Monday, April 29, 2013

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve 2013-04-29

From Sembawang, I took the MRT to Bukit Batok station then walk to the bus interchange. From there, I boarded bus 852 and 8 stops laters, get off at Jalan Anak stop. At the stop, I started walking towards the park. Not sure where the park entrance is, I asked some passersby for direction.

I arrive at the park and took the main trail towards the visitor center. When I arrived there, it was still closed. So I just start hiking towards the summit following the main trail.

A little history lesson at the visitor center

The summit of Bukit Timah, at 163 meters from sea-level, is the highest point in the entire island of Singapore. The path to the summit was pretty much straight-forward, until I reached a corner where a marker says "Summit 0.2Km" and points to a flight of stairs branching from the main path. I followed the sign to get to the top, and found out that the main path will also lead to the summit but will take longer through the winding road. At the summit, you'll see a small hut, a marker and beside it is a transmission antenna which is inaccessible to the public.


I took a short break at the top and tried to explore the other trails. I did not see a lot of birds during my hike. I can hear some, but most cannot be seen. I only saw a tiny bird that cross my path and a drongo-cuckoo on a tree which I was able to photograph. I took some pictures along the way.


 A nest?

When I finished exploring the Dairy farm trail, Seraya trail, South view path, Quarry road, etc. I went back down to the visitor center and view the exhibits before leaving the park. I was a bit disappointed because I didn't see many birds. However, along the way out of the park, I saw a small bird on a tree. It was very active, but I was able to see its' bright red body. I tried my best to capture it, but only managed a few decent shots and lots of unusable shots.

 Crimson sunbird, Singapore's national bird

After the bird flew away, I headed back to the nearest bus top, took bus 852 to the interchange, had lunch at West Mall and finally took the MRT back to Sembawang.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Birding at Bukit Batok Nature Park 2013-04-25

I got up early as usual, took the MRT to Bukit Batok station and started walking towards the park.

When I arrived, there were a lot of elderly people doing their taichi exercise. Before reaching the small pond, I saw on a distant tree a silhoutte of a greater racket-tailed drongo with one tail missing.

Greater racket-tailed drongo

At the pond, I strolled a bit trying hard to find some birds because of too many people around. I can hear the birds, but had no lucky seeing anything other than the bold mynas. Without much luck, I sat down at the edge of the pond and waited for some movements on the shrubs at the opposite rock face.

After a few minutes, I notice some movements and calls that I'm sure came from a dove. When I saw the bird, I took some shots and I identified it as a pink-necked green-pigeon. More birds did showed up: a couple of noisy yellow-vented bulbuls, a female olive-backed sunbird, some tiny black birds which I couldn't identify and some more pigeons.

Pink-necked green-pigeon

After about an hour or so, the people started to disperse as they ended their morning exercise. Thinking that it's now my chance to increase my bird count, I started walking again. I followed the sign to the Japanese war memorial which is an uphill trail. Along the way, I heard some movements on the forest floor on the dried leaves then I saw a bird and a squirrel. At first, I thought it was a yellow-vented bulbul, but on close inspection it's not. It was another lifer: a white-crested laughing-trush.

White-crested laughingtrush

At one bend, I saw many movements on the trees and managed to capture a blurry shot of those very active birds: Pin stripped tit-babbler

 Pin stripped tit-babbler

When I reached the antenna tower at the top following the marker. I didn't see much bird there, so I just turned back.

The marker

 At the area where people did their morning exercise, I heard some calls and followed them to see those tiny black birds again. I wasn't able to photograph any of them due to their constant movement, until I grew tired and just gave up.

Later, I was able to see a white collared kingfisher, a rather bold one. I managed to approach it gently until I was only about 3-4 meters from it where I managed to get some decent shot.

White-collared kingfisher

 I also met a couple of local birders who did their own bird searching.

I ended my birding after the kingfisher and head back to Sembawang.

Birding at MacRitchie Trail and Nature Reserve 2013-04-23

I got up early, had breakfast, took the MRT to Marymount station along the circle line. With only the  knowledge of the general direction to the reserve, I wasn't sure where the entrance to the reserve was. So I asked some passersby until I reached the place. I initially took the trail far from the reservoir where I simply followed the sign to the treetop walk. I was a bit worried that I might not see many birds along the way, because there are many joggers sharing the trail with me.

The first birds I saw was the Pompadour green pigeon and a couple of Drongo-cuckoo, followed by a banded woodpecker.

 Pompadour green pigeon

Banded woodpecker

After a few kilometers of walking, I reached the treetop-walk and was surprised while traversing the bridge when I saw the Racket-tailed drongo.

 Greater racket-tailed drongo

On my way back to the exit, I stopped due to the rain, thinking that I'll won't get very wet if I stayed under a canopy. I was wrong so I had no choice,but to brave the heavy rain until I'm completely soaked.

After the rain stopped, I tried to dry my shirt before proceeding to the next trail along the reservoir. I was able to see some other wildlife along the trail and also saw a Drongo-cuckoo that I was able to photograph.


White collared kingfisher

Birding in Naga and Nearby Areas

I had several free birding days during my vacation in the city of Naga where I grew up. Naga city is a relatively small city by land area. Several towns beside Naga city proper are only a few kilometers away, suitable for a leisurely bike ride and birding. One place I visited was Calabanga.

Calabanga, Camarines Sur

This is a coastal town, only 16 kilometers from our place in Naga. I planned to ride a bike to the sea and possibly see some waders. Along the way, I saw several striated grassbirds, olive-backed sunbirds, brown shrikes and other common birds. I was disappointed when I reached the sea though because I found out that the coast line is gone, covered with concrete. :(

Clamorous reed warbler

Pacific swallow

My bike

 Striated grassbird

Olive backed sunbird

Sto. Nino Memorial Park

I also visited a local cemetary one afternoon. When I arrived there, the first bird I saw was a Blue-tailed bee-eater. I also saw a small group of Chestnut-cheeked starling on a tree, which is a lifer for me. After a few minutes, more groups of starling arrived and the group on the tree flew up and joined the new arrivals. Soon more birds came and the group of tens became hundreds of birds. I was so excited with the starlings that I ignored other bird calls. I kept on following the birds until it was too dark to bird before I went back home.
Blue-tailed bee-eater

Chestnut cheeked starling

The following day, I returned to the park and saw a similar group of hundreds of birds. I also tried looking for other birds and saw a red-keeled flowerpecker that posed nicely for me.

Red-keeled flowerpecker


One day, I also tried biking to Panicuason, a barangay at the foot of Mount Isarog. It was a tiring uphill climb but I was able to capture a few bird shots along the way.

 Barred rail

Pied bushchat

At home

Outside the house, I also observed a couple of munias gathering nesting materials into a cluster of vine at my parent's house.

Chestnut munia