As recent tradition determines, we are now back in an unseasonably warm London and looking back on our Singapore birding trips with much fondness and longing. We pick up here with our visit to Lorong Halus on Friday 2nd September. It was a blisteringly hot day, the type where even the temporary shade of large leaved trees offered welcome if short-lived relief.
You don’t get to see things hiding in the shadows though so we made our way onto the Punggol Riviera and attempted to see what birds were busying themselves in the deep greenery alongside the Punggol Serangoon Reservoir. Most of the flitterers remained elusive but we did manage to pick out one which we think is a Pied Triller. Expert confirmation is welcome though as it was in pretty dark cover. EDIT: This has now been identified as a Juvenile Little Bronze Cuckoo (thanks to the ever wise Alan Ow Yong)
It was whilst hunting for feathered interest that our attention was called to the adjacent reservoir. There was some very active commotion coming from the water, short high pitched squeals and barks could only mean one thing; a welcome back from the Halus otters!
We counted seven otters in all in this social group, keeping close together in the water and refusing to linger for really good pictures, despite being quite curious about the humans in the vicinity.
Each time we were able to focus on the Smooth Coated Otters they would dive down and reappear further down the reservoir. We did manage a few shots of them enjoying their lunch though.
We watched the reservoir dogs make their way under the Bridge, and in doing so attract the attention of a fair number of passerbys who became as interested in these wonderful creatures as we were. First sighting along the path was this posing Changeable Lizard.
We had a real treat next as Mrs Sausage found this Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker.
This is a bird we have always found too small, too fast and very elusive to the cameras. This male however was posing away on the branch without a care in the world, and stayed in the same position for a good long while.
We suddenly had a rich seam of bird-life to mine in a small stretch of pathway. Following Mrs Sausage’s earlier scouting trip, I was able to get my first Golden-backed Weaver:
The grassy environment of Lorong Halus are a haven for the seedeaters and Baya Weavers are one of the most numerous species to be found here:
Whilst I was enjoying the very mobile weavers Mrs Sausage was feasting her camera on Scaly-breasted Munias:
She also found another new bird for us, Common Waxbills:
Waxbills are not a native species, but much like Ring-necked Parakeets in London and the south-east of England, they are escapees that have started to build a wild population in Singapore. Another established escapee found itself in front of Mrs Sausage in the shape of these Yellow-fronted Canaries.
As always I was on the lookout for any new butterflies and dragonflies. This Centaur Oakblue came across my way as I was trying to photograph the Golden-backed Weavers.
With the unrelenting heat telling us to think about heading back for some badly needed libation, we hung in there as a pair of Blue-throated Bee-eaters began hunting over the pond area in front of us. We watched as a male joined its mate and passed it a captured dragonfly as a late afternoon snack.
Our slow, sweaty walk back to Riviera saw a fly over by what we believe may be a White-bellied Sea Eagle (but we are not entirely sure, so again, expert help is welcome!):
And a Paddyfield Pipit.
Trips to Lorong Halus are always rewarding, despite the constructions that are springing up in the surrounding area. It remains a green haven that is home to some wonderful wildlife; otters, reptiles, insects and of course a great variety of birds. We only completed around half a circuit on this visit and came back with a good number of sightings – good enough to make us consider yet again a home in the Punggol area sometime in the near future!