25 March 2013

Otterly wild weekend with reefy and mangrove celebrations too

TEN wild otters were spotted during the aptly titled Otter Cycling Trail at Lorong Halus. So many photos and video clips were posted immediately on social media that one person commented "My feeds are full of otters this morning"
Photo from Andy Dinesh's video.
This weekend, the Hantu Bloggers are also celebrating their 10th anniversary with many dives at the natural reefs at our very own Pulau Hantu! And the Naked Hermit Crabs had a great evening out with kids at the Pasir Ris mangrove boardwalk.

Andy's awesome video clip shows the otters at Lorong Halus have a great time hunting and eating fish in the reservoir. His blog post has lots more links to otter sightings and other activities where you can encounter otters.

an otteriffic encounter @ serangoon reservoir - 24Mar2013 from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.

The tour was conducted by the Toddycats, volunteers of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Singapore's own natural history museum. There were lots of photos by the participants and guides of the trip and the otters.
Photos by Tze Kwan Fung on facebook
Meanwhile, the Hantu Bloggers had great dives at Pulau Hantu! Including night dives. Although there are no photos yet, on social media we get glimpses of their fabulous dives!
Jimmy & Debby model the 10th Anniversary tees at Pulau Hantu!
Tee features a Tigertail seahorse.
Debby, who leads the volunteers at the Hantu Blog, said "Back fr 1st dive at Hantu: Ceratosoma, seahorse, unknown pipefish, bornella, Bullocki, cuttlefish, tritonia, doto, blenny eel, loadsa nudis!". "On the 2nd dive at Pulau Hantu, I shared a moment with a young Yellow-lipped seakrait! Got a video!" and "Just back from night dive: frogfish and seahorses. A filefish bumped into me in the darkness and we both got startled. Hilarious." and "Spent 3rd dive with rabbitfish, barracuda, silver moonies, seahorse, winged pipefish, sand divers, nemos and naughty, horny flatworms."

You can see these for yourself too! Join the volunteers on their guided dives at Pulau Hantu every month! Congratulations to the volunteers for doing this for the last ten years! Bravo!

Meanwhile on Saturday, I was with the Naked Hermit Crabs for our free guided walk at Pasir Ris mangroves! A delightful stretch of nature, right next to Downtown East and so easily accessible by MRT! The walk is specially for kids and families and we have a great time taking a closer look at some of the amazing mangrove animals here.
The tiny creature that holds us in morbid fascination is this cute furry mangrove jumping spider! Thanks to Jerome for patiently showing it to everyone on his sleeve.
Jerome soon finds another gruesome little critter. It's the inch-worm! There was a special request to see one as one of the kids' favourite books is about an inch-worm. They were delighted to see one in real life.
Indeed, the mangroves are full of all kinds of interesting critters. Pei Yan spotted a huge Golden orb web spider. Others spotted a pair of mating butterflies, and the large white caterpillar of the Atlas moth, the world's largest moth! The kid even spot curious things like this blob suspended on silk. It could be an egg mass or a cocoon and it's probably suspended to avoid predators that might crawl along the plant stem.
The highlight of the trip and die-die-sure-can-see are Giant mudskippers and lots of huge Tree-climbing crabs! The kids have fun spotting them as they are actually quite well camouflaged even though they are large.
Oh, someone has spotted a young Malayan water monitor hiding on a tree. It was very well camouflaged! Later on, we spot a larger one swimming in the water. A squirrel was also spotted!
Thanks to Pei Yan for not only organising the walk but also introducing her students to guiding with us. Here's Pei Yan in blue telling us about the surprisingly prickly Sea Holly!
As usual, the walk ends with a tranquil stop at the little jetty (arrowed in yellow) on Sungei Tampines, a naturalised canal that is now lined with mangroves and is full of birds.
We saw herons, bee eaters, white breasted waterhen, heard the hornbill. There are also halfbeaks and small archerfishes in the water too. It was great to guide with Ley Kun, Ivan, Sankar and Pei Yan and also have Jerome join us for the walk. I'm also touched that so many parents came despite the heavy downpour elsewhere on the island.
At the jetty, the kids also have fun drawing what they saw. I'm always impressed by what they can spot, and also remember in such great detail after the walk!
A young artist with her work, with some help from dad.
Pasir Ris is indeed a wonderful mangrove that anyone can explore 24/7. It is one of the few boardwalks open at night, and a night trip to Pasir Ris can be quite surprising as I shared on my earlier blog post which was eventually featured in an issue of Weekender!
The Naked Hermit Crabs will conduct another FREE guided walk at Pasir Ris mangroves on 20 Apr (Sat). Here's more details and online registration. Specially for kids and families! An easy and enjoyable evening exploration!

There's lots to see and do in Singapore every weekend. Here's some wild activities listed on wildsingapore happenings and some wild places in Singapore to consider exploring. Keep up with social media posts on wild stuff through the Celebrating Singapore's Biodiversity facebook page!

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