Sunday, April 16, 2017

An otterly wonderful walk at the Pasir Ris Mangroves

It’s been quite a while since our last walk at the Pasir Ris Mangroves, and we are glad to have 57 visitors join us for the long Easter weekend!

A little rain won't stop us!

After a quick introduction, we split into four groups, each led by our volunteer guides. It had begun to drizzle when the walk began, but luckily for us, the rain only lasted for a while, and we were able to resume the walk after a short wait.

Soon after we set off, the kids noticed many little brown balls scattered around the forest floor. What are they? Well, those are the seeds of the pong pong tree! These seeds are able to float, which allow them to be carried far away by water!

Pong Pong Seeds

The kids were excited to see mangrove tree climbing crabs, which quickly hid into their burrows when they sensed our presence. However, some brave crabs remained outside, allowing us to catch a few photos of them. These crabs have pointy legs, which help them grab onto and climb up trees.

Taking a peep outside

The children also had lots of fun looking for the giant mudskippers! These fish blend in well with the mud, so it takes a good eye to spot them. Luckily for us, they didn’t stay very still, which made it easier to find them. These giant mudskippers can be found all over the Pasir Ris Mangroves.

Can you spot the mudskipper?
Photo by Mohammad Juhari

We also managed to find a large cluster of weaver ants feeding! These cool ants are able to use silk to 'sew' leaves together to create a nest. Weaver ants may build several nests in a few trees as part of a large colony.

Weaver Ants
Photo by LK

Here is Sean showing a bagworm to the kids. Basically, a bagworm is a moth that spins a cocoon in its larval stage, and decorating it with leaves and plant materials.
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We had an exciting sighting of the Shore pit viper. Sankar (who is one of the founding members of the Herpetological Society of Singapore) found it resting in the branches near one of the huts. This beautiful black snake gets its name from the pits on its head, which it uses to sense heat for catching prey. Everyone was thrilled to see it! We lingered for a long time to make sure that every kid and adult saw the shore pit viper properly. We did caution everyone that the shore pit viper is a highly venomous snake, and it is wise to keep a safe distance from it, but we were glad that we had a wonderful teaching moment to share the beauty and fragility of this species and of snakes in general.

Shore Pit Viper
Photo by Mohammad Juhari

The search for the hidden snake
Photo by LK

We were also lucky to see a juvenile monitor lizard trying to find a comfortable hole in the tree to roost for the night. Even though monitor lizards are predators in the mangrove forests, they are known to be very clever in finding safe places on high ground to stay away from other predators. In yet another tree, we saw an adult monitor lizard lying very comfortably on a tall branch. Ready to rest when nightfall comes!

The best encounter of the day happened at the end of our walk. While the kids were having a drawing session, one of our visitors spotted something moving in the water. Originally, we thought it was a monitor lizard, but as it swam closer, we realized it was something much cuter - an OTTER! It swam very close and was immediately a hit with everyone, especially the kids. It was even kind enough to flash a smile for the camera!

Otter looking back at us!
Humans looking at otter

After the otter swam away, the kids continued their drawing session, and proceeded to make some incredible drawings! Good job, everyone!

Jetty over Sungai Tampines

A big thank you to our volunteer guides LK, Ria, Sumita, Tim, Chen Xi, Sankar, and Sean, whom this walk would not have been possible without! Many thanks to Mohammad Juhari (MJ) as well for his amazing photos of the walk! More great photos of the walk can be found on his Facebook page, so please do go take a look! Last but not least, thank you to all the visitors who signed up for this walk! It was a pleasure to have you come along with us for our trip, and we hope to see you again!

LK with visitors
Photo by Mohammad Juhari

LK and Ria with visitors
Photo by Mohammad Juhari

Sumita and Tim with visitors
Photo by Mohammad Juhari

Sankar with visitors
Photo by Mohammad Juhari

Sean with visitors
Photo by Mohammad Juhari

Come and see Mohammad Juhari’s Facebook here!:

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