Signed up for this “citizen science” initiative by National Parks Board in early March and immediately went for the first training workshop held on Saturday (7 March) at Ridley Hall in the Botanic Gardens (see this link for details on how to participate, closing date 3 April).
The training was to show participants the 30 birds to be counted, and how to identify them based on four factors – shape and size, colour, habitat, and vocalisation. The colour handout (see below) on the birds was most useful, especially for a newbie like me!
After a fun quiz where chocolates, bookmarks, and magnets were given out for correctly identifying the birds shown, we were taught the “point-count” method – basically, this involved going to an assigned spot on a map, staying there for 10 minutes, identifying, recording and counting whatever species of birds we could spot in that time.
We were then dispersed to various points in the Botanic Gardens to practise identifying the birds and using the point-count method, in small groups (of 2 or 3). With Karon and Peishan (two other volunteers), we “navigated” to the Sundial Garden, parked ourselves in the little shade we could find and did our bird watching … hahaha, identifying birds in their “natural” habitat was so much harder compared to looking at images projected on a screen in the classroom!! The bright sunlight washed out the colours, or the birds were seen in silhouette, or they were mostly hidden in the trees/bushes/tall grasses, or they flew past really fast etc etc. However, we did manage to see a collared kingfisher, a few bulbuls, and plenty of javan mynas … (thanks mostly to Peishan, who was the most “expert” amongst the three of us!).
Whatever it is, bird watching certainly helps to sharpen one’s observational powers (e.g. see beak shape) and I’ve already noticed more kinds of birds (and able to name them) since the training yesterday! And it would certainly help when I do my “flower-bird” painting 🙂
Anyway, am looking forward to carrying out the bird count (any day during 16 – 26 April) at my assigned “points” (exactly where not known yet) and being able to “see better” and “hear better” as a result of learning more about birds!!