Monday, May 23, 2011

Admiralty Park

Bryan and I recently sat down and made a list of things that we want to make sure to do before we move away from Singapore. The list includes the Singapore Art Museum (check!), Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (tricky because it's only open during the day on weekdays), and lots of nature-y places that we haven't visited yet, like Admiralty Park!

On our day off work for Vesak Day, we decided to tackle something from the list, and after reading the NParks page on Admiralty Park, which claimed we might see OTTER, we picked that. Duh. It was nice for us, because we just walked to Jurong East MRT station, took the train to Woodlands, and then walked the short distance to the back entrance of Admiralty. Easy-peasy.
South entrance

The park was just thrumming with birdlife. We could her chirping and singing in the trees all around us, even before we'd ventured very far into the park. Of course, we were playing the lizard game too, so we were scouting for lizards as we were peering up into the trees to see if there were any unusual birds around.  We stopped near a small pond of lilypads to watch the birds for awhile. Bryan photographed a scaly-breasted munia in some tall grass while I watched the obnoxious mynas and cute little sunbirds in the trees.
Scaly-breasted munia
Female common iora, not being a cooperative subject for a photo!

The first part of the park was pretty manicured, like a town garden, but there's a path that follows a more natural area, and we took that path. It was peaceful in Admiralty and the whole time we were there, we only saw a handful of other people. In fact, we saw more monkeys than people! As we followed the path, we heard some crashing in the trees, and spotted a group of monkeys. They were obviously not as accustomed to people as the Bukit Timah monkeys, and looked warily at us. Most of them leaped away, and some of them jumped right into the stream. The trees were thick so it was difficult to observe them, but it was fun to listen to them catapulting into the water.
Shy monkey

At about the halfway-point of the circular trail, there's a small mangrove area. We stopped there for a few minutes, watching a collared kingfisher and a couple of fat mudskippers. It was neat to see the mangrove habitat, as there isn't a lot of mangrove left in Singapore, but Admiralty's mangrove was smaller and less impressive than the bigger mangrove areas at Sungei Buloh and Pulau Ubin.
Collared kingfisher

The sky was getting a little dark so we didn't linger long, pushing ahead to the next half of the trail. We'd only gone a few steps when Bryan stopped us. He'd made an excellent sighting- a green crested lizard, super high in a tree. I don't know how he managed to see it from so far away! He must have really been wanting to beat me at the lizard game.
Green crested lizard

The green crested lizard got us discussing the lizard game, which Bryan and I play pretty much every time we walk outside, often resulting in us pointing and shouting "THERE'S ONE!" and looking like fools to people who have no idea what we're doing. Usually whoever spots the most lizards by the end of the day wins, but as we walked along the trail that day, we agreed that whoever spots a snake trumps the winner of the lizard game. About 2 minutes after agreeing on the rule modification, we stopped along the trail, debating about putting away the camera, since the sky was looking more and more ominous. As we stood there, I glimpsed something a little off about a sapling next to us. "SNAAAKE!" It was just a little guy, a skinny painted bronzeback...but it was enough to win me the game! Bryan couldn't believe I'd gotten so lucky, but naturally I chalked it up to my mad wildlife-spotting skills. As we watched, the snake jumped out of the tree and slithered away through the tall grass. Bronzebacks of several varieties (painted, striped, elegant, red-necked) are common in Singapore so this wasn't a super unusual sighting, but snakes are always exciting for us.
The painted bronzeback is common and non-venomous

Just as the snake disappeared into the grass, the skies opened up and delivered the rain that had been threatened for the past hour. It was a torrential downpour. Bryan quickly tugged out our umbrellas and I stood sideways, holding both umbrellas to shield the camera as Bryan stowed it in the backpack. It took him about 30 seconds but by the time he was done, one side of me was soaked all the way through. The side facing away from the rain was still freakishly dry. But about a minute of walking into the rain solved that, and Bryan and I were both thoroughly drenched. Eventually we found shelter and sat out the worst of the storm with some laborers who'd been planting trees. It was one of the bigger storms I've ever been caught outside for, but it wasn't as bad as the storm we endured at Sungei Buloh.
Weathering the storm at Admiralty

When the rain died down a little, we headed out of the park and sloshed our way back to the MRT. I think we both felt a little defeated, going home early and soaking wet, but even so, it was a nice day off work! AND I won the game!

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