Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things We Find in the Woods Part Six

It's been awhile since I've posted about the fun and unusual things that Bryan and I encounter on our ramblings through Singapore's wild spots, but never fear.  Your dose of wildlife is back.

Let's start it off with the creepy crawlies!!  On one day in Bukit Timah, Bryan and I found two spiders we'd never seen in Singapore.  This one is some sort of orb weaver spider, but I couldn't find it in the guide to common Singapore spiders that I typically use to ID the spiders I find around here. The web was really eye-catching, and I can just imagine being mesmerized as I flew directly into it, trapped myself, and got swallowed right up by the crafty spider.
Fancy web stitching.  Well done, little guy!

The other spider was impressive as well, because of its size rather than its handiwork. I found this one when we were standing on a path.  The massive web was suspended about eight feet in the air, and when I saw its huge inhabitant, I exclaimed "WOAH!" causing Bryan to back up right underneath it, just as a stiff breeze caused the web and the spider to shake, making me deeply concerned that Bryan was about to have a spider for a hat.  Luckily it hung tight and he managed to scoot out from underneath it.  No luck identifying this one either.  Any input?  Any arachnologists out there?
What Bryan saw when I said "Look up, honey, but don't freak out."

On that same day, Bryan and I encountered what was certainly the biggest, fattest skink I have ever seen.  It was a common sun skink and when we saw it, it was about a foot away from another, normal sized common sun skink, just emphasizing the fact that the fat one was absurdly large.  After we got home I looked it up in our very worn Wild Animals of Singapore book to see if it had any notes on size differences between males and females.  It did not mention any sexual dimorphism, but it did say that these skinks bear live young, so maybe our fat skink was just pregnant!
Suzie was always proud of her slim physique...
...but Bertha's friends were always telling her to go easy on the grasshoppers.

OK, for the sake of my mother, I'll move on from lizards and spiders now.  How about something furry and cute?  How about a teeny baby monkey, less than a week old?  You might recall Camille's last little girl, Dora, who almost broke my heart when she was killed by a car.  Well, Camille has a new baby now, a little boy and she is very protective.  So far he's very healthy, and I hope to see him grow safely into adolescence.
Mama's Boy

I think he's just as cute as can be, and so do the other monkey ladies.  That's why they're always trying to snatch him away!  Macaque females frequently try to touch, groom, hold, or outright steal young infants.  As you can imagine, the mothers of the infants generally disapprove of such behavior, and often try to snatch the baby right back.  Sometimes this results in a bit of monkey tug-of-war, with a screaming baby as the rope.
Everyone wants the baby but it's pretty clear where he wants to be- look at him clutching to his mom!

Camille's baby is the youngest in the group.  Izzy had the first baby of the recent baby boom,  so her little one has grown quite a bit...but that hasn't stopped him from continuing to act like a helpless little soul.  He clings on to Izzy for dear life, even though he's almost half her size at this point, and whenever she tries to lay down or rest, he's always rooting around to get at her milk.  She's pretty laid-back, so she seems to take it all in stride, but sometimes I anthropomorphize and think she looks really tired.
Izzy's pretty much a milk factory these days

OK, just a few more monkey photos and then I'll move on.  But we haven't seen any of the monkey teens yet, and they're my favorite.  Bryan's been getting in lots of practice taking monkey photos lately, and I think his skills are really improving.  It's not easy to get good photos of the energetic, always-moving juveniles, but he's gotten some good stuff.
Macaques jump super long distances and sometimes just barely reach their goal, but seeing one fall is pretty rare.
People often think "smiling" monkeys are happy, but they're actually expressing fear or submission.
No, I'm not interested in sharing my banana peel.  Go away.

Well, now we have the ladies and the babies and the juveniles, but I can't neglect those big males.  Here's Achilles, the most photogenic male, in my opinion.
What big teeth you have, my dear...

If you've spent much time hiking in Singapore's nature reserves, you probably know that it's quite common to find the macaques, but much less ordinary to encounter any other kind of mammal besides the ever-present squirrels.  That's why Bryan and I got so excited last weekend when we saw this colugo!  The colugo is also referred to as a flying lemur in wildlife guides, but a lot of the locals call them flying foxes, which is really confusing, because flying foxes are actually a type of large bat.  I've never tried to correct them though- not when they call colugos "flying foxes" or when they call changeable lizards "chameleons" or even when they call monitor lizards "Komodo dragons," because if I were a Singaporean that had lived here my whole life and some sweaty little ang moh started correcting me, I think I'd feel pretty annoyed.
Is it a mammal or an alien?

Naturally, we were pretty thrilled by the colugo sighting, but it got way cooler when... a little BABY colugo popped its head out!!!!  LOOK AT IT!!!  It's sooooo cute!!!  How do you not go crazy for a baby whose eyes are half the size of its head?!
I think I'm in love.
Notice the awesome colugo camo.
As we stood there and watched, the baby ever so slowly inched back under its mother's skin flap, completely disappearing from our sight.  The colugo already does a pretty neat job of blending in with the trees, so I was impressed to see how totally and completely the baby could disappear.

Of course, we can't forget our feathered friends.  Sometimes I go for awhile feeling like I must have seen most of the animals in Singapore, because I see the same ones (macaques, bronzebacks, mynahs, monitors) over and over again.  And then some days I see a whole bunch of new things and I realize that I could spend the rest of my life in Singapore and still not catch a glimpse of every species that calls the island its home.  On this particular day, Bryan managed to photograph three bird species he'd never had the opportunity to get before.

Pink-necked pigeon
Olive-backed woodpecker
Black-naped oriole
Well, I could probably stay up all night posting wildlife photos and blathering on about the extreme cuteness of baby animals, but I should really get some sleep.  If I got you in the mood to oooh and awww over baby animals, don't stop here...


  1. The first spider is probably an Argiope and the second Nephila (maybe N. Kuhli).

  2. Omg!!! Look at that colugo & its young! Too cute! Nice shots, all of them! Thanks for sharing! :D