To: "'Con Boekel'" <>, "'COG list'" <>
Subject: Singapore
From: "Mark Clayton" <>
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2012 09:06:48 +1100
G'day all,

I totally agree with Con on birding in Singapore, it is a fantastic place
and virtually the only city where I feel safe - that includes Canberra!! I
have been there many times and saw my first ever woodpecker in the excellent
botanic gardens which are just up the road from the hotel we usually stay
in. There is an excellent bird guide in Singapore, known and used by many
COG members, named Subaraj Rajathuru that I have been out with several
times. He seems to have access to all sorts of unusual places and on one
trip I did we ended up before dawn in the top golf course in Singapore -
past armed security guards I might add. The first three birds that morning
were Grey Nightjar, Malaysian Eared Nightjar and Large-tailed Nightjar. A
bit later while waiting for the sun to rise  completely (and for the
Grey-headed Fish-Eagle to appear), he spoke to a group of golfers waiting to
tee off. Included in the group was Singapore's Finance Minister and he and
Sub had quite a long discussion about various things. If you have the time
Sub can also take you into southern Malaysia (the Panti Forest) and I used
him on an Indonesian Island just off the Singapore coast - I added one bird
and one reptile to the island's wildlife list.

The only problems I have found in Singapore is the very rapid rate of
development. Places that in the past I have visited that were reclaimed
coastal land with heaps of interesting species suddenly become developed.
One classic case was a patch of reclaimed land that suddenly became Terminal
3 at Changi Airport! The other problem is, despite its reputation, away from
the city it is just like anywhere else in the world with rubbish everywhere.
I don't know how you found Palau Ubin, but when I was there it was a pigsty.
Perhaps things have changed since 2004, I hope so.

The Common (Indian) Myna is actually naturally occurring on Singapore and as
Con noted, is being severely harassed by the White-vented (Javan) Myna to
the point where it is becoming quite rare on the Island, especially in the

Like Con I would recommend a Singapore stop over if you are travelling from
Europe or elsewhere. Bird wise people won't be disappointed.


-----Original Message-----
From: Con Boekel  
Sent: Tuesday, 6 March 2012 5:42 PM
To: COG list
Subject: Singapore

Hi all

Just back from a fortnight in Singapore to be with our brand new baby 
grandson. Got some good but incidental birding in (Oriental Pied 
Hornbills greeting the dawn in a tree adjacent to our abode, for 
example). I can recommend Singapore as a birding stopover if you are 
heading somewhere else. In fact, I would recommend a stint of birding in 
Singapore in its own right. The access to good birding areas is usually 
very good. Singapore is safe. (We had concerned people coming up to us 
to warn us that it was time to head for cover because a rainstorm was 
coming. This happened several times.) Public transport (plus or minus 
cheap taxis and including ferries) gets you virtually everywhere. While 
development is number one, the Government has invested what I assume to 
be hundreds of millions in establishing and maintaining reserves with a 
particular emphasis on both conservation and their use as recreation 
places for harrassed citizens. The paths are excellently maintained. 
There are good tree top walks for the canopy species and there is an 
excellent board walk on Pulua Ubin in a Nipa Palm swamp - a very tough 
habitat to get to without such an amenity. There is a grand scheme, well 
advanced in the implementation, to link the major and minor parks with 
hundreds of kilometres of connecting walk and cycle paths. The birds 
(especially the residents) tend to be used to people so, with patience, 
you can get good views of a wide range of species. The exceptions are 
the skulkers. The jungle is excellent for skulkers. Many of the birds 
flout gorgeous colour schemes - barbets, leafbirds, sunbirds, hanging 
parrots, bee-eaters, flowerpeckers, kingfishers and woodpeckers are 
examples of very colourful species. For the homesick, there is even a 
gerygone with a creaky but seldom heard warble. On the other hand, I had 
to admit comprehensive defeat with the hordes of swiftlets that 
routinely clutter Singapore's airspace. Common Mynas are not competing 
very well with another introduced species - the White-vented Mynas. 
There was something very satisfying about watching White-vented Mynas 
boss Common Mynas around. (Except that White-vented Mynas are ferals as 

The one word of caution is that dengue fever is very active in certain 
areas of Singapore and so are the vectors. The Government spends over 
$50 million a year on control measures. Dengue fever is a real nasty, so 
you do need to take the full suite of precautions against mozzies.

The Singapore Nature Society website is a good starting point for 
information and I would be happy to provide some tips if you are 
seriously planning a trip.




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