Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chek Jawa fun during June holidays

The holidays is the best period where kids and their family can spend quality time out in the wonders of nature to explore Singapore's own backyard. I was glad to find time during this June holiday and guide with the Naked Hermit Crabs on a Saturday morning.

Here we are taking an energetic group photo of our first two groups who were early with us at Chek Jawa of Pulau Ubin.

Even before we started our walks, this bird's loud and melodious song caught our attention. This was the first pose that greeted us when we located its position haha.

This is actually a male White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus). Unfortunately, it is one of the most popular caged birds in Singapore because of its beautiful song. The white-rumped shama can be recognized by its extremely long black tail, its chestnut belly and the white patch on its lower back. It's my first time taking notice of this bird!

Right at House No. 1, which is the visitor centre of Chek Jawa Wetlands, there is a poster put up by OtterWatch to coordinate otter sightings in Singapore.

Right after we set off from the coastal end of the trail, the visitors from my group shouted otter! And viola the otter was swimming in the waters from a distance! Woohoo!

The head of the otter bobbed up and down for a while and it noticed our presence. Soon, it swam away towards the boardwalk direction and I later saw another one with this otter. So there were two! :) Just last week, the Nparks guided walk also encountered a pair of otters basking under the sun on the rocks.

With that blast of a start for our guided walk, we continued looking at other parts of the coastal and mangrove boardwalk.

I must say that all the special finds of the day were found by my group visitors. Their eyes are indeed sharp and keen! This juvenile monitor lizard blended very well with the trunk of the mangrove bark and root. I didn't see this fellow until it was pointed out to me.

As the tide was high, the mudskippers such as this Gold-spotted mudskipper (Periophthalmus chrysospilos) were swimming near the edge of the water on the high shore.

Along the mangrove boardwalk, I was puzzled to find almost zero fiddler crabs! It was with much determination that my group and I found one male individual with its enlarged claw.

And one female with two smaller claws of the same size. I wonder what is the exact reason that led to the decline in the number of crabs.

The number of the larger crabs also seem to have dropped, unlike the numerous crabs that we can find at Pasir Ris mangroves. Nevertheless, with the sharp eyes of my group, we saw some of the larger ones including this that was feeding on a piece of leaf.

We saw one of the Giant mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) in the mangroves and it immediately darted into the water when it sensed my presence. What a shy fish! :)

While walking back towards House no. 1, someone from my group shouted snake!! This slender and agile snake was crawling on the ground and was heading towards the bush.

This is likely to be the Keel-bellied Whip Snake (Dryophiops rubescens) which is considered to be vulnerable in Singapore. Another first sighting for me!

The snake quicked climbed up the branches of a tree and revealed its white back.

I was later notified by my participants of yet another fantastic find, the Oriental Pied Hornbill! It was perching on a seashore nutmeg tree which has fruits that are eaten by this majestic bird.

With so many interesting and exciting sightings, the young ones were busy drawing their experiences with nature on the coloured papers.

This is Cheng Keat's four part illustration with my favourite sea otter's head out of the sea!

Zainah drew the boardwalk and what she has learnt about the breathing pencil roots was drawn into her masterpiece.

Zen drew the animals that we saw during the trip, including the wild boar he saw earlier on. Simple but very cute!

Mukhtaan drew huge cute eyes for the mudskipper and fiddler crab. He also included the Jejawi tower which unfortunately was closed for the day.

I particularly like Zhi Heng's illustration of the wild boars! They look so real! :)

Right outside where the vans pick up people, the wild boars are having a great time together.

Mummy boar decided to feed the baby ones through breast feeding and all the young wild boars were crowding around the mother haha.

The long tailed macaques also showed up and was busy finding food among the visitors. Such learnt behaviour due to the feeding of monkeys by people has changed their feeding habits and will in the bigger picture disrupt the ecosystem.

It was a great time spending a weekend at Chek Jawa seeing so many special animals! It was great having a guide a keen and observant group of participants visiting Chek Jawa for their first time. :)

More photos of the trip here:

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