Birding Without Borders

Day 361: Birding Singapore

With help from a local, Noah birds the island city-state during an afternoon layover.

December 27, 2015: Singapore — Things are moving fast. Early this morning, on the way to the airport, Frank O’Connor and I stopped by a local park in Perth where we finally tracked down a Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, my last new bird in Australia. Frank is the go-to expert on finding birds in southwest Australia (and good company in the field), and we absolutely tore it up in the past two days!

I flew out of Perth this morning with a focused but chaotic mind. It’s hard to process that only four days are left on this adventure! A lot will be packed into the final hours, and I’m ready for the last push. I’ll be returning to a country I visited earlier this yeara place with unfinished bird business, so to speak.

Meanwhile, I had a layover this afternoon in Singapore, which has repeatedly been named the world’s best airport (it has a free movie theater, free foot massages, free city tours, a rooftop pool, and several gardens, among other things). Rather than relax at the swanky airport, I met a local birder named Con Foley, and we spent a couple of hours looking for birds during my layover.

Singapore is an interesting place: An island that’s also a city that’s also a country. It is the world’s second most densely populated nation (behind Monaco), which means space is at a premium. Cars are devilishly expensive (“I could have bought four of these in the US,” said Con as we drove around), and you’re required to scrap them after ten years. The official language is English. There is virtually no crime or corruption. 

Being an urban island, Singapore doesn’t have as many birds as its neighbors, but it does have a few interesting ones. Con sent my target list to a group of local birders and figured we might add three species during my brief visit today. Like clockwork, we found those three (Straw-headed Bulbul, Tanimbar Corella, and a roosting Gray Nightjar, which had been staked out) plus a bonus Ruddy-breasted Crake. Not bad for a couple of afternoon hours, especially considering I’d already seen 90% of Singapore’s birds elsewhere this year.

Thanks to Con and several other birders we met at a local park, I flew out of Singapore this eveningjust 11 species short of the 6,000 mark. Can I reach it tomorrow? 

New birds today: 5

Year list: 5989

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