The Labrador Nature Reserve, or more commonly known as Labrador Park, is where we would go for some fresh air and sea breeze when our butts are itching after a long day at work.
Free parking is available in two small car parks, as long as we familiarize ourselves with the parking rules.
Easily accessible by public transport, the park is just a short 1 km walk from Labrador Park MRT station along the Berlayer Creek Boardwalk, which traces the creek and overlooks thick mangrove vegetation.
Berlayer Creek is home to an incredible 60 species of birds, so we always keep our eyes peeled when walking along the boardwalk hoping to spot some of these resident birds, such as the Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) perching on a low branch enjoying his snack..
…the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) singing his heart out with his high-pitched melodious voice…
…the Malaysian Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica), unabashedly swishing its tail to get our attention…
…or the White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), who can frequently be seen soaring high in the air.
During mating season, we may also catch the White-bellied Sea Eagle hanging out in pairs and hear their goose-like honks as they call out to each other. Curious what their honking sounds like? Have a listen.
Besides Berlayer Creek, there are several other walking options within Labrador Nature Reserve to explore.
We could take the dark and eerie forest path to the old Fort Pasir Panjang situated atop the hill. The fort was built in 1878 to defend the strategically important harbour at Labrador Bay.
When strolling along the Nature Path, watch out for the army of ants that have overtaken the path. Some stray ones may decide to crawl up your leg and scout around for more exciting food options.
Strategically positioned around the hilltop are historical relics and educational boards explaining the history of the fortified beach during the war-torn days.
Walk through these doors that open out into another world, one with hidden underground tunnels and secret rooms filled with military ammunition. Unfortunately, we can only imagine what’s inside as the secret tunnels are now closed to the public.
A balcony labelled the “Promenade” juts out of the hilltop and opens out onto a breathtaking view of the seaside and the park below.
From the platform, we can hopefully catch some raptors soaring overhead, such as the local resident Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)…
…or the winter migrant Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus).
Back down the hill, a scenic path leads us back to the main park area. We will pass by a pretty pond called the Dragonfly Pond, where dragonflies can be seen chasing one another round and round.
Across the pond is a large muddy field, where chances of spotting the migratory shorebirds are high. These birds fly thousands of kilometres from their breeding sites far north and head down south during the winter period from September to April.
Most of these migratory birds would congregate at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the Northwestern side of Singapore. But some may prefer a less crowded location and park themselves instead at the Labrador Nature Reserve.
The Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus) is one common migrant visitor who can often be seen foraging around in the field for juicy succulent earthworms.
The Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) is also another regular winter visitor frequently seen here.
The Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Pin-tailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura) and Swinhoe’s Snipe (Gallinago megala) are also migrant visitors here, and if we’re lucky we might spot one of these elusive creatures. It is quite challenging to identify these snipes, and especially difficult to differentiate between the Pin-tailed and Swinhoe’s snipes, unless he obliging enough to spread out his wings and show us his tail feathers.
The Pin-tailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura) can be identified by a series of 6-9 very narrow (<2mm) pin-like outer tail feathers (as seen in the photo below), which is not found on the other two snipes. Read more about how to identify these snipes here!
A regular sight in the main park area is the ever-growing family of Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus). These hilarious birds can often be observed doing the chicken dance while digging the ground for fodder. Sometimes we might even get a chance to be entertained by these funny fellas engaging in a cock fight.
When evening rolls around and roosting time approaches, they can be seen hesitantly and clumsily flapping up to their roosting sites in the trees.
On a good day, the glorious Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) may deign to make a dazzling appearance.
If not seen, their loud and nasal calls can sometimes be heard trumpeting through the park. Can’t imagine what that sounds like? Have a listen.
These audacious peacocks have the habit of strutting unabashedly in the middle of the road or even on the rooftops of cars.
For longer hiking route, we usually opt to make an expedition from Labrador Park to Keppel Island and back, making a 5-km round-trip trek.
The Bukit Chermin Boardwalk extends from the eastern end of Labrador Park and connects to the picturesque waterfront promenade beyond.
While strolling along the boardwalk at low tide, our favourite activity is to spy on the shorebirds that come to feast on the crustaceans buried in the sand. The shorebirds we have spotted here include the Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)…
…the Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)…
…and the Pacific Reef Heron (Egretta sacra).
Along the waterfront promenade, the classy condominiums just out prominently against the scenic marina backdrop.
Whenever we’re itching to get away from the mainland, we simply hop across the Keppel Bay Bridge and find ourselves on Keppel Island in the blink of an eye.
Fine dining in one of the upscale restaurants located within Marina at Keppel Bay may not always appeal to us, but we could head over to the tiny jetty at the western tip of Keppel Island for a breather and to take in the view of, Labrador Park, Sentosa and Mount Faber.
What better way to end the day than to settle down on a cozy spot by the waterfront and watch the sun slowly inch its way beyond the horizon.