Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sungei Buloh on 22 Jan 2009

I was back at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve today to conduct a guided walk. We reached rather early, and so I had a bit of time to look around while waiting for the students to arrive.

The Sonneratia caseolaris tree has a few flower buds. Seems like it may bloom any day.

At the main bridge, SY, KS and I saw a smooth otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) jumping into the river and swam towards the sea. Unfortunately it was quite a distance away from us, and by the time I took out my camera, it was already too far away to take a clear photo.

While waiting for the students to arrive near the visitors' counter, I saw some movements among the nearby foliage. Taking a closer look, we saw that it was a very pretty green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella).

The students soon arrived, and here's my group at the main bridge.

There were lots of Malayan water monitor lizards (Varanus salvator) under the bridge. With a muscular body, strong tail and the ability to swim, this lizard is one of the top predators in the reserve, feeding on all kinds of little animals, such as fishes, crabs, birds, snakes... basically anything that can fit into its mouth, dead or alive.

The stork-billed kingfisher (Halcyon capensis) at the main bridge area was also out hunting for fishes. We saw it swooping down towards the water, and in a quick flash, it's back up on its perch with a fish in its beak.

Since it's still the migratory season, there were lots of migratory birds too. The egrets (Egretta spp.) were the most obvious ones, since they gathered in such a large number and their white feathers stood out really well among the greenish water. Interesting, we noticed whole flocks of them flying over the river, dipping their claws into the water, and sometimes, their beaks too.

So far this was only the second time that I've seen such a behaviour. Were they hunting for fishes?

We also took a walk around the mangrove boardwalk, and one of the first animal we saw there was this pretty dragonfly - Rhyothemis phyllis.

At the back mangrove, we saw lots of plants such as the sea hibiscus, the sea poison, and mata ayam. Didn't took any photos of them though. This is always a problem when I'm guiding, when it can be quite hard to juggle between guiding and taking photo. Managed to take a photo of this Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) though.

We went one round around the mangrove boardwalk, and eventually get to the mangrove area, where we saw some of the true mangrove species, such as the bakau, api-api and blind-your-eyes.

We also saw the nipah palm (Nypa fruticans) with a huge fruit made up of many smaller seeds. Also known as the attap palm locally, this is where you get your attap chee for your ice kachang!

Somehow, we did not see many giant mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) today. Those few we saw are either soaking themselves in puddles of water, or hiding in the shade. Was it because it's too hot today?

As we were heading back, I saw this sea holly (Acanthus sp.) with lots of white specks on its leaf surfaces. Those white specks are actually salt crystals. Sea holly have adapted to survive in salt water by being a salt secretor - it's able to secrete the salt it has absorbed from the sea water.

And near the sea holly, several tree-climbing crabs (Episesarma spp.) were spotted. During hide tide, they will climb up the trees to stay away from the predatory fishes that come in with the tide. They are able to climb trees as their legs are very pointed and allow them to easily hook and climb up the rough bark of the mangrove trees.

After the walk, we went for a short video show to learn more about the reserve. Here's a group photo taken after the video show.

On our way back out of the reserve, we spotted this huge spider that has a black body without any patterns. Heard from LK that its a golden web spider (Nephila sp.), and the experts suspect it could be a variation of the usual golden web spider (Nephila pilipes). I've never notice this spider before. Guess I was so used to seeing golden web spiders around Sungei Buloh, that I did not pay enough attention to them these days.

Anyway, it was an interesting trip. Sure looking forward to more of these guided walks in the coming weeks.

1 comment:

Ivan said...

Saw a big black Nephila like the one in your photo at Ubin near the Sensory Trail last year.

There's also a few more in this Flickr set: