“Migratory birds do not choose Bidadari over the Central Catchment and other patches of trees. Migratory birds simply turn up everywhere. There are thousands upon thousands of migratory birds that move through Singapore during the migratory months, mainly during the autumn passage (latter months of the year). Most passerines move during the night and will put down at the nearest green patch at dawn or when the weather becomes unfavourable (eg. heavy rain). They also become disorientated by bright lights, especially when rain forces them to low altitudes and this results in many casualties when they crash into buildings LINK.
“While the larger green area of the central nature reserves allows for many migrants to put down there, many others will land in any patch of green around Singapore, especially when the weather forces them down or when they get confused by bright lights.
“There have been some spectacular migrants in the strangest places. I have personally had numerous such encounters, such as the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher (Rhinomyias brunneata) in a small grove of trees at Anson Road (above left) LINK or Singapore’s first Narcissus Flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina) in a roadside tree at Sengkang new town (above right) LINK. Does this mean that we have to preserve that little grove of trees because an internationally near-threatened species once visited?
“For that matter, everyone who has a garden or the little parks in every HDB estate have had migrants, that may have include a rarity or two. Do we turn all of them into wildlife sanctuaries? Migrants are simply unpredictable and can turn up just about anywhere and everywhere.
“Bidadari is one of numerous green pockets around urbanised Singapore that would be a temporary draw to migrants during their movement LINK. This is just the current convenient hot-spot for birdwatchers and bird photographers who love these places as they allow for better views or photos LINK.
“Others over the years have included reclamation areas such as Changi South, Changi Central, Changi Cove, Tuas and various nature areas/parks including Mount Faber, Kent Ridge Park, Lorong Halus, Pasir Ris Park, Chinese Gardens, Pulau Ponggol Barat pond… and the list goes on.
“At the end of the day, it is good to have wildlife corridors/park connectors and parks around Singapore that incorporate existing wooded areas/nature areas where possible. Bidadari fits this bill, along with most of the non-protected areas mentioned above. Will they be better for biodiversity? Yes! Are they valuable enough to be considered nature reserves/nature parks? No! There is no way that any of these sites will ever compare to the sheer value and importance of the Bukit Timah or the Central Catchment Nature Reserves, in any category of biodiversity, resident or migrant! Not even remotely close!
“Bidadari is a migrant trap like many other areas, except that it is easier to locate the birds that do visit LINK, due to the open nature of the site. However, there is nothing extraordinary about the resident birdlife and nothing else of real value in terms of flora and fauna. I know many private gardens, like Dr Wee’s, that actually have a couple or more resident birds found in our Red Data book. Does that make them more valuable than Bidadari? Should we preserve them also?
“There are so many misguided individuals focusing so much time and effort to save Bidadari, a place for migrant birds. Yet, the last substantial patches of primary forest in Singapore at MacRitchie (other than Bukit Timah), is under serious threat from a Mass Rapid Transit line LINK; an area supposedly protected as a nature reserve and a core area for biodiversity; a site that has many hundred times the biodiversity value! Preliminary investigation indicates a major destruction of the area just for the investigative study. Where are the protests about that? Why is everyone not concerned about this? Do they think that we still have plenty of time? This is a far more important site to fight for and should be the main attention of all those who care for nature!”
Strix Wildlife Consultancy
12th May 2013