19 April 2009

Up the Creek at Changi

Brandon and I decided to have a quick look at the mangroves of Changi Creek this morning.
While we have explored various Changi shores, and often take the bumboats at Changi to Ubin, this is my first time actually exploring the mangroves up the Creek.

The mangroves here probably have some role in the shore ecosystems elsewhere at Changi, providing shelter for all kinds of creatures, and food in the form of decaying mangrove bits.
The tide wasn't very low, but it was low enough to have a look at the large and healthy mangrove trees in the Creek.There was a gorgeous Bakau (probably Rhizophora mucronata) festooned with flowers and pendulous propagules like a Christmas tree!

It was a bit of a challenge to get into the back mangroves. After a few false starts, we finally got our booties muddy!
There are HUMUNGOUS mudlobster mounds in the back mangroves!The ground is somewhat soft, but it wasn't too difficult to negotiate the area.
The mud was full of life. The usual little crabs and tiny little Red berry snails (Sphaerassiminea miniata) were creeping about.
Various mangrove-only snails were seen, including a few Belitong (Terebralia sulcata) as well as Rodong (Telescopium telescopium).And this odd looking Belokeng (Ellobium sp.) eating something in a decaying piece of wood.
We also came across a big pile of empty clam shells. I'm not sure if these were eaten by people or a wild animal. Wow.

I looked closely at the mudlobster mounds for signs of the Hairy foot mangrove spider (Idioctis littoralis). This spider builds burrows with a trapdoor in mudlobster mounds. But alas, I couldn't find any.I did see this small organism growing on the mound though. Is it a seaweed? A fern? I have no idea!Another odd encounter, this mushroom growing among the pneumatophores! Wow, there sure is a lot to learn about mangroves. Including fungi!!

There were lots of trees in the back mangroves. Many were really tall so I couldn't figure out what they were.
But most of the common trees were there, including a blooming Avicennia officinalis and a blooming Xylocarpus granatum.

Some of the special finds include this always perplexing Bruguiera.With a pale calyx (the cap with the pointy 'teeth'), that stands away from the fruit, I wish it were the very rare Bruguiera sexangula. But I think it's probably the more common Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, which tends to have a pale (instead of bright red) calyx when growing in the shade.And a plant that looks very much like it might be Dungun (Heritiera sp.), with the typical 'dinghy' leaves that are silvery on the underside.

And how nice to come across a very large Ceriops zippeliana! It was more than 3m tall, with lots of little fruits and propagules.
It's the first time I noticed that the tree has prop roots. It seems the main trunk started to lean over, and side branches grew upwards, while prop roots grew downwards. Mangrove trees never give up!As I have learnt from the ever patient Dr. John Yong, a sure sign that this is Ceriops zippeliana is the textured surface of the brown 'fruit' and the red collar on the green propagules, which grow pointing upwards (and all over the place, actually).We also came across a fragment of an Atlas moth (Attacus atlas). The caterpillars of this largest of our moths is sometimes seen eating mangrove associated plants. There were also brief glimpses of egrets and sunbirds and waterhens.

The swarms of mosquitos were sucking Brandon dry of blood, so we made a short trip of it. But there seems great possibilities for further exploring this marvellous surprise up the Creek.

I also saw a lovely blooming Asam tree, which is my tree of the trip (I am trying to learn one new tree for each trip). It is described in a separate post.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Ria your photographs are the best!!
    Good to see I'm not the only person who gets sucked dry of blood in the mangroves! Keep up the great work
    cheers Russ



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