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.

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.

Birds at Bukit Batok Nature Park

Been to Bukit Batok Nature Park twice. Saw some nice birds and the Colugo but this latest round, after hearing from friends that there were some easy to spot beautiful birds there, decided to go and kaypoh.

First thing after parking the car and out of the car park saw this guy in front of a Yellow Saraca tree snapping away. He was kind and patient enough to point out to me the Crimson, Brown Throated and Purple Throated Sunbirds pecking away at the yellow flowers. Unfortunately while the birds were much closer this time round, I only managed to get decent photos of the Brown Throated and Purple Throated Sunbirds.

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Brown throated sunbird

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Brown throated sunbird

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Purple throated sunbird

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Purple throated sunbird

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Male Orange Bellied Flowerpecker

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Male Orange Bellied Flowerpecker

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Female Orange Bellied Flowerpecker

Further in the park saw a group of photographers leaving from the pond area. It was about 4 in the afternoon and still very hot. 2 ladies were still shooting away.  Joined them and again one of th ladies was very kind to show me what they were shooting. Some Orange Bellied Flowerpeckers.

This is the first time I seeing these beautiful birds.  There was also some Straw headed Bulbul and Dark Tailed Tailorbird around but I didn’t manage to take any of their photos. Too bad.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Have not been there for some time and thought I paid another visit before the migratory season is over. Hit pay dirt early when at the main hide just after the main bridge, spotted a Collared Kingfisher which was close enough for a nice shot. The best part was when we came back it was still there and this time with a partner. 2 for the price of one!

06-SBW_3764There were the usual suspects, the Plovers and the Egrets and the Milky Stork.13-SBW_3657

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A bit disappointed that I didn’t see any woodpeckers or snake but was excited when some visitors informed that they saw a crocodile up on the bank just a short distance away. So we went crocodile hunting but couldn’t find it. In the end though, we managed to see 2 of them at the usual place under the main bridge.05-SBW_3776Then there are the usual monitor lizard which are often mistaken for the crocodile or worse still, Komodo Dragon. 04-SBW_3782Most time we see them in the water but high up in the tree?03-SBW_3793

Another animal that is always up in the tree – the cute little squirrel.12-SBW_3677

Spotted a fly on the ledge of the Tower and it didn’t fly away even when people moved nearby. Changed to a macro lens and got this close up.11-SBW_3704Wanted to take more shot of this since it was such a quiet and cooperative model but M was shouting excitedly about some bird on a tree and so when to take a look.  I think it is a Olive backed Sunbird but it was so far away and this is the best that I can managed. 10-SBW_3713

All in a rather fruitful morning out there.

A Birdtiful Outing at Tampines Eco Green

Normally when I go to the parks, I don’t spot many birds as I seem to be unable to differentiate between the leaves and the birds and usually it is M who will point them out to me. Last weekend at Tampines Eco Green, I not only got M but the Princess and together we got a “birdtiful” catch! So many birds!

Of course, with my 200 mm lens, most time what I got was something like this:DSC_0002See the bird is so far away and so small even with the lens zoomed all the way. But with a lot of cropping, at least I get a bigger bird.02-TEG_4150

This by the way is a Bee-eater or so I been told. Due to the massive cropping and sharpening, the picture is very pixelated and “noisy” but can’t be help. At least can see that it is a rather beautiful bird. Here a side by side comparison of the scale of the croppingTEG_4150

Here are the other birds.  The pictures are a little bit distorted due to the size of the slider

Of course beside bird, we also spot many nests including this Baya Weaver nest with the head of a chick popping out. Can you spot it?05-TEG_4188Beside birds there are also many lizards although sadly no Komodo Dragon 🙂 and snakes.

7-DSC_0128This is not a Komodo Dragon. Just a monitor lizard. In Singapore, one can only find Komodo Dragon at the Zoo!

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Photo by Alicia

All in, it was a very fruitful trip. We took only about 2 hours and just one small stretch of the beautiful park from the end of the overhead bridge nearer to the TPE and to the main entrance where the eco toilet is.

More Birds at Pasir Ris Park

On Sunday pop by Pasir Ris Park since I had some time to spare before going down to the National Age Group Championship. In less than 1 hour, was lucky to manage to follow the trails of the local bird photographers and took photos of these birds:

A Olive backed Sunbird at its nest. This was just along a path. 5-NEC_3368

Inside the nest was a baby and mama bird is here to feed it!4-NEC_3352

Inside the boardwalk was a large group of photographers. The subject of their attention? This baby Laced Woodpecker3-NEC_33371-NEC_3263And mama Woodpecker is here to look after it. But it does look like baby is screaming at her “where my worm, where my worm?”

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