31 October 2009

New tame wild boar at Chek Jawa?

Chek Jawa is glorious today after a rainy morning! I was out guiding with the Naked Hermit Crabs on their monthly free public walk on the boardwalk.
At the top of the wobbly Jejawi Tower, we were not only rewarded with a grand view of Pulau Tekong and the magnificent mountains of Johor...

...but also a furiously figging Jejawi tree! A gianormous Jejawi fig tree grows next to the tower that took its name. Usually when the tree bears figs, lots of animals are attracted to it. But today we only saw a few starlings and mynas. Perhaps the figs are not fully ripe yet? Though they sure look yummy already.
I was guiding a group of Girls' Brigade who came in quite a large group. They had been camping and walking all day and were quite tired. But still, they spotted lots of stuff!
A sharp-eyed participant spotted the tiny red-eyed fiddler crab whose identity I have yet to figure out. And another participant notices this tiny mudskipper, ID also yet to be deciphered. We saw a large Giant mudskipper, a few Tree climbing crabs (Episesarma sp.) and lots and lots of Porcelain fiddler crabs (Uca annulipes) as well as Sand bubbler crabs (Scopimera sp.). Of course, we talked about the mudlobsters (Thalassina sp.) and their mounds, Nipah palms (Nypa fruticans), mangrove trees and their adaptations, and discussed the impact of commercial prawn-farming.

The tide was low and incoming, which is perfect for observing busy mudskippers. And for the first time on Chek Jawa, I saw a Bearded mudskipper (Scartelaos histophorus)! This very long mudskipper with smooth skin has a skinny dorsal fin that it raises up now and then.
Here's the Bearded mudskipper with another bigger mudskipper, I don't know what it is.
Around the corner, we stop to have a look at the Perepat (Sonneratia alba) and talked about how they support the population of bats that pollinate our durian trees! We also checked out the seagrass meadows, which were nicely being half submerged in the incoming tide.
And what a nice surprise to bump into some familiar faces too. Besides Ben Lee and his Nature Trekker group, we also met Vyna who was bringing around a group of her own.
The tide was a bit higher when we got to the beacon area and the young ladies spot a huge school of fishes! These fishes support food chains that eventually lead to our seafood, so it's good to see them on the natural shores of Chek Jawa.
After a look at the Front and Rear beacons, and a chat about Pulau Sekudu, someone spotted a Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator)! Wow, it's the biggest one I've seen on Chek Jawa.
It has a long blue forked tongue! The tongue is used to sense its surroundings, flicking in and out of the mouth to sample tantalizing scents that guide the beast.
Finally we reach the end of the boardwalk and time for a little group photo. The poor ladies were so tired but they still put in a valiant effort at a happy photo. I still haven't figured out what the hoop was for.
We had a quick look at the nesting box that is part of a programme that has successfully supported a growing population of Oriental pied hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) on Pulau Ubin. But it was only after we got back to House No. 1 that we finally saw the birds. One was sitting very far away on a coconut palm.
At House No. 1, we take more amusing group photos. Here's Chay Hoon with her lively and enthusiastic group.
And just as we were leaving Chek Jawa, we noticed that the drivers have somehow managed to tame a young wild boar! It seems a bit nervous, but allowed the drivers to pat it. Uncle Chu was driving us today. He was the one who raised the famous and much-missed Priscilla the Pig. He explained that female wild boars are safer to tame. Males can become aggressive when they grow up. But Ley Kun explains why it's not a good idea to feed wild animals.
On the way home, the weather is really building up over Pasir Ris!
Here's the floating fish farms off Pulau Ubin with Pasir Ris town on the mainland.
With rain falling and lightning playing in the humungous clouds towering above the Changi coast with the tiny tiny sail boats for scale. Ivan and I tried to catch a photo of lightning but we just weren't lucky though we kept shoot continuously.
Alas, there seems to be heavy work being done on the Changi seawall near our favourite natural shores there.
With two large excavators on a barge. They seem to be tearing down an old jetty. Which unfortunately is quite close to the garden of beautiful sea fans there. Here's more about these sea fans on Kok Sheng's blog.
Earlier on, as we were leaving Changi jetty, we noticed a group of people trolleying stacks of baskets.
They were full of mud crabs (Scylla sp.).
Which were transferred to a bumboat. It is probably part of an animal release or animal 'liberation' effort.
Some people believe they gain spiritual merit by releasing market animals into the wild. Unfortunately, most of these released animals come to a sad end if they are dumped into the wrong habitat. Mud crabs, as their common name suggests, live in muddy mangroves in shallow waters. If they are released in deep water, they probably will not survive. Though the intention is good, the outcome is often tragic for the animals. Here's more about animal liberation on our shores.

Other posts about this trip
Cool day for nature trip to Chek Jawa Boardwalk by Ley Kun on the Adventures of the Naked Hermit Crabs

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