Metalsmiths & Flycatchers – A Japanese Garden Adventure

Our next Singapore excursion took place on Monday 5th September as we paid an afternoon visit to the dual parks of Chinese and Japanese Garden in Jurong. Cool and calm weather made for ideal birding conditions and we were hopeful of a few productive hours.


The well maintained greenery of the parks was bearing fruit both floral and feathered and this female Brown-throated Sunbird became our first sighting of the day.


It was our ears that found our next sighting, the familiar hollow-metal call of the Coppersmith Barbet emanated from very close to where were standing and a quick glance at the nearest exposed tree-top found the colourful feathery forger.


This was by far our best views of a Coppersmith Barbet so far. A bird with a lovely plumage and a very distinctive call. Usually seen high up on the tallest of trees, this very obliging individual allowed us plenty of camera time.



There were a good number of species making their presence known with White-throated Kingfisher, Common Iora, Brown-throated and Olive-backed Sunbirds all seen. The gardens always seem to home to a plenty of pigeons too, with Spotted Doves and these female Pink-necked Green Pigeons the most ubiquitous.


We were finding a broad variety of birds around the park, Rose-ringed Parakeets chuckled noisily around us while there were plenty of the ever gregarious Javan Mynas.


As we crossed from Chinese Garden to Japanese Garden we spotted a number of small, very mobile birds among the trees. Our second sighting in a few days of Sunda Pygmy Woodpeckers! And so began twenty or so minutes of often frustrating attempts to photograph these perpetually active birds.


As the name suggests, the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker is the smallest of Singapore’s woodpeckers. It was this small size, the excellent cover, plumage that blended will with the trunks and branches and the constant moving up and down and all around the trees that presented a real challenge for our point and shoot photography.


In diametric opposition to the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, the Grey Herons at Japanese Garden are almost a still-life subject. The heronry at the top of the trees by Jurong Lake is a noisy spot, full of loud wing flapping and grating heron calls.


Rivaling the Grey Herons for noise however are the Collared Kingfishers. A bird that seems to insist on announcing it’s presence with loud, repetitive scream-like calls.


Definitely a bird that looks better than it sounds!


With the sun starting to set there was a lot of last minute feeding going on with the insect hunting birds, kingfishers were busy traversing both the water and the trees and this Pied Fantail allowed us to spend some time with it as it devoured a dragonfly and some other unfortunate insects.



We spotted Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers, Glossy Starlings and heard a very loud Koel among the trees on our walk back towards the exit and then Mrs Sausage picked out a different looking bird among some Ioras. It was a tricky one to photograph again, high up and sandwiched between protruding branches and greenery.


We posted this one up on the Singapore Birders Facebook page so the ID on this comes courtesy of Lim Kim Seng. We managed to find a female Yellow-rumped (or Korean) Flycatcher to go with the male seen at MacRitchie earlier on. An early migrant arrival and a perfect bird to end our short session at the two gardens on.

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