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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Unfortunate Creatures------The World of Mudskippers and Fiddler Crabs

Mudskippers and Fiddler crabs usually go unnoticed on the mudflats unless they are in the mouth of the water/shore birds.

A few days ago, when I was waiting for the tide to come up, I spent sometime time watching these creatures and realized that the world of Mudskippers and Crabs was just as fascinating as that of any other animal.

The Fiddler crab is easily spotted by its bright colours and the huge claw.

But the mud usually provides a good disguise for it.

The feeding movement, in which the smaller claw picks up mud from the ground and brings it to the mouth, looks like the larger claw is being played like a fiddle, earning the name, Fiddler crab.

The Mudskipper, on the other hand, has a very well camouflaged skin colour.

However,  looking closely, you will find that its skin is actually covered with many pretty blueish  fluorescent spots.

When out of water, both creatures are very active, feeding and interacting with one another, and are often seen fighting for territory.

This Mudskipper is not happy about the presence of a Fiddler crab in its territory. First, it gives the crab a warning by raising its dorsal fins.

When the crab fails to get the message, the Mudskipper gets more aggressive and starts attacking!

This Mudskipper uses a different tactic to divert the crab’s attention from its territory, by playing dead!

When this tactic fails to work, the Mudskipper then shows its true colours.

 Most of the time, the crabs pay no attention to the Mudskippers’ intimidation but occasionally they move away and let the Mudskippers win.

 With big predators like egrets and herons to watch out for as well, the lives of these small creatures are just as stressful as ours.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Great Cormorants------Wintering birds are here too......

Every year thousands of Great Cormorants come to Hong Kong from the North to spend the warm winter here.

The majority of them take residence in Mai Po Nature Reserve where they fish in the mudflats.

Unlike the shorebirds, the Great Cormorants are excellent divers so they prefer to look for food in much deeper water.

Once they have finished their dinner, these Great Cormorants then fly to nearby trees to take a well deserved break while digesting food.