A Look Along The Longkang

Following on from our morning at Chinese and Japanese Gardens, we planned to spend a few hours investigating the less obvious location of the path along the longkang from Ghim Moh to Clementi. Our start was postponed by some heavy and persistent rain. Early afternoon brought dry conditions with it and joined by our intrepid colleague Agent Sim, we made our way to Ghim Moh.

The recent downpour had swelled the longkang channel with reasonably fast flowing, almost coffee-coloured water. A lone Little Egret was the first bird we saw watching the liquid conveyor belt in the hope of a passing morsel. It was the Striated Herons that provided the best views though.

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Totally concentrating on the bounty the water would bring, they were oblivious to our presence above them on the walkway.

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From statue-like stillness to a rapid dart with their bills into the water, we found four of these birds taking up different locations both sides of the channel. One would occasionally stray too close to another’s territory and would be chased off with an aggressive waving of wings and sharp calls.

In the grey sky above us a Brahminy Kite circled and Blue-throated Bee-eaters were resting in the trees just above us.

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It was still grey and somewhat dull, with the threat of returning rain. This meant far less than ideal conditions for photographs of anything at a reasonable distance. However, flashes of feathery colour stood out against the murkiness making spotting a little easier.

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The yellow rump of this Grey Wagtail caught our attention on the opposite bank. It was a study in perpetual motion with it’s flicking tail and rapid progress across the bank.

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Immediately below the wagtail were more Striated Herons. Among them were juveniles, identifiable by the brown immature plumage in comparison to the slaty-grey adults pictured above.

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The longkang was starting to resemble a mini watering hole in the Serengeti with its various predators and scavengers lined up along and above it. As if to enhance the Singapore urban safari theme further, Mrs Sausage saw a silhouette in the trees nearest our walkway. Sitting there looking most relaxed, nonchalant even, was this Long-tailed Macaque. It was unconcerned with the heavy footfall along the longkang pathway, but at the same time, visible only to those who were looking closely.

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One notable participant was missing so far on our walk – Kingfishers. Conditions were perfect for these birds, the recent rainfall filling the drain, humid post storm temperatures encouraging insects and plenty of vegetation on both sides. It was Agent Sim who completed the picture for us when she spotted this Stork-billed Kingfisher on an exposed branch just ahead of us.

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This was doubly gratifying as the Stork-billed was the only major kingfisher I had yet to get good pictures of, either on this trip or last years.

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Obliging poses done with, the kingfisher made for trees on the opposite bank and sat there calling out with it’s almost hysterical clatter-clatter call. Not the prettiest of sounds from a very attractive looking bird.

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The Ghim Moh longkang area was the spot where we began our Singapore birding in September 2013. Despite it being an urban, residential area we have always found a fantastic array of species along this walk. Look up, look around and keep your ears and eyes open and there is plenty to find among the concrete of urban Singapore.

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