Saturday, May 12, 2012

Breakfast with Wild Boar and Sunshine on the Shores

It was a really hot and sunny morning. But that didn't deter many people, who made it for our guided walk out on the Chek Jawa boardwalk. Today, we had a big group from Temasek Polytechnic, here to gain some insight into the possible impact of tourism on the environment, as well as several families and other groups who had signed up for this tour.

After we had boarded the taxi, the driver stopped in front of the temple in Ubin town to pick up a box of huat kueh (prosperity cake). When we arrived at Chek Jawa, the driver tapped his horn a couple of times and the resident family of wild boar came trotting out of the forest, expecting food.

Breakfast is served!

There's the big sow (who probably needs a name), two juveniles from her previous litter, and the newest batch of striped piglets! Last month, we counted seven piglets, but there were only five today.

It's nice that everyone has the chance to see the wild boar, but we hope people remember that these are wild animals, and refrain from getting too close. Also, apart from the occasional snack from the residents on Ubin, the wild boar already get plenty of food from the forest. This page has plenty of information on why it's not a good idea to feed the monkeys that we see in our parks, and much of the information also applies to wild boar.

Another iconic animal of Chek Jawa is also raising a family. A pair of Oriental pied hornbill use the nest box along the trail on quite a regular basis, and although it was still occupied during last month's walk, the seal of mud had been broken and the box appeared to be empty today, which suggests that the chicks have already fledged. Some of us heard the hornbills, although we didn't manage to get a close look.

Pei Yan's group were able to get a glimpse of the hornbills in a tree, although the view was obstructed by the vegetation.

The tide is out, which means that we get to see lots of marine life that is normally submerged. The visitors had fun trying to spot creatures such as elbow crabs, some small fishes, noble volutes, and carpet anemones right along the

(Photo from a previous walk)

My group managed to see tracks left by animals in the sand and mud. There were 2 sets of tracks made by birds, probably herons, as well as the characteristic prints left by a monitor lizard as it searched for food. Further up, we saw wild boar tracks. I also mentioned how we sometimes see otters on the shore, and they leave prints on the shore too!

(Otter prints on Chek Jawa, seen in July 2011)

Pei Yan's group managed to see this Malayan water monitor.

There were also guided walks taking place on the shore itself, conducted out by NParks volunteers. This is a good time for us to explain why there is a need for a boardwalk, so as to minimise trampling by visitors. We want to make sure that people can admire and appreciate Chek Jawa without killing it!

Also, due to upgrading works on the floating pontoon, NParks has cancelled its guided walks from July to December 2011. However, visitors can still take a stroll on the boardwalk, whether on their own or with the Naked Hermit Crabs. Or they can join Team Seagrass and help to monitor how well the seagrasses are growing. Chek Jawa is just one of several places that Team Seagrass visits on a regular basis.

(Photos from a previous walk)
The mudskippers and fiddler crabs were very active, and we also saw a big fat worm that was trying to burrow into the mud.

A group of visitors watches the antics of the fiddler crab army below them.

Grey heron in the seagrass lagoon
(Photo from previous walk)

We saw a number of birds like the grey heron, great-billed heron, and a black-naped tern that flew right past us. It's World Migratory Bird Day, and while most of the waders and shorebirds that visit Chek Jawa have already departed for their nesting grounds further north, they will return later in the year. Those who visited Sungei Buloh today were certainly in for a treat, with all the activities lined up to commemorate this day. I can't wait to learn more from those who were there!

Some of the nipah palms are flowering! We always love to tell the visitors about the many uses of the nipah palm, especially the fact that this is where the attap-chee in our ice kachang comes from.

The view from the Jejawi Tower is always spectacular.

A group of visitors is all smiles after climbing all the way to the top of Jejawi Tower.

Our walks always end with a short activity for our visitors, who draw or write about their experience after a session with the guides. Whether it's by showing some of the animals, plants, or landscapes we saw, or through expressing their appreciation for these wild places, it's always interesting to see what they have to say.

Here are some of our guestbook entries from today:

Big thanks go out to our guides Pei Yan (who also wrote about today's walk at her blog), Ivan, and Sankar, as well as to all the visitors who made it today. Our next walk on Chek Jawa will be on the 16th of June. We'll also be guiding at Pasir Ris mangroves on 2nd and 30th June. Hope to see you on the shores!

In the meantime, do consider joining us at the Festival of Biodiversity on 26th and 27th June, where we'll be involved in the Singapore Marine Biodiversity exhibition!

(Photos by Ivan and Pei Yan)

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