Upper Peirce Reservoir Park

Upper Peirce Reservoir Park is like a green oasis right in the middle of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Bordered by one of the oldest reservoirs in Singapore, the park is surrounded by lush greenery as far as the eye can see.

One day, we chanced upon a connecting route from Windsor Nature Park to Upper Peirce Reservoir Park along the Singapore Island Country Club’s Public Access Trail. We figured, why not give it a try?
Map from Nparks website

So, off we went, starting from Windsor Nature Park (at Venus Drive), following Squirrel Trail, then Drongo Trail, until we hit the fork in the path that says, “This way to Upper Peirce!”.

The paved pathway meandered alongside the Singapore Island Country Club…

…treating us to some sweet views of the sprawling golf course the entire way.

As we sauntered along, we stumbled upon a troupe of Long-tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis) – big ones, not so big ones, and some baby ones – sprawled all over the path, just chilling out like they own the place. Practising our monkey eye-contact avoidance technique, we made it past the gang without any trouble.

Pretty soon, we caught our first glimpses of the reservoir waters peeking through the dense forest.

As we continued, the thick foliage gradually thinned out into small shrubs, granting us satisfying vistas of the Upper Peirce Reservoir.

The rest of the way was a delightful stroll along the edge of the reservoir on one side and the golf course on the other.

By the water’s edge, we caught sight of a lone Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), doing his usual comical up-and-down tail bobbing while poking around the rocks for food.

The shrubs lining the trail was a perfect stage for the dragonflies to perch and show off their flashy outfits in between dances. One of the standout performers we stopped to admire was the Dancing Dropwing (Trithemis pallidinervis), with its elegant long legs and mesmerising moves.

Continuing along the trail…

…the dam of the Upper Peirce Reservoir soon came into view.

Alongside the footpath, a line of flowering bushes added a pop of colour to the scene.

In bloom were the Mempelas (Tetracera indica)…

…the Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)…

…and the very aptly named Flaming Beauty (Paracarphalea kirondron).

Gazing into the calm waters of the reservoir, we were startled by the sudden flapping of wings. To our amazement, a Grey-headed Fish-Eagle (Icthyophaga ichthyaetus) had landed on the rocks at the water’s edge, and stood there for a long while looking as still as a statue.

The loud cackling of a Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) suddenly caught our attention. After a quick search, we found it perched on a branch, a bright blob of blue, orange and red looking like a nonya kueh on a stick.

Walking out from Upper Peirce Reservoir Park, we slowly made our way via the long and winding Old Upper Thomson Road. Flanked by towering rainforest trees, the road was alive with vibrant birds and other resident wildlife.

Our gaze was drawn to a large, long-tailed silhouette flying across the road. Craning our necks as far as they could go, we spotted a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus) perched at the crown of the tallest tree, looking all comical with his bright red eye patch and almond-shaped bill. Our joy was multiplied when we discovered that there weren’t just one, but two Malkohas! They soon rejoined each other and flew off into the depths of the forest.

Other resident forest birds that we heard or saw during our few visits to Upper Peirce included the Blue-winged Leafbird, Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Straw-headed Bulbul, Plaintive Cuckoo, Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, as well as a couple of Common Emerald Doves (Chalcophaps indica), foraging by the side of the road. We were glad to spend a whole minute observing the doves feeding, before a passing truck came by and startled them away.

On one occasion, we were drawn to the gentle rhythmic calls of a juvenile Red-crowned Barbet (Psilopogon rafflesii), who looked like he had just fledged. Watching him hop around a fruiting tree, snacking on berries, we couldn’t help but wonder where his parents were – maybe off somewhere feeling the empty nest blues.

There are various ways to explore Upper Peirce Reservoir and its surrounding forests, one of which is this epic 9.5-kilometre loop around the reservoir via the country club access trail.

A hike along the main roads winding in and out of the reservoir park could also make for an exciting jaunt, while uncovering the hidden treasure trove of the nature reserve’s most elusive forest birds.