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 familiarise ourselves with the many park rules.
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 even the toilet is eco-friendly! It contains 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.
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 plan, of course, is to conquer all the trails!
We were instantly drawn to one of several bird hides, where we could sneak up on unsuspecting birds and scope them out with our long obtrusive tool.
From behind one of these hides, we were delighted to spy on the Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus) and observe him digging up insects from the tree bark.
Also frequently seen flitting from tree to tree is the Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus). The male Laced Woodpecker dons a trendy red cap…
…while the female prefers to put on an unassuming black cap.
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 many parks and gardens.
Not a local bird, the Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus) 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.
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 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.
When breeding season comes along, the Baya Weavers (Ploceus philippinus) will be actively building and refurbishing their nests, getting ready for the next generation.
Interestingly, the male Baya Weavers are the ones tirelessly and painstakingly weaving their nests…
…while the female Baya Weavers hang around and wait for the males to build the nests, before coming to inspect and see which nest is more to her liking.
We might even spot some of the non-native exotic weavers that have been introduced here through the pet bird trade, such as the Asian Golden Weaver (Ploceus hypoxanthus). Bright yellow with a black mask, these weavers will be difficult to miss when they flit around in the grassland.
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.
At one of these ponds, we had the honour 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.
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.