Crocodiles, Dragons & Lizard!

I almost choked on my peanut butter pork floss sandwich when I heard the news that water sport activities at the Sports Hub and Kallang area has been suspended due to the reported sighting of crocodiles! My, how exciting! Was my first thought. First the otter, now crocodile. Singapore is getting to be a real jungle. Maybe the crocodile was tracking the Marine Otters and followed it all the way there. I was all ready to grab my camera and rush down there to catch a glimpse of the newest competition to the Merlion until Commonsense slapped me in the face and told me “Get real. it is just a monitor lizard”. And disappointingly for all the buayas out there, it was indeed just a monitor lizard.

This is not the first time that some goondu of a public mistake a monitor lizard for something else – like the crocodile and even more amusingly, a Komodo Dragon and create a mountain out of a lizard hill. Think this people watch too much National Geographic or Discovery Channels which loves to feature these 2 big reptiles and not the humble little monitor lizard.

So for these goondu out there. Let me educate you a bit.

Fact No 1. Singapore is home to 2 species of monitor lizard, the Water Monitor Lizard and Clouded Monitor Lizard. I not going to teach anyone how to differentiate between these 2. Suffice to say if one cannot differentiate between a monitor lizard and a crocodile or komodo dragon, the fella will never ever be able to differentiate between the 2 lizards.

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

Fact No 2. There are only 1 species of crocodile resident in Singapore currently and this is the Estuarine Crocodile. There was a time not too long ago when it was rarely seen in Singapore but nowadays it is fairly easy to spot a few of them at Sungai Buloh Wetland Reserve and maybe the river banks around the Kranji area.

Juvenile Estuarine Crocodile

Juvenile Estuarine Crocodile

Fact No 3. Hold on to your seat. Contrary to what other people said, there are Komodo Dragon in Singapore and they can be found only in one place in Singapore. In Mandai inside the Singapore Zoo! Hahaha. So if some joker tell you they saw a Komodo Dragon in say Sungei Tampines or Kallang River, nah… it can’t be unless 1) it escaped from the zoo (highly unlikely) 2) it was somebody pet and escaped or was released (possible but still quite unlikely and 3) it swam over from Indonesia’s Komodo Island (possible but very unlikely).

Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon

Take a good look at these 3 photos above. I agree the monitor lizard do looks a little like the Komodo Dragon and a blur king, might not be able to tell them apart. So just remember Fact no 3. The only Komodo Dragon in Singapore are in the zoo so whatever it is you see, it is not a Komodo Dragon.

Ok so we eliminate the possibility of someone mistaking a monitor lizard for a Komodo Dragon. But how does one not know how to differentiate between a monitor lizard and a crocodile which looks totally different? Just look at the 2 photos above of each of them. Totally different right? But me think people usually can tell them apart if they are on land but not when swimming. And both are great swimmers. Here how to tell them apart.

This is a photograph of a crocodile swimming at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Note that only the eyes are visible above the water. Typically when a crocodile swims, only its eyes, nostril and part of its back and tail is above the water. Everything else is submerge below the water line.

Estuarine Crocodile

Estuarine Crocodile

Contrast this with a monitor lizard in water and which is a fairly common sight in our inland “canals” or even ponds. This is a photo of one of them. Note that almost the whole head is above water.

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

So the next time you spot something longish swimming in the canal near your place, take a closer look before you call your mummy, the cops, Nparks or ACRES. 

And by the way, if you see this in our water as well, please be aware this is not a shark! As to what it is, I will leave that story for another time.nec_3212

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

CRU_4013

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

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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.

A Birdtiful Outing at Tampines Eco Green

Normally when I go to the parks, I don’t spot many birds as I seem to be unable to differentiate between the leaves and the birds and usually it is M who will point them out to me. Last weekend at Tampines Eco Green, I not only got M but the Princess and together we got a “birdtiful” catch! So many birds!

Of course, with my 200 mm lens, most time what I got was something like this:DSC_0002See the bird is so far away and so small even with the lens zoomed all the way. But with a lot of cropping, at least I get a bigger bird.02-TEG_4150

This by the way is a Bee-eater or so I been told. Due to the massive cropping and sharpening, the picture is very pixelated and “noisy” but can’t be help. At least can see that it is a rather beautiful bird. Here a side by side comparison of the scale of the croppingTEG_4150

Here are the other birds.  The pictures are a little bit distorted due to the size of the slider

Of course beside bird, we also spot many nests including this Baya Weaver nest with the head of a chick popping out. Can you spot it?05-TEG_4188Beside birds there are also many lizards although sadly no Komodo Dragon 🙂 and snakes.

7-DSC_0128This is not a Komodo Dragon. Just a monitor lizard. In Singapore, one can only find Komodo Dragon at the Zoo!

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Photo by Alicia

All in, it was a very fruitful trip. We took only about 2 hours and just one small stretch of the beautiful park from the end of the overhead bridge nearer to the TPE and to the main entrance where the eco toilet is.