Batok's Musical Wonders
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It's been compared
to Guilin in beauty, yet Bukit Batok Nature Park was once a granite quarry.
What's more, the scenic park of dramatic rock outcrops is also home to a
rich variety of wildlife as Ong Kiem Sian
discovers. Photos by Ong Kiem Sian
A long abandoned quarry,
which is also associated with the Japanese Occupation during World War Two,
was transformed into Bukit Batok Nature Park in 1988. It is one of the most
scenic parks in Singapore with its undulating and winding trails, which
lead to vantage points overlooking the pond. Incorporated into the park
is a playground and a foot-reflexology pathway for the health-conscious.
During weekends the park is well-used by young and old, families, nature
lovers and photographers.
Many large trees mean that the trails are well-shaded. The steep edge of
the quarry adds a rugged beauty to the surroundings. The matured fruiting
and flowering trees in the park provide food and shelter for insects, birds,
small mammals and reptiles.
For the past 10 years, many birds that were not seen or recorded before
have "appeared" in this park which is now their home. Some have been
released or have escaped while others might have come from other areas
A noisy flock of White-crested Laughingthrushes have established themselves
as gregarious residents and seem not to be disturbed by the many visitors.
They have become a common feature and in 1989, Lineated Barbets were
sighted and they, too, have made the park their home since then.
The population of these birds has increased and the Laughingthrushes
are easily encountered during a walk.
While strolling along the trails, a loud and melodious bird call may
greet you. Enthralled, you will be sure to stop and look up in the
trees searching for the songster. Look hard into the dense foliage,
for the Straw-headed Bulbul is shy and elusive.
Although rather dull-looking, these native Bulbuls are hunted and
trapped for their beautiful song, which is a cause for concern. These
birds have joined the list of globally endangered species as they
have virtually disappeared from their homes in Thailand and Indonesia
because of poaching.
So there was cause for celebration when a pair of Straw-headed Bulbuls
was discovered to have built their nest in a fig tree. The young were
fed with berries, spiders, forest cockroaches, stick insects and beetles.
There was communal feeding as three adult bulbuis were seen queueing
to feed the young chicks.
As responsible parents, the adults made it a point to remove the faecal
sacs from the chicks regularly, in the way of changing diapers. The
parent birds swallowed these faecal sacs!
All visitors were unwelcomed at the nest. To shoo them away, the adult
birds would harass the Plantain Squirrel, Lineated Barbet, White-vented
Myna and the White-throated Kingfisher when they came too close.
a globally endangered
species that is threatened
by the caged bird trade
The Plantain Squirrel
can adapt to parks and gardens
an introduced species that has become a resident of the park
The Straw-headed Bulbul
an exceptional songster
feeding its young
On the 16th day, one fledgling left the nest. The following morning the
smaller one also flew off. Both continued feeding their young while they
perched and learnt to fly close to the nest. This time, it was a successful
breeding of the Straw-headed Bulbuls, but it may not always be so in the
Danger is always lurking around the corner from predators and bird-trappers.
How wonderful it would be if visitors are greeted and serenaded at every
corner of the trail by these magnificent songsters of Bukit Batok Nature
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