Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chek Jawa: Training Session 2

Today is the second training session for Chek Jawa nature guides from the NIE green club.
Every trip is a different setup.
So... for today's trip, I brought along my D200 with tamaron 90mm macro and SB800, and my LX3.
There are 2 other photographers along this trip too and they are brothers.

Upon reaching the gate to Chek Jawa, everyone started shoot already.
And near the visitor kiosk, there are 2 orb spiders resting on their huge web.

Golden Orb Spider

Orb Spider

For today's guide training, I followed Kok Sheng's group as an assistant.
Our group consisted of all ladies and one gentleman group of 7 and we started off from the coastal walk.

Our first station is the Hornbill's nest.

Hornbill's nest high up in the tree

The nest you see here doesn't look natural right?
Yup... this nest is placed up there by the NParks.
The objective is to encourage the hornbills living on Pulau Ubin to mate and reproduce.
The nesting box is fitted with camera to capture the activity of the female hornbill when she is nesting in it.

After much introduction to the hornbill's nest, we proceeded on to the coastal walk.
Kok Sheng shared with the participants about the Frog Island, Pulau Seduku.
Along the way, one of the participants spotted a juvenile water monitor lizard sunbathing on the rocky shore.

Following that, we took a look at the seashore nutmeg, which were flowering and bearing fruits at the entrance of the coastal broadwalk.
Our group had a lot of fun along the way, talking about mermaids and some thought that the island opposite was Batam!
Perhaps Kok Sheng's misleading question of "The place where every man will have to go." prompted Batam to be the answer.

Just as we were about to enter the Sea Grass meadow section, we noticed small red insects on a sea hibiscus tree.
On closer inspection, it is the juvenile cotton-stainer bugs!
This is my first time seeing the young and eventually, we found a mating adult pair.

Mating adult cotton-stainer bug.

Further inland, I noticed this pinkish moth resting on the sea hibiscus leaf.
In fact, I saw two moths on different leaves.

We walked through the magroves, looking at the different species of fiddler crabs waving, nipah plant (where your atap chee comes from), and then up the Jejawi Tower near the entrance of the magrove route.
I did not realise the height of the tower until I climbed it.
It was scary as I climbed higher.
The Jejawi Tower is a good place to observe the bird when they are feeding on a nearby fig tree.
Too bad, the tree was not figging today.
At the foot of the Jejawi Tower, I saw a beautiful red dragon fly, Neurothemis fluctuans.

It was a difficult task shooting the dragon fly without a tripod and it was rather far away from the broadwalk.
I had to lay stomach down on the broadwalk to get a closer shot.
With 3 fps, I shoot continuously to get a more focused shot of the dragonfly.

As usual, after every guided walk, the participants are brought to House 1 to pen their thought about the place.
Following that, the guiders went for a second round.
At the second round, I saw more things.
One of which is the common aquatic moths.

I did not know that these moths were so tiny until I saw them in groups under leaves and a quick check on the guide book.
They do not seem to be bordered by movements of the leaves and I managed to tilt a leaf outwards to get a good shot of it.
Next, a few of us saw a grasshopper.

The grasshopper got quite annoyed at the few of us who were shooting it and it kept moving.

At the seagrass meadow, while the rest were enjoying looking at the many mudskippers in the tidal area, I was busy trying to capture a fly.
And I did not notice this shoot until I got home.

Today's guiding session was fun and fruitful.
Before we knew it, the guard was cycling around to chase us out.
It was 6pm.

Took the bumboat back to mainland and had dinner with the gang.

Installed in the next trip, I might be guiding a group.
How will I fair?

Coast with beauty,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Attack of the sandflies.

I think I've been bitten by sandflies during my hike on either the dairy farm part or the mountain biking trail part.
I doesn't really matter at which location was I bitten as both trips happened within the same day.
However, I only noticed the bites and felt the itch the day after the trip.
Only my left foot got bitten and it is really itching like mad.
Till now, I haven yet to find a good solution to relieving the itchiness.
The best way so far is to avoid touch it as once touched, the itch will some back.
Apparently, the bites can spread through scratching.

Here are the 2 images of the bite on my left foot.

Hope that the bites will go off soon.

Itchy scratchy,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bukit Timah Mountain Biking Trail

After walking through the Dairy Farm Nature Park, I decided to take the mountain biking trail.
I have no idea what made me do it but I after some time of walking, I started to regret.
Another worrying part was that the sky does not look promising.

At the initial part of the walk, I saw a few opportunities to shoot macro.
The subjects are mostly grasshoppers.
Other than the grasshoppers, I could find anything else, except for the orb spider.

Grasshopper 1

Orb Spider

Grasshopper 2

Grasshopper 3

The above shots were taken within a close area from each other.
Hence, I was shooting for only a small part of the journey.
Whereas the rest of the journey was spent walking up slopes and down slopes.

Finally, I reached an open ground.
This is my first time actually seeing the open ground at the biking trail.
And now I know where the rock climbing area is.
During the trip, there were 2 groups of people doing rock climbing and I took one shot of it.

Rock climbing area

The reason why I took the biking trail was that I thought it would be a faster route to get to the quarry side.
However, after walking through the trail for don't know how long, I decided to give up.
Partly because I saw that I had to walk further down slope and up slope to get to the quarry, secondly was the weather getting hotter and hotter as it was early noon time.
Hence, I decided to call it a day and enjoy lunch at the Railway Mall.

Just keep walking,

Dairy Farm Nature Park.

After seeing the opening of a new nature park, I wanted to visit the place.
The newly opened park is Dairy Farm Nature Park.
It is situated behind Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, next to dairy farm road.

The good thing about the place is that I have a bus from my place to there.
The bad thing, dairy farm nature park is situated rather far back from the main road.
To get to the park from the main road, there is actually a nature trail in, which hikers and cyclist will take.
There are interesting things to see at the nature trail.

The walk on the trail from one carpark to the other caroark took about 15min.
What made it worst was the need for me to go to the toilet and there was none in sight.
After the toilet break, I continued the journey to the old Dairy Farm place.

Just outside the Daiy Farm visitor center sits an old abandoned PUB house.

There was a really steep slope after the visitor center.
After the tiring walk up the slope, I was greeted by an old broken down house.

Outside the house, I can see a few dragonflies flying around but they were too fast and not staying on plants to allow me to shoot them. Perhaps it's the noon time and they are very active.
After visiting the house, I went to take a look at the Wallis' Trail.
Just before the entrance to the trail, I saw some flowers that looked like orchids.

Then I saw another interesting subject to shoot.

I was rather difficult to take pictures with the macro lens as I can feel my body swaying even though I was standing still.
Also, the walk was rather tiring and my arms were quite tired from holding the equipment.

Nonetheless, Dairy Farm Nature Park is a great place to go.
However I find it a bit small and disappointing as it did not turn out what I thought I will be.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nike Human Race 10k Singapore

The nike run is here finally.
I have been looking out the for run.
Missed it last year as I was too late for registration.

Those who are interested, sign up now before it is too late.

Just do it,
Pei Yan

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Things due this week.

This week is sure a hectic week.
I am dying from all the assignments.
Here's the breakdown.

Teaching of Physics II - eJournal review and discussions due. (Completed)
Communication Skills for Teachers - Group summary of the assigned article (Completed)

Teaching of Mathematics - Pedagogy, Content, Knowledge test (Not yet started studying)

ICT for Meaningful Learning
- Individual 1500 word essay due. (Just completed, still need to look through)
- Install SMART board software and do some activity (Program not installed yet)

It doesn't look packed but somewhat, everyone in class seems to be struggling.
I am really feeling stressed out, or am I making myself stress???

Pei Yan

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Trip to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Today, I went to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) for my second nature guide training session.
To get to SBWR, you need to align at Kranji MRT station and take the shuttle bus in.
That cost $1 per person payable by the "ti" machine - ezLink payment.
The shuttle bus arrives at 1 hour intervals, starting at 9am.

If not, you can take bus 925 at Kranji MRT station and align at Kranji Reservoir Carpark during Mondays to Fridays.
Then you will need to take a 15 min walk along the road in or venture through the Kranji Nature Trail.
On Sundays and Public Holidays, the bus will stop directly outside the reserve.

The main objective was to visit the mangrove broadwalk.
Along the way, July, our guiding instructor told us many information about the mangroves here at Sungei Buloh.
We also see the transition from the normal forest trees to the back mangroves and then to the front area of the mangrove.
Along the way, we saw many mangrove crabs.
One of the is the vinegar crab.

It is called a vinegar crab because the teochews like to pickle them in vinegar.
As a teochew, I have yet to try the vinegar version.
However, I had eaten the crab pickled in the dark sauce and chilled way.
I can be considered as a guilty eater of the crab.

As the tide were coming in, we managed to see the crabs in their tree climbing ability.
Vinegar crabs are also known as tree climbing crab because they will climb up the tree trucks during high tides in order to get away from water predators.

After the mangrove walk, we proceeded on to the Main Hide.
That's one of the hideouts to do bird watching.
As this period is the migratory season, you can see different birds feeding on the mudflats.
July told us that the mudflats water level are controlled by water barrages so that the birds can always feed.

On our way to the Main Hide, saw came across this Green Crested Lizard on one of the small trees outside the toilet area.
It was just slightly above my height and it does not seem be to afraid of humans getting close.
I spent some time there taking a few shots of it.

I was lucky that there happened to be an insect flying by, just nice in the same direction and position.

Along the way, we met Ria and another guider from the Naked Hermit Crab.
And we just met them one week ago.
What a coincidence.
At the Main Hide, we could see flocks of birds flying by and landing on the mudflats to feed.
With the longest lens I had (400mm), this was the best I could reach.

These are Common Redshanks.
They can be recognised by their red legs.

The trip to the Main Hide was more of a resting place and enjoy the bird watching session.
As it was impossible for us to catch up with the shuttle bus, we decided to walk out to the Kranji Reservoir Carpark via the Kranji Nature Trail.
That was the first time I am hearing about the trail.
Outside the visitor center, we saw a Malayan Water Monitor Lizard sun busking at the broadwalk.

It felt a little pissed off at us for interrupting his quiet time.
July told us that its bite is poisonous.
I figured or remembered that it is most likely due to its poisonous saliva.

I still remembered the incident were we saw another monitor lizard walking across the path just outside the visitor's gallery.
It did not cared about the presence of humans nearby as it takes its own time to cross.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is really an interesting place to go and visit.
The whole place is big and there are other parts which I have yet to explore.
Hopefully, I can make a trip on my own there.

Protect the nature,
Pei Yan

Kranji Nature Trail

After the session at SBWR, we took another nature walk.
The place is just at one corner of the SBWR carpark.
It is the Kranji Nature Trail.
The entrance/exit to the trail is rather hidden.
So you can't really view the entrance/exit from a distance at the carpark.

Half side of the trail, you see the mangrove vegetation, the other side is the straits.
The path is made up of gravels so comfortable walking shoes is greatly recommended.
The Kranji Nature Trail was not a intended walk.
Furthermore, with the huge amount of mosquitoes buzzing around, we had to quickly get out of the place.

One thing I liked about the trail is the abundance of insects, especially dragonflies!!!
Just a quick walk from the start to the end of the trail, I shot 4 dragonfly species.
There were also a few other insects.

Shots of the trip:

This dragonfly I have yet to find it's identity yet.

Orthetrum sabina

Another specie which I could not identify.

Rhyothemis phyllis

Mating insect

While shooting the mating couple, I was irritated by many buzzing sounds by my right and I could not get proper shots of the insect. Anyway, I was bad enough to intrude their privacy.

I would have gotten better shots if not for the rush to get out of the trail and also the irritating buzzing insects.
Throughout the whole trip, I only had a few bites despite me wearing bermudas.

Kranji Nature Trail is definitely a good place to look for insects if not for the unwanted irritants.

Hope to go back again.
Pei Yan


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