Birdwatching Tourism in Singapore (long)

To: "Birding-Oz" <>
Subject: Birdwatching Tourism in Singapore (long)
From: "Victor Yue" <>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 19:03:37 +0800
Hi folks,
I have received a total of fourteen email following my request for input in this
email list. To these wonderful people, I want to say "thanks" for taking your
time to share with me your impressions. To members of Birding-Aus, especially,
Russell, thanks for the patience in allowing me to post an almost off-topic
thread. (^^)

I thought I should share with you my compilations, and I have taken the liberty
to quote the comments. I hope it is OK with you folks.

<Overall View>
Many Australian birders stop over in Singapore enroute to somewhere else [I hope
to poll more areas later]. In the stopover, they spent a day or two. During this
short stay, the Singapore Botanical Gardens is a favourite spot. Some have
commented that had they known more about other natural spots, they would stay a
little longer to explore them. [Good news for Singapore Tourist Board, I think.

Other well known spots in Singapore are the Bukit Timah Reserve, Sungei Buloh
Nature Park and Pulau Ubin (island off Changi Point, a place easy to go to
especially if you are stopping over and staying in the Meridian Hotel at Changi
Point which is about 10 minutes drive from Changi Airport). There were interests
in the catchment areas, but transportation was difficult.

Here are the impressions which I have taken the liberty to edit and quote. I
hope it is OK with you folks who have emailed me:

1. It is quite a few years since we have been to Singapore, and the majority of
visits I have made have been brief stopovers between other destinations, so
active bird watching was not a part of the trip.

When we did last visit and were there for three days (not exactly a long trip),
we spent one day at the bird park and one at the zoo! (This is a common pattern
for our holidays, we think we should write a travellers guide to Zoos and Bird
parks LOL).

Of course, there wasn't anything easily accessible that indicated that we could
have gone bird watching either! (other than under our own steam).  I am sure if
we came again for more than an over night trip, Dick would have us out there if
he knew something was available. - Lynn

2. On the way to Europe last year (Jan) we stopped at Singapore for 2 nights. I
lived there for 2 years 1971/73 and my daughter was born there. We spent a good
part of one day at the Bukit Timah National Park where, amongst other new
species we got a good look at a male Crimson Sunbird near the carpark.

With a lot of birdwatchers coming from Europe to Australia and returning places
like Singapore and KL are ideal places to break the journey. In situations like
this a birdwatching tour operator/s could do well because they would have the
local knowledge and the transport. We went to South Africa via KL in 1997 and
when in KL I hired Mano from Kingfisher Tours for a morning. It was quite
expensive because I was the only one but our morning was very good. - Chris

3. As you are collecting statistics for the Singapore Tourist Board [Victor's
comments: I hope to but it is on my own initiative and under my own steam
(^^)]on ecotourism here is the official Brian and Faye visitation to Singapore:

Visit 1:  3 days, with friends after crossing over from Malaysia. No birding in
1975 but interested in butterflies. No time to enjoy in Singapore.

Visit 2: 1 day, en route to trek in Nepal

Visit 3:  as above

Visit 4:  over night en route to Vietnam

Visit 5:  7 days, to see friends and walk/birdwatch in Malaysia. Two days
birding in Singapore ... Sungei Buloh and Bukit Timah. Occasional birding in
Botanical Gardens

Visit 6:  1 day en route to Vietnam. Birding at Sime Road [Victor's comment:
catchment area] and in Singapore Botanical Gardens.

I think there have been a few other occasions en route but the point I am making
is that until I found some of those delights of Singapore it was a stop over and
not worth staying the extra time. Only an ecological attraction would make me
add the additional day or two to my holiday in Singapore or I would hasten to
other places where the birding and the walking are more attractive. And I do not
mean an artificial ecological
attraction such as the Jurong Bird Park. - Brian Everingham

4. I visited Singapore in 1998 on my way back from a work trip to China. It was
a choice between Singapore and Hong Kong and the Singapore birds sounded more
interesting.  My trip report is at

5. We lived in Singapore 1972-1974 (see Amy Tsang, nee Lau) [Victor's comment:
If I am not wrong, Amy was active in the Nature Society, Singapore, especially
for children.] I soon realised that there weren't many birds in Singapore and
that one had to cross to JB [Victor's comments: JB is Johor Baru, the capital of
Johor, the southern most state of Peninsular Malaysia] to find any rain forest
as Bukit Timah was disappointingly bereft of birds (the isolated pocket
phenomenon?)  However Singapore could still be useful
as a base to visit JB, provided there is any rain forest left! - David Robertson

6. During the months of Feb, Mar, and Apr, 1997 my wife and I spent 21 days in
Singapore while using it as our hub for trips to peninsular Malaysia, East
Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. During the 21 days we spent in Singapore, I
birded in Bukit Timah, Sungei Buloh, the Zoo, MacRitchie Reservoir, Sentosa
Island, Botanic Gardens, Chinese Gardens, Jurong Bird Park, the neighbourhoods
near Shangri-la Hotel, and the beach along the East Coast Parkway. All in all it
was a satisfying experience. - Tom & Dixie

7. I have made several stop-overs since first coming to Australia in 1987. I
took a trip to Java in 1990 stopping for a couple of days and visited Bukit
Timah and Pulau Ubin, very enjoyable. The longest stay was a week  whilst
waiting for a flight to Riyadh in
1992. I managed to get in touch with Lim Kim Seng and Kim Chuah [Victor's
comment: Singapore's famous birding brothers. Kim Seng has published a field
guide to the birds of Singapore] before I arrived and they treated me to a
guided tour of the top-sites and took me up to the Panti forest on the Saturday.
I also spent an evening with the Natural History society where Morten Strange
[Victor's comment: Morten takes photographs of birds and you could read his
articles in many magazines, including the Silver Kris, Inflight magazine of SIA
(Singapore Airlines). He is now the Marketing Manager of Nature's Niche (a
nature oriented shop) which has two outlets, one in Bukit Timah and the other in
Botanic Gardens.] gave a talk on Hornbills. A great trip. Sadly when I returned
in 1994 I took the MRT to Marina South expecting to see lots of waterbirds and
found all the wetlands gone! Fortunately I managed to talk a taxi-driver into
taking me to Sungai Buloh (for some reason he wasn't prepared to bring me back!)
I really enjoyed my day there, made some video of Asiatic Dowitcher etc and had
lunch with some of the staff. - Tom Tarrant

8. Some years ago my ex-husband and I took our children to Malaysia on a
birdwatching trip and stayed one night in Singapore. It was far too expensive to
stay longer. Consequently we never got to do any birding although Hilary (my
husband) had been there for that purpose before.

Hilary told me he didn't like Singapore because the people weren't friendly.
But my children and I found exactly the opposite.  Everyone, from the cleaners
in our hotel to Indian and Chinese shopkeepers, was very friendly.  Men would
stop us in the street and ask to have photos taken with the children. People
invited us to visit their homes. The
proprietor of a camera shop, discovered that our camera was broken when my
daughter attempted to take a photo of him, and offered to fix it free of charge.

If it hadn't been so costly we would have stayed longer, and one day I shall
return. - Denise

9. Please find below a list of my birdwatching in Singapore over many years.  I
have been fortunate to go to Singapore on business as well as be helped by
Won-Soon Lau on a few occasions.  I think it a great place to watch birds,
especially Pulau Ubin.

                                         Species Seen:

21-2-84  BUKIT TIMAH RESERVE                                8
21-2-84  Anson Road, near Dai-ichi Hotel                    5
22-1-96  Raffles Ave area                                   2
24-1-96  Botanic Gardens, 1705-1915                        14
25-1-96  Botanic Gardens, 1725-1925                        20
26-1-96  Bukit Timah Reserve with Won-Soon Lau, 0715-1015  11
27-1-96  Sungei Buloh Nature Park, 1130-1640               38
27-1-96  Sime Road Forest with Won-Soon Lau, 0740-1110     24
28-1-96  Pulau Ubin, 1330-1800                             23
28-1-96  Pulau Ubin, 0720-1210                             35
23-2-97  Sungei Buloh Nature Park, 0840-1715               46
26-2-97  Pulau Ubin, 0700-1145                             32
27-2-97  Near Jurong                                        1

Gil Langfield

10. I was in Singapore late last year twice both on the way to India and back. I
always keep a watch out for birds were ever I go  Both trips on both trips I
also had a business partner with me who was dragged around behind although we
were only there a couple of days each time we squashed in Jurong and the night

I was not aware of the natural sights available and have only become so by
watching your bird pics on line, which when I invest in a camera I will also
contribute to. - Ian Clark

11. As you may recall, it was our first trip to Singapore, where we had three
full days.  We spent much of one day going to Jurong Bird Park (I suppose this
is a kind of birding?), and I spent another half day or so going to Bukit Timah
reserve, birding and looking at the forest and other fauna (including
butterflies!).  We had hoped to visit another birding site with you, but had
misread our flight schedule.  I was impressed with Bukit Timah being retained in
a sea of development, and hope that it, and the
catchment areas surrounding the water reservoirs, can be protected from further
development into the future.  I saw a steady stream of people visiting Bukit
Timah while I was there, many of them apparently locals, school groups and
families. - Ian Temby

12. I have been to Singapore twice.  Both were business trips that I extended to
do some birding.

(i) Oct. 25, 26 and 27 l991: Visited Botanic Garden, Bukit Timah, and grounds of
Shangri-La Hotel.

(ii)  Feb 1 and 2, l998: I hired Raj Rajathurai for a half day birding. Visited
MacRitchie Reservoir, Sime Forest, and Sungei Buloh Nature Park

Singapore is a great base for some very interesting birding.  I would love to
get back. Perhaps visit Southern Malaysia as well as Singapore.

I know a couple Australian birders who go to Europe often.  They like to stop in
Singapore for several days of birding on the way to Europe. - Woody Kuehn

13. I spent 3 days in Singapore in March 98, all of it birding- Sime Road, that
(Pulau Ubin is it?) with Straw-headed Bulbuls and Red Junglefowl, Black nest
Swiftlets etc. I went with Raj Subaraj for an afternoon too, but heavy rain
totaly messed up looking for the owls we were after, si still need Spotted Wod
Owl.. I also stopped over back in 95 for a couple of days too, and I managed
about 30 lifers for me so I was pretty pleased, amazing what can be found
there. - Phil Gregory

14. My husband and I have passed through Singapore on the way to somewhere else
a few times recently. Normally we only get one or two nights stopover which
usuallly just gives me time to do an hour or two in the botanical gardens. I
also spend a bit of money in the shops buying bird books!

However last time I managed to persuade my husband to stay another night and we
spent the whole of the extra day at Sungei Buloh. We were impressed with the
facilities and enjoyed our birding.

Hope in the future to be able to get out to Bukit Timah and some of the
catchment areas. Using public transport these areas seem a little difficult to
get too for short stay visitors. Would also like a day out at Pulau Ubin

As visitors we are definitely more interested in the the natural world and its
inhabitants, and it is good to know that there are still places left on the
island where wildlife can find a refuge. However I must say we do enjoy your
beautiful city too. -Susan Meinhold

I think this feedback will be great information for fellow nature lovers in
Singapore. I hope the Singapore Tourist Board and National Parks Board will
consider them as well. (^^) While Singapore may not be able to boast of vast
flora and fauna, I think I can safely said that visitors still find delight in

Victor Yue
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