Wow, can you believe there’s only one day left to our launch? If you have tickets to the in-person events, we’ll see you tomorrow, but if not, you can always tune in to our live stream – we’ll be taking questions from our virtual audience too!
So far on this series we’ve shared stories from some of our founding members, as well as Hui Zhen’s piece on our journey of conceptualizing and designing the BirdSoc SG logo. Today, we have See Toh’s story of founding the Singapore Birds Project over seven years ago, and a personal account from Clarice, who joined the team in 2021.
Francis and See Toh were the pioneers of the Singapore Birds Project in 2016. We owe a lot to them for laying the foundation of what has now grown into the Bird Society of Singapore. Here are some words from See Toh Yew Wai, who was also the first writer of the species pages you can now find on singaporebirds.com.
Both Francis and myself started the Singapore Birds Project with the intention of having a Bird List for Singapore with updated taxonomic names. We also wanted to create a website which can serve as an online guidebook on all the bird species in the Bird List and with photos contributed by the local and foreign birding fraternity. We were always driven by our resolve to create something which would be of use to the local birdwatching community, but at the time, we were a small team and didn’t know what we were making would grow to the scale which it has today. It is heartening to see the new generation of birding enthusiasts taking over the leadership of SBP, redefining the mission and eventually registering it as an official Society of Singapore. Kudos to all the members whose dedication and hard work have made all this possible.
Clarice Yan is a founding member of the Bird Society of Singapore. She has been involved in our records collection work for the Singapore Bird Database and is also part of our writing team for revising our species writeups.
I always knew I was a little bit interested in birds since I was a kid – I remember ambling round parks with my mother and looking at birds with these super old binoculars that we dug out from the cupboards. Alas, back then I was too enamoured with marine wildlife and my dream of becoming a marine biologist that I spent more time staring at the fish in the longkang than the kingfisher swooping down upon them. Eventually I found my way back to birding in 2021 when I did an internship alongside fellow birders, and once I started it was a rabbit hole – I’d spend all my waking hours out seeing birds, and I can’t believe I had the energy to bird at 7am every single Saturday and Sunday when I wasn’t working! Luckily by 2021, Bird Sightings was becoming fairly active, and the Singapore Birds Project had already released countless and comprehensive species pages that I used religiously to identify all the birds I saw every week. I also stumbled upon a bunch of birders and discovered that they were the team behind the Singapore Birds Project. Back then, they all seemed like mini-celebrities to me – people who had written and produced the resources I’d treasured so much. When they extended the offer to me to join them in starting up BirdSoc SG, it was with great honour that I accepted, though I felt too much like a noob (still feel like that now!) to contribute back to the community that had given me so much.
It’s only been slightly over 2 years that I became a birder, and I’m still learning more and more everyday about birds and conservation in Singapore and globally. Its crazy to think that ten years ago, none of these resources were available and if I had started then it’d be much more of a struggle learning about our feathered friends. I’ve been slowly converting my family and friends into birders, and it’s been a joy to see them begin delving into this new passion and to hear from them about how they’ve found our resources useful. It’s definitely a great motivator for working to upgrade BirdSoc’s resources and to provide even more guides for new birders. Looking forward, I hope that BirdSoc not only inspires more and more people to discover this passion of ours, but also for us to begin contributing to conservation locally and regionally. And for more people to join us in contributing to this birding community, even if you feel like a noob (as I do)!