25 April 2010

Special mangroves at Kranji Nature Trail

It was a sunny Sunday so I thought I'd have a quick stroll in the mangroves of Kranji Nature Trail.
Particularly since Dr John Yong had shared that there were special mangrove plants there.

The mangroves are quite nice at the Trail. With large patches of 'mossy' areas. Here's a closer look at the soft green carpet. It's probably the green seaweed Chaetomorpha gracilis, from the Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore.
How delightful to see, in the dim filtered light beneath the tall trees, lots of Dungun air (Brownlowia tersa)!
It is also called 'Durian laut' in Malay which means 'Durian of the sea' probably because the green-above-silvery-below leaves resemble those of the Durian tree. The leaves are arranged alternately, in a spiral.
Although there were many bushes (I stopped counting after I reached 10), none of them had blooming flowers or fruits. Only some buds.
Later on, I saw a different kind of under-storey bush that looks like lime. With thorns on the stems, leaves arranged alternately. They sure look like the Limau lelang (Merope angulata) that Dr. John Yong mentioned!
Once again, there were several bushes, but no open flowers. Just a lot of little white buds. Wow, this is my first time seeing this mangrove plant!
It's hard to identify tall trees by looking up. So I have learnt to look down. Anyway, that's were I need to look to avoid squashing animals and trampling young plants. There are often signs of the trees' identity on the ground. Here's lots of little fruits of the Api-api putih (Avicennia alba).
In some parts of the mangrove forest, there are thickets of young Api-api plants. It almost looks like a nursery!
And these little round fruits in sets of three are from the Buta-buta tree (Excoecaria agallocha).
But what are these intriguing flowers? The insides of the calyx is pinkish and the fallen stamens around it are all white without any pinkish bits, so I know it's not Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris). The base of the calyx is quite bulbous too.
Here's a piece that fell off a fruit.
The nearest Sonneratia tree fortunately had a bit of branches sticking out low on the tree trunk.
Here's what the leaves look like.
I couldn't see the tell-tale pinkish bits at the leaf tip that Dr John Yong taught me are an indication of Perepat (Sonneratia alba). Could this be the Gedabu (Sonneratia ovata)? Wow. I'm thrilled!
As I was busy looking down today, I also noticed more stuff. Such as different kinds of odd looking roots. These looked like ropes and string twisted together.
While this one had odd round nodules growing out of the roots.
Despite the seawater sloshing in every now and then at high spring tide, there are mushrooms and fungi in the mangroves!
Of course, the mangroves were busy with all kinds of crabs. Including the eye-catching, colourful face-banded sesarmine crabs (Perisesarma sp.).
There were many large Belongkeng snails (Ellobium sp.).
And many clusters of smaller Cat's ear mangrove helmet snails (Cassidula aurifelis).
And this onch slug with an orange foot (Onchidium griseum) that I've only seen in mangroves.
I came a little late in the morning so there were lots of people out on the Trail already. Including these patient photographers stalking something far away. This is why we should walk quietly and not be noisy so as not to spoil the day for other nature lovers.
I also met nature guide Alyce, and NParks officers Jackie and Khalid who were out doing a bird cencus on the Trail. Jackie heard the sound of a Mangrove Pitta! But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the sound was.

I also saw someone walking along with sticks and a bag. Looks like he was geared to collect from the mangroves.
The Trail is easy to do, with lots of informative panels along the way.
So it was heartbreaking to see that some panels had been ripped out. Why anyone would do this boggles my mind.
Along the trail, alas, there are more sad signs of irresponsible people. Newspapers laid on the ground obviously sat upon, then left behind.
And litter left behind.
Near the collection of litter, an odd sort of offering laid out. Being consumed by hordes of insects.
This will be an unpleasant job for some poor person to clean up. Sigh.

The Kranji Nature Trail can be accessed from Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve as well as the bus stop on the main road (Kranji Way) next to the Kranji Dam sluice gate. More on the Reserve website with a downloadable PDF map of the Trail.

1 comment:

  1. I am amazed at the wild parts of Singapore. I always imagined it full of people and buildings. Thanks for bring all of this to your readers and thanks the wonderful education.




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