Top spots for birding
Birdwatching enthusiasts are spoiled for choice in Singapore’s 300 parks and four nature reserves, though local birders flock to a number of spots where the bird life is especially concentrated. On the island’s east side, Pasir Ris Park, Chek Jawa Wetlands (on Pulau Ubin) and Lorong Halus Wetland are hotspots for shorebirds and secondary forest inhabitants. Up north, Kranji Marshes and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve are havens for migratory birds. There’s also nearby Springleaf Nature Park with its kingfishers and woodpeckers — and a lively little restaurant scene.
In Central Singapore, MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve welcome those wishing to see tropical forest dwellers. To the south are the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay, where the flora attracts sunbirds, fantails, parrots and pigeons.
Finally, on the island’s west side is the sprawling Chinese Garden, which has a surprising variety of shorebirds, cuckoos, finches and bulbuls. And of course you can always go to nearby Jurong Bird Park, which showcases over 500 species housed in over a dozen different habitat zones.
Birding 101 in SG
Whether you’re a first-time birdwatcher or a veteran bird nerd, it’s always a good idea to hit the internet for an introduction to Singapore’s birding scene. The website of the National Parks Board (nparks.gov.sg) is a treasure trove of information on the island’s wildlife and their natural habitats. It also regularly organizes free birdwatching tours and other nature-oriented recreational activities. Furthermore, you can join online forums like Singapore Birders (fb.com/groups/singaporebirdgroup) on Facebook to get the latest buzz on bird sightings across the island.
For help with identifying local bird species, the Birds of Singapore iPhone app puts information and photographs of the country’s 380+ bird species at your fingertips. Alternatively, the Singapore Birds Project (singaporebirds.com) is another go-to site for help with ID concerns. Bird photography requires rather specialized and expensive telephoto lenses, and thankfully these can be rented through gear sharing sites like J Rental Centre (jrc.sg).
This article first appeared in the April 2019 issue of Smile magazine.