Saturday, May 22, 2010

World Biodiversity Day at Chek Jawa Boardwalk

It is World Biodiversity Day today, and many families joined us for this month's nature outing to Chek Jawa Boardwalk. What a great bunch of folks they are! For many of them, this is the first time they are exploring a nature area together with their families.

Although it takes a skip, hop and a jump to get to Chek Jawa, the Crabs are always happy to see parents making the extra effort to bring their kiddos to see a spot of nature. As usual, Chek Jawa does not disappoint.

Ria and Justin (from Ubin Explorer) led Mrs Tang's group while Ivan and LK led the other group. Although the rain came down in soft gentle drizzles, the families were not deterred at all. In particular, they were fascinated to see the thousands of fiddler crabs crawling all over the shore at low tide. The male fiddler crabs with their enigmatic enlarged claws were a hit with everyone.

Some of the animals that we saw were:

- the Great-billed Heron was seen wading through the shallow waters further out on the inter-tidal area. Although it was quite far away, we could see its large silhouette, and its graceful head swaying from side to side.

- the Grey Herons were also spotted on the sand bar. Inter-tidal areas are important feeding grounds for these large birds.

- The Oriental Pied Hornbills were teasing us with their loud calls. Finally, one of the groups managed to catch sight of a hornbill perched high on a mangrove tree at the outer mangrove area. We stopped to enjoy its presence for quite a long time. Of course, we saw the artificial nesting boxes and heard the stories of the successful nesting that recently took place there.

- because it was low tide, we saw lots of mudskippers (Gold-Spotted Mudskipper and the Bearded Mudskipper) on the shore as well as the giant ones (Giant Mudskipper) in the back mangroves. Some of the kids thought that the mudskipper is an amphibian. When told that it is indeed a fish, although quite a special fish, they were amazed by its gill pouch, protruding eyes and strong pectoral fins. A fish that walks on land! What a marvelous fish!

- the Collared Kingfisher made its presence felt too. We spotted it on the large dead tree (the Perepat tree)  in the seagrass lagoon, and on several other occasions in the mangroves. We taught the visitors how to recognise its call so that they can do some bird-watching in their own neighbourhood. The Collared Kingfisher has adapted well in urban areas, and is often sighted in our parks.

- from the boardwalk, we spotted a large Noble Volute on the seagrass lagoon.

- we saw a pair of garfishes with their long bodies and pointed jaws. Sometimes they are called needlefishes, but they are certainly not swordfishes.

At the back mangroves area, we saw a large troop of photographers pointing their huge cameras at the mangroves. These bird-watchers have come to shoot photographs of the rare Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. One of the kindly photographers showed the kids his photos. It is a small bird with blue feathers on its head, wings and body, and a bright orange chest. It is said that the pair of Mangrove Blue Flycatchers are nesting in Chek Jawa. We just hope the presence of so many people on the boardwalk these few weeks will not scare the birds into abandoning their nesting. Still, it is good to see that the Mangrove Blue has decided to make its presence felt in Chek Jawa.

We ended the walk with a drawing session for the kids and adults. We would like to thank our visitors for their encouraging words always.

Here is Ka Henn (age 8) posing with his drawing. He had added a few of his jokes on the drawing. He has a lovely sense of humour, and we just love it! One of the fathers remarked that it is important that our kids learn to identify our local animal species. "Aye Aye!", say the Crabs. We hope that SIngapore will always have kids who are keen to study about plants and animals, and when they grow up, they become intrepid biologists!

The Crabs would like to thank all our visitors for sharing a lovely day with us at Chek Jawa. We look forward to another trip in June on the 26th.

Thanks too to the guides - Ria, Ivan and LK - for sharing their time and knowledge.

On our way back to mainland Singapore, we stopped to see the preparations being made for the Tua Pek Kong celebrations at the Ubin town centre. According to Alan from NParks, the wayang shows will be from 27 May to 31 May, followed by 2 nights of "getai" on 1 and 2 June.

Read related blog posts:
- "World Biodiversity Day at Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs" by Ria Tan
- "World Biodiversity Day at Chek Jawa Boardwalk" by Justin See
- Free nature walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk every 4th Saturday
- Wayang and "getai" shows at Ubin between 27 May and 2 June.

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