Monday, October 17, 2011

Stingray and hornbills

We had a small turnout of visitors for the 8th October walk but that didn't dampen the mood of the group. Jael brought her family and friends, 7 in total, while KP brought his friend's son who has just finished his PSLE exams and needed some nature therapy!

The wild boars (Sus scrofa) were there at the Information Kiosk to welcome us. It was a sow with her 4 piglets. They seem rather tame and were lingering around the information kiosk apparently hoping to get food handouts from us. We did not feed them since we knew that it is better for the wild boars to forage for food in the forests than to receive sugar and starch-rich food from us. But they were really cute, and all the visitors were happily snapping pictures of them.
Wild boar at the Information Kiosk of Chek Jawa

As we enter the mangrove boardwalk, we heard the loud and penetrating calls of the Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris). The hornbills are back! I missed seeing them for a few months, so as can be expected, I am totally delighted to report this sighting. We saw one perched on a tall palm, but heard the calls of hornbills from two other directions. So there could be three birds present that day. Of course, later in the trip, I was able to show the visitors the artificial nesting box and tell the story of hornbills nesting habits. Do read more about the Singapore Hornbill Project on how conservation efforts have grown the population of Oriental Pied Hornbills in our country. It is a cool read!

Down on the mangrove boardwalk, we spotted the animals that we see on every trip - Giant Mudskipper, vinegar crabs, fiddler crabs, mud crabs, weaver ants and cotton-stainer bugs. The mangrove ecosystem in Chek Jawa is well and alive.
Nest formed by weaver ants
The tide was quite high (2.3m) on that day and so we were not able to see the fiddler crabs. But there were lots of fishes everywhere. Natural shores like Chek Jawa, with their complex and interlinked ecosystems of mangroves, sand bars and seagrass meadows, offer refuge to lots of marine animals. This is one reason why conservationists all over the world continue to lobby for the preservation of natural shorelines. Marine biodiversity is impacted when Man converts natural coastal areas into prawn farms or commercial beach-front properties. This is indeed food for thought for everyone.
Small fishes swimming in between mangrove roots

We were totally delighted to spot a stingray (Family Dasyatidae) swimming so gracefully near the boardwalk. It has a body disc of about 40 cm and has a long tail. I could not id what species it is. It could be the Blue-spotted Stingray. We were mesmerised by its graceful swimming strokes.
(photo contributed by Jael)

The walk ended after 2 hours. It was a fruitful trip, and, I believe, the visitors had a super time (well, they wrote to say they did!)

We look forward to the next 2 trips during the school holidays. Write in early to book your places. The dates are 12 November and 10 December (Saturday). See you!

No comments:

Post a Comment