It was a glorious bright and sunny morning as we headed out for Pulau Ubin.
Today, the Naked Hermit Crabs were helping out Kok Sheng and his friends from NIE to share Chek Jawa with some special families.
With the recent rains including the once-in-50-years big flood, the air was crisp and clear. We had a good view of green green Ubin even from a distance.
The kids were really special and we had lots of fun! Kampung stuff like the old village well was fascinating for urban kids.
They were enthusiastic and very good at spotting things!
But first the Jejawi Tower. Which proved to be a challenge for some of the kids who were afraid of heights. I too, don't feel too comfortable on the wobbly tower, especially when looking down through the steps. But the kids made it all the way up with the friendly encouragement of the NIE volunteers. Here we are at the top for a great view of Johor, Pulau Tekong, and even mainland Singapore in the distance. Wow, the air sure was crisp and clear today.
There were lots of people out on the boardwalk today! Joe Lai was leading the group (I kept missing a chance to say hi to him, Hi Joe!), and Pui San and Alyce were leading another group, while the Ubin Volunteers came around later in the day for an orientation for new volunteers.
In the mangroves there were lots to see! Crabs were particularly enthralling for the kids. Here's a big tree climbing crab (Episesarma sp.), with some ellobid snails (Family Ellobidae) on the mangrove tree nearby.
And what luck! There was a young Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator) ambling next to the boardwalk. And it wasn't shy even though the kids were screaming in excitement.
Mudskippers are of course a source of great fascination. Especially the Giant mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri). This one has just finished digging out a nice pool in the hopes of attracting a mate. You can see the balls of mud at the edge of the pool, that he had dug out with just his mouth!
And then, there are lots of tiny little fiddler crabs and other strange brightly coloured crabs.
The kids have great fun taking a closer look at all these animals from the boardwalk.
In the trees and bushes are small creatures such as spiders, grasshoppers and other bugs. We missed it, but the others saw an Oriental whip snake (Ahaetulla prasina)!
The coastal boardwalk is fun even at high tide! At the edges of the incoming tide, there were gatherings of belligerent mudskippers. Showing one another the dorsal fin. This one is the Yellow spotted mudskipper (Periophthalmus walailakae).
While here is a Gold spotted mudskipper (Periophthalmus chrysospilos) showing his bright orange dorsal fin edged in black.
The kids have really taken to Allen who literally gets dragged around to explain stuff to them.
High tide is a great time to be on the boardwalk. It is only then that we can see fishes such as these large ones with yellow tails swimming in the high water. Later, Ivan tells us they are square-tailed mullets.
The coastal boardwalk hugs the forest that is growing on the natural rocky hillside of Chek Jawa.
Here, all kinds of rare trees are still growing happily. Like the Delek air (Memecylon edule) which has pretty blue flowers and bright red fruits that ripen black. Looks like the trees are fruiting today!
And here's a view of the Chek Jawa Rear Beacon, often forgotten and overlooked. Together with the more obvious Chek Jawa Front Beacon, they form a critical part of the navigation system of the important waterways around Chek Jawa.
All too soon, we were back at House No. 1, gathering at the grassy patch overlooking Pulau Sekudu. The kids and other participants had fun sharing their thoughts in the Guestbook, then it was time for a group photo. Wow, that sure was a big group of people!
Thanks to Kok Sheng and his team for organising this fun and interesting walk. It has been one of the best weekends I've had for a long time.
We left the group for a lovely leisurely lunch with Alyce. There's nothing quite like home-cooked food on Ubin. And as we head home, the clouds start to build up once again.
Earlier in the morning, at Changi Jetty we saw a trolley full of suspicious looking strands. It turned out to be buckets of lobsters! Those are their antennae sticking out.
Ivan noticed the constant stream of barges slowly heading past Ubin. There's a sand stockpile somewhere near Punggol.
But I noticed the barge with construction cranes on Changi Beach is no longer there.
The school holidays have started and there are long weekends coming up ahead. The best time to visit Pulau Ubin is in the early morning. This way, you avoid the crowds both going to the island and returning home, as well as at the eating places on the island. Also, there's a better chance of missing the usual afternoon rains. AND the animals are usually more active in the early morning.
With the boardwalk, you can visit Chek Jawa at any tide!
More about Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa including what to see and do and how to get there.