16 March 2010

Otter overload at Sungei Buloh!

This evening, I spent a magical half an hour with the otters of Sungei Buloh!
In the freshwater pond just in front of the Visitor Centre, a whole bunch of them were playing in the water.

They play rough!
"Oof, that's my nose!" one seems to say. "Ouch, that's my ear!" grimaces another.
They were mostly quiet as they whacked one another. Although there was the occasional squeal and yelp. Like people, they also gurgle as they get dunked into the water when they are making noises!
They also played with other stuff. This one was playing with a leaf.
They also chased the water monitors around.
The Red-eared sliders in the pond hurriedly paddled away from all the ruckus.
Another otter brought something large into the pond.
At first, I thought it was a fish. But a closer look at the blurry, grainy photo, and I think it's a turtle!
This otter brought it right up to the bank near me and stuffed it under some roots in the water. Then it started to eat it, alas, behind a bunch of grass.
When the otter lost interest in the prey, a big monitor lizard came by to take a look. The otters then came right back to harass it. The monitor lizard puffed up its throat and hissed very loudly!
While all this was going, a pair of otters were lazing about in the pit across the pond. It seems the otters love to rub around in the wood chips there. What a great idea for the Reserve to create this for them!
These otters were simply lying about.
Letting it all hang out!
And eventually having a quiet snooze.
The otters are absolutely adorable. And they didn't seem to mind me at all. As the light got low, I tentatively tried the flash, and they just kept on playing right in front of me. Still, it was hard to get a good shot of them as they were so fast and mostly stayed submerged. Here's a lucky shot.
I think there must have been at least 8 otters. It's hard to count as they are so active in the water. The otters at the Reserve are Smooth otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) which are listed as 'Critically Endangered' in Singapore.

Earlier on, I saw a large Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator) from the main bridge.
This lizard has a very long forked tongue! It uses it to smell its surroundings.
And what's that in the water? A submerged log?
No, it's the large Estuarine crocodile (Crocodilus porosus)! It too is listed as 'Critically Endangered' in Singapore. It seems the Reserve has three of them and they might be breeding. Wow!
The crocodile can lie almost completely submerged, with just its eyes and the tip of its nose sticking out at the surface.
Here's a better shot of the crocodile when I went back to see it, after it got too dark to look at the otters.
Amazing! I got to see the Big Three animals of the Reserve in just a short visit and without going past the Main Bridge!

There was also a little shorebird at the water's edge. It's some kind of sandpiper as it kept bobbing its tail. But what pretty feathers it has. Breeding plumage?
Indeed, there were lots of birds out and about on the mudflats in the dying day.
And the excitement for me was just starting, as I headed back to the Visitor Centre.

This evening, I was at the Reserve at the kind invitation of Mendis to learn more about the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Master Plan. How delightful to see so many old friends whom I haven't met for far too long!
We had a most exhilarating discussion about all aspects of the fantastic plans for the Reserve! I must commend the Reserve team for a visionary and inspired plan. While everyone present contributed yet more exciting ideas!

Just when I thought nothing could top a half hour with otters!

More about the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and the master plan.


  1. Wow, beautiful shots and valuable capture of their behaviour and habitat.

  2. The shore bird is a common sandpiper(Actitis hypoleucos)
    Non-breeding, the colour of the plumage and the bill would be darker if it's breeding. :)

    I totally forget about the master plan meeting, well i'll attend the next one.

  3. Thanks Federick for the encouraging comment. They are most delightful creatures!

    Thanks Brandon for the ID. I'm hopeless with birds. Yah, you should attend the next meeting. The Plan is exciting!

  4. It is indeed magical! Good to know that the group is now eight. The last time I caught up with the otters, I counted six.

  5. Hey Shirls, Mendis said up to 10 have been seen! That's awesome!

  6. Hi Ria;
    Wow! So much of wildlife activities!! Those were Smooth Otters, right?

    How come when I was in Sg Buloh Nature Park and I didn't get to see all these in action? esp the crocodile... maybe that was back in 2006, that's why..

  7. What time of day do you get to spot these animals? I went early once and didn't get to see the otters

    1. This sighting was nearly 6 years ago. I saw them in the evening. All the best for spotting otters at Buloh!



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