Singapore is an urban city with a population of 5 million cramped into 791km2 . Despite the high density and the city’s rapid development, nature spots and gardens are home to 65 species of mammals, 390 species of birds, 110 species of reptiles, 30 species of amphibians, more than 300 butterfly species, 127 dragonfly species and over 2,000 recorded species of marine wildlife.
My love for bird-watching sparked during a high school project of Sungei Buloh Wetland reserve, a mangrove and wetland nature reserve where thousands of birds stopover during migration season.
On Labour Day, I visited Pasir Ris Park, a large park that consists of beaches and areas of mangroves, forests and pristine gardens. This area is known amongst bird-watchers as a hotspot for birds. Armed with a Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 that I rented, I started the journey at 7.30am with my partner in tow (who I pulled in to bird-watching and nature photography. Guilty!). The morning started out pretty well when we reach our first stopover, a natural pond. We saw the Malayan Water Monitor, Spotted Dove, Asian Pied Fantail, Pacific Swallows and a pair of Sunda Pygmy Woodpeckers. We spoke to a fellow birdwatcher who told us the location of an Oriental Whiteeye and a Common Flameback woodpecker.
After hanging around for an hour, we went into the mangrove area but didn’t see anything of interest. Perhaps we were too distracted by the intense heat and heavy equipment (The Tamron lens was heavy!) and wishing to leave the area as quickly as possible. It didn’t help that we were extremely tired from the previous 2 days of trekking and hiking in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Botanical Gardens. Out in the open areas of the Herb Garden and trellis areas, we spotted the Common Flameback, a changeable lizard, lots of Javan Mynas, Yellow Vented Bulbuls and Magpie Robins. Definitely a thrill although these birds are common.
Walking further down, I remembered reading about a resident Spotted Wood Owl though I was unable to locate its roosting tree. Walked for about 2 hours but unable to find the owl and at the verge of giving up, we went back to the pond where we spotted a juvenile Brown Throated Sunbird, a Blue Throated Bee Eater, several more pigeons and a Stork Billed kingfisher! Wow! We made a goal to spot 25 birds and we were almost at our mark.
We contemplated on staying put at the pond since we’ve had more luck here but to complete our goal for that day, we decided to cross over the bridge where Sungei Tampines meets the open sea. There, we spotted a lone Grey Heron with a Striated Heron hunting for fishes.
Pasir Ris Park is definitely a good place to bird-watch and the lens I rented was amazing! There was a lot of usable photos compared to the Sigma 70-300mm that I used the previous days to snap birds. I guess I will stick with the Sigma 70-300mm for Macro shots but the Tamron 150-600mm for the really great close ups of birds. I met a fellow birdwatcher who encouraged me to try the 150-600mm with a teleconverter to increase its range. Will definitely try that. Like what he said, birding and photography is an addictive hobby and how true that is!