A morning in the midst of a forest is really worth waking up early and all those bug bites you get along the way.
On Saturday morning, I went with Tanvi, once again, to MacRitchie forest. Although this time, it was through a different trail (Venus Drive), with a group of enthusiastic volunteers from Toddycats. We were training to be guides at MacRitchie for their Love MacRitchie walks. On this trip, I tried my very best not to take many pictures so as to listen and learn from the guides and hurriedly take down notes of the valuable information they were giving us about the forest.
Also, on a side note, we spotted a lot. Including some unexpected creatures that I’ve always wanted to see. (Trust me, you’ll want to read till this end of the blogpost.)
Fungus beetles, as their name suggests, feed on plant and fungal matter. Some species are also important pollinators of their host plant/fungi. This beetle, most probably the Red-banded Fungus beetle (Megalodacne fasciata) was busy feeding on this big patch of fungi.
On the topic of fungi, one of the experienced guides showed us these interesting looking fungi, quite appropriately named the Dead man’s fingers (Xylaria polymorpha):
A beautiful, common damselfly of the forest perching on the edge of a leaf- the Common Flashwing (Vestalis amethystina). This damsefly has a metallic, sleek green body with transparent wings that shine with a bluish purple iridescence. It was my first time seeing this magical damselfly.
MacRitchie is among one of the few places in Singapore that still has freshwater streams like this near the forest. This ecosystem is home various kinds of species from damselflies, dragonflies, fish, crabs and insects.
Pond skaters are types of true bugs (Hemiptera) that inhabit the surface of freshwater to feed on other creatures that are drowning or fall in the stream. Numerous of these Pond skaters, as they glided through the stream, cast a shadow of their long and slender legs.
As we walked past the midway point of the trail, Tanvi, who had been allotted to the other group walking in front of us mouthed to me as we neared them, “Colugo”. I literally could not believe my eyes when I came closer to see none other than the Malayan Flying Lemur (Cynocephalus variegatus).
Adorable, right? This male flying lemur, not closely related to the lemurs in Madagascar, can’t fly either. Instead, they can glide from tree to tree, almost always landing head up with precision.
To put things into perspective, I’ve been wanting to see this animal for 2 years, since my mother saw a female colugo in Bukit Timah Reserve with my sister and cousin.
It stayed in this position for several minutes as we went mad photographing and observing this nocturnal animal that is classified as “Vulnerable” due to habitat loss in South-east Asia.
Apparently, it ‘freezes’ on a tree trunk in hope not to get noticed, rarely blinking. Too bad, colugo. We see you all right. We see you very well 🙂
Still in shock and amazement upon seeing the Colugo, we reached the end of the walk. There was a little boardwalk near the stream on which we were walking, when there was suddenly a blur of commotion and shouts. There, right in front of me, slithering right across the path was a Malayan Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgata), a highly venomous snake that has venom glands stretching for about one-third the length of its body.
This snake has a dazzling electric blue body with a blood red tip at the tail and the head. We were lucky enough to see it swim for a few seconds through the water to get safely to the other side of the trail. All of us were amazed to say the least….it was very ‘snaky day’ as the group that Tanvi went along with had actually spotted a Black spitting cobra which we unfortunately missed!
Finally we saw two dragonflies having a face off! The obviously larger, red one won and got to sit by itself on the perch!
Apart from these awesome species, we also saw an Asian Brown flycatcher, four Greater-racket Tailed Drongos, a Black-bearded flying lizard, a Blue-tailed Bee-eater and a lot of miscellaneous insects including a striped shield bug that landed on my shirt for a second!
There is a proposed MRT (train) line through the MacRitchie forest which may potentially cause damage to the forest. We are doing these walks to raise awareness to the public about the nature and wildlife in this precious place so we can preserve it. Do sign up for a Love MacRitchie walk to have exciting encounters such as these and to learn about this treasure we have in the city! I’m really looking forward to guiding here and hopefully I will get more experienced as the walks continue! 🙂