Saturday, February 27, 2016

Awesome first Chek Jawa walk in 2016

After taking a break in January, the Crabs are happy to be back conducting the first walk of 2016.

There were 56 enthusiastic visitors who made that long journey from Singapore to Chek Jawa. I have always called the journey "a skip, hop and a jump" because you have to get to Changi Village first, then 'hop' on to a bumboat, and finally 'jump' to Chek Jawa on an island taxi. Hardly anyone complains about the journey, which kind of tells us just how much Singaporeans love Chek Jawa! Bravo to the visitors!

Golden Orb Spider
Even before the walk began, the visitors were admiring the Golden Orb Spider and its splendid web. The weather has turned drier this week, and the guides were expecting to find more spider webs, and we did! Spiders are known to conserve energy by avoiding the task of building webs during the rainy season. The rain would spoil their webs easily, and the spiders would end up spending more energy to build and re-build webs.

Group photo of walk on 27 Feb 2016, Chek Jawa
Here's the happy group photo before we set off for the walk. Our walks are suitable for families as well as for grown-ups.

Flowers of the Attap (Nipah) Palm
We have tasted 'attap chee' in our local desserts (ice kacang and chendol) before. Well, these are the flowers of the attap palm, and the attap seeds are seeds of the attap fruits. What you're looking at in this photo are the male flowers surrounding the female flowers in the centre. Lots of buzzing insects around the flowers.

Cotton Stainer Bugs
While walking on the mangrove boardwalk, we looked up and saw masses of the Cotton Stainer Bugs under the leaves of the sea hibiscus tree. If you look closely at the insects, you will see the characteristic markings of a cross on the back of the insects.

On the mangrove boardwalk
Two enthusiastic boys looking at the Giant Mudskipper which was moving about under the boardwalk. To get a better look, they told me. The kids love doing this!

Web of a tent spider
Tent spiders build three-dimensional webs like this one that we saw in the mangroves. There's a silk net on the lower part of the web, which reminds us of a safety net under a flying trapeze. The silk net will catch the insects that drop onto it. Interestingly, we observed a tiny wasp plucking out a couple of insects trapped in the spider web. What an opportunistic hunter is the tiny wasp!

Fiddler crabs
As we reach the outer mangroves, we saw lots of fiddler crabs on the sandy area. The enlarged claw of the male fiddler crabs are quite prominent. It's quite hard to miss them really. On the other hand, the sand bubbler crabs (another species) are much easier to miss, and they share the same space as the fiddler crabs.

Gold-spotted mudskippers
At the water edge, we could see many mudskippers. This is one of the best sites to find the Gold-spotted Mudskippers. It is always enjoyable to pause and observe the crazy antics of the mudskippers as they play and move about in the tide. Even though the guides have been to Chek Jawa countless times, we still take our time to soak in the sights, especially of little animals. Small things matter.

View of the rocky shore at high tide
It is always nice to soak in the beautiful vistas of Chek Jawa. We felt like we were on holiday! Don't you agree the views are lovely?

View of the northern shore of Chek Jawa at high tide

Red jungle fowl
As we come to the end of our walk along the coastal boardwalk, we were treated to an awesome sighting of more than ten jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) on the rocky shore. One of the visitors counted fourteen birds in total, most of them are male birds. The male jungle fowl has colourful feathers - black, red, browns, white and flashes of iridescent dark greens if you are observant. The female is rather drab-looking but it's probably a great way to camouflage for her own safety.

We ended the walk at the English Cottage where the kids did some drawings and the adults rested. It is always a nice way to end the walk by comparing each group's sightings, talk about the experience, and the kids get to ask more questions about the animals. Thanks to everyone who came!

Thanks go out too to our volunteer guides - Alyce, Ian (and sons), PeiYan and LeyKun.

Our next walk is on 19th March (Saturday), and the registration form is available online.

See you soon.

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