Birds at the Botanics

Guess where I ended up on a Friday morning, a public holiday for Chinese New Year? Quite obviously, the Botanical Gardens. I’m not to blame, my family really wanted to go for a picnic there and I’m not really the type to refuse going to a park. Anyways the trip turned out to be very rewarding, perhaps it was the Chinese New Year luck!

The park was quite crowded but there were so many birds out and about. An incredibly small and adorable Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa latirostris) was near the pond at the Eco Garden, perching and singing its sweet, melodic song.

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I find it quite hard to spot sunbirds outside my garden- I can hear them clearly but they’re always high up on trees or deep in the bushes. Before I had a garden I hardly knew these little birds, similar to hummingbirds, even existed in Singapore!

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Olive-backed Sunbird

A silhouette of a Blue-tailed Bee eater (Merops philippinus) that defines its beautifully designed curved beak.

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There were many Oriental Magpie Robins (Copsychus saularis) around the Eco Garden that were singing their hearts out, obviously excited at the crowd of people present to hear their songs.  Oriental Magpie Robins were first classified as a members of the Thrush family, but now are actually considered as Old World Flycatchers! This one perched on a bamboo tree and looked right at me as it sang.

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These birds are globally threatened in Singapore due to the introduction of the Common Mynas in the 1970s. Interestingly, the Magpie Robin is actually the National Bird of Bangladesh and is called Doyel or Doel in Bengali. Even a landmark in Dhaka (capital city) is named Doyel Chatwar , meaning Magpie Square. They are commonly used symbols in Bangladesh and appear even on currency notes!

I was lucky to spot a Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) that is listed as “Endangered” in the Red List of Endangered animals of Singapore. It’s usually inside the dense forest so it was my first time seeing its stunning plumage and hearing its call-“cocka doodle doo”!

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As we were walking through the trail to go to the Healing Gardens, I spotted a Long Tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) sitting incredibly still and silently, watching its prey, a lizard with watchful eyes.

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You may be wondering how I knew it was stalking a lizard. Seconds after I saw it perching, it swooped down on to the ground, watched me curiously before flying away to another tree where it placed the lizard between two stalks of palm as if on a dinner plate! I’ve never seen this behavior before as birds usually just hold their catch between their beaks before eating.

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The Healing Gardens were very serene that day, and there were many butterflies feeding but not birds. Still there were many Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) that gave us company 🙂

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On reaching the Swan Lake, the elegant White Swan was preening itself with its elongated neck coiled in the corner of the pond with lilies in the background.

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The last bird of the trip was a tiny Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) that was in a group of four to five of its kind, chirping high pitched squeaks repeatedly.

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I hope you enjoyed my experience rambling through Botanical Gardens! It’s a place I can never get bored of- I love that its perfect for a family outing but also satisfies nature lovers like me.

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