Smooth Sailors at the Wetland

May 12, 2008 at 12:17 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment

Despite the drizzling weather on a Saturday morning, Itchyfingers decided to go ahead with the plan to visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves to look for some nesting birds to photograph since it was the breeding season.

Not much luck for Itchyfingers, as the rain got heavier when we reached there and we gotta find shelter in the main hide near the entrance. Not many birds in sight, most had gone into hiding…no choice but to eat our roti for brekky while waiting for the rain to stop.

We started walking as soon as the rain stopped but after some time we still couldn’t find any nesting birds. By now many birds were out drying themselves and we were able to hear them singing. The star bird of the day must be the Osprey, perching on a bare branch that provided us with an unobstructive view for a very precious few seconds before it was disturbed by the more common and bigger size White-bellied Fish Eagle, and flew away. So couldn’t get a picture fast enough! 😦

But we were very very lucky to have spotted another jewel in the reserve. Itchyfingers had been to Sungei Buloh countless times over the years, and had heard of the existence and seen pictures taken of these jewels but this was the first time (It was the second time for Tisu Boy! ) I got to see them! And not just one but three of them! 😀

Can you imagine our excitement when we saw them? Too bad we couldn’t
get all three in a picture

Yes! We saw the Smooth Otters (Lutra perspicillata)! Oh yes! Here in Singapore you DO get to see wildlife IF you are patient enough and are willing to look for them! With some luck, of course! 😀 We had our friend SS to thank for spotting one of them swimming in the water facing where we were looking at the eagle. Then we realised there were another two swimming together! So we had a family of three!

Cute right?

Being fast swimmers, we wouldn’t have noticed them if not for their calls

According the Sungei Buloh’s website, there were five of them in 2006. The first sighting of the otters was back in 1994! They are the largest otter in Southeast Asia, with smooth short fur and large webbed feet. As it was rare to have a sighting of these mammals, we tried to follow them as they swam, hoping they would land on ground or at least stop swiming so that we could observe them more closely. We must had followed at least 200 metres or so until we lost them when our view was blocked by the trees along the mangrove shore. The otters are excellent divers and swimmers, and it is said that they can stay under water for six to eight minutes! They must had noticed us following them so decided to either dive down or hold their breathe under water! We didn’t know about this then and waited for a while before turning back to where we started to see if they had back tracked there. Unfortunately, no more sign of them.

Though we had such a brief encounter of the Smooth Otters, we had to count ourselves very lucky! With habitat lost, these mammals had decreased in numbers and it was not known if these were from Singapore or swam across from Johore, Malaysia. But we hope that their numbers will multiply and stay on here in the reserve. A recent sighting this Janurary of the Smooth Otter in Pasir Ris Park was certainly a good sign. So next time you visit these parks, do keep a lookout for the Smooth Otters, you could be the next lucky one to bring back sweet memories!

Also see related post:
> Earth Day


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