Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Birding in Singapore

You won't think that Singapore, home to the world class Changi airport, beautiful Marina Bay and water front with Singapore Flyer, the shopping paradise of Orchard Road and the world class recreation, entertainment resort of Sentosa Island and Formula One night race, that is also a good stop for bird watching.

This is due to the geographical location of Singapore in the East Asian-Australasian bird migration flyway and that is truly a very green garden city. Every year, during the Christmas season, thousands of migratory birds will visit or stop-by Singapore, some even spend their whole winter in the nature reserves, gardens and parks.

I visited Singapore during the Christmas season (8-14 Dec) not only for the world class entertainment, shopping, night life and museums. During the day, I bird watched in the following places and see what had I discovered:

Singapore Botanic Gardens. This garden is a Green Jewel of Singapore city, a must visit Botanic Gardens in South East Asia. The garden is just a walking distance from Orchard road. Check out this LINK to find out more about the garden.

I saw my four lifers in the garden, the Hooded Pitta (no picture), Orange-headed Thrush, Banded Woodpecker, and Green-naped Lorikeet (introduced species).
In fact, Singapore is one of the best place in this region to watch those introduced species of parots, parakeets and lorikeets.
I also have a very close distance view of Oriental Pied Hornbill (female),migratory Common Kingfisher,
A Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, I learned that this bird is a vanishing species in Singapore:
Common Flameback,
Hill Myna,Javan Myna,

Pink-necked Green Pigeon and etc.
You can see that resident, introduced and migratory birds are living together in harmony in Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, It is a treasure of Singapore and a must visit place for migratory and wetland birds, a wetland reserve well managed with good facillities. It is one of the important area recognized for the East Asian-Australasia Flyway and a good place to learn more about waders.

I saw many waders and egrets there, and also managed to digiscope Pacific Golden Plover and White-collared Kingfisher, they are really beautiful and easily spotted.
A newly published book by NPark's Publication entitles "Migratory Birds of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve", it is a good guide book for those who are interested to visit this wetland reserve and to learn more about migratory birds in Singapore. Thanks to Meng Meng for given me the book, it is my best Christmas gift. Check out this LINK to find out more about the wetland reserve and the book.

Bukit Timah and Central Nature Reserve and Parks, it is located at the central catchment of Singapore, and is an important area for water catchment. The parks include the nature parks around the Central Catchment, Bukit Timah Nature Park and Bukit Batok Nature Park, and do not miss the HSBC Tree top Walk. Check out this LINK to find out more about the nature reserves.

This whole area is a good for spotting lowland rainforest and garden birds. I had my lifer of Straw-Headed Bulbul at the Hindedhe Nature Park, they are very melodious birds.Besides that, I also saw Crimson Sunbird, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, Dollarbirds, Blue-tailed Bee eaters, Emerald Dove, bluish Asian Glossy Starling, Greater Raquet-tail drongo, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Hill Mynah, Javan Myna, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Olive-backed Bulbul and Common Flameback Woodpecker, etc.
Pulau Ubin, the offshore island off the northeast coast of Singapore, this island is a good place for spotting wetland, shore and sea birds. I didn't visit this island but have seen it from the Changi Park, it is really a beautiful green offshore islands, and it is also known as the Island of Hornbill. I will visit the island in my next visit to Singapore. Check out this LINK to find out more about the island.

Guides to Birding in Singapore
Here are the recommended guide books about birding places in Singapore:
1. Birds, A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, by M. Strange and A. Jeyarajasingam, was published in 1993, but still a good reference to find out birding places in Singapore.
2. An illustrated field guide of "Birds of South-East Asia", by Craig Robson.

Visit this LINK to find out more about birding in Singapore.


  1. Wow! This must be a splendid sight. I have booked my stay at one of the hotels in Singapore for two weeks so I take in all the sights.

  2. Hi Jacob, I would also like to recommend you to visit Chinese and Japanese Gardens, there are many beautiful garden birds, Milky Stork, white-bellied Sea-eagle and Oriental Pied Hornbills. enjoy.

  3. Afternoon Tea said...
    All Wild,
    You would be interested to know that Singapore has got a healthy hornbill breeding programme going on. The Straits Times newspaper yesterday reported that a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills released into the wild (Bukit Timah Nature Reserve) by the Singapore Bird Park has produced three healthy chicks. And also the fact that there are now about 50 hornbills flying around Singapore and Pulau Ubin. This is wonderful as the hornbill became extinct here 150 years ago. The Bird Park, National Parks Board and Singapore Avian Conservation Project collaborated on the breeding project. The Bird Park is also studying the feasibility of introducing the Rhinoceros Hornbill.

    JANUARY 3, 2010 3:34 PM

    Afternoon Tea said...
    Oh, I neglected to add that the hornbills in Singapore have flown here from the neighbouring countries. Perhaps they know that they will find a safe haven here as bird trapping and shooting are now illegal. Also, despite Singapore's small size, there are conservation reserves where vegetation are protected by law and these hornbills will have a place to survive and breed without too many disturbances.

    JANUARY 3, 2010 3:37 PM

    Afternoon Tea said...
    You would also be interested in another Singapore effort in the bid to save the extremely rare and beautiful Bali Mynah.

    JANUARY 3, 2010 3:47 PM

    All Wild said...
    AT, thanks.

    Yes, I like hornbill, I have volunteered in Belum-Temengor hornbill conservation program in 2008 and 2009. You can learn more about hornbills in the Peninsular here: http://www.hornbills.org/

    I hope the video show for the "Singapore Hornbill Project - Return of the King" will be on youtube soon. I wish S'pore will re-introduce more hornbill species in P. Ubin soon.

    JANUARY 3, 2010 10:24 PM

    All Wild said...
    Bali Myna is one of my dream bird, I wish I could see it in the wild Singapore one day.

    JANUARY 3, 2010 10:25 PM