So, here goes ..... We had about 35 visitors join us in November (10-Nov). They are mostly families and small groups of friends wanting to learn more about the mangroves in Chek Jawa.
We also had a group of 10 students from the School of Tourism Studies from Temasek Polytechnic join us. Their lecturer sent them to us with the request that we help to explain the biodiversity of plants and animals that still can be found in our natural places. We certainly hope we left some positive impression with them about natural places such as Chek Jawa. We wanted them to know that Singaporeans still care passionately about conservation issues despite the relentless development of our urban areas for economic growth.
The lovely Jejawi Tower at Chek Jawa offers a vantage view of Ubin, Tekong, and even the mouth of the Johor River. The Jejawi Tower is a great place to do a spot of bird-watching, especially when the Malayan banyan tree starts its fruiting season.
And do you know that you can see the control tower of Changi Airport from Jejawi Tower?
Our visitors enjoying the outing.
Back on the mangroves, we saw several mudskippers near Jejawi Tower. If you look closely, we can see the blue spots on the mudskipper. What's the common name of this mudskipper? Make a guess...... This is the Blue-Spotted Mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti) which is often found in the less salty waters of the back mangroves.
Further along the boardwalk, we spotted lots of the Tree-climbing Crabs. These crabs live in the mud mounds made by the mud lobsters. The crab has an interesting squarish shell. This particular individual has red claws, although we observe not all of the crabs have red claws.
The nipah palms are of course the source of our favourite chewy 'attap chee' found in the very Singaporean dessert called 'ice kachang'. 'Attap chees' are essentially the seeds of the nipah palm. You have to harvest the fruits from the mangroves, remove the husks, crack the shell, then get to the seed. 'Attap chee' is what you get after you have cooked the seeds in a thick syrup for several hours.
The kids were excited when we spotted a Malayan Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator). It was basking in the sun, which became a good opportunity for us to explain that lizards are reptiles, therefore they are cold-blooded. They need to absorb warmth from the sun in the morning before they become more active. Water monitor lizards are one of the largest lizards in the world. They are mostly terrestrial, but are also good swimmers and climbers. One MUST NOT confuse Malayan Water Monitor Lizards with the Komodo Dragons. Malayan Water Monitors do not eat human beings! Generally they are shy, and if not provoked, they will basically ignore your presence.
Here's Pei Yan showing the TP students the outer mangroves region. Trees in this are have to be able to tolerate the constant change in tides through the day. Many of the trees shed salt through the leaves.
When the inter-tidal area is exposed, we are able to spot the fiddler crabs. The male fiddler crabs have one large pincer and one normal sized pincer. The females, on the other hand, are more 'boring' as they only have a pair of small and equal-sized pincers.
Also found in the mud of the outer mangroves are these Gold-Spotted Mudskippers (Periophthalmus chrysospilos). Can you see the mudskipper flare its dorsal fin? Aren't they cool? These mudskippers would dig little pools of water to mark their territory.
While walking on the coastal boardwalk, we saw huge schools of little fishes. And we do mean HUGE schools! We stopped to marvel at this sight. No need to go to a marine theme park to see fishes swimming in schools. Just come to Chek Jawa on a high-tide day!
Besides the little fishes, we also saw these yellow-tailed fishes. Apologies for not being able to id these fishes. But what was interesting was that they were swimming in a line rather than swimming in a group. No idea why they were in a line. There was a leader at the top of the line, and the rest appeared to be following.
These jellyfishes appear in great abundance at the end of the year. The jellyfishes have thick fat arms but if you look closely at the photos, you would be able to see thread-like tails connected to the arms. We saw more than 30 jellyfishes in the water.
The White-collared kingfisher made sure we heard it! It was calling loudly at the edge of the forest. We were standing on the coastal boardwalk over the southern part of Chek Jawa.
In Chek Jawa, we get clear views of the horizon with no obstruction. Often we were able to see thunderstorms happening in another area in the far horizon. In this photo, you can see a rain storm taking place over Pasir Ris while it was still dry and sunny in Chek Jawa.
Towards the end of the trail, we came to the nesting box of the hornbills. As always, we take the opportunity to explain the story of the return of Oriental Pied Hornbills to Singapore. Read about the Singapore Hornbill Project in this website.
At the end of the walk, out visitors stopped to write in our guest book. Here are the girls from Temasek Polytechnic with their messages.
We will hold the last walk of the year on 8th December.
Thanks go out to volunteer guides - KS, PY, Daniel, Ria, LK, and not forgetting, the councillors from Dunman High, SS, YL, RT and MQ.