Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bidadari, Rifle Range 13Nov12

From KH

Went to Bidadari for a final try of the Japanese Paradise-flycatcher and managed to nailed it around 10:30 am, just 1/2 hour before I had to leave! Con and Danny were also there, and got this lifer as well.

There was a Ferruginous Flycatcher at a low perch and about 10 Black Bazas roosting in the trees at Bidadari. Earlier, on the way to Bida, I saw an Oriental Honey-buzzard at Hougang. And Danny was at Rifle Range and found these Cave Nectar Bats.

Changi 10Nov12

From JS

Attendees: Danny, JS, KH

Below is the summary of the raptors that we saw at Changi.

1) Black Baza: >32 (Separate sightings: flock of 8 perched, flock of 3 perched, flock of more than 15 thermaling birds, flock of 6 approaching in flight, flock of >4 hiding birds)
2) Common Buzzard: 2
3) Chinese Sparrowhawk: 3
4) Japanese Sparrowhawk: 2
5) Oriental Honey Buzzard: >9
6) White Bellied Fish Eagle: 1
7) Changeable Hawk Eagle: 2
8) Black-Winged Kite: >2
9) Brahminy Kite: >2
10) Unid Small Raptor: 8 (Thermaling)
11) Unid Large Raptor: 1 (Thermalling with unid small raptors)

Other noteworthy sightings:
1) Hawk Cuckoo (1)
2) Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo (1)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pulau Punggol 4Nov12

From KH

Counters: Danny Lau, Tan Kok Hui
Helpers: Jacky Soh, Seetoh Yew Wai, Terry & Jane Heppell, Chee Wei Lin, Yoke Kheng, Wai Yin.

Here's the count. With 11 species (7 migrants, 4 residents), this site should definitely be included as one of the key sites next year. Not to mention good shelter from the sun and free seats!

Time 9-10 10-11 11-12 12-1 1-2 2-3 3-4
Black Baza 23 4 7 5
White-bellied Sea Eagle 3 1 1 1 1
Chinese Goshawk 1
Black-winged Kite 1 2
Booted Eagle 1 1 1
Brahminy Kite 1 2 2 1 2
Japanese Sparrowhawk 2
Changeable Hawk Eagle 2 1 1
Oriental Honey Buzzard 6
Peregrine Falcon (japonensis) 1
Osprey 2
Unid. Raptor 2

Part of a kettle of 12 roosting Black Baza.

Black-winged Kite

Juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle

Dark morph Booted Eagle: underparts (left) and upperparts (right).

Juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk (left) and Peregrine Falcon japonensis (right).

Bidadari, SBWR 3Nov12

From KH

Con, Danny and I started at Bidadari, still hoping to get the JPFC, but we failed in our mission, yet again. In terms of raptors, we recorded 3 Black Bazas and 1 OHB. The rest are the usual birds, like Asian Drongo Cuckoo, Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo, Arctic Warbler, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Tanimbar Corella, etc.

Next, we went SBWR for the Chinese Egret and sure enough it was at the breakwater. There were also the usual waders. After lunch, Con left. Danny and I continued to search for waders, but instead got the Chinese Egret much closer at Hide 1C. Here are some write-up and photos from Danny:

From Danny

Together with Kok Hui were at Sungei Buloh following the report of Chinese Egret. We were fortunate to spot the Chinese Egret early afternoon at Hide 1C, instead of the typical aloof behaviour, the bird did for brief period stay close with the Little Egrets offering opportunities for relative comparison.

Refer to photo below, three id features are apparent, namely the bi-colour bill of the Chinese (yellowish two third basal end of lower mandible), the loral skin/patch in term of colour/width and the leg colours.

As Kok Hui put it aptly the loral skin/patch for the Chinese is narrower especially near the eye as in photo below, the loral skin of the Chinese from base of upper mandible curved and narrowed towards the eye. There are subtle differences in the bill shape and length between the two Egrets, however, it is difficult to apply (at least for me) in the field.

Another interesting Egret was seen at Hide 1C and we both agree it was a Little Egret of subspecies nigripes (synonymous with immaculata) with yellow loral skin and blackish feet with shades of greenish yellow probably due to moulting to non breeding, traces of breast breeding plumes are visible in photo below.

While reviewing the movies I took of the Chinese Egret, realised the bird have two type of preys namely small fishes and the rods like sea slug/worms.

Cambodia 24-31Oct12

From Con

From Danny

Our trip was arranged by Sam Veasna Center, a non-profit NGO providing eco-tourism services, founded and supported by WCS and Birdlife for about ten years. Combination of geographical factor and rainy season, the country has a distinct wet and dry seasons. During the wet raining season, water from the Mekong flows into Tonle Sep, the largest fresh water lake in SE Asia, turning it into an enlarged body of water (including submerged forests around the lake) and during the dry season, water flows back into the Mekong, the lake return to its shrunken size. This unique season extends to its dipterocarp (quite a mouthful for me) forest to the northern plain of Camdodia where two uncommon Ibis species reside and breed. The fish eating Giant Ibis breeds during the flooded season and the White-shouldered Ibis which feeds on large worms during the dry season (evolution or mutual survival?).

The farmers turned local guides had been educated/enticed with monetary rewards over time to observe and report nesting activities of the Ibises, most of them were traditional egg hunters and poachers (from our perspectives at least) not too long ago. We got to view and photograph the WS Ibises well from a distance as the local guides knew their roosting grounds. We did not expect to see the Giant Ibis as they had completed breeding and dispersed, however, we did try to look for them. During a breakfast break in the rice fields, three Giant Ibises flew past us, both of us were elated, busily trying to have good views and take some shots. When we turned around, the locals were crouching among the rice stalks so as not to distract the skittish and much loved Ibises. They were hunters/poachers not too long ago. Over at the flooded forest around Tonle Sap, local farmers/rangers have constructed more than twenty tree-houses or platforms where they stay overnight for a period of days (work in shifts during peak nesting period) to observe, record and protect breeding nests.

White-shouldered Ibis

A typical nesting tree with breeding Oriental Darters occupying the top half of the crown and the Indian Cormorants the bottom half (size, evolution or height phobia?), in the background the Spot-billed Pelicans started gathering for their breeding cycles, with each passing day the numbers doubled !

A view from the tree-top house, notice those tree crowns above water, the depth of water can be as deep as 10 meters. We missed the chance to spend a night on the tree-top - I guess we city folks would love to sleep on a tree-house.