Tag Archives: Singapore

Above the treetops at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Singapore

Up until a few months ago, I was living in sunny Singapore. Since then, I have moved continents, to the land of canals and krokets, Amsterdam, and find myself trying to make sense of a very fickle spring.

When I think about my time in the Little Red Dot, I’m happy I was able to capture different facets of the city, via my articles for PASSAGE, the bimonthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore. So here is, the last of these nuggets from the city I called home for nearly 6 years.

My article in the May-June’17 issue of PASSAGE encapsulates my many wonderful memories of the MacRitchie Reservoir Park in Singapore. Please click on the image below to view the PDF of this article.

2017_May-June_MacRitchie

(Reproduced with the permission of the Editor.)

I’d like to reiterate that when visiting any nature reserve/park, please be extremely respectful of the environment. Loud chatting or music will disturb wildlife and ruin any chance of spotting them. Going off-trail to get a picture damages the ecosystem that nurtures these species. As the old saying goes…

Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.

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You can read more about the wildlife/natural history of Singapore in the following posts:

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Pasir Ris Park

Birds of Singapore

The Wallace Trail

Singapore Botanic Gardens

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Memories of Pasir Ris Park, Singapore

I was reminded by a fellow-nature lover that today, March 3rd, is World Wildlife Day. So the timing of this post couldn’t be any better! 🙂

Following my much loved blog post on Pasir Ris Park, I had the opportunity to share some of the pictures once again via a photo feature in the Mar-Apr’17 issue of PASSAGE, the bimonthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore. Please click on the image below to view the PDF of this article.

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(Reproduced with the permission of the Editor.)

Once again, I’d like to emphasize that when visiting any nature reserve/park, please be extremely respectful of the environment. Loud chatting or music will disturb creatures and ruin any chance of spotting them. Going off-trail to get a picture damages the ecosystem that nurtures these species. As the old saying goes…

Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.

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For my original post on Pasir Ris Park, please click here.

You can read more about the wildlife/natural history of Singapore in the following posts:

MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Birds of Singapore

Wallace Trail

Singapore Botanic Gardens

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My Farewell Tribute to Singapore

After six wonderful years in Singapore, the hubs and I recently moved to Amsterdam. I couldn’t have offered a better farewell tribute to Singapore than this 12-page feature in the Mar’17 issue of Holland Herald, the inflight magazine of KLM airlines.

First published on 21st January 1966, Holland Herald has been around for over half a century and holds the remarkable distinction of being the oldest inflight magazine in the world. There had to be a history angle! 😉

So without further ado, here it is – my article about the city I once called home. Kindly note, that the pictures in the article are not mine.

(Please click on the image below to read the PDF of the article)

singapore_hh_mar17

(Reproduced with permission)

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A Walk in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore

One of the first forest reserves established in Singapore (1883), the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, is the largest remaining tract of primary rainforest on the island. It was closed to the public for two years for some much-needed restoration work and reopened on 22nd October ’16.

Overjoyed to be back in this thriving rainforest, I wrote a quick piece for the Jan-Feb’17 issue of PASSAGE, the bi-monthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore. Presenting my first article in print for 2017…..

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I cannot emphasise this enough – when visiting any nature reserve/park, please be extremely respectful of the environment. Loud chatting or music will disturb creatures and ruin any chance of spotting them. Going off-trail to get a picture damages the very ecosystem that nurtures these species. As the old adage goes…

Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.

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You can read more about the wildlife/natural history of Singapore in the following posts:

MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Pasir Ris Park

Birds of Singapore

The Wallace Trail

Singapore Botanic Gardens

************************************************************************

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‘Artist and Empire’ at the National Gallery, Singapore

The word ‘empire’ evokes different reactions from different people, especially among those from the erstwhile colonies. So when I first heard of the ‘Artist and Empire’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Singapore, I had mixed feelings about the concept. However, the exhibition focusses solely on the art that originated from Britain and its colonies (16th century to date), and I’m too much of an art lover to miss the masterpieces that came in via this association with the Tate Britain, London.

My political opinions aside, here are some of my favourites from the exhibition. As you can well imagine, there is some sort of personal link, either to the artist or the subject.

Paintings by Victorian botanical artist, Marianne North

I first heard of Marianne North during my time in the Seychelles this year.

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A trailblazer in her own right, Marianne defied societal norms prevalent in the late 1800s for women, and travelled (mostly alone) to 17 countries in six continents, including the Seychelles, India and Singapore.

A self-taught artist, she painted 848 pieces of flora and fauna between 1871 and 1885; of which 833 are on permanent exhibit at the Marianne North Gallery in Kew Gardens, England. Among the 46/47 paintings Marianne painted in the Seychelles, there are several versions of the fabled Coco de Mer.

Five of her paintings from Asia are currently on display at this exhibition.

‘Remnants of an Army’ by Lady Butler (maiden name Elizabeth Thompson)

A few years ago, while reading about the Afghan Church in Mumbai, I chanced upon this poignant painting.

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This artwork depicts Dr. William Brydon, assistant surgeon in the Bengal Army, arriving at the gates of Jalalabad (in modern day Afghanistan) on a dying horse, in January 1842. At the time, Brydon was believed to be the lone survivor of the First Anglo-Afghan War, which saw the massacre of thousands of British soldiers and the subsequent British retreat from Kabul.

Painted in 1879, in the midst of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, this artwork is believed to depict Lady Butler’s feelings about the futility of the war in Afghanistan.

About the Afghan Church in Mumbai: Consecrated in 1858, this church was built by the British to commemorate the deceased from the First Anglo-Afghan War, most of whom came from the East India Company’s Bombay Army. This Anglican Church is one of the most beautiful and serene churches in the city.

‘General Gordon’s Last Stand’ by George William Joy (1893)

Another Seychelles connection! Even today, the Vallee de Mai on Praslin island in the Seychelles, is rumoured to be the site of the biblical Garden of Eden and this myth originates from General Gordon’s remarks during his visit to the valley in 1881.

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This painting depicts General Gordon as the quintessential hero, defending the city of Khartoum against its invaders. In reality, this would have been the scene, moments before his death and subsequent beheading.

‘The Jester’ by Sir Gerald Kelly (1911)

A portrait of British playwright, novelist and short story writer, Somerset Maugham, the title of the painting refers to the writer’s famous wit. Maugham is not forgotten here in Singapore, thanks to a suite named after him at the legendary Raffles Hotel.

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Maugham made three visits to Singapore between 1921 and 1925 and gathered material for his short stories collection, ‘The Casurina Tree’, set in 1920s Malaya. A regular guest of the Raffles Hotel, the suite named after him at the hotel, is the one in which he stayed during his last visit in 1960.

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Among the 211 exhibits on display, there are also a significant number of artworks from the former colonies, from South Asia to the Oceania region.

So if you are visiting Singapore before 26th March 2017, I highly recommend a dekko*

from the Hindi word ‘dekho’ meaning to look 😉 

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Wildlife in an urban jungle – Pasir Ris Park, Singapore

Don’t let Singapore’s glitzy urban appearance fool you. The city is teeming with incredible wildlife, if one knows where to look. With over 300 parks and 4 nature reserves, there are several places where Singapore’s native wildlife thrives.

This weekend, hubby and I decided to check out the Pasir Ris Park, in the northeastern part of Singapore. In addition to many family friendly facilities, this beach park also includes a 15-acre mangrove forest. A short boardwalk enables visitors to explore the various sections of this mangrove forest.

Just as we were entering the park via the Pasir Ris Park Connector, a family of noisy otters jumped into the waters of the adjacent Sungei Tampines – right before our eyes! Such a pity I didn’t have my camera ready but it was definitely a sign of things to come.

We spent the entire morning at Pasir Ris Park, enthralled by the rich biodiversity of the place. Here are some of the creatures I did manage to photograph….

(Please click on the image to see an enlarged version.)

Lunch time at Pasir Ris Park!

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A lizard lunch for this Paradise Tree Snake

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Almost halfway done….

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Spot the lizard in the snake’s belly!

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Headed up the tree for a post-lunch siesta

The Sleepy Hornbill

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After much looking, we managed to spot an Oriental Pied Hornbill hidden in the foliage

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Here it is, dozing off….

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Seems like a full blown nap now! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Monitor Lizards everywhere!

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Here’s one basking high up on a tree…

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Another monitor lizard enjoys its afternoon swim. Notice how the limbs of the monitor are drawn close to its body while swimming. It navigates the waters using its tail.

Other residents of Pasir Ris Park

(includes pictures from subsequent visits)

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The striking Black Baza is a small sized bird of prey and is known to perch for long durations on the bare branches of tall trees.

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After much debate by experts about the exact species of this bird, the verdict is that it is a Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, meaning it is a cuckoo that resembles a drongo

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Notice the keyhole-shaped pupils of the Oriental Whip Snake, which enables snakes of this genus to have binocular vision

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A Yellow-lipped Water Snake in search of newly moulted crabs

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One of the most vocal residents of Pasir Ris Park, the Red Junglefowl, the wild ancestor of the domesticated chicken.

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A Black-crowned Night Heron out and about during low tide

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A Little Egret walks around the dry channel of Sungei Tampines

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It’s yoga time for this Grey Heron!

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A Sandpiper by Sungei Tampines

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A Striated Heron waits patiently for a catch, in the mangroves by Sungei Tampines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The skittish Ashy Tailorbird was by far the hardest to photograph

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A male Flameback Woodpecker in the woods around the mangroves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The gender of a Laced Woodpecker can be identified by the colour of its crown – the female has a black crown while the male has a red one.

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A Blue-tailed Bee-eater takes a break

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Oriental Magpie-Robin foraging on the ground

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A female Common Iora, with pollen stuck on her beak after feeding on nectar

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A pair of Yellow-vented Bulbuls pose perfectly for this pic!

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A male (with pink neck) and female Pink-necked Green Pigeon, scan their surroundings

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A White-throated Kingfisher enjoys the surroundings from its prominent perch

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A Collared Kingfisher awaits its meal by Sungei Tampines…

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A Scaly-breasted Munia rests for a brief second

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A Mud Crab steps out of its burrow in the mangroves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Red-eared Slider (also known as Red-eared Terrapin) in the waters of Sungei Tampines

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A Giant Mudskipper in the mangroves of Pasir Ris Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who knew there were jellyfish in the waters of Sungei Tampines???!!!

There are many creatures that I haven’t yet managed to photograph – the otters of course, the Stork billed Kingfisher, the Common Kingfisher, the raptors that fly overhead, the many skittish birds hidden in the foliage. These call for yet another visit to Pasir Ris Park.

I leave you with this Pasir Ris Park Guide I found online. Happy visiting! And don’t forget to let me know what you spotted!

Lastly, I cannot emphasise this enough – when visiting any nature reserve/park, please be extremely respectful of the environment. Loud chatting or music will disturb creatures and ruin any chance of spotting them. Going off-trail to get a picture damages the ecosystem that nurtures these species. As the old saying goes…

Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.

*********************************************************************

For my article on Pasir Ris Park in the Mar-Apr’17 issue of PASSAGE, the bimonthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore, please click here.

You can read more about the wildlife/natural history of Singapore in the following posts:

MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Birds of Singapore

The Wallace Trail

Singapore Botanic Gardens

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Birds of Singapore

While I am away from my beautiful home in Singapore, my latest article in the Jul-Aug’16 issue of PASSAGE (the bi-monthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore) comes as a wonderful reminder.

Birds of Singapore

(Reproduced with the permission of the Editor.)

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For my original post about the birds of Singapore, please click here.

You can read more about the wildlife/natural history of Singapore in the following posts:

Pasir Ris Park

MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

The Wallace Trail

Singapore Botanic Gardens

************************************************************************

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A sperm whale in Singapore

About a decade ago, hubby and I watched in childlike amazement as Tona, the majestic sperm whale surfaced and dived back into the cold blue waters, off Kaikoura (New Zealand). From that day on, began my fascination with whales, and cetaceans in general. In addition to whales, the sub-order Cetacea includes aquatic mammals like dolphins and porpoises.

Today, these magnificent creatures face decimation from ship strikes, plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, getting caught as by-catch in commercial fishing nets as well as the rapidly growing, captive cetaceans industry.

My article for the May-Jun’16 issue of PASSAGE (the bi-monthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore) centres around the recently unveiled sperm whale skeleton at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Singapore. The skeleton has been affectionately named ‘Jubi’ by the museum staff. While the circumstances of Jubi’s death are unfortunate, the skeleton display has presented an opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding the conservation and protection of these behemoths.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species classifies sperm whales as ‘vulnerable’ to extinction.

2016_May-Jun_Jubi

(Reproduced with the permission of the Editor.)

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Singapore’s vibrant birdlife!

When one thinks of Singapore, ‘nature’ is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, despite being a bustling city, Singapore has many green spots (like the MacRitchie Reservoir ParkBukit Timah Nature Reserve, Pasir Ris Park, the Botanic Gardens, Bukit Brown Cemetery, and several more) that provide shelter to about 400 resident and visiting bird species.

Growing up in Mumbai (India), I would marvel at my Dad’s uncanny ability to identify and imitate bird calls. I’ve inherited his love for birds and birdwatching, and it has accompanied me everywhere I’ve lived across the world, including my home for the past 5 years – Singapore.

It has been such a tremendous joy to observe and photograph some of Singapore’s avian species. This is my bird log and I will continue to update this post with new species as and when I photograph them.

Unless otherwise specified, these birds have been photographed from the comfort of my home, off the East Coast.  I leave you to enjoy these beauties….

(4) Blue-throated bee eater

My personal favourite, the Blue-throated Bee-eater

(2) Coppersmith Barbet

A Coppersmith Barbet with its distinctive ‘hammer to metal’ call

White-throated Kingfisher

A White-throated Kingfisher enjoying the rain

(12) Collared kingfisher

A Collared Kingfisher photographed in the early evening light

(3) Black-naped oriole

A Black-naped Oriole

(16) Yellow-vented bulbul

A Yellow-vented Bulbul basking in the morning sun

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

A lone Eurasian Tree Sparrow

(8) Dollarbird

An adult Dollarbird identifiable by its orange-red bill and the bright blue coloration on its throat

(14) Female Rose-ringed parakeet

A female Rose-ringed Parakeet

(10) Red-breasted parakeets

A pair of Red-breasted Parakeets feasting on mangoes

(14) Sunda pygmy woodpecker

A Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker hard at work! 

Pied triller

A Pied Thriller

Common pigeon

The ubiquitous Common Pigeon

(13) Spotted dove

A Spotted Dove

(17) Zebra dove

A resting Zebra Dove

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A Pink-necked Green Pigeon camouflaged amidst the foliage

(11) Javan Mynas

A group of noisy Javan Mynas

(19) White-bellied sea eagle

A pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles, residing in a nearby cell tower

SB_Olive-backed Sunbird

A female Olive-backed Sunbird photographed at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

(22) SB_Little Egret

A Little Egret waits patiently for its lunch at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

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A Pacific Swallow photographed at East Coast Park

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A female Common Flameback Woodpecker, photographed at East Coast Park

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An Asian Glossy Starling identifiable by its bright red eyes set against metallic green-black plumage

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For my article on the birds of Singapore in the Jul-Aug’16 issue of PASSAGE, the bimonthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore, please click here.

You can read more about the birds/wildlife/natural history of Singapore in the following posts:

MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Pasir Ris Park

The Wallace Trail

Singapore Botanic Gardens

************************************************************************

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‘Treasures of the World’ delight Singapore

An Egyptian mummy from the 2nd century CE, a hand-axe from Tanzania almost a million years old, the enigmatic Lewis Chessmen and over 200 other fascinating artefacts from across the world, are currently on display at the National Museum of Singapore. These are part of the British Museum’s traveling exhibit, Treasures of the World, which is on display for the very first time in South East Asia.

Travel through the centuries as these artefacts tell compelling stories of power, identity, adornment and death and how they were embodied in the various cultures of the world. The exhibition will be on at the National Museum of Singapore until 29th May 2016.

My article for the Jan-Feb’16 issue of PASSAGE (the bi-monthly magazine of the Friends of the Museums Singapore) takes a look at some of the exhibition’s highlights.

Treasures of the World, British Museum - Singapore

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reasures of the World, British Museum - Singapore

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(Reproduced with the permission of the Editor)

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