Tuesday, May 22, 2012

MacRitchie, Lower Peirce, Springleaf, CCK Cemeteries, Mandai 21Feb09

From KH

I went with Danny to MacRitchie hoping to catch the Bat Hawk before dawn, but the bird did not show. On the boardwalk, we saw a Grey Nightjar sallying for insects. It would fly off and then come back to the same branch for a few times before it finally decided to disappear for good. I read somewhere that Grey Nightjar likes to perch parallel to the branch.

A Brown Boobook as calling but did not show. Also calling but not showing were Abbott's Babblers and Short-tailed Babblers. Other noteworthy birds here were a female Siberian Blue Robin in the undergrowth and a Grey-rumped Treeswift flying high.

Tinfoil Barbs are native freshwater fish and they are abundant in the reservoir.

Then, it was time for breakfast. After that, we dropped by the Yellow Saraca at Lower Peirce for the Purple-throated Sunbird. Several photographers were waiting around the tree, but the birds were few and far between. While walking to the tree, I spotted a Common Snakehead in the reservoir. This is the most common species of snakehead you'll encounter in Singapore.

We went to the Lower Peirce boardwalk from 0930-1045 for the famous Lesser Mousedeer and got more than I bargained for. When we reached the stream, two photographers were already there and a stench was in the air. Not that the photogs stank though! They pointed out the two softshell turtles lying motionless at the edge of the reservoir. One of them was very dead and bloated, while the other although still alive did not look very well.

Asian Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea)

Another photog pointed out that there was another dead turtle behind and a Water Monitor was feeding on it.

Soon, another monitor appeared and we all thought it was going for the first dead turtle. However, to our surprise, it crawled pass the first two turtles and headed straight for the one behind! Was it trying to save the trouble of ripping open a 'fresh' carcass? And as you can see from the photo below, the turtle that is alive did not even attempt to hide its head. Something must apparently be wrong with the water condition here...

Back to the monitors. The first monitor was larger and it managed to chase the scheming opponent away. The photo below shows the first monitor strolling pass the two turtles back to its bounty.

Then I spotted the Lesser Mousedeer I came here for. It was interesting observing it moving stealthily in the undergrowth. It would take a few steps, stay still for a short while, and then repeat the sequence. Soon, all the photogs in the vicinity where congregating at the spot. Time to exit to a less crowded place. Our lovely mammal has a distinctive scar on it. Can you see it?

There was also an Orange-headed Thrush, an Arctic Warbler, a Japanese Sparrowhawk and a dark morph Changeable Hawk-eagle in the vicinity.

Recently, there was a Jerdon's Baza sighting at Springleaf, so we were off to the location. We did not see the Baza, but got this common bird - Pacific Swallow.

The next spot that the Jerdon's Baza had been encountered was Choa Chu Kang Cemeteries. We did not see the rare baza again, but we got the common one - Black Baza.

There were also the resident White-bellied Sea-eagles and Brahminy Kites.

A pair of Red-wattled Lapwings had took residence on an open grass patch. They allowed us to get close as long as we stayed in the car.

Here are some of the other birds seen at the cemeteries (clockwise from top left): Brown Shrike, Coppersmith Barbet, Paddyfield Pipit, male Little Bronze Cuckoo.

At about 1430, rain started to pour in the West and it was time to stop birding. On my way home, I passed by Orchidville and there was no rain here. So I decided to continue. To my surprise, a Forest Wagtail was perching on the railing right outside Orchidville.

Further down the road, two birds were making a lot of noise. It was a Black-naped Oriole whacking a male Asian Koel and the oriole actually took a feather off the koel! In the photo below, the black piece is the koel feather.

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