Lifers and Losses at Kranji Marshes

With the time running short on our Singapore visit we decided to use our few remaining days on our favourite locations. Our premier birding location was Kranji Marshes which has always offered a wide range of species and a lovely environment for enjoying them. Our visit on 27th April was one of highs and lows and after convincing the taxi uncle at Kranji MRT that we would rather not walk to Kranji Marshes, we arrived around 9.30 am to what appeared to be a pretty quiet, low on people reserve. Two Brahminy Kites landed in the trees at the entrance, and Mrs Sausage picked one out.

Mrs Sausage then spotted a couple of Red-whiskered Bulbuls perched on some exposed branches. Shot at a distance while the birds stayed for a mere few seconds, we could just about catch a glimpse of vermilion around the face.

Not a lifer this time, but the only other time we have seen these bulbuls was also at Kranji. With a nice amount of bird-song serenading us, we made our way down the main path with a single Black-winged Kite and a Red-wattled Lapwing flying over and making for excellent sightings. I then caught a glimpse of two pigeons that I was sure I had not seen before. Now I don’t know too many birders that get really excited over pigeons but these Red Collared Doves were a first for us.

Too photogenic to resist were a pair of Red-breasted Parakeets, busying themselves around a potential nest.

Things took a turn for the disappointing once we got to the hides and viewing tower however. The area was very busy with two trucks, one with a water tank and pump whirring away, and an assortment of workmen using loud cutting tools and shouting to each other as they worked on tidying up areas they believed were overgrown or in need of maintenance. With all these activities and noise, we were not hopeful of seeing much feathered action or any wildlife at all. Beaten a little but not un-bowed, we decided to make our way to Bollywood Veggies for a spot of nutritious lunch.

The birding gods took pity on us though as we reached the reception area. Whilst waiting for the Kranji Express to appear Mrs Sausage kept her eyes peeled and found us an Oriental Reed Warbler, lifer!

Having watered and fed at Bollywood Veggies, we walked back to Kranji Marshes, hoping that the maintenance was over and our early start was not too much in vain. Our walk in the searing midday sun brought us a White-throated Kingfisher and a Dollar Bird along Neo Tiew Lane.

The main viewing area at Kranji, whilst a little quieter, was still occupied with workers, most of them utilising the hides for some shade as they took a break. We decided to take a final look from the top of the viewing tower. For a while all seemed forlorn… but in the restricted area of the reserve, way, way at the back, I spotted a raptor atop a post. It was really too far for our point and shoot bridge cameras but we are pretty confident in saying we had an Osprey to add to our list.

A Singapore tick for us and at last something of note to be found at the “business end” of Kranji Marshes. Watching the Osprey then brought an equally distant Purple Heron into view which was languishing in the same restricted area.

On a day when there were more workmen than visitors at the reserve, it was a crying shame we weren’t able to see more than we did. Having deliberately chosen an early start on a week day we were hopeful of some good quality birding time. For once and probably the first time on this trip, we were forced to leave somewhere early knowing our distant views were the best we were going to get. Our walk back to the car park was largely bereft of action, only this Three Spot Grass Yellow being out last sighting of the day.

We love Kranji Marshes and there’s no doubt we’ll be back again once on Singapore’s shores. Fortunately we had a few more days to squeeze in an adventure or two and adventures were indeed had! The Dairy Farm diaries up next!

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