Every fortnight since February 15, a group of enthusiastic Toddycats, overseen by project manager Chloe, has been conducting guided walks for members of the public. 12 April was the last of the series and saw Joelle (yours truly), Letchumi, Jun Hien, Erin, Janice and Navneeth step up for guiding duties.
The sky didn’t look too good when I woke at 6:30 am and a few walk participants contacted me at 7 am, saying that it was raining where they were, and asked if the walk is still going ahead. A quick check with NEA’s weather app showed that it was indeed raining in most parts of Singapore but thankfully the central part of the island was spared. I replied to everyone saying that the walk would carry on as scheduled in light drizzle, and we would make the call to cancel at the meeting point after further assessing the situation.
The sky was overcast when I arrived at the meeting point at 8am and already some of the participants were there waiting! Lai Fong and her son are avid bird watchers and spotted the flameback woodpecker and greater racket tailed drongo as we waited at the car park, as well as kindly shared the photos with us. More people turned up as 8:30 am came closer and it turned out that the morning rain in our participants’ respective neighbourhoods did not deter or dampen their enthusiasm for the morning’s walk.
Flameback woodpecker (picture by Jia Yi)
Greater racket tailed drongo (picture by Jia Yi)
We split the large group to two, with Janice, Letchumi and Navneeth setting off first and Erin, Jun Hien and myself following shortly. We further split our group when Lindy joined us with her four young children and two helpers, with Erin taking care of the little ones :)
As usual, it was fungi galore given the rain and cool weather in recent weeks. We also encountered a troop of long tailed macaques foraging in the forest, in addition to plantain squirrels moving about amongst the branches. Halfway through our walk, it started drizzling and our participants, who had come prepared with wet weather gear started to get their ponchos and umbrellas out. The walk still carried on, and we hurried through some parts where the large Albizias were.
Lindy’s entourage! The kids walked on in the drizzle and were really good sports.
Jun Hien with the main group
Erin showing the little ones the freshwater stream around the bend.
Janice, Letchumi and Navneeth’s group encountered a beautiful Malayan blue coral snake in the leaf litter near the stream and took these pictures to share! According to Letchumi, it was her first time encountering a snake other than the Oriental whip snake at Venus Drive. Needless to say, everyone got extremely excited. Spotted by a participant, it was a rare sight. It was great that as much as us guides were scanning the trail looking out for interesting plants and animals to show our walk participants, they were also actively engaged in the walk and had their eyes peeled out for animals too! The appearance of the Blue coral snake also gave Janice, Letchumi and Navneeth the opportunity to tell them more about venomous snakes and what to do should they encounter one in the future.
Malaysian blue coral snake in the undergrowth (photo by Letchumi).
Malaysian blue coral snake in the undergrowth (photo by Letchumi)
The walks ended with a group photo session and a parting message on the Love MacRitchie project. We will take a break these months to concentrate on other outreach activities and will be back soon with more walks. In the meantime, the Love MacRitchie page
has information for other ad-hoc walks and events, as well as links to guides for individuals who want take a walk in our precious forests.
Group photo time! Group led by Joelle, Jun Hien, and Erin.
Group photo time! Group led by Janice, Letchumi, and Navneeth.
Our Singapore forest thanks everyone for their love and support!