Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Goodbye Marina City Park

Marina City Park has a place in my heart because I have done a project during Sec 2 in 1998 on freshwater life in different areas and conditions of Singapore. That I think is my first attempt doing something regarding biodiversity. I only remembered I had a wonderful time doing this whole project as I enjoyed catching fishes too. In the end, my science teacher gave us a 10/10 excellent work grading. We were even asked to set up a booth in our school library event. In our booth, we had a number of fish tanks, with fishes caught from the ponds or lakes. Of course at that moment we were young and didn't know a permit will be needed. It was just pure innocence and joy.

I still have the project book with me and its my pride, my debut work on biodiversity.

We went to different areas of Singapore. For the southern part, we came to Marina City park.

And we started to document what can be found it that place.

What was most significant of that place is we caught a lot of juvenile snakeheads. Yes, these fishes are very strong and fighting fit. They ate up all the other smaller fishes in the tank...

A simple result of our project. Don't ask why got seahorse cartoon in a freshwater project..haha.

Ok, now back to proper.. went to Marina City Park recently before it closes on 1st June for the Gardens by the Bay’s site preparatory works.

The Marina barrage in progress between Marina East and Marina South

A last glimpse of this park...

Ants can communicate, why can't some of us?
A baby mudskipper below a bridge.

The lake was quite contaminated, but to my delight there were quite some water hyacinth found. According to A guide to pond life by Dr. R.S. Bhathal and T.S. Foo, this water hyacinth is a large floating plant with swollen leaf stalks. The leaf stalks contain air and thus help the plant to float on the water. The leaves are smooth and nearly round.

Cattail usually grow about one and a half metres above water. Thousands of tiny seeds are packed together in brown spikes that look at fat cigars.

Apple snails lay eggs above the water line. They can leave the water for a few hours as long as they are kept moist. The eggs are usually pretty colors like yellow or pink.
And the tranquility and ambience of a city park is sort of destroyed by a wheel.

This charismatic kingfisher dives for small fishes and insects. It sometimes beats a fish against a branch to kill it.

Does this look like Marina City park to you? Yes it is, if you explore enough.

I don't know what is this, perhaps a damselfly? It's pretty cute I must say.

And at the end of it all, I finally found this! Water banana! Why water banana? If you look closer, their roots look like bananas. It has another type of root though that anchors the plant to the bottom of the pond. Wonderful, I thought they were all gone cos they were aplenty in 1998. I only get to find this at some secluded corner. Ok, task complete, time to go home.

Goodbye Marina City Park, thanks for the childhood memories.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Kent Ridge mini surprises

Siyang and I went to this piece of adinandra belukar secondary forest in campus this afternoon for just less than an hour. Adinandra belukar is defined as a species-poor, anthropogenic heath forest dominated by tiup tiup. These tiup tiup are quite distinct with their pole-like trunks. Another key adinandra belukar species will be Simpoh air. Sorry I didnt take a photo of both, because they are quite common, or you can say everywhere.

Siyang stopped to take a look at this beetle. I usually wont see detailed things, so really need people to guide me to see.

Nice find... the Raffles' pitcher plant (Nepenthes rafflesiana). These charismatic species have been poached to near extinction at all accessible sites in S'pore. This is unfortunate as they do not grow well when cultivated...eventually die soon. So please don't take them away from the wild.

From the hand that is holding the leaf, you can see an extension of the leaf tip that leads to the pitcher itself for the pitcher is a specialized leaf so as to capture crawling insects.

Tembusu (Fagarea fragans) is the tree that you see behind your $5 note. It can grow up to 30m tall and during season, you can smell their fragrant flower scent. This is a key adinandra belukar species.

lots of ants..... imagine them on your face

This is the mini surprise! Look at the size of these pitches. The rounded scale is 50cents coin. Only someone that is super duper observant can find it. Siyang knew about it as his TA shared with him... I wondered who found them in the first place. They just look like grass from far.

Nice, but I don't know the id... :P

I didn't know Smilax can have heart shape leaves...Yucks! These species are very fierce and will kill others. And Dr Wang recently saw it in Bukit Timah nature reserve..hope it doesn't invade into our primary rainforest.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cycling in Marina East

Ok, motivated by Siyang's punggol trip, I felt I should share too.

When I was still in secondary school, I like to cycle to places within of reach from my house. One of which is Marina East. At that time, it was a totally untouched reclaimed land where there are growth of spontaneous secondary vegetation. It's a getaway from the buzz of city without getting too far. Once, when I was travelling along Benjamin Sheares, I was shocked to see a golf course pop out from the whole piece of land.

Well, reclaimed land live on borrowed time, waiting for development. We must understand that conservation is difficult on such land but meanwhile we can still enjoy right? What if some threatened species can be found there? Should we then protect that whole piece of reclaimed land? Don't think its practical to. Best solution will be to try to move these species to another site bah. Previously, people wanted to protect Marina South because of some ducks. Well, the ducks can still fly away and we shouldn't waste the cost of reclaiming the land just for some ducklings. Have to be realistic because this world is not idealistic.

On my way there, I crossed Geylang River and saw people doing some catching in the river, wonder what can be harvested that caused so many people to be there.

The entrance of Marina East has a new facade... which is the golf course.

After a long bumpy cycle to the south, I reached the beach of Tg Rhu. Definitely there are Rhu trees (or Casaurina trees) around...haha. Seen in that area are seashore morning glory, the species that will invade the beach first.

Before the reclamation of the Changi/Tanah Merah shores, undisturbed longshore currents used to continuously carry sand to the old Tg Rhu which looks like a spit over the mouth of Geylang and Kallang river. Of course its not this part now cos this part is the reclaimed land. It should be the part where a lot of condos are.

Ria warned us if we visit this portion of East coast to explore shore during low tides, it may be dangerous... cos it is a gay beach. I risked and dont care, still come and take a look. I remember way long ago when during sec sch, I saw a nude man. And I quickly cycled away. Phew..

And surprisingly, there is a portion of mangrove hiding behind this corner of protection from breakwater.

This breakwater extends all the way out which gives a great view!

And I zoomed to Sister Islands! Hope to return there soon.

The other direction gives a view of the building of Marina Barrage, background is the city.

A typical look of how a reclaimed land looks like.

Admists all the green, something red caught my attention, so I stopped to take a shot.

While trying to take a shot of the resting bird on a deadfall, somehow, we now cannot escape from the new Ferris Wheel.

I am always fascinated by this plant..the leaves are so big..

updated: This is the giant taro/yam (Alocasia macrorhiza). Thx Marcus

This should be a zebra dove.

From this website by Ria, :

Zebra Doves are the smallest of the terrestrial doves found in Singapore. They feed on grass seeds, preferring to forage on bare ground or short grass, scurrying about with rodent-like movement. Unlike other doves, they forage alone, or in pairs. Their coloration camouflages them wonderfully against the ground. They are more shy than the Spotted Dove and fly off into nearby undergrowth at the first sign of danger.


Coming up soon will be a post on Marina City Park, which will be closed from June 1st.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Older nature-related posts

I've dug those nature-related posts out from my personal blog which dates back to 2005 too. Not many, but to make this blog more comprehensive so as to share with more people, the back dated posts are also added here.

If you are interested in reading any of which, please click at the link below:

1. Pulau Ubin: The Granite Island

2. MacRitchie Treetop

3. Sorry Folks!.... for the outfield bashing

4. Went cycling

5. I've lost count

6. Field Trip to MacRitchie Reservoir

7. Sentosa Seagrass Transect

8. Labrador Intertidal @ 0.3m

9. Chek Jawa 20/01/07

10. Team Seagrass @ Tuas

11. Bukit Timah NR Field trip

12. Best CNY... off to Sisters Island!

13. Sister's Island Creatures ID Part 1

14. Sister's Island Creatures ID Part 2

15. Kallang River- the river that used to be filthy

16. Singapore Botanic Garden

17. Semakau Seagrass Transect

18. Nested Beauty!

19. White-Marked Tussock Moth

Friday, May 25, 2007

Blessings for the Chek Jawa Transect

Well, it is always good to count your blessings no matter what you do, and I do really feel blessed during the day of CJ transect on 22nd May 2007.

First blessing is with regards to the weather. The forecast given the night before says that there will be predawn and morning showers with thunder. This sent me with jitters and I quickly reminded my friends who are helping me to come regardless of bad weather or not. Thank God for answering my prayers, the weather was not stormy, only slight drizzles at the beginning and it turned hotter as time passed. Phew.... And what was surprisingly timely is that the thunderstorm and strong wind came straight after we finished the transect... wow.

Second blessing is to hire a cab in the morning at about 6:10am. This is not a good time to get a cab because it is the time for them to change shift as explained previously by a friendly cab uncle whom we chatted a lot! He even chatted about tides in Sarawak different from the diurnal ones in Singapore.. ok, before i get drifted away, straight after 6, when midnight surcharge was gone, I had a lot of difficulty waiting for a cab at Sims Ave. Normally before 6am for other predawn trips, I hardly have to wait for more than 2 mins I can get one. After waiting for quite long, I was about to call for a taxi through phone. Thank God He sent a taxi when I was about to do that. What was interesting was when I got into the taxi, the friendly uncle kept saying I'm very lucky. He wanted to pick up passengers at the right side whom was also waiting for one. But because of heavy traffic, he decided not to pick them and instead went straight ahead more and saw me at the left side. He said most passengers usually wait at the right side though. Anyway, sorrie for the long long paragraph here, but I'm really glad God helped me a great deal, even in small ways, I wanna thank Him!

Third blessing will be my friends which I'll commend them more later on in the post.

After a long long wait at the Changi point ferry terminal, even with a chat with Ria who was heading for Sekudu, we finally left the place after I decided not to wait anymore but to pay for the rest of the boatfare so it can leave. In the bumboat, I met a kind Nparks officer and he told me that the gates are opened already, so no worries. Thanks Ria for reminding me to check out on that. I'm just too blur to think of everything needed. We met Mr Chu, the van driver who drove us to CJ. He chatted with me about his mother in law family living in CJ back then and he does fishing for a living. He even shared that during a blasting of the quarry, a rock flew all the way and hit passed the roof which ended up injuring his mother in law's head. Gosh!! She was hospitalised for quite some time. So when Kekek quarry reopens, pls take heed of all warnings to avoid the place okie? It's not funny to be dangerous.

Upon reaching CJ, we quickly walked to the furthest two transects to start first after much briefing was given. Along the way while we were walking along the sandbar, I tried to talk and walk to show them some stuffs, because its the first time Khairul and Weilin came to an intertidal shore. What a waste if they totally didnt know what gems we have there.

Here's the transect set up with red poles for line of sight and 100m measuring tapes.

Also to thank Siva for helping me arrange for the logistics from Eco lab to get these tapes, GPS and the quadrats. Thanks also to Angie from Marine lab for another GPS.

Here's a good intro portion to my friends. Actually 7 are supposed to join me. But 3 of them couldn't come on the last min, so we ended up with 4. Here's Raymond and Weilin settting up the transect. Raymond is in team seagrass and he is pretty familiar with how to do it..yea. Weilin's first attempt over here but she is very helpful despite her legs come out often from her loose sport shoe that get stuck in mud. Her cheerful disposition definitely made the tiring day more enjoyable.

Here's Khairul and Siyang doing the transect. It's also Khairul's first time visiting an intertidal shore...

and look here, I was so pleasantly surprise he is very dedicated into making sure the transect is done well and accurate despite this is not his project. This photo i must definitely share over here.

Criminal photo no. 1 with Weilin...haha

Criminal photo no. 2 featuring Raymond

The middle two transects took us 1.5 hrs or more for each group. This is because it is as long as 500m and it stretches across the seagrass lagoon which is very muddy. Every step is difficult esp for Weilin. I'm so sorry she has to go through all these... falling down, mud splashed on her face, getting made fun by Raymond as a pig rolling in the mud... hahahaha. Really hilarious as she accounts all these to us.

Halfway through, towards the direction of Changi airport, we saw this.. Dunno what actually.

The tide was indeed coming in like crazy after 11am and we rushed like mad to try to complete the last two short transects. I wanted Weilin to take a rest from the last 2 transect thus told her to take our belongings and go back to the entrance to wait for us. Actually it was not so easy but instead adventurous! Do read her vivid account at her blog here.

After we slogged to fight against the tide, we finally could call it a day with blisters on our feet, mud on Weilin and Khairul's feets as they dont have booties. Thunder and rain started to tell us to get out while Siyang and I tried to retrieve all our belongings back and gathered at the info kiosk outside house no. 1 where the heavy rain immediately poured.

Wonder how all these entanglement can be solved.. it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience.

Ok, time for some photos to remember this vivid day.

Siyang smiling despite thirst, exhaustion etc.

After a good fulfilling lunch at Ubin, all is not over, it's time to clean up. Well, I'm guilty that they have to help me on that. They are really rare friends indeed that help me a lot.

I wanted to get a good rare shot of Weilin looking like an auntie. She's a city girl ok? So this is rare.

Ok lah.. here's a nice shot to cover up the aunty shot. You deserve a big award for being such a brave girl in a foreign place.

Inspired by Ria's photo at the end of Sentosa transect 06, I wanted to also share how to clean and dry so many 100m tapes in a 3 room flat. It was everywhere including kitchen, living room, bedroom etc. Was a big mess!

To end up, I want to thank God again for everything. Also thank my friends for their selfless help. We were really very tired, exhausted, irritated, thirsty, frustrated etc that day because we were shorthanded and couldnt afford to take a rest at any time throughout 3-4 hours.

Thanks for making a difference in big or small ways. Without you all, I surely cannot do all these myself. Thanks again for being true blue friends who are willing to go the extra mile. Esp to Siyang who accompanied me for 2 recce to Chek Jawa through bikes in the early mornings.

Thanks also to Siva my supervisor, Ria, Dr Dan, Joseph Lai, Zeehan and everyone who has helped me.

That day was really memorable to me.

And that marks the end of this series of low spring tide trips. Till next time...

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