Thursday, March 24, 2011

Go Wild @Pasir Ris Park & Mangroves

13th Mar, 2011 ~ Most of the parks I visited recently(in my previous entries) are tame. Since changing from a tomboy to a girlie female, I'd turned soft. Afraid of creepy crawlies, insect bites, getting dirty & all those rough nature outdoor stuffs. Hate the oppressive heat & humidity, making me sticky after sweating like a horse! Will someone please invent a small & light portable personal air-con! And damnit, biting insects, go away! Not in the wilderness yet & I got bitten while the guys with me were untouched! My blood is sweeter or what?!? Grrrrr... *Hamster cursing & sweaing!
Sigh... to connect with Mother Nature, some sacrifices have to be made. I shall prevail! 1 small step at a time. So, small steps Hamster went to Pasir Ris Park & tested its small mangrove forest.
First, I went to the nearby fishing pond to prepared myself for the wilder side of life. Small steps, remember? =P

@Pasir Ris Fishing Pond

Big Rock & Giant Crab



While the pond is popular with fishing enthusiasts, the surrounding areas with its open space & cool shades from ornament trees is also a great place for picnic or just relax.

Rest & Relax


As I'm into avian photography, not much activities for me at the fishing ponds. Beside the usual noisy Mynas & Black-naped Orioles there are plenty of Sunbirds & the equally noisy White-collared Kingfishers. Saw a cluster of bats hanging high from a tree & the highlight was spotting a pair of Sunda Woodpeckers at their nest in 1 of the trees. This leads to a tragic tale which I will tell later.

Hanging Bats


With 71 hectares of land, the coastal Pasir Ris Park is among 1 of the largest in Singapore. The full length of the park is around 6.6 km. The most popular area of the park is at the beach with BBQ pits, playgrounds, jogging & cycling tracks.

Beachside


Within the park, at Sungei Tampines, a 6 hectare patch of mature mangrove forest was preserved. Wooden walkways allow visitors a close but comfortable look at the forest without getting muddy & educational signboards describe the biology of mangrove organisms. Birdwatchers will love the 3-storey high Bird Watching Tower. This mangrove forest is where my little steps took me.
Note: 'Sungei' means 'river' in the Malay language

@Sungei Tampines

Walkways & Bird Watching Tower

Educational Signboards


Compared to the tame park at the fishing ponds, this place is wild & so alive with nature! Yes, yes, I know its nothing compared to a 'real' jungle. Small steps into nature... =P

Beautiful Flowers

Weird Flora

The Art of Plants


Got some lovely shots of the numerous butterflies flapping about.

From left to right, top to bottom: Peacock Pansy, Three Spot Grass Yellow, Common Palmfly & Green Oakblue.

From left to right, top to bottom: Peacock Pansy, Blue Glassy Tiger, Lemon Emigrant & King Crow.

From left to right, top to bottom: Plain Tiger, Dark Glassy Tiger, Peacock Pansy & Spotted Black Crow.


And a dragonfly species new to me.

Dragonfly (Can someone ID this species, please?)


The hazards of a tropical jungle. Walking into webs is yuck!

Eeeeek! Spiders!
Golden Orb Spider(top image) & Cyrtophora cicatrosa(bottom image)

*Info provided by: "MooMooCow"


Home of the creepy crawlies...

From left to right, top to bottom: Ants nest, Wasps treehouse? Mud Lobster castle & Termites hill.


In the harsh & cruel jungle, its a fight for survival from the trees top to the mud & water below.

Common Gliding Lizard & a mangrove snake (species unknown to me).


The snake in the above pic was killed later, assumedly by a Water Monitor Lizard which was sunning nearby. I saw the snake slithering slowly towards the Water Monitor. When I returned to the same spot about an hour later, snake was dead & the lizard was gone.

Swimming Water Monitors

Water Monitor Lizard & Changeable Lizards


Witnessed a battle on the jungle floor. A Common Sun Skink had flushed out & captured a centipede.

Dinner Is Taken!


In the very slow or motionless fauna category...

Phylum Mollusk


Did anyone mentioned chilli crabs?

Crabby Family

And they love to climb trees!


Encountered quite a number of photographers there. Not surprising as the mangrove forest is a haven for birds & a heaven for bird watchers/photographers. At the river banks, many species of water birds hunt, feed, roost, mate & build nest there.

Waterfront properties & diners at the river.

Home Sweet Home


The bottom image in the above pic is a man-made Hornbill nest to encourage Hornbill to breed. Singapore is too urbanized with too few areas having big trees left, hence the artificial hornbill nests program. I didn't see any Hornbill around, but was told that there are always a few nearby. I might be going back for a pic of the Hornbill & tries to gets its autograph. LOL! =P

Beside the rarer Hornbill, there are an abundance of other birds in the mangrove forest. Many of them are so shy & unwilling to show themselves! I can hear them, caught glimpses of them flicking/hopping in the foliage, taunting me & refused to stay still for a decent portrait! Some are so timid that at 50m away, you took 2 steps towards them & they fly for dear life! It's so frustrating!
C'mon little birdies, I'm just a Harmless Hamster. Don't you wanna be immortalized in my blog & album? LOL! =P

Here are some good birdies who posed for me. xD

From left to right, top to bottom: Little Heron, juvenile Little Heron, a pair of Black-crowned Night Heron, adult & juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron, Eastern Cattle Egret, Little Egret & Grey Heron.


1 of my personal favorite species of birds is the Kingfishers. Till date, I'd taken pics of 4 species, but they are very very difficult to approach for a nice pic. Snobbish little birds!
The most common Kingfisher in Singapore got to be the White-collared Kingfisher. They are omnipresent at all parks I'd been to so far.

White-collared Kingfishers


Saw 2 other species at Pasir Ris Park.

Stork-billed Kingfisher & White-throated Kingfisher


Was told there are also Black-capped Kingfishers at the mangrove forest. This is 1 species I'd not taken pics of & hoping for pics of them next time I visit.
Other species of birds I spotted at Pasir Ris Park were...

From left to right, top to bottom: Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pacific Swallows, Whimbrel & White-breasted Waterhen

From left to right, top to bottom: Blue-throated Bee-eater, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, male Asian Koel, Ashy Tailorbird, Asian Brown Flycatcher & a juvenile Black-naped Oriole.


Now, to the tragic tale of the Sunda Woodpeckers. I spotted a nesting pair at the park & my shooting partner took a few pics. By watching their behaviors, we believe they have nestling. They would take turns going for the grocery. When 1 returned, it would land a distance from the nest, checking for threats. We were standing directly below their nest about 2 meters away. Guess they don't perceived us as a threat. After satisfying there's no threat, it would land on top of their hole-in-the-tree home & signal its mate by knocking on the wood with its beak. Its mate will pop out real fast in a flash.

A pair of Sunda Woodpeckers at their nest. The blurred image of the flying 1 is due to the low light condition at that time.


The next day, my guy went back, hoping for better light condition to get a clearer pic of 1 in flight. Just when he reached the site, 1 of the woodpecker flew out from the nest. My guy turned to follow its flight & suddenly, from a nearby tree swooped a hawk. The woodpecker is fast, but the hawk is faster. It caught the woodpecker in flight, u-turned & headed back to the tree. My guy instantly gave chase. He knew the fate of the poor woodpecker was sealed, but his impulsive furious thoughts to the hawk were: "Damnit! You spoiled my chance for a nice pic! Either give me back my woodpecker or a clear shot of you, idiot hawk!" The panicky hawk clutching its prey flew from tree to tree trying to escape. He lost it after the 6th flight, but got a few pics. The hunter or huntress I should say, is a female Japanese Sparrowhawk.

The female Japanese Sparrowhawk clutching my poor little woodpecker. =(


After hearing about this distressing event, I need some cheering up. When I went to the park again, the return happiness came in the form of a baby Spotted Wood Owl. It's so cute, bobbing its head up, down & sideway looking at us with those huge eyes. Such a joy watching it, knowing that at least, here's a success story.

Baby Spotted Wood Owl


And beware. Mommy is watching nearby.

Mommy Spotted Wood Owl


Spotted Wood Owl is the largest owl in Singapore & is considered critically endangered here mainly due to habitat destruction. It's no surprise that many species are in danger in a small, but very urbanized island. With the recent population increase, more & more forested area will be cleared for housing. Too many city dwellers do not know how to appreciate or care about nature.

Please Keep Mother Nature Alive.

Her Demise Is Our Doom!

Love Her & Love Her Well!


Note to readers: There might be error in my identification of species or some species name were left out due to my limited knowledge. If so, please help to rectify or clarify. Thanks in advance!

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12 Comments:

At Thursday, March 24, 2011 10:42:00 PM, Blogger uno Gitano™ said...

wow Nikita... one of your best posts! ah ... all this is beautiful! and you ...
ran many risks ...!!! hehehe ...
aaah! ... I was sad about the fate and history of the woodpecker, poor thing!
Owls ... and your affection too: "It's so cute, ITS head bobbing up & down looking at us with sideway Those huge eyes."
Incredible, we are equal, also the feelings, anywhere in the world, is not it?!

Congratulations to Singapore, and you always very beautiful!

 
At Thursday, March 24, 2011 11:17:00 PM, Blogger uno Gitano™ said...

Please do not discourage!
You're seen in many places around the world, for sure!
I'm from Brazil, on the other side ... of world!
His unique style and beauty, both the content of the posts like you who beautifies everything beautifully, gives us an immense pleasure to read and see!
You Nikita! A legitimate representative of women and beauty of Singapore, both for places unknown to us, and also as a smart girl, human, beautiful and happy ...!

Congrats Nikita!
Affection for you and Singapore

Uno

 
At Friday, March 25, 2011 12:51:00 AM, Blogger Nikita Hengbok said...

Hi Uno,

Thank you so much for your kind compliment. Have nice day. :D

Niki

 
At Friday, March 25, 2011 9:49:00 AM, Anonymous MooMooCow said...

You spot an amazing amount of wildlife for a self-proclaimed "city girl". I can never see this much stuff even though I frequently go to such places. Any tips for unobservant people like me?

And in case you are interested, your spiders are Nephila pilipes (golden orb weaver) and the red tiny spider next to it is either a male of the species (all the big ones are female) or a parasite that hangs out on her web stealing insects. The other spider looks like a Cyrtophora cicatrusa (http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/inverts/spider_tent.htm).

By the way, the term for snails and clams is Phylum Mollusca, in case you want to be technically correct. Mollusk is a general english term, usually the phyllum has the "a" at the end.

 
At Friday, March 25, 2011 7:40:00 PM, Blogger Nikita Hengbok said...

Hi all,

Thanks for your kind compliments.
And also thanks to "MooMooCow" for providing info about the spiders.
Very much appreciated.

Thanks & regards,
Niki

 
At Saturday, March 26, 2011 6:25:00 PM, Anonymous Ed said...

Great posting. For one, Niki, ofcourse you look great as always. The animal pics are really really good. You sure have a talent for that. I thought the little birdhouse attached to the tree looked kinda cute. Sadly I never been to this parc. The closest I came to nature in Singapore was the Zoo, Bukit Timah, Punggol fishing village (before it was developed) and Desker road (they had snakes in a cage)

 
At Saturday, April 02, 2011 4:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nikita,
I saw in your Blog that they do have a man-made Hornbill nest set up in Pasir Ris ( I've was able to take some shots of these birds lately), but I can't seems to locate it's nest. Could U give direction ? http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/stomp/sgseen/this_urban_jungle/581606/rare_sight_pair_of_endangered_hornbills_spotted_in_pasir_ris.html

Thank you.

Seaeagle

 
At Sunday, April 03, 2011 1:15:00 AM, Blogger Nikita Hengbok said...

Hi Seaeagle,

The artificial nest build for Hornbills at Pasir Ris is near the bird watching tower, but you won't be able to see the nest from there. The area at the bird watching tower is connected to 3 paths. Take the 1 leading to Pasir Ris Park going toward the beach. Just a very short distance away from the tower, at the entrance to the mangrove forest, you will see a row of wooden benches on your right. Behind those benches are bushes which hide the view of nest from the path. Go through the bushes & on the tallest tree there, is the nest. Hopes this helps.

Regards,
Niki

 
At Sunday, April 03, 2011 1:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Niki,

Tks for the precious infor. I've spotted 3 Hornbill now @ the park (2 males n 1 female), so it's only a matter of time they might make used of that Man-made nest. Happy shooting...............:)

Seaeagle.

 
At Sunday, April 03, 2011 1:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opps forget to share with U the link:- http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/stomp/sgseen/this_urban_jungle/594786/rare_hornbills_spotted_again_are_they_calling_pasir_ris.html


Seaeagle

 
At Sunday, April 03, 2011 1:42:00 AM, Blogger Nikita Hengbok said...

Hi Seaeagle,

My friend also spotted 2 juveniles at the same place. Most probably what he photographed are the same ones as in your pictures.

Regards,
Niki

 
At Thursday, April 28, 2011 4:04:00 PM, Blogger pasteurella said...

Great post with many great pics.
Unfortunately yes, it is a known fact that musquito's and other bloodsucking insects prefere females of the human species over the males.

Unfair? Perhaps, but such is life

 

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