Monday, 14 May 2012

KTPH from 6 to 16

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH)

I visited Yishun pond a few times in 2007 and recorded a total of 6 dragonfly species there. You can easily see why the pond was rather lifeless if you look at the Google Earth image (right) captured in 2007. The edge of the pond was just bare grass, which was, of course (in Singapore), frequently and noisily trimmed. Besides, a lot of litter was seen in and around the pond.

Last December (2011), I visited the pond again. On the south side of the pond is now a hospital - Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), opened in 2010. It can be seen that the designers of the hospital had attempted to integrate Yishun Pond with the hospital's garden courtyard which is situated between the two main hospital blocks. The garden courtyard has two ponds and plenty of plants, which provide shelter and habitats for a variety of creatures - butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, bees .... These and other green features have made it possible for many of the wards in the hospital to be naturally ventilated, saving a lot on electricity consumption and therefore carbon dioxide emission.
Yishun Pond in front of KTPH.

One of the small ponds in the garden courtyard.

The same pond, seen from above, is almost hidden under the lush vegetation.

 An effort to educate visitors.

KTPH does not only heal its patients. It is also healing the natural environment of Yishan Pond.

I visited KTHP two days ago, on 12 May 2012. This is my fourth visit since Dec 2011. I was pleasantly surprised to see, for the first time there, a Banded Skimmer (Pseudothemis jorina) flying along the East edge of Yishun Pond. Banded Skimmer is an uncommon species in Singapore. I was also happy to see Common Chaser (Potamarcha congener) on the North side of the pond. This makes the total number of species recorded in and around KTPH go up to 16 in half a year.

Potamarcha congener (Common Chaser) seen on the North side of Yishun Pond

This is the list of dragonflies and damselfies recorded at KTPH and Yishun Pond since Dec 2011:

Acisoma panorpoides (Trumpet Tail)
Agrionoptera insignis (Grenadier)
Crocothemis servilia (Common Scarlet)
Trithemis aurora (Crimson Dropwing)
Diplacodes trivialis (Blue Percher)
Neurothemis fluctuans (Common Parasol)
Orthetrum sabina (Variegated Green Skimmer)
Pantala flavescens (Wandering Glider)
Rhyothemis Phyllis (Yellow-Barred Flutterer)
Tholymis tillarga (White-barred Duskhawk)
Pseudothemis jorina (Banded Skimmer)
Potamarcha congener (Common Chaser)

Agriocnemis femina (Variable wisp)
Ceriagrion cerinorubellum (Ornate Coraltail)
Ischnura senegalensis (Common Bluetail)
Pseudagrion microcephalum (Blue Sprite)

Google Earth has not updated the image of Yishun pond yet. I believe the new Google Earth image of Yishun Pond will look quite different from the one in 2007.

Here is a video that I shot of some of the creatures I have seen in KTPH and Yishun Pond:

Monday, 7 May 2012

A pond teeming with dragonflies

My very first post in this blog was titled "Bright side of Bishan Park", where I included a video showing some birds and dragonflies, and people enjoying the park.

Well, when there is a bright side of the park, there is a dark side. I may talk about the dark side in the future.

As far as dragonfly diversity is concerned, the stream in Bishan Park is a disappointment. On the average, I can see only a few common species when I visit there.

There are ponds around Singapore which are teeming with dragonflies. The one I often visit is a small, humble pond, surrounded by a variety of vegetation, and forest of big trees are nearby. On a good sunny day, the pond is teeming with a variety of species, and lots of activities: territorial fight, courting, mating and ovipositing, just as what this video depicts.
Please watch this video at 1080p (HD)
Can you see Hydrobasileus croceus ovipositing with contact guarding? As far as I know, in Singapore, H. croceus is the only libellulid which exhibits contact guarding in flight.

I can say that this pond is a healthy habitat for many aquatic creatures. Even though there are stagnant water bodies around, I have never got mosquito bites there.

The very, very rare dragonfly, Lesser Nighthawker (Heliaeschna uninervulata) has been seen here a few times.

Well, the pond is not within a nature reserve. It is in no way protected. That this pond is such a healthy habitat, besides the vegetation and trees around, is probably due to very little human disturbance. So, there are no litter thrown into the pond, no human beings getting into the pond, no fishing, no animal release, no destruction of vegetation ... I am probably the only human being visiting the pond regularly, and my disturbance to the pond is very minimal. I take only photographs (not creatures away from their habitat), I kill only time (not wildlife), and I leave behind only good memories (not litter).

But I have worries. I have seen nice habitats destroyed for good, in the name of development. I have seen the destruction of Tuas marshland destroyed, to make way for a motocross race course. Thus, the only habitat for the critically endangered species, Mortonagrion falcatum, is gone, and the species have never been seen anywhere in Singapore again. I have also seen the destruction of the dragonfly haven in Marina East.

I understand that there should be a balance between urban development and nature. But we humans tend to skew the balance too much to our greediness.