A Strange Thing Has Happened

Yet another insomniac out on the loose. My mind is flitting from task to task – finishing up an article for work, worrying myself silly over whether our Samsung fridge is the right choice, and researching accommodations for our belated honeymoon in Italy. Amid all this, I find myself looking forward to our birdwatching outing tomorrow.

Blue-throated bee eater, Hindhede Walk

How the tide has turned! When I started accompanying Marcus on these amateur trips, it was either with bemusement or a grudging acceptance of this strange hobby. I didn’t want to end up the unsupportive girlfriend who found no joy in her boyfriend’s strange indulgences, but the reality is that Singapore is very hot and sometimes a girl just doesn’t want to sweat, okay?

But as I “collect” an increasing number of colourful birds, I have developed a growing appreciation for the amazing wildlife that, like us, call this urban city their home.

Take for example, the oriental pied hornbill. It disappeared from our shores in the 1800s but has slowly made a comeback – there are 100 of them today, and they were also the subject of DPM Tharman’s New Year’s Eve post last year. Before this whole birdwatching thing, I had always thought the hornbill was a toucan, and that it was an exotic bird! But I have seen them a couple of times now, with the most memorable occasion beginning with my neighbour rushing into our house that a beautiful bird was at her balcony.

I also find the birding community to be extremely generous with their time and forthcoming with their help. Marcus and I are complete noobs at this, and often we realise that something important is around only when we see a bunch of uncles with their zoom lenses out in full force.

They have always been kind enough to tell us what to look out for, and why they are so special. Some of them have lent us equipment, showed us videos or photos so we can better spot the bird, and even given us a mini primer about the animal.

We took the above photo at the Botanic Gardens a couple of weeks ago, where we accidentally discovered that the band-bellied crake had made an unusual trek all the way down south to our sunny island. Its last recorded sighting here was in 2008!

But more important than appreciating biodiversity is the chance for us to bond more closely. I take pride that this is our activity now. We still eat out and do our foodie thing, and watch the occasional movie / Netflix serial. But birdwatching is our chance to get away from the city, pause and take in our surroundings, hold each other’s hand and delight in the creatures big and small – cos He has created them all.

Striated heron

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