Saturday, September 8, 2007

NHC @ Chek Jawa Boardwalk on 8 Sep 2007

Twenty-third discovery posting:

Question: What does it take to be a nature lover?

Answer: A gung ho spirit!

Although this morning's island-wide rain really had me worried for moments if the walk today was still going to be conducted or not. All worries were dispelled when i saw the other Crabbies (Naked Hermit Crabs) all ready to leave for Chek Jawa (CJ). =)

As i waited alone (the other crabbies went off to CJ first) for the participants from NIE to arrive, phonecalls and SMS-es continued to pour through my phone, the sky continued to pour with rain..hahaha.

Two commonly asked questions
"Is the event still on?"
"Where is the meeting place?"

So after a single mad man rush of collecting money and checking who's here and not, everyone finally managed to board the boat to Ubin.

A group shot for the blog and my 'swimming' camera's first meaningful photo (picture below) while on the boat to Ubin.
Drizzles of rain continued to fall from the sky as we left the Changi Jetty (picture below).
I was suppose to guide the thunder crabs today, but then as our groups was a bit small, so i decided why not combine the group of thunder and vinegar crabs, actually i was also feeling a bit lazy after all the rush at the jetty earlier =P. Have to say thanks to Ron for doing most of the guiding. =)

Anyway, here's OJT PeiHao doing an explanation for first 'discovery', the sea nutmeg tree (picture below).
We couldn't manage to find any red fruits for the tree today, so here's a photo from my collection (picture below).
Discovery Note:
1. It was once thought that this tree could no longer be found in Singapore, however it was discovered to be living in Chek Jawa.
2. The bright red pulp of the fruit attracts large birds such as the Oriental pied-hornbills (picture below), that eat and disperse them.

Side Note:
We did not spot any Oriental pied-hornbills, but i'm going to put it as the second 'discovery' as this is the iconic bird of Ubin.
Discovery Note:
1. The Oriental pied-hornbills on Pulau Ubin are the only truly wild hornbills found on Singapore.
2. The hornbill's trademark is its large, long bill. The bill, however, is not as heavy as it appears. 3. It is not made of solid bone but of a honeycombed tissue.
4. Their call is harsh and penetrating and has been described as a loud, staccato cackling; or a yak-yak-yak; and even as the cackling of a witch on a broomstick!
5. The Oriental pied-hornbill plays an important role in the health of the forest as it disperses seeds that are too big for smaller birds to eat.

Third 'discovery' is Pulau Sekudu
aka Frog island (picture below), have to say thanks to the participants in my group for correcting how to say the name of this island, as i kept getting it wrong.. hahaha Discovery Note:
1. There is a legend saying that the frog island was formed by a XXXX (it's a no brainer, right?).
2. For the exact story, please come for the CJ boardwalks conducted by NHC =P

A number of mudskippers out in action today, was it due to the tide? I wonder. Anyway, this is the fourth 'discovery', a mudskipper (picture below).
Discovery Note:
1. Mudskippers are amphibious animals and they are fishes! So they are able to breathe on land and underwater.
2. Underwater, mudskippers breathe through gills like other fishes. On land, mudskippers use their enlarged gill chambers to retain water which aids them in breathing on land. Something like a scuba diver’s air tank, only that this ‘tank’ is filled with water.
3. Mudskippers can also tolerate high levels of toxic substances such as cyanide.

Besides interesting animals and plants which we can 'discover' along the CJ boarwalk, there are also other wonderful sights which are worthy of camera shots. Here's one (picture below). As we walked into the mangrove forest, fifth 'discovery' was pointed out, the seashore pandan (picture below).Discovery Note:
1. This is also called the Seashore S
2. It is a formidable plant to encounter as it has dense clusters of long, stiff leaves armed with three rows of short spines.
3. The compound fruit resembles a pineapple and are dispersed by water.
4. Like many other screwpines, the leaves are used to make mats and baskets.

And of course, mangrove trees were 'discovered' in the mangrove forest. The pictures below shows the aerial roots of the mangrove trees, sixth 'discovery'.

Discovery Note:
1. Mangrove plants developed aerial roots so that they could cope with living in unstable, water-logged (during high tide) and oxygen-poor mud.

2. Aerial roots are roots that arise from the ground.

3. These roots help them to
stabilise the mangrove plants and they can take in atmospheric air when exposed.
Discovery Note:
1. Foreground of picture above shows kneed roots from the Bruguiera species.
2. Background of picture above shows prop roots from the Bakau (Rhizophora) species.
Discovery Note:
1. Picture above shows the pencil roots frmo the Api-api (Avicennia) species.

What were these two rock like objects on the mangrove floor? Seventh 'discovery'!
Discovery Note:
1. These are the vinegar crabs or tree climbing crabs.
2. The Teochew are known to pickle this crab in black sauce with vinegar, and take it with porridge. That’s why they are also called vinegar crabs.
3. The Thais like it salted, with the roe or simply fried whole.

4. There is a tree climbing crab named the Singapore vinegar crab (E. singaporense), it has entirely red claws and commonly sighted in or near mud lobster mounds.

Side Note:
Made a mistake today for saying the Singapore vinegar crabs has red and white claws. Sorry, everyone =P

Eighth 'discovery' was a Atap Plam, here's its fruits (picture below).
Discovery Note:
1. Found in areas with calm waters of low salinity (amount of salt in the water is low).
2. The Nipah palm is the only true mangrove palm.
3. Its mature fronds are used for thatching the roofs of houses, therefore the name of “attap house” and are also woven into mats and baskets.
4. Its most recognisable use locally is its edible young seeds (attap chee).

After an hour plus, we soon reached the second last station of the walk, the Jejawi Tower (picture below), ninth 'discovery'.
Discovery Note:
1. The tower is named after a Jejawi Tree found nearby the tower.
2. A Jejawi Tree is actually a fig.
3. The tree is about 20 meters tall, about the same height as the tower itself!
4. Climbing to the top of the tower would enable you to do bird sighting or view the different ecosystems found in CJ.
5. It would be a bad idea though to climb this tower when the weather is bad, especially when there is lighting.

And once on top of the tower, everyone's attention on was this long tailed Macaque (picture below), tenth 'discovery'!
Discovery Note:
1. Macaques are hardy, intelligent primates with stout bodies and powerful limbs.

2. These macaques are commonly seen in our nature reserves.

3. The population of the macaques are growing because they have no predator.

Side Note:
1. The macaque we spotted was eating the fruits of the Jejawi Tree.
2. So it goes to say, that they are able to find their own food!
3. Conclusion: Please don't feed the monkeys! =)

What would a group walk be without the group photo? Here's the thunder and vinegar crabs with Ron and Pei Hao (picture below). Oh, i'm not 'in' as i was taking the photo. =P So after making a last stop at House No.1 and a short debrief, the walk ended with the participants writing on the NHC guest sheets.

Thanks to all the NIE participants for turning up despite the early morning downpour. You dudes are really gung-ho! =)
Also thanks to all NHC crabbies for making this another event to remember!

No comments: