Back in full force

29th August walk. Photo by Jacqueline Chua
29th August walk. Photo by Jacqueline Chua

We have launched our opening walks last weekend!

The greater racket-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus), spotted on the Petai Trail. Photo by Aw Jeanice
The greater racket-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus), spotted on the Petai Trail. Photo by Aw Jeanice

Once again, the greater racket-tailed drongos (Dicrurus paradiseus)  never failed to make an appearance on our walks. Could be that they are exhilarated that we are named after them… Of course I’m kidding.

Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella). Photo by Emmanuel Goh
Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella). Photo by Emmanuel Goh

We had a surprise visit by a very photogenic green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella). This native lizard is so hard to find, because of possible competition from the widespread changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor), that is has mostly retired to the nature reserves and only a handful of parks. Learn more about invasive species and their impacts here.

To see more of the cool stuff we saw on our adventures such as the twin-barred tree snake (Chrysopelea pelias), check out (and follow) our flickr page.

Choo Rui Zhi sketching away. Photo by Aw Jeanice
Choo Rui Zhi sketching away. Photo by Aw Jeanice

On our trail this opening weekend is a fellow NUS student, Choo Rui Zhi, a talented sketch artist. He picked up this hobby during his travels, starting out with sketches of cityscapes. Keen to explore drawings of nature, he was diligently drawing plant forms during the trail. If you are interested in his work, you can visit his @messy_lines instagram account, which has amassed a lot of followers!

30th August walk. Photo by Jacqueline Chua
30th August walk. Photo by Jacqueline Chua

If you have missed us on our walks, follow us closely here and on our facebook page and you will be the first few to know our upcoming walks. Next up: 5th and 20th September walks are waiting for you to sign up!

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All trained up and ready to GUIDE

Photo by Jacqueline Chua

Our public walks are right around the corner, and we have been tirelessly retraining our volunteer teams over the past two weekends to provide higher quality guiding for all of you. A lot has changed along the Petai Trail, with new additions and some passings, so come with us to know even much more!

A delightful sight

Malayan Flying Lemur. Photo by Aw Jeanice

For the first time on the Petai Trail, we caught sight of the Malayan Flying Lemur (Galeopterus variegatus), which is a misnomer for not only is not a lemur, it also does not fly! The more accurate common name is the Sunda Colugo. The Sunda colugos are usually mottled grey in colour but color variants exists. The one we documented is a brown variant with reddish to orange brown fur. Feel free to share your photos with the BES Drongos if you have seen any colugos along the Petai Trail!

Follow that monkey, indeed

Geater Racket-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)
Greater Racket-tailed Drongos. Photo by Aw Jeanice

The namesake of our guiding group, the greater racket-tailed drongos (Dicrurus paradiseus), were sighted following a group of macaques around. When it comes to food, these extremely intelligent birds have a few tricks up their wings!If you are wondering why they do that, you can check out our previous post to learn more about these clever and sneaky creatures!

Eulogies to our glorious Asam tree

Photo by Aw Jeanice
The Great Asam tree, now dead. Photo by Aw Jeanice

Over the course of the past few months, we have seen a rise in the number of trees that have succumbed to termites’ insatiable demand for wood. The magnificent Asam gelugur (Garcinia atroviridis) has its bark stripped off and branches bare, although it still looks undeniably beautiful. We here at Drongos are going to miss telling how the ripe fruits of this tree, ‘Asam Keping’, are used in making our yummy curries. Both the massive Chestnut tree (Castanopsis schefferiana) and the endemic bat laurel (Prunus polystachya) tree were also severely damaged by the termites which come and go, leaving only wreckage and darkbrown trails of their poop!

Many people still do not know how to differentiate termites from ants, but we don’t blame them. They look remarkably similar and their size range is comparable to ants. However, termites are in fact more closely related to cockroaches (order Blattodea) than ants (order Formicidae)!

If you wish to know more about them, simply come on any of our trails. Don’t hover over the sign up link there (→) anymore – click it, you won’t regret it! Even our BES freshmen of class 2019 who joined us had fun! And when you see us on the Petai Trail and are interested to share with other people about our guided walks, feel free to ask us for a name card freshly printed for you!

Photo by Jacqueline Chua
BES Freshmen. Photo by Jacqueline Chua

Check out our flickr page for more photos taken by our photographers Jacqueline Chua, Emmanuel Goh, Teo Rui Xiang and myself, Aw Jeanice!

We’re back in business! [Public walks now OPEN]

Public walks Final (WordPress)
Design and photo by Aw Jeanice

The moment that you have been waiting for is finally here – you can now sign up for the new walks via Eventbrite! Our fun-loving team of volunteers are all geared up for this guiding season! We’ve been ‘camping’ at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve every weekend for the past few weeks, training our volunteer guides and making sure that the walks will be refreshing for all of you.

Take the chance to walk with us in the early morning and enjoy some fresh air. Be ready to break a little sweat and fulfill your weekly workout quota with a leisurely hike while learning interesting stories facts about the unique flora and fauna of the CCNR. The 2.5hour walk follows the Petai Trail boardwalk, which hugs the MacRitchie reservoir. For more information on the trail, click here.

Invite a friend, a colleague or your loved ones to join you on this exciting walk, we promise that the trail is suitable for all ages! Plus, it’s completely free of charge, so what are you waiting for? Sign up now, slots are filling up fast!

P.S. Trail sign-ups for October and November will be released at a later date.

Expanding our flock: Recruitment

Blog recruitment poster
Design by Melissa Wong, Photo by Jacqueline Chua

For the past year, our team of 31 volunteers have gone through training sessions to hone their guiding skills. The BES Drongos have successfully held 13 public trails, with 116 visitors coming on our walks!

With the fresh start of a new academic year, our seniors have graduated and now the time has come for us to expand our flock and train some more new fledglings to guide with BES Drongos.

Trail walk with MFA 7 Feb. Photo by BES Drongos

The BES Drongos are a group of nature lovers keen to passing our ever-burning passion on to the general public. We bring members of the public on guided trails in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve to educate them about the value of the ecosystems and residing biodiversity they host.

If you are:

From any cohort of BES

A nature lover

Keen to interact with the public

Passionate about conservation, environmental outreach and education

Interested in honing guiding skills (no prior experience needed)

Able to commit for training sessions (dates TBC)

Willing to guide on weekends for the trails

Not horrified by the idea of guiding about a dozen members of the public through the Petai Trail

Excited to see all sorts of vipers, beetles, birds and plants there are in CCNR (Check out this link of 50 animals you can see in CCNR)

… then we want YOU to join the Drongos!

Read up on our past posts to know what fun we had on our trainings and trails, or contact us at besdrongos@gmail.com if you have other enquiries this blog does not answer.

If you have made up your mind to be a fellow Drongo, simply sign up here! http://goo.gl/forms/tEucgBDHvo

Sign ups end by the 21st of August, so we really hope to hear from you before then.

50 creatures in CCNR for SG50!

50 amazing wildlife found in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Spot the odd one out! All adorable pixel animals by our resident artist Jacqueline Chua.
50 amazing wildlife found in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Spot the odd one out! All adorable pixel animals by our resident artist Jacqueline Chua; Collage design by Adeline Koh.

The BES Drongos are back! We are here to celebrate Singapore’s big fifty with the natural heritage of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) – you can find all 50 amazing wildlife (as pictured above) in our nation’s largest nature reserve! (See, Singapore got wildlife what.)

CCNR is known as the green lung of Singapore, occupying up to 2800 hectares of lush greenery – housing a magnificent diversity of flora and fauna right at the heart of the city-state. A mixture of young and mature secondary forests, as well as retaining a small patch of virgin primary forest near MacRitchie Reservoir, CCNR is home to fascinating creatures such as the Crimson Sunbird, the slow loris, the Sunda pangolin and even the critically endangered Raffles’ banded langur.

Can you imagine a better way to celebrate national day than spending it in CCNR, walking through the verdant forests and observing dazzling flora and fauna? I can’t.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next 50 days as we bring you more interesting facts and figures on each of the fifty species – right on our Facebook page!

Also, stay tuned for more updates on the next guiding season – we are currently gearing up for public walks soon, with new stations and more entertaining stories from our guides!