Today is Earth Day 2013. And I celebrated it in my own way by going for my first birdwatching experience. It was conducted by National park. It was at the Singapore quarries, near the Dairy Farm Road Estate in the lush Bukit Timah area. It is a part of Dairy Farm Natural park. I had heard about it earlier but today I got the chance to visit it as well as get to do some birdwatching. It was a memorable and beautiful experience for a beginner. Plus it changed the way I look at birds..
Had to leave very early in the morning by 630 am to reach by 730 am. It seems, ideally the best time for birdwatching is as early as possible in the morning, preferably between 500 to 700 am. When it is quiet, cool, dawn is breaking. plus it is good to have very high quality binoculars ( which is dampening for me as of now) to really enjoy this. Even, if you don’t have, you can always enjoy birdwatching in the company of an experienced person and even if that is not there, just enjoy with what you can. More importantly, enjoy the soul enriching experience of being one with nature. Snacks and water must be carried. Dark clothing should be worn in order not to distract our feathered friends. And respect them by being silent, in order for you to see them in their glory.
A nice, slow walk along this jungle hiking trail full of luscious rainforest. Along the way, we stop to listen to bird calls, identify the location of the birds and track them with our binoculars. It requires a lot of patience. And a lot of muscle stretching especially the muscles of the neck and the back. And the muscles of the eyes when one is peering continuously through the binoculars. And thus I learn, that it builds endurance, patience. But looking at a bird continuously is infinitely more rewarding than looking at a smartphone. Birdwatchers also use a device called scope which they can set up and observe the bird, without shaking. I use my eyes, my neck, my legs, my mind, my concentration powers, my heart , my competitive spirit, and my curiosity to discover my targets. My guides are very experienced and their love for what they do is very infectious. I discover that a single bird can make many different types of calls.
My ears learn to listen more sharply as I try to make out the different sound textures amongst the cacophony. My eyes learn to watch out for movements in the greenery. I become a jungle denizen as i immerse in nature to observe them. I learnt about many birds today. Some I could see and it is exciting being able to discover one or other hidden in the trees. Amongst the birds spotted are starlings, warblers, babblers, parakeet, dove, kingfishers.
The hiking trail terminates in the beautiful, resplendent Quarry. These quarries were formerly used for cutting stone but now they have been filled with water and have become an ecosystem in their own way. Its silent splendour invites you to meditate and contemplate besides watching the nature. The wetlands have lots of koi and other fish and I was lucky to spot two monitor lizards making their way..
The trip finished in around 2 and half hours but it left me hungry for more ..including breakfast at Subways in the Rail Mall and more nature trips..
Will write more on some of the birds observed..