15 November 2009

Cobra at Ubin!

We had just started a slow walk in the forest when there was a slither among the leaves.
Long, black and elegant, it was probably a spitting cobra! Wow, this is my first time actually seeing a cobra in the wild.

We kept real still as the beautiful creature slid slowly away from us. It raised its head and flared its hood a bit before melting away into the undergrowth.
You can read more about the Equatorial spitting cobra (Naja sumatrana) on Nick Baker's excellent fact sheets on snakes. He says "Though not aggressive in nature, these snakes can accurately spit a powerful neurotoxic venom into the eyes which can cause temporary blindness. The bite, however, can be fatal."

This is why it is important, when exploring our wild places, to stick to the path and not bash around in the undergrowth. And to walk slowly and watch your step.
Today we were checking out the little patch of mangroves that we visited earlier this year. It's a strange kind of mangrove growing on rather hard ground with a ring of very short mangrove trees on the outer edges.
These dwarved trees were of all species, we found out. But even though they were stunted, and their leaves very yellow, many were producing propagules. Although some of the propagules didn't look very healthy. Clockwise from right: Tumu (Bruguiera gymmorhiza), Tengar (Ceriops zippeliana) and Bakau putih (Bruguiera cylindrica).
There were bigger mangrove trees in the middle of the patch, but they were growing too densely for us to visit easily so we peered at them from the edges. Some of the trees looked quite happy. This is probably the nicest Api-api putih (Avicennia alba) that I've seen for a long time. With healthy leaves and propagules. There were a lot of A. alba.
Another abundant tree here is Bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata). This one was growing very low but already flowering.
Today, the tide was very high, and seawater flushed to the back of the mangrove patch.
I noticed the grass-like plants growing abundantly in the inundated portion. I'm not sure what they are.
We head out to the front of the mangroves, and say hello to the big Nyireh batu (Xylocarpus moluccensis) that we saw on our last trip.
It seems to be doing well and is bearing fruits!
Growing among its branches was this strange plant which looks like a climber though I'm not too sure. There was a tangle of several trees in this patch.
It has these flat pods and remains of a flowering spike. I have no idea what it is.
Also plentiful here were the beautiful flowering plants of the mangroves. With many tall and healthy trees. From left: Teruntum putih (Lumnitzera racemosa), Teruntum merah (Lumnitzera littorea) and Chengam (Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea).
And these pretty flowers attracted all kinds of butterflies!
The brown butterfly flashes its electric blue colours as it feeds.
It was a dry and warm day so there were a lot of butterflies out and about.
Alas, I'm hopeless both at photographing and identifying butterflies. For more about our fabulous butterflies with gorgeous photos, visit the Butterflies of Singapore blog by the Butterfly Circle. The blog has regular posts covering the entire life cycle and other fascinating aspects of our butterflies.

There were lots of dragonflies too! Really hard to sneak up to in bright daylight. I'm more used to slower moving animals and working at night. Robin has great posts about dragonflies on his Creatures Big & Small blog.
And a pretty little damselfly. I'm sure Chay Hoon got a much better photo of it.
And on the hot sand were lots and lots of Tiger beetles. Like drunk drivers, these zoom about madly with sudden stops.
On the way home, in the forest, we saw a trail of ants across the path. They were carrying little white things and at first we thought they were moving house and bringing along their larvae.
But a closer look makes us wonder a bit more. They were indeed carrying insect larvae, but the larvae were much much bigger than the ants.
And some seemed to be carrying either smaller larvae or bits of chopped up larvae.
Did they just raid another ants' nest?

I am very poor at shooting insects and little terrestrial critters. Federick Ho is much better at this on his excellent Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature blog with regular posts of trips to our wild terrestrial places and awesome photos of our tiniest creatures.

As for marine creatures, there were lots Rodong snails (Telescopium telescopium) all over the silty but hard ground. Ivan found a little Porcelain fiddler crab (Uca annulipes), and I came across the empty shell of some kind of Nerite (Family Neritidae).
On the way home, we have a look at the plants placed here by NParks to get them used to the Real World before they are replanted.
Alas, some parts of this shore is severely impacted by a heavy load of large trash. Although there is a fence on this shore, litter still builds up.
There were also signs of oil on the water. Even deeper in the mangroves where Ivan bravely ventured.
On the way home, we notice the big barge and crane is still working on the Changi shore. And this time it seems they have a big pile of rocks on the barge. I don't seem to have seen an MPA notice about this work, so I have no idea what is going on.
Today there were army guys with weapons at the Ubin Jetty and at checkpoints on the island. Possibly something to do with Apec? Apparently Pulau Ubin is an interesting destination for Apec delegates and there was a newspaper report of one of them making his own way to Ubin. Wow!

There's a brief series of lowish tides later in the week. We sure miss getting our booties wet.


  1. Wow! I wonder what type of red flowering plant is that? The 'brown butterfly' with the iridescent blue upperwings is a male Striped Blue Crow. The four closeup shots are, clockwise, Black Vein Tiger, Blue Glassy Tiger, Chocolate Pansy and a Great Eggfly (or perhaps its subspecies the Jacintha Eggfly, which is the subject of the latest blog article)

    Would be good to try to plant this flowering bush near the backmangroves to attract butts during reforestation projects!

  2. Thanks Khew for the IDs! I need to be less lame and start to learn the names of these gorgeous butterflies. No excuses for me as you and the Circle have uploaded so much great information and awesome photos on your blog.

    The red flower is Teruntum merah (Lumnitzera littorea) which is quite common in some of our back mangroves. On Ubin, they can grow to trees more than 3m tall! Yes, would be a great idea to plant more. We get pretty flowers and lovely butterflies too.

  3. Thanks for the quick reply! :) You always have a willing coach in me, if you want to learn more about butts! :D

    Ok, now I know what mangrove plant to choose to attract butterflies when we do the mangrove arboretum at the SBWR Phase II.

  4. The climber with flat pods is a legume: Caesalpinia crista. The grasslike plant is a sedge - Cyperus sp.

    Joe Lai

  5. Many thanks Joe for the IDs of the plants! I have a lot to learn about plants!



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