Sunday, December 8, 2013

Families enjoying day out at Chek Jawa, 7 Dec, with the Crabs

We had a perfect day - cool and dry weather - exploring the mangroves in Chek Jawa Boardwalk yesterday together with 60 visitors, and MOS Desmond Lee and his youth group of about 30.

No otters, no dugong, no hornbill, but there were wonderful sightings of interesting crabs, stick insect, paradise tree snake, white-bellied sea-eagle, swimming crab, snails and wild boars. Most importantly, it is a joy to see families enjoying and connecting with nature. Chek Jawa remains a favourite place for Singaporeans to stay in touch with nature.

Face-banded sesamine crab
There were so many colourful little crabs in the back mangroves yesterday. The kids were so excited spotting them.
Tiny crabs with red stalk eyes

fiddler crab with bright claw 

Tree-climbing crab
We also saw this large Belongkeng snail in the back mangroves. It has a most beautiful shell with wavy lines. This snail is classified as critically endangered in Singapore due to loss of its mangrove habitats. Glad to see it in Chek Jawa.

The visitors were also interested to see the attap palm fruit, the fruit that gives us 'attap chee', a much-loved ingredient in ice-kacang, a local dessert. Dana, a visitor, says that she's seen a different variety of attap with a longer fruit in Penang. The attap palm (or nipah palm) can be found in mangroves and river deltas all over Southeast-Asia.
a young visitor posing for a photo in front of the attap palm
The highlight of the walk was seeing this beautiful paradise tree snake at the start of the coastal boardwalk. It stayed on a boardwalk for a while, curious about us, just as we were curious about it. It went back on to the mangrove tree. The paradise tree snake is slightly venomous, but not enough to kill us. We all had great shots of it as it lingered at close range.
Paradise Tree Snake

Andy had set up his high-precision bird-watching scope on a tripod along the coastal boardwalk, much to the delight of everyone. What are they looking at?
(photo from Faizah Jamal)
A white-bellied sea eagle perched on a tall tree several hundred metres away across the seagrass lagoon! There's no way we could have seen this bird without the help of the scope.

This species of bird is a local resident. Its presence is a good sign that the biodiversity in Chek Jawa area is able to sustain this large species. Believe it or not, you can also easily spot this species of eagle flying over the Marina Bay area on most evenings. 

(photo from Sean Yap)
One of the girls in the group was excited to see a swimming crab in the sea. Interestingly, the crab was swimming 'backwards', observed the girl. Nothing beats seeing it for yourself, right?
swimming crab
While we were bringing our visitors around Chek Jawa, Ivan, Sean and Andy were also guiding Desmond Lee (Minister of State for National Development), his youth group and some students from the Green Beans club of SOTA. The nature outing was organised superbly by NMP Faizah Jamal who has a special interest in nature conservation and cultural education in Singapore, and the Crabs chipped in to help with the guiding, naturally.

Here's Ivan at the start of his guided tour of Chek Jawa.

The MOS and his party stopping for a photo in front of the English Cottage.

And of course, the Crabs had a photo of our visitors too (minus Chay Hoon's group who started off earlier than all of us).

We ended the walk at around 11:30am with a quick drawing session at the English Cottage. The kids' drawings showed the animals that they saw left an impression on them.

Crab, butterfly, dragonfly, ant, wild boar, tree, through the eyes of a child

Isaac drew a wonderful picture of a wild boar

Grandma left a 'green' message for us too. So touching!

This is the last guided walk of Chek Jawa Boardwalk by the Naked Hermit Crabs for the 2013 season. It's been a wonderful year of guiding and bringing lots of people down to Chek Jawa to enjoy the magic of nature there. Thanks go out to Chay Hoon, Pei Yan, Andy, Sean, Ivan and Ley Kun for giving their Saturday morning yesterday.

Read more about the nature outing in these posts:

Facebook notes and photos by Faizah Jamal: Nature. Culture. Adventure. - The Magic of Ubin 7 Dec 2013

Facebook photos by Sean Yap: Chek Jawa with NHC, 071213

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