“This is actually the story of how my interest in birds was ignited early this year. It all started when I purchased a pair of bicycles with the intention of cycling around the Punggol Waterway in my neighborhood with my wife during our free time. I often have the habit of taking photos of birds when I go travelling if chance upon one, but never knew that there is a great variety of birds in Singapore. I brought my camera along on one of this cycling occasion with the intention of taking some pictures of the waterway landscape. However, I managed to chance upon two birds during the ride and was curious to find out what birds they were. Coming back home and searching through the internet, I found out they were the Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) and the Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster). I further discovered that Lorong Halus and Pasir Ris Mangrove promise more sightings and decided to cycle to those areas. True enough I started to see more and decided to get myself a 400mm telephoto lens.
“In early June, the rocky track in Lorong Halus was waterlogged, probably due to leakage in the water treatment system. I started to notice that birds seem to be attracted to these waterholes for drinking and bathing. Hence, I decided that instead of moving around, maybe it was better for me to station near a waterhole and see if I get lucky. Perhaps due to beginner’s luck, my hunch was correct and the birds turned up in numbers that were simply unbelievable for me then.
1. The Slaty Breasted Rail (Gallirallus striatus) was one of the first candidate that i managed to record and found out that it was not commonly seen elsewhere (top).
2. Escapees such as the Red-rumped Waxbills (Estrilda rhodopyga) (above) and the Common Waxbills (Estrilda astrild) were lovers of these baths and they arrive in numbers. A lot of preening and allopreening after the baths.
3. The Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) (above) were a bit more apprehensive of human presence and would wait for the Red-rumped Waxbill to jump in before they join in from the nearby trees. Escapees such as Red-headed Queleas (Quelea erythrops) (below left) and Golden-backed Weaver (Ploceus jacksoni) (below right) were also seen and I am starting to wonder if Lorong Halus is Little Africa.
4. Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica) also often come here to take a dip (below).
5. Black-headed Munias (Lonchura malacca) (below left), Scaly-breasted Munias (Lonchura punctulata) (below right) and White-headed Munias (Lonchura maja) (bottom left) were also common users of these natural spas. Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) (bottom right) also took a quick dip before moving up to a branch and fluff out it’s feathers.
“The leakage has since been fixed and the waterholes have dried up, the birds numbers have not been the same ever since, but it was an exciting time that i will never forget and I am truly hooked for life. I hope this account is as interesting for you as it is for me.”
Lim Sheau Torng
12th October 2012