Saturday, July 12, 2014

Awesome day out to Chek Jawa Boardwalk

The Crabs had a really awesome outing to Chek Jawa with 80 visitors on 28 June. It was the last Saturday of the June school holidays, and as expected, we had a huge turnout. What a joy to have all the families come explore Chek Jawa with the Crabs!

Here's a quick account of the trip plus loads of photos!

Everyone saw lots of crabs. The tide was low enough to expose the little fiddler crabs on the sandy intertidal area nearest the boardwalk. These are the brightly coloured orange fiddler crabs (Uca vocans).

And these are another species commonly known as the the porcelain fiddler crabs (Uca annulipus). To many of the visitors, it was fascinating to see crabs with claws that are unevenly sized! The big claw does look indeed like a fiddle!

At the inner mangrove area, we spotted other species, such as the Face-banded sesarmine crabs.

We could see the fathers in the group pointing out the bright green face band, red claws and colourful patterns on the shells of the crabs to their children. It is heartening to see the families bond through nature.

Not far from the sesarmine crabs, there were two of this fiddler crab. These crabs are larger, and measure roughly 4 to 5 cm from elbow to elbow. This could be the Stout pincered fiddler crab that is found in the back mangroves area. They were seen at close range just below the mangrove boardwalk. A beautiful crab!

One sharp-eyed kid found this little spider on the leaves.  We took a photo of it, and got it identified as the Mangrove big-jawed spider (Tetregnatha josephi) when we checked with Ivan at the end of the walk. This spider was named after Joseph Koh, an expert in spiders!

We couldn't find the cotton-stainer bugs but instead we found what could be the eggs of the bugs under the leaves of the sea hibiscus tree.

For some visitors who made the effort to go to the top of the Jejawi Tower, they were rewarded with a sighting of a White-bellied Sea Eagle perched a dead tall tree. Even though the eagle was far away, it was nonetheless a wonderful view of a majestic bird of prey. The forests of Pulau Ubin remain an important ecosystem and habitat for these awesome birds of prey. The kids too had a great time learning to use the field binoculars that the guides brought along.

From eagles to little magpie robins! This little magpie robin was spotted not far from the English Cottage. We've now seen it several times in Chek Jawa, and we hope its population is growing in this area. The Magpie Robin is a delightful little bird with a lovely varied song.

Who says the forests in Ubin are dull and merely green in colour? Here's a shot of the brightly coloured flowers of the wild ixora bush. Mass blooming of the ixora flowers happen during the hot season.

It was great that we had Ivan and Sean guide with us. Ivan was able to identify the bits of bone that the kids picked up along the boardwalk. He identified it to be a jaw bone of a catfish. Then we wondered how a fish jawbone could turn up on a boardwalk. Lots of theories thrown around, and the kids joined in the banter with us, and asked lots of questions.

The kids also brought back a dead dragonfly, and they all surrounded Sean to hear lots of good stories about dragonflies. These insects are a welcome as they feed on small insects like mosquitoes. In their juvenile stage, dragonfly larvae live in water, and they are voracious feeders of smaller aquatic organisms, and you guessed right, they feed on the larvae of mosquitoes!

As usual, the wild boars in Chek Jawa are a fascination for the visitors. This family group has dwindled to just 4 piglets. When we first saw the piglets in March, there were 8 little piglets back then. The piglets look somewhat skinny. That said, we would like to remind all visitors to Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin NOT to feed the wild boars. The more we feed the wild boars, the more reliant they are on the food we give them. In short, it changes their natural food foraging instincts.

Here's Mama pig greeting the human visitors, and vice versa! It is possible to view these animals safely if you observe simple rules like keeping a distance and hiding all your foodstuff and plastic packaging in your haversacks.

At the end of the walk, we had a drawing session for the kids. Adults joined in too to express their thoughts about the conservation of Chek Jawa as a natural inter-tidal habitat for plants and animals.

Patrick, a visitor, wrote, "Absolutely awesome experience of Chek Jawa ... one of the few remaining paradises in Singapore. Do step up efforts to preserve this wonderful place for our future generations!" Thank you, Patrick and friends, for speaking for Chek Jawa!

And here's the photo of the visitors on 28 June ...

Finally, a shout-out to our wonderful volunteer guides for the day - Sankar, Sean, Kai, Ivan, Ria and LK! Thank you so much for giving your time.

Ria has also written a post about this walk on her wildshores blog.

The next walk is on 26 July, Saturday, and online registration is now open. Click here. Hope to see more people come out to Chek Jawa with the Crabs!

To learn more about Chek Jawa and understand why it is so special, click here.

To learn more about Pulau Ubin and explore it, click here.

Happy nature exploring!

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