There’s no better feeling then waking up at 6:00 am in the morning for another adventure. Bags packed, camera around my neck and ready to go, I suddenly realised that I’m really going EXPLORING. Without my parents, but with 2 fellow nature buddies, I run out of the door, forgetting my hat and sunscreen and all the things my mom told me to take.
This was last weekend, when I went with Tanvi of Save MacRitchie, and her friend Kira (who loves nature) to MacRitchie Nature reserve. The things we spotted were just amazing. I should have expected that from us three nature crazy young teenagers whose eyes are always open for the smallest movement!
Near the reservoir, the familiar sound of the Collared Kingfisher entered my ears. I immediately said “Kingfisher! There!” At first it looked like I was just pointing to a bunch of trees but they soon spotted the bird. It cocked its head at us to say “Hey! Look at me.”
We entered the forest through the MacRitchie fitness park.
One of the first things we spotted was this Slender squirrel. I was so embarrassed because I had no idea about this species. It happened to be one of the two common species in Singapore!
We came upon a tiny stream in the forest, not expecting anything. I stepped on a rock to look around for some dragonflies along with the others. Then, BAM! A massive spider. I stepped back and saw it was the Multi-Coloured St Andrew’s Cross Spider
After a few miles of walking in the forest, we reached an opening to the reservoir. Dragonflies, damselflies, here we come! There were so many species that I had never seen before or recognised. MacRitchie is known for its dragonflies and damselflies since there is thick primary forest, secondary forest as well as freshwater streams.
We spotted this blue damselfly, which looked like a Blue Sprite to us, but is actually a Crenulated Spreadwing (Lestes praemorsus decipiens). It is quite uncommon and occurs mainly in MacRitchie reservoir. (Thanks to Lena Chow of the Facebook group, Dragonflies of Singapore for identifying it!)
The Sapphire Flutterer is probably my favourite dragonfly. You can’t not like the magical wings of these creatures. It seems like they’ve been sprinkled with blue, glittery fairy dust! We saw a pair mating.
A rare dragonfly we saw was this Scarlet Adjuant. They occur in weedy ponds near forests and is often wary, often seen perching on an emergent twig in the centre of a pond. (In fact, that’s where it was when I took this picture!)
Ever seen a dragonfly with brown tips? Look at this Dark-tipped Forest Skimmer.
The common dragonflies we saw included the Common Parasol, Ornate Coraltail, Scarlet Basker and Yellow-barred Flutterer respectively:
Of course, we were distracted by other movements nearby the pond. There were 3 Cruiser males puddling on the ground near some flies and one of them opened their wings perfectly. I don’t think I’ve ever photographed a butterfly with wings open so well!
A big bush of Straits Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) near the water was attracting a lot of butterflies and birds. I got a eye-view of the butterfly on camera!
Something that has always been on my wish-list is seeing both species of flowerpeckers close-up and of course, catching a glimpse of our un-official National bird, the Crimson Sunbird. Both of my wishes were fulfilled! On the same day, same place.
An Orange-bellied flowerpecker came out curiously to peer at us and feed on the delicious berries of the Rhododendron:
Minutes later, after Tanvi, Kira and I were obsessing over our lucky find, I spotted the Scarlet-backed flowerpecker in the nearby trees slowly approach the same berries. Our cameras were clicking at each and every movement the bird made. Unlike the Orange-bellied one, this flowerpecker came really close to us!
All of us were overjoyed with our finding and our pictures of the two flowerpeckers. I was thinking, this is enough for our visit, we’ve spotted enough! Little did I know, that on our way back through the forest, we would fulfil my next wish.
A little Crimson sunbird that Tanvi spotted was high up in the trees! I was full of excitement to see our un-official national bird.
It seemed that all the butterflies were coming out only on our return journey! First, we saw this beautiful Grey Sailor. While photographing the butterfly, we wondered, what if we saw a Common Lascar? And we did.
*(As mentioned in the comments, Jonathan Soong pointed out that the lascar is not the Common Lascar but is the Burmese Lascar)
“Yeoman! Yeoman!” Tanvi shouted as a butterfly whizzes past us. “What?” I’m thinking in my head. Suddenly I see a brown, yellow and orange striped butterfly. I quickly referred to my NSS butterfly guide to see that it was the Banded Yeoman, a rare butterfly that looks like a Rustic in flight. It was too impatient and rarely stopped. When it did, I only JUST managed to focus, and take this picture (Of course I had to edit the picture because it was way too overexposed)!
We also spotted this Centaur Oak Blue:
Since we had already spent a lot of time in the trail, we had to rush back to the main entrance. All the wonderful creatures just had to appear in front of us when we tried to hurry! 🙂 This huge Golden orb-web spider looked majestic and content with the huge meal it had caught!
A small slithery movement in the bushes, and I sensed that it was that of a skink. This Common Sun Skink seemed particularly curious about us.
That came to the end of the forest trail. As we were exiting, we saw a lady bend down, touching something. On looking closer, we saw an injured Blue Jay with broken wings. Kira placed it on a leaf and put it safely out of the trail. It was probably stepped on my someone or a bird tried to eat it. Hopefully it heals and flies like the wind once again!
I hope you enjoyed the walk with us! Do visit MacRitchie Nature Reserve early in the morning so you can spot a lot of wildlife. Take your kids, your camera and go exploring! You can share your pictures on Save MacRitchie or post them to the Mynatureexperiences facebook page.
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