Australia Diaries – Never Stop Exploring – Mt Ngungun/Strawberry Farm

Another day another hike. Not contended with Lamington National Park and on the suggestion of a friend staying in Brisbane, we went to the Glass House Mountain to climb Mt Ngungun. Mt Ngungun at just 253 m is one of the many weird looking mountain there.

The hike up to the summit is via a very well maintained track with some steps carved in. Good for trail running! It is an easy hike up among thick lush vegetation until the very top where it opened up to a small bald patch of uneven rock fall.

And this comes with stunning 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

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Australia Diaries – Australia Zoo

I make it a point to go to a zoo in every major city that I go to,  that is, if they have a zoo of note. And in Australia, none come as famous as the Australian Zoo so that was our first destination straight from the airport to kick off our Australia holiday.

The Australia Zoo is of course most famous not for its animal but for its founder – the late Steve Irwin, the famed Crocodile Hunter. The Australia Zoo is on the outskirt of Brisbane, about 1.5 hours drive away and as a testimony to the fame of Steve Irwin, the road leading to the Zoo has been named after him!

First thing we saw when we went in was this lizard lying in the open. And then we saw more and more of them. These are native Water Dragons and free roaming in the zoo.  Cute little fella ain’t it.

Of course our purpose in coming to the zoo or any foreign zoo is to see any animals that we might not be able to see in the wild or anywhere else and not some common reptiles. So we were looking forward to seeing some native Australian animals like the Playtus; Tasmanian Devil and of course Australia’s famous venomous snakes. But sadly the zoo has no Playtpus and we didn’t see any Tasmanian Devil in its enclosures. We did see the Dingo though.

There were plenty of Koalas and we can even touch them at one of the exhibits.

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Reptopia @ Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo replaced the old Reptile House with a brand new “Reptopia” which opens in late May this year. The old Reptile House which was looking very dated with all the snakes in small glass tank enclosure. The new Reptopia is firstly air conditioned and very much more comfortable for visitors.  The old walk through exhibit which used to have the iguana and tortoises is now divided into 2 smaller areas with one of them featuring the Caiman crocodile and the other the same iguana and the tortoises.

The snakes and other reptiles are now housed in much bigger enclosures with different compatible species kept in same enclosures.Here are some of the snakes that are displayed in the new Reptopia. 

Ball Python

Green Tree Python

Reticulated Python

King Cobra

Keeled Rat Snake

Gabon Viper

Emerald Tree Boa

Western Diamond Backed Rattlesnake

Mangrove Snake

Sadly though, the number of snakes specimen has been reduced drastically. The Singapore snakes area is no more and the popular anaconda has been moved to the River Safari.

There are now a lot more lizards some of which I understand from some sources are confiscated lizards from the public. In addition, there are weird looking lizards like gila monster, beard dragon and skink.

Caiman Lizard

Fuji Banded Iguana

Gila Monstor

Bearded Dragon

Ornate Spiny Tailed Lizard

There are now several species of chameleon. I didn’t know there are so many species and so colorful too.

Parson’s Chameleon

Panther Chameleon

Yemen Chameleon

Last but not least there are a few rare frogs and even a tarantula.

Dyeing Poison Frog

 

All in, despite the reduced number of snakes, I think this new Reptopia is certainly worth a visit especially for those who are into reptiles.

Pulau Ubin Night Walk

Went for a guided night hike at Pulau Ubin organised as part of the Pesta Ubin 2017 activities. The walk was conducted by the famous Subaraj Rajathurai, of Strix Wildlife Consultancy. Here he is briefing the group on the type of bats that can be seen on Pulau Ubin. 

It amazing that he can identify the bats flying up and down. And he does a good bird mimic too! But because the group is too big, we split into 2 groups and we followed his son who was just as knowledgeable.

And before long, he spotted the first snake for the night. A Common Bronzeback Snake high up in the tree. It simply amazing how they can spot something so small and indistinguishable in the dark. Can you see it in cropped photo? 

We spotted a lot of Four lined frogs including a mating pair.

Also a few Asian Toad

And apparently a rare Chorus frog which got our 2 guides all excited. 

And of course there were geckos and insect and this weird looking Hammerhead Flat Worm.

And also a moth

And a Huntsmen Spider

And after 2 hours of walking, we ended the night with another snake sighting. In fact 2 of them – both Oriental Whip Snake.

Oriental Whip Snake

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.

 

 

 

 

Night Walk at Pasir Ris Mangrove

Joined the Herpetological Society of Singapore for a guided night walk at Pasir Ris Mangrove.  Interesting thing is that I go o often to Pasir Ris Park, like 3 times a week and have never thought of going to the mangrove in the night. Perhaps it is the creepy feel about the place but then when I saw the post about the walk, I knew I have to go for it. The promise of seeing reptiles and other night creatures was too tempting.

We started at about 6.15 pm. The walk was led by a few very young and enthusiastic guides with incredible knowledge of not just reptiles or amphibians but also the plants and birds.

Within 10 minutes of walking into the mangrove, beside the usual mud skipper and crab, they managed to spot the first snake – a small Dog Faced Water Snake.

Dog faced Water Snake

Dog faced Water Snake

And by the time we exit the mangrove after 8, we had spotted 6 of them with each being progressively bigger.

Dog Faced Water Snake

Dog Faced Water Snake

Dog Faced Water Snake

Dog Faced Water Snake

We also spotted 3 different species of Gecko. Just can’t imagine how these guys do it. The geckos were so tiny and very well blend in with the surface they were on yet they managed to spot them. Like this little Spotted House Gecko.

Spotted House Gecko

ASpotted House Gecko

And this real tiny 4 Clawed Gecko

4 Clawed Gecko

4 Clawed Gecko

Out of the mangrove and we spotted many insects but the highlight was this Oriental Whip Snake which stay still and posed for the photo.

Oriental Whip Snake

Oriental Whip Snake

The other highlight of the trip was 3 Civet Cat. A mama cat with 2 cubs. Unfortunately they were too far away for any decent photos. In fact with my poor eyesight, all I could see was the glow of the cats reflected in the light of the torches. But certainly it is gratifying to know that within such a small area in Pasir Ris beside the birds, there are so many more other creatures that has managed to live side by side with the resident of Pasir Ris.