24 April 2010

Chek Jawa: Monkeys and Memecylon

There was a monkey on the Chek Jawa boardwalk today!
Ley Kun and I were doing the monthly Naked Hermit Crab walk at the boardwalk. This is my first time seeing a monkey approach humans on Ubin.
The monkey actually made a move towards one of our group holding a plastic bag. This is not a good sign as it suggests this monkey is already associating humans and plastic bags with food. This generally happens when people feed monkeys. We should not feed monkeys as this makes them aggressive and when they become a nuisance, they have to be killed. Here's more reasons why we should not feed monkeys.

Besides this one monkey on the boardwalk, there were more moving about in the mangroves around us. Here's one hiding in a tree. It has a long tail and indeed, these are called Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis).
They are also called Crab-eating macaques and are naturally found in our mangroves and coastal forests. Here, they forage and disperse seeds of the forest and maintain the natural balance by eating their natural food. Please don't feed the monkeys!

Today, the Delek air trees (Memecylon edule) were blooming with a vengeance! These rare, Critically Endangered coastal trees are plentiful on Chek Jawa, growing in profusion along the rocky coastline.
Almost every single tree there was festooned with bunches of bright blue flowers today!
And what a delightful surprise to see that a young tree had been planted within easy reach right next to the entrance of the mangrove boardwalk. Here is Ley Kun explaining the route on the signboard there, the yellow arrow points out the young Delek air tree.
It too was in full bloom! So if you're at Chek Jawa, you don't need to strain from the boardwalk to take a closer look at these gorgeous blooms!
Also in bloom today, was the old mangosteen tree next to the well!
This means the Durian trees (Durio zibethinus) must be blooming as well. And indeed we saw fallen flowers on the path. Ley Kun shares that in 100 days, there will soon be delicious Ubin durians to eat!

Of course, the boardwalk allows us to see all kinds of animals too. There were lots of little cute colourful fiddler crabs with red eyes.
Little well camouflaged mudskippers. This might be the Slender mudskipper (Periophthalmus gracilis).
And right next to the Jejawi Tower, a long mudskipper near a hole. I'm not sure if it's a Blue-spotted mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti). I couldn't really see its blue spots today.
Ley Kun also spots a very large caterpillar eating the leaves of Api-api putih (Avicennia alba)! This looks like the caterpillar of the Atlas moth. I've seen this caterpillar eat other mangrove tree leaves like the Berembang (Sonneratia alba).
On the coastal boardwalk, we see lots of 'dancing' Bearded mudskippers (Scartelaos histophorus). The fiddler crabs, however, seem less abundant on the mudflats today. But I did manage to see some of the usual fiddlers there: on the left the Porcelain fiddler crab (Uca annulipes) and the Orange fiddler crab (Uca vocans).
One of the sharp-eyed visitor spots a Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator) foraging on the shoreline.
Throughout the morning, the mangroves resounded with the calls of crowing Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus), the wild ancestors of our domesticated chickens. Ley Kun saw one flying among the trees! The visitors also spotted Kingfishers and a Sandpiper. While near the prawn pond, the sunbirds were cheeping madly.

We sure had a lively trip despite the heat and humidity. Here is the sporting group at the top of the Jejawi Tower.
They are from a Buddhist Centre. So I took the opportunity to share with them about 'animal liberation' and why it is cruel. It seems they are unaware of some of the sad consequences. I hope they will share what they have learnt and channel the good intentions behind such activities into truly compassionate work to be kind to our environment.

On the way to Chek Jawa, I noticed the barge was still on the Changi shore.
It seems that a series of large blue barrels joined together are either being picked up or laid down. I have no idea what this is about.
Sadly, the water quality didn't seem good today. The colour was once again, brownish like strong tea. And floating on the water, I noticed two large dead fish, similar to those I saw in the hundreds washed up on Pasir Ris in Dec 09.
Let's hope this doesn't portend evil times for the area. I will be checking up Pasir Ris later in the week for the next series of low tides.

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