Saturday, January 31, 2009

Out and About 300109

Spent the day at the Dempsey area and the Singapore Botanic Gardens with my mum and sis. Going out always means another opportunity to take more photos...and when that opportunity swings by, I can't wait to start snapping away :)

While walking into the Dempsey area via the 'forested' route, I spotted (haha..no pun intended) two Spotted Doves (Streptopelia chinensis) among the vegetation. They kept moving around but luckily one kept still for a moment so I managed to snap a pic of it!

Framed against the dark green foliage of the other trees in the background, this tree, with its light green leaves dancing merrily in the zephyr, provided a stark yet pleasing contrast.

I wonder how old this tree must be.

...with their bare branches reaching out into the sky.

Seed pods of some kind.

Ah ha! On our way out via the Tanglin Village path, a squirrel scampered up a tree at the sound of our approach (oops).

Next stop, the Singapore Botanic Gardens! I haven't been there in nearly a decade. This plant with its distinctive flowers greets visitors who stroll past the garden.

These are some of the paper cranes (folded by the students from Nanyang Primary) which hang from the Tree of Prosperity in the Gardens itself.

Very Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-ish, I feel. Can you spot the octopus and other sea creatures?
This is just one of the numerous wood carvings we saw along the way to the er..toilet. The library is the same way, actually.
I love playing with the macro function of my camera..hehe.

It's not always good to look down, but in some cases, you never will know what you may find. I tried to 'stalk' it, but it moved quickly and was soon out of sight. I'm not sure, but I think it might be a White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus).

We saw many beautiful flowers along the way to Swan Lake...


...and of course, what's Swan Lake without its resident swans (the other stayed at the far end of the lake).

Another shot taken by my sis :)


Didn't manage to explore the entire Gardens as it was close to evening by the time we got there. Hope to visit the place again...and soon!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Images of a Partial Solar Eclipse 260109

There's nothing like a partial solar eclipse to usher in the lunar new year! My family and I had just finished our late lunch cum early dinner at an eatery when I bugged everyone to go outside to catch the eclipse. We found a very random spot outside the shopping mall and sat down to wait (I thought the eclipse would start at 5.30pm...but actually it started at 4.30pm ><). The sun was really bright (never look directly at the sun!!) and being clueless, we thought that we'd just wait for the sky to darken or something. Haha. Bored, I looked around, when all of a sudden, a bright patch of reflection in the water (there was a small pool of water behind me) caught my eye. And WHOA...I clearly saw a bright crescent reflected in the water. Amazing. Admittedly, I thought I was seeing things and got my family to verify it for me. Sure enough, it was the reflection of the eclipse taking place for we soon saw the sliver of light in the water changing as time progressed. Cool, ain't it? So, next time if you are unable to rig a special set-up (special lenses, etc) in time for the eclipse, just go outside, get a basin of water, catch the reflection of the sun in it, and savour the moment :) Note: water tends to ripple when there's a breeze..so the image will get distorted. And now for pictures!

This was taken before I noticed the sliver of light in the water... There was increasing cloud cover, as if the Sun was reeling them in by an invisble thread..

Somehow it showed up as an orb of light in the water..probably because the image was too bright to be captured (not too sure how to adjust the camera settings >< )

Took a shot of it with flash as I heard that doing so evens the colour out..

This is my mum's favourite pic. We were all awed by this unearthly and ethereal scene...

Moments later, we saw dark clouds scudding over..like a chariot of the sun.

Shortly after, the sun itself was obscured by clouds, but where the sky was clear, light shone through. My mum thinks that it looks like a fan spreading out from the sun.

At 6pm+, we finally headed back inside.. I couldn't resist taking one last shot :)

Here are some photos of the eclipse taken by Chengyao!




Read more about the partial solar eclipse at:

http://wildshores.blogspot.com/2009/01/solar-eclipse-today.html and

http://wildsingaporenews.blogspot.com/2009/01/singaporeans-gather-at-science-centre.html

Plus, if you'd like to catch the future solar eclipses, check out http://eclipse.astronomie.info/sofi/inter/inter/S121038.HTM (got this off the wild shores of singapore blog as well :) )

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Under the Stars at Pasir Ris Park 150109

A couple of days later, I was back out in the 'wild' with a couple of friends - this time at Pasir Ris Park...at night! It was really chilly when we got there and the strong wind blowing continuously didn't help. The cold did keep away the mozzies though. Okay, I concede that I'd rather be cold than to 'donate' blood! Apologies in advance for the not-so-good quality of the pics. Shaky hands... Credit goes to Zelin for helping to ID the pics..thanks!

Found this tiny sea urchin taking refuge among the sea lettuce.

Could it be a Heart Urchin (Order Spatangoida) by any chance?

This is probably a Sentinel Crab (Macrophthalmus sp.), half-buried in the sand.

There were quite a few of this Striped Bead Anemone along the beach.

Yellow egg capsules of a drill (Family Muricidae) attached to a rock, possibly that of a Bumpy Drill. The egg capsules of drills are first yellow, but turn purple when the eggs hatch.

A half-emerged hermit crab.

A small goby [perhaps a Plain Goby (Family Gobiidae)?] found in a shallow pool of sea water along the beach.

Walking on, we encountered another Striped Bead Anemone having a snail for dinner...

..and it wasted no time in tucking in!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Coastal Adventure at Changi Beach Park 120109

First day of the new semester, and also a new adventure! Headed down to Changi Beach in the early evening after school where an adventure was waiting to unfold...

The wind was unusually strong that evening, blustery even. The gusts buffeted the sea, causing the waves to roll rapidly inward.

As it was low tide, there were quite a number of people out combing the intertidal area for shellfish and other marine organisms. It was disheartening to see such an activity going on as both marine flora and fauna suffer in the end. Perhaps such beach-combing activities are important in ways (which I'm not aware of/I can't understand) to the people who engage in them.

A venus clam (Family Veneridae)! It is a bivalve (bi: two, valve: referring to one half of the shell) and are common on the rocky shore.

On a brighter note, it seems that the marine life at Changi is still thriving. Let's hope it remains that way. One of the first organisms we sighted was a peacock anemone (Cerianthus sp.) with a slightly fluorescent yellow tinge to it.

These anemones are aptly named as they come in a variety of colours! They are pretty safe to touch (but if not sure, never touch an organism if you don't know whether it's poisonous or not!) and their waving tentacles (resembles hair, don't you think?) impart a curiously sticky and mildly stinging feel.

These are egg cases deposited by some marine organism (I have no idea what). Edit: They're actually eggs laid by a Spiral Melongena (Pugilina cochlidium) - a kind of large snail - as pointed out by Zelin and Ria. Thanks!

Hermit crabs are common along the shores of Singapore, and Changi beach is no exception. The species of hermit crabs vary, but one thing doesn't change: these crustaceans use an empty shell as their 'house'. It may appear tough with its sharp-looking pincers, but its abdomen is long and soft, necessitating the need for an adopted protective cover. Edit: This may be a striped hermit crab (Clibanarius sp.) as suggested by Zelin. [Refer to Ron's comment]

Marine snails are common sight along the shore. They are closely related to their terrestial counterparts but have a much greater diversity.

Everytime I see a sea urchin, I can't help but be reminded of sea urchin sushi. Finally tried it a couple of weeks ago. Let's just say that I won't be eating any again soon. Anyway, that's a Black Sea Urchin (Temnopleurus toreumaticus) in the photo.

Just a stone's throw away from the sea urchin was a sea cucumber. The sea cucumber didn't look healthy at all. In fact, it kind of looked like pitted styrofoam. Sigh... I wonder if it'll recover.

Other sea cucumbers seemed to be doing well though. Saw a lot of this Thorny Sea Cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis) hiding under seaweed, on rocks, etc. Their pinkish-red and green colouration brings to mind the ice cream that my sister likes..some pear and strawberry flavour, I think. Edit: It suddenly came to mind while I was doing my microbiology lab report..the ice cream is 'Twister' by Walls! And I think I've got the flavours wrong..unless they did have limited edition flavours at one point in time. Lol.

And, yes, another sea cucumber! This one is an Orange Sea Cucumber (Family Cucumariidae).

This is likely a Purple Sea Cucumber, also of the Cucumariidae family. If you think it looks unhealthy, well, it probably is. Healthy individuals are of a brighter hue.
At this part of the Changi Beach, we had quite a few sea star surprises. After walking a couple of paces, we came across this Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber).


The underside of the Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber).

Another Thorny Sea Cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis), visible among the marine flora.

Here's the stressed out Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber) from an earlier post.

This curious-looking ball-shaped organism possibly is a sea cucumber, as suggested by Kok Sheng during the trip. Edit: (refer to comment) KS says that this might be a sponge instead!

This small pool of water had something very strange going on in it! Beneath the surface of the sand, down from some unknown depth, something caused a very bizarre 'bubbling' effect. It's sort of how water is bubbling vigorously when at boiling point..except that it's sand.

Maybe this video will give you a better idea! Do ignore the running commentary though. There was no crab!

video


Really happy to have been able to see so many different kinds of sea stars that day! From left to right: unidentified sea star (possibly a Cake Sea Star - Anthenea aspera - as suggested by KS in his blog), Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber) and Spiny Sea Star (Gymnanthenea laevis).

You may have been puzzling over the different appearances of the Biscuit Sea Stars (Goniodiscaster scaber). The reason is simple: the above is a juvenile!

Yet another Thorny Sea Cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis)! They really were everywhere, adding a bright tinge of colour to the seashore.

Always look on the bright side of life :) Btw, I'm not condoning littering!

As the Sun dipped lower and lower in the horizon, we knew that our adventures for the day were coming to a close...

...no matter, for being treated to the sight of a beautiful sunset was the perfect way to end the day :)


Many thanks to Kok Sheng for details on the marine creatures and also to wildsingapore by Ria Tan for the great database!