Friday, December 31, 2010

Good Bye Mandai Orchid Garden

By the time you read this post, the owner of the Mandai Orchid Garden (MOG) has already handed over the plot of land to the authority and marked the end of MOG's 59-year history operating on this 10-acre site at Mandai.

MOG was always an exciting place for nature-lovers, birders and photographers - simply because it has a rich variety of floral and fauna species. Last Thursday (23 Dec) was my final visit to MOG, hoping to capture and record some of the fauna and flora species in photos.

Just like many well-known gardens in the world, water bodies such as pond provides an important habitat for both terrestrial and aquatic life . This attractive aquatic plant with white flowers (Echinodorus palaefolius Family : Alismataceae) could be found there.
The flowers of another aquatic plant Water Canna (Thalia geniculata ) always attracted bees and wasps.
At MOG, the aquatic habitats also provide breeding grounds for quite a few species of dragonflies. Darting or hovering dragonflies were a common sight around the ponds. Of course, beautiful perching dragonflies like this Lathrecista asiatica presented good opportunities for many die-hard photographers chasing their perfect shots.
Another handsome dragonfly with a powdery blue thorax looks like a male Brachydiplax chalybea which tends to rest with its wings stretching out horizontally.
How can you give this attractive all-pink dragonfly Trithemis aurora a miss ? It never failed to entice photographers to take a few shots whenever possible.
An elegant but usually a very skittish dragonfly, Rhyothemis phyllis showed its habit of hovering before perching on the tip of a dry flower head
Besides dragonflies, there were many other fauna varieties. A late instar caterpillar of the Common Evening Brown butterfly (Melanitis leda leda) was found on a grass blade.
The metallic blue uppersides of these two different individuals suggested that they are likely to be The Metallic Caerulean (Jamides alecto ageladas) - MOG is their breeding ground, I hope the fate of this species should be a concern to the relevant authority.
The larval host plant of this particular Jamides species is the Torch Ginger (Nicolaia elator) which was quite abundant there. A detailed write-up of its life history can be found here.
I always had a sense of acheivement whenever I shot a Psyche (Leptosia nina malayana) feeding on nectar. I shot it from a long distance near the MOG entrance.
The bamboo clumps, open grassy area and banana trees at MOG provide many species of skippers their preferred habitats. This is a huge red-eyed Banana Skipper (Erionota thrax thrax) found in a shade created by a few big banana trees growing on both sides of some stairs.
Of course, we could always find orange skippers here - I believe there were a few different species at MOG.
Yes, we would not forget the brown skippers as well.
We could also find quite a few other common butterflies such as Cycad Blue (Chilades pandava pandava).
A very cute and shy red grasshopper nymph hiding behind a grass blade tried peeping at me.
It was a pity that I could not find many other critters during my 3-hour of roaming around at MOG. I felt that the "cross" sign shown by this St. Andrew's Cross Spider did send us a message - lets hope that some existing floral species at MOG can be preserved and incorporated into the future nature-themed development, a big NO to a complete destruction of all the current habitats at MOG.
It was reported that the orchid garden will be re-located to Neo Tew area - but the new place as far as I know will be less open and it will not be the same as the past MOG - so its past charm and the rich biodiversity may be gone forever.

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