13 June 2009

Hotbed of Hoyas at Admiralty Park

Another relaxing 'late' start: daybreak at the mangroves of Admiralty Park.
This tiny patch of mangroves on Sungei Cina are part of the Admiralty Nature Area and incorporated into Admiralty Park.

There were lots of the usual mangrove favourites such as various kinds of Api-api (Avicennia sp.), many gigantic Bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata) a LOT of Tumu (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza) outnumbering I think even the usually more common Bakau putih (Bruguiera cylindrica), and even some Mangrove cannon-ball trees (Xylocarpus granatum).
The stream that cuts through Admiralty Park becomes a lazy creek meandering through the mangroves, creating sandy banks here and there. Among the special plants found here is some kind of Rattan, which is a climbing palm.
The higher shores are edged with mud lobster mounds where Sea holly (Acanthus sp.) and Mangrove ferns (Acrostichum sp.) grow in profusion. There's also a lot of Bird's nest ferns on the big trees in the mangroves.

What struck me as being really abundant in this patch of mangroves are the Mangrove wax plants (Hoya sp.). These climbing plants were everywhere, forming drapes from tall trees. There were even broken branches that were still hanging from the trees because of the profusion of climbing hoya vines still entwined around the branches.
And some of these vines were in bloom! That's great because it's hard to tell what kind of Hoya they are without the flowers.

The flowers appear in bunches, and this is a bunch that has yet to bloom.
The flowers of this vine that had opened looked rather odd. At first, I couldn't figure out what they were.
Then, in a different tree, I saw another bunch of flowers that I could distinguish as Hoya verticillata, because they have the pointed star-shaped portion in the centre of the flower.
Another bunch of flowers on the same cluster of vines had both the star-shaped portion and not.
So perhaps the first bunch of flowers I saw were also Hoya verticillata but which had lost their star-shaped centres? Perhaps removed by the many little ants that seem to be attracted to the flowers? I've so much more to learn about mangrove plants.

And on another vine, how exciting to see something that looks like it might be Hoya diversifolia?
Hoya diversifolia is listed as Critically Endangered in our Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.

Besides being homes to curtains of Hoya, these mangroves also had lots of little animals. Many of whom scurried, swam, skipped or slithered away before I could get close to them.

I startled this Tree-climbing crab (Episesarma sp.) and got a look at it before it scuttled off to the other side of the huge tree trunk.
And this beautifully coloured crab was on the mud. It looks like a Face-banded sesarmine crab (Perisesarma sp.), though I've not seen such a colourful one before.
This little mudskipper was sulking in one of the deep pools in between the mud lobster mounds. I don't really know what kind it is.
Snails are some of the easiest mangrove animals to photograph as they don't run away. But they are hard to spot. I saw the handsome Red-mouth nerite snail (Neritina violacea) again.
And it was nice to come across several Belitong snails (Terebralia sulcata). It has a distinctive shell opening at the tip, the inhalant siphonal canal called the peristome.
And I saw one Mangrove murex snail (Chicoreaus capucinus), although there were probably more but were well camouflaged. This snail is a member of the Drill family (Family Muricidae) and it too can 'drill' a hole in the shell of prey such as barnacles.
In a shallow pool of water were a bunch of mangrove flatworms. These are probably Limnostylochus sp. as described in the Guide to Mangroves of Singapore. I should start a fact sheet on these fascinating animals!
All too soon, it got hot and I had to head home to wait for the cable repair guy to fix my broad band.

Just as I was leaving, this man got into the mangroves. He left a trolley basket at the bridge, brought along a basket and a zip up bag and had a stick with him.
He was looking intently on the ground as he went along. Oh dear.

It was already bright and hot as I headed home, past rows of little trees. I also noticed workers were removing the weedy vines overgrowing some of the young Sea teak (Podocarpus polystachyus) trees growing in another area.
Soon this Park will be home to more of our special plants and animals.

I also had a most amazing encounter with wild monkeys having breakfast at the Park!

Needless to say, the cable guy fixed my broadband connection and I'm back online! Dialup is a real pain, and there I was thinking of killing the dialup plan. I guess it's good to have a standby, no matter how neanderthal it might seem.

More about the Park, threats to it and some of the activities there in my post about my last visit there. I should go make a new page about this Park on the main wildsingapore site ... eventually.

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