Kranji Marshes – the Conservation Area

I been trying to get to the Conservation area of Kranji Marshes since my last visit to Kranji Marshes in June last year. But because Nparks only allow for guided tours and that only once a month, I have not been successful in getting there until last weekend. Nature Society Singapore in conjunction with Nparks was conducting guided tour and I was lucky enough to secure a place. Turned out it was the last guided tour for this period and the next one will only be held towards the end of the year! Whew!

We started our guided tour from Sungei Buloh Wetland Extension and were brought straight to the back gate of Kranji Marshes at Turut Track saving us the 1 km+ walk in from the Visitor Centre.

Once inside the gate, immediately I saw 2 birds on a palm tree. Turned out to be a Spotted Dove and a Green Pigeon which nobody was interested in since they are pretty common. The same birds were still there when we came back this way 2 and a half hour l

There was also a Grey Headed Fish Eagle on a perch but it flew away before anyone of us can take a photo. What a great start!

We next spotted a Purple Heron. Interestingly, that was the only Heron we spotted throughout the tour. No Grey Heron. Seems like bird of the same feather flocked together and this is Purple Heron territory and the Grey Heron knows how to stay away. 

Next  I saw a bird up high and took a snap. Turns out to be a Pink Neck Green Pigeon.

Walking along the edge of the marshes, we saw many Scaly Breasted Munia. It is just amazing how these birds can hang on to the thin reefs without bending them down with their weight.

Just a short distance away, we came upon an injured Barn Swallow lying on the floor inside one of the hides. The bird is either totally exhausted and dehydrated or is injured. Our guide decided to bring it along with him and try to save it but unfortunately it died shortly after.

Just before we reach the public area of Kranji Marshes, we saw a Lesser Coucal, or at least that what I think it is. Again it is amazing how these birds can just hang on to a few stalks of thin plants without bending it downward.

We reached the public area of Kranji Marshes. There were many Barn Swallow flying around and I tried to snap some photos. Nothing came out well. They were too fast, too far and too tiny.

Didn’t see many birds here although we certainly heard many. As we were walking back to the coach, we were treated to an aerial duel between a Brahminy Kite and a Crow. The audacity of the crow trying to attack the much bigger Kite!

The next bird we saw was outside the fence but it was a beautiful Long Tailed Shrike which apparently is a resident bird.

Just before we reach the exit, we were treated to the sight of a big group of Lesser Whistling Duck and Red Wattled Lapwing. Unfortunately they were on the far bank of the marshes and all i could manage with my puny little lens was this heavily cropped blurry shot.

I saw a Sunbird. Think it is a Olive Backed Sunbird, more Purple Heron and a Stork Billed Kingfisher.

And just before we board the bus, we got a final treat. A very rare Black Capped Kingfisher. Unfortunately this again was too far for my lens and even binocular and after cropping, all I got was this.

So it was a good trip. Our guide from NSS told us all in we spotted more than 40 species of birds although I think with my poor eyesight, I didn’t spot even half of that. And while I didn’t get to see what I was hoping for – the Moorhen, I am still pretty happy to have seen so many birds in one short morning. 

The bonus was that back at the carpark of Sungei Buloh, I saw this bird high up in one of the tree. Another very heavily cropped photo but I got a Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker!  It has been a great trip and I hope to go back there again and hopefully I get to see some more rare birds.

Crocodiles!

I been seeing crocodiles and I mean real crocs and not monitor lizard like these people actually saw and mistook for crocodile. And no they are not at the zoo either but out here in “wild” Singapore.

A few years ago, one can hardly sight a crocodile at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve but nowadays a visit there is almost guaranteed one or two sightings. And there is no need to wander the whole place. There are usually at least 2 or 3 of them around the main river and can easily be spotted from the bridge. Like these:

And although I haven’t encounter one on the walking path yet, there are some that can be see basking in the sun

While  I happy that there are so many of them now, I wonder what is going to happen if one day some idiotic visitor gets too close and ends up getting injured. I have seen the antics of some people especially from a certain country in Asia and the stupid things they do. I couldn’t care less if they get bitten in the process of getting a selfie with the croc or while throwing things at it to make it move but I will pity the poor croc who will only be protecting itself. 

Hopefully that day will not happen when the crocs have to be relocated or culled for the “safety” of the visitor.

Reptiles Day

It is bird migratory season here in Singapore and the various bird photo groups on FB have lighted up with chatter about some rare shorebirds at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. So I went down to kapo a bit but was disappointed when there was not a single bird to be seen at the main pond. The water level was too high! Had to walk to walk the entire round before spotting them at the other pond but they were too far away for any decent individual photos.

But the trip was not wasted though. To make up for the lack of birds, there was reptiles aplenty. I have never had on any single trip to any local or for that matter local reserve or parks spotted so many different species of reptiles – from the biggest predator, the Estuarine Crocodile to the small little gecko.

First was the by now fairly common resident croc of SBWR at the main pond under the main bridge. CRU_3634

Further inland, M spotted what was a first for every one of us – a Shore Pit Viper!CRU_3668

Then there was a series of reptiles both big and small including 1 more crocodile and all sort of lizards.

A very common invasive species the Changeable LizardCRU_3723

In contrast, the not very common Bearded Dragon lizard which can glide from trees to trees. In fact we did see a few of them “flying” all over.CRU_3679

There was the shy skinkCRU_3771

And a gecko on the ceiling of one of the hideCRU_3683

And of course many monitor lizard including this little one trying to look for prey inside the tree trunkCRU_3764

On the way out we spotted a juvenile crocodile sunning itselfCRU_3871

But it was at the new SBWR that we saw 3 more Oriental Whip Snakes. The sound of thunder and the approaching rain cloud forced us to beat a hasty retreat without taking a photo of the 4th snake.

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Photo take by Alicia

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Photo taken by Alicia

So the trip wasn’t wasted and turned out to be one of the most fruitful ever visit to the place!

 

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Have not been there for some time and thought I paid another visit before the migratory season is over. Hit pay dirt early when at the main hide just after the main bridge, spotted a Collared Kingfisher which was close enough for a nice shot. The best part was when we came back it was still there and this time with a partner. 2 for the price of one!

06-SBW_3764There were the usual suspects, the Plovers and the Egrets and the Milky Stork.13-SBW_3657

07-SBW_374709-SBW_3733

A bit disappointed that I didn’t see any woodpeckers or snake but was excited when some visitors informed that they saw a crocodile up on the bank just a short distance away. So we went crocodile hunting but couldn’t find it. In the end though, we managed to see 2 of them at the usual place under the main bridge.05-SBW_3776Then there are the usual monitor lizard which are often mistaken for the crocodile or worse still, Komodo Dragon. 04-SBW_3782Most time we see them in the water but high up in the tree?03-SBW_3793

Another animal that is always up in the tree – the cute little squirrel.12-SBW_3677

Spotted a fly on the ledge of the Tower and it didn’t fly away even when people moved nearby. Changed to a macro lens and got this close up.11-SBW_3704Wanted to take more shot of this since it was such a quiet and cooperative model but M was shouting excitedly about some bird on a tree and so when to take a look.  I think it is a Olive backed Sunbird but it was so far away and this is the best that I can managed. 10-SBW_3713

All in a rather fruitful morning out there.

Wild Dogs Wild Animals

There this post by this lady on the Nature Society of Singapore’s FB page about her encounter with some wild dogs at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. That posting somehow attracted more attention then the lady intended to and degenerated into a slanging match between those who want the dogs culled and those against.

Her experience reminded me of the time when I was running alone at Pasir Ris Farmway and encountered a small pack of dogs. Unfortunately her and mine encounter will be repeated many times all over various part of Singapore as the population of wild dogs continue to grow.

The obvious solution as some people suggested is to cull the dogs. But is that really the case? These so called “wild dogs” are abandoned dogs left behind by farmers and kampung folks when they were resettled. Over time, they have breed and settled in the area claiming the place as their territory and when we humans go into the area, their natural instinct is to defend their turf. Nothing wrong with that. All animals are territorial and will defend their area when they feel threatened. Even some species of  birds and fish exhibit the same behaviour.

If we were to cull every animal that we thinks threaten us or get in our way, very soon there will be people asking to cull the otters because the otters are everywhere and breeding very well and God forbids that one day some silly kid will get too near the baby otters and when the mummy daddy otter leapt in to protect their young, are we going to call for culling of the otters?  I can hear protest here. Dogs are different from otters. The dogs have become feral; the dogs are not natural inhabitants of the reserve blah blah blah. In another words, dogs are lower in the pecking order of animals and can and should be culled. But let just suppose that it is not wild dogs at SBWR but a family of tigers. Are these people going to ask that the tigers be removed for the safety of the visitors. What about the crocodile? Previously crocodile sightings at SBWR was rare but nowadays they are frequently seen. So if somebody stumbles on a crocodile basking in the sun, are we going to demand that the crocodile be killed. Already we are culling the macaques, the wild boars, the crows and the pigeons, I am sure there will be people who will if possible, kill every single wild animals here to ensure the safety of their children. See, same behaviour as the animals. We humans are not too different from the animals after all. So maybe the answer is not to cull the animals but to cull the human. Problem solve 🙂

I don’t have an answer to the wild dogs problem. I favour managing the population. Sterilzing them so that they do not breed and where possible, re-homing them although with the archaic HDB law on dogs, this latter option will always be difficult. What we need is to co-exist with wild animals and learn enough about their behaviour and take the necessary precaution when crossing path with an wild animal be it a dog, a monitor lizard, a macaques or even a crocodile.

For one, never ever go into any forest or nature reserve alone. Just as the wild dogs are aggressive only when in a pack, the presence of a few persons will be sufficient to deter the dogs from attacking. The number also comes in useful in an emergency. And especially for the ladies, Singapore may be safe but not that safe. Sungei Buloh on weekdays can be pretty quiet and one will never know what or who is hiding behind the bush.

And two, if you really need to walk alone, carry a hiking pole, a stick and a whistle. A tripod or monopod can be used as a weapon in the event of an emergency. And the loud piercing sound of the whistle can alert other park users and at the same time scare off the animals. So be sensible, take responsibility for your own safety, take the necessary precaution and let’s learn to live with our animals, be they wild or semi wild or domesticated.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Decided to go down to Sungei Buloh even though it wasn’t the best time to do so. Afternoon is never good for wildlife sightings and beside the migratory season is over. Didn’t expect to see much but was hoping for a glimpse of the smooth otters or the elusive crocodiles. True enough, after walking nearly the whole round, all I got was lot of sound of cicadas, small birds that were beyond the reach of my lens and lot and lot of mosquitoes. And of course many many Golden Orb spider like this big one here01-SBW_6944

But just barely 100 metres from the exit, came across this guy who was excitedly shooting something. Went closer to kaypoh and lo and behold – a Flame backed woodpecker. And it was at close range although it was flitting from tree to tree. The 2 of us snapped away like mad attracting the attention of all those who walked by. I prayed hard the noise they made, especially fom the children will not scare it away. Fortunately the bird was so focused on finding a good tree to peck, it ignored everyone and put on a good show for us. In the end, I got some good clear shots. 18-DSC_7062 15-DSC_7035

And after that, just at the long bridge immediately after the Visitor Centre, we saw this.22-DSC_7115

Crocodile! And not one but 2!26-DSC_7142

Then there was this Yellow Billed Stork that was wading around27-DSC_7163

And then it took off towards my direction and I managed to get this lovely shot24-DSC_7136

And as a bonus, I got this blurry shot of this shorebird which I can’t quite identified31-DSC_7201

So it was a good time to go Sungei Buloh after all.