Springleaf Nature Park, newly opened in 2014, is a small park with a walking trail traversing along Sungei Seletar, a canal that eventually spills out onto Lower Seletar Reservoir.
For its size (a mere 6 ha), Springleaf Nature Park boasts an impressive biodiversity of over 80 species of resident and migratory birds, owing to its proximity to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Parking is available at the park entrance, and is chargeable by the minute. If hunting for free parking is one of your hobbies, ample free parking can be found around the area.
Before we embark on our walk, educational boards pop up all over the park entrance, feeding us with history of the early settlers and the Chan Chu Kang village that once occupied the area.
With a deep and wide canal packed with loads of water creatures, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see something pop up from the water once in a while.
Being the crazy bird-lovers that we are, the first location that we’d make a beeline for is of course the Bird Watch, standing out on the park map so alluringly.
With a picturesque canal and a thick luscious forest surrounding the park, it’s no wonder that the birds choose to flock here.
The tiny “Bird Watch” was a bit of a disappointment though – we might as well be watching birds out on the open walkway.
But the board under the little bird hide did provide a good sneak preview of the colourful birds that we could hope to spot while venturing around the park.
We didn’t really need a bird hide after all. Birds of all shapes and sizes could be seen flitting around the trees everywhere we walked, including the ubiquitous Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis).
The Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) is also a resident of the park. Although shy and elusive, their loud cheep-cheep-cheep calls can be heard emanating from the bushes, and if we’re lucky one of them might decide to emerge from the bush and peek out at us.
Another common resident of the park, the White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) can be seen surveying the canal on the lookout for fresh fish and other tasty treats.
Once he catches something, he can be heard smacking his prey violently on the metal railing with a loud “thunk…thunk…thunk”…
…and in a blink of an eye (or a camera shutter), his prey disappears into his tummy.
After a satisfying meal, it is always good to clean up after oneself.
As we walk along the canal, we might spot the Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus ichthyaetus), who is known to frequent the park and likes to sit perched high up in a tree sweeping the area with his eagle eye.
The Grey-headed Fish Eagle is an uncommon resident in Singapore, and globally classified as Near Threatened, due to habitat loss, pollution and over-fishing.
As this majestic raptor swooped and landed atop a tall tree branch, all the smaller birds perching on the surrounding trees immediately flew away in one synchronized display.
It has been said that when swallows fly low, it is a sign of inclement weather because the insects that they feed on tend to seek the shelter of trees and buildings when the weather gets wet and cold.
It is a very common sight to see swallows flying overhead looking like black shapes, but not so easy to catch one perching. Yet along the canal, we managed to catch not just one but two Pacific Swallows (Hirundo tahitica) perching on a protrusion under the bridge, finally revealing their true colours.
While we were bounding along the park trail, the loud and shrill calls of the Common Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa) could be heard echoing through the park as a group of them were singing and dancing from branch to branch.
The Common Hill Myna is known to produce a wide variety of sounds, ranging from whistles to gurgles to screeches and wails. They are also known to be able to mimic human voices and melodies, somewhat like a parrot!
At the end of the Springleaf Park Connector, across the main road (Lentor Avenue), is the start of the Lower Seletar Reservoir Park, and there at the junction we can catch a glimpse of the clear blue waters of the reservoir.
While waterweed was being cleared at the reservoir one day, the herons and egrets were having a field day.
Strangely, they seemed to be having lots of fun frolicking on the weed mound that was being collected and piled up in a large container.
These funny birds were particularly enjoying the exhilarating ride on the water tractor while it was out collecting weeds, like how we’d enjoy a ride in a theme park.
If the mere 3-km jaunt up and down the canal path in Springleaf Nature Park is not satisfying enough, an extended excursion could be made by hiking to Lower Seletar Reservoir Park, or even to Upper Seletar Reservoir Park via Mandai Road, for a 8-km round-trip.