Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Valentine's Day at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

When M and D suggested visiting Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve for a morning walk, I was all for it. I hadn't visited since they renovated and added more wooden barricades in 2020. For these few weeks, the weather is favorable for outdoor activities in the mornings, and a breeze still stirs, and it's relatively cool in the shade. Took the dog for a long walk early in the morning and fed her. So she was happy to snooze at home while the man and I took a jaunt up northwest of the island.

We usually either catch the low tide or high tide when we go. Or we turn up at 7am when the park opens. This time, we wanted to catch the high tide that was scheduled to roll in at 11.30am. Decided to park at Kranji Way entrance since that carpark was bigger. Neo Tiew Crescent's small carpark was full and nothing moved. Parking at Kranji Way entrance was easy because when we got there, the morning crowd was leaving, and many carpark lots opened up. 

We wanted an easy stroll and to spot some birds. At 10.30am, the nature reserve wasn't as crowded as I had feared. There was sufficient space for us. Most people kept their distance and kept to their groups, as we did. And thankfully, we didn't have loud people yelling or playing crazy music over speakers.

There were plenty of signs warning visitors about crocodiles. I was tickled by just how many signs were put up. Crocodiles don't get as good PR as otters. I doubt visitors would clamor to see them. But yeah, some people might topple over into the crocodiles' domain, and it's all over for the humans. Well, we didn't see any crocodile. It wouldn't be easy to catch a crocodile unless we get lucky. Or we get a float of them swimming over from the Strait of Johor.

I laughed when a few sites used 'trek' to describe Sungei Buloh's boardwalk and paths. Please, it's such a sanitized walk that you might not even need to wear track shoes if you prefer a pair of sturdy sandals instead. The trails are short and easy. I also didn't put on mozzie repellent. LOL At this time today, Sungei Buloh didn't even have mozzies bothering us. There were more than enough humans to feed off of, and it was too hot for them at the time we were there. Hurhurhur.

Didn't see them cute mudskippers. Saw plenty of mud lobster mounds, but no sign of the critters. No mangrove crabs scuttling around either. They were all hiding. Bah.

Spotted plenty of redshanks and greenshanks, egrets, and a big heron I really wanted to see. Although at that distance, it took me a long time to discern if it was a heron or a milk stork. There were other birds flying around, all of which I couldn't make out or identify. Hahahah. D's gift of the binoculars helped in spotting birds and such. But I couldn't link them with her gift of the book of migratory birds at the wetland reserve (the 2nd edition published by the National Parks Board). Obviously I need more practice at bird-spotting.

Since this is a migratory stop for many birds, the water levels three brackish ponds in the wetland reserve are managed between July to April so that it acts as a high tide roost site for shore birds. These three ponds are conducive for the birds since they're not left submerged or exposed for more than four consecutive days. There're five other ponds in the reserve that are left to natural tidal pulls, rains and sun.

The wonderful news is, the government is taking steps to protect this area. They'll be creating a Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network. The current 202-hectare Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve will be joined to the Kranji Marshes, the Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Nature Park, and the Lim Chu Kang Nature Park (where Cashin House is, and will be restored as a visitor center and exhibition space) by the first quarter of 2022. This brings us to a new area total of 400 hectares of gorgeous nature to experience. I'm excited about it!

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