Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Things I Find in the Woods Part Five

The wildlife-spotting at Bukit Timah has been pretty good recently. I saw this white-bellied rat snake along the bike path one day when I was with the monkeys. I was surprised to see the juveniles following it around. One of them even reached out and touched it! It reminded me a lot of the way meerkats mob predators. Meerkats all gather around predators and get aggressive toward them, rushing in and biting, swiping, and poking. The mobs often overwhelm predators, who sometimes turn and leave. I think the young monkeys were just curious about the snake, but it had the same effect. That snake got out of there pretty quickly.
This is a weird butterfly called an Imperial a Common Posy (thanks to Commander for setting me straight in the comments).  These butterflies have these strange tails that can confuse predators by making it hard to tell which direction the butterfly is facing. The predator might expect that the white tails are actually antennae and they'll aim for what looks like the front of the butterfly, only to have it flit off in the opposite direction, out of harm's way.Another day, I spotted two crested banded woodpeckers in Hindhede Nature Park, next to the Bukit Timah Visitor Centre (Thanks to Ivan for the correction in the comments.  Apparently I was just mis-identifying things right and left when I did this post!). They have such colorful plumage! It's hard to tell in this photo, but the red crest on its head also has yellow feathers mixed in.  I think it's just called a crested woodpecker (nope...it's a banded woodpecker), but I'm not positive- Wild Animals of Singapore (the book I have now) is really good, but doesn't have a bird section in it.  I'd like to get the Birds of Southeast Asia, which looks really comprehensive.  Then maybe I'd stop making such silly mistakes!This is the greater racket-tailed drongo, a really common bird in Bukit Timah. If you look closely, you can see the two really long feathers that hang off the end of its tail. The feathers are really thin and then have a wide spot at the end. They really do resemble badminton rackets.Funky orange fungus. It's always fun to watch the monkeys eat the fungi- they always know which ones are safe and which ones aren't. I always figure that if I ever get lost in the jungle, I'll survive by just eating whatever I've seen the monkeys eat. I've never seen them eat this bright orange stuff.I was walking along a path one day and I heard a little squeak in the brush off to the side of the path. I peered into the weeds, and there was a snake eating a lizard!! I think the squeak was the last sound that poor little lizard ever made. I can't believe that I've seen TWO snakes eating lizards! I caught an Oriental whip snake eating one just last month! This snake is an elegant bronzeback. Bronzebacks are pretty common in S'pore, and I've seen them several times at Bukit Timah, but this was the first time I'd ever seen this particular type.

Er...I think you might have something caught in your throat there, bud.

Of course, there are always the monkeys. They spent hours playing on the playground in Hindhede Nature Park, and I think I had as much fun watching them as they did playing. They looked so much like human children that it was uncanny.What is up with this hybrid tire swing, by the way? It's the most uncomfortable swing ever. I don't get it.Here's Sarah, getting up close and personal with me and my friend Andrea one day.


  1. The butterfly is a Common Posy (Drupadia ravindra moorei) and not an Imperial. For butterfly ID's, do refer to our free online checklist at http://www.butterflycircle.com/checklist2/


    You can also read about the Posies at http://butterflycircle.blogspot.com/2008/03/three-posies.html

  2. Thanks so much! This is exactly the kind of resource I was looking for. I always see butterflies, but I (obviously) don't know much about them, so I have trouble identifying them. There are lots of resources online, but many of them don't have thumbnail photos, just lists of names, and that isn't very helpful to me.

    Thanks again for the correction and the link!

  3. You're most welcome! Hope the blog articles are also of use to you. What you correctly mentioned about the tails being decoys to fool predators can also be found in the blog under Butterfly Survival Strategies in the Feature Articles section.

    Now you know where to look when you next see a butterfly that needs to be ID'ed.


  4. Have you seen Asian koel yet, the funny sounding bird that mostly sings in the mornings? Not that it is very interesting looking bird, but it is really hard to spot. It took me a year and a half until I saw my first one, and several Singaporeans I've talked to say they've never seen it, but they certainly have heard it. Spooky.

  5. That's a banded woodpecker (Picus miniaceus). It's apparently very common throughout Singapore.

  6. Ivan- Thanks! Yeah, I see it a lot but somehow I got the wrong name for it.

    Tei- No, I don't think I've seen the Asian koel yet, but maybe I've heard it. I hear some crazy sounding birds in Bukit Timah, but I often have a hard time locating them. It'd be neat to find one!

  7. I got the Naturalists guide to the Birds of Singapore and Peninsula Malaysia (including Sabah and Sarawak) by GW Davidson and this other book http://www.amazon.com/Photographic-Guide-Peninsular-Malaysia-Singapore/dp/0883590360.

    Both were available at the Botanic Gardens bookstore when I was there in march - also the latter is available at Borders. I found both to be very helpful.