Return of the Lesser Whistling Ducks

on 8th July 2019
Lesser Whistling Ducks with their 11 ducklings (Photo: Mei Lin Khoo)

The Lotus Pond at Gardens by the Bay is currently attracting hordes of nature photographers. The main attraction is a pair of Lesser Whistling-ducks (Dendrocygna javanica) accompanied by a raft of about 11 ducklings. No doubt the cuteness of the ducklings, accompanied by the pair of adults is a major attracting factor. Many of the photographers resorted to video documentation, which is slowly replacing still photography. This is a good thing, but not to say that still photography has less value.

Jeremiah Loei, one of the founders of Facebook: Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia (BICA) has so far produced a handful of video clips as shown below:

Others who recorded the scene include Kumchun Chan

Mei Lin Khoo (below), among others (apologies for not including them).

Among the many who commented include Andy Chew who wrote: “So delighted to see the 11 ducklings. They are just so cute. This is a first for me and truly an assurance that Singapore is doing something right for the Lesser Whistling Ducks to breed here. Great job!”

These Lesser Whistling-ducks were once uncommon residents. They were commonly seen in the lake at the Singapore Botanical Gardens LINK. When an area of Marina South that was earlier reclaimed from the sea was flooded and these ducks arrived and started breeding in the early 1990s, the Conservation Committee of the then Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), now Singapore Nature Society (Singapore), petitioned the government for the area to be conserved.

The then Minister for National Development Mr S Dhanabalan declared in parliament: “This land was reclaimed for the extension of the city. And while the city was being planned, it rained, water gathered in some places and birds came to roost and they say we must conserve this area. I think it’s quite ridiculous LINK. The area was subsequent developed and 101 hectares turned into Gardens by the Bay. The Gardens’ Lotus Pond is currently attracting much attention because the Lesser Whistling Ducks have been rediscovered there.

It is not that these ducks have just returned to Marina South. Earlier posting of their presence failed to attract much attention LINK.

A valuable lesson to be learnt here is that we should not call for the conservation of easily recreated habitats like the ponds of the Marina South reclaimed area. Hopefully, our so-called conservationists take note of this least their credibility be questioned when valuable areas like the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve are threatened in future – see HERE.

Jeremiah Loei, Chan Kum Chun & Mei Lin Khoo with Andy Chew & YC Wee
30th June 2019

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour 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

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