Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Pulau Ubin is a nature island in the eastern corner of Singapore. The island has more to offer nature-lovers than just cycling around. Go for the natural scenery, the mangroves, the wetland at Chek Jawa and the wild floras and faunas. Let the island be a big classroom for nature studies for both kids and adults.
Apart from nature, there are cultural sites too since the island has been inhabited for more than a hundred years. However, do not expect any artificial attractions that are put up for the sake of attracting visitors. Check out the post below on how to get around the island and plan ahead in order not to miss any amazing places — especially those that depend on the tides.
Let's see what are the flora and fauna that can be found on the island in this post.
Around the Village
Before going too far, look for hornbills near the village. These birds have large yellow beaks and have been living on Ubin for many years. There used to be two of them but two new members were added in recent years. The hornbills are wild birds and free to roam around the island, so try finding them. It will be easier to listen out for their calls which are rather distinctive from other birds.
In the picture below, a young hornbill and an adult one with a casque on the upper mandible. These birds are considered one of the main highlights on Ubin. Don't miss them.
A yellow-bellied sunbird. It is not easy to get this close to birds, but it is easy for them to get close to you if you are not making any sudden movements. Try finding them in places where there are flowers.
The West Side
The west side of Pulau Ubin has more open lands and is best for bird-watching. With easier accesses to several small beaches, they offer good spots for fishing too. Out of the village, you can check out Butterfly Hill for butterflies if you are into butterfly watching.
At Pekan Quarry's view point, you will find large number of herons on the water and trees on the opposite shore. There are other birdies among the flowers and bushes near the view point too. Do look out for them.
On the mud bank beside Jelutong Bridge, right beside Ah Ma Drinks Stall. Look for the porcelain fiddler crabs that will wave their pincers menacingly at you. The male crab has one enlarged pincer and a smaller one for feeding. Female crab has equal size pincers. You will see them during low tides. This is the best spot to get real close to these miniature crabs.
The porcelain fiddle crab is of different specie to the orange fiddler crab in Chek Jawa. Do check them out too.
What if you are there at high tide and not able to see any fiddler crabs? Look for mudskippers. They are amphibious fishes and leap with their fins.
A short distance from the German Girl Shrine, towards the first view point of Ketam Quarry, you will see a number of bird nests hanging on a tree. These nests are homes to the baya weavers, birds that specialised in weaving nests. If you approach the nests too loudly, the inhabitants will dart out of their nests and fly away from danger — you, of course.
A male baya weaver (left) with a patch of yellow fur on its head and a female one (right) without.
The East Side
The east side is largely forested and being a larger area, it will need more time to cover. There are wildlife here too but mostly obscured by trees. Most visitors just cycle along the trails to get to their destinations. Go a little slower and there will be more to discover.
Catch this blooming wild ginger flower. They can be found in several spots right beside the paths.
A water monitor lizard with a truncated tail sunbathing on a road. These lizards are very common in Singapore, especially in nature parks. They are shy creatures and usually stay away from humans, but do not provoke them to attack you. Just leave them to their sunbathing.
Monkeys, or more accurately, macaques usually roam about in groups. A sight like above can be quite intimidating to cyclists. In most cases, monkeys will not attack people but if you cycle through them and hit (or seems to be attacking) a young one, the adult monkeys may attack you. So do get off your bicycle and walk slowly, keeping a wide berth around young monkeys.
Do not feed them, they may lose their abilities to look for their own food over time — and you will be fined too. Also, keep any food you have out of their sights, the monkeys may snatch them and hurt you in the process.
You may be able to see some wild boars near the entrance to Chek Jawa. Do not try to feed them or provoke it or take photos of them using flashes, they can weigh up to 100kg and still charge towards you at high speed. As usual, stay clear from young boars.
The above list is definitely not exhaustive. There could be more out there waiting for you to discover. It is easier to use the ears to pick up animals than seeing with the eyes. Note that there may be big red ants, snakes or animals that do bite in the wilderness. Do keep to the well-worn paths where you can see what you are stepping on.
There are more floras and faunas in the wetland of Pulau Ubin, do check them out too.