Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is a nature reserve in the northwest area of Singapore and is the first wetlands reserve to be gazetted locally in 2002. It is a significant stop-over point for migratory birds on East Asian-Australasian Flyway. This 130 hectares reserve was listed as an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2003. For birders, the birds migration season at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is a key event on their photography calendar.
Around 2,000 birds, from over 30 countries make the arduous journey from the Arctic to Singapore annually to escape winter’s cold. Tracking devices attached showed that the birds frequently transit at inland and coastal wetlands in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, North Korea and Russia on their round trip that spans almost 14,000km.
Why do the birds migrate?
Food availability is one of the key reasons, while changes in weather and habitat are other reasons. In winter, the birds migrate southwards and most of them return north to their breeding grounds in spring.
How do they find their way ?
The birds instinctively use the position of the sun to act as a compass. The location of constellations in relation to certain stars like the North Star in the evening sky also works as a guide.
Recent studies by researchers at Max Planck Institute in Germany claimed that the beaks of the avians contain magnetic particles which act as a kind of compass that aid in their navigation.
Natural markers such as the topography of the land and the wind direction also help. Birds seem to have an innate knowledge of locations, routes and techniques to make these journeys.
The findings revealed that the beaks do act as a kind of navigational device wired to the nervous system and at least partly help the birds decide in which direction to travel.
Why do the birds land at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve?
The warm weather and fertile mudflats of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve make it a tropical paradise for many migratory shorebirds – especially those that flew across the Himalayan mountain range, a new study has found.
This finding places Singapore at the confluence of two key flyways (the superhighways in the air that migratory birds take annually to escape the winter chill in the Northern Hemisphere). The island was previously thought to be a transit point solely along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (the world’s largest migratory route, spanning the Arctic Circle down south to Australia and New Zealand).
The best time to enjoy this birds migration season at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is from September to March. This period is the best bird-watching season here. You can spot many migratory birds such as the Great Egret, Himalayan Swiftlet, whimbrel, common greenshank and common redshank, Pacific golden and grey plovers.
Many sincere thanks for checking in on this article. For overseas travel inspiration, you might like to check out my curated travelogues here. The pictures are all rights reserved and copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography. The opinion expressed is factual, objective, and that of the author.