Sunday, June 15, 2014

A delightful evening with families at Pasir Ris mangroves

Last Saturday, the Naked Hermit Crabs had lots of fun exploring Pasir Ris mangroves with 42 adults and kids! It was heartwarming to see so many families bring their children out to wild places to enjoy nature!

I arrived early before the visitors came, and was pleasantly surprised by two red jungle fowls foraging by the forest edge! These are wild counterparts of domestic chickens, and are quite common in the vicinity of Pasir Ris Park. I managed to snap a few photos before the shy birds disappeared into the undergrowth. Can you spot the dull-coloured female? It is to the right of the tree trunk.

The visitors were treated to a wonderful display of a fruiting Kapok tree by the waiting area, whose pods have burst open to release fluffy cotton-like fibre all over the grass. The brown seeds can be found entangled within the 'cotton', to be carried away by the wind.

When the pod is opened, the 'cotton' are neatly arranged in tightly packed bundles, but once you touch them, they appear to disintegrate in your hands!

See those red spots on the 'cotton'? They are actually nymphs of the cotton stainer bug! In the United States, these sap-sucking insects are pests of cotton plants they feed on, as they cause plant sap to leak from cotton bolls, staining the cotton yellow.

Here is a picture of an injured adult, possibly of another species, discovered in the mangroves when an unsuspecting visitor stepped on it! It has a distinctive white cross on a black wing case. Adults and juveniles can be found in large numbers under leaves of the sea hibiscus.

Chay Hoon found an ant-mimicking spider on a leaf. If you count the number of legs on this individual, there are eight, with the first pair raised in the air resembling the ant's antenna! Some spider species disguise themselves as ants to hide from predators, as many ants are distasteful or aggressive, while other species may deceive unsuspecting ants and attack them!

If you look carefully, you can find many insects on the boardwalk railings! This tiny snail-like animal is actually a bagworm moth caterpillar, which makes itself a little house out of secreted silk, sand, soil and plant materials. The caterpillar carries its house around and feeds on leaves, safe from the prying eyes of predators.

We came across many pools containing pairs of breeding Giant mudskippers! The pool connects to a deep burrow where the eggs are laid. The female usually hides in the burrow while the male keeps watch in the pool. We were lucky to catch these two together!

The kids had a fun time drawing and colouring at the lookout hut overlooking the river. Some of the older kids made artistic drawings, while the younger kids' had really cute drawings!

I would like to thank the Crabs who guided: LK, Ria, PY, Sean, and other friends who helped out: CH, Alyce, Kwan Siong, Rene. This walk was also Sumita's first time with us! She will take over as the next wild intern in July. Do look out for the next Pasir Ris mangrove walk on this blog!

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