Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cool day for nature trip to Chek Jawa Boardwalk

It has been raining like crazy for the last couple of days, and the weather threatened to spoil our Last Saturday nature walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk. But someone must have been praying, the weather turned out to be PERFECT for a trip to the great outdoors. And everyone was happy to be out enjoy the beautiful natural vistas.
One of the ladies in my group remarked that an outing like this beats shopping in Orchard Road on a Saturday afternoon. "Aye-aye" to that!

There were four of us guiding today, and we had about 45 visitors in total. Ivan and Ria took the Girls Brigade troop. There were more than 20 girls from the 74th Company. They were into their third day of a camping trip in Ubin, and some of the girls were struggling to keep their eyes open but we understand what it is like to be terribly short of (good) sleep.

Meanwhile, CH and LK took the family and friends groups. We were impressed with the enthusiasm of our visitors. They just loved spotting the animals and everyone was asking good questions. Like us, they were really fascinated with the fiddler crabs on the mudflats beneath the boardwalk. The tide at 3-4 pm today was at 1 metre which was PERFECT for viewing the shore animals from the boardwalk. There must have been thousands of fiddler crabs today.

All of the following animals were spotted by our visitors .... !!

This is a rather large specimen. We continue to spot many water monitor lizards in Chek Jawa, both the full grown adult ones as well as many juveniles. We're happy to see them as their presence show that the ecosystem in Chek Jawa is well-balanced with enough food to sustain these large reptiles.

Further in the inner mangroves, we spotted these unidentified little red-eyed fiddler crabs. There was another unidentified little mudskipper close-by too.

Talking about mudskippers, Ria's group also spotted the bearded mudskipper. We often ask our visitors to guess whether a mudskipper is an amphibian or a fish, and, not surprisingly, some people do think that mudskippers are amphibians. Well, they are actually fishes, just fishes that have developed special abilities to stay out of water. They have gill pouches that can carry water so that the gills remain moist for a while, and pectoral fins that are strong enough to 'walk' and 'skip' on the mud. Mudskippers are such an enigma of a fish!

Many of us spotted the schools of little fishes too. Coastal areas such as Chek Jawa are vital ecosystems that provide a safe environment for the young of fishes. It is important that we maintain the natural habitats along our shores so that young fishes have a chance to grow bigger and stronger before they venture further out into sea.

Hey, we also noticed that the flight path over Chek Jawa seemed to have switched direction today. Usually, we see planes preparing to land as they approach the airport above us. But today, the planes are taking off northwards. How interesting!

Here are a few photos of our visitors today ....
The Girl Brigaders.

CH's group looking really bright and cheery.

LK's group in all shades of colour.

And we bumped into Vyna (who is one of the Crabs too) who brought some of her friends to CJ today!

Back at the English Cottage, our visitors got busy with expressing their thoughts about Chek Jawa in our guestbook.

We heard the loud "ke-ke-ke" calls of the Oriental Pied Hornbills. There were at least 3 of them resting on the coconut trees on the southern shore of Chek Jawa. Ria managed to capture a photograph of the hornbill using her powerful camera.

After the 2-hour walk, we finally made our way back to Punai Hut where our taxi was waiting for us. Are we seeing a new "Priscilla the Wild Boar"? Shall we name her "Portia the New Wild Boar"? :-) This young female has been spotted several times near the hut. She is an intelligent animal. The villagers and taxi drivers have been feeding her and now she comes forward in anticipation to be fed each time. Still, do remember she is a wild animal, and we asked that our visitors refrain from feeding wild animals. When we feed a wild animal, we are, in reality, changing its natural behaviour. Some of these animals lose their desire to hunt, and they come in search of easy food. This is precisely why many of the long-tail macaques in our reservoirs have become pests in recent years.

Oops.... enough of preaching!
On our way back to Singapore island, we saw a huge storm brewing in the distance. That's the third storm in a 24-hour period!

The Crabs will be back for another walk in the last Saturday of November. Do write in to us to book your places. We run out rather quickly.

Thanks to Ria, Ivan, CH and LK for volunteering their precious time today!

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