Sunday 31 July 2011

Search for Little Terns nests

The Little Terns disappeared from Kallang Basin around mid June after the courtship behaviour in May. Thinking they may be nesting near the river, I went in search of suitable nesting sites along the river. The long walk from Kallang to Bishan via the Park Connector yielded nothing. Another walk to Macpherson Estate near the market also ended with nothing. However, a few terns were spotted flying out towards Kallang Basin, probably to feed. Could they be nesting somewhere further than Macpherson?

In July, some photographers spotted a family of Little Terns at Lorong Halus Wetlands. They were feeding a chick. The family left around mid July. Could the terns at Kallang Basin have re-located to the Serangoon Reservoir because it was more suitable for nesting?

Sunday 29 May 2011

Kallang to Bishan Park Connector walk

A few friends and I decided to be adventurous over the weekend and we would walk from Kallang MRT to Bishan Park via the Park Connector. The distance indicated at the start of the walk was 6800m. "Oh... it wouldn't take very long. I can easily cover that kind of distance in 1 hour plus." said Hong. If we started early, we could easily be at Bishan for brunch with time to spare, or so we thought.

Starting point outside Kallang MRT.

Keeping an eye on Little Terns along the way, I saw only 2 of them fly inland from Sir Arthur's Bridge. No luck again when I reached the posts. There were some aunties and uncles fishing there. Some were catching the fish for food, some to put into their aquariums, and some just for sport. I do not like fishing as a sport, even if the fish is released back into the waters. Most people use hooks, and what is the point of releasing the poor fish after injuring its mouth? This is so cruel. We humans tend to think of animals as not being capable of feeling pain, especially if they are the kind we eat.

The park connector brought us to Kolam Ayer, a block of HDB flats with their own waterfront park. I am sure the owners must be very happy to have these units at the higher end of HDB prices, but with a wonderful view of their surroundings.

Kolam Ayer flats on the left and waterfront.
After Kolam Ayer, we crossed the road over to the former National Aerated Water factory where they used to produce soda drinks like Sinalco. The trail, up to this point, was not difficult because NParks has placed markers at critical points to indicate direction. We had to walk away from the river near Moonstone Lane to cross the PIE using an overhead bridge. The trail continued along the river beside St Andrew's Junior College and St Andrew's Junior School. They have their own bridge to cross between the two campuses on opposite sides of the river!

Arriving at Potong Pasir, all of us immediately noticed a difference. The atmosphere was more laid-back and peaceful. There were many mature trees around and the place looked so green, unlike the usual PAP towns where all the trees are well trimmed and so... not green.

Well, maybe we should not judge the town just from looks, but the area definitely looked nice with all the lush greenery near the river.

We did not make it to Bishan Park in the end, because yours truly developed a muscle pull in the left leg and we had to abandon the walk to lunch at Junction 8.

Monday 23 May 2011

Kallang Basin

After doing some research on the nesting habits of Little Terns, I learned that their nests are usually just a shallow scrape in sand or shingle, and they can be found on the coasts or inland waterways. In many countries, they are protected because their numbers have dwindled due to habitat loss. Unfortunately, their choice of nesting locations are usually places where human traffic is high, and it is not unusual for a breeding pair to abandon their nest due to disturbances.

Kallang Riverside Park, view from Sir Arthur's Bridge.

With this information, I decided to check out the small stretch of beach at the Kallang Riverside Park, accessed from Kampong Bugis. There was not a single Little Tern to be spotted today at Kallang River from around 11am to 12:30pm. Instead, a Grey Heron and immature Brahminy Kite were spotted, perched on the coconut tree branches. Little Herons were also spotted along the riverbank. I reached the usual place where I photographed the Little Terns, and there was not a single one there too. Where have they gone to? Further inland? Have they started nesting and chosen a site which is further inland?

Sea Grape fruits.

Sea Grape leaf. The leaf is so stiff and thick that it can be used as a plate!

Later in the afternoon, around 3pm, a single Little Tern was spotted diving for fish at the sea near the beach at Fort Road exit. It flew in the direction of Marina Barrage. I do not think it went back to Kallang River because it is quite far away, and the bird appeared again later around 4pm to fish. Maybe a breeding pair can be found at the under-construction Marina East beach.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Little Terns

Went to the usual spot at Kallang River to photograph the Little Terns again today. During two previous visits, I did not see them before 9am. A few started arriving only around 10am, when it was much warmer. More arrived later and feeding activities started around 11am, when it was really hot for us humans. Total count last week was 8.

The females took up their places individually at the poles. When the males took off to fish, they would call excitedly, especially when they were flying back with food for them or when they were fishing nearby. Maybe each female's call is different, and it helps the male identify where she is.

Courtship feeding. The male feeds the female.

Today, I observed something interesting. Two terns, which I presumed had already bonded, were preening themselves on a single pole. When one of them flew off and returned with a fish, I was surprised he refused to present the fish to his 'partner', flew off with the fish, and fed it to the tern on the next pole! This happened to the three bachelorettes resting at the poles closest to me. It appeared they have no partners yet and the males were undecided? One other pair was already bonded, and the male kept coming back with fish for his lady.

This fish is not for you!

Last week, I photographed one pair mating. I do not know if they would still be flying out to the poles to feed daily, or they have already found a place to start their nesting activities.

Mating Little Terns.

Last year, I photographed them at the same location around early June. I wonder if they are early this year. It would be good if I can find their nesting locations so that I can at least have a photographic record of them bringing up the chicks.

All photographs taken with Canon gear. EOS 40D, EF300mm, EF1.4x extender.