https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/logo4.jpgWETlands
a publication of Sungei Buloh Nature Park


 

 

Vol 6 No 3
Dec 99


Common Tailorbird


Lesser Known Predators
of Sungei Buloh


Butterfly Monitoring and Introduction
at Sungei Buloh


Why we should NOT feed the monkeys

Bird Ringing
at Sungei Buloh


Sluice Gate Management

International Coastal Cleanup
Sep 99


Care for Nature Family Hunt 99

 

Journal of a Nature Warden
Common Tailorbird
(Orthotomus sutorius)

ramakrishnan nk

 

It was still dark outside when I woke up and got myself ready for a bird ringing session at Sungei Buloh Nature Park. As I walked towards the Nature Gallery, a pair of small birds caught my eye. Moving closer, I noticed that one of the birds has an elongated tail feather. This is only seen in the male Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius). Upon further investigation, I realised that this pair was actually busy building a nest!

The nests of the Common Tailorbird are found at Simpoh Air scrubs around the Park. Nest building for the Common Tailorbird is a job undertaken by the female. The male can be seen escorting the female on her material collection rounds. Using a single leaf or a cluster of leaves, the 'cover' of the nest is formed by the female who meticulously pierces an equal number of holes on each leaf edge with its finely pointed bill as a needle. Spider silk or fine grass serve as thread. Stitching back and forth through the holes, the bird joins each leaf seam together, tying knots as it sews and leaving an entrance hole at the top. Fine strands of grass are used to weave the cup nest inside the folded leaf. Once that is completed, feathers, lalang and other materials are used to line the inside of the nest that would keep the nestlings warm.

 

Description of bird: Upper parts olive green; centre of crown rufous; for female rufous colour restricted to forehead. Side of head and underparts white. Distinguished from Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis) by white under-tail coverts. In breeding season the male's central tail feathers are an additional 3cm longer.

Breeding season: Peak period during February to May.

No. of eggs laid: 2 to 5 pastel blue eggs speckled brown.

Incubation to Fledging: 24 Days

Voice: a persistent loud chee-yup Chee-yup, incessantly repeated.

Habitat: Forest edge, garden, parks, open country, scrub, mangrove.

Status: Very common resident


Look out for this amazing small wonder that is always active from dusk to dawn among the scrub and trees along the Park's walking trails. A word of caution though, do not get too close if they are building a nest. They may he alarmed and abandon the nest or even the nestlings.


 

 


Sungei Buloh Nature Park

 

 

 

 

 


 

Vol 6 No 3
Dec 99


Common Tailorbird


Lesser Known Predators
of Sungei Buloh

Butterfly Monitoring and Introduction
at Sungei Buloh

Why we should
NOT feed the monkeys

Bird Ringing
at Sungei Buloh

Sluice Gate Management

International Coastal Cleanup

Sep 99

Care for Nature Family Hunt 99

 

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/607.jpgHunting for food will never be
the same again with
Halilah Ahmad's

Lesser Known
Predators


Animals and plants evolved through generations to survive in the natural environment that they are in. Unlike animals that have the ability to move freely, plants are restricted in their movement. In places where food is scarce, some plants "evolved" into carnivorous plants to exploit available resources.

Carnivorous plants are those that have the ability to trap insects, digest their tissues and absorb the nutrients in the process. One such plant that can he found in Sungei Buloh Nature Park is the Slender Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes gracilis), a climber that grows on land. Nepenthes is derived from Greek, meaning the wine cup of Helen of Troy, referring to the jar at the tip of a modified leaf while gracilis means slender.

Insects are attracted to the sugary secretions or nectar produced by the glands or nectaries. Usually the nectaries are located at the lid or at the lip of the jar. Once an insect loses its foothold and drops into the pitfall, it is trapped. It will struggle to climb out of the pitcher plant. However, the inner wall of the jar is covered with loose scales of wax and is very slippery. Eventually, it dies by drowning due to exhaustion. The plant will then absorb the nutrients released by the decomposed body.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/611.jpgAnother interesting carnivorous plant is the Common Yellow Bladderwort (Utricularia bifida L.). Utricularia in Latin means a little bag, probably referring to the little trap bags that the plant develops. The transparent bladder trap is equipped with a trap door and stiff trigger hairs.
https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/609.jpghttps://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/610.jpghttps://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/608.jpg
When a small prey such as a protozoa or small insect larvae touches the trigger hair, it activates the door to contort and open for water to be sucked in with the prey. Digestive juices are then secreted and the prey is broken down.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/612.jpgMoving on to the true predators of the Park, the Archer Fish is one with a very unique way of catching its prey. It feeds on insects that can be found on the water surface as well as those that are flying or perching close to the water surface. It can shoot a powerful jet of water at an insect, and knock it off its perch.

The Archer Fish forms a narrow tube in its mouth by pressing its tongue against a groove along the top of its mouth. It then snaps its gill covers shut, shooting a jet of water out of its mouth and through the air to hit its target. An adult can bit its prey up to about 1.5 meters above the water surface. However, it seems that the younger Archer Fish often misses! There goes the saying practice makes perfect.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/613.jpgIn the quiet and serene mudflat, another harmless-looking but deadly shellfish lurks around finding its way to its next victim. The Drill (Thais gradata) will move ever so slowly towards its victim, either barnacles or shellfish, sit on them and drill a hole into the hard surface of its victim using its proboscis which is actually a boring organ under their foot. The organ produces a carbonic acid that will soften the shell of its prey. Being a slow-moving animal, the Drill eventually gets its food only after several hours of drilling. It inserts its proboscis into the hole and consumes its hard-earned meal.

So do visit the Park as life is definitely exciting here with so much action-packed activities going on.

 

 


Sungei Buloh Nature Park

 

 

 

 


 

Vol 6 No 3
Dec 99


Common Tailorbird


Lesser Known Predators
of Sungei Buloh

Butterfly Monitoring and Introduction
at Sungei Buloh

Why we should
NOT feed the monkeys

Bird Ringing
at Sungei Buloh

Sluice Gate Management

International Coastal Cleanup

Sep 99

Care for Nature Family Hunt 99

 

A snippet on the butterfly monitoring
and introduction exercise carried out
by
Lim Haw Chuan at the Visitor Centre

A Report on Butterfly Monitoring
and
Introduction

As the Visitor Centre is the main area for viewing butterflies, regular counts (3-4 per month) have been conducted along a fixed transect in the Visitor Centre. The table below shows all the butterflies encountered, arranged in the order of increasing abundance (survey period: Nov 98 to Jun 99).

Not all the species found in the Park are on this list as the Park contains a much more varied habitat than the Visitor Centre. Particularly valuable are Curetis saronis sumatrana, Arhopala pseudocentaurus nakula (Centaur Oak Blue) and Hypolycaena erylus teatus (Common Tit) which are common in some areas in the Reserve. The abundance of the butterflies is very closely related to the abundance of the host plant. Some of the rarer species (those encountered in only 1-2 months) could have flown in from areas where the host plants are present.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/614.jpg
More articles about
butterflies
at Sungei Buloh


Butterfly-Plant relationships
at Sungei Buloh
(Vol 7 No 2, Aug 00)

List of butterflies

at Sungei Buloh
(1999-2000)
(Vol 7 No 2, Aug 00)

Butterflies and
their food plants

(Vol 6 No 1 Apr 99)

Butterfly Appreciation
(Vol 5 No 3, Nov 98)


The number of butterflies seen during each count increased after planting of food plants began (end of 1998); there was also a peak in March. Other than these, the combined population has remained quite steady.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/703a.jpg
Common Mormon

Two species were selected for the first phase of butterfly introduction. They were imported from Tropical Entomological House, Penang, Malaysia. They are the Common Mormon (50 butterflies) and Great Egg-fly (50 butterflies). The butterflies were released into the wild after pupation. The two species are native to Singapore and to the Park.

The host plants found here or are planted for the butterflies include: Lime Plant and Curry Leaf Plant for the Common Mormon; Common Asystasia and Sweet Potato for the Great Egg-fly.

 

Butterfly

Month encountered*

Mean**

Known food plant

Striped Albatross

Banded Swallowtail


Sunbeam
(Curetis saronis sumatrana)

Cabbage White

Neplis sp.

Cruiser

Malayan Egg-fly

Lime Butterfly

Crow (Euploea sp.)


Tailed Green Jay

Common Mormon

Great Egg-fly

Common Palmfly

Glassy Tiger
(Ideopsis vulgaris macrina)
(Prantica a. algeoides)


Common Grass Yellow

1

1


1


2

2

2

1

3

4


4

4

6

6

8



6

0.029

0.036


0.036


0.064

0.071

0.083

0.095

0.167

0.214


0.226

0.405

0.531

1.537

2.081



2.507

Cleome (rutidosperma) an uncommon weed here

Lavunga scandens not present in the Park, might be using other species in the Rutacea family

Leguminosae, probably Derris


Cleome (rutidosperma)
an uncommon weed here

Gironiera sp.


Adenia, not present in the Park

Utricaceae, specific host plant not known

Citrus and others of the Rutacea family

Apocynaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Moraceae, Aristolochiaceae, Compositae, etc

Annonaceae and Michelia

Citrus
and others of the Rutacea family

Ipomonea batatas, Acanthaceae

Coconut and other palms, probably bamboo too

Parantica-Lasianthus spp.
Ideopsis-Piper spp.



Leguminosae; Acacia, Albizia, Caesalpinia; Cassia

*Month encountered: no of months in which the species were encountered
**Mean: average no. of individuals seen per count

 

 


Sungei Buloh Nature Park

 

 

 

 

 


 

Vol 6 No 3
Dec 99


Common Tailorbird


Lesser Known Predators
of Sungei Buloh

Butterfly Monitoring and Introduction
at Sungei Buloh

Why we should
NOT feed the monkeys

Bird Ringing
at Sungei Buloh

Sluice Gate Management

International Coastal Cleanup

Sep 99

Care for Nature Family Hunt 99

Why we should
NOT feed
the monkeys

Visitors to the Park would from time to time encounter a family of Long-tailed or Crab-eating Macaques (Macaca fascicularis) at the Visitor Centre. Adorable, aren't they? They are a hit especially with children who cannot resist feeding them with their potato chips and popcorn. But do you know that feeding them actually causes more harm than good?

Ranger Charles Lim
shows the way to
quit "monkeying" around
with the monkeys in the Park

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/600.jpg
Upsetting dustbins

The Long-tailed Macaque can be found in Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Philippines and many other small islands of the East Indies. Usually seen at forest edges, coastal forests, banks of water courses and mangroves, it is also known as the Crab-eating Macaque. It feeds on crabs on top of its usual diet of leaves, shoots and small animals.

In the wild, much time is spent on foraging for their food, which is more balanced than food handed out by humans. However, once they grow accustomed to being fed by humans, they spend their time loitering around human habitations instead of foraging. Upsetting dustbins and approaching people carrying bags, which they associate with food, become their regular activities. They may turn aggressive when food is denied. Surely, you do not want to run the risk of being scratched? In addition, with food readily available, more time will be spent on breeding. This increases the population rapidly and upsets the delicate balance of nature.

Feeding the monkeys is literally loving the animal to death. More harm is done when you feed them. When you see them again, think of them as cute, but please stop at that. They will thank you for it.


Sungei Buloh Nature Park

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Vol 6 No 3
Dec 99


Common Tailorbird


Lesser Known Predators
of Sungei Buloh

Butterfly Monitoring and Introduction
at Sungei Buloh

Why we should NOT feed the monkeys

Bird Ringing
at Sungei Buloh

Sluice Gate Management

International Coastal Cleanup

Sep 99

Care for Nature Family Hunt 99

 

Bird
Ringing

What are the flight patterns of migratory birds?
Why do certain birds behave a certain way?


Adeline Chia
provides more details.

 

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/601.jpg
A bird in hand is worth
two in the bush

Bird ringing or banding is a skill not known to many, but it is an essential skill for staff of Sungei Buloh Nature Park who regularly participate in ringing sessions throughout the year. Much can be learnt by putting a ring around the tarsus (leg) of captured birds.

Simple? Much preparation has to be done before data is to be collected. A passerine ringing session starts with a recce for a suitable site and the minor pruning (if necessary) of vegetation in the area to facilitate the setting up of mist nests.

 

Mist nets are usually put up a day before the actual ringing, since a typical passerine ringing session in the Park starts at 6am! The nets are then rolled up or "closed" so that no birds get trapped before we are ready.

Understanding the habits of the birds help to increase yield.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/603.jpg
Preparation for the catch

The first catch of the day is supposedly the largest as our subjects are on their way out for their first meal when dawn breaks. Therefore it is necessary to open the nets before first light. Half asleep, we will make our way to the site to open the nets. By the first net check, we are usually wide-awake and eager to ring the early birds.

For wader ringing, the ringing site is usually one of our brackish water ponds. Nets are set up before dusk on the day itself. When night falls we plod into the ponds to open the nets with headlights and torches to guide us. Wader ringing means having to wallow in the mud since the nets are set on the mudflats. Sinking in up to the thigh, smelly and filthy fellows we become as we slosh in the mud each time we go for a net check! The catch for waders peaks at high tide when more waders fly in to mudflats to roost.

However, when the weather is bad and it starts to rain, you can see us scrambling to close nets immediately! The safety of our feathered friends must never be compromised.

A net round (or net check) is conducted every 30 to 45 minutes to check for birds caught in the net. Captured birds are retrieved and brought back to the 'ringing stations' where measurements such as wing length, moult, tarsus diameter, weight, age, sex are recorded. A ring is also placed around the bird. Each captured bird therefore carries a unique identification ringing number that serves to provide more information if it is recaptured. Ringed birds provide a host of data used for research, such as behaviour, migration patterns and longevity.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/111.jpg
Obtaining vital statistics

 

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/604.jpg
The ringing team

The ringed bird is then released. Great care is taken when handling birds to avoid any injuries. This process of net-checking, retrieving, recording data and release continues until evening before the sun sets for passerine ringing and the before day breaks for wader ringing when the nets are closed and kept. It is another fulfilling day of work before the next ringing session comes along.

 

 


Sungei Buloh Nature Park

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Vol 6 No 3
Dec 99


Common Tailorbird


Lesser Known Predators
of Sungei Buloh

Butterfly Monitoring and Introduction
at Sungei Buloh

Why we should NOT feed the monkeys

Bird Ringing
at Sungei Buloh

Sluice Gate Management

International Coastal Cleanup

Sep 99

Care for Nature Family Hunt 99

 

Sluice Gate Management

"Power Rangers" Patricia Phua
and
Stephen Chua
explain the ins and outs of
the Park's sluice gate management

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/605.jpgWhat is sluice gate management?
A question any curious visitor would pose to understand this operation.

The practice of sluice gate management in the Park is a concept rather different from the one adopted by the traditional prawn or fish farmer. Farmers stock their ponds and practice water exchanges to drain waste and let in nutrient-rich water regularly. Before harvesting, a complete draining of the pond is required to attain the yield.

At the Park, apart from one prawn pond that we use for demonstration purposes, we regulate some ponds for migratory birds as the mudflat is a feeding and roosting ground for them. (For more about Prawn Pond demonstrations)

During high tide, there will be less exposed coastal areas for the birds to feed and roost around Singapore. At the Park, we have twelve sluice gates placed at strategic points of each pond and facing the sea. Tide movements into some of these ponds are regulated. When the tide is high, at least one of three ponds in the Park will have low water level so that birds can feed and roost on the exposed mudfiats. As these ponds cannot be left unattended for a long period, there is a strict schedule to follow to allow both the organic nutrients and crustaceans (crabs, prawns and allies), different species of fishes and molluscs (snails, slugs, mussels and clams) to procreate within the ponds. Sluice gate gate management ensures a flux of vibrant oxygenated water teeming with rich minerals to rejuvenate the ponds.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/606.jpgThis is the time Buloh Nature Park can present to Park visitors exciting moments of viewing migratory birds by the thousands in shallow ponds. The scenario is like that of many customers enjoying their meals in a crowded seafood restaurant.

In this sluice gate operation, the method practised here is of a conventional type and is carried out regularly at the Park. A pulley system called "Chain Block" is used in this operation. The number of sluice gates stationed at each pond depends mostly on the size of the pond. It can vary from a minimum of one gate to four or more gates.

The timing to work on the sluice gate has to be right in relation to tide movements. As we know, time and tide wait for no man. When the timing is right, the job is smooth going, even though it is heavy. But when the timing is out, this is the toughest job of the day.

 

 


Sungei Buloh Nature Park

 

 

 

 

 


 

Vol 6 No 3
Dec 99


Common Tailorbird


Lesser Known Predators
of Sungei Buloh

Butterfly Monitoring and Introduction
at Sungei Buloh

Why we should NOT feed the monkeys

Bird Ringing
at Sungei Buloh

Sluice Gate Management

International Coastal Cleanup

Sep 99

Care for Nature Family Hunt 99

 

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/616.jpgAn international issue.
One solution.

Linda Goh
reports on
Singapore's 3rd Mangrove Cleanup effort


International
Coastal Cleanup



The Call
Date: 20 September

"A clean environment is the responsibility of not only the Government and organisation, but individuals too", said Rear Adm Teo Chee Hean (The Straits Times, 20 Sep 1996, International Coastal Cleanup).

The Close Look
Date: 4 September 1999
Time: 9am

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/comma2.jpgI hear and
I forget

I see and
I remember

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/comma.jpgI do and
I understand

A recce team of 10 students specially selected from St Andrew's and Temasek Junior College were briefed to identify and mark out the mangrove area for the cleanup operation two weeks before the event. After a long hard search, they settled for an area on the edge of the Park where they marked out four 10m by 10m quadrants. Another plot had to be chosen to accommodate more requests of participation. This plot lies just outside the Park.

Time: 3pm to 4pm
To raise public awareness with regards to the purpose of this exercise, a talk was organised by the Park to furnish visitors with an insightful dose of "International Coastal Cleanup" in Singapore. Ms Kate Thome (Pioneer of this programme and from the Singapore American School) delivered a powerful message that left us with a compelling urge to do our bit for the environment.

The Experience
Date: 18 September 1999
103 students from St Andrew's Junior College, Temasek Junior College, Commonwealth Secondary School and Singapore American School answered the call to challenge and plunged themselves into the cause. As they trudged through the mud for a first hand experience at the removal of waterborne rubbish in a mangrove environment, they came to understand that trash thrown in our waterways will ultimately end up on beaches, shorelines and mangrove strand line. After three hours of toiling the land, different categories of rubbish were collected for proper disposal.

The International Coastal Cleanup, an initiative of Centre for Marine Conservation started in the United States in 1988. This international event involves over 60 countries worldwide in a data collecting and trash clearing exercise to answer the question, "what is on the world's beaches?". It is, however, not just about ridding the sea of trash, which is so harmful to the creatures of the sea. It is also about bringing people together for a common cause. It is about community involvement, co-operation and partnership.

Information collected from all the different sites was sent to the Centre for Marine Conservation in USA.

Through this activity at Sungei Buloh, the 103 students came to understand that they too can do their part for the environment.

 

 


Sungei Buloh Nature Park

 

 

 

 

 


 

Vol 6 No 3
Dec 99


Common Tailorbird


Lesser Known Predators
of Sungei Buloh

Butterfly Monitoring and Introduction
at Sungei Buloh

Why we should NOT feed the monkeys

Bird Ringing
at Sungei Buloh

Sluice Gate Management

International Coastal Cleanup

Sep 99

Care for Nature Family Hunt 99

 

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/617.jpgChan Su Hooi gives an account of
a recent hunting session at the Park


Care for Nature
Family Hunt 1999


"On your mark, get set, go!" Almost 1,000 families gathered at Sungei Buloh Nature Park over 2 Saturdays and Sundays of July (17, 18, 24 and 25 July 1999) to compete in a Family Nature Hunt, an event jointly organised by the Singapore Press Holdings, and the HSBC. Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, Senior Parliamentary Secretary of MND, set the participants in motion with the launch of the event.

The teams comprising 2 adults and 2 children, were required to go around Routes 1 and 2 of the Park to look for the clues and answers related to nature in three hours. They were also required to participate in some activities and games at various educational activity stations to score more points. The questions and answers were designed such that participants will get a better understanding and appreciation of the wildlife in the Park.

The clues, answers and bonus points were all very well-camouflaged which made the hunt even more challenging. "Informers" were planted around the registration booth to brief participants on the game procedures before the start of the game while "Genies" roamed the Park to guide the lost ones. There were teams, which were amazingly 'on' and tough. They were able to finish all the questions and at the same time answered most of the answers correctly! It was a challenge for the participants while they got acquainted with nature.

The Family Nature Hunt closed with a Prize Presentation Ceremony held at Burkill Hall of the Singapore Botanic Gardens on the 1 August 99. Happy faces were all around as those who came were all winners! The Family Nature Hunt aims to provide a meaningful day out for families and allow each and every one to walk into nature and discover the beauty and mystery of Mother Nature. Judging from the happy and satisfied faces of each participant at the end of the day, we knew that we had succeeded.

https://www.sbwr.org.sg/wetlands/photos/618.jpg
The winners!

 

 


Sungei Buloh Nature Park