The Nature Society’s Bird Group started with the aim of attracting locals to birdwatching so that they can become citizen scientists and contribute to ornithology LINK. Unfortunately when locals took over the leadership, activities became totally recreational. As a result the Bird Ecology Study Group entered the scene to encourage birdwatchers to focus back on bird behaviour. So far we have succeeded as seen in the many contributions by photographers and independent birdwatchers. And many birdwatchers are now aware that there is more to watching birds than merely looking at birds.
We are now expanding our coverage to include the habitats as well. After all, birds are closely associated with habitats. We will thus cover the flora and all faunal groups as well as their interactions. Bird behaviour will remain our main focus. This move will provide a holistic view of nature in general rather than remaining lopsided in dealing only with birds.
Now why the sudden change in focus?
Lately we have been alarmed at the lopsided views of many of our local nature enthusiasts, and this includes seasoned birdwatchers affiliated to the Nature Society. Their writings published in The Straits Times expose their lack of knowledge and understanding of the nature around them, except perhaps the recognition of the different species of birds. Their basic knowledge of the habitat and plants in particular leaves much to be desired.
We have a nature enthusiasts who is also a birdwatcher alarmed when suggestions were made to introduce trees like the Common Mahang (Macaranga bancana) to the urban environment LINK. As this plant harbours ants inside the hollow of young shoots, there is a genuine fear that one may encounter a rain of ants when standing below the tree.
We also have a seasoned birdwatcher, one of the leaders of the Bird Group, who was against the introduction of forest trees to urban areas for fear that such trees may prove attractive to roosting birds LINK. Are veteran birdwatchers unaware that it is not the species of trees but where they are planted that attract mass roosting of birds? Can it be that birdwatchers are only interested in birds and not paying attention to anything else? Can this be why they are also unaware that most of our urban trees originated from the forest?
Most surprising of all, we have a veteran conservation activist who is unable to distinguish “his forests from his trees” LINK
Since the early 1990s the number of local nature enthusiasts has grown, thanks to the Nature Society. However, because the society’s activities have always been based on special interest groups, members fail to have a holistic view of nature. Plant enthusiasts are pointed out this plant species and that while those interested in birds are only shown the different species of birds in field trips. Seldom, if at all, are members told of the interactions between plants and birds.
In posting accounts of habitats that would include the flora and the fauna, we hope to share such knowledge with nature enthusiasts, birdwatchers as well as current and future conservation activists so that they would have a more holistic knowledge of the natural environment.
Contributions are welcome.