Sunday, January 25, 2009

Birds of Kallang River

I'm back with my bike to cycle to new places that I've not tried. This time I wanted to try cycling up to Bishan Park along the Kallang Park Connector. In fact this is not my first time on this Connector. The first time was a couple of Sundays ago during a morning when I cycled with my brother. However, the portion between Kallang MRT and after the PIE across towards Potong Pasir is highly discontinuous with PLENTY of roads to cross, detours and overhead bridges to carry your bike across. By the time we crossed PIE, my brother gave up and we didnt make it to Bishan.

This afternoon, I was solo (yes my brother refused to join me already :P) cycling another way up to the point we stopped the other time and started from there.

Today's ride was a very smooth one and it was tranquil cycling beside Singapore's longest river, Kallang River. Yes, Kallang River stretches all the way from Marina Bay to Lower Pierce Reservoir at Thomson Road.

In the river that has concrete walls, there are plenty of fishes of small sizes. You need to look out for black patches in the river.

And also larger fishes viewed from top. Unfortunately due to the murkiness of rivers, fishes are almost impossible to photograph.

It was interesting to be able to cycle underneath the Central Expressway (CTE).

The path towards Bishan Park only has one overhead bridge to cross at Braddell Road. But it is so friendly to have the sides paved for us to push our bikes up and down. So it was no (or little) sweat!

Along the way, I was surprised to encounter several different kinds of birds!

The most common bird sighted today must be this Little Egret (Egretta garzetta).

Unfortunately, without the 10x zoom of my precious TZ1 Lumix camera, bird photographing became a huge challenge. Please forgive me for the noisy and unclear photographs of the birds.

The Little Egret is considered to be the smallest and most common egret in Singapore.
Our lovely country receives a good concentration of these migrants during the winter period and therefore they can be seen at almost many islandwide locations.

I just simply adore their bright yellow feet. :-)

These egrets can also stand on one leg. Haha.

Another bird encountered will be this White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus). They are considered as the most common of the Rail family in Singapore, often heard before they are seen. Their loud quarrelsome calls sound like their Malay name, Ruak Ruak.

It was quite a treat to also spot the White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) which is my first time actually. This bird is amazing in terms of its broad diet including crabs, frogs, skinks, lizards, grasshoppers, beetles, termites, scorpions, centipedes, rats, mice, voles, nestling birds and even snakes up to 65cm long!

Another kingfisher spotted will be this Collared Kingfisher (Halcyon chloris). According to the Sungei Buloh fact sheet, this interesting kingfisher has a variable laughing calls from a soft quiet chuckle to harsh loud maniacal kek-kek, kek-kek. At rest, has a gentle chup-kree.

Next bird to be sighted along the canals of Kallang River will be this Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos). I didn't really expect this bird to be found in canals until I went to the fact sheets and it said that Common Sandpipers run along the water's edge, visually locating prey on the surface and not by probing in the mud. Thus they avoid soft mud and prefer to forage on rocky coastlines and breakwaters. They may even forage in concrete drainage ditches, and inland grasslands.

According to the book "Private Lives: An Exposé of Singapore’s Mangroves", this Striated heron (Butorides striatus) is usually encountered even in canals like Kallang River, in addition to mangrove forests, ponds, mudflats, estuaries, inland reservoirs, streams and coasts.

Do not belittle this bird because it is intelligent enough to intentionally float pieces of leaf or twig or other food such as bread to lure fishes.

Soon, I drew nearer to Bishan estate as I pass by beneath the MRT Track.

In no time, I arrived to Bishan Park. It was nice to see some freshwater ponds which are definitely great places to look out for dragonflies and butterflies. Next time I might try spending more time there.

As the weather look not too clear with black clouds, I quickly headed back. While waiting for the traffic light next to Bishan Park, it was cool to see this special traffic light only for bicycles. The pedestrian traffic light is just a stone's throw away.

I love cycling in Singapore, it is not only an exercise and an environmental friendly mode of transport, I can also enjoy the nature around even urban areas. How I wish our government can make cycling more user friendly as a mode of transport than trying to eradicate the problem of too many cars in our roads by placing more ERPs which eventually makes many Singaporeans grumpy.


Unknown said...

wow! cool.. seems like there are many birds around at the canals ;) there's a large flock of egrets over at the ulu pandan canal.

Unknown said...

thanks for sharing eunice! Yeap, it's really cool to be surrounded by many egrets, even at NUS.

Henry Leong said...

Wonderful blog

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