Toddycats’ prepare for Festival of Biodiversity 2017 – this time, a forest walk at the MacRitchie forest!

NUS Toddycats hit the trail again, in preparation for the Festival of Biodiversity 2017. The annual celebration of Singapore’s biodiversity by members of the Biodiversity Roundtable of Singapore with NParks will present a two day event of talks and exhibitions at Serangoon NEX on 27-28 May 2017: 10.30am – 10.30pm.

Toddycats’ seniors conducted the second of three training sessions (two field trips and a lab session) which last saw them at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. With the exams over, 21 joned the training today which was conducted by Sean Yap, Joleen Chan, Erin Tan, Marcus Ng, Alvin Wong & Claire Jonquieres.

During the training, seniors shared stories about insects, mammals, birds and reptiles, and about themes such as flight and gliding in the tropical rainforest, forest fragmentation, human-animal conflict such as the macaque culls and the recent year of the rooster red jungle fowl fiasco and invasive species introductions.

Animal life helped out with a Draco gliding to a tree, a flatworm everting its gut to digest a snail, ants tapping mealybugs for honeydew, barklice spinning a silk layer around tree trunk like cling wrap, and a stalk-eyed fly chasing off another fly with a dramatic display. And they were bedazzled by a colugo, resting just three metres above the ground!

Chloe is mesmerised!

Shhh, a resting colugo (a nocturnal forest denizen)

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Training in small groups along the trail

Thanks to Chloe & Weiting who organised this session, and Alvin for highlights!
For photos from the walk, see Toddycats’ Flickr album and Alvin’s Flickr album.

Otters and crocs @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – Toddycats gear up for Festival of Biodiversity in May

We are counting down to Festival of Biodiversity 2017 which is a month away! This annual celebration of Singapore’s biodiversity by members of the Biodiversity Roundtable of Singapore with NParks will present the two day event at at Serangoon NEX on 27-28 May 2017: 10.30am – 10.30pm.

To prepare our crew, Toddycats’ seniors are conducting three training sessions (two field trips and a lab session) which fittingly began on Earth Day last Saturday 22 Apr 2017 at our precious mangrove reserve, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. The field trips will help bring the magic of our natural areas to the shopping centre to encourage

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With undergrads slogging away for the exams, the cosy session of 12 Toddycats was split into four small groups, each led by an experienced Toddycats senior – Amy Choong, Alvin Wong, Marcus Ng, and Theresa Su & Xu Weiting.

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What’s in the water? Theresa sharing form & function stories of halfbeaks and archer fishes from the main bridge.

Some groups were really lucky in the post-drizzle and saw the elusive black spitting cobra, a family of six smooth-coated otters and an estuarine crocodile.

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A family of six otters having their brunch at the Main Pond. Photo by Alvin Wong

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The two hours were filled with many observations and personal stories about the mangrove denizens, reminding us of the importance of mangroves , which we will share with the FOB2017 visitors.

Bring family and friends to FoB2017. Toddycats alone have recruited 50 volunteers to ensure we always have fresh faces eager and ready to share stories with visitors on the 27 & 28 May 2017. And there will be many nature groups there, with talks at the library by various working groups. A wonderful way to discover biodiversity in Singapore. See you there!

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Shelter Pawject: Toddycats June visit to Uncle Khoe’s K9 and PawPerfectLove Shelters

Registration has opened for our Shelter Pawject’s next trip on Sunday, 11th June 2017, 9.00am – 1.00pm.

Join us for a morning of washing, bathing, feeding and walking with our furry friends! Register at Eventbrite

“Singapore’s Masked Fruit Bandits – the common palm civet” – three talks by civetgirl Xu Weiting this year!

In the first quarter of 2017, civetgirl Xu Weiting conducted three talks for students of Catholic High School and Yishun Junior College, and staff of Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES).

Most civet talks have addressed large groups, typically a school assembly in order to reach out to large numbers of students as part of civet research and education goals. This year, Weiting had a change of pace with three talks to small groups of less than 20 people. These talks in an intimate setting are enjoyable in a different way as the audience is comfortable to ask many more questions about the common palm civet than they usually would!

During these lively sessions, the audience leant about and discussed the biology of the civets, threats that they face and how all of us can ensure that civets continue to be part of Singapore’s landscape.

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16 Feb 2017 – Catholic High students figuring the identity of civet poop


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13 March 2017 – It is always wonderful to talk to ACRES staff, some of whom have been active in the rescue of civets. Thanks to Anbu for the photo.

We thank the teachers of Catholic High School and Yishun Junior College for inviting Xu Weiting over to share the research that civet team does. Also, a big thank you to Kalai from ACRES for organizing this, and thanks to the ACRES team for all the great work they do in helping our local wildlife.

We have a few more talks lined up for the second quarter of 2017. If you are interested to have us conduct a talk on common palm civets or local wildlife, do contact us here. We would be happy to discuss outreach programmes.

Inaugural nature talk at Ridge View Residential College by Dr Amanda Tan, on the tool-using long-tail macaques of Thailand

“10 years to tool use with the sea monkeys of Thailand”: talk and discussion by Dr Amanda Tan,

Dr Amanda Tan is a psychology graduate from NUS’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who joined primate researcher Michael Gumert at at NTU for her PhD in primate behaviour. She had sat in on my LSM1303 Animal Behaviour class many years ago and some of my guest lectures at Gumert’s Conservation Psychology class at NTU. So I was very glad last week to be able to proudly introduce her to my class and listen to her speak to them.

It was an excellent session for the students, and she had put it together the night before the lecture as she had just returned from her field site in Thailand. Realising she would be leaving very soon for her post-doctorate in the US, I scrambled to set up this session and was very glad I did – 13 people from the community turned up through storms and floods in Singapore for a very engaging session!

Amanda delivered an informative, delightful and thoroughly inspiring talk about the tool-using long-tailed macaques of Thailand. Covering highlights of the scientific work by Michael Gumert, herself and their collaborators over a decade, she knew to make the research results very accessible and footage of the fascinating behaviours of the macaques did the rest!

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A lengthy Q&A session followed in the cosy environment of the RVRC Active Learning Seminar Room during which we realised there were still many aspects of behaviours of not only the sea monkeys, but also of our own forest macaques are far from known. Certainly a motivating talk to be repeated!

Toddycats commented,

“It was so good to hear such research work and appreciation of animals in their habitat! Amanda will be such an inspiration to young ecolologists and girls who aspire to do science or psychology” – Adrian Loo
“A very interesting topic plus well polished talk by Amanda. Really enjoyed listening to stories of stone tools in long tailed macaques. Really can’t imagine the amount of detailed work put in to talk about a decade worth of research.” – Xu Weiting
“Yeah the talk was very engaging and easy to follow! :)” – Joys Tan

And Amanda later said,

“Think I answered more questions at the Q&A after my talk than at my thesis defense! Thanks @sivasothi for inviting me, and everyone who showed such keen interest in the monkeys and the work. I was dreading public speaking, but it turned out to be the most encouraging part of my day.”

Thanks @thelongtails – we hope to hear more from you soon!

Be sure not to miss Pesta Ubin – Pulau Ubin’s Open House, 10 May – 16 July 2017!

Screenshot 503Pulau Ubin is going to be abuzz from 20 May to 16 July 2017! Volunteers from some 20 organising nature and heritage groups have come together to offer a slew of Pesta Ubin activities.

Many Pesta Ubin activities are offered free of charge to members of the public. You may not even need to register for some – just join in the fun once you are on Pulau Ubin! Check the blog to see what is happing by date and activity type – something is going on EVERY weekend during this period.

NUS Toddycats are supporting the Balik Chek Jawa event and a Pedal Ubin ride for sure!

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Just some of the people behind Pesta Ubin!
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Highlights of the April Love MacRitchie Walk

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Erin showing how to make a windmill using rubber fruit capsules. Photo by Lily Leong.

Toddycats volunteers had a great time guiding members of the public during the Love MacRitchie Walk that was held on 9 Apr 2017. This walk was unusually exciting because we saw many uncommon birds! A film crew from Mediacorp Channel 8 also joined us to shoot a feature on volunteerism in Singapore.

Aside from the usual suspects such as the fungi, figs, dragonflies and spiders, we were especially excited to see some pretty rare birds such as the Siberian blue robin (Larvivora cyane), blue-rumped parrots (Psittinus cyanurus), and chestnut-bellied malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus). The Siberian blue robin is an uncommon winter visitor in Singapore while the rare blue-rumped parrot and uncommon chestnut-bellied malkoha are forest-dependent residents.

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Blue-rumped parrot feeding on starfruit seeds. Photo by Jensen Seah.

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Chestnut-bellied Malkoha. Photo by Chloe Tan.

The film crew from Channel 8 interviewed the volunteers to find out why it is important to protect the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and what drives our passion to help conserve Singapore’s wildlife. Our friend, Teresa Guttensohn from Cicada Tree Eco-Place also joined us to share her story. The crew also interviewed the participants who shared their experience in the forest as well as what they saw and learned.

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A family of participants being interviewed. Photo by Joleen Chan.

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Teresa from Cicada Tree Eco-Place sharing her story. Photo by Chloe Tan.

Catch the Morning Express episode featuring Love MacRitchie on 2 May 2017, 9 am on Channel 8!

See more photos of the walk on Facebook or Flickr.