Purpose of NatureScouter

This blog will address mainly two issues - Nature and Scouting.

The purpose of Nature blogs is to educate and promote the awareness of Singapore’s and global environmental and conservation issues to the public and the Scouting community. The Scouting-related blogs serve the similar purpose by promoting the World’s largest youth movement and its activities to the public.

This blog was created thanks to the persistent demands of all my dear friends to blog, and on my 25th birthday, this blog was born.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tuas Grassland

I wanted to look at it myself, so I dragged myself out of bed on a Sunday morning. Met LK, RY, ST and JL at Boon Lay Interchange to head for Tuas. LK was to meet her students at Tuas for their survey. Well, I was definitely not disappointed. I was in fact intrigued by the sight before my eyes.

Just beside the industrial estates in Tuas was a huge piece of green grassland.

Walking further in, a slightly barren grassland greeted us.

Throughout the area, there were alot of signs of apple snails, dead and alive. And I realised I didn't take any pictures of them. Perhaps there were too many of them to make me spend the effort to bend down and snap them.

But I did snap one thing. These are their eggs, and just like their owners - they were everywhere.

I was told that there are alot of dragonflies (Infraorder Anisoptera) and damselfies (Suborder Zygoptera) around here. It was so true. There quite a bunch of them, but lesser than usual as according to LK, probably due to the overcast and the imminent rain. Nonetheless, I tried my best to grab as may shots as I can (and if the darting critters would cooperate that is). Disclaimer #1: I know nuts about dragonflies and damselflies so I will not attempt to name them (Ron want to help? Hehe...).

Ceriagrion cerinorubellum

Acisoma panorpoides

Nannophya pygmaea (Female)

Nannophya pygmaea (Male). My favourite shot of the day! Thanks to Ron for all the ID.

Even further in was what I called a 'marshland'. Surprisingly, there were no mosquitoes. I was even scolded by LK for putting on repellant as she exclaimed, "You trying to kill my dragonflies?!".

Other than those 'flies', there were also 'crabs' - crab spiders (Family Thomisidae). They are called because of their first two pairs of legs, which are held out to the side giving them a crab-like appearance. Also, like crabs, these spiders move sideways and backwards more easily than forwards. They are also commonly called "flower spiders" because they are most often found on flowers, lying in ambush for prey. Crab spiders do not build webs to trap prey, but are active hunters much like the jumping spiders. Disclaimer #2 - I know nuts about spiders also (Should approach Mr. David Court who is a spider expert).

This species is always found in the wild orchids growing here. Their abdomen resembles the white interior of the flowers.

This species is always found in the pitchers plants here. This particular one is a rather large female.

This is actually the same species as the one above. And as you may have guessed, it's a male. Size comparison? - This male was hitching a ride on the female's abdomen. Yes, it is that small.

Other than the several bird sightings and those critters mentioned above, the grassland is also home to many plants. Disclaimer #3 - I'm no botanist. The End.

A type of fern.

Cattail (Typha sp.)

Pitcher plants (Nepenthes sp.). They were found growing in huge bushes. The most I've ever seen congregated together. And of course, most of the pitcher plants have the crab spiders 'living' inside.

The roots of this plant smells like the drink 'Sarsi'. LK mentioned although similar smell, but this is not the plant used for the drink. The plant for the drink is known as Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii and other closely related species of Smilax).

When we saw this patch, morning glories (Family Convolvulaceae) were blooming everywhere.

Aren't they beautiful in full bloom? Unfortunately, as its name spells, the flowers usually wilt by noon.

This is the wild orchid that the white crab spider dwells in. Notice the white interior of the flower? That is where the spider camouflage itself and ambushes its prey.

Mimosa (Mimosa sp.) aka 'Touch-me-not'. Usually you will see the pink flowers (other two species). This species is the only one with yellow flowers.

This is the flower of a bladderwort, specifically Utricularia gibba. Like pitcher plants, they are carnivorous plants - they capture small organisms by means of bladder-like traps. This is the largest genus of carnivorous plants, consisting of some 215 species which occur in fresh water and wet soil across every continent except Antarctica.

Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffruticosa). This distinctive shrubby tree grows vigorously on eroded soil, wasteland, forest edges and swampy areas. Every part of the plant is large. The large yellow flowers usually last only for a day.

The red fruits are seen here. The ripe fruits spilt open into star-shaped segments to reveal seeds covered in red arils. The seeds are not seen here (probably dispersed/dropped).

Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum). Planted for aesthetic value of their bright purple flowers. The plant also has edible dark purple fruits.

And this... I don't know... Haha... (According to RY and ST's blog, this is the flower of 'Love in the mist'.)

Half-way through our exploration, the rain started pouring. All of us started to pull out our rain gear, except for one (He forgot to bring).

And here he is, trying to seek shelter from the rain in the middle of a grassland. He was also 'singing in the rain'.

On our way out, the rain decided to take a break. With that we were captivated by a couple of butterflies around a particular bush. We spent a good deal of time trying to grab a good shot. Soon testosterone kicked in between ST and RY to see whether who can take a better shot (that's why we spent so much time, as we were all chasing after the butterflies.)

Here's my shot of the butterfly Tawny coster (Arcea violae) feeding on the nectar of the flowers.

This is the caterpillar of the butterfly above.

Eventually, we made our way out and head to the nearest coffeeshop for a nice lunch while sharing the earlier moments in the grasslands. This could be the last time we visit the place, as it is soon to be cleared for motorbike-racing, which was already taking place at the edge of the grassland. Unfortunate but inevitable.


tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

The IDs of the damselfly and dragonfly are Ceriagrion cerinorubellum, Acisoma panorpoides, female Nannophya pygmaea, and male Nannophya pygmaea.

More info at http://www.greenunity.net/odonata/intro.asp


Siyang said...

Wa... v nice photos

SJ said...

Thanks Ron for the ID and link!

I try to make use of whatever is left of my pathetic camera... it's only 4 mega pix, and the macro is horrible. I was surprised at some of the shots too, turned out pretty good (that is after 2314123 shots, which usually I don't have the patience).

Anonymous said...

what a luscious set of
plants and insect photos.

Sam said...

hi Sijie,

how does one get to this beautiful place? and i read on Ron's blog they are going to be bulldozed over later this week...argh..i would love to go and take a look before it happens!

SJ said...

Thanks for the comments!

Sam, I've dropped you an email. Cheers!

SGM said...

fabulous photos there!
but my heart sank to only read at the end-that this grassland would be no more...

SJ said...

Yea, I'm trying to go there again some day near, before it's gone. Trying to capture more of what it holds prior to its demise...

Akira Star said...


I know this is two years ago.
I wonder if the tuas grassland is still there :(
I would like to go check it out.
If it is, can you tell me how to get there? Thank you.

SJ said...

Hiya, unfortunately I think the land is already used for other purpose. That's partly the reason why we went there back then.
No confirmation thou. Can't recall the way there also... sorry.

Akira Star said...

Thanks for your reply :)

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