Wednesday, 14 April 2010

NSS Kids’ Fun with Migratory Birds and Wildlife at Ubin

By Gloria Seow, Education Group Chairperson
Photos by Lena Chow and Moira Khaw

Some 20 kids and their parents enjoyed a balmy morning of bird and wildlife watching on the idyllic island of Pulau Ubin on 20 February 2010. From the get-go, sightings materialised at a fast and furious pace. At the Ubin jetty itself, we got to peer closely at the blue-and-rufous plumage of the Pacific Swallow, the azure feathers of the Collared Kingfisher, the bobbing tail of the Common Sandpiper and the waving red pincers of tiny fiddler crabs.
The Oriental Pied Hornbill was undoubtedly the star bird of our trip.

Just off the jetty, Auntie Gloria spied the distinctive profile of a Peregrine Falcon soaring above. This migrant raptor then landed high up on a radio tower where it perched for many long minutes, affording us good views through the scope. Kids learnt that the Peregrine is the fastest bird alive, diving at speeds of up to 390 km/h into one of the wings of prey flying below. The broken wing sends the injured bird tumbling out of the sky, making a delicious meal for the peerless Peregrine.



Handy binoculars enlarge sightings by 8 to 10 times!

Even while taking a toilet break, two Oriental Pied Hornbills flew in to join the falcon on the same radio tower, sending everybody into an excited frenzy. We were to encounter these charismatic hornbills many more times during our walk. Oriental Pied Hornbills are uncommon residents on mainland Singapore. However, there is a thriving population of about 30 birds living and breeding in Ubin and Changi Village.


Auntie Gloria led the walking safari of Ubin’s bird and wild life.

Strolling along, we pointed out a kampong house made of wood and zinc. Later in the tour, somebody spotted a well where people still draw water from. The children saw for themselves the simplicity of life on Ubin, where amenities we take for granted, such as tap water and electricity, are considered luxuries here.


Adorable mudskippers littered the mangrove mudflats.

The sweet song of the Straw-headed Bulbul, Singapore’s famed avian songster, serenaded us as we wended forward through the countryside. Kids were wowed by the humongous Golden Orb Web Spider that sat on a giant web above our heads. Pink-necked Green Pigeons, White-vented Mynas, Common Mynas and Asian Glossy Starlings feasted at a fruiting tree. The little ones giggled at the antics of the numerous mudskippers littering the mangrove mudflats. Here, we witnessed a Little Heron catch and swallow a wriggling fish. Other swimmers like the Halfbeak and Archer Fish added to the list of sightings. Suddenly, Auntie Gloria caught sight of three hornbills winging towards us. Most fortuitously, two of these giant black-and-white birds landed on a ‘botak’ tree right in front of us, giving all jaw-dropping views. Two Long-tailed Macaques (also known as Crab-eating Macaques) were seen foraging at the mangroves, possibly for crabs.

Two Peaceful Doves (also known as Zebra Doves) sitting peaceably on the dirt path just metres from us.

Towards the end of our walk, we felt lucky to encounter two Peaceful Doves (also known as Zebra Doves), sitting peaceably on the dirt path just five meters ahead of us. Kids watched inquisitively as Scaly-breasted Munias explored for grass seeds, while Yellow-vented Bulbuls flitted from tree to tree. The trip concluded at the colourful NSS Green Hub @ Ubin located in the middle of Ubin town, which has paintings of hornbills and other Ubin wildlife decorating its fa├žade. Here, we held a quiz on the various sightings encountered, with doggy prizes handed out for correct answers. We would like to thank Uncle Timothy, Uncle Benjamin, Auntie Lena and Auntie Mabel for assisting in wildlife spotting.


Kids were eager beavers when it came to quiz time!















Tuesday, 6 April 2010

NSS Kids’ Fun with Butterflies at Changi Airport T3

This activity is open to NSS members only.
Date: 25 April 2010, Sunday
Time: 9.30 am to 11.30 am
Venue: Changi Airport Terminal 3
Closing Date: 14 April 2010

Do you know that the world's first butterfly garden in an airport is right here at Changi Airport Terminal 3? Located at the Transit Mall, this nature retreat is home to nearly 50 butterfly species native to Singapore and Malaysia, boasting more than 1,000 free-flying beauties. The garden has educational corners as well as individual enclosures where visitors can observe up close the breeding and feeding of butterflies. If you are lucky, you might even witness butterflies leaving their pupae! Gan and Simon of the Butterfly Interest Group will guide us. Limited to 16 places with priority given to NSS Kids between 4 to 12 years old. Depending on availability, parents may or may not be able to accompany your kids into the garden.

Particulars needed by Changi Airport (of parents and all children): a) Full Name as in NRIC/FIN, b) Gender, c) Race, d) Nationality, e) Country of Birth, f) Date of Birth (DD/MM/YY), g) Home/Company Address, h) Handphone Number, i) NSS membership number. Please email these particulars to Gloria at gloria_seow@yahoo.com. Closing date: 15 April 2010. A fee of $5 per participant (members only) will be collected on the spot. Please note that the date for this walk can only be confirmed after SATS police approve of the participant list. We will email you to confirm this, and to provide further details.