The changing face of stalking birds in Singapore

on 10th October 2016
Photo credit: Saurabh Agrawal
Photo credit: Saurabh Agrawal

The above image by Saurabh Agrawal of bird enthusiasts stalking a Brown Fish-owl (Ketupa zeylonensis) in a bird sanctuary in Central India reminds me of the situation in Singapore about a decade ago. That was the early period of the digital cameras that was to revolutionise photography.

The people there appear to be tourists. Among them are many traditional birdwatchers armed with binoculars. There are also photographers as seen by the presence of a number of tripods and zoom lenses. No doubt the cameras are digital.

Photo credit: YC Wee
Photo credit: YC Wee

Back in Singapore, the image above shows a birdwatching scene at the Singapore Botanical Gardens in 2005. There are more binoculars than cameras. That below shows a group at the Central Catchment Forest in 2006. Again, you see mostly binoculars, a digiscope and a camera or two.

Photo credit: YC Wee
Photo credit: YC Wee

The current bird watching scene in Singapore is dominated by photographers. The image below by Jeremiah Loei, shows mainly photographers at the newly completed Gardens by the Bay. The people are photographing the Rosy Starling (Sturnus roseus).

Photo credit: Jeremiah Loei
Photo credit: Jeremiah Loei

Another image by Jeremiah, taken at the former Bidadari Cemetery, shows a group of photographers, again with their tripods and large zoom lenses (below). No doubt this is a local group where weight is not a problem, unlike when travelling overseas.

Photo credit: Jeremiah Loei
Photo credit: Jeremiah Loei

Avid photographer Jimmy Chew is an exception. He is seldom without his latest photographic paraphernalia – even when he travelled to Madagascar some years ago, as captured by YC Wee (below).

Photo credit: YC Wee
Photo credit: YC Wee

Readers may be interested in these two publications relevant to the above:
1. The Changing Face of Birding in Singapore PDF.
2. The Role of the Camera in Birdwatching in Singapore PDF.

Saurabh Agrawal (image of Indian birders)
Raipur, India
10th September 2016

Jeremiah Loei (images of Singapore birders)
September 2016

YC Wee (write up and images of a decade ago)
September 2016

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behavior through photography and videography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

3 Responses

  1. We have changed over time in our behaviour. Many or us used to be bird watchers; now bird photographers. Right now many have as their target the ‘best image’ of the bird. Perhaps with time we will ‘grow’ & mature. As people get bored with just capturing images and posting them, we will move back to the pleasure of watching birds (with some images). And more importantly working towards the conservation of birds and all of nature. The window to save bird life (other species) is small as environments get destroyed at an increasingly rapid pace. Amar

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice there be a serious bird conservation body serious to deal with bird conservation issues well supported by concerned citizens and who volunteer their time and learn the expertise of field work in bird science.

    Such volunteers sadly, hard to come by in this corner of the globe. Equally and pathetically to say our present nature societies/clubs, etc are slow to address the cancerous issues of unacceptable bird photography behaviours eg, tape recalling, bird baiting of their members.

    I am on my last leg in Taiwan and have been observing how bird photographers practice their skills and sadly to say, it is like a prevailing wind from no where or where do such habits first derived from?

    For now I can only say it is really sad indeed to see new photographers pick up such habits and pathetic to hear they extol their ‘sifus'(Master craft).

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