Pasir Ris Park

Last Updated on 13 June 2022

Tucked away in the far east of Singapore is Pasir Ris Park, with a size that can rival the popular East Coast Park…

…but with less of the crowds and more of a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere.

Packed with amenities like barbeque pits, bicycle rental shops, camping sites, playgrounds, water sports facilities, and even a stable for pony and horse rides, Pasir Ris Park is no less happening for a weekend beach outing.

Simply taking a rest on a hammock and enjoying the sea breeze is another option worth considering.

Looking far out into the sea, we will see clusters of kelongs (offshore wooden platforms) floating on the waters. These are the floating fish farms, where the fresh seafood we eat in the restaurants are farmed.

The park is spacious and the paths lined with grand majestic rain trees, whose arching canopies afford much appreciated shade, especially on hot and sunny days.

The shady rain trees have become a playground for a variety of resident birds. As we walk under the shade of the trees, we often hear the strident laughter of the Collared Kingfishers (Todiramphus chloris) calling out playfully to one another.

If we stare hard into the rain trees, we just might spot the elusive Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu) hiding under the shade of the leaves and trying to snooze. This resident one-eyed owl of Pasir Ris Park is affectionately known as Jack to those who frequent the park.

The rain tree trunks are so invitingly packed with juicy bugs that a variety of woodpeckers can be regularly seen here, such as the Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense)

…the Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus)

…the Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus)

…and the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker (Yungipicus moluccensis).

While we were happily walking under the shade of the rain trees one day, we suddenly heard maniacal cackling coming from overhead. We looked up and saw a family of four Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) hopping around the branches.

Meanwhile on a neighbouring tree, a family of Spotted Wood Owls (Strix seloputo) were trying very hard to get some shut-eye.

But it would prove quite difficult to manage, what with all the ruckus coming from the hornbill party next door.

Nearby, a pair of Crested Goshawks (Accipiter trivirgatus) were swooping in and out of the rain trees looking for food to feed their hungry babies.

Further along the path, an inviting entrance beckoned us into a deep dark forest…

…and led us right into the heart of the mangrove forest.

As we proceeded along the mangrove boardwalk trail, we were surrounded by an alien-like landscape filled with strange mud mounds dotted with numerous holes.

From one of the educational boards planted along the boardwalk, we learned that these mud mounds were actually constructed by the industrious Mud Lobsters (Thalassina anomala). However, these mounds end up being home also to other smaller creatures who couldn’t be bothered to build their homes themselves…

…like the vinegar crabs (Episesarma spp.), who can be seen creeping surreptitiously into a hole as we approach.

Many of these crabs tend to be loners, hanging around the mud mounds by themselves…

…but there are others that prefer hanging out as a couple…

…and then there are the exhibitionists who enjoy displaying themselves at the top of the mound.

Scattered around the mangrove are numerous ice cream cone-like creatures. These are actually called the Rodong Snails or Horn Snails (Telescopium telescopium). They love to bury themselves in the mud, sucking up the detritus and whatever other gross stuff hiding in there.

If we look hard enough into the muddy mangrove water, we might spot a mudskipper crawling around in the mud. The Giant MudskipperĀ (Periophthalmodon schlosseri), one of the several mudskippers that can be seen here, is listed among the threatened animals of Singapore, mainly due to habitat loss.

With so many delicious crabs and other tasty crustacean treats, it is no wonder that the Mangrove Pitta (Pitta megarhyncha) has decided to move in and settle down here. The Mangrove Pitta is usually only found in offshore islands like Pulau Ubin, but a family of Mangrove Pittas have set up home here in the mangroves of Pasir Ris Park. If we look hard enough we might see one hopping around and picking crabs off the muddy mangrove floor.

Within the mangrove forest is a towering bird hide, at the top of which we are always very happy to indulge in our favourite activity – spying on the birds!

Some of the birds we managed to spot include the Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)

…the Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps)

…the Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius)

…the Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

…the Red-breasted Parakeets (Psittacula alexandri)

…the Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia)

…the Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus).

…the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

…the Changeable Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus)

…the Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes)

…and even rare birds like the Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

…and the Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea).

At the southern end of the park is a little pool of water, called Eco Pond. This has become one of our favourite places to sit, meditate, and observe the monitor lizards and waterhens going about their daily routine.

At certain times of the year, the Eco Pond will play host to the visiting Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), who comes over to Singapore during the migratory months for his winter holidays.

If we poke our noses into the thick vegetation next to the pond, we might be able to make out the shape of the Sunda Scops Owl (Otus lempiji) hiding amongst the leaves and attempting to get some sleep.

Wandering near the pond and the river, we are bound to see flocks of Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) setting up nestsĀ in the trees…

…or the Striated Heron (Butorides striata) skulking around the water.

There is also a high chance that we would spot a Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) or two, taking turns to dive into the river for fish.

The Tampines River (also known as Sungei Tampines) running through Pasir Ris Park may seem calm and unassuming, but what goes lurking beneath the water surface is probably more than meets the eye.

The family of Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) can regularly be spotted roaming the waters of Sungei Tampines. They are particularly adept at fishing and no fish is too big for them to handle.

At the river mouth, we were amused to observe a party of jellyfish swimming in the river. They appeared to be fighting against the flow of the water and insisting on swimming upstream. Blobs of various different sizes – big, medium, small, tiny – were all tirelessly pulsating their jelly heads and twitching their jelly legs as they propelled themselves up the river.

These delightful creatures are known as the Mangrove Jellyfish (Acromitus sp.), who are known to congregate near mangroves.

Swimming around the jellyfish are numerous elongated fish with a long needle-like beak and a luminous white tip. We later discovered that these are called the Striped-nosed Halfbeak or Buffon’s River Garfish (Zenarchopterus buffonis), commonly seen in shoals in our mangroves, rivers and other coastal areas.

There are so many things to see and so many trails to conquer in Pasir Ris Park, that we simply cannot explore it all in one day. We’ll just have to keep coming back, won’t we?