21 March 2011

Counting monitor lizards at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Monthly surveys are being conducted to find out just how plentiful Malayan water monitors (Varanus salvator) are at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Today, I joined in another of these Surveys. It's cloudy and the tide is high. Will we see many of these lizards?

Mendis and I are assigned Route 1, hurray! I haven't visited this route for too long, and Mendis showed me lots of birds. Even before we started, he pointed out this mama pigeon with her two babies next to her.
Mendis also pointed out a pretty Magpie robin. I found out that Mendis can also whistle just like the birds!
We listened as well as looked out. Often, we hear the lizards before we see them. But sounds sometimes turn out to be other creatures, such as the pretty sun skink.
Or Plantain squirrels (Callosciurus notatus). Which can jump very rapidly to disappear into the bushes.
Mendis pointed out this squirrel quietly trying to take a nap on a branch. Wow. He sure has sharp eyes.
We also scan the ponds and mudflats for monitor lizards. As usual, I get distracted and noticed this pretty little Blue-spotted mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti), waving its scalloped dorsal fin as it foraged on the soft mud. There were lots of egrets and some shorebirds on the mudflats too. But no lizards.
We walked past the 'Critically Endangered' Tumu berau (Bruguiera sexangula) that has naturally settled here and it seems to be doing well, with lots of flowers.
So did we see many monitor lizards?

Not too many, just ten. This small one was stretched out across the path!
This large lizard was drooling! Eeew.
Another large one crawling out of the pond at the Visitor Centre had wounds on its back. These may be from wrestling with another male. See Marcus' awesome photos and post about how male monitor lizards wrestle with one another.
It was a sleepy afternoon. Just before I went home, my last lizard sighting was slumped in front of a pair of Smooth otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) trying to have a nap.
Makes me feel sleepy just to watch them. Yawn....

More about what I saw in an earlier survey for monitor lizards.

Ivan did a great series of articles about Singapore's monitor lizards for the Celebrating Singapore's Biodiversity blog. Check out his posts to learn everything you wanted to (and didn't want to) know about these amazing reptiles.

If you would like to volunteer at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, drop by their website for more information. There is an online form to sign up as well as more contact information.


  1. Wonderful. Even the common creatures of that area are amazing. Thanks for the pictures.

  2. Thanks for dropping by the blog JasonRalls. Yes, Sungei Buloh's wildlife is amazing!



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