Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mudskippers, birds and other animals at Pasir Ris Mangroves

The Crabs had a great outing at Pasir Ris Mangroves on Sunday! 25 visitors came to explore the mangroves with us. We also had 10 students from Dunman High join us as volunteer guides, sharing their knowledge and love for nature with the visitors. The Dunman High students are doing their nature guiding as part of a leadership programme named Excel in their school. The programme hopes to expose the students to real issues faced in everyday life.

Lots of interesting sightings right from the beginning!

A solitary grey heron was hanging around the toilet area. We were all able to creep closer to take a look at it. The kids whipped out their camera phones to capture photos of it. The heron didn't fly away, perhaps a little disoriented. There was no visible sign of injury. It looks smallish, so perhaps it is a juvenile that isn't good with flying yet.

It made its way across the carpark (with help from us to stop the cars), and walked into the wooded area. Stay safe, little fellow!

We had sightings of at least 2 other species of birds.

The Tanimbar cockatoo (Tanimbar corella) was spotted up on a tree feeding on a pong pong fruit. This species is not a native bird. As its name suggests, the species come from the Tanimbar Islands archipelago. Its presence in Singapore is the result of the pet trade in this part of the world.

The kids also got a closeup look at the Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus), a male bird. What a special treat for all of us! The woodpecker was busy hopping from branch to branch, and feeding hungrily on the ants in the branches. Love that red crown!

Strangely, we didn't see many tree-climbing crabs on Sunday. There were lots and lots of Giant mudskippers though! There hasn't been much rain in the last 2 weeks, so the puddles of water are quite small, but the mudskippers seem to be keeping well.

The kids are fascinated by the blinking eyes of the mudskipper, and by the fact that the eyes are sticking out of the top of the head. Good observation! Did any kid notice that the puddles of water which the giant mudskippers live in have a burrow each? Check it out next time!

In a mud mound near the patch of sea holly shrubs, we spied a juvenile monitor lizard looking out of its burrow. It kept very still, and we all had a good look at it. We were able to talk about the monitor lizards in Singapore, and about them being harmless creatures even though some people are terrified of how the lizards look.

We saw birds, fish, reptiles. What else is next? Weaver ants!

The weaver ants make their nests by 'stitching' the fresh leaves together using silk produced by larvae ants. The nests are 'fat' bundles of leaves. Sometimes, we can see several satellite ant nests in a single tree.

What's next? A plantain squirrel up on a tree!

At the end of the walk, one of the kids drew a squirrel for us! When kids interact with nature, they see a world bigger than the one they live in. A more beautiful world too!

Here's a photo of the mangrove forest being re-planted. Last month, we saw parts of the land cleared. It looks different this month, with more young trees planted.

Stilt roots of trees in the mangroves.

The end of the walk is at the jetty above Sungei Tampines. It is a great place to observe the herons in the evening when they fly in from various parts of Singapore to roost in the mangroves. The tide was incoming on Sunday, and we were able to spot lots of fishes (mullets, halfbeaks, archer fishes and jellyfishes).

The kids started recording what they saw on the trip. It is interesting to see how much the kids have remembered, and how they convert those memories into drawings!

The Dunman High students couldn't resist doing their own drawings too. It's great to be a 'kid' again!

And Mr Wong, an Ubin volunteer who came on this outing, proudly showed us his amazing drawings too. We love those drawings, Sir!

What a wonderful outing to Pasir Ris Mangroves! And to think that Pasir Ris is easily one of the most accessible mangroves in Singapore. It is just a 5-minute walk from Pasir Ris MRT station! Do make your way there if you have not visited the place.

Last but not least, a shout of thanks to our wonderful volunteer guides - Kok Sheng, Sumita, Sankar, LK and Ria, and the happy bunch of Dunman High student councillors.

Happy nature watching, everyone!

Other related posts about this walk:
a) Ria blogs on wildshores: Creepy and Cool Pasir Ris Mangroves with the Naked Hermit Crabs!
b) KS shares his photos in a FB album: Pasir Ris Mangroves with Naked Hermit Crabs (Feb 2015)


  1. Hello! I missed the previous guided walks through Pasir Ris Mangroves. Is there a schedule for when it will happen again? :)

  2. You're right! We ought to get our Pasir Ris Mangrove walks going again. Thank you for the reminder!