A hot sunny day out with Travis, the Butterfly Circle and Dragonfliers! This time, minus the Death March. We are only doing a tiny corner of this vast area.
Before we got to work on the landward side, we all had a quick look at the humungous shoreline. The tide was high but low enough for a bunch of us to head out for a more marine exploration.
I had a quick look at the other side of the shore. There was a big dead fish that looked like it had been well investigated by many creatures big and small, judging from the tracks in the sand.
At least one large monitor lizard had been on beach patrol, leaving his tail and feet tracks on the sand.
A huge dead pufferfish attracted fewer prods from scavengers. Animals seem to know this fish is poisonous to eat.
Also on the shore, lots of little sand bubbler crabs, and many small jellies washed up. There was a short stretch with much green seaweed (Ulva sp.) washed ashore.
As well as many different kinds of mangrove seedlings. How exciting. Perhaps eventually mangroves will settle on this part of the shore.
Alas, together with natural flotsam are lots of marine debris, leaving a tide line of rubbish on the high shore.
After this brief beach foray, I joined the Butterfly and Dragonfly teams to check out the terrestrial habitats. The grasslands behind the margin of beach trees are teeming with wildflowers and insects.
I was intrigued by this butterfly that flies rather lamely with weak and faltering flaps. Khew shared that it's the Tawny Coaster (Acraea violae) which has finally made its way to Singapore. Read all about its voyage on the Butterfly Circle's awesome Butterflies of Singapore blog. You might even find this butterfly on some fence nearby! See Federick's fabulous post.
One of the food plants of the caterpillar is the Passion flower (Passiflora foetida). And there were lots of this pretty but stinky plant.
Here's another butterfly I saw, obligingly keeping very still in the sunny meadows. Sigh, I still fail in butterfly id despite best efforts by Khew to teach.
Another intriguing habitat here are the 'black-water' ponds and streams. The water is clear but dark, like very strong tea. The Dragonfly team hoped to find some interesting dragonflies here.
The ponds are rather strange. There were freshwater plants in the water, like duckweed and something that really looked like Kang kong. But also many elements of mangroves. Like this small group of Bakau trees (Rhizophora sp.), growing under the Rhu trees.
And many shells of Belongkeng snails (Ellobium sp.) which are usually found in mangroves. I couldn't find any living snails. There was some but not a lot of litter in the area, so my guess is that this area is sometimes inundated by the sea and turns brackish. But has recently been sealed off from seawater intrusion. It would be interesting to study regeneration on reclaimed areas, so that we can better accommodate natural regrowth?
Upstream, I found this lovely little freshwater pond that feeds the ponds closer to the coast. It sure looked scenic.
I peered into the water and the surface was patrolled by many large and active water striders. These insects 'walk' on water by distributing their body weight on their extremely long legs, so they don't puncture the surface tension of the water. They are carnivorous and hunt for prey just beneath the water. These ferocious predators must be scary for little creatures that live in the stream.
Here's a closer look at the rather pretty water strider, and the water snails busy in the clear but dark water. Of course I didn't see the snails until I processed the photo.
The water was a tea brewed from fallen Rhu tree twigs, leaves of the Sea almond tree and other streamside plants, under the shade of large trees.
I had a great time slowly checking out the quiet Rhu forest growing alongside the stream. Here's a separate post of what I saw.
Thanks once again Travis for taking us to this special spot!
And to Butterfly Circle and the Dragonfliers for their company and for checking out this new area. The Butterfly team have found at least 18 species of butterflies in just our short little walk. Awesome!