4 No 1
at Sungei Buloh
The Nesting Herons of
at the Park
at Sungei Buloh
The morning group was wonderful. We saw quite a lot during our walk around Route 1 and had learnt that one needs to be patient and has to keep one's eyes open and cars peeled and Nature will reveal its wonders.
I was at the Sungei Buloh Nature Park as a volunteer guide for the first BirdWatch event, the aim of which was to promote bird-watching as a leisure activity for city-bound Singaporeans. Three months back, I learnt about the volunteer programme at the Park and attended a training course for volunteers as I had always been interested in nature and outdoor activities.
For a few months, I had almost made Sungei Buloh Nature Park my second home. After work on Saturdays, I would zip down to the Park, have a quick chat with the highly sociable human inhabitants and then trek out to one of the three routes with my trusty binoculars and 20x telescope borrowed from the Park to acquaint myself with the Park's inhabitants. Routes 2 and 3 are my favourite as there are fewer visitors. But Route 1 seems to be best for viewing the little waders. I got to know Redshanks, Greenshanks, the Whimbrels and their relatives quite well with the help of the telescope.
I had also attended one of the wader ringing exercises as a volunteer. At dusk, mist nets were set up in the ponds surrounded by Route 1. The nets were placed such that the birds will be caught as they fly in for the night. It was very hard work walking in the mud to set up: the nets. Often we would sink right up to our thighs and occasionally even deeper. Extracting our legs from the mud takes a lot of stamina. Eventually, the nets were set up and we retired to the visitor centre to take a rest. The exercises from then on consisted of trekking back to the ponds hourly to check the nets. We caught several Whimbrels, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Pacific Golden Plovers and even one fruit-eating bat. We had to take care not to stress the birds and put rings around their legs quickly. We made about 10 trips to round up the captive birds. Close to 11pm, the number of captives dwindled to zero for 3 successive checks, so we decided to call it a day. By 12 midnight, all was done and the equipment safely tucked away. The whole ringing exercise lasted about 6 hours. The groups of us, tired and muddy, washed up and settled down to our long-delayed dinner. The rest made ready for bed and a good night's rest.
The wader ringing exercise was an extremely good experience as it provided the opportunity to identify the birds on hand. There were added bonuses of being in the Park in the evening when it is quiet, dark and peaceful, to walk in the cool of the night and come up face to face with the occasional nocturnal wildlife.
Volunteering at the Park has been enjoyable and rewarding. There is so much to see, to experience and to learn. One will need many, many years to get acquainted with the Park and to fully enjoy the fauna and flora. Happy birding to one and all and may the wonders of nature that this Island is endowed with be with us for a long time to come!
© Sungei Buloh Nature Park