Saturday, 25 September 2010
a short hike into MacRitchie
After dropping Lex off at the vet for his weekly acupuncture, I took off for Venus Drive and hiked for about 4km into one of the many trails within MacRitchie. I had hoped to make it as far as the tree-top walk, but unfortunately, it was too far for the amount of time that I had.
One of the more common findings was the Common Parasol dragonfly (Neurothemis fluctuans). This is a very common species which can be found in most parks especially those with water bodies like streams and ponds. They are relatively easy to shoot because they are not as nervous and tend to hover around the same areas.
I also came across quite a few male and female Archduke butterflies (Lexias pardalis dirteana) fluttering around quite lowly near the forest floor. The species which belongs to the family Nyphalidae, exhibits sexual dimorphism where the male is black with greenish blue wing margins whilst the female is dark brown with yellow spots on both wings. The Archduke is a powerful flyer and is difficult to capture on the wing. It is essentially a jungle butterfly and is relatively common in Singapore's lowland forests. It is attracted by rotting fruit (pineapple and guava are favourites) and can be found feeding greedily on these fruits on the forest floor. More information pertaining to the Archduke can be found here .
Another interesting and fairly common sight is the common sun skink (Eutropis multifasciatus). These shy reptiles are widely distributed throughout South-East Asia and can be commonly found basking in the sun along forest tracks or on tree trunks. They are mainly terrestrial and diurnal and feed mainly on insects. Normally, they would scuttle away suddenly as you get close to them. However, this particular skink ran out of the bush into the open grass not far from where I was standing, presumably to get away from a predator. It was rare to see them out in the open like that, so I managed to get quite close to it without scaring it away and getting quite a few shots.
But the most interesting find for the day had to be the Spiny Terrapin (Heosemys spinosa). This is a fairly uncommon species (Famil: Geoemydidae) in Singapore which is usually found on the forest floor, well-camouflaged amongst the leaf litter. It usually forays to streams and puddles and feeds on fallen fruits and other vegetation. The origin of its common and specific name is immediately apparent from the sharp, pointed, spiky-edged carapace, and spiny keel, of this unique turtle, also known as the ‘cog-wheel turtle’. There are also smaller spines on the pleural scutes, creating the effect of a walking pin cushion. It is thought that this spiny ‘armour’ acts as a deterrent to predators, such as snakes. However, this unmistakable, strongly-serrated carapace edge and spiny keel become worn down and are lost with age, so that larger individuals are much smoother than juveniles. The carapace is brown with a pale streak down the central keel, and the head and limbs are greyish-brown, usually with a yellow to red spot behind the eye and similar-coloured speckling on the legs.