Raining Crabs & Crocs At Sungei Buloh

11th November and our final birding trip in Singapore for this year. We made it a family day out and made for Sungei Buloh, arriving around noon when the sky was still blue and the sun shining. We stopped, as everyone who visits Sungei Buloh should, at the first hide and found ourselves greeted by a large fling (collective noun alert) of Whimbrel.

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IMG_0461apics by Mrs Sausage

Whimbrel are regular migratory visitors to Singapore (one ringed bird was recently discovered back at SB 19 years after it was first recorded there), and they were by far the dominant species on the tidal ponds.

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Standing out among the Whimbrel were a few large Milky Stork, a good number of Little Egret and a lone Common Sandpiper.

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With our non-birding family accompanying us, we thought it best to keep the pace up and explore some more of the reserve. As we made our way along the main path, I heard an interesting noise, high pitched, half whine – half scream. At first I thought it may have been another wader as the noise was coming from the water’s edge but it was too close to the pathway. A wader would surely have been flushed by our presence. I looked at the very edge of the water and there, barely moving was a very young Estuarine Crocodile.

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I can only think that the call or squeak I heard was this young reptile. It was barely visible among the brown and green detritus in the water, but Mrs Sausage managed to get a little closer for these very nice shots. We did however keep our eyes peeled just in case mum or dad was still around. This little croc was only around 20-30cm long which leads us to believe it was recently hatched.

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With discretion being the better part of valour, we left the croc hatchling and continued exploring. Our next sighting was this interesting insect. A quick bit of rudimentary research leads us to believe that this is a Red Cotton Stainer nymph.

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Naturally, no visit to Sungei Buloh is complete without at least one picture of a Malayan Water Monitor Lizard.

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While Mrs Sausage continued the reptilian theme with this Common Sun Skink.

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Birds were back in our sights a short moment later as we both did our best to capture a decent shot of an Ashy Tailor Bird. Small and always moving, they are a test of one’s patience and ability to try and predict where they will show next.

IMG_0478aMrs Sausage

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Equally as challenging was this Brown-throated Sunbird that refused to completely show itself. A lovely looking small bird though, our pics really don’t do it justice, Mrs Sausage had the pick of the bunch.

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Sungei Buloh is a water-dominant environment and although the mangrove boardwalk area was closed for maintenance, we still managed to spot this Mangrove Crab just under one of the hides on the main path.

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With plans to visit Bollywood Veggies for lunch, we weren’t able to do a full circuit of SB by any means. We got as far as Platform 1 before we had to head back to catch the next Kranji Express. While waiting at the pick up point I managed to spend some time with a very obliging Common Parasol Dragonfly. Despite being one of Singapore’s most common dragonflies I really liked the “body-up” pose it was holding.

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With dark clouds gathering prophetically, it seemed a good time to head for Bollywood Veggies. Nestled into the Kranji countryside, it was a green haven of serenity, good food and wonderful people.

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We definitely give it a two sausage thumbs up. Such was the lush, green nature of Bollywood Veggies that we were also afforded some good views of the local bird life. I almost had a perfect picture of this Olive-backed Sunbird.

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Mrs Sausage fared much better with some very confiding Scaly-breasted Munias.

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As indeed did I.

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This Lineated Barbet however, would not turn around for a proper portrait.

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Following some quite spectacular thunderstorm and lightning, I was also able to just about get some pictures of a Common Kingfisher hunting in the rainy gloom.

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Despite the steady rain, Mrs Sausage and I decided to head back to Sungei Buloh for a late afternoon expedition. We got more than we bargained for as we made our way across the bridge into the reserve proper. Floating quite nonchalantly were two adult Estuarine Crocodiles.

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It was very grey and the light was terrible but we did our best to capture the sight of these primeval creatures.

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After seeing the crocodiles, anything else was quite likely to be an anti-climax and the weather was certainly not helping. The rain maintained a steady fall and the bustling wader community on the tidal ponds had moved on when we took our second look from the main hide. Noisy Collared Kingfishers and some resolute Little Egret were the only feathered inhabitants.

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We did have some languid Mudskippers to add to our sightings though.

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We made a short trek around the edge of the tidal ponds but with the fading light sightings were looking less and less likely. The Milky Storks at the edge of the ponds were to be our last birds of the day, they at least offered some good shots as they fed languidly in the gloom.

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IMG_0525a Mrs Sausage

Looking back, we had a fairly good haul for the day. Birds that didn’t make the camera included the very noisy House Crows, some Pied Fantails which kept themselves hidden by the mangroves, and the usual Grey and Striated Herons. I did feel that there was far more to see had we had better luck with the weather. Nevertheless, the two adult and the young Estuarine Crocodiles were a real bonus and the range of wildlife we were able to enjoy bears testimony to Sungei Buloh’s wide bio-diversity.

Looking back on our fortnight of Singapore birding, we had some lifers, saw some familiar faces (some feathered, others less so) and enjoyed raptors from our windows. It’s dark, wet and chilly here in London but it’s time to dust off the all-weather gear and get back out there. See you next year Singapore, see you next weekend wind and rain!

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