A Return To Pasir Ris Park & Mangrove Forest
March 2012 ~ With its amazing diversity of species for such a small patch, Pasir Ris Mangrove Forest is a fascinating place.
Pasir Ris Mangrove Forest
That mangrove forest & the park around it is 1 of my favorite haunt for nature outing. My first visit, in this entry: Pasir Ris Mangroves was about a year ago. Had being exploring the place on & off, usually with my guy who is also my personal photographer. The past few months were quite a hectic period for me & I didn't visit the place until the last few weeks. This time I was armed with my new 10x telephoto lens for my iPhone & itching to test it out on wildlife photography. With an iPhone?!? You gotta be joking, you say. Haha... yep! And the result is better than I'd expected. Heehee...
Nature Photography With iPhone. =P
Before continuing, I have to declared that most of the stills featured in this entry was taken with our Canon SX30 & a few by a friend with a Nikon DSLR. However, all videos were by my iPhone with the 10x telephoto lens attached.
Without further ado, let me present once again, the natural beauty of Pasir Ris Park & Mangrove Forest.
Flora: (top right) Water Hyacinth Flower, (bottom left) Nipa Palm Fruit ~ This is the fruit which provide the 'attap chee' in your dessert.
And for the animals... look what Hamster had found!
A Cute Little Pony! =P
Eh... reality check! That pony belongs to a riding school called Gallop Stable located in the park. Now, back to the forest, you silly little Hamster! xD
Ok... creepy crawlies time! =P
More Bugs! (from left to right, top to bottom): A cluster of bees forming a heart shape, Yellow-Barred Flutterer, Grasshopper & a mating pair of Scarlet Grenadiers.
Eeeeek! SPIDERS! (top left) St. Andrew's Cross Spider, (bottom left) a jumping spider which landed on the lens of a friend & (right) Golden Orb Web Spider.
OMG! Monster Caterpillar!
The above pic are of a giant caterpillar of the Atlas Moth & a cluster of 3 Atlas Moths. Notice the wing tips of the moths are like the image of snake head? That's the moths defense/disguise system for frightening off predators, especially birds.
Pretty Pretty Butterflies (from left to right, top to bottom): Dark Glassy Tiger, Knight, Common Sailor & Cycad Blue.
Forest Beauties (from top to bottom): Black Veined Tiger, female Common Mormon & Blue Glassy Tiger.
In the mud or water are...
A Giant Mud-skipper & a Jellyfish
A mud crab with red pincers & a giant marine worm.
*A note about the giant marine worm featured above: We saw lots of these worms swimming near the surface of the river. They are nearly or about 50 cm in length. At first, we mistaken them for giant forest centipedes or millipedes & wondering why they are swimming in the river. When we showed a naturalist friend the pics, he told us those are a sort of marine worms. Question: Why would these marine worms whose natural habitat are in the mud beneath be swimming near the surface of the river, presenting easy prey to their enemies? We saw fishes attacking, biting them, tearing some of the worms to bits. According to the naturalist friend, these worms hasn't being scientifically studied or named. No one know much about these mysterious creatures. It just shown there are still so much to learn about the mangrove forest despite it being so accessible.
Common Sun Skink & a river tortoise.
Ever seen a Flying Dragon? Haha... no, not exactly a dragon, but a Common Gliding Lizard, one with wing flaps which enable it to glide from tree to tree. One of these landed on a tree trunk just in front of us when we were walking along on the boardwalk.
A Common Gliding Lizard with flaps half opened & another Common Sun Skink.
The Malayan Water Monitor is the world second largest lizard often mistaken by locals for crocodile in the water or Komodo Dragon when encountered on land. Don't worry. Water Monitors ain't that ferocious & are actually quite harmless to adult human. Don't be surprise to find them on trees as they are quite adept at tree climbing.
Ever watch 2 Godzilla wrestling? One day, we watched as 1 big male Water Monitors swam from 1 side of the river to the other bank where there was another big male. The moment the swimming one came ashore, it charged & grappled with the other male. Both were on their hind legs, shoving & pushing like 2 wrestlers till both fell into the river. The fight continued with tail slapping, rolling over each other until one of them surrendered & swam away. No serious injuries was infected. It was mating season for those giant lizards & that fight between males was a ritual combat for mating rights.
Giant Lizards In Combat
Have you ever heard Alvin & The Chipmunks singing at Pasir Ris Mangrove Forest? Heeheehee... this silly Hamster is having a fantasy again. No Chipmunk, but there are lots of squirrels, Plantain Squirrels in the mangrove forest, jumping from tree to tree foraging for food. Sometimes, you will be able to hear them sing... no, more like barking or cheeping & flicking their tail, a territorial or mating display.
Plantain Squirrel taken by iPhone with 10x lens.
After so many visits, just only last week, I discovered that there is a lone monkey in that area. Sighted the male Long-tailed Macaque in the mangroves & followed it into the park where it galloped off.
Solitary Monkey (bottom pic courtesy of Zhou Ji)
One of our most delightful sighting in Pasir Ris Mangroves was a family of Smooth-coated Otters which consist of 2 adults, a juvenile & a baby. They were hunting in the river. Every now & then, when 1 of the adult caught a fish, it would give the catch to the baby. What a pleasure watching it squeaked with joy when eating. We were on the viewing platform, trying to be as still & quiet as possible while the Otter family were getting closer & closer. The whole show was rudely interrupted when a PRC couple walked in talking very loudly. The adult Otters suddenly gave a series of loud warning squeaks & barks. The juvenile & the baby dived instantly & disappeared from sight. The adults were gone next. When they surfaced, they were very far away, swimming downstream towards the sea. Being back many times since, but did not have any more sighting of those Otters again.
Mommy With Baby Otter
Avian photography is my favorite in the field of nature photography. With the multitude species of birds in Pasir Ris Mangroves, bird-watchers will never be disappointed.
Flight of The Little Egrets (pic courtesy of Zhou Ji)
Grey Herons nest there the whole year round, filling the surrounding area with sound of their loud coarse cries.
Grey Herons in their nest.
Birds, common & uncommon species, everywhere. They are my favorite subject for photography
(from left to right, top to bottom): Grey Heron, Little Egret, Little Heron & Eastern Cattle Egret.
White-breasted Waterhen & Whimbrel
White-collared Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher & a Common Kingfisher had caught a shrimp for breakfast.
A few flocks of Red JungleFowls had made that area their home. What a gorgeous sight the roosters are, with their fanciful colors!
Red JungleFowls & Family
We also spotted an escapee, a White-crowned Robin-chat, a non-native species hopping happily around in the park.
Almost all the pics of birds I used, here or in other sites, were actually taken by my guy. He is a former working professional photographer with very fast reflex, ideal for avian photography. Me little Hamster on the other hand is hopeless when it comes to tracking & photographing skittish birds unless they stay still for long period which rarely happened. With a camera, I almost always lost the target although I can effortlessly spot/track them, either with my binocular or scope. So, usually I'm the spotter & he is the shooter. And most time, when conditions permit, I shoot video with my iPhone.
Tiger Shrike, Banded Bay Cuckoo & a cute puff-up juvenile Zebra Dove.
(from left to right, top to bottom): Ashy Tailorbird, male Laced Woodpecker, Olive-winged Bulbul & male Common Flameback.
What a joyful day it was when we sighted a pair of juvenile Oriental Pied Hornbills. They are such magnificent birds!
Juvenile Oriental Pied Hornbills
We feel so fortunate that at times, Pasir Ris Park & Mangroves presented us with sightings of uncommon birds.
(from left to right, top to bottom): Black Baza, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Mangrove Pitta & Collared Scops Owl.
And what am I doing in the pic below?
Hunting with my iPhone.
Shhhhh... I'm stalking the Mangrove Pitta, a rather rare bird & one of the celebrities of Pasir Ris Mangroves. Seen lots of camera owners with long lens trying to get a pic of it. Thought I tried my luck with my iPhone with 10x lens attached. With an iPhone, I'm more flexible & mobile than those boys with big camera equipments. I can go where no long lens on big tripod could, like getting down on my knees to bend under the boardwalk to get a shot of the Mangrove Pitta which was below. The giant lens people were still waiting in frustration for the bird to come out in the open while I was already happily shooting. =P
Mangrove Pitta taken by iPhone with 10x lens.
During one of the visits, we spotted a female Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker in her nest hanging from a low tree. Hoping for the best, we returned a week later to find 2 chicks had already hatched & the parents were busy feeding them.
Female Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker in nest & feeding nestling.
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Nestling taken by iPhone with 10x lens.
While watching the feeding activity, I learned that many baby birds are born with build-in pampers & the parent birds will remove the waste sac when its filled. Below is a sequence of pics showing the male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker doing waste disposal service.
(From left to right, top to bottom)
1) The chick presented its backside upward & out towards daddy bird. The waste sac is starting to form at this stage.
2) When fully filled, the waste sac is ready for removal.
3) Daddy bird gently grabbed & twisted the waste sac from the chick's bottom.
4) Finally, the waste sac came loose & daddy bird carried it off to dispose... perhaps by dumping it on someone's car. =P
Waste Disposal Service
Another week later, the little chicks had grown & flown a distance away from the nest with the parents still feeding them.
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Fledglings
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Fledglings taken by iPhone with 10x lens.
Tested my iPhone 10x tele lens on nature photography & the results are acceptable for such a cheap lens. Seeing me with an iPhone surrounded by DSLR cameras with super long lens is quite amusing to my guy & another friend. So they took these pics... =P
iPhone vs DSLR (Top pic courtesy of Zhou Ji)
On a sour note while visiting the mangroves, we came across people who are inconsiderate & destructive.
Littering: The amount of rubbish in the mangroves is sickening! Even with rubbish chutes at every shelter, people are so lazy, leaving their trash everywhere or throwing them into the mangroves!
Poaching: Saw abandon fishing equipments, nets, lines & something looking like a fish trap, a PRC Chinese couple gathering shellfish & a group of kids were taking out snails just for fun.
Destruction: A Malay couple breaking branches just for the heck of it & some long-lens camera owners breaking branches just to get a better view of their subjects.
Noise pollution: 2 PRC Chinese men went in with their mobile phone hanging from their belt playing music at full volume, teenagers screaming at the top of their lungs & a PRC woman practicing singing! The loud music from the nearby DownTown East & some events held at the park are already bad enough without the needs to add to it!
Cycling: Even with the 'No cycling" signs at every entrance, people still cycled on the boardwalk & some traveling at fast speed!
Aside from those misbehaving humans, I love this mangrove forest. Always something new to see, always surprising & intriguing me. I might not understand much about the science behind it, but according to many researches, like the forest, mangrove forests are like green lungs for the sea around it The mangroves also act as safe haven, a nursery for small fishes before they are mature enough to venture out into the sea. The mangroves plays an important part in securing a healthy population of fishes in our seas & oceans. As the most productive & biologically complex ecosystem on Earth, at the intersection of land & sea, mangrove forests support a wealth of life. These forests may be more important to the health of this planet than we will ever realized. It is crucial that we preserve/protect those vulnerable patch of wilderness. We won't know what treasure we will lost till one day, we missed it all.