Author Archives: chloetanyiting

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Friends of the Forest library booths – we did it!

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Originally posted on Love MacRitchie:
What an exciting two weekends it was! As part of the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement, NUS Toddycats held a series of “Friends of the Forest” conservation booths at various public libraries around Singapore to raise…

Gallery

Friends of the Forest library booths – a mid-week update!

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Originally posted on Love MacRitchie:
Over the past weekend (2nd and 3rd September 2017), the children’s sections of Jurong Regional Library and Central Public Library went abuzz with the sights and sounds of our forests, as the NUS Toddycats brought…

Highlights of the July Love MacRitchie Walk

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Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus). Photo by Benjamin Lim.

On 8 Jul 2017, 16 participants joined three Toddycats on a Love MacRitchie Walk along Venus Loop. While discussing the conservation issues surrounding the proposed Cross Island MRT Line, the keen-eyed participants kept a lookout for creatures along the forest trail. Even the most well-camouflaged animals revealed themselves! What seemed like a woody stump turned out to be a Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) trying to take a snooze! There was also a really hairy caterpillar that seemed to blend into the tree trunk if you looked at it from the top. In the tree canopy, we would not have spotted the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus) if it had not been dropping starfruit bits as it feasted. It looked so much like a leaf!

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Caterpillar. Photo by Amanda Lek.

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Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittunus cyanurus). Photo by Benjamin Lim.

There were also some brilliantly coloured creatures that never fail to catch our eyes. Before we even hit the trail, a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) was gorging on a breakfast of Senduduk (Melastoma malabathricum) fruits. It must have been so hungry because it didn’t mind all the people standing barely a metre or two away, snapping away with their smartphones! Nearby, a beautiful turquoise coloured Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon) was sipping nectar from the Red Leea (Leea rubra).

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Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum). Photo by Amanda Lek.

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Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon). Photo by Joyce Wong.

Recently, an unfortunate incident occured in the vicinity of Windsor Nauture Park, where a wild boar (Sus scrofa) injured a woman who was walking her dog. NParks has erected advisory signs around the park, and everyone should read them as earnestly as this young participant did! The signs read: “Wild boars have been seen in the area. If you encounter a wild boar, move calmly away from it. Do not use flash photography as it may upset the animal. Do not feed it as it is illegal to feed wild animals.”

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Wild boar advisory by NParks. Photo by Chloe Tan.

The little ones who joined the walk had lots of fun trudging along the dirt trail and letting their imagination run wild!

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Waiting to be teleported to another realm. Photo by Chloe Tan.

Everybody learned new things on this fun-filled walk. We shared our passion for nature in different ways, be it through photography, nature education or simply loving the great outdoors. Let us do what we can to help conserve Singapore’s Nature Reserves for the generations to come!

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Group 1 with their guide, Amanda Lek (front row, first from left). Photo by Amanda Lek.

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Group 2 with their guide, Claire Jonquieres (second from left). Photo by Joyce Wong.

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Group 3 with their guide, Chloe Tan (back row, right). Photo by Chloe Tan.

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

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.

 

 

 

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.

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walks August-September 2016

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The Love MacRitchie Walks in August-September 2016 are now open for registration! Join the NUS Toddycats! in discovering the forest and its amazing wildlife. These guided walks are conducted by volunteers and are free-of-charge! Limited spaces available.

Find out more about the Love MacRitchie Walks here – https://lovemacritchie.wordpress.com/love-macritchie-walks/

Highlights of Love MacRitchie Walks by Toddycats, Season 4

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Young and not-so-young participants delight in the forest that is full of surprises!

Between January and May 2015, Toddycats conducted Season 4 of our (almost) fortnightly Love MacRitchie Walks. On these walks at Venus Loop, our guides shared with participants the amazing wildlife that we have in the heart of Singapore, raising awareness about our natural heritage at risk. Love MacRitchie Walks are part of the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement, which was launched in response to the LTA’s proposal for the new Cross Island MRT Line (CRL) to tunnel under the fragile ecosystem of MacRitchie Forest. This season, 141 participants were treated to a leisurely walk through the rainforest. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers for each walk:

  • 24 Jan – 19 participants, 4 guides (photo album)
  • 7 Feb – 21 participants, 7 guides (photo album)
  • 22 Feb – 27 participants, 8 guides
  • 7 Mar – 16 participants, 8 guides (photo album)
  • 21 Mar – 17 participants, 7 guides
  • 4 Apr – 20 participants, 4 guides (photo album)
  • 2 May (Jane’s Walk) – 21 participants, 7 guides (photo album)

Looking at the feedback that our participants shared, it seems that once again, the cute and cuddly mammals, especially the Malayan colugo (Cynocephalus variegatus) made the deepest impression. Well, that’s hardly surprising because these really weird looking creatures that are so hard to spot are extremely adorable! We managed to spot colugos during most of our walks. And when we got really lucky, we saw two colugos together!

With a young one in tow!

With a young one in tow.

One above the other!

One above the other!

Slender squirrels (Sundasciurus tenuis) also showed up pretty frequently but being the skittish creatures they are, we never really managed to have a good look at it. Not until one was spotted just as we rounded up the 7 Feb walk. It was resting on a branch right where we would usually take our final group photo!

Slender squirrel resting on a branch.

Slender squirrel resting on a branch.

Not forgetting the long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) that showed us just how capable they are of looking for their own food in the forest. So please do not feed the monkeys as this would condition them to approach people, sparking human-wildlife conflict. This was one of the key take-home messages, which was reinforced by the HUGE new sign put up by NParks near the start of the trail!

Long-tailed macaque eating fishtail palm fruits.

Long-tailed macaque eating fishtail palm fruits.

Long-tailed macaque foraging among the leaf litter.

Long-tailed macaque foraging among the leaf litter.

Please do not feed the monkeys!

Stop feeding the monkeys!

The Malayan blue coral snake (Calliophis bivirgatus) appeared on a couple of walks. This species made quite a statement with its flashy colours, warning others that it’s highly venomous. Here’s a video of it slithering across the forest stream! Some of the other reptiles and amphibians we came across include the black-bearded flying dragon (Draco melanopogon), yellow-bellied puddle frog (Occidozyga sumatrana) and American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana). The latter SHOULD NOT be found in the forest stream and it is likely to have been released by somebody. This alien species has the potential to outcompete and threaten the survival of our native forest amphibians. With Vesak Day just around the corner, Toddycats with PUB, NParks and other volunteers are conducting Operation No Release to raise awareness about the harm releasing animals into nature areas can inflict.

Black-bearded flying dragon (female).

Black-bearded flying dragon (female).

Juvenile yellow-bellied puddle frog.

Juvenile yellow-bellied puddle frog.

Juvenile American bullfrog, an alien species.

Juvenile American bullfrog, an alien species.

We also saw many birds, including the usual suspects like the greater racket-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus), olive-winged bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus) and red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus). One of the more unusual sightings was the changeable hawk-eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus), an uncommon resident, perching up high on an Albizia tree. Our sighting of the blue-throated bee-eater (Merops viridis) in April signaled the end of the bird migratory season. The blue-throated bee-eater tends to make a comeback in Singapore when its cousin, the blue-tailed bee-eater (Merops philippinus), a winter visitor, returns to its breeding grounds in the higher latitudes. More on the bee-eater’s migratory behaviour HERE.

Changeable hawk-eagle.

Changeable hawk-eagle.

Blue-throated bee-eater.

Blue-throated bee-eater.

And now for the creepy crawlies a.k.a. arthropods! Where ever we looked, we would spot these little creatures so we hardly ran out of things to talk about. Every little thing in the forest is interesting. You just need to look closely!

A mating pair of grasshoppers.

A mating pair of grasshoppers.

A green jumping spider!

A green jumping spider!

Flower chafer beetle (Taniodera monacha).

Flower chafer beetle (Taniodera monacha).

Millipede on a bracket fungus.

Millipede on a bracket fungus.

What did these two young men spot?

What did these two young men spot?

A bright red net-winged beetle (Taphes brevicollis)!

A bright red net-winged beetle (Taphes brevicollis)!

Heartgaster ants milking honey dew from scale insects under a common mahang leaf. Tripartite symbiosis in action!

Heartgaster ants milking honey dew from scale insects under a common mahang leaf. Tripartite symbiosis in action!

Just a few of the butterflies we came across.

Just a few of the butterflies we came across.

The butterflies got this girl all excited!

The butterflies got this girl all excited!

Over these few months, we witnessed some changes in and around the forest at Venus Loop. Across the stream from the trail, we saw bulldozers and some new tree saplings. The area is to become the new Windsor Nature Park – one of the four new nature parks that will serve as buffer zones for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR). These buffer zones will help ease visitor numbers within the reserve. The construction works will be completed by end 2016. More information HERE.

Windsor Nature Park under construction.

Windsor Nature Park under construction.

During the final walk on 2 May, we were shocked to see how badly the forest was hit by the previous days’ storms. Several trees were uprooted, including an Albizia tree and a couple of strangling fig trees. The forest here is what we call an edge habitat that is exposed to the elements, making it pretty susceptible. We took the opportunity to talk about the importance of buffer zones like Venus Loop in reducing the exposure of the core forest within CCNR to storms.

First fallen strangling fig.

First fallen strangling fig.

Second fallen strangling fig.

Second fallen strangling fig.

Fallen Albizia that had been sawed into segments by NParks.

Fallen Albizia that had been sawed into segments by NParks.

The Albizia brought down some bamboos with it.

The Albizia brought down some bamboos with it.

To round things up, here are some of the group photos we took at the end of the walks. Up next – Love MacRitchie Walks Season 5 in the second half of 2015! Keep supporting the Love MacRitchie movement to help encourage our government to reconsider the alignment of the CRL through the CCNR.

  1. Follow us on Facebook
  2. Sign the Show of Support – http://tinyurl.com/lta-crl
  3. Tell your friends/family about the Love MacRitchie Walks – http://lovemacritchie.wordpress/love-macritchie-walks
  4. Write in to the government (Land Transport Authority) to voice your concerns about the proposed alignment of CRL
  5. Watch, enjoy and share “Love Our MacRitchie Forest” – Official Music Video, specially produced for this movement – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMKsHZzYMRw

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