David Tan was a rabid birder before he came to NUS. In the LSM2251 Ecology and the Environment class, he was the hallelujah chorus, head nodding with enthusiasm about ecological perspectives. So it was really noticeable when he was missing in class, usually battling some last-minute assignment deadline.
He found an outlet for his enthusiasm about birds with an undergraduate research project (UROPS) with Richard Corlett, during which he evaluated distance sampling as a tool for population estimates of bird species in our NUS Kent Ridge Campus.
David guiding for Raffles Museum Toddycats during
the Festival of Biodiversity, 27 May 2012
I was one of his examiners and conducted his oral exam at University Hall Spinelli’s over coffee. The session lasted several hours, as I explored the depths of his observations of our campus birds in addition to the question he had addressed.
His report was a dry, colourless affair, satisfying page limits and academic objectives. But he had carried a load of equipment during his surveys, taking photos and identifying animals at point locations as well as estimating distance and had lots of useful information about individual species.
Represented graphically, could become a resource for students and the public alike – especially with the Kent Ridge being part of the Southern Ridges.
So he did just that before leaving for a year overseas and produced “The Birds of NUS” at nusavifauna.wordpress.com which includes a guide to identifying birds, artificial keys, a checklist and maps with point locations of observed species (may favourite bit). He roped in co-conspirator Zachary Kok, a Physics major who ‘authored more than 25% of the bird profiles’ on the webpage.
This is a resource for LSM2251 and now LSM1103 Biodiversity students as well. It’ll come in handy with younger students who work on mapping project with me in future too. Pretty neat, huh?