Lakeside Garden

Although we are sad to see the Chinese and Japanese Gardens closed for redevelopment works until 2021, we could hardly contain our excitement when we heard that the Lakeside Garden – a new section of the Jurong Lake Gardens – had recently opened its doors in April 2019.

Lakeside Garden can be easily reached from Lakeside MRT station, or public buses 49 and 154. Two car parks are accessible from Yuan Ching Road and chargeable by the minute (standard HDB rates). But free parking is available from 6.30 to 8.30am daily!

To enjoy free parking, we’ll have to drag ourselves out of bed in the wee hours of the morning so that we can get to the Garden at 6.30am.

Yaaawn!

I know, right?

And so, bright and early, we set off for our morning hike around the Garden…

…enjoying the wonderful lakeside views along the way.

While getting our healthy dose of exercise, we managed to also pick up little nuggets of information from the educational boards planted all around the Garden. For example, we didn’t know that Jurong Lake is actually a man-made reservoir formed by the damming of Jurong River, contributing to our country’s water supply.

With abundance of water everywhere, it wouldn’t be surprising to find a White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) creeping up on us at every turn of the corner.

When the season is right, we might even be able to experience the pretty sakura-like flowers in bloom.

Whichever season we choose to visit, love is always in the air!

Everywhere we go, we see couples enjoying a lovey-dovey time.

Even though Chinese Garden is no longer accessible at the moment, we can still admire the prominent Twin Pagodas jutting out into the water…

…and the gleaming 13-arch White Rainbow Bridge arching over the lake. The bridge was built to resemble the style of the 17-arch bridge at the summer palace in Beijing.

Strewn all over the Garden are tall arching trees that provide much welcomed shade, not only for us…

…but also for the resident birds.

Often well hidden amongst the tree foliage is the Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia), a dainty yellow bird with a beautiful singing voice.

The Pied Imperial Pigeons (Ducula bicolor) particularly love to hang out in the berry-bearing trees and engage in a fruit feeding frenzy.

Once introduced as free-ranging birds in Jurong Bird Park, these prolific birds seem to be thriving in the wild and can now be spotted at various locations in Singapore. We’ve seen a bunch of them in Jurong Eco Garden, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, here in Jurong Lake Gardens, and even downtown in Orchard Road!

When the many ficus trees planted within the Garden are fruiting, we are bound to spot all kinds of bird species hanging around these trees and indulging in a feast. We were fascinated one day to observe the Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogon haemacephalus) flying in and out of one of these ficus trees.

The Pied Triller (Lalage nigra) was also flitting around in the tree, enjoying the juicy ficus fruits.

Whenever the caterpillars start to infest these ficus trees, we’ll see a variety of cuckoos swarm the trees feasting on caterpillars, such as the Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus)

…the Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris)

…and the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo (Cacomantis sepulcralis). The juvenile and some of the adult female Rusty-breasted Cuckoos have whitish underparts with blackish barrings…

…while the adult males have a greyish head and peachy-rufous underparts.

A resident parrot species that we often hear flitting through our urban parks and gardens but don’t often see is the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (Loriculus galgulus).

Though bright and colourful, they are not easy to spot because they are so tiny and are often perched high up in the trees. You can hence imagine our elation when we spotted a couple of Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots at close-range, decimating the leaves of a guava tree in Lakeside Garden.

At first, we thought that it was munching on the guava leaves.

But on closer inspection, it was actually tucking the torn-off leaf pieces into its plumage to use as nesting material!

This behaviour is actually known to be common among small parrot species such as hanging parrots. They have been observed to gather the leaves of fruit trees such as the mango or guava trees, and stuff them into their feathers to bring back to their nests.

This method allows them to carry more nesting material compared to holding them in their beaks like many other birds do. What an ingenious bird!

Other resident birds we regularly encounter here at Lakeside Garden include the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis)

…the Malaysian Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica)

…the Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus rifuceps)

…the Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri)

…the Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu)

…the Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

…and many species of kingfishers.

The Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis), a stocky and colourful bird, is hard to miss when he darts in and out of the trees and swoops in and out of the lake to catch fish.

He often perches for long periods of time and watches the water intensely, before he decides to swoop in for the kill. That gives us the chance to watch him intensely and snag pictures of him on the sly.

During the winter migratory season, many visiting birds head toward Jurong Lake Gardens and make this wonderland their home for the holidays.

Some of the migratory birds that frequent the gardens include the Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)

…the Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis)

…the Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis)

…the Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

…the Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

…the Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)

…the Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)

…the Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea)

…the Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans)

…the Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis)

…the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

…and even migratory raptors, like the Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus).

Sometimes a swarm of migratory Daurian Starlings (Agropsar sturninus) may make their way to the Garden, mingle with our resident Asian Glossy Starlings and feast in the same trees.

One of our favourite places to hang out in Lakeside Garden is the Grasslands…

…because that is where we can stalk the grass birds!

With several bird hides scattered around the Grasslands, we might have a better chance of spotting the sneaky birds that skulk around in the tall grass…

…such as the Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

…the Javan Munia (Lonchura leucogastroides)

…the Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla)

…the Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis)

…the Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus)

…and the Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis).

We frequently hear the Zitting Cisticola going “zit zit zit zit” as he flies above our heads, but trying to spot him is not so easy as this restless bird just won’t stop zipping around.

In the Grasslands, it would be quite difficult to miss the striking Lone Tree that stands tall amongst the grasses. If we didn’t chance upon the information board planted in front of the tree, we wouldn’t have realized that it is actually a sculpture, made of recycled iron pieces scavenged from old park pathways.

We weren’t the only ones. Even the birds are fooled into thinking that they are perching on a real tree branch.

If we ever get bored stalking the birds, we could pop over to the shallow pond located at the edge of the Grasslands to stalk the dragonflies.

Many species of colourful dragonflies can be spotted here, such as the Common Scarlet (Crocothemis servilia)

…and his not so scarlet female partner.

An interesting boardwalk trail to explore is the Rassau Walk that meanders through clusters of freshwater swamp plants, and overlooks the lake with scenic views.

While sitting on one of the benches along Rassau Walk, we happily spied on a majestic Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) perching on the opposite shore. He seemed very comfortable lording over the area with his regal presence.

Moments later, a crow boldly entered the scene. A standoff between Kite and Crow ensued. Crow stood his ground, Kite conceded defeat and flew away, leaving Crow to take over his perch.

Feeling a little unsettled by Kite’s defeat, we quickly wrapped up our Rassau Walk and skipped over to Heron Island, in gleeful anticipation of spotting some of the many species of herons known to live here.

We conveniently plonked our butts on one of the deck chairs and proceeded to lie in wait for a heron to appear.

If we wait long enough, a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) or two will surely make an appearance. If not at Heron Island, then they’ll most likely be sauntering along somewhere else in the Garden or hanging out in the lake.

These Grey Herons have managed to build their colony and establish a stronghold in Jurong Lake Gardens. We had previously observed a thriving heronry over in Japanese Garden, and flocks of them can frequently be seen commanding the skies.

With an abundance of fish swimming in the lake, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to bump into the Smooth-coated Otters enjoying a fresh sashimi buffet in the lake…

…or rolling around in the sand by the lakeside.

There is so much ground to cover and so many things to explore in Lakeside Garden. We will have to keep coming back and attempt to spot more of its resident birds and wildlife.