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.
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?