Sunday, August 05, 2007

An Outing at CJ Boardwalk

Today, volunteers from the Naked Hermit Crabs, Green Volunteers Network, and NIE Green Club had an outing at the Chek Jawa boardwalk!

It was a very valuable experience as the various volunteers hardly had the opportunity to meet up to share their experiences.

We started with the mangrove section of the boardwalk, and here are some of the interesting nature things we encountered along the way :)

This is a native plant called Flemingia strobilifera. The brownish things you see above are neither the fruit nor flower. They are modified leaves called bracts. If you open up the bracts, you will be able to find the little flowers or fruits in them. It is said that the dried bracts are used for stuffing pillows and cushions in some places.

We also saw a mangrove trumpet tree (Dolichandrone spathacea). You can see that the fruits are curved, and look like bean pods. The timber is sometimes used as firewood, and for making matches and clogs.

Near the Jejawi Tower was a huge tree that the tower was named after - the Jejawi tree. Otherwise also known as the Malayan Banyan, this is a species of strangling fig - the young plant sometimes embraces another host plant for support to reach out for sunlight. In many cases, the host plant may be strangled to death.

There were also many Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) at the beginning of the boardwalk. The seeds of this plant are used to produce a black dye, the roots, a pink dye. Both the seeds and the leaves of this plant can be eaten, though the seeds stain the tongue black. Leaves are used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery in some places.

Apart from plants, we have many interesting animals in the mangroves too, including the tree-climbing crab above. Tree-climbing crabs are primarily leaf-eaters. They are also called vinegar crabs, because the Teochew are known to pickle this crab in black sauce with vinegar. By the way, I'm a Teochew, and I've eaten this when I was young actually, but don't exactly like it.

This is probably a blue-spotted mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti). When we found it, it was there grazing on the algae and detritus, moving its mouth sideways over the mud.

We also saw a giant mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri), which feeds on small crabs, worms and insects.

There was a beautiful nipah (Nypa fruticans) mangrove by the boardwalk too. While it looked like there are many palms in the above photo and they do not have trunks, in actual fact the trunks are horizontal and lies underground! The trunk branches and each branch ends with a bunch of fronds. So for all you know, it's possible that there is just one tree here!

And here are the flowers of the nipah palm, with a young fruit in the middle.

And among the fallen leaves of the palm, we spotted a juvenile Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator). Monitor lizards eat anything that they can swallow, from insects, to crabs, shells, snakes, eggs, fish, birds, rodents, and even other monitor lizards.

We also spotted a lovely common tiger butterfly (Danaus genutia genutia).

If you look carefully into the photo above, you will find something long with black and white bands. It's a banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus)! This is the second time I've seen it here at the CJ boardwalk! While it is highly venomous it usually does not have an aggressive temperament by day. At nights it is more active and potentially more dangerous. But like I always say, treat all wildlife with respect. If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone too. See KS's Wonderful Creations blog for our first encounter!

There were lots of sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) by the boardwalk too. The plant secretes a sweet substance through small slits on the leaf veins on the under surface near the stalk. And this attracts ants to feed on the substance.

On the way back, we saw this interesting plant with blue fruits. Not sure what plant is this though. Any help on the ID will be appreciated :)

We also saw a web with lots of little reddish brown beads. On taking a closer look, we then realised that they are actually baby spiders! Wonder if the big black spider on top which looks like an ant is their mama. Hmmm...

1 comment:

jipe said...

Hi! I'm French people and I feel very happy that you get interest for the wild life around you. I like so much nature and forests in SW Asia3..