The birds were earlier than us early birds

Today’s early morning walk was rather pleasant although probably not early enough as we didn’t get to see many birds, which is quite unfortunate seeing how this was supposed to be a birdwatching trip. The weather was hot and balmy and the humidity set itself upon us, making me feel like I weighed an extra 10 kg. But I guess hot weather is better than rainy weather so I shouldn’t be complaining. Many other park goers didn’t seem to be complaining either – the trails were busy with folks going about their morning exercises and embracing the humidity, maybe even treating it as an outdoor sauna.

We heard the birds, but many of them were not visible to us. They were probably up in the canopy. As we walked the PrunusTrail, the sounds of birds got louder. There seemed to be fewer birds near the edge of the forest than there were further into the forest. This is known as the edge effect, as Dr Loo explained to us. Wikipedia also has a good explanation on what it means (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_effect). What are the implications that the edge effect has on the wildlife in Singapore?

Of course, when I say fewer birds near the edge of the forest, I’m not taking into consideration the Javan mynas and Eurasian tree sparrows. These are common urban birds in Singapore, together with house crows and pigeons. But did you know that there are two species of mynas that can be found quite commonly around Singapore? The one that we see more often is called the Javan myna, while the less common species is called the common myna. Don’t be fooled by its common name (pun fully intended)! But seriously, go look up these two species and try to see what the differences are and try to see if you can distinguish the two species next time you see mynas.

We got to see two different species of kingfishers. The more common collared kingfisher (Halcyon chloris) was perched on a tree while the white-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) was perched on the roof of a low-lying house. I’ve seen them many times but I still enjoy catching these little fellas because they are such beautiful birds. I find the the blue colour of their feathers really magnificent and I’m sure some of the students agree with me as they were mesmerised by the birds. Pity we didn’t get to see the stork-billed kingfisher, I’ve seen it there countless times before but just not today. We’ll just have to go back again I guess.

There were some sunbirds, such as the olive-backed sunbird (Nectarina jugularis) and the crimson sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja). They are tiny and very pretty (i.e. difficult to see unless they are near). Sunbirds have long (in relation to their body) and slender beaks because they are nectar feeders and need to use their beaks as a straw to reach into flowers.

We walked back to school drenched in perspiration. Maybe next time we’ll see more birds. Watch this space for more birdwatching and other fieldtrips!

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