I love Pasir Ris Park. It is huge, it has all sorts of interesting areas to check out, from a mangrove boardwalk, a fantastic playground, to a rather interesting maze (read this post by fellow mummy blogger Ing, for more things you could do at this park). If you or your family are early birds, the beach at the park also is a great place to watch the sunrise!
One of my favourite spots in this sprawling park would be this tiny little stretch of mangrove near the mouth of Sungei Tampines. This was my research site last time when I was doing my Masters dissertation, and I spent many a hot morning standing there taking notes. While it can be full of trash (unfortunately, the beach over at Pasir Ris is not too clean), this little spot boasts of a huge population of fiddler crabs.
|Uca annulipes, female|
|Uca annulipes, male, at the mouth of his burrow.|
Fiddler crabs are rather interesting to watch. The males wield one enlarged claw, while the females can be distinguished because both their claws are the same size. This stretch of beach is home to two main species of fiddlers: Uca annulipes and Uca vocans, which can be identified from their colours and markings.
The males engage in waving behaviour, where they wave their enlarged cheliped, usually to attract mates. It sometimes gets pretty funny to see a couple of males waving frantically at a passing female, while she scuttles past ignoring them!
Waving aside, these crabs are usually busy foraging at low tide. They dig themselves out of their burrows, neatly rolling the wet sand into mudballs which pile up at the burrow entrances. These critters are really shy, and would run for cover with the approach of birds or humans, so if you'd have to stay still and quiet, and wait for awhile before they would emerge from their burrows.
|Uca vocans, male.|
|The best place to park would be at Car Park C. Cross Sungei Tampines,|
and walk all the way down to the beach (area circled in orange). This map was adapted from this post.
If you would like to bring the kids to go fiddler crab spotting, do note:
1. Please bring lots of water, insect repellant, sunscreen, and wear covered shoes (unless you want them to splash at the beach). The mangrove area tends to catch alot of washed up trash, and it can be dangerous for exposed little feet.
2. Teach the kids to respect nature: They would have to stay still and wait patiently before the crabs would emerge. And please, resist the urge to catch the crabs!
3. The crabs will only emerge at low tide. Check the tide tables and plan accordingly.
Read our previous post on fiddler crabs for more tips! And click here if you'd like to read about more nature areas in Singapore. Have fun exploring!