Watch the Birdie

We often think of Singapore as just a concrete jungle with shopping malls and housing estates. However, we also have flora and fauna, if you know where to look. There are nearly 150 species of resident birds in Singapore, and hosts many more species of migratory birds. Singapore is one of 22 countries including Russia, China and Australia that lie along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, an annual migration path for 50 million birds from more than 200 species that spans 10,000km.

Besides the usual pigeons, mynahs, sparrows and crows, there are many other types of birds that you can see in their natural environment in Singapore. Here are some of the places where you can find them (and the Jurong Bird Park is not one of them):

  • Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
  • Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens
  • Bidadari
  • Lorong Halus Wetland

I haven’t been to all these places above and there are many more places to watch birds. Below are some photos and the places where I took them.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Located in the northern part of Singapore, this is a wetland nature reserve and is an ASEAN Heritage Park.

A good place to view migratory birds is Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Here is a flight of egrets at dawn.
A good place to view migratory birds is Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Here is a flight of egrets at dawn.
A pair of sea eagles in the morning.
A pair of sea eagles in the morning.
A sunbird sheltering from the rain.
A sunbird sheltering from the rain.
Milky stork at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Milky stork at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
The milky stork looks awkward on land but is graceful in flight.
The milky stork looks awkward on land but is graceful in flight.
Fight Club for some egrets. They are fighting over food.
Fight Club for some egrets. They are fighting over food.
There are many species of kingfishers in Singapore. This is the white collared kingfisher.
There are many species of kingfishers in Singapore. This is the white collared kingfisher.
Well, not a bird but also commonly seen is the water moniter lizard which can grow up to 2m long. They can be found all over Singapore especially in our canals and reservoirs.
Well, not a bird but also commonly seen is the water moniter lizard which can grow up to 2m long. They can be found all over Singapore especially in our canals and reservoirs.
Ain't I handsome?
Ain’t I handsome?

Changi Beach

Although known more for picnics and beach activities, this place is a good area to view birds of prey. They treat the sea as their hunting grounds and you can see them swooping in on fishes.

A white bellied sea eagle scratching that itch while flying.
A white bellied sea eagle scratching that itch while flying.
Brahminy kite swooping in for the kill at Changi beach.
Brahminy kite swooping in for the kill at Changi beach.
A nice catch!
A nice catch!

Ulu Pandan Park Connector

Located between major roads and housing estates, this area is not exactly rural, but a patch of forest and a large canal provides abundant food for many birds. This is a nice place for jogging or cycling. Unfortunately, the forest is gradually being cleared for HDB flats and this place is likely to lose its natural feel.

Male common flameback woodpecker at Ulu Pandan park connector.
Male common flameback woodpecker at Ulu Pandan park connector.
Where you find the male, there is always the female woodpecker. The female doesn't have the red feathers on the head.
Where you find the male, there is always the female woodpecker. The female doesn’t have the red feathers on the head.
Commonly seen in our canals is the striated heron.
Commonly seen in our canals is the striated heron.
Also very common around HDB estates is the black-nape oriole.
Also very common around HDB estates is the black-nape oriole.
Egret perching on the canal railings. It still has some breeding plumage.
Egret perching on the canal railings. It still has some breeding plumage.

Southern Ridges

Stretching from Kent Ridge to Mt. Faber is a 10km long ridge of hills with lots of greenery. This is a popular hiking route and offers panoramic views of Singapore’s skyline and southern coast.

Pink neck green pigeon eating berries from a tree near Hort Park.
Pink neck green pigeon eating berries from a tree near Hort Park.
Greater racket-tail drongo near Hort Park.
Greater racket-tail drongo near Hort Park.

Punggol Waterway

This is riverine park that is aiming to turn Punggol into a waterfront town. You can see many water birds that nest and hunt along the river.

Common kingfisher at Punggol Waterway.
Common kingfisher at Punggol Waterway.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

One of the oldest parks in Singapore, the garden was founded in 1859. This is a great place for big family picnics and lazy weekend activities. The Botanic Gardens is a favourite weekend haunt for families and is being nominated as a UNESCO Heritage Site..

Brown throated sunbird at Singapore Botanic Garden.
Brown throated sunbird at Singapore Botanic Garden.
Olive backed sunbird.
Olive backed sunbird.
Posing with the Heliconia plant.
Posing with the Heliconia plant.

Photo Equipment

Birds are naturally aware of our presence nearby and if we get too close they will fly away. Thus, it is necessary to have a good long lens to zoom in on the details. All the photos here were shot with my Canon 7D paired with a 100-400mm telephoto lens. I sometimes use a Kenko 1.4x tele-converter for extra reach but I find that the image quality with the tele-converter is not optimal.

My weapon of choice for shooting birds. I sometimes use a monopod for added support. I find that tripods are too bulky when you are moving around trying to get a good shot.
My weapon of choice for shooting birds. I sometimes use a monopod for added support. I find that tripods are too bulky when you are moving around trying to get a good shot.

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