12 March 2011

Dancing with the mudskippers and Naked Hermit Crabs on Chek Jawa

The rain cleared for a fabulous cool, blue-sky day! How nice to spend it on Chek Jawa with families for the monthly boardwalk tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs!
Here's the cheerful Chua and Chin families and their delightful daughters at the start of our walk

Even before we began the walk, we were enjoying the melodius calls of the Straw headed bulbul at the Chek Jawa Information Kiosk. Fortunately, the kind staff there had a copy of the Chek Jawa guidebook so we could have a look at what the bird looks like.
It's great to give kids a glimpse of old kampung life. There used to be a village called Kampung Chek Jawa here, and kids are always fascinated by the old village well.
The Jejawi Tower is another favourite. Although it's a bit of a climb on a swaying tower, we are rewarded with great views of the surrounding area. From mainland Singapore, to Pulau Tekong and Johor. We can also see how the vegetation changes from forest to mangrove to the shores.
We descend to explore 'Mosquito Valley'. Fortunately, today there were very few mossies so we could slowly look at the many creatures that live in this back mangrove. Today, the kids spotted lots and lots of colourful and cute fiddler crabs!
They also pointed out many small mudskippers, which are well camouflaged! We saw one Giant mudskipper that was shy and quickly splashed away into hiding.
There were also lots of spiders! One of the nicest spiders pointed out by the visitors was a Mangrove St. Andrew's spider. I'm so glad they were so good at spotting, as I'm quite blind.
Here's Chay Hoon guiding another group of our visitors, at the 'front' mangroves facing the sea. It's very different from the back mangroves.
The boardwalk takes us out over the open mudflats and here we are delighted to see the 'dancing mudskippers'! These long skinny mudskippers leap up and stand on their tails (for a few seconds) in an attempt to impress their girlfriends. Well, I'm always impressed by this!
They also have a long skinny fin at the top of their body. I love these mudskippers! So far, I've only been able to comfortably observe them at Chek Jawa. More about this fascinating mudskipper.
Also on these mudflats, are countless fiddler crabs. These are different from those that we saw in the back mangroves.
The tide was low and slowly coming in. In the distance, we saw two Great bill herons patiently fishing in the seagrass meadows that grow further out.
Circling overhead, we saw a handsome White-bellied fish eagle riding the 'escalator' of hot air rising up on this warm sunny day.
The boardwalk brings us to the seagrass meadows. Today there were lots and lots of people as it's the start of the school holidays.
The incoming tide was teeming with small fishes that were greedily rushing in to be the first to forage on the shore. We saw lots of these, which I think are mullets.
More mullets?
On the way back, the girls manage to sneak up to a pretty butterfly that settled on the ground. The family also saw a flying tree snake at the Visitor Centre even before we started the tour! It was a great pleasure to discover Chek Jawa together with such enthusiastic nature-loving families!
I bumped into many old friends today who were out on the boardwalk. As well as Subaraj and friends who were guiding a very large group. How nice to see so many people enjoying Chek Jawa!
More about Chek Jawa and the Naked Hermit Crabs.

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