12 September 2009

High tide walk at Changi

Today's the first time I did the entire Changi coastal walk.
At high tide, the shore sure looks different! But still there's lots to see.

I started at the Changi Point entrance next to the terminal where we take the bumboats to go to Pulau Ubin. It's a quiet area, easily missed as everyone hustles to the terminal.
In the manicured area, there are lots of succulent Merambong or Sea lettuce (Scaevola taccada) and a little tree that looks like Ketapang pasir (Guettarda speciosa). And a delightful patch of Kemunting (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa) with lots of pretty pink flowers. According to Corners, "it is a favourite among children because of its sweet edible fruits" which were also made into jam for tarts. The plant is also used in traditional cures for tummy troubles.
There are some parts of the shores where the shores plants grow wild.
Here's of course, there large stands of Sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) with bright yellow blossoms and heart-shaped leaves. And today, some were fruiting profusely. Which of course meant there were lots of Cotton stainer bugs (Dysdercus decussatus) that feed on its seeds. The juvenile bugs are wingless. According to Burkill, this shrub has been "one of the most important fibre-plants among the inhabitants of Malaya" and were planted wherever the Malays went.
There was also a group of small bushes that were planted nearby with fruits that look like tiny limes. I have no idea what they are.
Around the point, there is a big dead tree that we always see on our way back from Pulau Ubin. I took a closer look today and it's still alive. It seems to be a Perepat tree (Sonneratia alba), there still one little branch with leaves.
And also odd clusters of leaves that didn't look like Sonneratia alba. Hmmm. I'm not sure what's happening. Could these be figs that have settled on the dead parts of the tree?
In the first bay along the coast are the SAF holiday chalets. There's a nice grassy stretch on this shore with lots of wildflowers and Sea morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae). Lots of butterflies and insects were busy there, but I was too lame to take photos of them. And there was a large stretch of Maiden's jealousy (Tristellateia australasiae). This plant is commonly grown in parks and gardens. I only just found out that it originally grew in back mangroves and tidal swamps!
A little bit around the corner was a large tree right on the rocky shore. It's a Misi or Sea gutta tree (Pouteria obovata). Wow, this tree must have survived a lot as it's quite tall, and everything around it has been developed. It's right at the edge of the walkway that makes up the Changi coastal walk.
Sadly, this majestic tree has been vandalised. Matlan has carved his name into the tree, while at the base, it appears someone had actually lit a fire which has scorched the roots. Sigh.
On the shore just at this old tree, there's some sort of large-scale works going on. There is a huge barge on the shore in the distance.
Near the rocky shore, they seem to be building some sort of reinforcement structures. Alas, we never did get around to checking this portion of the shore at low tide. But nearby we had seen sea fans growing on the rocks. Sigh.
As I got closer to the barge, I noticed they were mixing cement or something on the shore.
On the way to this spot, I noticed they had closed access to the small jetty. The jetty does look unsafe, and fishing from this jetty impacts the shores. We've found many sea fans washed ashore, entangled in fishing lines.
A little further along and there's more intriguing stuff planted along the boardwalk. This plant seems to be widely planted in our nature parks. I've seen this also at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. On the NIE Green Club blog, it was identified as Memecylon caerulum.
It was a quick stroll past Changi Sailing Club to another rocky point. There was another struggling Perepat (Sonneratia alba) tree. It seems to be a good fishing point as well.
Here too was a large wild Pempari (Pongamia pinnata). This tree is listed as Endangered but it is also widely planted in our parks. So it was nice to see a wild one, and it was laden with fruits!
At this point, the trail turned inland into a nice shady portion under lots of tall trees with lots of plants that I have no idea what they are. Like this fig tree with colourful figs.
Once through the trees, the path emerges at the Changi Beach Club with 'Kelong Walk' portion of the trail.
Here, there were lots of people busy fishing.
The entire walk was lined with rods. And with lines into the water.
The lines into the water led to crab traps.
Every hut was taken up with groups who had set up for a long day of fishing.
Fishing may seem harmless, and probably is if it is conducted responsibly. Unfortunately, there were lots of abandoned fishing lines throughout my walk. They were strung on trees, bushes, left on rocks, wedged on structures along the walk. Even a single fishing line can kill wildlife. I think one of these days, we need to go out in a group and remove all these lines. And probably do it regularly. Sigh.
Indeed, the lack of responsibility seems anticipated by the many signs exhorting us not to do various things which ordinary sensible people wouldn't do anyway.
The 'No Swimming' sign was at the bay infront of the SAF chalet. If this lagoon is not a swimming lagoon, I wonder why they keep trying to 'improve' the beach by dumping sand there?

Towards the end of the boardwalk were many magnificent trees at the Fairy Point area. This humungous tree looks like it might be Buchanania arborescens also known as Sparrow's mango or Otak udang (which means Prawn's brain).
Another humungous tree next to it had some flowers, suggesting it might be Kelat Hitam (Syzygium syzygioides).
And among these tall trees, a little group of paper wasps were building a nest.
There were lots of other big and interesting trees there, but I don't know what they are. The coastal boardwalk ends at Changi Beach Club. I decided to walk back along the road instead of doubling back on the boardwalk. And came across two of the many Heritage Trees in the area.
The tall tall tree on the right is Damar hitam gajah (Shorea gibbosa). From the URA Changi guide (PDF) it is probably the last two standing in Singapore outside the nature reserves. This tree is a dipterocarp, a characteristic component of Asian tropical rain forest, identified by cauliflower-like tree crown and the winged fruits. The tree on the left is the Strangling fig (Ficus stricta) another monster of the forest.

Joseph Lai and friends have shared a paper about the Significant Trees and Shrubs of Changi. In it they stress that no other coastal area on mainland Singapore today, not even Labrador Nature Reserve, can boast of such a fine collection of Dipterocarps, nor is any other local district so endowed with legends steeped in tree-stories.

More about the Changi boardwalk on the wildsingapore website with lots of links to more sites with information about the area.

1 comment:

  1. "Fishing may seem harmless, and probably is if it is conducted responsibly. Unfortunately, there were lots of abandoned fishing lines throughout my walk. They were strung on trees, bushes, left on rocks, wedged on structures along the walk."

    From your pictures i could see that the lines are actually not discarded on purpose. It appears that the lines were snagged accidentally. Most anglers hate to lose their rig and gear. The lines you spotted and photographed are most probably beyond the angler's physical capabilities to remove.

    Thank you for your write up.



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