Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Upcoming: Fun with Kampong Games (NSS members only)

Date: 28 November 2009 (Saturday)
at the NSS Get-Together held at the same venue
Time: 4.30pm to 6 pm.
Venue: MOE Dairy Farm Adventure Center
Cost: Free-of-Charge, for kids of NSS members only
Sign Up: Please email Gloria at gloria_seowATyahoo.com

Calling all kids 4 to 12 years old. Join Gloria and Tim of the NSS Education Group in Fun with Kampong Games, in a repeat of last year's kids' activities at the NSS Get-Together. Shoot marbles, dabble in ‘five stones’ and enjoy team games such as ‘Eagle catches the Chicks’, ‘One-Leg’ and ‘Le-long’. Register with Gloria at gloria_seowATyahoo.com stating your kids’ names and ages.

Upcoming: “Last Kampong of Singapore” Adventure

Suitable for children 4 to 12 years old
Date: 29 November 2009 (Sunday)
Time: 8.30 am to 10.30am.
Cost: A fee of $5 per child (NSS member) or $10 per child (non-member) will be collected on the spot.
Sign Up: Pls email

Travel back in time with Benjamin Ho of The Nature Ramblers when we visit the last surviving village in mainland Singapore at Kampong Lorong Buangkok. Even though it is only a stone’s throw from buzzing Hougang HDB estate, the idyllic calls of bulbuls, cicadas and kingfishers fill the air, while the smells of fresh kampong produce like ginger, lemongrass and pandan pervade. Experience what it is like living in a rustic wooden hut with zinc roof, surrounded by banana, chiku and rambutan trees with a river right at your doorstep. Time: 8.30 am to 10.30am. Please register your kids (4 to 12 years old) with Gloria at
gloria_seowATyahoo.com, stating their names and ages, if you are a NSS member or not, your mobile number, and if you need us to provide binoculars or not. A fee of $5 per child (member) or $10 per child (non-member) will be collected on the spot. Parents are encouraged to come along at no charge. Details will be emailed to those who sign up.

NSS Kids’ Fun at Kranji Marsh

By Gloria Seow, Education Group Chairperson
Nature Society (Singapore)

Briefing of the excited kids and their parents.

Kranji Marsh (Reservoir) is NSS newest conservation baby ever since we adopted it under the PUB’s ABC Waters Programme in 22 November 2008. Located at the end of Neo Tiew Lane 2, this waterbody became the ecological adventure grounds for a merry band of NSS kids and their family on 19 September 2009.

Auntie Gloria exhorted everybody to stay on the main path, so as to minimise unpleasant encounters with Black Spitting Cobras and reduce the chance of brushing against hornet’s and bee’s nests, which typically hang low on trees and shrubs. Right away, one of the kids shrieked in terror as he spied a buzzing bee on another child’s clothes. Auntie Gloria had to inject some calm by telling the surrounding kids not to panic, and to leave the bee alone as it would likely fly away on its own. The last thing to do is to smash a bee or hornet as the crushed insect would release powerful distress pheromones (chemical) that would incite other nearby stingers to attack with fearless tenacity. Another kid suggested that we fumigate the place to get rid of such nests, but we explained that hornets and bees have a place in the ecosystem and a right to live, just like us.

Uncle Anuj points out the spongy roots of the Water Banana.
Uncle Morten and Uncle Timothy then scoped a small flock of Long-tailed Parakeets with shimmering green feathers and rosy cheeks for the kids. Next, we proceeded to the pond, which was in the process of being cleared of its excessive vegetation to create an open water area conducive to fowl like the Lesser and Wandering Whistling Ducks. Uncle Anuj, our guide for Kranji Marsh, introduced the Apple Snail and its pink eggs, and pointed out floating marsh plants like the Kang Kong (Water convolvulus) vegetable. Such plants have body parts adapted to floatation, mainly by trapping air. For example, the Kang Kong has a hollow stem, the Water Banana has spongy banana-shaped roots, while the Water Hyacinth has bulbous air-trapping stems.
Uncle Anuj revealed that these marshy plants are part of PUB’s water treatment process as their roots naturally absorb heavy metal pollutants such as lead, zinc, manganese and copper in concentrations 10,000 times that of the surrounding waters. PUB regularly clears away old vegetation. If they are allowed to die in situ, the poison absorbed would be released back into the waters.
The pink eggs of the Apple Snail are commonly found stuck onto plants.

A poor injured eel provided lots of excitement.
At the far end of the pond, somebody spotted what looked like a black snake, only that it had smooth skin with no scales, and its body was half submerged in water. Auntie Gloria and Uncle Timothy identified it as an eel, and we realised that part of its head was missing, as if chomped upon by a big snakehead, or cut off by a rotor blade. The eel, with pink raw flesh showing and one eye missing, occasionally wriggled its body and opened its voluminous mouth to gulp air. Some were repelled by this grotesque sight. Others were thrilled to see a freshwater eel, many for the first time.

A boy looking through the scope to see upclose the shimmery green feathers of the native Long-tailed Parakeet.

Scenic walk along the Kranji Bund where we saw plenty of fishing White-winged and Little Terns.

Our group then walked along the scenic Kranji Bund, which is off limits to the general public. Over here, we saw plenty of fishing Little and White-winged Terns, Pacific Swallows, as well as an Intermediate Egret. Many were spooked by the ‘Caution: Crocodile Spotted’ sign at the start of the Bund, which also triggered a whole spate of imaginary crocodile sightings by the very imaginative kids. The darkening skies drove us back to our cars, just in time to avoid being drenched by the late morning showers.

This sign triggered a whole spate of imaginary crocodile sightings.