Text and photos by Yap Wee Jin. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
It was a warm and sunny morning to start the day. By 7:30am, a group of us (21 members + 4 ) were already gathered at the Sungei Buloh Visitor Centre. After a briefing on shorebirds recognition and identification by Kim Chuah, we set off to the Main Bridge.
The tide was just beginning to rise as we strolled to the Main Bridge. This meant some of the mudflats were exposed and a good place for us to scan for shorebirds and other water-birds. And we were not disappointed. In the far corner of the river, we saw a small flock of Common Redshanks, their red legs giving their identity away even at that distance. Several Common Sandpipers were chasing each other and their distinctive shrill calls could be heard. And nearer right under the bridge, three menacing looking Estaurine Crocodiles lurked just at the water surface. There were many other birds near the bridge – a lone Purple Heron stood at the edge of the water waiting for its breakfast, a Stork-billed Kingfisher gave its presence away with its loud raucous call. There were many Little Egrets showing off their dainty yellow toes as they flew further upriver as the tide came in. We spent almost an hour birdwatching at this bridge while we waited for the tide to rise.
Members birdwatching at the main bridge
A hungry crocodile waiting for its first meal of the day? (It has a ‘broken’ tail)
At about 9 am, Kenneth signaled that it was time to go to the Main Hide and wait for the arrival of the waders. And true to Kenneth’s words, the waders arrived on the dot. We were first greeted by the fly-in of Common Redshanks and then Whimbrels. It was simply an awesome and unforgettable spectacle. More waders flew and cameras clicked continuously to try to capture the moment.
As the waders settled down, the lesson on waders resumed. Kim Chuah, Kenneth, Wing Chong then explained to the participants on how to differentiate the different waders – the Whimbrel with its long curved bill, the Common Greenshank with its light yellowish green legs and two-toned slightly upturned bill…..and the list goes on.
After an educational morning, we decided to call it a day at 11 am. On the way out, Kim Chuah decided to check if the Copper-throated Sunbird was around at the Mangrove Boardwalk. Some of the more lucky ones saw the sunbird hiding in the midst of the dense mangrove foliage which meant we could not fully appreciate the beauty of this sunbird. Well better luck next time!
Species of birds seen: Species heard only:
1 Common Sandpiper 1 Asian Paradise Flycatcher
2 Common Redshank 2 Arctic Warbler
3 Stork Billed Kingfisher 3 Oriental Magpie Robin
4 Striated Heron 4 Rufous Woodpecker
5 Little Egret
6 Painted Stork
7 Common Greenshank
9 Red Turtle Dove
10 Spotted Dove
11 Lesser Sand Plover
12 Collared Kingfisher
13 Grey Heron
14 Purple Heron
15 Common Iora
16 Ashy Tailorbird
17 Little Tern
18 White Bellied Sea Eagle (juvenile)
19 Great Egret
20 Eastern Cattle Egret
21 Brahminy Kite
22 Marsh Sandpiper
23 White-breasted Waterhen (with chicks)
24 House Crow
25 Common Flameback
26 Copper-throated Sunbird
To those who were there to share the morning with us, here are some of the pictures taken. Birds and animal photographs – courtesy of Kim Chuah.
Common Greenshanks and Common Redshanks
Whimbrels and Common Redshanks
Reference: Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing Company. 2013.