Tampines Eco Green

After our recent discovery of the eco marvel in the far west, Jurong Eco-Garden, we were delighted to stumble upon yet another eco gem in the far east.

Tampines Eco Green, with its rustic landscape of open grasslands, secondary forests and marshlands, is a sanctuary for flora and fauna and nature-lovers looking for a peaceful retreat. Teeming with over 75 species of birds, the eco park is every bird-watcher’s dream come true.

Before stepping into this nature wonderland, we first have to ensure that we familiarize ourselves with the many park rules.

Endeavouring to live up to its name, most of the structures erected within Tampines Eco Green, such as the park benches, signposts, and educational boards, are made of ecologically-friendly recycled materials…

…and everywhere we walk we are surrounded by huge swathes of green.

There are several colour-coded trails that we could tackle within the park – the 1.2-km Diversity Trail (yellow), the 1-km Forest Trail (orange), and the 0.8-km Marsh Trail (blue).

The best way, of course, is to conquer all the trails!

Fear not of getting lost! The numerous sign-posts will be our guide!

And when we get tired, rest stops will miraculously spring up before our very eyes.

Near the main entrance is an eco-toilet, which boasts of a non-flushing, water-less, chemical-free system that turns human waste into organic compost, using wood shavings to fuel decomposition and employing a continuous ventilation system to get rid of odour.

There’s no better way to find out whether the odour-ridding system works than to try it out yourself!

From experience, bird hides like these don’t seem to work for us. Instead, we prefer to get out there in the open, hunt down the birds ever so indiscreetly, and scope them out with our long obtrusive tool.

On good days, we might even stumble upon an unfamiliar face, like this photogenic Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster). Having been introduced into Singapore as immigrants via the bird trade, escapees have over time managed to breed successfully outside of captivity and established themselves into the local population.

Once a very common bird in Singapore before the 1970s, the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) had declined drastically in numbers due to poaching and loss of habitat. Efforts to re-introduce this species into the local bird population has seen its comeback in some parks and gardens.

Having first made the acquaintance of the Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus) in Jurong Eco-Garden, we were delighted to run into him again and discovered that he has made a home here at Tampines Eco Green.

We’d have expected woodpeckers to be found only on trees. So it is with much surprise and delight to catch a woodpecker on the ground foraging among the leaf litter. Apparently the Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus) has developed a particular liking for ground foraging.

The male Laced Woodpecker (above) wears a trendy red cap, while the female (below) prefers to don a dull and unexciting black cap.

The Red-breasted Parakeets (Psittacula alexandri), one of the most abundant species of parrots in Singapore, love to dominate the scene with their strident shrieks. Juveniles (below) can also be spotted around the area, attesting to their breeding success.

In a tree dominated by Red-breasted Parakeets, little would we have expected to see a Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda) fraternising with his enemies. He was probably trying to blend in, but that was a little difficult for someone looking so red in the face.

Not a local bird, the Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) can be spotted here during the winter months when he flies all the way from the far north to spend his winter holidays in sunny Singapore.

It is always gratifying to see the Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) feeding where he belongs – not in our hawker centres but in the forests.

From one of the many educational boards scattered around the park, we learnt that the snags (standing dead trees or branches) that we see all around us actually play an important role in supporting the biodiversity, as they function as perches for the birds to look for food or predators, or to build their nests in the tree cavities, or for aquatic animals to lay their eggs on, or to support decomposers such as insects and fungi.

For us, these snags simply serve as incredibly helpful props to snag a few good shots of the birds that love to perch on these protrusions.

Even the Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) cannot resist snagging a spot on one of these convenient perches for a mid-morning siesta.

Boasting of seven freshwater ponds, Tampines Eco Green has a healthy collection of water fauna such as fish, turtles, frogs, and dragonflies, as well as aquatic plants that provide food for these aquatic animals.

The White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) particularly loves to congregate at the pond for their picnic parties.

At that very same pond, we had the horror one morning of watching the Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) devour his prey!

First, he’d spear through the head of his prey, causing a mortal wound.

Next, he’d proceed to play with his food, tossing it here and flinging it there.

More or less satisfied that the fish has lost all will to fight and given up its life, he’d position it in his mouth just so.

And then take a final gulp.

How did it end for the fish? Watch it here.

Although proudly proclaiming to be the ideal location to observe the Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) up close, we unfortunately did not see any of these attractive birds. We vow to keep coming back to this birding wonderland till we find these beautiful hidden treasures!

The park can be accessed from one of several entrances along Tampines Avenue 12 or the park connector running along Tampines River.

There is, unfortunately, no carpark at the park, but parking can be easily found among the many HDB blocks. By public transport, the park is a pleasant 20-minutes walk from Tampines MRT station via Sun Plaza Park.