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The self-taught birdwatcher

He ventures out alone once or twice a month, each time completing a hike of up to 10km. -ST

Fri, Jan 22, 2010
The Straits Times

HUANG JING HUI, 13, Raffles Institution

RAZOR-sharp senses and lightning quick reflexes. That is what Jing Hui needs to catch birds - on his digital SLR camera, that is.

"I keep quiet and listen carefully for the birdcalls," said the bird watcher of five years. "With that, I can judge the distance they are from me." He can recognise about half of the more than 360 species of birds that can be found in Singapore, thanks to near-perfect eyesight and, of course, a good memory.

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"One bird may have different types of plumage, according to season," he pointed out.

Ask the quiet, reserved boy about birds and names like the pied imperial pigeon, orange-bellied flowerpecker, and pink-necked green pigeon roll off his tongue easily. He taught himself about them using the Internet and books.

Patience and endurance help too - his camera weighs more than a kilogramme, but that does not stop the slim-built boy from holding it for up to five hours at a go on his bird-watching trips.

MacRitchie Reservoir Park, the Botanic Gardens and Sungei Buloh are this nature lover's favourite haunts.

He ventures out alone once or twice a month, each time completing a hike of up to 10km at the trails that run through each nature site. His three siblings - aged 15, 17 and 19 - do not share his interest.

Although he might not catch a bird for hours on end, that only makes success sweeter. After each trip, he uploads the photos to his computer.

Despite busier school timetables - Jing Hui has basketball four times a week on top of piano lessons - he is determined to carry on bird watching. "It's better than playing computer games, right?" he smiled.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

 
 
 
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