Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dairy Farm Nature Park

Nope, Bryan and I have not yet run out of new nature places to visit in Singapore. This weekend we headed to Dairy Farm Nature Park. As its name implies, Dairy Farm hasn't always been a pristine nature area. Previously a farm (duh), it was opened in 2009 as a nature area that serves as a green buffer for Bukit Timah, the largest remaining patch of primary rainforest in Singapore.
Trails at Dairy Farm and Bukit Timah

I didn't really know what to expect of the new nature park. Because it's opened somewhat recently, I thought it might have an overly manicured feel, but its connection to BTNR made me think that it might have been populated by neat wildlife that had made its way over from the more mature forest. I was pleasantly surprised- Dairy Farm had nice trails and was much less crowded than more popular Bukit Timah, which was a good change of pace. Unfortunately one of the park's highlights, the Singapore Quarry, is closed for landscaping until September 10th. Instead of going that way, we headed the other direction, toward the Wallace Education Centre. There were lots of pretty plants along the way, some of which we'd never seen before.
Creamsicle-colored flowers
Looks like a pineapple!
Iridescent morning glories

We took a side path called the Wallace Trail, which had intermittent sign posts with information about Alfred Russell Wallace, a naturalist and contemporary of Darwin. Wallace was a bit overshadowed by Darwin, but made many important contributions to natural science himself. He also made a trip to Southeast Asia, where he stopped off in Singapore and braved the tiger-ridden jungle to catalog the species he found here. Apparently while here he also developed a deep and abiding love for the durian. Scientists are a pretty strange bunch.

When we came out the end of Wallace Trail, we found...(drum roll please)...AN ABANDONED BUILDING!!! YAY!!! The building looked pretty rickety and unstable, which is probably why NParks had taken the precaution of roping it off and posting an intimidating sign. It was also the only abandoned building I've ever seen with a beautifully maintained garden.
I just wanna fix it up and move in!
Front of the building
Back of the building...maybe a chicken shed?

The garden outside the house was full of blooming, vibrant flowers, chirping birds, and colorful butterflies.
(I think...) A female brown-throated sunbird
Fuzzy purple plant
Pink dragonfly!

After exploring the abandoned building as well as we could without breaking any laws, we moved on to the Wallace Education Centre. The Centre is an old cowshed that was converted to an educational facility when the nature park was opened. It had lots of info about Wallace himself, but more importantly, it had giant replicas of cows!
Yay cows! Made us Midwestern kids feel right at home. Also, the cow is kind of an honorary mascot of my alma mater.

When we walked outside, we saw a bunch of people standing around, staring into the bushes. We went over to see what they were looking at and saw...holy crap!!! A lizard eating another lizard!! It was pretty creepy- the little one struggled for a few minutes before finally being conquered, then the big lizard just gulped the little one down in a few huge gulps until all that was left was a tail sticking out of his mouth. Ick.
Ahhhh! Weird! The big one is a young water monitor and the unfortunate little one is a changeable lizard.

Once we'd been thoroughly eked out by the reptile predation, we moved on. We decided to go ahead and make the hike over to Bukit Timah by taking the Dairy Farm Loop to the North View Path, then the Rengas Path to the Main Road. As we walked along Dairy Farm Loop, we got another bonus. Another abandoned building! This one looked like it had probably served as a bathroom at one point, but had long since been left behind. It's not every day you get to see two abandoned buildings, especially in endlessly progressing Singapore!
Lots of moss and a little graffiti give it character

Inside the little building we saw lots of rogue vegetation, loads of bugs, and one cute little lizard. I think it was a flying dragon, but it seemed like an unusual place for one. Usually we only see them on tree trunks.
Flying dragon hiding out

As we went along the trail turned into mostly steps, going up up, and up some more. We hadn't realized that the trails that we chose would involve so much climbing, but it made sense considering their proximity to the Bukit Timah summit (the highest point in Singapore). We trudged onward and were rewarded a few times for our efforts.
Fat green larva
Archduke butterfly, identified with the help of Butterfly Circle

Once we finally huffed and puffed up all the stairs and made it to the Main Road, we started going down again. When we got to the bottom of the steep hill, we decided to just keep walking and go across the street to get something refreshing to drink. But on our way out we ran into the Hindhede monkeys, hanging out outside of the Mont Timah condos. We stopped and watched them for awhile, romping and playing in the trees. We were especially entertained by Kurt (one of the big males) who chased Keira (one of the adult females) all over the place. He was trying to mate with her, but was unsuccessful, because she kept running away. Finally he gave up and stubbornly ignored her while she fear-grinned and lip-smacked in the tree next to him.
Keira and Kurt, sitting in a tree...

So we ended our day on a high note by hanging out with the monkeys. If you're looking for something new to do in Singapore, go check out Dairy Farm (but maybe wait a week or two until the quarry is open). It was nice to see a different place, and to hang out at an uncrowded nature park. The hike over to Bukit Timah was fun too - just make a day of it!


  1. LOVE the pictures dear! It's like reading the Audubon guide to Singapore!

  2. Props to Bryan for almost all of the pics. He's getting good at this!

  3. Hi Crystal, I stumbled upon your blog while googling "monkey attacks singapore" in light of the recent attacks near Hort Park which made the news. (I live in the area and it's a part of my running route.) And read your entry the year before about the dogs attacking monkeys. That was sad and made me angry. I can't believe people would set their dogs on wildlife.

    But I just wanted to say that I am enjoying reading your entries, and to see Singapore through a very different perspective.

  4. Hi, great post and photos. The "flying lizard" is actually a gecko - Kendall's Rock Gecko, Cnemaspis kendalli