Singapore ~ 12th - 17th November 2023

Sunday 26 November 2023

 After reading Jono's blog post many times about his trip to Singapore it wasn't long before I booked myself a trip out ..

A bit of research suggested mid November was a good time to go as birds were on the move, so I booked flights with British Airways flying out on Saturday evening 11th November, landing in Singapore on Sunday at nearly 5 pm.

Once through the airport which was a breeze, then down the escalators to the taxi pick up, the glass doors opened and the heat was intense even being under cover. The Grab took me straight to Value Thomson Hotel my base for the trip.

Most of my travel was via Grab a taxi App which was quick and efficient, with cars arriving within 5 minutes, a couple of the more remote locations I had to get a bus back to the nearest town and then get a Grab still no hassle and all travel was easy.

Locations visited ..

Jurong Lake Gardens, Singapore Botanical Gardens, Hampstead Wetlands, Pasir Ris Park, Marina East, Gardens by the Bay & Satay by the Bay.

All Bird sightings will be added at the end ..

Monday 13th ..

Got a Grab to Jurong Lake Gardens and birded the area around the Fusion Spoon heading towards the Floating Wetlands plenty of birds with Yellow Bittern & Lineated Barbet the best of, a coffee in Starbucks before another search of the Fusion Spoon area this time a few birders were gathered staring at the Pitta..  

Mangrove Pitta

Mangrove Pitta

From here I got a Grab to Singapore Botanical Gardens walking around Symphony Lake, Keppel Wetlands, Learning Forest and Swan Lake no bird photo opportunities but plenty to see, the amount of Pied-imperial Pigeons that came out the canopy when a Peregrine came through was impressive.

Tuesday 14th ..

Headed for Hampstead Wetlands for first light quite a few photographers were already here so working out where the Buffy's were was easy as their cameras were all pointing up to the canopy.

Its a tiny lake and in the middle was a low tree with a pair of Straw-headed Bulbul nesting and on the far bank was Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker & Oriental Pied-hornbill.

The Buffy's were just to high in the canopy for my liking shooting skyward so decided to return later in the week.

Getting a Grab from here to Pasir Ris Park was eventually excepted by a Grab driver as its a little bit out the way but was soon dropped off at Car Park C and walking through the bird filled park.

Collared Kingfisher

Approaching the Tower Hide were two Black Baza above the canopy, speaking to another birder who told Me that the Owls were now in car park D so went through mangrove boardwalks till fairly open parkland searching the tree tops for a pair of Owls.

Spotted Wood-Owl

It was even harder to get a Grab from here so got the bus to the town terminal and then a Grab to Singapore Botanical Gardens paying $15 to go into the National Orchid Garden, 100's of beautiful plants but I was looking for one in particular which sunbirds like to feed on sadly it had been hosed by the gardener the flower head virtually gone, I found the sunbird nearby before it was lost to view.

Crimson Sunbird

Back to Symphony Lake at Heliconia Avenue for more sunbirds whilst waiting I had Greater Racket-tailed Drongo & Laced Woodpecker plus many others, it was the waiting that resulted in ..

Problem #1 .. 
Standing with the camera on the monopod resting against legs I was viewing both sides of a path to see when the sunbirds would return to feed, so I must of been turning round in the same direction as later that evening back at the hotel I found that I had lost the rubber foot to the monopod.

Ornate Sunbird

Ornate Sunbird

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Stayed till dusk then back to the hotel for a much needed shower before getting a Grab to Marina East walking along to the barrage and over into Gardens by the Bay for dinner.

Wednesday 15th ..

I went back early to Pasir Ris Park as the Black Baza was photographed from the Tower Hide yesterday, after birding from the top level of the Hide for a couple of hours they never came to perch only a distant flyby.

Red-breasted Parakeet

Over hearing what other birders were saying I asked if I could follow once at this clump of palm it took 20 minutes of searching before locating were the owl was resting.

 Sunda Scops Owl

To get a photo of the owl was a bit difficult with 800mm lens & a cropped body meant laying down just to achieve minimum focus distance sadly couldn't avoid a palm frond between lens and owl.

Other good birds here were Dollarbird, Stork-billed Kingfisher & White-bellied Sea Eagle.

The forecast looked good for the rest of the afternoon so got a Grab to Singapore Botanical Gardens starting at Keppel Wetlands and finding a Indian Cuckoo walking up through the gardens to where I was standing yesterday at the Heliconia, in the soil just off the path was the foot to my monopod !!

Whilst again waiting for the sunbirds to return I had Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot & Plume-toed Swiftlet.

 Ornate Sunbird

Thursday 16th .. 

First light my Grab dropped Me off at Marina East Drive, I walked away from the barrage past the barrier first the whole Drive is flooded meadow and great habitat with plenty of birds.
This area is the hotspot for Greater Painted Snipe as per Ebird, I searched but found none.

Purple Heron

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Paddyfield Pipit

So many good birds here like Masked & Red-wattled Lapwing, Lesser Whistling-Duck, Bee-eaters and Brown Shrikes.
Near the breakwater was a concrete beach with driftwood etc and a load of Plovers like Malaysian, Tibetan & White-faced,  the lite by now was awful so crossed the barrage to Gardens by the Bay for breakfast.
I did try my luck birding Satay by the Bay and Gardens by the Bay but nothing happening so got a Grab for an evening session at Hampstead Wetlands as the taxi was coming to a stand still I could see the owl already in a nice low tree near the small bridge.

 Buffy Fish-Owl

There was plenty of photographers here turns out they were all waiting for one of the adult Owls to fly down to the waters edge to drink this they said normally happens just as its getting dark, I had nothing better to do and to see one of these big Buffy's fly in seemed worth waiting for but after an hour and now completely dark I gave in, whilst the Owl flew across the road atop of a lamppost out came the trigger happy filling their memory cards in the dark !!
Once back at the hotel and freshened up, I sat in the bar with a few beers planning the mornings location completely oblivious as to what was actually unfolding ..!!! 

Friday 17th ..

Woke up earlier as I wanted to be at Marina East Drive for sunrise, made a coffee, looked for any new bird news then on to BA app to check-in ...

" 0 hours to check-in, check-in unavailable " .... What ??
Tried again ..
" 0 hours to check-in, check-in unavailable " .... Can't be ?
So I entered my booking via a different route ..
This time seeing the date ...... Ohhhh F**k it ..!!

Problem #2 ..  

Basically I had missed my flight ..
Whilst I was sitting in the bar last night, actually I should of been at the airport, some how I had convinced myself that I flew on Friday night even booked the hotel for a Friday check out, yet everything else was for the Thursday 16th, even ignored the reminder email ..

Now I've had to book a new return  flight £500.
Problem sorted if a costly one, time to get a Grab ..

Arrived a little later than planned to Marina East Drive, this time checking the floods out towards the barrage again having no success with Painted, Rails or Crakes but a showy Shrike was nice.

Brown Shrike

I walked back to the road barrier scanning the floods and returned to the last flood again checking until a tiny head showed in what I thought wasn't enough cover but was totally wrong it was deeper than it looked, there was a Snipe just not the one I was hoping for and if it was that difficult to see there was probably more birds hiding out of sight ..

 Common Snipe

Over the barrage to Gardens by the Bay, had some breakfast before getting a Grab to Jurong Lake Gardens getting dropped off at south car park for the long walk out to the fishing platforms where a few birders were gathered looking up into the canopy at a Cuckoo.

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo

All were standing looking up into the sun, Why !. I do not know so I stood on the other side of the tree looking without squinting ..
A bit of movement in a nearby tree and there is a Plaintive Cuckoo, but nobody seemed interested and most walked off except a lady birder so I placed my camera & binoculars on the grass, pointing out the Cuckoo for her whilst asking what had been seen to make the other birders move she replied with directions Hooded Pitta !!

I grabbed my camera and got a march on way back round past the south car park to a big clump of bamboo with gathered birders. Picking a good view point just standing still and waiting, whilst the other photographers were constantly walking about even approaching the fairly dense cover the Pitta was using. Eventually I got a bit of movement so opened my backpack for my bino's ..

Problem #3 .. 

Yes you know .... They weren't in the backpack I had left them on the grass back at the Cuckoo ..!!
That was a long walk and I couldn't face it yet so stayed hoping for better views of the Pitta but after 90 minutes the views hadn't improved people were still walking to close so I went for a slow walk back to the Cuckoo and there still on the grass were my binoculars.
The way back to the Pitta was stopped by torrential rain for a good 30 minutes which I hoped had cleared out the photographers, it had but a few remained and whilst waiting more were arriving and the constant moving about started again, I voiced my opinion that the bird was never going to come out unless they all just stayed back on the path and waited, to my amazement they all came and stood on the path.
I was rapidly running out of time, I felt the Pitta just wasn't going to show, the rain had stopped so decided I'd stand a better chance seeing Crakes & Rails after the rain, on the pathways though the Grassland.
There were plenty of birds seemingly everywhere drying off and I had them all to myself ..

    Slaty-breasted Rail

Barred  Buttonquail

Ruddy-breasted Crake

What a trio to finish on ...

A grab back to the hotel that had held my case for Me, packed all my camera etc away and then a Grab to the airport.
A much needed shower and fresh cloths in the BA lounge then some food & wine, before my return flight to Heathrow.

If you have made it this far the medal is in the post .. Well done.

Complete bird list ..

1. Spotted Dove ~ Jurong lake gardens
2. Zebra Dove ~  "
3. Asian Koel ~  "
4. White-breasted Waterhen ~ "
5. Yellow Bittern ~ "
6. Striated Heron ~ "
7. Brahminy Kite ~ "
8. Common Kingfisher ~ "
9. Blue-tailed Bee-eater ~ "
10. Lineated Barbet ~ "
11. Red-breasted Parakeet ~ "
12. Mangrove Pitta ~ "
13. Black-napped Oriole ~ "
14. Malaysian Pied-Fantail ~  "
15. Brown Shrike ~ "
16. House Crow ~ "
17. Pacific Swallow ~ "
18. Yellow-vented Bulbul ~ "
19. Arctic Warbler ~ "
20. Asian Glossy Starling ~ "
21. Javan Myna ~ "
22. Brown-throated Sunbird ~ "
23. Red Junglefowl ~ Singapore Botanical Gardens
24. Pink-necked Green-Pigeon ~ "
25. Pied Imperial Pigeon ~ "
26. Crested Honey-buzzard ~ "
27. White-throated Kingfisher ~ "
28. Peregrine Falcon ~ "
29. Tanimbar Corella ~ "
30. Ashy Tailorbird ~ "
31. Common Hill Myna ~ "
32. Buffy Fish-Owl ~ Hampstead Wetlands
33. Oriental Pied-Hornbill ~ "
34. Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker ~ "
35. Ring-necked Parakeet ~ "
36. Amur Paradise-Flycatcher ~ "
37. Straw-headed Bulbul ~ "
38. Black Baza ~ Pasir Ris Park
39. Spotted Wood-Owl ~ "
40. Collared Kingfisher ~ "
41. Crow-billed Drongo ~ "
42. Common Tailorbird ~ "
43. Eurasian Tree Sparrow ~ "
44. Ornate Sunbird ~ Singapore Botanical Gardens
45. Crimson Sunbird ~ "
46. Laced Woodpecker ~ "
47. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo ~ "
48. Oriental Magpie-Robin ~ "
49. White-bellied Sea-Eagle ~ Pasir Ris Park
50. Stork-billed Kingfisher ~ "
51. Dollarbird ~ "
52. Ashy Minivet ~ "
53. Red-rumped Swallow ~ "
54. Long-tailed Parakeet  ~ "
55. Sunda Scops Owl ~ "
56. Common Lora ~ "
57. Asian Brown Flycatcher ~ "
58. Black-crowned Night Heron ~ "
59. Indian Cuckoo ~ Singapore Botanical Gardens
60. Plume-toed Swiftlet ~ "
61. Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot ~ "
62. Red-whiskered Bulbul ~ "
63. Slaty-breasted Rail ~ Marina East
64. Lesser Whistling-Duck ~ "
65. Tibetan Sand Plover ~ "
66. Malaysian Plover ~ "
67. Common Sandpiper ~ "
68. Little Egret ~ "
69. Chinese Pond Heron ~ "
70. Medium Egret ~ "
71. Grey Heron ~ "
 72. Purple Heron ~ "
73. Chinese Sparrowhawk ~ "
74. Barn Swallow ~ "
75. Scaly-breasted Munia ~ "
76. Great White Egret ~ "
77. Paddyfield Pipit ~ "
78. White-faced Plover ~ "
79. White-winged BlackTern ~ "
80. Common Moorhen ~ "
81. Red-wattled Lapwing ~ "
82. Masked Lapwing ~ "
83. Little Tern ~ "
84. Eastern Cattle Egret ~ "
85. Zitting Cisticola ~ "
86. Common Myna ~ "
87. Common Snipe ~ "
88. Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo ~ Jurong Lake Gardens
89. Plaintive Cuckoo ~ "
90. Rock Dove ~ "
91. Daurian Starling ~ "
92. Western Hooded Pitta ~ "
93. Barred Buttonquail ~ "
94. Ruddy-breasted Crake ~ "
95. Lesser Coucal ~ "

Plus escapee Mute Swan ..

A fantastic trip with planned sites that I just didn't get chance to visit so maybe next time ...      


Copenhagen .. July 15th & 16th

Saturday 18 November 2023

 Another weekend city break where the main aim was to get around to as many of the photographic locations as possible..

EasyJet flights were straight forward for a change and I stayed at Hotel Bethel which is right in the middle of the main Nyhavn ..

Getting about was mainland Metro using the prepaid Pass and buses, from which all sites are within walking distance..