Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Evening stroll through Pasir Ris Mangroves

Pasir Ris Mangroves is such an easy nature destination to do. It is just a short walk from Pasir Ris MRT station, and if you drive, there's plenty of free parking nearby. We had about 20 visitors (comprising young families, couples, friends) last Saturday evening, and we managed to see a good variety of animals resident in the mangroves.

One of the first sightings is this super cute baby monitor lizard looking out of its hole. It seemed unperturbed by our presence, so we were able to shoot lots of photos of it. In fact, on our way back an hour later, this cute fella was still there. See the lower photo.

We also saw an onchidium, a kind of shell-less mangrove slug, high up on a tree trunk. It is unusual to see it so high up, but it is plausible. The onch is well-camouflaged against the tree trunk.

The tree-climbing crabs are another die-die-can-see species in the mangroves. This particular individual was found at the start of the mangroves. Take a closer look to see its pointy legs. The swimming crabs have legs that end in paddle-like shapes, while the non-swimming ones, like the tree-climbing crabs, have sharp pointy ends to help them navigate mud, rocks and even climb trees.

Here's another photo of the tree-climbing crab. It makes burrows, often building on top of the mud mounds made by the mud lobsters. In this photo, you can see that the crab has built a mud stack at the entrance to its burrow.

Giant mudskippers! They are everywhere in Pasir Ris Mangroves. Some of them do grow quite big, in fact as long as 30 cm or the length of an adult shoe.

These fishes are uniquely adapted to live in the mangroves, halfway between land and sea. How on earth do they survive as a fish out of water? By having enlarged gill chambers that are essentially water pouches. It is able to stay out of water for a while, and when the gill pouch dries up, the mudskipper would get back into the water. Unique!

These fishes are territorial in behaviour too. In the photo below, the two mudskippers got into a bit of a scuffle after a few minutes of staring and flaring at each other. It is a real treat for our visitors to witness!

We love this beautiful red dragonfly. Gorgeous! Will try to ID this beauty for you. [UPDATE: this dragonfly is commonly known as the Scarlet Grenadier, scientific name is Lathrecista asiatica.] Dragonflies are ferocious predators, and you'll love to know what they feed on ... mosquito larvae! The dragonfly larvae live in water too, and they feed largely on mosquito larvae, aquatic insects and worms. Read all about what dragonflies feed on in this article:

Near the Sungei Tampines jetty, we saw these 2 horseshoe crabs. Dead, sadly. Horseshoe crabs are commonly found on our natural shorelines and mangroves, but their existence remain threatened due to loss of natural habitats. Save our natural shores and mangroves!

One of the visitors, Sabrina, asked about these snails which could be seen on many trees towards the end of the boardwalk trail. These are the mud creepers or 'chut-chut' snails as commonly known in Singapore. Yes, the name 'chut-chut' comes from the sucking noise one would make while eating these snails, boiled and dipped in a spicy chilli sauce! A local delicacy (but not for me).

Our visitors were not just interested in animals, they too asked lots of good questions about mangrove plants. What is this "long bean" thing growing out of the mangrove fruit? Excellent observation. Many mangrove plants begin the seedling stage while still attached to the tree. Botanists call this "vivipary". By the time the fruit detaches from the tree, it already has a seedling that floats away easily. When the seedling finds a suitable location, it anchors to the soft ground and begins growing from there.  

At the Sg Tampines jetty where our nature trip ended, we stopped to observe the Grey Herons. A lone grey heron stood by the bank of the river. Up in the air, there were many herons flying about. The herons are particularly active during evening time as they fly about preparing to roost for the night. Most of the grey herons have moved further downstream to the trees near the footpath over Sg Tampines. Do make your way there to observe these beautiful birds.

We also saw a black-crowned night heron in the dense foliage on the opposite bank. And a flash of bright colours flew past us. That would be the stork-billed kingfisher! Go google this bird to see just how beautiful it is. We are glad that these species are still present in our mangroves. Hurray!

The evening stroll through Pasir Ris Mangroves ended at 6:30pm. It was an educational and enjoyable outing for both kids and adults alike. A shout-out to all our new friends. Thanks for joining us for the walk! And a round of thanks too to all our wonderful volunteer guides - PY, Ria, Sean, Kai and LK.

Ria of has written a post about the outing to Pasir Ris Mangroves here. You will find out from her blog post what you can see if you visit Pasir Ris Mangroves at night.

The Naked Hermit Crabs conduct a monthly free walk to Chek Jawa Boardwalk. The next one is on 26 April, Saturday. See you around. Happy nature exploring!

No comments:

Post a Comment