Sunday, May 31, 2009

Semakau Inter-tidal Walk 31 May 09

I have been absent from Semakau for about a month due my other commitments. Nevertheless, is always exciting to visit Semakau.

I'm back at Semakau today to guide a group of very enthusiastic people exploring one of the few natural shore left in Singapore. The weather today is perfect for outdoor activities...clear blue sky, which also means that we are to prepare to get tan line. :-)
The first animal that we saw was this juvenile horse-shoe crab. Horseshoe crab is having blue colour blood due to the copper that presence in their blood. They are considered living fossil as they have evolved little in the last 400 million years. Wow!
If this little teddy bear look-alike crab decided to stay still, it is almost invisible! The hair on this hairy crab (Pilumnus vespertilio) would trap sediments and made themselves looks like part of the substrate when out of water. When under water, their hair will break their body outline and make it very difficult to be detected. They might have the same name as hairy crabs but this hairy crabs are poisonous and not to be consumed.

Is hard to relate this small clam to a giant right? Well, it is a juvenile Giant Clam (Tridacna squamosa). An matured Giant Clam can grow up to 40cm wide!This beautiful shell with the unmistakable mountain drawing on it is a noble volute. The white gel like thing on the side is the egg capsule.We saw another egg capsule but this is the egg capsules of squid.
This Sun Flower Mushroom Coral with part of their tentacles retracted when out of water due to the out going tide.
During low tide, lots of fishes are trapped within the tidal pool such as this Damselfish.
This juvenile cushion star looks like piece of mosaic. As cushion star grow, the body shape will become rounder and looks like a cushion.The usual Knobbly Star is having five arms but this is the not so common one, having six arms. Knobbly sea star is one of the biggest sea star in Singapore.
Synaptic sea cucumber with the feeding tentacles extended.
During low tide, the fiddler crab will come out from their burrow for feeding. This is the female fiddler crab with two same size pincers.The male fiddler crab is having the super large claw. The male use this enlarged claw to ward off potential competitors and for courtship. However, due to the over sized claw, they can’t feed as fast as the female crabs.
This ball like sands are actually processed sands left behind by crabs.After the walk as we are entering the forest, I saw this insect with a very beautiful colour. I have yet to find out what it is.Is a very hot day, nevertheless I'm sure this group enjoy the walk as I am. Thank you for making today's walk such a lovely one. Thanks for sharing the jokes too.... Aunty, Uncle, .... :-)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Crested Goshawk Hunting Squirrel

I was at Taiwan in April for about 10 days and visited the Taipei Botanical Garden with Ling on the last 2 days before returning to Singapore.

We arrived in the morning and around about 9am, the whole garden was very noisy. Apparently the noise was warning calls from hundreds of squirrel in the garden in synchronous. After a quick scan I saw a Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) and the warning call was aimed at this bird of prey.
My guess was correct and despite the warning call, the Goshawk managed to catch a squirrel from a tree and flew off to another part of the garden.
The Goshawk perch on another tree and with the squirrel tightly hold with the talon.The Goshawk was holding the squirrel for about 15 or 20 mins but continue on the look out.
The Goshawk first remove the fur with the powerful bill.The Goshawk just 'spit' the fur away.Some of the squirrel's fur still stuck on the Goshawk bill.
The Goshawk continue to do that for at least another 7 or 8 timesAfter about 5 mins or so, the Goshawk finally tear the squirrel to expose the flesh and consume it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Birds at Singapore Botanic Garden

This is the continuation from my last post on Singapore Botanic Garden. Other than the beautiful duck that I have posted earlier, there are many interesting sighting in the garden too.Up on a very tall tree, I saw a pair of Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) building their love nest converted from a hole on the tree. I tried from different angle, but didn’t able to see if there is any chicks in the nest. Perhaps got to come back again and check it out.The birds in & out of the nest taking turns quite often.Managed to get a shot showing the changing shift in progress.Looks like is feeding the chicks but I don't have a visual.On another branch slightly higher than the Myna nest, I saw another nest that looks like a House Crow‘s nest.I saw a big bird sneakily move to the nest direction.On a closer look, it was a female Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea). Asian Koel are known to be brood parasite. This Asian Koel must be trying to lay eggs in the nest and expect the host to incubate and feed their chick until they fledged.Across the field on the palm tree opposite, I saw big flock of Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) perch on the palm leaves. There are at least few hundreds of them with more than half of them are juveniles.Young Starling has a very different plumage from the adult starling. They are not black as seen on the normal adult starling but appear to be scaly. The big numbers of off-spring show that the food supplies in the garden must be good. An adult Asian glossy starling snatch a piece of bread left behind by a tourist and later found it sharing with another juvenile Starling.
I’m not sure if it is feeding the juvenile or the juvenile actually try to intercept the food from another adult starling.
I saw a dark shadow slightly bigger than a carpenter bee flew pass me over to the palm tree on the opposite. Oh it was a fledgling yellow-vented burbul (Pycnonotus goiavier).
Looks like is now the peak of the breeding season for birds in the SBG.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Synchronized Athlete of SBG

I have not been to Singapore Botanic Garden for a while and I think this is my first visit there in year 2009! I arrived there around 8am and slowly make my way to the Helicornia Walk, Ginger garden and back to the Symphony Lake.

Saw this lovely pair of Lesser Whistling-duck.Without formal training, this pair of Lesser Whistling-duck is a perfect synchronized athlete! From preening, swimming and even dozed-off together! They do it just so naturally.
So lovely!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Uncommon, Common Myna

Perhaps Common Myna is too common that we ignore the facts that they are beautiful bird to watch too. Although Common Myna do not have colourful feathers, when capture on photos with high speed, it is beautiful!
Photo above were taken in Ubin showing Common Myna prepare to land from flight . Isn't Common Myna beautiful?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Strange Behavior of Asian Glossy Starling

I was puzzled by the strange behaviour of this Asian Glossy Starling that I observed for about 2 hours at Pulau Ubin on Sunday.
During my 2 hours observation, the Starling was throwing away the food near the nest for at least 4 times by regurgitating it.
Just don't understand why the bird even care to carry the food back to their nest just to dump them away? Isn't this is wasting of energy? If they are not hungy or if the food is not suitable, why do they still want to fly back with it and later throw it away?
According to BESGroup website , the bird regurgitate the seeds to reduce reduce the weight and volume of material that must pass through the gut. However, the Starling is throwing the whole fruits and not just the seeds. Why do they want to do that??

29th May 09 Updates ( from BESG )
After consulting bird behaviour specialist John Vickerman, there are 2 possible scenarios.... (read more from BESG)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chestnut Munia Bathing

I was at Pulau Ubin on Sunday morning. The weather is just too hot that the Chestnut Munia taking a dip in the pool of water to refresh themselves.The Munia on the left is the first to walk into the water and other just watch from the edge of the pool.The rest just follow and take a sip of the water before they dip their whole body in the water.
The Munia are really having fun with the water.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reef Walk at Bali

Bali is one of the best place for diving/surfing and many holiday makers. I visit Bali for the 4th time last week. Other than diving, I have also explored the inter-tidal area during low tide to look at the beautiful reef without putting on the diving gears.

The biodiversity there is simply amazing! Below are just some of the animals that I saw and they are just too many to include all. I will just pick some of the creatures that 'not so common' during reef walk in Singapore.

Closer to the shore, I saw this Diadema savignyi urchin. There are also lots of Diadema setosum which I did not include in the photo.
This beautiful orange colour urchin probably a Mespilia globulusThis could be a Tripneustes gratilla sea urchin.A Stegopontonia commensalis shrimp can also be found just at the inter-tidal area!I'm not too sure about the id of this white urchin. Could it be Salmacis?This urchin may be beautiful and it is also consider one of the very venomous sea urchin and is called Toxopneustes pileolus or flower sea urchin.Another beautiful sea urchin Astropyga radiataRock boring sea urchin.
One of the many Banded Sea Urchin that can be found among the seagrass.There are also lots of brittle star that I have no idea of their id.Another surprise find, a Linckia multiflora sea starLinckia laevigata blue sea star that also usually can be seen only when diving.
2 small Echinaster luzonicus sea star and another 7 arm of the same sea star.
Not too sure about this sea star with one arm bitten off.2 probably thick-skinned Sea Star - Echinaster callosus
The knobbly (Protoreaster nodosus) sea star is just every where!This Ghost shrimp was attracted by my camera and decided to come out to take a look from the burrow.
Anemone shrimp
Another shrimp that I saw in one of the tidal pool.Wow! Beautiful Helmut shell and is alive!
This Olive shell is burrowing upon sensing my presence.I also saw this Milebe nudi among the sea grass.Key hole sand dollars is quite common here.Saw this pipefish with the head of a alligator shape.A very cute baby puffer fish that half bloated.I initially thought that this is a flatworm but later realise that is a flounder. Can you spot the two eyes on the right?Saw this fish that looks like a Cockatoo waspfish.
I even saw a lion fish without even diving. This place is amazing!Another beautiful Dwarf lionfish that was found among the sea grass!
A stranded yellow-striped cardinal fish?Another fish that usually can be seen only during diving - eel.A juvenile Vagabond butterflyfishA very beautiful hermit crabThe side view of this spider crab really looks like a frog.Zosimus aeneus reed crab.
This crab have a very beautiful red colour on the carapace.A pebble crab
This Moon crab can disappear in just a slit of second. All the legs of moon crabs are in paddle shape that can help the crab burrow in a very short time.An unknown reef worm.
I have planned for this trip the first time when I went to Bali few years back for diving. This is probably one of the biggest inter-tidal area that I ever explored. This place really worth to go back there and visit over and over again!