Saturday, April 6, 2013

Crab eating macaques during Chek Jawa guided walk

For the first time I get to meet Mr Crab Eating Macaque up close at Chek Jawa today, at the monthly Naked Hermit Crabs free guided walk.
Crab eating macaque
Waking up to a grey sky in the morning and with NEA's weather animation showing massive storm clouds passing by the southern parts of Singapore all the way to Batam, it was a relieve that we will not be hit by heavy rain. The weather was rather cooling this morning as I head out for Pulau Ubin with the other guides from the Naked Hermit Crabs and my 4 students to Chek Jawa.
Family group photo at the coastal boardwalk.
The children and parents enjoyed themselves.
We has a rather small turnout today, probably because of the wet weather in other parts of Singapore or simply just did not turn up based on the assumption of "it is going to rain". There were about 20 visitors  to start with for the guided walk. As soon as we were about to start our walk, the sky drizzle some rain.
That spoilt our group photo taking moments and we just did a brief introduction at the sheltered information kiosk.
Short briefing with the visitors.
The drizzle lasted for a short while and the humidity kicked in. I started off with a group of 8 adult visitors and it was great sharing stories with them. Sometimes guiding adults can be fun as I can share many interesting information with them and I also learnt new information from them. There is never an end to understanding our nature's fauna and flora.

At the base of the Jejawi tower, my sharp eyed adults already started asking about the mud mounts, the crabs and they also spotted the blue spotted mudskipper.
Blue-spotted mudskipper
It was through today's trip that I actually got a better observation of the blue-spotted mudskipper. I had initially mistook it for another type of mudskipper. 
Blue spots by the sides, especially near the check area.
While looking at the tree climbing crab, I shared with them that the other common name for the crab is the vinegar crab because of the pickling method used by the Teochews in the past. It is not common to know of adults who have tried this before, but a few of the adults in my group actually knew about this dish. I personally have tried it before but pickled in dark sauce, and I think I ate about 2 to 3 of it.

A family of 12 with children joined us along the boardwalk and gradually, I turned my focus in engaging the children. I felt so bad leaving the adults on their own but they understood the problem I was facing. The children were great helpers at spotting animals. They were able to spot many crabs for me and always eager and excited to find more animals.
"There, the crab!"
The children spotted many tree climbing crabs, tiny fiddler crabs in the mangrove, orange fiddler crabs at the coastal area and they were surprised to check out the resident mudskipper that is "always present" behind the mangrove rest shelter.
[Image taken from the walk on 10 Nov 2012]
This mudskipper was clever enough to build its home right behind the rest shelter. Every trip, it allows visitors to look at it comfortably while resting in the shelter.

The bonus for today's trip was being able to see 3 crab eating macaques on a sea hibiscus tree at the boardwalk junction where the bakau tree is. The children got really excited on hearing that there were "monkeys" nearby. Luckily I was able to manage their excitement and everyone got a good look and took great photos of the macaques. One of them was feeding on bits found on the carapace of a horseshoe crab while a bigger macaque looks like it had some kind of fruit or seed. The bigger macaque even walked up a hanging branch above us and sat there. It was a great encounter.
Picking from the carapace of a horseshoe crab.
Bigger macaque holding onto some kind of fruit or seed.
Moving up to the branch above us.
Near the coastal shelter, everyone was mesmerised by a huge school of fish circling round the boardwalk pillars. My children visitors got creative and they looked through the spaces between planks on the boardwalk to see the fish since the railing was too high for them to be able to see the fish.
Looking at the fish through the spaces between boardwalk planks.
Amazing and happy children in my group.
At the end of the walk, the children spent some time doing up their guest book drawing. They are wonderful and great artists, demonstrating great memory, details and imaginations.

How can I forget about my 4 students who joined us today on their first experience being a nature guide. Sharina and Sarah H. followed Ria's group while Sheyenne and Alex follow me. Today, they are tagging along with the Naked Hermit Crab guides to learn how to conduct nature guiding. They picked up many interesting information and hopefully, they will start guiding slowly in the next session.
Left to right: Sharina, Sarah Hyder, Sheyenne and Alexandra
Great thanks to the guides who helped today: Ivan, Ria and Pei Yan.
Great welcome to our young guides: Sharina, Sarah H., Sheyenne and Alexandra.

The Naked Hermit Crabs conducts free guided walks at Chek Jawa and Pasir Ris mangrove.
For more information about our walks, dates and sign up form visit the Naked Hermit Crabs blog

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great photos of the trip! I've included some of them for the Naked Hermit Crab blog!



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