Bishan Park

Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (or more commonly known as Bishan Park) is sandwiched in between two large housing estates – Bishan and Ang Mo Kio – and is one of the few large urban parks in Singapore with a size rivaling that of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Situated within a densely populated urban residential area, Bishan Park with its wide open spaces and lush greenery offers us restless city dwellers a convenient location to stretch our legs and get close to nature without having to venture too far.

The Kallang River snakes along the backbone of the park, making it a conducive environment for the water creatures to hang out.

…and lounge around on a lazy sunny afternoon.

On one particular sunny day, the Purple Heron (Ardea Purpurea) decided to come out of hiding and call attention to himself while perched conspicuously atop an exposed bush.

Not to be out-done, the Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) made an equally dazzling display while strutting in the wide open field with his attractive breeding colours.

The Rose-ringed Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) were feeling particularly sociable that day, and a pair of them were out and about staring at onlookers curiously.

Competing with them for the juicy palm fruits were the Red-breasted Parakeets (Psittacula alexandri), a commonly seen gregarious parrot species.

Another gregarious resident of Bishan Park, a band of a dozen Coconut Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) were tearing through the park and ravenously feeding on the red bottlebrush flowers, all the while screeching gleefully.

Meanwhile, the White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) was treading surreptitiously along the water’s edge, attempting to be discreet…

…while the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) was standing on his favourite perch, poised to dive into the water for fish…

…the Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) was hunched over on his rock perch trying very hard to look like a statue…

…and the Pond Heron (Ardeola sp.) was skulking around the grass tracking his prey.

When the time is right – usually around March to April when these migratory Pond Herons are ready to fly back to their breeding grounds up north – we might start to see their true colours.

Only when decked in their breeding colours can we identify these Pond Herons. The Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus) has a maroon head, neck and breast and a veil of bluish-black plumes on the back…

…while the Javan Pond Heron (Ardeola speciosa) has a creamy brownish-buff head, dark red breast, and lacy black plumes over the white wings.

In another part of the river, the family of Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) – endearingly named the Bishan family – was happily gorging themselves with fish freshly caught from the river.

If we’re lucky, we might spot an otter or two creeping up the river bank.

Just a few feet away from the otters, another family of Asian Openbills (Anastomus oscitans) were indulging in their own buffet feast of fresh escargot.

And in the vicinity of the Openbills, a party of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters (Merops philippinus) could be seen sallying from branch to branch and picking insects off the air…

…while a pair of Oriental Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus orientalis) were dancing in the reeds and singing their loud ‘chacking’ song as they go along.

Also found tangled in the tall reeds were a party of Orange-cheeked Waxbills (Estrilda melpoda) having a picnic outing.

Along the river bed, little patches of mangrove vegetation seem to have drawn mangrove birds like the Mangrove Pitta (Pitta megarhyncha) to play and to stay.

A small patch of garden enriched with nectar plants has been thoughtfully set aside to entice the butterflies to migrate to Bishan, a well-sought after area with high real estate value. Indeed, more than 30 species of butterflies are known to have moved in…

…including the Plain Tiger Butterfly (Danaus chrysippus)…

…the Dark Glassy Tiger Butterfly (Parantica agleoides)….

…the Blue Pansy (Junonia orithya)…

…and even the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus), who has developed a particular liking for the juicy young of the butterflies.

With ample wide open spaces, there is something for everyone in the park, including several playgrounds for the kids…

…an expansive lawn for the aerobics buff to chalk up some MVPA and achieve that daily goal…

…space for the rollerblading enthusiasts to hone their skill…

…and even a Dog Run, which provides a large field for the dogs to run around and expend energy…

…and an excuse for the dog owner to chat up that other good-looking dog owner.

After an exhausting 7-km walk around the park, what better way to reward ourselves than with a high-fat, high-calorie meal at MacDonald’s.