Thursday, April 14, 2011

Things We Find in the Woods Part Eight

Well everyone, my apologies for not posting recently but I've been sick and laying around in bed, coughing and blowing my nose. Somehow that didn't seem blog-worthy. Anyway, because I haven't been doing anything too exciting, I made another compilation of fun stuff we've come across on previous nature excursions. I hope you enjoy, and now that I'm feeling better I should be posting again soon!

Man, we have been on a roll with the wildlife lately (well, until I got sick anyway). I think Bryan's mom visiting must have brought us good luck. When we were at Sungei Buloh, we saw this huge atlas moth. I saw one once before, at Bukit Timah, but this one was much prettier. These moths are just giant- this one's wingspan was probably about 9 or 10 inches. The females are even larger!
Male atlas moth

On Pulau Ubin, we saw this butterfly. I think it's a Burmese lascar, but a lot of the lascar butterflies (Perak lascar, common lascar) look really similar to me. Can anyone confirm?
One of Singapore's many lovely butterflies

Bryan photographed this bird at MacRitchie. It looks like some kind of flycatcher to me, possibly a young Asian brown flycatcher.
Fragile little bird

One day Bryan and I were walking down the street right next to our apartment when we heard a cacophonous racket in the trees next to the sidewalk. We looked up and saw three robust birds just squawking away. We'd never seen them before, but I recognized them by their appearance and all the noise they were making. They were Asian koels- two females and one male. Asian koels are members of the cuckoo family, and are interesting because they engage in something called brood parasitism. This means that koels don't build their own nests. Instead, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds (here in Singapore they often use myna nests). Koels usually lay one egg at a time, and they choose nests that are already occupied with eggs. Then the mother tending the nest hatches the koel egg right along with her own! Sneaky! Unfortunately, on the day that Bryan and I spotted the koels, we were just taking a stroll to the store so we didn't have a camera and so we have no photos to share. But we'll be on the lookout for them again!

On our last trip to Sungei Buloh, we saw a green crested lizard right near the entrance. I was told by an NUS biology professor that green crested lizards used to be quite common, but they've been largely displaced by the invasive changeable lizards that are now everywhere. I see changeable lizards on an almost daily basis, just hanging around on the bases of young trees, right along the sidewalks. I've only seen green crested lizards a handful of times, and always in a nature reserve.
The native green crested lizard
The invasive changeable lizard

Another of Singapore's invasive species is the red-breasted parakeet. The bird is common in Changi Village, on the east side of Singapore. In addition to the parakeets, there are also cockatoos. Both birds were introduced through the bird trade and managed to reproduce and thrive in their adopted habitat (more info about the birds of Changi here). I was eager to show these birds to Kathy and my friend Shira when they were visiting, so I was walking along the sidewalk, staring up into the trees. I was so focused on finding the birds that I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. And...I slammed right into a lamp-post. Headfirst. I hit it so hard that my head rocked backward and I saw stars. The sound of my head hitting the pole (GONNNNNNNNG) reverberated over and over through my skull. Bryan, Kathy, and Shira all stared at me and tried not to laugh. They did pretty well for about 3 seconds before they just couldn't help themselves anymore. And who could blame them? If I'd been able to see straight and if my ears weren't ringing so loudly, I probably would've laughed too. I'm sure the hundred or so people eating at the hawker centre 10 feet away got a kick out of it. Sigh. Anyway, we found the parakeets.
Was this bird sighting worth a lump on my head?

Speaking of invasive species, how about this red-eared slider pileup?
Like a stack of dirty dishes. Except cute.

We don't just find animals in our wanderings. Sometimes we find cool plants too. Like this dewy purple flower (yes, you can laugh about the fact that I know the names for the animals, but refer to all the plants as "pretty flowers" or "big trees").
Flower on Pulau Ubin
Young leaves, a monkey favorite

We were on Pulau Ubin when we took the picture of the flower. That same day, we say a red jungle fowl, which is the ancestor of the modern chicken. The jungle fowl was really skittish and took off deep into the woods as soon as we saw it so, sadly, we didn't get a photo. However, we did get a photo of some random chickens we saw inexplicably wandering around East Coast Park one day.
Not red jungle fowl.

Chickens aside, Bryan and I have both gotten way better at spotting wildlife since moving to Singapore, but we still aren't that good at spying the local insects (aside from the mosquitoes. I can ALWAYS find them). But since I started following this blog I've been more vigilant about looking for insects. We recently managed to find this superbly camouflaged grasshopper at Sungei Buloh. Isn't he neat?!
Patience, young grasshopper

Sungei Buloh is totally our hotspot for wildlife. We also saw all of these awesome things there:
Little egret
Spotted house gecko
Batik golden web spider
Yellow-vented bulbul

Again, I leave you with my favorite, the lovable long-tailed macaque. This is Catherine lip-smacking at Arwen.
Monkey love


  1. Isn't it uncommon to see koels in groups? So far I've only seen (and heard) solitary individuals, and it took about a year and a half to spot the first one! Every time I stopped below a tree to look for the bird in the canopy, he stopped singing. Smart bird!

    I also asked my local colleagues, and none of them knew what the bird actually looks like. Funny ...

  2. I was surprised to see them at all, but especially to see three at once. I knew what they were because I've spent a lot of time on birding webpages trying to ID the birds we see at Bukit Timah, and I recognized them from that. Also, that unmistakable racket they make. The wikipedia page has pretty good photos of the males and females

  3. I guess I've only seen and heard males, I like the intensity of their calls.