Sunday March 12 - Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens By The Bay
Arrived early morning on a Singapore Airlines flight from Munich. The hotel room wasn't ready of course so, rather than hang out at the Spa (as the staff at the ParkRoyal Hotel suggested) I dumped my bags and took a cab over to the Botanic Gardens.
First stop was the Rainforest trail, where a few good birds, including an Orange-headed Thrush - a potential lifer for me - had been hanging out this Winter. The thrush hadn't been reported for a while but I was hopeful and started carefully birding the boardwalk, listening for things rustling in the leaf-litter. By the time I reached the end of the trail though, I'd seen absolutely nothing, so I turned around to try again and this time moved even more slowly, scanning thoroughly, and was rewarded with close views of a HOODED PITTA (but no thrush).
|Hooded Pitta - hard to photograph in the darkness of the forest floor|
Feeling good about the Pitta, I decided to quickly pick up the long-staying Buffy Fish-Owl at it's regular roost. I knew exactly where it was, but as I've said before, I suck at finding owls so it took my 15 minutes of systematic searching before I finally located it .... pretty much sitting in the open ... right where it was supposed to be.
The nightjar was relatively easy to find, and not far away I also bumped into a couple of Black Bazas and the cuckoo. All in all a very productive couple of hours spent in the Botanic Gardens. Wonderful spot.
|Large-tailed Nightjar and Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo|
After checking in at the hotel and taking a shower, I decided to go birding again and took a cab over to the Gardens By The Bay, Singapore's newest (and most expensive-looking) park. The weather wasn't great for birding, with the sun beating down and the birds generally keeping under cover, but I persevered and managed to winkle out a few things. The big highlight for me though wasn't a bird, but finally bumping into Singapore's famous urban otters.
|Gardens By The Bay and one of the famous Indian Smooth-coated Otters|
This family group of Indian Smooth-coated Otters are celebrities in Singapore and the city has erected "otter crossing" signs in many parts of the Marina Bay area. Today the otters were hanging out at the park, eating some tasty-looking fish, and putting on a show for their adoring audience (and one Welsh Paparazzi). This was actually a new species for me so I lingered for a while, took a lot of photos, and pointed them out to delighted tourists. Who says urban wildlife is dull?
As the sun started to get a little less intense the birds started to perk up too. A nice sampling of herons all emerged from the reeds at the 'bittern ponds' (my name for them) and I was able to track down a nice Asian Emerald-Dove nearby. There were some Oriental Honey-Buzzards overhead and the place was just a lot birdier as the heat dropped and the smaller birds got more active again.
|Striated Heron and the (much rarer) Black Bittern|
Not a bad day of birding, and I wrapped up an amazing visit in Singapore with dinner at the fabulous Restaurant André (currently #32 on the World's 50 Best Restaurant List). Singapore pretty much has everything ... can't wait to come back.
|2 of 20 dishes at André|