Cheo Zi Han and David Li,
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore
Every year, we welcome a very important visitor. In 2012, a juvenile Whimbrel was mist-netted at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve [EAAF073], Singapore. Tagged as A0, it was released, and has been returning to our mudflats every winter since. On 27 August 2017, a shorebird enthusiast in China, Mr Qian Feng, spotted A0 at Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province, after weeks of daily searching. This marks the 3rd consecutive year it has been recorded there, a remarkable effort given the multitude of birds and expansive tidal flats. This also makes A0 our only Whimbrel to be recorded abroad.
In anticipation of Whimbrel A0 and its thousands of travel companions, we organized a public celebratory event “Wonderful World of Waders (WWW)” on 2 and 9 September. In its third year running, this event is timed to coincide with the start of the migratory season in Singapore, to generate awareness on the marvelous journey of the small but mighty shorebirds.
One of the highlights of WWW this year was “Flyway Wonders”, a flyway-wide collaborative photo exhibition. The first of its kind at Sungei Buloh, the exhibition follows the shorebirds’ journey along the flyway. Our in-house experts David Li and Mendis Tan also took turns to explain the significance of the photos displayed. After viewing the exhibition, many visitors enter the reserve determined to spot these shorebirds. Singapore would like to express our thanks to the fervent support of EAAFP secretariat, Shorebird Working Group, flyway partners, site managers, shorebird researchers, bird watchers, photographers – all across the East Asian-Australasian Flyway who generously shared their inspiring photos.
Amidst the festivities, one of the ever popular activity was our signature Waders Watch workshop, an introductory course on shorebirds. Receiving overwhelming sign-ups, the workshop was a rare chance to learn about the waders’ journey and spot waders with experienced volunteer birdwatchers and reserve staff. Bird watching points were set up in the reserve’s hides, and went abuzz with people viewing shorebirds through our scopes. Unique from previous years was our first ever poetry workshop. Through art and words, participants were encouraged to explore the journey of the shorebirds creatively. Coinciding with the annual cleanup day of International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS), an organisation devoted to combating marine trash, cleanups were also organized to give our shorebirds and other wildlife on the shores a cleaner home. Over 600 kg of trash was collected by volunteers from Loyang Secondary School, Maybank Singapore, National Parks Board Conservation volunteers and Friends of Buloh in a single morning.
A week after the outreach event, A0 was finally spotted on 16 September to our excitement. Here it will (most likely) stay until it makes its Northward journey, and we hope to celebrate its return, together with many others, year after year.