Friday, April 09, 2010

Sungei Buloh, the Heritage Park

I spent two mornings at Sungei Buloh during the Easter break testing the Canon EF 300 f/2.8 IS L Lens with a 2x teleconverter. I chose Buloh as it had the best ecological diversity and I knew I could find a couple of my pals within the wetland reserve.
On the first day, I didn’t get past the main bridge, set-up the camera and waited for the wildlife to come to me. Not long after I spotted a lone Smooth Otter that quietly swam by under the bridge. He made his way out towards the sea.
Not long after, the resident Estuarine Crocodile made its presence know. I must have shot a lot of frames of the crocodile in various positions as it was very active that morning.
While waiting for the crocodile to change positions, I had a pair of Painted Storks to photograph. It was also the first time I have seen Painted Storks at Sungei Buloh.
The Painted Stork is a large wading bird that is found in the wetlands of the plains of South Asia extending into Southeast Asia. They have distinctive pink feathers giving them their name. They flew in to forage in Sungei Buloh during low tide. The pair immersed their half opened beaks in the shallow water to scare up their prey of small fish that are sensed by touch. As they waded along they also stirred the water with their feet to flush out hiding fish.
There is no definitive answer as to whether the Painted Storks and the Milky Storks are wild or captive birds from the nearby bird park. Many believe that they belong to the zoo or the bird park. However, I have been told that these are wild birds that roost within the zoo and the bird park.
The next morning, I rendezvoused with a family of four Smooth Otters. For me these encounters are magical moments and I never tire from watching these highly sociable mammals interact with each other.
Also seen were the Oriental Magpie Robin another species that is also coming back from near extinction by the hands of man. Also spotted were a couple of over stayers that do not want to depart from our balmy food rich wetland area.
Though we have higher chances of seeing Smooth Otters and the Estuarine Crocodile, both are still listed under 'Critically Endangered' in the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. However, it is heartening to see that conservation efforts over the 16 years have brought the Sungei Buloh Wetlands back. To see the return of apex predators such as the Smooth Otters and the Estuarine Crocodiles must be especially heartwarming moments to those who are involved in the conservation of the area.

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