The Otter Cycling Trail v2.0 – Of herons, storks, owls, otters and stories galore

Amanda (RedJungleFowl Girl) and Meryl (Ottergirl) broutght an improved version of the Otter Cycling Trail to participants on Sun 24 Apr 2013.

After a challenging recce conducted a week before, the new guides were all fired up and prepared for this ride. With support from the veteran guides, we were well stocked with a total of 7 nature and 7 safety guides!

Otterman (Siva) who has prodded his former honours students into initiating this trail started off the ride by explaining the objectives and conducting the safety briefing.

Participants listen into the introduction of otter trail and safety briefing by Siva

Participants listen into the introduction of otter trail and safety briefing by Siva

After the crucial bike checks, we headed off to our first pit stop, Pasir Ris Park!

View of Sungei Tampines

View of the mangroves along Sungei Tampines (Pasir Ris Park)

The ride began with an appreciative breeze through the safety of the Changi-Loyang PCN before reaching Pasir Ris Park.

There the Grey Herons roosting along the Sungei Tampines were a lovely treat, with the calls of Red Jungle Fowl filtering through to us.

Soon after, Andy Dinesh below a clump of several trees alerted us to the Spotted-wood Owl in their midst! Participants and guides alike took great care to be quiet so we wouldn’t disturb it!

Spotted-wood Owl spotted in Pasir Ris Park

Andy finds a Spotted-wood Owl perched high up on a tree in Pasir Ris Park
(Pic: Henrietta Woo)

After Pasir Ris Park, we took the lovely short cut through the canal to reach Pasir Ris Farmway 3 to reach Lorong Halus Wetlands. There, more wildlife greeted us!

Storks fly overhead as we ride down Pasir Ris Drive 3

Storks (possibly Asian Openbill as identified by birder and participant, Ho Yong Tze) fly overhead as we ride down Pasir Ris Drive 3
(Pic: Fung Tze Kwan) 

A Baya Weaver maintaining its nest along Lorong Halus

A Baya Weaver maintaining its nest along Lorong Halus (Pic: Henrietta Woo)

The most exciting part of the ride had to be our riverine mammals. Just as my group was led into pitstop #2 (Serangoon Reservoir), my ears pricked up to the all-too-familiar squeaks amidst the loud, excited chatter of a wedding entourage on the Lorong Halus bridge.

Adrenaline shot through my veins as I saw round bobbing heads in a distance… “OTTERS!!!”, I exclaimed. And it would turn out to be a family group of 10!

Round otter heads bob in the distance

Round otter heads bob in the distance

I orientated my group members to the otters and ran to convey the news to the other groups, even as my heart beat with child-like excitement.

Back at the bridge, the large group of otters were noticeably closer and could be seen going up a nearby bank to groom and defecate at one of their sprint sites.

Then they began foraging in nearby waters and the Otter Cycling Trail participants watched in awe and let out exclamations of excitement.

“First time seeing otters in the wild!”

“I’ve never seen otters before”

“They’re sooo cute!!”

“They’re catching fish!”

“I didn’t know they were so big!”

It’s always wonderful to share the joy of watching animals like the otter in the wild, especially one that is not easily seen and is so charismatic to boot.

Otters forage for fish near the banks of Serangoon Reservoir

Otters forage for fish near the banks of Serangoon Reservoir

To have chanced upon them swimming up the reservoir at the right place at the most opportune time was certainly pure luck and a treat alike for veterans and newbies!

Participants rode to Sengkang Riverside Park to have lunch at Mushroom Cafe!

Participants having a hearty meal and lovely conversations at Mushroom Cafe. (Pic: Fung Tze Kwan)

Participants having a hearty meal and lovely conversations at Mushroom Cafe. (Pic: Fung Tze Kwan)

Last stop of the day for my group was a story-telling session by Siva about the history of the Punggol/Sengkang area.

Pig farms? Docking vessels? That was the history of Punggol Waterway and the surroundings as Siva points out (Pic: Henrietta Woo)

Pig farms? Docking vessels? That was the history of Punggol Waterway and the surroundings as Siva points out (Pic: Henrietta Woo)

The following video was made by Nature Guide Ng Wen Qing highlighting two of our lucky sightings during this Otter Cycling Trail:

What a ride! Interested to join us the next time? Watch this space for the next Otter Cycling Trail!

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One response to “The Otter Cycling Trail v2.0 – Of herons, storks, owls, otters and stories galore

  1. Pingback: Exploring Singapore’s biodiversity – reflections of a Canadian exchange student at NUS | Raffles Museum Toddycats!

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