After a busy week in Jakarta and Singapore, I stayed on for Saturday to do some intensive birding.
Getting up early was a bit of a struggle, but I had a big breakfast outside at the hotel and ticked off Common Myna, Black Naped Oriole and Tree Sparrow flying around.
From my researches Bukit Timah looked a good starting point and I got there at 0830. It was packed with locals walking, running, cycling. I asked the ranger chap at the info desk which was the best route for birds. He laughed out loud and said 'no good for birds here', which was to be honest a tad less enthusiastic than I had hoped for. He grudgingly suggested the Green Route to the summit as the least bad, so I trudged off that way trying not to look too obviously crestfallen.
20min in and not a single bird seen. A glimpse of a Greater Racket Tailed Drongo was a boost, and then I saw a Little Spiderhunter on a flower right by the path - an opportunity to use my brand new camera bought for just this purpose. I was so excited that I forgot to zoom in, so the picture isn't quite the maiden epic it could have been.
Nothing else until I made it to the summit (at 168m Singapore's highest point). I saw White Bellied Swiftlet and House Swift flitting around but that was all....until I saw a chap with a huge lense ducking into the bushes. Following him I found a crowd of twitchers with huge lense tripods balanced precariously on the hill-side (and, rather comically, occasionally overbalancing). It turned out they were looking at a White Throated Rock Thrush, which I was able to see and photograph. It is classified as an Uncommon Passage Migrant in Robson, so that's a pretty good one!
Back down by the car park I added Black Drongo (pic), Oriental White Eye, Philippine Glossy Starling and Hill Myna (pic with Common Myna). At the quarry lake, in addition to the first Long Tailed Macacques, I spotted a Blue Tailed Bee Eater (pic) which proceeded to do some magnificent bee chasing - those metallic colours in the sunshine are such a fantastic sight. A Brown Necked Sunbird joined the Bee Eater on its branch, then a huge White Bellied Sea Eagle floated past overhead.
Terrapins, Asian Water Monitor and Plantain Squirrels in evidence, but I didn't spot one of the flying Lemurs.
I had intended to go on to MacRitchie reservoir, but it was (as always seems to be the case when I need one) taxi shift change so I ended up wasting an hour walking in roughly the right direction before thinking to dial a taxi. When I finally got picked up I decided to head to Pulau Ubin as it was already 1pm.
One gets there on a 'Bum Boat' from Changi Point ferry dock. The little boat chugs across once 12 passengers have accumulated. It takes about 10mins across the channel towards Malaysia to the island, which is a few km long and a km wide. There's really just the one little village by the ferry jetty with a few sea-side restaurants, and a few bike hire places. I set off towards the left and came first into a 'Sensory Garden' which was a great place for birds: White-rumped Shama (pic), Streaked Bulbul, and Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker.
Further along the trail out to the Mangroves, a Mouse Deer, Pied Fantail, Common Golden Backed Woodpecker, Olive Backed Sunbird, Brahminy Kite, Pink Necked Green Pigeon (from the observation tower). It is quite a shank, so bike wldnt be a bad idea.
On the way back, near some old prawn ponds: White Collared Kingfisher, heard a Red Jungle Fowl (ancestor of the farm chicken so it goes Cock a Doodle Doo!), Yellow Vented Bulbul, Water Cock, Purple Heron, White Throated Kingfisher, Stork Billed Kingfisher (pic together on a branch).
As I took advantage of one of the beer emporia at the end of the day I saw a Pacific Swallow (no dark neck band) on a jetty post, and back over at Changi there was a lot of roosting activity so I finished with Long Tailed Parakeet.
So that's 31 species, at least 4 lifers (possibly up to 11 dependent on cross-checking my records). 7 hours walking, and 16km covered so I'm knackered!