Tired of reading? Watch a video of our trip here!
It’s not often that ODAC gets to enjoy the comfort of a chartered bus on a regular ODAC excursion. As we made our (rather long) way on four wheels to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, some of us were chatting while others escaped into the musical worlds of their headphones. Some also caught a bit of shut-eye, like sleeping beauty Jonathan (below).We also passed by (what we believed was) a portion of our Pipe-A-Pipe trek along the BKE. Felt good to be going that distance on wheels after enduring the same portion for hours on foot. Sungei Buloh, a nature reserve in our island’s northwest, is an important pit stop for many migratory birds in the region. These migratory birds can fly non-stop for thousands of kilometres at a time, fuelled by fat that they store up in themselves whenever they arrive at a stopover like Sungei Buloh. One of two ASEAN Heritage Parks in Singapore (the other being Bukit Timah Nature Reserve) It’s home to many different animals you don’t often see on the mainland, so much so it’s like a zoo with no enclosures. (Which is how zoos should be, right?) We started off from the Migratory Bird Trail, and it proved to be a fulfilling trip from the moment we got there, as we were privileged to be graced by the presence of a rare estuarine crocodile. Even though most of its body was hidden underwater a la the sneaky predator it was, we did manage to see its eyes peeking just above the surface through the binoculars. Eventually it did show its face 🙂
We weren’t alone on the bridge that we watched the crocs from. A couple of our long tailed macaques also turned up, chilling out on the railing of the bridge. It just so happened that one of them seemed to have a hormone rage, jumping on one of the others and letting the birds and the bees fly. It was a rare sighting of wild love, and a rather surprising one. After being told not to look directly at them, lest they think we were going to attack them, we quickly hurried away. Along the way, we also saw the signature yellow beaks of great egrets along the mudflats. These great egrets are regular visitors to the wetland.
To the fear of many, there were also many Golden Web spiders with their spider webs among the leaves, across the boardwalk on top of our heads. Mr Tan did try to feed a spider with a tiny bug, but it bounced off the spiderweb. Perhaps if Mr Tan improved his skills as a waiter and served the meal in a less abrupt way, the spider would have happily accepted the treat.As we crossed a bridge, we found a group of square-tailed mullets desperately looking for food to eat as they swam hungrily towards the bridge where we were standing. They blended in with the colour of the water rather well and it took a while before some of us realised that they were there. Mullets are considered rather cheap fish and are widely eaten in Singapore.
At the end of the trail, we climbed up the aerie tower (an aerie is a large nest of an eagle or other raptor located high up on a tree or cliff) to get a bird’s eye view of the nature reserve, with great views of the mudflats, and also of Malaysia. As we turned back to the visitors’ center, we also chanced upon mud lobster mounds with Buta-Buta (Blind-your-eyes) plants growing around it. The mud lobster’s mounds are made from organic matter that they excavate to the surface from inside the ground. This helps to recycle nutrients and also serves as a habitat for other animals! Sadly, we didn’t get to see the mud lobsters as they usually emerge at night after a rainstorm.
Next, we left for the Coastal Trail, which brought us to the Mud Experience – a man-made replica of a mudflat, a place home to many mudskippers. We saw mudskippers of varying sizes, and were fascinated by the adorable way they moved – using their pectoral fins to walk on land. They looked like very determined fish unstoppable by their lack of legs in a quest to conquer the land. Some of them even appeared to fight! Others appeared to playing staring contests. A small well at the Mud Experience served as a site for mudskippers to submerge their eggs in water for hatching.
The trek wasn’t all pretty, though. An unfortunately common sight at the wetlands were human rubbish, much of which was improperly thrown off the boardwalks onto the inaccessible areas. It’s sad to think that there are so many visitors to this pristine place who give little concern to the environment around them, and for lack of the patience to keep their litter first before discarding them in appropriate bins, just toss them out onto the mudflats. Hopefully one day we can do our part to help clean up this area, and possibly encourage others to keep it clean. Finally, we ended at the Visitor Centre, where we were instantly drawn to the playground, playing with the rope-pulling-platform-thingy, even engaging in an inter-batch competition where we sent out our best man, Brayden, against the formidable Zai Xuan. We ended off with a group photo before setting off home. Our trip to Sungei Buloh brought us to a Singapore so different from the one we were familiar with, away from the concrete jungle. It was really an eye-opening experience on many fronts – not only did we learn more about the various flora and fauna tucked away in parts of Singapore, but also the importance of treating our wetlands with care and concern. To quote to wise words of Ivan Tan, “Despite the fact that Singapore is such a small country, there are many beautiful nature spots, we just have to go out there and look for them.”