Saturday, November 7, 2015


Cicada Tree Eco-Place

Overnight Nature Camp on St. John’s Island

8-9 September 2015

Text by Teresa Teo Guttensohn & Andrew Tay

 
St. John’s Island, off the southern coast of Singapore, still has natural seashore ecosystems and amazing biodiversity. Here the coastal forest grows to meet natural sandy beaches, rocky shore and mangrove forest, to coral reefs off-shore. Dolphins are regularly sighted from this little island.

©Gary Chee

Arriving with overnight bags at jetty of St John’s Island

©Lucy Leong

The Fun family enjoying the short ferry ride from mainland Singapore.

©Lucy Leong
 

All aboard are excited to discover the island’s natural wildlife (right to left: Angie Ng, Peggy Fong, Victor & Justin Chee.)


©Gary Chee
 

Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator) - one of the St John’s Island laid back island wild inhabitants.

Grabbing the opportunity given during the one week school hols, Cicada Tree Eco-Place organised a much anticipated overnight nature camp for parents and kids. Fun activities for participants included nature-guided day/night/land/seashore walks, islandlife workshop, star-gazing presentation, and slide show on the biodiversity of our offshore islands, side-visits to Lazarus and Kusu islands.

©Lucy Leong
 

 

Is that a Plane? Is that Bird?
 
 

©Gary Chee
 
With the aid of binoculars, volunteers quickly identified the island’s many feathered wildlife


©Lucy Leong
 
An impressive flock of migrating eagles (Honey Buzzards?) spiralling up into the sky above us!


©Lucy Leong
 
St. John’s is home for Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus), which swoop in at dusk to roost on the island’s tallest tree tops.
 
 
©Gary Chee
 
 
Arriving at Blk 16 Camp dormitory set amongst tall old trees and green grassy lawn.
 
 
 
©Gary Chee
 
Welcome for campers by Cicada Tree Eco-place (standing L to R): Eco-artist Teresa Teo Guttensohn, nature consultant Andrew, and birding enthusiast Winnie Chan.
 
 
©Gary Chee
 
”Choping” bunk beds was all part of the novelty of sleeping in simple army-style dorms with double-deck metal beds, and communal male/female toilets and bathrooms.
 
©Gary Chee


Guided seashore walk led by Andrew Tay to discover creatures hiding amongst rocks and sand 
 
 
©Lucy Leong
 

Fiddler crabs (Uca sp.) on sandy beach

©Gary Chee

Empty shells of the African Giant Land Snail. The kids left them where they were found for the Land Hermit Crabs to wear.
 
 
 
©Gary Chee


 
 
A lone Cocoloba or Sea Grapes tree on the idyllic shore.
 
©Gary Chee
 
Shhh! We have to be stealthy to spy on the shy Fiddler Crabs emerging from their burrows.
 
 
©Lucy Leong
 
A couple of tree-climbing crabs hiding in the sea wall cracks.
 
 
©Gary Chee


A thriving patch of mangrove forest on St. John’s seashore.
 
 
©Gary Chee
 

Evidence of a wonderful shore life
 
 
©Gary Chee
 

The lovely and very pimply Onchidium sea slug up close!
 
 
©Gary Chee
 
  The low tide at St. John’s lagoon revealed a whole host of seashore-life such as snails, sandhoppers, barnacles, crabs, marine worms and the Mermaid’s Fan seaweed.
 
 
©Lucy Leong
 

Kids and families discovered the wonder of the outdoors and nature big and small.
 
©Celine Low
 
The 2 Elliots showed that there was plenty to learn about the common, humble coconut (Cocos nucifera).
 
 
©Celine Low
 
Plant expert, Angie Ng, demonstrates the tough skill of de-husking and opening a coconut – well done Angie! 
 
 
©Gary Chee
 
The campers shared on the amazing biodiversity they had seen on St John’s Island.
 
 
 
©Gary Chee
Each family received a folder full of information on the seashore-life of Singapore, wildlife of Singapore’s mangrove forests, and how to appreciate darkness and not create light pollution.
 
 
©Gary Chee
 

Kampong folks had moved out of St John’s Island, formerly known as Pulau Sakijang, a long time ago. Instead we found a colony of cats that loved island life!


©Peggy Fong


Zoanne and Dayan and the simple joy of discovering the pretty flower of a coastal tree on the seashore (Boxfruit Tree, Barringtonia asiatica)
 
 
©Lucy Leong
 

The Putat Laut or Boxfruit Tree has unique box-shaped fruits.
 
 
 ©Gary Chee

A slow, tranquil morning walk to nearby Lazarus Island
 
©Gary Chee
 

Under a log on Lazarus’ shore, the kids discover a mysterious empty shell of a terrapin, which Andrew is holding.
 
 
 ©Gary Chee

“Hey! Look what I found!” Nature is awesome in its endless mysteries!
 
 
 ©Gary Chee
 
Before leaving the wonderful laid back island atmosphere, Teresa shared with everyone on the fascinating historical heritage of St John’s Island, which includes being a quarantine station, a penal settlement and a drug rehabilitation centre.
 
 
 



Saturday, July 18, 2015

CAT Walk (May 1-4) Photos

Check out our photos from the May 1-4 CAT Walk trip!



The May dream team, from left to right: Danny, Ash, Tim, Carmen, Atan, Ywee Chieh, Diego and Henrietta.



Sambar deer. This one had an orange collar, which meant it was a released deer. It was thin and didn't look too healthy.



Setting up a trail camera...


...Mission accomplished!


Asian elephant dung!



Beautiful view of Taman Negara



Au naturale foot spa at Kelam waterfall!


Unfortunately, we spotted a civet cat which had become roadkill, likely while trying to cross the highway. This is why we need wildlife corridors, to allow animals to cross safely.



A beautiful forest fly (species ID, anyone?)



Not just hard work!


Photos by Vilma D'Rozario.

Saturday, May 30, 2015