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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bucky Group 14 - Sungei Buloh Bird Sanctuary Singapore

This is Sungei Buloh Sanctuary (opened in 6th of Dec 1993), tucked in the northwest corner of Singapore, this mangrove wetland is reserved for migratory birds to rest in the tropics during the Northern winters and for nature to florish. For a tiny and densely populated island like Singapore, setting aside 87 hectares for a bird sanctuary is a big sacrifice. Such effort by the government is commendable.

This is the boardwalk leading to the entrance of the reserve.


The cafeteria hut in the reserve.


This is water hyacinth. They grow fast on ponds and very quickly will take over the surface of the water.

These pink stuff on the stems are Apple Snail eggs. They will hatch and produce many little snails.

This leaf from the Sea Almond Tree kills bacteria that infects fishes in your acquarium. They are on sale in eBay for about $10 each. Here we find them in abundance. Who says money doesn't grow on trees? :)

Our fabulous and knowledgeable guide for the day, Pui San. He is a volunteer at the reserve and conducts tours and painting classes at the reserve.

This is a mangrove tree. There are 60 plus types of mangrove trees known in the world and Singapore is home to 50 plus of those species. We are very lucky to have this diversity as even Malaysia (many hundreds of times bigger than Singapore) does not have such diversity. They have more of some species, but not the diversity.

This is interesting because it is the same for our marine coral life. We have about 200 plus species on our shores, while the Great Barrier Reef (about 3,000 as big as Singapore) has 400 plus species. Similarly, even Malaysia does not have the same diversity in their coral reefs.
Does this apply to our human races and cultures in Singapore? Incidentally, we have more diversity than that found in many other countries. Pity divergent views are not encouraged nor allowed here very much.


Back to the mangrove tree... it transpires excess salt through its leaves, giving a glossy glistened look on the surfaces. I tried tasting the transpired vapour on the leaves and they taste very salty. This is nature's own desalination plant. I am thinking if we can micmic this process and make commercial desalination plants out of this. This would be what Bucky calls "Bio-micmicry".

These are the Whimbrels - migratory birds that are escaping from the Northern winters. Migratory birds come back to Sungei Buloh every year because they can find lots of food here.

We also saw Egrets, Herons, White Collar Kingfishers and Sandpipers in the distance.

For more info, click here

One of the idyllic ponds with a look-out point in the distance.
For some seriously beautiful pictures of birds taken at this reserve, click here

This is a pack of stray dogs. Part of the local wild life. :)
. This is an ant nest. Pui San said it is amazing to see a group of ants building their nest. Each of them seem to know what to do and where to fold the leaves and stick them together with their saliva.

This is a bird nest. Not a very refined one. You can tell what type of birds they are, but looking at their nests. Pui San said he ever watched a pair of Taylor birds build their nests over about 5 days. He said that the female bird does all the work - collecting the twigs, putting them together and testing the strength and size of the nest. The male bird just hangs around.

At that point, Vasu said that this is because if the man were to do it, the female would not be happy with it anyway. *Chuckles*

On a more serious note, Joo Hock shared that Bucky said that the female bird cannot conceive their young in the womb, as it will be too heavy for them to fly and look for food. Hence, it has to lay them as eggs and leave them in their nest. As such, the female takes her nest as an extension to her womb - like an external womb. This probably explains why she does all the work building the nest.


This is the seed of the mangrove tree. The seed is germinated while they are still on the tree. The sapling will grow to a visible length before dropping to the ground. Seems that nature is helping the mangrove seed to grow amid the harsh conditions mangrove are in. As the germinated sapling hits the ground, it has a higher chance of survival compared to if it is a mere seed.

See how beautiful these mangrove roots are? That's how it help to protect coastal lands. We used to have 13% of our shoreline covered with mangroves, now it is about 0.2%.

The Bucky Group.

In the distant fiolage, those with the light skinned bark are the Apple Fruit Mangrove. The fruits are very popular with local fruit bats which are the main creatures that pollinates our Durain trees. So, if we do not have these Apple Fruit Mangroves, there won't be these fruit bats, and we may not have durains. In nature, everything is connected. We are all ONE.


This is a freshly built ant nest. See how meticulously they are folded. The white sticky stuff is their saliva.
These are the red big ones that live in those nests.

We spotted a huge monitor lizard about 1.5 metres long.

This is the Yellow Candle Stick Flower. There are seven flowers in one bunch.


This Torch Ginger Plant flower is so perfect that it looks plastic.


This palm has starchy pulp in its stem. Indigeneous people harvests the pulp and eat them.

This is the Sea Holly plant. It has jaggard leavs at its edges to protect itself. The leaves in the middle of the shrub have smooth edges.

These types of roots that sticks out in the air are called 'pencil roots'. They collect air during low tide, so that the tree can breathe during high tide when the water covers much of the plant.


This is a mudskipper. They are very territorial. They will occupy their own puddle of water to attract the female. The bigger the puddle, the more attractive they are to the female. Sounds familiar? :)


These green house structure could have been more cheaply made and better served by a geodesic dome.

Perhaps this should be what our proposed Bucky University should include - encompassing research and study of nature, then using nature's properties, we can either use them or micmic them to create dwellings and equipment to support and improve our quality of life in a sustainable way.

David Attenborough's comments...

If you are not familiar with Singapore, the following is a StarAsia TV programme about what you can find in Singapore's nature reserves and gardens. Not very deep, but a good intro.




Star Asia programme about Sungei Buloh

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