Feathery Focus: This Keen Birdwatcher Has Spotted Sea Eagles In... Toa Payoh
STORY: Sim Ding En
02 March 2021
This video was filmed before the outbreak of COVID-19 locally.
You know that situation when you're really into a hobby and nobody gets it? That's something wildlife surveyor and birdwatcher Henrietta Woo can identify with. When she tells her friends she's off to some ulu spot to birdwatch, they respond with a collective "Huh?! Got birds meh?"
But she doesn't have to travel far to observe the myriad species of birds in Singapore. "There are birds all around. When I tell people that from my bedroom window, I observed 30-over birds, they go 'You must live opposite Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.' Then I tell them I live in Toa Payoh!" says Henrietta who has spotted a pair of white-bellied sea eagles - the largest resident bird-of-prey in Singapore - perched on the antenna of an HDB block opposite her home.
Ahead of World Wildlife Day (3 March), we turn our attention on this freelancer who specialises in wildlife. "I do wildlife surveys as part of environmental assessments as well as lead guided walks to nature areas to share about Singapore's biodiversity," says Henrietta, who can identify bird species just from their calls and warbling.
Henrietta is also a consummate artist who captures the wildlife specimens she spots in jawdropping detail, turning some of her detailed ballpoint pen and pencil sketches into postcards.
She's even won an award in a painting competition organised by the East Asian - Australasian Flyway Partnership, an initiative launched in 2006 to protect migratory waterbirds, their habitat and the livelihoods of people dependent upon them.
Her mission: to protect and educate on nature. "Since Singapore's mordern founding, we have lost a lot of habitat for animals. This has resulted in biodiversity loss," says Henriertta.
"Many people don't realise that if there is no nature, we wouldn't be alive as well. Nature is indispensable to our survival."