Did you know that Singapore is home to one of the world’s busiest bird airports? Every year between September and March, thousands of migrating birds pass through the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the north edge of Singapore Island to refuel, rest and relax before taking off on their connecting flights to and from breeding areas!
All about the Birds
Undoubtedly, migrating birds are the hugest draw for visitors to the Sungei Buloh, the only wetland reserve in Singapore. Long before the Reserve was officially commissioned in 2002, birds used the Sungei Buloh mangroves as a stop over during migratory flight. Now, under the watchful care of the National Parks Board, the mud flats and mangroves at Sungei Buloh host dozens of types of birds each year, including several endangered species!
Flora and Fauna
Sungei Buloh, which means ‘bamboo river’, is chock full of interesting wild creatures and exotic plants. Tiny crabs scramble up the trunks of Rhizophora trees, who’s stilt-like roots keep them stable above the muddy waters inside the mangrove. Spiders hang in their intricate, shiny webs while Monitor Lizards amble along logs. Prawns and strange fish live in the man ponds and pools, while lotus and water lilies bloom in bright colors on the waters’ surface. Around every bend are the striking noises of nature at its best, from the resounding call of Blue Herons and the splash of wild otters to the bizarre buzzing of cicadas nesting in the forest canopy.
Inside the Reserve
The National Parks Board has set up a fantastic infrastructure inside Sungei Buloh to allow visitors access to the otherwise difficult-to-manoeuvre swamplands. Raised boardwalks provide trails through the mangroves and an aerial viewing tower offers an outlook above the forest and beyond to the nearby Malaysian border. Screens and observation hides allow people to check out the animals without scaring or disturbing them. The well-designed visitors’ center also features a small theater that shows a short film about Sungei Buloh.
Three boardwalk trails take visitors on walks of varying lengths through the Reserve. Route 1 is a 1-2 hour walk and a good spot for catching sight of migratory birds. To see a demonstration of traditional prawn harvesting and check out the aerial tower, take Route 2, approximately 2-3 hours. The longest walk goes along Route 3 through the freshwater habitat.
Location and Arrival
Sungei Buloh is strategically located on the northern tip of Singapore Island. SMRT 925 runs from the Kranji MRT Station to the Reserve’s entrance. Alternately, adventurous walks can opt to take the Kranji Nature Trail from the Kranji Reservoir car park to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve- altogether about 30 minutes.
Photo Credit: Choo Yut Shing