Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fort Canning Park, Singapore

December 31, 2009

A few days back, while walking along Hill Street near the old Armenian Church, the corner of my eye caught the flight of a rather large bird circling the communication tower on Fort Canning Hill. While I couldn't identify the bird, I knew it to be a bird of prey, or in birding parlance, "raptor". 

Today, I made a trip to the hill top park to check these birds out. By the way, Fort Canning is one of the most significant sites of Singapore, as it was said to be the place where Malay chieftans ruled from here and where many ancient Chinese porcelain shards, coins, gold and precious stones jewellery have been unearthed. For more details on the park and what it offers the visitor today, please see:

The trip rewarded me with the sighting of not one but a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagle, said to be the largest bird of prey around these parts. Their call was a mix of the call of geese, ducks and screams. One sat still high up on the communication tower while the other flew off in search of food. Mayhaps this a breeding pair and the female must be heavy with eggs as she waited to be fed without lifting a wing.

Here is the pair from the back:

And here's the patient waiting female.


And this is just to show how high a perch she was on.


Calls from Kingfishers, Koel and Sunbirds were heard as I strolled around the top of the hill. I didn't spot the Koel and the Sunbirds, as usual, could never sit still for me to photograph them. A White-collard Kingfisher obliged:


Even if one is not a fan of birds, this park is worth the short climb up. It is lush up there, the air sweetly scented by exotic flowers and leaves. And where the canopy parts you can see the busy town below. I guess that's why the rulers of old stationed themselves up here. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles had a house built for him here in 1823, but he was never around. He mostly busied himself in Bencoolen or Benkulen in Sumatra, Indonesia. Some of the flora in the park are new to me, like this one:


On the way down, you may pass the Spice Garden where a cocoa tree has begun to bear fruit.

I intend to revisit this park at a time where more birds can be spotted. So watch this space.

To be continued ... 



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, there. I came across your blog while Googling "Fort Canning Singapore White Bellied Sea Eagle". The ones you had caught on camera - I am not sure if they are the same white bellied sea eagles that have been on that tower since 2006. But yes, white bellied sea eagles have been there for that long. There are at least 3 to 4 adults and 2 jueveniles around there now. There also used to be a huge nest right at the top of the Telecom tower on Fort Canning Hill (the same one you had photographed). You might see the current eagles waddling around on the square platform just below the roof of that tower. :)

I do know they tend to head out to the waterfront between the Esplanade and One Fullerton to hunt. You might be able to catch them there at any time of the day but you should check out their final hunt for the day there in the late afternoons. Usually sometime between 6pm to 7pm, before they head home together to the tower. Most times you can also spot their silhouettes anywhere on that tower; even at night, especially when the sky glows reddish with the coming of a rainstorm.

One of the best spots to watch for them from a distance is across the river, just outside The Central @ Clarke Quay (facing GMax). It is not my favourite spot, though - kind of far for me. I like it whenever they fly low and pass right over my head.

I think they may have a nest somewhere up there on Fort Canning Hill now. I have been keeping an eye out for it.

Enjoy your bird-watching around there.