The slide deck was screened at the NUS Toddycats booth at the Festival of Biodiversity, 25 & 26 Sep 2021. It summarises the programmes and events of the 22-year old nature and environment group. Read about NUS Toddycats at https://toddycats.wordpress.com/about/
Kickstarting a series of monthly explorations of nature for Toddycats, we visited Pasir Ris Park to enjoy the lovely birdlife and take note of the diverse habitats within Pasir Ris!
On Saturday 12 Jan 2019, 7.30am – 10.00am, 7 participants (2 youths from Biodiversity Friends Forum and 5 Toddycats) went for a birdwatching trip along the Tampines River.
We observed the majestic egrets, grey herons and black-crowned night herons resting along the river bank from the bridge near Carpark B.
We followed the Tampines River down to the sea and were ecstatic to spot a family of smooth-coated otters! They were just off the coast, looking for yummy fish to eat as breakfast. This is the famous family which include Aquarius, rescued last year from a cut into its flesh by a deadly plastic ring by the Otter Working Group.
Loud squawking calls beckoned us towards a stand of tall trees which were host to a breeding colony of herons, a heronry. Grey Heron adults were flying to and fro several nests which made for an active scene – treetops were bustling as they brought twigs in their beaks. To our delight, we did indeed find egg shells below the trees as Morten Strange had alerted us about earlier via email, which are likely to be an indication of recently hatched chicks.
Tembusu trees were in wondrous bloom near Car Park C – the plants were living up to their species name, Crytophyllum fragrans, which means ‘sweet smelling’. Indeed the was filled with the sweet smell of its flowers, which one Toddycat likened to Pokka green tea. Amidst the blossoming flowers, were a male and female pair of olive-backed sunbirds busy drinking its nectar.
We were not disappointed to see an Oriental Pied Hornbill, a species which was once extinct in Singapore, but are now commonly seen in many places in Singapore. And another delight – we watched the resident spotted wood owls!
Despite being high up in the canopy, everyone still managed to get a good look at them resting.
I was glad to introduce Toddycats to nature at Pasir Ris Park and look forward to them sharing stories to encourage members of public to visit and watch out for the many animals and plants which populate this little nature corner in the north east of Singapore. Other nature explorations lined up for Toddycats are:
Forest walk at Singapore Botanic Gardens (Airani S)
Night walk at Old Upper Thomson Road (Joys Tan)
Monkey walk at Bukit Timah (Joys Tan)
Civet walk at Portsdown (Fung Tze Kwan/Xu Weiting)
Intertidal walk at Sisters’ Island (Adriane Lee/Joleen Chan)
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!
Caterpillar. Photo by Amanda Lek.
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 (Melastomamalabathricum) 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).
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum). Photo by Amanda Lek.
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.”
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!
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!
Group 1 with their guide, Amanda Lek (front row, first from left). Photo by Amanda Lek.
Group 2 with their guide, Claire Jonquieres (second from left). Photo by Joyce Wong.
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.
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.
Jumping spider. Photo by Jensen Seah.
Common Flashwing (V. amethystina). Photo by Jensen Seah.
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!
Dark-necked Tailorbird (O. atrogularis). Photo by Jensen Seah.
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.
Black-bearded Gliding Lizard (D. melanopogon). Photo by Chloe Tan.
Plantain Squirrel (C. notatus). Photo by Chloe Tan.
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!
Group 1 with their guide, Joleen (on right). Photo by Joleen Chan.
Group 2 with their guide, Claire (on right). Photo by Claire Jonquieres.
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.
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)