Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kent Ridge with my sisters (12jan08)

Hohoho! Never have I thought I would include my sisters into my project. My younger sister is too bratty and my older sister is too grouchy. I don't think they will read my blog so never mind!

A little introduction to my older sister Maria would be a previous supervisor in Far East Flora, so she would know the names of ornamental plants well. My younger sister on the other hand is a student in Singapore Polytechnic undergoing a diploma course in Landscape Architect and she likes to go around putting names to plants and trees around Singapore, which actually irritates the hell out of me, previously.

We went up Kent Ridge Forest Area via the stairs at S2 and walked around with a lookout for different plant species. Acacia would be an indication of lousy soil type as it is a species commonly found along beaches, with distinct abscissed crescent-shaped leaves that are not degraded normally. Adinandra dumosa, more commonly known as tuip tuip would dominate the forest area, with other prominent plants like figs, simpoh air, fish tail palm, tembusu and sea apple.

There were two plots that are predominated by Acacia, behind Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI), and the stretch behind National University Hospital (NUH) and the Brenner Centre. Obviously these plots are quite bare, with little or no fruit-bearing trees, other than the Simpoh air shrubs and small fig trees lining Kent Ridge Road. My suspicions are that these are planted. They look right out of place flanking the roads like that!

The fragments of forest area are mostly slopes that are quite steep which will pose problems during the survey, as I feel that it would be difficult to get insects or mammals on a slope. Well, I think Audrey and Dexiang would hope that I will be proven wrong. Till then.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The first trip up Kent Ridge (11jan08)

I was the bad girl who does not check her NUS webmail frequently enough. I did not appear for the first walk up Kent Ridge on Thursday . It sucked big time. I have no idea what happened and I wondered to the best of my ability what precious guidance Mr Siva gave to the rest.

I called Angela at almost 10 and begged her to go up the hill with me on Friday. I told her it was the 3.2km route + the 5km route. I quoted 2 hours of her time and said we're meeting early at like 8am. She said yes. Thank God for loyal friends! We met in our C0Curriculum Activities (Dragonboat) and we run these 2 routes quite often. I thought the sound of it would put her off. I might, if she asked me. Ewww. The 3.2km route is alright on foot but the 5km route is the one up Vigilante Drive! The map doesn't speak the steepness at all, neither does this photo.
Kent Ridge 008
Try sprinting up it. Don't if you have a weak knee.

Like on Kent Ridge Campus Forest Area, the forest area on Kent Ridge Park are slopes of varying steepness. That probably means nutrients run offs and thus a Adinandra belukar forest, where tuip tuip dominates on highly acidic and nutrient poor soils. A belukar is a low secondary forest on its was to recovery. Given enough time and space, succession may take place and eventually a primary forest will be formed.

My take is that it will never happen on Kent Ridge. Call me a pessimist but such a small area and including the fact that the plot of forest being so highly fragmented, it will be impossible to return Kent Ridge to its former glory of lush green.

I took my time to familiarize myself with the surroundings, explored the routes on the map I photocopied from the street directory (Mighty Minds). From S2, we walked down Kent Ridge Rd, turned into South Buona Vista Rd up the treacherous Vigilante Dr and down Science Park Dr. Stockport Rd results in a dead end due to some MINDEF building as it says on the map of Kent Ridge Park, well after the PUB building.

kent ridge.cgi

I enjoyed myself. Until Angela pointed out two skinks sunbathing along the forest edge of Kent Ridge Park. I admit I almost jumped out of my skin. I have never seen a skink before and besides, I have a genuine fear for lizards. It looked like one, with scales. Scary. I tried to take a photo of the fatter one and it jumped. I followed its motion. I satisfied myself with the skinnier one and left almost immediately. Wonder if I will have problem catching other stuff; need to do something about my courage levels. :P

skink sunbathing

We did not walk down the whole Kent Ridge Park as it was getting real warm. At 9.45am. Talk about global warming. We saw a few more birds that I could not put names to and a kingfisher at the pond and came out via Normanton Park and Science Park Drive.

I was actually proud of myself. Then I had to call Mr Siva. I was told that they went up Kent Ridge to view vegetation to figure out which plots were better for sampling depending on what plants grew on it. For example, acacia, a tree with the crescent shaped leaves that don't seem to decompose on sandy beaches is a plant indicator of soils with high salinity---not a good plot for sampling.

I was devastated. Will come back again tomorrow.

A treasure find!

And then there was LIGHT!

I finally managed to get a piece of invaluable literature on the fauna of Kent Ridge. A thin, easily overlooked book on the shelves of Science Reference 6 in the Science Library titled, Kent Ridge Environs: A proposal for conserving nature at the National University of Singapore Campus (Briffett, C 1991).


Audrey and the rest should take a look at it. The best part comes in three pages worth of vertebrates (excluding fish) categorized into their faunal groups in the form of a checklist. I'm trying very hard to refrain using too many exclamation marks because of the excitement.

Mr Siva advised me about improving on the checklist. My thoughts are that it will shorten in length but who knows, I may well end up with a new discovery!

Actually, the bird checklist scares me. It is well over two pages. In addition, I am no ornithologist, other than the fact that I succeeded in getting the "I am a young ornithologist badge" in Primary 4. Its definitely not helping me with this.