There are something in the order of ten types of Kingfisher listed for Singapore including the European species that I am familiar with from home. One of the more common ones on the island is the White Throated Kingfisher, but the most commonly encountered has to be the White Collared Kingfisher. I would probably say that I saw them just about as often as I would perhaps see magpies in the UK. They seem to be present just about everywhere, including the urban environment. Despite the moniker of Kingfisher they will eat a variety of prey alongside fish, including reptiles, crabs, insects, worms and frogs. Their ‘squeaky toy’ call is a normal accompaniment to any trip onto the hill and I don’t think I have ever visited there without seeing one and, at Sungei Buloh they are predictably numerous. They are a very handsome bird that at times in the sunshine, can shimmer between green and blue as they change position. I have many sketches of them because I find them hard to resist. There is also this small work which began as a field painting then was embellished and finished later in my friend’s studio, so it is now what I think of as a ‘worked up sketch’. I left this with my friend as part of what can only be considered as a somewhat inadequate Thank-you. In the pipeline there are two paintings featuring this bird but, as always, there are so many ideas and simply not enough time to bring them all to fruition.
I had put a couple of quick, not very good, sketches in the book and, now that I knew where I could find them, I hoped I could get more. I went back to the pond the following morning and located one of the birds fishing from a pondside tree. I discovered after a couple of sessions that the birds were quite confiding and I was able to watch, photograph and sketch them as they went about their business from fairly close range without disturbing them in the slightest. One day in particular, my wife and daughter went off jet-skiing whilst I elected for the more sedate option of sitting by a pond with a friend, a sketchbook, a Stork Billed Kingfisher and roughly 30 million mosquitoes. Stork Billed Kingfishers are fabulous birds and watching them was one of the highlights of my Singapore/Indonesia adventure, despite the incredible heat and the necessity of applying mossie cream every 20 minutes! I’m sure there will be a larger, more considered painting at some time in the future, but for now here’s some sketches and a quick study I did, purely because I could.