The proposal for the conservation of Marina South as a bird sanctuary surfaced in June 1991. The area was about 11 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea. The habitat was flooded grassland with two freshwater ponds.
The uniqueness of the area, according to the proposers, was the presence of 22 Wandering Tree-ducks, now known as Wandering Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata) and 50 Lesser Treeducks, now known as Lesser Whistling-ducks (Dendrocygna javanica). It was then the only site in Singapore where these ducks breed.
The area also offered a wintering venue for some of the uncommon migratory birds like Chinese Pond-herons (Ardeola bacchus), Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla) and White-shouldered Starlings (Sturnus sinensis).
The appendix provided a checklist of 88 species of birds.
Government was not convinced of the value of the area and soon the ponds were filled because of mosquito breeding.
The then Minister for National Development Mr S Dhanabalan‘s comment above made much sense.
According to Wang & Hails (2007), the Lesser Whistling-duck (above) is an uncommon resident, its population supplemented by free-flying birds from the Jurong Bird Park. The Wandering Whistling-duck on the other hand originated from free-flying birds from the same park.
2nd April 2017
Secretary, Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) 1978-1990; Founding President, Nature Society (Singapore) 1990-1995
Wang, L.K. & C. J. Hails, 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1-179.