Night Herp Walk

Went for another night herp walk. The first one was this.

This time round with more knowledge gleaned from the previous walk and some other training in between, thought I have a better shot of seeing some snakes and other reptiles. But sadly despite Singapore having more than 60 species of snakes, we didn’t spot any at all. How disappointing! The other groups did saw a python, a Oriental Whip Snake and a Paradise Tree Snake though!

Anyway, despite it being a fairly dry night, we did see quite a number of frogs and toads 

Asian Toad

Four Lined tree frog

Banded Bull frog

Beside frogs and toads, there were gecko aplenty. They were all over the place once we know where to look. Most of them ran away when we shine our torches on them and armed only with a basic camera without any flash or diffuser, most of the photos of the geckos didn’t turn up well just like this one with a moth in its mouth.

Spiny Tailed Gecko

The highlight of the walk was seeing this big lizard – the Tokay Gecko. Never knew we got such big gecko in Singapore. We saw 3, with the first being almost 1 foot long. These 2 are smaller. 

Tokay Gecko

Tokay Gecko

Interesting time. Now looking forward to the next walk.

 

 

 

 

Windsor Nature Park

Singapore opens another “nature” park – the Windsor Nature Park which is actually what to me used to me part of the MacRitchie Reservoir entering from the Venus Road side. And naturally knowing how authorities’ fixation on clean and neat, what used to be a nice semi-wild trail is now very sadly sanitised.

Like this broadwalk here. Previously it was just a nice trail with railings at the side to prevent people from encroaching into one of the few remaining natural stream left in Singapore. Now there is this nice broadwalk. Oh well, I suppose if it helps to keep the people from trampling all over.

The stream that goes into the forest. When the kids were younger and I was not into this nature protection thingy, we came here to catch the little longkang fish like guppy, mosquitoes fish, cichlids and the occasional barbs. Nowadays, activities like that are forbidden and carry a heavy fine which is good as we need to protect the little bit of nature that we have left although I must said most of the fishes there nowadays are not “local”. 

In addition to the broadwalk from the Venus Road carpark where there is now a Visitor Centre and a toilet, there is another new broadwalk, the Drongo Trail running almost parallel with the old trail adjacent to the SICC road. This broadwalk is above ground level and allow visitors to see at least the mid level of the trees and its inhabitants. This will leads to MacRitchie Reservoir.

From Venus Road entrance, there is another trail called Venus Walk but this is a cemented path and leads to the Windsor housing estate. It does look very nice though and very “runnable” hahaha.

Fortunately, my favourite part of this trail which is now officially known as Venus Loop has been left largely untouched and there is still this beautiful canopy tunnel as well as the winding trails for me to run through.

Overall I must admit Nparks have done a good job of striking a nice balance between keeping the place as natural as possible and yet protecting the environment. The expected popular area have been reinforced with the broadwalk and most of the trees and plants appear to be left untouched.

Kranji Marshes – the Conservation Area

I been trying to get to the Conservation area of Kranji Marshes since my last visit to Kranji Marshes in June last year. But because Nparks only allow for guided tours and that only once a month, I have not been successful in getting there until last weekend. Nature Society Singapore in conjunction with Nparks was conducting guided tour and I was lucky enough to secure a place. Turned out it was the last guided tour for this period and the next one will only be held towards the end of the year! Whew!

We started our guided tour from Sungei Buloh Wetland Extension and were brought straight to the back gate of Kranji Marshes at Turut Track saving us the 1 km+ walk in from the Visitor Centre.

Once inside the gate, immediately I saw 2 birds on a palm tree. Turned out to be a Spotted Dove and a Green Pigeon which nobody was interested in since they are pretty common. The same birds were still there when we came back this way 2 and a half hour l

There was also a Grey Headed Fish Eagle on a perch but it flew away before anyone of us can take a photo. What a great start!

We next spotted a Purple Heron. Interestingly, that was the only Heron we spotted throughout the tour. No Grey Heron. Seems like bird of the same feather flocked together and this is Purple Heron territory and the Grey Heron knows how to stay away. 

Next  I saw a bird up high and took a snap. Turns out to be a Pink Neck Green Pigeon.

Walking along the edge of the marshes, we saw many Scaly Breasted Munia. It is just amazing how these birds can hang on to the thin reefs without bending them down with their weight.

Just a short distance away, we came upon an injured Barn Swallow lying on the floor inside one of the hides. The bird is either totally exhausted and dehydrated or is injured. Our guide decided to bring it along with him and try to save it but unfortunately it died shortly after.

Just before we reach the public area of Kranji Marshes, we saw a Lesser Coucal, or at least that what I think it is. Again it is amazing how these birds can just hang on to a few stalks of thin plants without bending it downward.

We reached the public area of Kranji Marshes. There were many Barn Swallow flying around and I tried to snap some photos. Nothing came out well. They were too fast, too far and too tiny.

Didn’t see many birds here although we certainly heard many. As we were walking back to the coach, we were treated to an aerial duel between a Brahminy Kite and a Crow. The audacity of the crow trying to attack the much bigger Kite!

The next bird we saw was outside the fence but it was a beautiful Long Tailed Shrike which apparently is a resident bird.

Just before we reach the exit, we were treated to the sight of a big group of Lesser Whistling Duck and Red Wattled Lapwing. Unfortunately they were on the far bank of the marshes and all i could manage with my puny little lens was this heavily cropped blurry shot.

I saw a Sunbird. Think it is a Olive Backed Sunbird, more Purple Heron and a Stork Billed Kingfisher.

And just before we board the bus, we got a final treat. A very rare Black Capped Kingfisher. Unfortunately this again was too far for my lens and even binocular and after cropping, all I got was this.

So it was a good trip. Our guide from NSS told us all in we spotted more than 40 species of birds although I think with my poor eyesight, I didn’t spot even half of that. And while I didn’t get to see what I was hoping for – the Moorhen, I am still pretty happy to have seen so many birds in one short morning. 

The bonus was that back at the carpark of Sungei Buloh, I saw this bird high up in one of the tree. Another very heavily cropped photo but I got a Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker!  It has been a great trip and I hope to go back there again and hopefully I get to see some more rare birds.

Singapore Garden Bird Survey

Signed up to participate in the bi-annual Singapore Bird Survey and got assigned to Changi Beach Park. Not the usual one where all the picnickers go to but the more ulu one opposite the Changi Cargo Complex.

Started at 7 plus a.m. There were 4 locations where we have to stand and observe the birds around us for 10 minutes.  The first point was a disappointment. Could hear some birds but didn’t see much. The next point further away was much better. There was a big group of mynahs and crows in a feeding frenzy over some food waste threw on the ground by humans. But the highlight was catching sight of this Common Flamed Back Woodpecker peering at itself in a car mirror.

There were a lot of mynahs and crows. Saw a few ioras, many Collared Kingfishers

Also heard and saw many parakeets which I think are the Rose Ringed Parakeets and not the more common Red Breasted Parakeet.

It has been an interesting experience and I rather enjoyed myself although I wished we could have spotted more different birds. But we did see this beautiful White Bellied Sea Eagle on our way back. 

Never Stop Exploring Tanjong Tuan, Port Dickson

We reached Tanjung Tuan late and the Raptor flypast had largely gone by for the day. So our group leader decided to bring us for a short “easy” hike through the Tanjong Tuan Nature Reserve.

Tanjong Tuan Nature Reserve is a small area of protected forest in Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan. Like all Malaysian rainforest, it is dense with lots of undergrowth.

We started off somewhere at the top near the light house. Our objective was the beach and a village somewhere below. Going through the trail was not difficult although the trails didn’t appear very well trodden. What made it slightly more challenging for me was that I was still holding on to my 3.5 kg of camera and lens in the hand. I wanted to dismantle them and put them away but the thought that I may spot some birds or animals kept me from doing so. So I trekked slowly and carefully to make sure that I don’t hit the lens against a tree or a rock.

Although the trail was short, there was many side trails and with the group getting separated frequently, there were much back tracking. And at some place, there was short sharp drop which with my hand full I had to negotiate very carefully. In the end I did slipped once and allowed my body to take the impact rather than use my hands to cushion the fall rather than risk dropping the camera!

Eventually we came to a small little beach. Clean water but dirty sands.

Then we made our way up and this time the going was much easier as there were wooden and concrete steps to walk on. That lead us back to the main road where we headed back to our apartment while some of the others hopeful went back to the light house to see whether they can spot any raptor.

Dusky Langur @ Tanjong Tuan, Port Dickson

The first thing we noticed when we alighted from our bus at the PNB Ilham Resort was a monkey on a tree next to the road. Not any monkey but a Dusky Langur! Immediately those with readily available camera started snapping. Unfortunately for me, my gear was still in the bag and not setup and I know by the time I get anything ready, the little creature will be long gone, what with the oooh and haaa that the whole bus was making over it. And true enough, it soon sprung off.

The next with nature photography is that one need to seize every opportunity that comes along because you never know when it will happen again. And I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t manage a shot of it. But with hope eternal, after check in and on our way up to the lighthouse for the raptor watch, I was hopeful that we can spot more of them. But sadly even after doing a unplanned for trek through the reserve, we only saw 2 Long Tailed Macaque. I think M sense my disappointment or she was just as disappointed as me. On our way back to the resort while the rest of the group went back up to the lighthouse or to their room, she suggested going back to the alighting point to see when the langur has returned. And of course no luck.

There was a side road there and we decided to take a walk down to see what was there. Some birds – mainly Oriental Magpie Robin and a couple of Asian Glossy Starlings. And then we saw this tree.

Any by golly, Mother Nature was smiling on us for once! It was crawling with the Dusky Langur. Not one, not two but at least 8 – 9 of them. And I had my photos! Look at them. Aren’t they so so cute!

Further down the road, there were another 3 on a mangrove plant. So we had our fill of the Langur.

The next day some of the others also wanted to come and see the Langur. But sadly the road to the tree was closed and there was a gate. So we were very fortunate that we had stumbled upon them yesterday.

We did spot a couple of the Langur on our way to and from the Light House along the main path. But the lighting there was much poorer and there were too many visitors walking up and down and I didn’t get any usable shots from.

We heard there were 4 types of monkey in this area. The Tailed Macaque; Dusky Langur; Pig Tailed Macaque and Silver Langur. We didn’t get to sight the latter 2 but I happy that at least we got the Dusky Langur.