Saturday, September 7, 2013

Anniversary walk at Chek Jawa

Today marks a special milestone for the Naked Hermit Crabs. The volunteer group is celebrating 6 years of guided walk at Chek Jawa! I may not be a 6 years old nature guide with them but I'm glad to be part of this "celebration" right here at Chek Jawa.

I'm the crazy person looking into the binoculars on the extreme left.
[Photo by Ria Tan]
We did not have a large group of visitors today. On average, the visitor to guide ratio is estimated to be about 4 to 1. Visitors were separated into 3 groups and were privileged to have at least 2 experienced guides with each group. The guides in each group took turns to speak so what we would not tired ourselves along the walk.

Today was my first time seeing the back mangrove filled with water, probably through the combination of in-coming tide and the heavy morning downpours these few days. Just before we reached the Jejawi tower, the usually dry patch of mud nearby was flooded and I noticed many groups of tiny dots on the water surface.
Possible frog eggs
They could be the eggs of the crab-eating frog (Rana cancrivora). The crab-eating frog is an exception of the amphibians as it is among the few that is tolerant of salt water conditions.

Up on the Jejawi tower, I spotted a Crimson sunbird next to the Jejawi tree just before I was about to make my way down. However the bird was perched rather far away for my lens.
Crimson sunbird
Back on the mangrove boardwalk, it was rather quiet apart from the large swarms of mosquitoes pestering me throughout the boardwalk. Both my arms provide evidence that I have done my part in blood donation to nature.

The group came across may tree-climbing crabs, a few spiders, mudskippers and mangrove fiddler crabs.
Tree-climbing crab
The highlight of the whole guided walk for me was to see a white-bellied sea eagle landing on a dead mangrove tree along the coastal boardwalk. Just nice, there was good clearing view for the group to view this majestic bird perched on the tree. My 105mm lens could not get a decent shot of this bird so I roped in my binoculars and compact camera instead.
White-bellied sea eagle
We were fortunate to have great weather today. The sky was cloudy with slight breeze and a bit of sun.

On the not-so-happy side, Ria and I noticed that the mangrove fern at the base of Jejawi tower has been deliberately cut. The cut leaves were thrown and scattered around that area. What is going on?
Yellow oval shows where the mangrove ferns used to be growing. On the left are some of the cut ferns,
To the right where the ferns were growing, the scattering of cut ferns.
We also notice cutting of trees along the mangrove boardwalk, resulting in some small sections of the boardwalk to be brighter than the whole mangrove.

On the shore side of Chek Jawa, there were 3 fishing boats spotted within the boundary of Chek Jawa and a speedboat was passing through between the coastal boardwalk and the Chek Jawa front beacon. On the NParks' website, there is a "Notice to Vessels" link which downloads a letter informing the shipping community on the boundary of Chek Jawa Wetlands and practices to be observed. 
Fishing boat neat the Chek Jawa beacon
Speedboat passing behind the beacon, in front of boardwalk.
Another fishing boat neat the beacon
Fish boat some distances from the pontoon.
One of the practices not allowed states "There shall be no collection of any organism (including remains of an organism) or use of rods, lines, hooks, nets and traps within Chek Jawa Wetlands".


I'm glad the visitors had enjoyed themselves throughout the walk despite the ferocious attacking mozzies along the mangrove section. I don't even want to count the number of marks I have on both my arms. There's just too many to count.

Happy 6th anniversary to the Naked Hermit Crabs and wishing many more years to come!

Other posts about this trip:

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