Bidadari: Maintaining the area as an open aviary?

posted in: Conservation | 3

The recent controversy that erupted on the Saving Bidadari Facebook (above banner taken from LINK), in response to my earlier posting on the subject LINK, made me aware of two things LINK.

One, that bird photographers are just as ardent as birdwatchers in wanting the area saved. Two, most photographers view the area as a sort of an “open aviary” where one can wander about in a pleasant, park-like environment to seek out and photograph migratory birds. And obviously, so do birdwatchers, not to photograph but to add to their list of species seen. After all, it is easy to locate birds in a park than a forested area. The Nature Society has already acknowledged that “Bidadari already has a beautiful park-like landscape” LINK.

Birdwatchers should have been more transparent in their dealings with the authorities and the media (above). A request for Bidadari to be set aside as a park or an “open aviary” is one thing. I can live with that. But to call for its conservation based on scientific values is another kettle of fish.

Now that the area has been explored for a few years, the list of migratory species is long. The possibilities of just as many species taking refuge in the Central Catchment forests have yet to be established. Yes, surveys had been made regularly but these were along paths rather than through the forest proper. Such surveys will not easily reveal the more cryptic species that the forest harbour or the birds that take refuge in the forest proper – a situation just like the pre-2009 Bidadari, before the graves were exhumed.

From the conservation perspectives, there are limited factors supporting the saving of Bidadari. Other than the birds, the biodiversity is like any manicured mature park. Of the birds found there, only the Japanese Paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone atrocaudata) has been claimed to be endangered. Yes, endangered in Singapore as it is a rare passage migrant. But not globally threatened, maybe only near-threatened.

YC Wee
May 2013

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