Monday, December 14, 2015

Awesome day out with visitors at Chek Jawa

We had a fabulous day out at Chek Jawa Boardwalk with 70 visitors on Saturday. It's the December school holidays, and families took the opportunity to come and see what the hype of Chek Jawa is about. As always, we saw lots of interesting living things. The walk is fun, and the kids are keen to learn. The 'outdoor classroom' is simply one of the best ways to teach the kids about our own natural heritage, and for the adults to re-connect with nature.

The walk started in quite an exciting way when a boy, Aiden, spotting a small snake on the ground near the English Cottage. The guides were thrilled to see that it is a Keel-bellied Whip Snake. It's a lifer for most of the guides.

Keel-bellied whip snake
It's rare to see this snake because it is an arboreal snake, meaning it is usually found high up on trees, and there are few chances to see this snake on the ground. The guides decided to put it back into the forest. Just before we released it back on a tree, Ivan and Jonathan took the opportunity to show the children this beautiful snake and to explain about the ecology of how it survives in the forest.

A close-up look at the Keel-bellied whip snake

We also reminded the visitors that we must not handle snakes if we are not trained to do so. There are venomous snakes in Singapore, some more venomous than others, and so for the safety of ourselves as well as for the snakes, we should not handle snakes on our own. We hope that we have left a beautiful message of conservation, love and respect for all snakes. If you're interested to learn more about snakes (and other reptiles and amphibians), do check out the blog from the Herpetology Society of Singapore.

Shortly after this, Jonathan gently released the whip snake back onto a tree. What a great experience for everyone!

After the excitement, we split the visitors into 4 groups, and everyone set off for the boardwalk, with a spring in our steps. To explore Chek Jawa!

Tree-climbing crab
The Tree-climbing crab is a common species found in the mangroves. This species live in the burrows made by the mud lobster.

Can you see the dark blob with white spots? We saw this in the back mangroves. These are likely the eggs of the snail next to the blob.

Onch slug
This is an onch slug which is commonly found in our mangroves. It is very well-camouflaged against the bark of the tree. A slug is, in simple words, a snail without a hard shell. Instead, it has a tough leathery skin to reduce excessive loss of water.

Malayan water monitor lizard
The tide was at its highest at 3m during our walk. The sea water enters the mangroves at this level, and there was so much to see still. While we are not able to see fiddler crabs on the mud, we were able to spot lots of other animals, such as this water monitor lizard swimming so elegantly in the water. It has a very powerful tail that swooshes in a wavelike motion in the water.

'chut chut' snails
We saw plenty of snails crawled up the tree trunks to stay out of the water. There were pretty nerites as well as the edible 'chut chut' snails.

Three mangrove horseshoe crabs swimming together
We were excited to see 3 horseshoe crabs holding onto each other, and swimming together in the water. Nice!

Belongkeng snail
The large snail in this photo is the Belongkeng snail which is normally found in the back mangroves. It has lovely smooth grooves on its thick shell. The Belongkeng snail is yet another animal that is classified as 'critically endangered' in Singapore.

When the tide is high, we always stop to see snails and mudskippers clinging onto the roots and trunks of mangrove trees near the coast line.

Cotton stainer bugs
On this particular trip, we saw lots of Cotton stainer bugs on the Sea hibiscus trees. In fact most of the bugs are still in the young nymph stage. We don't see cotton-stainer bugs all year round. They are more abundant when the sea hibiscus trees are fruiting. You can see the nymphs feeding on the fruits in this photo.

Coastal Boardwalk, Chek Jawa
Here's another view of the coastal boardwalk at a tide of 3 metres.

Coral fungi
On the last leg of the trail after the coastal boardwalk, we came across these strange-looking red fungi on the ground. We learnt that these are the coral fungi.

Wild ixora
The wild ixoras are blooming beautifully in the forests around Chek Jawa. This shrub provides many lovely shots of colour in the forest.

Here's a photo of our visitors, taken at the start of the walk. Thank you for joining us. We hope you had a lovely outing at Chek Jawa.

12 December, 2015
Lastly, we want to express our thanks to all our volunteer guides: Jonathan, Ivan, Dayna, Yong Jen, Stanley, Sumita, Tim, Ria and LK. Dayna, Yong Jen and Stanley are guiding for the first time with us. Bravo! We are so glad to have you guide with us.

Mission accomplished for 2015! The Crabs will take a break in January. We resume our Chek Jawa trips in February, so don't forget to look out for our 2016 announcements.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!


  1. Hi there, Merry Christmas! :) May I know when will the online registration for the trip to Chek Jawa in Feb 2016 be available?

    1. Hi there, it will most likely be after Chinese New Year. Do look out for updates on our blog.