The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 1.

The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 1.

A Personal Observation by Pary Sivaraman

Many of the birders and bird photographers were sad that the vacant land next to Kranji Marshes was tendered out for farming. During the preparation stage, the land was left to fallow. We can only scan for the birds from the outside or on top of the tower. Already many of the freshwater waders were seen wintering there.

Aquatic plants like mimosas, reeds, sages and grasses began to colonize the open land. After the plots were sold, fences and boarding were erected and clearing of the land started. We were able to drive in, bird and photograph the many grassland species and migrants foraging at some of the open plots.

My focus was one of the plots that was fenced around by low plastic sheets and netting. The farm had significant work done with areas dug out that resulted in the collection of rainwater and other parts were used for growing vegetable. With time some of the water filled areas became covered with various types of vegetation including reeds. Interestingly some areas looked like a marshland and other parts were mud covered areas. With time and rain, it offered three types of ‘habitats’: muddy areas, marsh-like areas and even a pond all rolled into one location!

Photo 1. Shows a wide-angle view from the lamp post
Photo 2. Shows a closer view of the right side with reeds, water collection etc.

During the migratory season, birds like the Common Kingfisher, Oriental Pratincoles, Wood Sandpipers, Long-toed Stints, Little-ringed Plovers and Snipes (both Common & Pintail) were seen at this location (Photos 3 to 7). I have not included photos of Wagtails (Eastern Yellow & Grey) that have also been seen here nor the Barn Swallows that would rest at various locations and fly low to catch insects in flight above the water covered marsh-like areas.

The migratory birds that were seen from outside the farm near the lamppost would come regularly and land on the mud-covered areas to rest, forage for food, etc. I have seen as many as 16 Wood Sandpipers, 7 Little-ringed Plovers, 4 Long-toed Stints, 3 Snipes and 2 Oriental Pratincoles at any one time, though not all these birds would come together at the same time! Some of these observations have been shared previously on eBird.

Photo 3. Common Kingfisher with food it captured from the pond.
Photo 4. Wood Sandpiper (left) with Long-toed Stint (right).
Photo 5. Long-toed Stint (left) with Little-ringed Plover (right)
Photo 6. Oriental Pratincole with Little-ringed Plover.
Photo 7. Snipe species.

Whilst not a migratory bird, the Asian-Pied Starling (Photo 8) has been seen here several times and on one occasion even a pair was seen. The origin of this bird is usually believed to be an ‘escapee’ with some speculating that its may have flown over from Johor Malaysia.

Photo 8. Asian Pied Starling.

The site would also be visited by our common birds like the Mynahs (Common & Javan Mynahs), Munias (Black-headed, White-headed & Scaly breasted), Waxbills, Weavers (Baya & Golden-backed), Yellow-vented Bulbul, etc. Since these birds can be found in various parts of Kranji, I did not consider them to be especially interesting.

Moving to the marsh-like & pond area it was common to see Little Egrets and Intermediate Egrets foraging for food. The Asian Openbill would come in significant numbers to forage for food in the water-logged area that were like a pond (Photos 9 & 10).

Photo 9. Intermeditate Egret with food in its mouth that it had captured from the “pond”.
Photo 10. Asian Openbill with food in its mouth. Some areas must be relatively deep!

The story fortunately did not end there. It was not uncommon to see the Lesser Whistling Ducks fly, wade in the ponds, hide in the reeds or stand by the solid ground. Apart from these, the Common Moorhens would wade in the pond-like area and similarly one would see White-browed Crakes foraging for food (Photos 11 to 13). Both the Common Moorhen and White-browed Crakes are extremely difficult to see in Singapore except at certain locations.

Photo 11. Lesser Whistling Ducks flying in.
Photo 12. Common Moorhen moving in the water-logged area.
Photo 13. A pair of White-browed Crakes foraging for food.

This ‘accidental site’ comprising of marsh-like areas, muddy parts and water-logged areas that look like a pond has continued to attract migrant birds and local birds. I have intentionally only used those photographs that are below par in this write up as my interest was to document the birdlife there.

In fact, I have met many other birders who called this the ‘real Kranji Marsh’. On reflection, I would agree with them.

I hope this write up would create an awareness and support for natural “accidental” places like this for migratory birds in our land scarce island.

In the second part of my write up I will highlight how certain birds have managed to breed in this accidental site signaling the ultimate success of such a place.

Note: The observations and photos were taken exclusively from outside the fence near one of the lamp posts. If you intend to bird in private land parcels, do seek permission when possible and respect the rights of the property.

2 thoughts on “The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 1.

  1. clare

    Dear Mr. OwYong, thank you so much for your fascinating and interesting article! Love your photos very much! Hope to see more of your works!



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