Kranji Marshes – the Conservation Area

I been trying to get to the Conservation area of Kranji Marshes since my last visit to Kranji Marshes in June last year. But because Nparks only allow for guided tours and that only once a month, I have not been successful in getting there until last weekend. Nature Society Singapore in conjunction with Nparks was conducting guided tour and I was lucky enough to secure a place. Turned out it was the last guided tour for this period and the next one will only be held towards the end of the year! Whew!

We started our guided tour from Sungei Buloh Wetland Extension and were brought straight to the back gate of Kranji Marshes at Turut Track saving us the 1 km+ walk in from the Visitor Centre.

Once inside the gate, immediately I saw 2 birds on a palm tree. Turned out to be a Spotted Dove and a Green Pigeon which nobody was interested in since they are pretty common. The same birds were still there when we came back this way 2 and a half hour l

There was also a Grey Headed Fish Eagle on a perch but it flew away before anyone of us can take a photo. What a great start!

We next spotted a Purple Heron. Interestingly, that was the only Heron we spotted throughout the tour. No Grey Heron. Seems like bird of the same feather flocked together and this is Purple Heron territory and the Grey Heron knows how to stay away. 

Next  I saw a bird up high and took a snap. Turns out to be a Pink Neck Green Pigeon.

Walking along the edge of the marshes, we saw many Scaly Breasted Munia. It is just amazing how these birds can hang on to the thin reefs without bending them down with their weight.

Just a short distance away, we came upon an injured Barn Swallow lying on the floor inside one of the hides. The bird is either totally exhausted and dehydrated or is injured. Our guide decided to bring it along with him and try to save it but unfortunately it died shortly after.

Just before we reach the public area of Kranji Marshes, we saw a Lesser Coucal, or at least that what I think it is. Again it is amazing how these birds can just hang on to a few stalks of thin plants without bending it downward.

We reached the public area of Kranji Marshes. There were many Barn Swallow flying around and I tried to snap some photos. Nothing came out well. They were too fast, too far and too tiny.

Didn’t see many birds here although we certainly heard many. As we were walking back to the coach, we were treated to an aerial duel between a Brahminy Kite and a Crow. The audacity of the crow trying to attack the much bigger Kite!

The next bird we saw was outside the fence but it was a beautiful Long Tailed Shrike which apparently is a resident bird.

Just before we reach the exit, we were treated to the sight of a big group of Lesser Whistling Duck and Red Wattled Lapwing. Unfortunately they were on the far bank of the marshes and all i could manage with my puny little lens was this heavily cropped blurry shot.

I saw a Sunbird. Think it is a Olive Backed Sunbird, more Purple Heron and a Stork Billed Kingfisher.

And just before we board the bus, we got a final treat. A very rare Black Capped Kingfisher. Unfortunately this again was too far for my lens and even binocular and after cropping, all I got was this.

So it was a good trip. Our guide from NSS told us all in we spotted more than 40 species of birds although I think with my poor eyesight, I didn’t spot even half of that. And while I didn’t get to see what I was hoping for – the Moorhen, I am still pretty happy to have seen so many birds in one short morning. 

The bonus was that back at the carpark of Sungei Buloh, I saw this bird high up in one of the tree. Another very heavily cropped photo but I got a Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker!  It has been a great trip and I hope to go back there again and hopefully I get to see some more rare birds.

Singapore Garden Bird Survey

Signed up to participate in the bi-annual Singapore Bird Survey and got assigned to Changi Beach Park. Not the usual one where all the picnickers go to but the more ulu one opposite the Changi Cargo Complex.

Started at 7 plus a.m. There were 4 locations where we have to stand and observe the birds around us for 10 minutes.  The first point was a disappointment. Could hear some birds but didn’t see much. The next point further away was much better. There was a big group of mynahs and crows in a feeding frenzy over some food waste threw on the ground by humans. But the highlight was catching sight of this Common Flamed Back Woodpecker peering at itself in a car mirror.

There were a lot of mynahs and crows. Saw a few ioras, many Collared Kingfishers

Also heard and saw many parakeets which I think are the Rose Ringed Parakeets and not the more common Red Breasted Parakeet.

It has been an interesting experience and I rather enjoyed myself although I wished we could have spotted more different birds. But we did see this beautiful White Bellied Sea Eagle on our way back. 

Kranji Marshes

Finally found some time to go take a look at the new Kranji Marshes. There was some excitement when it opened a few months ago especially as there was some birds like the Moorhen that can only be found there.

The place has been spruced up well with a  carpark, clean toilets and some small offices and rooms.

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Kranji Marshes is divided into 2 areas – the first is a single track road that is open to the public and the other is a conservation area that is only opened for guided tour. The first part of the public area is a long walk next to the canal. There are shelters like this along the way.3-DSC_1271

That leads to the Marsh Station where there is a watch tower and some viewing hides5-DSC_1278 02-KMW_0618

From here one can get a good view of the conservation area and the marshes6-DSC_1279

But I wasn’t really here to look at the marshes. I was more interested in something else. A little bird that has got the birding world abuzz and camped there. A Blue Earned Kingfisher. This is where it has been spotted the past weeks but fortunately today there were only a handful of photographers and not the usual hordes.2-DSC_1269

I didn’t spot the kingfisher on the way in but on the way out I was lucky enough to get a distant short of not just the Blue Earned Kingfisher but a Pied Fantail and a Baya Weaver!

Blue eared Kingfisher

Blue eared Kingfisher

Pied Fantail

Pied Fantail

J Munia

And some nice insects

Grey Pansy

Grey Pansy

Peacock Pansy

Peacock Pansy

Dragonfly 1

Birds at Pasir Ris

Pasir Ris is a bird haven and I hope it continues to stay that way although with the continuous non stop construction, I am fearful of this.

Here are just some of the birds during a 2 hours walk from Drive 1 to the Pasir Ris Park one hot afternoon last week.

Starting from Sungei Tampines, the ever present magnificent Grey Heron flying so close to the HDB flats10-PRP_0219

A little bird that is now a permanent resident. Little Terns are a joy to watch as they swooped down on high to pick the fish from the river.09-PRP_0287

The parakeets seemed to have invaded the East. They are now abundant in Changi, East Coast and Pasir Ris with big flocks of them.07-PRP_0478

The Collared Kingfisher is another very commonly seen bird in Singapore. At Bedok Town Park a few weeks ago, there were many of them and likewise on this walk there were a number of them over at Sungei Tampines and in the park itself.06-PRP_0502

And the family of Spotted Wood Owl is still there despite the recent pruning of trees by Nparks01-PRP_0535

Didn’t spot any woodpecker this time round though. Just many hornbills but they were too far away for a decent shots.

Butterfly Watch

A few weeks ago, we signed up for a volunteer to survey butterflies. We had no idea what it entails but what attracted me was the opportunity to learn how to identify butterfly. After a half morning lesson at the Singapore Botanic Garden and a demo walk, we were thrust into doing our own survey.

The survey has to be conducted using a method called Pollard’s Walk. Each of us got a different site and which consist of 2 mini sites called transects. We were to walk 20 minutes over a 200 metres route.  We roped in a friend to help us do this.  It sound simple enough but it wasn’t easy to walk so slowly over such a short distance. But the idea was to count the butterflies along the route so definitely going fast wasn’t the right thing to do.

We first went to Bedok Town Park. There was a lot of butterflies at the 1st transects but most of which fortunately we can recognise including the Common Grass Yellow, the Chocolate Pansy and many many Grass Blue

Chocolate Pansy

Chocolate Pansy

There was less butterflies at the 2nd transects and which we attributed to there being no flower beds just trees and non flower bearing plants.

Common Grass Yellow Butterfly

Common Grass Yellow Butterfly

Our next stop was at Bedok Reservoir. The coordinates given to us was actually the Bedok Reservoir Road itself. At first we thought there must be a mistake but soon realised it was the pavement and what a beautiful pavement. There was a short stretch just after the car park which was planted with Heliconia, Ixora and other flowering plants.

Grass Blue Butterfly

Grass Blue Butterfly

An added bonus was a pair of Olive Backed Sunbird on one of the trees.

Olive Backed Sunbird

Olive Backed Sunbird

However, our last transect for the day was a big disappointment. It was up on the hill and there were no flowering shrubs except for a few very tall Yellow Flame trees. Consequently, this was the place where we spotted the least butterflies.

It has been a fun time looking out for butterflies and the birds around the areas. There were many Blue collared Kingfisher at Bedok Town Park. We also saw a Common Iora, an Oriental Magpie Robin and Changeable Lizard and Squirrel.

Oriental Magpie Robin

Oriental Magpie Robin

Blue Collared Kingfisher

Blue Collared Kingfisher

Plantain Squirrel

Plantain Squirrel

Changeable Lizard

Changeable Lizard

Maybe next round we will volunteer to do Bird Watch too.

In my Own Backyard 3

Walking the combine Pasir Ris Park and Tampines Eco Green, both places just within stone throw from my place and though migratory season is over, there are still some birds around. Here are some which can be found in these 2 areas.

Starling

Asia Glossy Starling

Black naped Oriole

Black Naped Oriole

Beeeater 2

Bee-eater

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Little Egret

Little Egret

White Throat Kingfisher

White Throat Kingfisher

Iora

Iora

Sooty Headed Bulbul

Sooty Headed Bulbul

Yellow Vented Bulbul

Yellow Vented Bulbul

The Jungle Fowls population in Singapore has grown tremendously. There are sizeable population in Pasir Ris Park, Fort Canning and many other parts of Singapore.

Cock 1

Jungle Fowl male

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Jungle Fowl Female with chicks