts but it looks quite natural. It has wild 'keladi' or aroids and lots of tall grass-like plants on the banks. The tea-coloured water flows placidly on a firm sandy bottom, under the delicate canopy of tall trees.
And here is another nice spot, with a banana too!
It was really hard to take a nice photo. Not because it wasn't pretty, or the sun wasn't out (fortunately it was sunny!). But because there was so MUCH litter! I could hardly frame a shot without something unnatural in it.
The lazy stream winds its way further down, becoming increasingly choked with litter.
Eventually, the stream grades into the mangrovey part where I had a quick look at the Berembang tree (Sonneratia caseolaris). The gianormous conical pneumatophores sticking out of the sandy stream marks one of the large trees here. It is probably among the few large wild Berembang in Singapore, which are listed as 'Critically Endangered'.
The tree seems to be doing well. The ground beneath was dusted with tiny tendrils of white stamens with a pink blush. I looked for flowers but didn't find any until I looked into the water. And floating in a quiet pool next to the monsoon drain was an almost complete flower!
And two more!
Using a long stick and my very limited acrobatic skills, I managed to get hold of two of the flowers without an embarassing dunking. Together with some fallen buds, I made the little montage that is at the top of this post. The flowers do indeed have tiny red petals, and the white stamens are tinged pink at the bottom. I looked but didn't find any fruits. Well, this is a lot better luck that I had the earlier time I visited the trees.

Inspired by this encounter, I made the hike to a better vantage point for this tree. The tree is very tall, and looking well in the morning sunshine. With lots of flowers all over the canopy. Perhaps I should make another attempt later in the week to get some shots of bats at the tree, if the weather is good.
I also had a quick look at the Dungun air (Brownlowia tersa) and what a relief to see the huge bush in the middle of the mangroves is still there. This is an 'Endangered' plant and it is now much taller than me.
And another little bush nearby seems to have grown taller since the last time I saw it in May.
The plants had nice fresh green leaves, although the lower leaves were covered in mud, probably due to the high spring tides. I looked but alas, there were no flowers or fruits on either bush.
Then I made a dash for Admiralty Park for another attempt at stream photos. The stream at Admiralty starts as a huge storm drain/monsoon canal.
I notice they have a grill-like thing to catch the litter coming through the drain.
There is a series of concrete steps before the water drains into a stream with vegetation on both sides. I don't really think it's a natural stream because I can see wooden piles and signs of some sort of geofabric on the banks.
Nevertheless, it makes for a pretty picture.
The stream winds its way towards a little mangrove in the Park.
There were schools of fish in the water, and unfortunately, I spotted three Red-ear sliders in the water. Sigh. I overheard a visitor remarking that otters had been seen at this Park. Wow.

I didn't really have the energy to properly do the mangroves here, so headed back after attempting to take pretty photos of the stream. I even try artistic shots. Hah!
On the way back, I check out the huge Putat sungei (Barringtonia racemosa) growing there. There was a large group of enthusiastically equipped photographers in the shade of the tree. I wonder if they realise how rare and precious this tree is?
The tree is listed as 'Critically Endangered' and was growing along a swampy edge of the forested area. It was probably there before the Park was created, and might be among the few naturally growing Putat sungei trees in Singapore. Although it was flowering profusely, I didn't see any fruits on or off the tree.
What a wonderful windy sunny Sunday it has been!

My attempts at stream photos are in this flickr set. Sigh. I'm just not a photographer. Merely a camera operator.

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