9/2014 – Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (2 Mar 2014)

There was no macro outing last weekend as I had promised my wife, sister & brother-in-law to go for a nature walk at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR).

(Map of SBWR)

(Map of SBWR)

SBWR is popular for its wondrous birdlife, particularly during the migratory season of September to March when huge flocks of shorebirds visit the Reserve.  It is also home to an amazing diversity of other interesting plants and animals.   Among the stars are the family of wild otters, the resident crocodiles and a large number of lively monitor lizards, etc. My personal wish was to see the wild crocodiles and otters!

I was surprised that at 8.30 am, there were no one at the Visitor Centre and that we did not have to pay any entrance fees. I remember the last time I was here about 4 to 5 years ago, it was chargeable at $1 during weekdays and usually quite crowded during weekends. As I glanced around, the place didn’t look properly maintained.

There was a wooden bridge near the entrance where we met a few nature lovers and photographers enjoying the morning fresh air overlooking the mangroves.

(The main bridge - photo by Mark Cheong)

(The main bridge – Photo by Mark Cheong)

It was low tide and there were many birds feeding at the wetland. The purple heron in ambushing pose caught my attention.

(Purple Heron)

(Purple Heron)

At the end of the bridge, you can choose to either take the left or right footpath. You turned right. Along the way, there a quite a no. of observation hides where visitors can observe the flora and fauna in the surroundings in tranquility and at a distance from the animals and birds. The most common birds that we saw was the Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), a small white heron.

(Little Egrets looking for food)

(Little Egrets looking for food)

(A closer look at the Little Egrets)

(A closer look at the Little Egrets)

Some parts of the mangrove areas are quite beautiful.

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I particularly like the calm and serene feeling of this image below:

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At one lookout point, it was interesting to see many “flying fishes”!

(Flying fishes)

(Flying fishes)

After about 45 minutes walk, we reached the Aquatic Plant Pond. The water was very shallow due to the recent dry spell. We could only find a lone monitor lizard and a few terrapins. There were easily more than 20 large monitor lizards during my last visit here.

(Aquatic Plant Pond)

(Aquatic Plant Pond)

When we moved further in, we spotted many large golden web spiders, dragonflies, mangrove crabs and a sensitive tree paradise snake which disappeared quickly up the tree. There were a few monitor lizards walking freely along the footpath. They didn’t seem to be afraid of people.

(Monitor lizard)

(Monitor lizard)

The surprise of the day was the sighting of a 2.5 metre-long crocodile resting near the main footpath to too far away from the Visitor Centre!

(Catch of the day - a 2.5 metre-long wild crocodile)

(Catch of the day – a 2.5 metre-long wild crocodile)

I have been to SBWR a few times but never seen one until this morning. My wife and sister did not notice it when they walked pass it. My brother-in-law & I were just about 2 metres away when we spotted it. It was quite a experience to have seen it so close in the wild. My sister was very frightened when we pointed it to her.

IMG_0705

We alerted and warned those who walked towards this stretch of footpath. Most of them were quite excited to see it such as this gentleman.

(A little too close to the crocodile)

(A little too close to the crocodile)

He was probably a little too close to the crocodile which scared it away. It swam quickly to the other side of the mangrove and disappeared.

IMG_0712

When we told the Ranger at the Visitor Centre about our sightings, he shared with us that there are a family of about 5 crocodiles frequently seen between 10 am – 1 pm & between 4 – 7 pm.

It was a pity that the Mangrove Arboretum Boardwalk is closed for maintenance till further notice. Even then, it took us a solid 3 hours to complete the nature walk.

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