Saturday 17 November 2012

Singapore Big Year story time

Many of you may remember that I was in Singapore this past winter to study, and of course, bird, for 4 months. I met many locals and luckily for me many of the locals were doing a big year - meaning that there was always someone to go birding with, and always a new bird to chase!

Anyway, I've been following their pursuits throughout the year and thought I'd share some of their stories from today:

"Today I do not have any photos to show. Nonetheless, I have some anecdotes to tell. Saturday being my family day, at noon time, I was at NEX having ordered dim sum and awaiting my first bite. A SMS came as I chewed on the complimentary peanuts. It was from Ding Li Yong. "Green backed Flycatcher now". Oops, decision time! To go or not to go? The look of my wife was one of resignation and of course I rushed out from the restaurant and proceeded to have my rendezvous with Ding Li and his FC. That short sojourn of course meant I had packed dim sum for lunch later at home. 

Because I really had no intention to go birding, after lunch I took a nap. A good one and when I finally woke up, saw another SMS. "Pratincole at Seletar West, if u still need it" and was from Lau Jiasheng. A mad scramble ensued to get ready and I bolted out the door in record time. Thankfully I stay nearby and I soon connected with Jiasheng, his dad and the pratincoles. Jiasheng was incredulous when I said it's my lifer.
What's the moral of the story? According to my wife it's "Eat and sleep well, you'll get your birds". I think it's that I have many good friends that make birding worth it. No matter how many I manage to tick this year, I won't soon forget it's not a solitary effort. Thanks guys!
252 and counting!"

Green-backed Flycatcher - Photo by See Toi Yew Wai

"Today, as with Francis, I also have a story to tell. I had just arrived at St Ignatius Church at King's Road (off Bt Timah Road) at 11.55am to attend a former colleague's wedding & lunch. Saw the bride, walked over to congratulate her, handed over my ang pow [a gift of money], and proceeded with the rest of my colleagues, both current & past, to the buffet hall some distance away. An sms came in at 12.03pm from Kim Keang. Green-backed Flycatcher seen at Bida. Earlier on, he had texted me that he had the Hooded Pitta too, while I was still at home. I decided against going for it cos of the wedding, even though I needed the pitta for my BY. Now this flycatcher. I sat there at the buffet hall, not joining in the banter with my frens. I was strugging within myself, like Francis. To go or not to go? That's the q
uestion. If I go after the buffet, it might be too late, I surmised. Time and birds wait for no man! "Sorry mates, I need to leave now!" "What? You just arrived, buffet yet to start & you leaving? came the replies, thick & fast. "Birds calling you is it?" "Yes, you guys are so smart! Indeed it is", I replied instantly. I flew out of the church in double quick time, drove quickly to the cemetery, arrived in less than 20 minutes, met Dingli who showed me the flycatcher, and I was elated and a happy man. Green-backed Flycatcher: my costliest BY bird it had to be - the cost of my ang pow, and the foregoing of my buffet lunch. I left Bida a hungry man & had to eat at the hawker centre by myself....."

Anyway, a few birders have now broken the previous Singapore big year record!