13 September 2009

High tide walk at Kranji Nature Trail

Today, I had a quick look at Kranji Nature Trail. Another route that I seldom explore.
The area has a lovely rural feel to it, and there's lots to discover even at high tide.

This is the entrance next to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
The trail is mostly shady and takes you across two mangrove streams and along the coast at the Johor Straits. It's a pleasant easy walk on a gravelly path and some bridges.

The tide was still low when I first started, and this is a good place to see the different kinds of common mangrove trees and their roots.
Last week, the Buta buta trees (Excoecaria agallocha) were shedding their red leaves and blooming at the same time. Today, the male trees have done with flowering. Their long 'furry' flower spikes were strewn on the ground and hung about everywhere on other trees and look like dead caterpillars. At the same time, the female trees were bursting with developing fruits. Wow, they sure do develop fast. Some Buta-buta trees were covered with fruits and very little leaves.
Today, it seemed the turn of the Ketapang or Sea almond trees (Terminalia catappa) to shed their red leaves. Some trees had already dropped all their leaves and were flush with fresh green leaves.
And the Dugun trees (Heritiera littoralis) were blooming! There was so much to see at these trees that I've done a separate post on them. Also blooming were patches of the Jeruju or Sea holly (Acanthus sp.). These plants with prickly leaves have spikes of blossoms that seem to attract a whole bunch of insects. Like this tiny butterfly and lots of red Weaver ants. I don't know why the butterfly is not afraid of the ants. It just sat there for the longest time. Hmmm.
Wildflowers bloomed in patches of sunlight, attracting a whole range of butterflies. Of course I'm totally inept compared to Butterfly Circle in capturing the full beauty of these fluttery creatures. Nevertheless, here's my poor attempts.
And dragonflies too!
This red one I often see at Buloh. Sigh, totally useless at identifying terrestrial inverts.
The trail had lots and lots of large Nyireh bunga or Mangrove cannon-ball trees (Xylocarpus granatum). I didn't see any rarey mangrove trees, but this very tall Teruntum putih (Lumnitzera racemosa) was quite impressive.
What a nice surprise to see that shelters are being built along the trail. This is good in case of sudden bad weather. To shelter from lightning especially.
There were people with large dogs walking along the trail. I came across two couples doing this.
Since dogs are not allowed at the Reserve, they would have had to walk back the way they came. The trail is rather narrow, and while the dogs were leashed, the dogs were well within sniffing distance when passing other people.
Why should we not bring our dogs to our wild places? Dogs leave a scent which disturbs the native wildlife. Dogs may also dig up or harass wildlife. Wildlife that defend themselves from dogs may injure the dog or the owner. Not to mention the weird parasites that pets might pick up from the wild.

Why not bring your dog to the special places set aside for dogs to run at our parks? From the dogpeople.org website, there are fenced Dog Runs at Bishan Park, West Coast Park and Katong Park. More about basic courtesies during a walk in our wild places.

As I headed back, there were three people cast netting in the waters off the Trail.
They were well prepared with a floating plastic box.
And it seemed they arrived at the shore on some sort of kayak? They were working the shoreline quite diligently.
It's a complex issue to deal with such activities. The shores at Kranji Nature Trail are outside the Reserve. It is also a logistical issue for the limited Reserve personnel to deal with such issues. The only comfort is that cast netting is less damaging than drift netting.

Another strange observation was the bright green waters in the mangroves as the tide came in. Particularly under the shade of the trees.
It seemed a little less green in the open sunlight.
The water was the normal dull grey when I first came onto the trail, this was the photo I took on the way in.
I checked with the Reserve staff before heading home and was informed that this is quite normal as it is due to algae in the water. Indeed, the photo I took of the water from the Trail bridge shows fine green stuff in the water. And possibly, the water looks greener under the green leaves of mangrove trees in full sunlight? There's still so much we need to learn and know to protect our precious mangroves.
As I was going home, I also noticed that the water in the Kranji Reservoir was somewhat green.

While I was at the Reserve, I had a look at the Berembang tree (Sonneratia caseolaris) at the Reserve entrance. I missed the blooming again. But the remnants does illustrate the distinctive characteristics of this Critically Endangered tree. Reddish base to the white stamens (the filaments), insides of the calyx (star-shaped things) are not red, and narrow red petals (just one hanging on to the blossom in the left photo).
Well, there's still more buds ready to blossom. While dropped stamens floated on the water below.
Brandon and I are going to attempt to take a look at the Berembang at Woodlands next week. Perhaps we will have better luck then!

More about Kranji Nature Trail on the wildsingapore website.

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