Serangoon Reservoir

On a restless Sunday afternoon while nursing an itching butt, we thought it might be a good time to take a lazy stroll along the Serangoon Park Connector that winds along Serangoon River and eventually leads to Serangoon Reservoir and Lorong Halus.

Thinking that it was going to be a boring walk along the PCN, we were surprised to meet several old friends, one of whom was the Striated Heron (Butorides striata) out for a hunt.

Also lurking around the river bank was the White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus), another familiar face around our water bodies.

The forested area on the opposite bank is amazingly teeming with birds and other wildlife. We could hear all the hustle and bustle as birds swooped in and out of trees. We were itching to join them….if only we could find a way to swim across the river.

Trundling along the PCN, something white and furry hidden among the bushes suddenly caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, we realized that it was a sleeping Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax).

These are nocturnal herons, and they usually come out to play at night. Which is why we had never seen them before. And that explained why I got so excited. So excited I couldn’t help squealing. And my squealing must have woken the night heron up, and he promptly gave me the evil eye.

To add to the excitement, we soon found out that there were not just one, but many of these night herons trying to catch some Z’s! Big ones, small ones, and even baby ones! The babies are brown and streaky, with bright round button eyes, and they look so cute and cuddly.

Not often caught lounging around, a family of Pacific Swallows (Hirundo tahitica) happened to be resting on a metal support and watching the world go by.

They were in such a friendly mood, one even consented to a close up portrait.

Other birds we managed to catch with our spy cam include the Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps)

…the Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)

…and the Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos).

A walk along one of Singapore’s rivers is never complete without saying hello to the Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), a common resident of our waters.

If we keep walking on and on, we will quite likely find ourselves at Lorong Halus Wetland.

If not for the helpful information boards at Lorong Halus Wetland, spouting facts about how Serangoon Reservoir was formed – by damming up the mouth of Serangoon River –  we never would have known about the existence of these new reservoirs that help boost our water supply.

Before Lorong Halus Wetland was built in 2011, the area was actually a sewage disposal facility, piling high with all our waste and refuse. After Serangoon Reservoir was constructed, the landfill area at Lorong Halus had to undergo a transformation from wasteland to wetland. The vegetation here became part of the water treatment process to help treat the leachate before it flows into the reservoir.

Surrounded by tall luscious reeds dancing in the wind, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to catch a bird or two dancing in the reeds.

One permanent resident of the wetland is the Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach), who seemed very welcoming, greeting visitors as they entered his home.

We were kept entertained watching him enjoying his meal. At first, he seemed pretty contented chewing on grass. Sometime later, he managed to snag a juicy lizard and took his time savouring his tasty treat, while we took our time observing him.

Within the forested area surrounding the wetland, we chanced upon a peaceful pond…

…in which a Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) was caught frolicking.

Not to be confused with the duck, the Little Grebe is a small water bird with a pointed bill and lobed feet that are placed near the back of its body. That makes him a clumsy walker, but an excellent swimmer and diver. We were privileged to watch him perform a few dives for our benefit.

While engrossed in Little Grebe’s little performance, we didn’t realize until much later that a colony of weavers had set up nests all around the Little Grebe pond.

We were surprised to see many bright yellow birds pottering about their neatly-built nests.

These are the Golden-backed Weavers (Ploceus jacksoni), an exotic African species that had only recently been introduced into Singapore, but seems to be doing very well, judging from the number of nests and birds that we see in the area.

Just nearby, we spotted yet another party of Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) hanging around in the bushes. Named for their talent at weaving intricate funnel-shaped hanging nests, the Baya Weaver is a common resident species in Singapore.

We had been attempting to meet these cute fellas for the longest time, searching in places like Tampines Eco Green and Kranji Marshes but never succeeding in finding them. Little did we know that the wonderful forest in Lorong Halus has actually been harbouring a colony of Baya Weavers.

The male Baya Weaver has a prominent yellow crown…

…which is somehow an attractive feature that appeals to the female Baya Weaver.

Also a permanent resident of Lorong Halus Wetland is the Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster), and large numbers of them can be seen consorting with the weavers, sometimes hanging out on the same branch.

Just as dusk was about to descend upon us, a pair of Pied Trillers (Lalage nigra) appeared out of nowhere and flew into a tree in front of us, before flitting away together into the sunset.

To round off our walk, a family of wild boars (Sus scrofa) emerged from the forest and came out to greet us before we bid them goodbye.

From Lorong Halus, it is just a short walk to Coney Island. Join us on our next expedition to explore Coney Island!