Highlights of the June Love MacRitchie Walk

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A pleasant walk through the shady forest. Photo by Jensen Seah.

It had been a week of scorching hot weather so a walk through the shady forest was a much welcomed respite from the urban heat. Three Toddycats and 18 participants turned up at Venus Loop on 11 Jun 2017 to observe the wildlife in MacRitchie Forest and discuss the conservation issues surrounding the proposed Cross Island MRT Line.

The animals in the forest were going about their usual activities and we got to observe them really up close! There was a jumping spider was hopping around a plant, probably hunting for its breakfast. We got to see its huge pair of forward-facing eyes that helps it judge distance better so it can accurately pounce on its prey. A Common Flashwing damselfly (Vestalis amethystina) was basking on a sunny spot at our eye level, its purple wings shimmering beautifully. One group also spotted a headless Golden-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela aurulenta)! We wonder who the gruesome predator was.

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Jumping spider. Photo by Jensen Seah.

 

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Common Flashwing (V. amethystina). Photo by Jensen Seah.

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Golden-spotted Tiger Beetle (C. aurulenta). Photo by Joleen Chan.

The birds also came out to play. A Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis) came unusually close to the trail, prancing about the foliage. There was a Greater-racket Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) that was singing at the top of its funky metallic voice too!

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Dark-necked Tailorbird (O. atrogularis). Photo by Jensen Seah.

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Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (D. paradiseus). Photo by Chloe Tan.

Some of us saw a leaf-like object glide across the trail and perch on a dead tree trunk. Upon a closer look, it turned out to be a Black-bearded Gliding Lizard (Draco melanopogon)! A handsome male was showing off its black throat flap, possibly in an attempt to get the attention of a female that was on the same trunk. Nearby, a Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus) was very busy collecting nesting materials.

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Black-bearded Gliding Lizard (D. melanopogon). Photo by Chloe Tan.

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Plantain Squirrel (C. notatus). Photo by Chloe Tan.

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Tak Wei from BES Drongos does some sharing. Photo by Joleen Chan.

On this walk, we felt with our own skin the profound importance of forests in climate regulation. Our biggest lesson of the day was that we depend on the forests of our Nature Reserves as much as the animals do! A big thank you to the guides and participants for the lovely morning adventure!

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Group 1 with their guide, Joleen (on right). Photo by Joleen Chan.

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Group 2 with their guide, Claire (on right). Photo by Claire Jonquieres.

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Group 3 with their guide, Chloe (third from right). Photo by Chloe Tan.

Find out more about the Love MacRitchie movement here. See more photos of the walk on Facebook or Flickr.

 

 

 

Walk with primates – Raffles’ Banded Langur Working Group 3rd Volunteer Information Session Sat 18 Jun 2017: 1.00pm – 2.30pm @ SBG

From Andie Ang,

Dear friends,

The Raffles Banded Langur Working Working Group initiated 6-month long surveys for the primate with the help of volunteers in the past year. Two six month survey cycles have been completed and you can be part of the 3rd cycle!

A briefing session results from the previous surveys will be conducted on Sat 18 Jun 2017: 1.00pm to 2.30pm at the Function Hall, Singapore Botanic Gardens. Sign up to attend briefing session: tinyurl.com/3rd-RBL-session

From:
Andie Ang, Ph.D.
Chairperson
Raffles’ Banded Langur Working Group
www.facebook.com/RBLWG

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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!