Monday, 12 January 2009

NSS Kids’ Perfect 10 Ramble @ Admiralty Park

Watch the NSS Kids' Admiralty Park Ramble on Ecoplanet Internet TV, a newly-launched environmental channel on On the main page, simply click the 'Most Popular' link and look for the entry 'Eco Planet: Nature Ramblings'.

By Benjamin Ho, Nature Ramblers and Gloria Seow, Education Group Chairperson

The atmosphere was full of excitement as a group of young naturalists gathered on 22 November 2008 for the NSS Kids’ Perfect 10 Ramble at the newly-opened Admiralty Park, a garden-cum-mangrove habitat that is just a stone’s throw from Woodlands MRT station. This first-ever collaboration between the Nature Ramblers and the Education Group filled a niche for nature walks conducted at a kid’s pace and level of understanding.

Binoculars and notebooks enhanced the outdoor learning experience.

Led by Uncle Benjamin, and assisted by butterfly man Uncle Simon and his wife Auntie Jing Ling, together with the sharp eyes of Uncle Timothy and Auntie Gloria, we aimed to show our young charges 10 species of birds, 10 species of butterflies, 10 species of plants and 10 species of everything else that lives and breathes in the park’s gorgeous setting.

A sting bug with its cache of eggs.

“You must keep very quiet as you approach the animals,” Uncle Benjamin gently reminded. Armed with brand-new Opticron binoculars recently purchased by the Education Group, as well as souvenir notebooks and pens, the kids were given a quick lesson on how to use the 8x zoom “bins” and how to jot down nature observations, including making quick sketches of all creatures great and small.

The bridge across Sungei Cina, where mangrove plants, mudskippers, and crab-eating Long-tailed Macaques can be seen.

With parents in tow, the children eagerly ambled through the park, and very soon, we were tip-toeing towards a Changeable Lizard basking itself on a tree trunk. Uncle Simon then found a bush filled with Malayan Eggfly steadfastly guarding their cache of butterfly eggs. Only upon close scrutiny did the kids spot the numerous colourful sting bugs that surrounded the pond area. The enthusiasm of the young ones was apparent as they faithfully scanned their surroundings for any movements and opened their ears for any sounds. A chorus of wows were heard each time we spotted anything interesting, and slowly, the kids filled their notebooks with the names of the various bird, butterfly, insect, spider, animal and plant species encountered.

We spotted a Malayan Water Monitor Lizard basking on the muddy river banks and later swimming in a crocodile-like fashion.

As we strolled along Sungei Cina (China River) that is part of the park, we pointed out several mangrove plants such as the Nipah Palm, which gives us the ice-kachang staple attap chee, beautiful sea hibiscus and prickly sea hollies. Several adventurous participants popped the yellow petals of the Simpoh Air flower into their mouths, one of the many uses for this hardy common plant. The group was treated to high-level acrobatics performed by several crab-eating and mangrove-dwelling Long-tailed Macaques. The ramble ended with a pop quiz by Auntie Gloria, where five questions related to the morning’s sightings were asked, and prizes dished out for correct answers.

All this while, the friendly folks from the new Eco Planet Internet TV Channel had been filming us in action. This programme will be telecast online soon.
Little Tristan's notebook was filled with the names and drawings of the various wildlife encountered. Photo by Tan Sze Wei.

Tristan's dad Tan Sze Wei has also done up a photo essay of the walk at his own blog at

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