16 August 2009

Meandering through mangroves at Pulau Ubin

Only Ubin Lontong gets us out of bed this Sunday morning!
Then it's off to explore more mangroves.

This time near the Ubin Lagoon Resort. This resort has changed its name many times, but we still call it by its old name. The team finds an intriguing path right through the mangroves on what is probably an old bund.
There are lots of mangrove trees on both sides of the path. The tide is high so there isn't much mud to explore.
The path is riddled with mudlobster mounds. As well as some mangrove animals such as Chut-chut snails. I have recently learnt that there are two different kinds of Chut-chut in our mangroves. Cerithidea obtusa is more squat, with thick lips and a body with red markings. Cerithidea quadrata is more slender, with thin lips and the body is black without red markings. More on how to tell apart these and other similar looking snails in our mangroves.
There were lots of little crabs too among the mounds. This one stayed very still and didn't move even as I stepped around it after taking its photo. I'm not sure what kind of crab it is.
There were lots of the usual mangrove trees here. Some were very tall, with lots of young saplings crowding at their feet.

Today, I was attracted to the Teruntum putih (Lumnitzera racemosa). With thick, glossy spatula-shaped leaves and little white flowers. They are found in sunny places and gaps in the mangrove forest. The flowers are said to produce lots of nectar. On Ubin, these plants can grow into short trees.
Its cousin, Teruntum merah (Lumnitzera littorea) is more reddish. With reddish leaf stalks and red flowers. Today, I remembered to take the underside of the leaves where there is a tiny spot at the leaf tip. This is a gland which is believed to contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
The special encounter for me today was a climbing Sea holly or Jeruju (Acanthus volubilis) that was sprawling up a mangrove tree. It is said in undisturbed forests, they can climb even up to the forest canopy. So this suggests the mangroves we visited today is in good health. Growing in the shade, the leaves are not spiky. Acanthus volubilis is listed as 'Vulnerable' in our Red List of threatened plants of Singapore.
Out in the sunny area near the road was a big patch of this plant. It has hairy leaves with toothed edges, and tiny flowers on a spike with tiny little red berries. I can't figure out what it is.
While I was obssessing with mangrove plants, the rest were happily looking at all kinds of tiny insects in the forest.
When they got tired of shooting insects, they can always poke fun at one another.
And take odd photos of each other.
Alas, towards the end of the path in the forest facing the Resort, the trash pile got quite thick.
On the way in earlier in the morning, we passed two huge barges piled with sand.
It was a very humid day but all ends well with an Ayam Penyet lunch at Changi! Yumm. And we are surprised when Andy joins us at the hawker centre. He had cycled all the way from Fort Road. Wow!

Other posts about this trip
Pulau Ubin - Lontong by James on his Singapore Nature blog with lots of gorgeous photos of amazing bugs.

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