Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Singapore Hornbill Project

I visited Singapore Botanic Gardens on 16-Jan for the Singapore Hornbill Project documentary screening. The documentary was really interesting and had captivated my attention, it is about the hornbill conservation project to re-introduce the native Oriental Pied Hornbill back to the forest of Singapore, especially the Pulau Ubin and forest reserves. 

The documentary has shown that the researchers, passionate citizen scientists, bird lovers and sponsors have done a marvelous accomplishment to bring back these fascinating birds to Singapore's forest.

Here is the description of the project and the documentary:
"Singapore Hornbill Project - Return of the King" is about the endeavour of a team of dedicated researchers, passionate citizen scientists, bird lovers and like-minded sponsors who spent more than 6 years studying the ecology and breeding behaviour of the Oriental Pied Hornbill. This hornbill was thought to be extinct in Singapore as it had not been seen for more than 150 years but it was rediscovered in 1994. From a single individual, the population of the Oriental Pied Hornbill in Singapore has now increased to more than 50, mainly due to the research team's efforts in providing suitable artificial nest boxes and improving the habitats for the birds to breed. This 40-minute documentary feature is a work of passion, which highlights the trials and tribulations of past years of research work to bring the King of the forest back to Singapore."

You can watch the introductory video in Youtube about this hornbill project here:

Besides the Oriental Pied Hornbill, there were three other hornbill species formerly recorded in Singapore, the Rhinoceros HornbillHelmeted Hornbill and Wrinkled Hornbill. I wish one day all these species will return to the forests of Singapore. Check out this LINK to find out more about the Singapore Hornbill Project.

Oriental Pied Hornbill, at the Gazebo in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Click on this LINK to learn more about the Hornbills in the Peninsular Malaysia, by Malaysian Nature Society. Last but not least, a must watch documentary about Saving the Hornbill by Pilai Poonswad from Thailand:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Migratory Birds of Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) is one of my favourite birding sites in Singapore. During my last week's visit (14-20 Jan), I spotted many migratory birds in the garden, included the Hooded Pitta, Orange-headed Thrush, Malayan Night Heron, Tiger Shrike, Common Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater and Red-legged Crake.

The most fascinating migratory birds I spotted in the garden were the Hooded Pitta and Orange-headed Thrush. In my last visit in December, I managed to digiscope the Orange-headed Thrush, but sadly, the pictures were spoilt by the excessive flashes used by the paparazzi. The thrush in my digiscoped pictures became a "Halo-ed Thrush".

This time, the paparazzi were gone, but both birds were still there together with a new migratory bird, the juvenile Malayan Night Heron.

The Hooded Pitta has very distinctive multicolours, with black, white, brown, green, red, blue and yellow. It has very close similar plumage colour as compared to the Fairy, Mangrove and Blue-winged Pitta, with the distinguishable blackish face, brownish cap and greenish chest and belly.

Let me share with you the colourful Hooded Pitta through my digiscoped pictures.

These pictures are my first digiscoped Pitta, they were digiscoped in the shady place without using any artificial flash light, but with the moderate ISO level, lower shuttle speed and taken from a distance with minimum disturbance to the bird. So, if possible, please leave your flash gun at home.

I saw two Orange-headed Thrushes in the garden. It was a wonderful moment for me to observe their distinctive behavior of taking their evening bath. Here are their pictures, but I couldn't distinguish which is male, which is female? If you can, please tell me by leaving your comment here.

The first thrush:
The second thrush:

This species of thrush has the similar daily bathing behavior as the Blue Whistling Thrush in Kek Lok Toong, Ipoh, I noticed that both species prefer taking bath in the free running water, eg. waterfall. Thrushes could be one of the cleanest birds on earth based on my observations of their distinctive daily bathing behavior.

Orange-headed Thrush taking its evening bath (courtesy of Khng Eu Meng):

The Malayan Night Heron that I spotted in the garden was the juvenile, it has very different plumage as compared to the adult, it is grayish in colour. The adult can be viewed in my earlier blog about the Taiwan's Malayan Night Heron, CLICK HERE to view, you will then be able to distinguish the differences between the adult and the juvenile .
The Tiger Shrike that I spotted in the SBG was a juvenile bird as well. I wonder why there were more juvenile migratory birds that I spotted in the SBG, could it be the juvenile cannot compete with the adult birds for their feeding ground and were pushed further south to Singapore.

front view:
side view:
and back view:
Another beautiful migratory bird I spotted in SBG was the Red-legged Crake, it was my lifer, unfortunately I missed the chance to digiscope it, but thank to Meng Meng for his fast reaction to record this bird, here is the picture (courtesy of Khng Eu Meng):
I spotted both the Common Kingfisher and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters in the SBG during my last visit in December, and they were still there in the garden after a month. Here are the pictures I took in my recent visit to the garden.
I had a wonderful and memorable visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, this garden has provided me many precious moments to observe and digiscope the migratory lowland birds, especially the Hooded Pitta and Orange-headed Thrush. I learned that a well planned and well managed Botanic Garden can serve as an important shelter to many avifauna, not only to the resident species, but also the migratory ones. Well done to Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Check out my previous BLOG about Birding in Singapore.

Special thank to Meng Meng for taking me to this wonderful birding place in the city of Singapore.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lifer on New Year's Day

On the new year's day, a friend of mine ( came back from Ipoh and decided to visit Pulau Burung for migratory birds.

I was lucky to have my first lifer in 2010 on the new year's day, the Whiskered Tern. Here are the digiscoped photographs of the Whiskered Tern.
Let's take a closer look inside its beak, it is red inside, interesting, why red? Perhaps, no answer.and the back view of the tern:

My favorite wader, the Pacific Golden Plover, there were around 10 of them in Pulau Burung pond. Here are some of the digiscoped photos:cleaning session, and ready for a shot:

Other birds I spotted were the Black-Shouldered Kites, Blue-tailed Beeeaters, Common Moorhen, Waterhen, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Chinese Pond Heron, Pacific Golden Plover, Black-winged Stilt, White-throated Kingfisher, Dollarbirds, and many waders.

About the Pheasant-tailed Jacana, we couldn't trace any sight of the Jacana, I'm very sure that the Jacana has left the place and must be heading the south.

Pulau Burung is one of the good place for waterbird birding in Penang, so, shall this place be reserved as a wetland reserve in Penang for education and recreation purposes? A reserve like the Singapore's Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Taipei's Guandu Wetland Park, or Kinta Nature Park? Perhaps, no one cares....

enjoy digiscoping.