Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Families and students enjoying an outing to Chek Jawa

Last Saturday (13th Oct), we had a wonderful trip out to Chek Jawa Boardwalk with several families and lots of students on a study trip. October is typically our quieter month for visitors, but this time Pei Yan brought her Girl Guides student leaders from Katong Convent together with their teachers. We had a really boisterous trip, a fun way to spend a Saturday morning exploring Chek Jawa.

Here's PY sharing about rubber tapping with her students. Rubber was a major cash crop in South East Asia for decades, although with the introduction of synthetic rubber, natural rubber has lost its pole position in the cultivation of cash crops. Nonetheless, this is an eye-opener for our younger Singaporeans to be able to touch and feel the latex sap with their fingers.

Before we set off in the smaller groups each led by a volunteer guide, we usually request for a large group photo. For keepsake.

So, this is the photo of the student leaders from Katong Convent.

And the families who joined us on this trip.

Here's Ria group stopping at the start of the mangrove boardwalk. What did they spot?

..... a female Golden Orb Spider (Nephila spp.) and her spectacular web.

This spider is commonly found in the forests of Pulau Ubin. If you're visiting Ubin, do keep your eyes open. The spiders are not that difficult to spot. They could be seen easily on the roadside trees on the island. Interesting fact: the male spider is many times smaller than the female. In fact he is downright tiny and inconspicuous, and looks in no way like the female. Check out this website for more information.

All the groups took turns to climb the 20-metre high Jejawi Tower. At the top of the tower, one can see a long way off, including the hills of south-east corner of Johor, the mouth of the Johor River and Pulau Tekong. For the first time, I found out that we could see the control tower of Changi Airport from Jejawi Tower. It is a long way off, but still visible.

Another lively group photo. One of the ladies in the group made the effort to organise the outing for her close family friends. I trust that they had a wonderful trip of learning and bonding at the same time.

On our way down, I took a picture of the KC students who were waiting for us. Like I mentioned, we took turns to go up Jejawi Tower.

Once back on the boardwalk, the kids went straight to 'work', trying to be the first to spot interesting animals. They were lucky to see the Blue-spotted mudskipper in the mangroves. Go check out the photo of this mudskipper in Ria's post. There were also lots of tree-climbing crabs and Giant mudskippers in this part of the mangroves (i.e. the back mangroves).

The tide was quite high during our trip. Here at the outer mangroves, you can see the seawater coming really close to the boardwalk. The stilt roots of the bakau are submerged, and in turn offer a wonderful hiding place for the smaller fishes in this part of the coast. In fact further down along the boardwalk, we saw lots of fishes in the water, and they came really close to the edge of the tideline. We think there is probably plenty of food for the fishes there.

One of the best sightings of the day was by Kok Sheng and Ivan's groups. They saw a Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana) standing quietly on a root among the bakau trees. On many of our previous trips, we have spotted the Great-billed heron fishing far away on the sand bar during low tide. For the first time, we now see it come close to the shore. In fact it stood so still and quiet that it is no wonder that most of us did not see this magnificent bird.
photo by KS Loh

Funny how we did not see the large heron, but we found a tiny crab spider when we were examining the showy flowers of the sea-poison tree.

And the girls wanted to get a good macro shot of the pretty mint-coloured spider.

Out on the coastal boardwalk, we were happy to see the beautiful blue flowers of the Air Delek tree (Memecylon edule). This is a rare coastal tree that can only be found in a couple of places in Singapore. This particular tree is located on the edge of the coastal forest.

More blue colour in nature..... The Collared Kingfisher is commonly found in coastal areas, particularly in mangrove swamps. It has a gorgeous blue feathered body with a rather dignified-looking white collar. It is common to see this species in Chek Jawa. And also in Pasir Ris Mangroves where we would see pairs of the collared kingfisher zipping past us, and making their characteristic krerk-krerk-krerk-krerk calls. Pure joy when you encounter a kingfisher!

On the final leg of the boardwalk outing, we came to the hornbill nesting box mounted high up on a tree. We often end the tour with a story of how the Oriental Pied Hornbills would use this box as a nest to raise its young. And the touching story of how the male hornbill would use all its energy to hunt for food to feed his family. The indefatigable spirit of the hornbills. There's so much we can learn from nature; inspiring stories and no less.

Back at the English Cottage, all our visitors stopped to draw pictures on our guest book. Some of them record their thoughts in words instead of pictures. Thanks, guys, for sharing your thoughts with us. We're glad you love Chek Jawa!

Thanks go out to our volunteer guides for this trip - Ivan, KS, CH, PY, JL, Ria and LK.

Thanks go out too to the 3 student leaders from Dunman High - JJ, SS and Raphael. They are learning to guide in Chek Jawa as part of the school's EXCEL programme. One of the aims of the programme is to expose student leaders to real issues, and real efforts to address them by real people. The Crabs are more than happy to share the importance of marine conservation with the student leaders from Dunman High.
photo by KS Loh

A shout-out to our visitors, all 50 of them! We hope you enjoyed the outing to Chek Jawa, and learnt something about the fragility of the ecosystems there. Get out and explore the nature places in our country!

More blog posts about this trip:
- wildshores by Ria
- Chek Jawa guided walk by PY

The next Chek Jawa Boardwalk outing is on 10th November, 9:30 am, Saturday. You may sign up for the walk through our online registration form.

Happy nature exploring!


  1. Hi,

    Could you share if you will organise this trip in Dec please?


    1. The next outings are on 10 Nov and 8 Dec. Do signup on our online registration form if you're interested in visiting Chek Jawa Boardwalk with us.

  2. Hi,

    I have signed up for Dec outing. May I know whether when can I expect to receive the confirmation email please?

    Thank you

    1. Hi toddlertoes - I hope you've received a confirmation on email. Sorry for the delay. I am able to answer NHC emails only during weekends; weekdays are simply filled with work and family.