Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Upper and Lower Peirce

 Last weekend was time for more fun with the new camera!  On Saturday, we decided to explore the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in the hope of finding some exciting wildlife to photograph.  We've gone to the Central Catchment through MacRitchie Reservoir in the past, so we decided to try the Upper Peirce entrance this time.  Before we even got all the way to the Upper Peirce Reservoir Park, we found some monkeys along the road, eyeing passing cars in the hope that someone would toss them some food.  We stopped our taxi and hung out with the monkeys for awhile.  Bryan photographed the monkeys while I hung back, hoping to see some more unusual wildlife.  It only took about ten minutes before I spied a snake slithering along the path.  YES!  
The snake was moving quickly and the light was pretty bad, but Bryan got a photo that was good enough to identify it.  It was a white-bellied rat snake again!  We've seen these twice before at Bukit Timah, but snakes are always exciting to us, even when we've seen the same kind before.

One of my favorite photos of the day was this stunning dragonfly that Bryan saw.  It looks metallic!

After spending some time with the monkeys and the snake, we began to walk up the road to the entrance of the park.  The park itself isn't too exciting- just some pavilions along the shore of the reservoir.  We decided to try to find somewhere a little more wild, but as we were walking out of the park, I spotted some movement in a tall tree.  I looked up and saw....a SUMATRAN FLYING DRAGON!  We had just spotted this type of lizard for the first time last week, so I was surpirsed to see the same kind again so soon.  As I stood, staring straight up into the tree, Bryan pointed out another one!  There were two in the tree, a male and a female, and as we watched them, the male began displaying for the female, stretching out his colorful throat flap over and over again.  I was practically giddy at seeing such interesting behavior, and Bryan was clicking away with the camera.  People walking by gave us strange looks, but it's certainly not the first time Bryan and I have gotten sidelong glances for drooling over wildlife.  The male is in the top photo, and the slightly less exciting female is in the second photo.  If you look closely, you can see some loose skin along the sides of the lizards.  That skin is what extends to form the patagium, which allows them to glide from place to place.

Eventually we tore ourselves away from the flying dragons.  We'd only walked a short distance when we stumbled upon another monkey and this collared kingfisher.  I love the royal blue shade of their wings.

I took control of the camera for awhile, but my attention waned when I noticed some monkeys off in the distance, roaming the grounds of a country club and golf course.  I felt a stab of sympathy for them- the Bukit Timah monkeys have been getting a lot of complaints lately, and people have become increasingly intolerant of their roamings outside the reserve.  I imagine the monkeys that I saw at Upper Peirce aren't very welcome at the country club either.  Poor monkeys.

After awhile, we decided to walk down the road toward Lower Peirce.  On the way, we walked off the road to get around some construction.  When we looked under a bridge that we were passing by, Bryan spotted a little water monitor, peering out from a hole in the bridge.  Cute!

A storm drain ran under the bridge where the monitor was hiding out, and we found a bunch of frogs and tadpoles in the stream of water running through the drain.  Some of the frogs were still transitioning from tadpoles, so they had legs as well as tails.  They looked kind of weird.  I still haven't identified what type of frogs they are for sure- their eyes look like the eyes of an American bullfrog, which is a common invasive species here in Singapore, but I think their bodies look more like a puddle frog or a field frog.  It was a little hard for me to tell because most of the ones around were juveniles, so they didn't have the most recognizable adult characteristics.

Near the frogs were these insane creatures.  At first I was sure they were some strange type of millipede, but after looking more closely, they appear to be wireworms- the larval stage of click beetles.  I like their pattern!

Eventually we went back out to the road.  Old Upper Thompson Rd is kind of a hot spot for the monkeys.  A lot of them hang out along the road, hoping to be fed by passersby.  You often hear people say that macaques and people live closely together, but I think these photos really drive the point home.

This guy was pretty roughed up. He had nasty scars on his face, especially on his mouth, and I think he's missing his right eye.  Life isn't easy for the monkeys of Singapore.

After a brief detour to rehydrate (100 Plus!!), we picked up the Lower Peirce Nature Trail.  It was pretty dim.  The whole day had been kind of hazy, which is annoying when you have a new camera to test out, but as the evening set in it was threatening to rain, and the light got even worse.  We didn't see much wildlife on the nature trail, but there were some cool plants around.  I liked these new red leaves.

When we finished the trail, we found even more monkeys.  This was really our day for monkeys. We hung around for awhile, taking action shots of the active monkeys as the last bit of daylight faded.   My favorites were this mama monkey running with her baby (that little baby's tail sticking up in the air is adorable), and the juvenile jumping out of the tree without even looking in the direction of his leap! 

Snakes, lizards, birds, monkeys, frogs, and crazy inscects- not bad for a single day in the Central Catchment!

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