Almost everyone, it seems, has already seen the crocodile at Sungei Buloh.
Finally, I got to see one for myself today!
It was happily sunning itself sprawled out among the mangrove tree roots at the Main Bridge, to the delight of visitors. What a magnificent creature! The Estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is listed as 'Critically Endangered' on the Singapore Red List. It has been recorded in our estuaries and reservoirs including the Singapore River, Kallang River, Sungei Seletar and Kranji Reservoir, and Pulau Tekong. Also called the Saltwater crocodile, it is the most widely distributed of the crocodiles and found in tropical Asia and the Pacific.
Chay Hoon and I decided to visit Buloh on a whim today. And how fortunate for us to meet Keith Hillier. Keith was the person who first introduced me to nature guiding so I consider him very much my mentor. And he had lots to show us today at Buloh!
Keith said he saw three crocodiles earlier today! But only this big one was still out and about by the time we got to the main Reserve. Keith also showed us this handsome juvenile Brahminy kite (Haliastur indus). Found injured and brought to the Reserve, it still hung around after it was healed and released.
A common bird of the mangroves is the Striated heron (Butorides striatus). The birds at the Reserve are more used to people and are easy to observe.
On the Boardwalk, Keith started chatting with a group of young people who turned out to be doing a project about mudskippers. One of the students spots the Blue-spotted mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti), my first time seeing it at Buloh! This mudskipper feeds on edible bits on the surface and moves its head side-to-side as it gathers up mud.
There were also lots of large and grumpy looking Giant mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri).
And in the back mangroves, a well camouflaged Yellow-spotted mudskipper (Periophthalmus walailakae) patiently waiting in a hole. One of the students had noticed a mudskipper spitting out mud balls! We talked a bit about how mudskippers dig out a burrow.
Other common creatures of the muddy mangroves are crabs! We saw a colourful Face-banded crab (Perisesarma sp.) and what looks like a Orange signaller crab (Metaplax elegans). I was too distracted to look for the fiddler crabs and tree-climbing crabs that are also plentiful here.
Keith also chatted with a pair of young ladies stomping in the mangroves. They said they were studying the Tumu tree (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza). And shared that sunbirds pollinated the flowers of this tree.
There were of course, many different mangrove trees on the Boardwalk. We had a leisurely and happy time identifying them. How wonderful to see the Kempudang baran (Cassine viburnifolia) was both flowering and fruiting. This plant is listed as 'Critically Endangered' too.
At the entrance to the Reserve, the planted Tui or Mangrove trumpet tree (Dolichandrone spathacea) was also flowering and fruiting. This 'Critically Endangered' tree has white trumpet shaped flowers which develop into long curling bean-like pods.
Keith also showed us this gorgeous blossoming tree! It reminds me of cherry blossoms, so appropriate for the Lunar New Year period! We're not too sure what kind of tree it is.
The ground below was covered in a pale pink carpet of blossoms. How beautiful!
Another interesting plant Keith showed us was this pretty aquatic plant that looks like a giant grass.
It has beautiful pink flowers which turn into colourful fruits. Keith mentioned its name but I just can't seem to remember it. Sigh.
There were lots and lots of large orb-web spiders in the mangroves today. We looked more closely and saw two kinds: on the left the Batik Golden web spider (Nephila antipodiana) without yellow 'knees' and the Golden web spider (Nephila pilipes) with yellow 'knees'.
The patterns on the abdomen of the two kinds of spiders are also different.
The web of these spiders are often infested with other little thieving spiders. Like this little red spider which had a really bloated abdomen, probably from feasting on this enormous cicada that was trapped in the web.
Alas, today we saw that a tall and seemingly healthy Perepat (Sonneratia alba) had fallen over. It was full of green leaves, fruits and flowers too. Is this a sign of erosion? The Reserve has been experiencing erosion issues and this is being seriously looked into.
As we walked along the main bridge, I notice long stretches of the shoreline in Johor across from the Reserve seems to have tall piles of exposed sand.
I'm not sure what is going on here. Erosion? Or 'beach maintenance'?
Let's hope this doesn't impact the Reserve.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is easy to explore! With lots of amazing wildlife.
Come for the guided nature walks and many other activities held here. There are guided walks every weekend at the Reserve. Next weekend, Pui San is conducting his inspiring monthly session on nature appreciation through art. And the weekend after, there is a special session on origami and a special Mandarin guided tour.
More on the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve website and on wildsingapore.