Kudos to all the moms and dads who took the kids out to visit Chek Jawa with us on 9th July (Saturday). We had a great time, and hope you did too!
Excitement was in the air when we arrived at Chek Jawa in the morning. Someone had found durians from the nearby forest and was sharing them with the visitors. Yes, we are in the middle of durian madness in Pulau Ubin, and there are several durian trees planted by villagers in Chek Jawa a long time ago. Unfortunately the fruit that we had was rather tasteless, but we were assured that there are better ones to be bought from the Ubin town centre. Do visit soon if you want to taste home-grown durians. We probably have about 2 weeks left of the durian season.
Besides durians, it seems to be Wild Boar Day as well. Families of wild boars could be seen running in circles around Chek Jawa. We saw the pigs crossing the main path several times, and concluded that they must be running in circles! The piglets are adorable! Some of them seem to have grown bigger since we last saw them in May and June, and have already lost their 'watermelon' stripes. They seem relatively unafraid of people too. As always, we reminded our visitors to keep a distance from the wild boars.
On the boardwalk, we spotted lots of interesting animals. The kids in Ria's group were wonderful in spotting the best stuff.
There was a huge Giant Mudskipper by the side of the boardwalk in the mangrove area. It was guarding its burrow. The kids were amazed to see a mudskipper as big as a size-8 shoe.
The Vinegar Crabs could be seen on the mud mounds along in the mangroves.
For the first time in a long while, we finally had a sighting of a mud crab in the mangroves. This is the kind of crab that we eat in our famous Singapore chilli crab dish. For some of the visitors, it was interesting to observe this familiar crab in its natural environment.
At the front mangrove area (i.e. next to the inter-tidal zone), we were treated to a sighting of several jungle fowl foraging for food. There was an adult male with its flamboyant plumage, and two females staying close to him. The jungle fowl is the ancestor species of the domesticated chicken.
As it was low tide, the mudflats were exposed, and we were able to observe the mudskippers and fiddler crabs. In particular, there seemed to be a lot of porcelain fiddler crabs under the boardwalk. The males have brightly coloured claws while the females are a dull grey or brown shade. There were some male individuals that had nice blue markings on their shells too.
Further out on the sandbar, we saw two herons, likely to be Grey Herons. When the tide was coming in, we could see them turn and face the incoming tide. This is probably a more favourable direction in order to catch the fishes that come with the rising tide.
There was also a Monitor Lizard out on the mudflat. It must have gone fishing too, and was holding something in its jaws as it walked back to the mangroves. I cannot quite make out what it has caught. What kind of food do you think the lizard eats?
The mudflats are an important feeding ground for animals and birds. In this photo, you can see the two herons, monitor lizard and a Little Heron all within the same frame. I don't know how you feel about this, but I am certainly thrilled to be able to observe them at close range. What a treat!
At the end of the trip, the families gathered at the English Cottage. The kids did some drawings of the animals that they saw. The grown-ups expressed their thoughts about preserving Chek Jawa for our children. Here is a lovely photo of a father and son bonding over a drawing of the Giant Mudskipper.
Some of the thoughts expressed by our friends:
"Chek Jawa is a stunning getaway from the concrete jungle that we live in. It is hidden away but ready to reveal all its wonder to those who are willing to be curious and enthralled."
"Chek Jawa is absolutely gorgeous. It provides such an array of marine life that I never thought I would get to see here in Singapore. It is truly a treasure and it provides an escape from the busy life in Singapore. Great for pictures too!"
"What a beautiful world under the boardwalk. Chek Jawa is worth preserving so that generations after us may enjoy one of Nature's gifts."
Poetry for Chek Jawa!
Do join us at our monthly Chek Jawa Boardwalk trips. We run these walks on the second Saturday of the month. Pre-registration is required - firstname.lastname@example.org
We had about 40 visitors on this trip. Thanks go out to our volunteer guides - Ria, Chay Hoon and Ley Kun! Your efforts are much appreciated.
Read Ria's wildshores blog for a post of this trip.