6 No 1
Butterflies and their food plants
at Sungei Buloh
Land before time about the insects at Sungei Buloh
in Singapore Mangroves
5th Anniversary Celebrations
Volunteer Annual General Meeting
Otters in Sight and a Masked Finfoot sighting
you up to date with the latest sightings is Adeline
Otters in Sight
There are always new discoveries rewarding the patient and observant at Sungei Buloh Nature Park.
All binoculars were trained on the two that were playing and foraging in the water. They chased each other in circles, sometimes stopping to look at the inquisitive pairs of eyes staring at them. Undaunted, they went about with their own activities. Just when one caught a fish, it would proceed to devour it with much relish while the other foraged nearby, hoping to catch a meal too.
Yes, we are talking about otters and all these sightings could be seen as near as the main bridge at Sungei Buloh Besar. The two otters have been spotted around the Park since November last year, much to the delight of visitors and staff who were lucky enough to catch sight of them. They are identified to be the Smooth Otters (Lutra perspicillata). Sightings of otters in the Park occur every now and then in the past years. However, only individuals were spotted. Thus it was heartening to discover the pair in the Park last year.
Otters are mammals adapted to a life in water and on land. On land they are usually clumsy but in water they are skilful swimmers. A long heavy body, small head and a thick tapering tail gives them a streamlined appearance. This enables them to manoeuvre through the water with case. Contrary to belief, their fur is not waterproof. They are kept afloat by air trapped within the fur while swimming and they have to come up to land to rub themselves dry. A wet otter's coat looks spiky when on land. To squeeze the water out it will roll on the ground and rub itself against stones, patches of grasses and other objects. Smooth Otters are found in Asia and they live in mangroves, freshwater wetlands and large forested rivers. Their favourite food includes fish, molluscs and crustaceans.
Most sightings of the pair in Sungei Buloh have been of them foraging and feeding. It is uncertain where they came from, but a good guess is that they may have swam across the Johor Straits. We do not know how long they will stay but do come to visit us soon. The sexes of the pair are also unknown. Imagine them as a courting pair. Hmm ...... baby otters in Sungei Buloh?
Speaking of sightings, staff of the Park and Nature Society Singapore members were ecstatic when a Masked Finfoot (Heliopais personata) was spotted swimming in Sungei Buloh Besar in early January. This is a first record for Singapore. It stayed in the river for a few days and vanished soon after. Now that is what I call exciting. You just never know what you will discover in Sungei Buloh Nature Park.
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