Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hornbills, monitor lizards and jellyfish in Chek Jawa

We were worried that none of our visitors would turn up for the walk. The weatherman predicted "thunderstorms and gusty winds", the sort that give floods in Orchard Road, and we got even more worried when we saw dark clouds on our way to Pulau Ubin. But it turned out to be a perfect day for a trip to Chek Jawa. No rain, no thunder, no lightning, just gusty winds! And we had 16 visitors!

The intrepid visitors were Eleanor and her friends, and a bunch of RGS girls with their teacher. With us too were Sing Yee, Elizabeth, Shaun and Wei Xuan from RJC who had attended the Guides of Singapore Shores workshops for the past 3 weeks. They wanted to see some real-life guiding in action and so we invited them to join us for this trip. We split ourselves into 2 groups with Ria and CH guiding Eleanor and friends as well as the Fab Four (so named by Ria in her blog post!), while PY and I took the cheerful team of girls from RGS.

The first animals to welcome us were the wild boars (Sus scrofa). With a good supply of food on Pulau Ubin, the wild boars survive quite well. We have seen wild boars foraging for crabs and snails on the intertidal areas during low tides. And with the current fruiting season, we are sure that the wild boars have no lack of delicious durians and rambutans to snack on.

Further down the track, we saw 3 (!) Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) high up on the durian tree. Before we knew it, another 2 more swooped down to join the trio! What a treat for all of us because these are critically endangered birds. Shaun managed to capture a very sharp image of the super-long eye-lashes of the hornbill. Check out his photos on Facebook. That is going to inspire the rest of us to capture more close-ups of the hornbills in future trips.

Along the boardwalk, we saw no fewer than four Malayan Water Monitor Lizards (Varanus salvator). All of them are juveniles. This particular fellow, the tiniest of the lot, was chasing a fiddler crab into a hole and then triumphantly emerging from a neighbouring hole with its prized catch.

Over at the back mangroves, we saw another juvenile lizard basking in the sun, and it appeared to have a large meal inside its belly. Lizards, being cold-blooded animals, need to absorb the heat from the sun before they are able to stir into activity.

Still at the back mangrove area, we saw a Giant Mudskipper about the length of a human foot under the boardwalk. It was guarding its puddle of water in a hole that it has probably created for itself.

There was a tiny mangrove crab that has a luminous blue band on its face and bright red claws. Pei Yan told us that this is the Face-banded Crab (Perisesarme sp.) that is commonly found in Singapore mangroves.

Near the Jejawi Tower, we stopped to marvel at the ingenious camouflage of a stick insect. It really is easy to miss it if not for the sharp eyes of one of the RGS girls.

Over at the coastal boardwalk area, we saw a reddish jellyfish (unidentified) that is about 60 cm in diameter. It is huge! The tentacles look like the convoluted lobes of a brain, and I'm sure this particular jellyfish is capable of giving nasty stings.

After about 2 hours, we ended the walk at House #1. Thank you so much for the lovely drawings that you have left for us in our guestbook.

After the walk, the Crabs and Fab Four proceeded to lunch at Ubin Town where we enjoyed some really good local durians, and our favourite deep-fried squid from Yue-Lai's coffee shop. Perfect ending to a perfect day.

Thanks go out to Ria, CH, PY and LK for guiding today.

Read more about the walk in Wildshores blog

No comments:

Post a Comment