27 December 2009

Slow at Kranji Nature Trail

Sun's out! Quick walk outdoors seems to be in order.
As I reached the carpark, large numbers of people all busy applying insect repellent were heading for the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. But it was quiet and peaceful on Kranji Nature Trail.

I was hoping to find some fruits on the Dungun tree (Heritiera littoralis) that I last saw flowering so profusely in September. Alas, I didn't see anything vaguely fruit-like on the trees. But I did see this chewed up fruit near one of the trees. It seems to have a keel like the Dungun fruit should have. Hmm...
In searching for the fruits, I noticed this odd structure in the tree. It seems to be some kind of nest, perhaps of a paper wasp? It was a gorgeous work of natural art.
What WAS flowering was this Fishtail palm (Caryota mitis). Considered a very common palm, I often just ignore it. But the flowering bunch was just too pretty in the morning sunlight. This palm starts flowering from the top downwards. So the bunch of green stuff lower down is probably of flower buds.
After that, I noticed there were a lot of these palms along the Trail. They are easily identified by their leaves with the 'fishtail' shaped leaflets. And here's one with fruits. Apparently the fruits and sap contain needle-like crystals that can cause irritation when handled.In doing up a quick fact sheet on the palm, I learnt that the fluff scraped off leaves and sheaths are used as tinder to start a fire. Whitmore describes how in Kelantan, a 'gobek api' is used to start a fire. A piece of buffalo horn has a small hole drilled in it and a tight fitting piston of the same material. A little Fishtail palm fluff is dropped into the hole. 'The piston is driven sharply home, and if it is then removed quickly enough, the fluffy material will be found to be smouldering and can be fanned into a flame'. Wow.

There are several magnificent Nyireh bunga or Mangrove cannon-ball tree (Xylocarpus granatum) along the Trail. And some were blooming and many were fruiting too. The large round fruits do resemble cannon-balls!
There was a fruit fallen on the Trail that looks rather young. I think it has been eaten by something as there is a big hole drilled into it.
Adding a splash of colour to the mangroves was a little patch of Maiden's jealousy (Tristellateia australasiae). In the wild, this beautiful liana is found in back mangroves, tidal swamps, coasts and forests. Now of course, it is also widely planted as an ornamental.
I saw this little brown butterfly with spots, and in an attempt to be less lazy, am making a stab at it possibly being the the Dingy Bush Brown (Mycalesis perseus cepheus) which is featured in the Butterflies of Singapore blog with truly gorgeous photos. I still have no idea how they take such great photos of these fluttery beasts.
During the walk, two men came paddling up the shore next to the Trail. And started walking along the shore, using a cast net.
They then paddled past the Trail into the Reserve proper.
And continued to work the area with their cast nets.
They look like the same people I saw doing the same thing during my last trip to the Trail in September.

The shorebirds moved away as the guys worked the shore.
There were quite a few egrets, and some herons and this fat little sandpiper.

It's been a quiet long weekend. A good time to rest up in preparation for a very hectic upcoming low tide period.


  1. I believe that is a hornet nest. The bottom half is still under construction. Fully completed, the outer shell is oval or roundish. The inner central structure is where the larvae are housed.

  2. That Bush Brown looks more like the Long-Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis visala phamis). These buggers are not easy to ID with 100% confidence without having them dead on my setting board. So I'd rather let it be a mystery and leave some element of doubt in the ID (and the butt alive). But it's definitely not a Dingy Bush Brown as the characteristic ocelli is not out of line with the adjacent ones. If I'm talking gibberish, we'll discuss more about these lookalies at November's workshop in March. :)

  3. Wow, thanks Joe for the details on the nest. That's fascinating.

    And thanks Khew for the explanation on the butterfly. Sigh, I'm going to be your slowwweeest student.



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