Thursday, September 23, 2010

back in s'pore, back to nature



i prefer visiting the sungei buloh wetland reserve on a weekday during the school term time. first, you do not meet the crowds. second, there is no admission fee to pay. on weekends, the place can get quite packed, so much so that you may not get a parking space. also the noise generated by so many visitors, especially young children, scare away all the shy animals, like the smooth otters. on a normal weekday, if there is no organised group, you hardly meet anyone along the paths and the three marked routes.



this family of otters was rolling on some dried leaves on the track. there were two young ones in the water nearby. i do not know if they are the same otters that i used to see at the sand bath near the visitors' centre. the two cubs are definitely new additions. the otters are quite wary of humans. you have to approach them slowly because when you get within 'striking' distance, the big male will give a signal and they will all disappear. i think they have a better sense of smell compared to their sense of sight.




while on the main bridge, i noticed something unusual in the water below. from my many visits to the wetland, i could tell that it was not a huge monitor lizard. i suspected it was a crocodile. it turned out i was right. the creature seemed to be aware of my interest because it submerged and disappeared. i knew that it would re-surface somewhere, sometime. it re-appeared on the other side of the main bridge.




i stayed on the main bridge for about half an hour watching the crocodile, apparently stalking its prey. i do not know if it was after the monitor lizard or the common sandpiper. it was still like a piece of log, allowing the incoming tide to push it towards the land. when the bird flew away, it switched its attention to the monitor lizard. i had my camera ready for any swift action by the predator but the crocodile seemed to have loads of patience. i lost mine and decided to go on exploring the other parts of the reserve.



apart from the usual sightings of monitor lizards, plantain squirrels and waterfowls, and hearing the calls of the kingfishers, crows, white-bellied sea eagles and the orioles, i came across this creature up on a tree near platform 2.

what do you think it was?

was it a python? a common krait? a viper?

scroll down to find out

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the water monitor lizard is a good climber. so is the clouded monitor lizard. it was enjoying a nap up on the tree.

12 comments:

Weng Tuck said...

Wow! Why bother to pay so much to go to the zoo when one can see so many wild animals in action (instead of the passively dead-like animals in the zoo)?

yg said...

hi weng tuck, luck plays a part. sometimes, you do not see anything except the fish in the river and the occasional water monitor lizards. the otters are not confined to one place; the whole reserve is their territory. sightings of crocodiles are even rarer.

nah said...

Yg, all these inhabitants in sungei buloh, be it the otters, crocodile, python, monitor lizards…they all seem to like you. Each time you visit that place, they all show up to welcome you and even pose for you to be photographed. Has it got to do with your movements, animal instinct, your smell … that they all appear before you each time you make your presence there?
I have been to this place several times, not on weekends, not during public or school holidays, and I am always only welcome by big swarms of blood suckers, the mosquitoes.

yg said...

nah, that's why must post photos. a former colleague who has accompanied me to sbwr a few times, has also not seen the otters and the crocodile.

Lam Chun See said...

Yes, it's quite fun to have these encounters with animals.

I hv seen a huge monitor lizard at MacRitchie on a tree trunk just like the one you photographed. And it was just along the jogging track. Apparently it had gotten quite used to human's presence.

And recently, I saw this huge squirrel come down from the tree and tried to still a banana from a fruit shop at Holland Close. I tried to photograph it with my handphone but was too slow.

yg said...

chun see, a squirrel in an urban environment? could it be somebody's pet? squirrels are normally found in parks or nature reserves.
encountering animals is not all fun. some animals can give you the creep, like snakes for example. some snakes take their own sweet time, slithering across your path.

JollyGreenP said...

I'm sure part of the luck is generated by your frequent visits, the more you visit the gretaer the chance you have of seeing something. It is also worth while walking around slowly and stopping to let the wildlife around you settle.

Wonderful pictures, I'll certainly be paying a return visit to Sungei Buloh on my next visit to Singapore which I am hoping will be in March. Next visit which will be with my brother and his wife is dependant on my sister in law being fit enough after her recent knee injury when she fell off a step ladder.

Dogcom said...

wow wow I guess I should be making a trip to Sungei Buloh. So much nature, I like : ) YG actually squirrel are quite common in urban environment. I seen them in many places. About monitor lizard, I once got a shock of my life to witness one probably about 2 meter crossing the road at Gallop Road behind Botanic Gardens.

yg said...

john, you seem to be doing a lot of volunteer/community work these days? looking forward to meeting you in person next march.

yg said...

hi dogcom, thanks for the info. i know squirrels tend to appear in the morning and evening but i didn't know that they can be seen in urban areas. at pearl's hill park, near chinatown, i have come across as many as 10 squirrels at one place at the same time.
a 2-metre monitor lizard would be as long as the crocodile i saw. that's really big! at sungei buloh, the huge ones are found at the sand bath near the visitors' centre. there are also some huge ones at the fresh water pond.

Lam Chun See said...

YG. Squirrels are very common in urban areas nowadays. Probably becos their natural habitat have been destroyed and they have difficulty finding food in the 'wild'. That's why they forced to go near to 'human' places.

I have seen a mediun size monitor lizard at the Sungei Ulu Pandan twice when I go for my walks. Hope the Bangla workers who catch fish there do not catch it.

yg said...

chun see, i have seen only one type of squirrel so far - the plantain squirrel. have yet to see the variable squirrel and the slender squirrel. it's the thai workers who know how to cook and eat the monitor lizards.