18 January 2009

Wildflowers on meadows and seashores of Semakau Landfill

We're back on Semakau with another team from the Butterfly Circle led by Khew. As usual, the BC people bring us great weather!! Thank you!
Vast areas of the Semakau Landfill have returned to the wild. And a profusion of delicate wildflowers form carpets of amazing colours and textures everywhere.
In the fresh morning and despite the strong winds, there were lots of little colourful flowers.I don't know the names of any of them. but they sure are pretty!
These pretty red flowers are particularly attractive.
How did these plants get here? Well some of them obviously have wind dispersed seeds! And the wind sure was doing a good job of it today.Others probably came with the birds. All of us 'collected' loads of these prickly seed heads as we wandered through the waving fields of grasses and flowers. They poke very painfully even through thick pants! Especially if they get stuck to sensitive spots. Ouch.

Clouds of butterflies are attracted to these flowers. I am totally incapable of photographing these flighty animals and leave it to the experts to capture. They were working very hard at the main drop off point. While Eric, Marcus and I explored Cell 3.There is a lagoon near the old beacon that marks the old outer limit of Pulau Semakau. The beacon still bears the name "Semakau". It is now surrounded by a sea of waving grasses and wild flowers, studded with naturally growing trees.Wearing booties, I can't help but explore a bit of the shore. The lagoon was ringed by these pretty Sea morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae). According to Ivan Polunin, it is the most important coloniser of many tropical beaches around the world. Its creeping rooting stems often form dense patches which hold down the sand and produce humus. Here's more about these beautiful and useful plant on an old entry I did for the wildfilms blog.Also carpeting the sand high shore were these pretty succulents. They have really tiny pink flowers!Of course, there were mangrove trees in the lagoon. They were surrounded by what appeared to be green velvet pillows!These appear to be growths of some sort of algae or other that has bound up the mud. Little snails and fiddler crabs were busy on and around the pillows. The fiddlers were Porcelain fiddler crabs (Uca annulipes). There were lots and LOTS of them. Marcus and Eric got better photos of them as they patiently waited for the nervous creatures to emerge from their velvety burrows.Here's one that I came across later on in the muddier areas.Happily slurping bits from the mud were huddles of Rodong or Telescope snails (Telescopium telescopium). This large snail is about the size and shape of an ice-cream cone, sucks up detritus and algae from the mud surface at low tide, using its proboscis. It is eaten and is said to be delicious when steamed and eaten with chilli.

Among the mangrove leaves were many spider webs.Some had old leaf casings suspended in the tent-like webs. One had tiny little things in them. I'm not sure whether they are spiderlings or something else altogether.

My find of the day were clusters of these beautiful tiny snails.
The Dubious nerite (Clithon oualaniensis) is on our Red List of threatened animals and so far, I've only seen them in three locations, one of which has recently been lost to development. I knew these snails were on Semakau from the Manta blog's post about these snails in Aug 08. So it was a great pleasure to finally find them.

Alas, today, I didn't get to spend time with the excellent Butterfly Circle. They found yet more butterfly species! And it was great to also have John with us again. He found yet more wasps!Here's the intrepid team for the group photo (thanks to Khew for reminding us to take one) just before we left for home.Eric kindly shares the photo with me being silly for a more lively group photo.

It was great fun, and great company to have the Butterfly Circle with us over the last two days. Thank you everyone for making the time to find out more about our butterflies, wasps and other fascinating wildlife.


  1. It was a fruitful day for me, Ria, thanks for arranging and making the trip possible for us. Wow, our seashores are fascinating and full of surprises to me.

  2. Thanks once again, Ria. It was another successful outing with you! There are a few more mysterious (and currently not yet identified) butts in that patch of mossie-infested forest. Worth making one more trip to check them out again. The meadows look interesting. I can see some favourite butterfly host plants amongst your shots. :)

  3. Fantastic to hear of yet more butterflies! You all do amazing work in such a short time.

    Yes, yes, pls do come again. The meadows were lovely, but I'm clueless about anything above the high water mark.

    And you and your team are such great fun and bring us fantastic weather as well! Looking forward to the next trip.



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