Monthly Archives: April 2015

Oriental Pied Hornbill feeding on papaya at Pulau Ubin

One of the joy of birding is to observe behaviour of birds in the field and then having done so, be educated by a fellow birder as to what it all meant.

I had the opportunity to observe a family of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) flying towards a kampung house at Pulau Ubin. One of the adult proceeded to land on a large papaya tree. This tree happen to have one ripe papaya fruit.

Soon enough the hornbill dug into the fruit itself and then retrieve the flesh using its large bill. It then proceeded to flip the morsel up and then with the mouth wide open, swallowed it whole. It did this repeatedly after obtaining a solid morsel.

This method of feeding is call “ballistic transport feeding” and was just been discovered recently. Using high speed cameras, researchers have discovered that hornbills, toucans and cassowaries all have a unique way of eating, where food is tossed upwards, and on its way down, the bird open its “mouth” (from the tips of the bill to the pharynx) and the food is then swallowed whole. All this is accomplished without the tongue getting involved, which is a unique adaptation for swallowing large and variable sized food. Imagine that these birds do not taste, nor grind their food before swallowing.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
The hornbill using its powerful bill to tear into the ripened papaya fruit.
 

Oriental Pied Hornbill
The flip and swallow routine caught in action
 

Oriental Pied Hornbill
A closer look at another instance. Notice the shape of the morsel is different.
 

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Yet another instance, this time at a different, steeper head angle.
 

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Next frame, just enough to capture the morsel going down.
 

Oriental Pied Hornbill
After one side is done, it goes for the other side. A messy eater.
 

Oriental Pied Hornbill
In between feeding time.
 

Oriental Pied Hornbill
All the while, the juvenile is perched quietly just below the papaya tree. As it has the same pose, you can compare its relative proportion.
 

Soon after these photos were taken, a group of weekend cyclist came by a bit too close. The whole family flew off to another location, and the papaya was left half eaten.

In summary, we know that Oriental Pied Hornbills like ripe papaya fruits, they tear into the fruit using their powerful bill to retrieve morsels of flesh, are messy eaters and then use ballistic transport to feed themselves.

Gallery

This post was originally written in my blog at: https://fryap.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/oriental-pied-hornbill-ballistic-transport-feeding and expanded upon.

References:
1. Blog: Ballistic transport (“flip and catch”) feeding in hornbills
2. Baussart S, Korsoun L, Libourel PA, Bels V. (2009) “Ballistic food transport in toucans”. J Exp Zool A Ecol Genet Physiol. 2009 Aug 1;311(7):465-74.
3. Baussart S & V. Bels (2011) “Tropical hornbills (Aceros cassidix, Aceros undulatus, and Buceros hydrocorax) use ballistic transport to feed with their large beaks.” J Exp Zool A Ecol Genet Physiol. 2011 Feb:72-83
4. M. Harte , P. Legreneur, E. Pelle, M-A. Placide & V. Bels (2012) “Ballistic food transport in birds: the example of Casuarius casuarius” Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, 15:sup1, 137-139

Pelagic Survey on the Singapore Strait – 26 April 2015

The NSS Bird Group went on another pelagic survey in the early morning of 26 April 2015. Our route was almost the same as in previous survey, along the Singapore Strait.

Quite a number of birds and bird species showed up compared to the previous trip.

Swinhoe's Storm Petrel
(Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel skimming just above the sea)

The first significant sighting was a lone Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel which showed up early crossing the strait from west to east, just after 7am.

Next we reached the familiar yellow buoy. This time around we saw around 30 resting Lesser Crested Terns, some in breeding plumage.

Yellow Buoy
(The yellow buoy with Lesser Crested Tern)

Lesser Crested Tern
(Lesser Crested Terns – closer view)

We saw our first Aleutian Tern around 8:30am flying from west to east, not far after the yellow buoy. This was the first of three Aleutian Terns seen in this trip.

Aleutian Tern
(Adult Aleutian Tern in breeding plumage)

Things quietened down substantially and it was not until 9:50am that we saw another bird, this time a Greater Crested Tern (Swift Tern)

Greater Crested Tern
(Greater Crested Tern – notice the yellow bill compared to the Lesser)

It took another hour before the next highlight of the trip. A flock of 36 White-winged Terns were feeding next to anchored ships, among them a few breeding plumaged birds with black heads and underparts were seen. There was a flurry of activity and we managed to see them picking up jellyfish on more than one occasion (see Gallery at the end of the article). We also noticed another Aleutian Tern flying by around the same area.

White-winged Tern
(A breeding plumaged White-winged Tern)

Our most exciting moment however happened when a tiny speck of a far away bird was spotted by Colin Poole. Even from a great distance, it appeared big. So the boat gave chase and as it drew closer we recognised it as a frigatebird. It turns out to be a juvenile frigatebird that is either a Christmas Island Frigatebbird or a Lesser Frigatebird. As the juvenile plumage is hard to identify conclusively, we will hand over the finding to the Records Committee to deliberate. (See Update at the bottom of the article)

Frigatebird
(A juvenile Frigatebird appearing closer after a long chase)

After the excitement, the return journey was relatively quiet. Activity picked up after we saw another Aleutian Tern at around 1:40pm followed quickly by a Bridled Tern and another rarity, an adult Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua) trailed by a Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel and lastly, another Bridled Tern. They were all travelling from west to east.

Parasitic Jaeger
(A distant Parasitic Jaeger montage)

All in all it was a fruitful trip. Our final count include:
White-winged Tern (36)
Lesser Crested Tern (35)
Greater Crested Tern (1)
Aleutian Tern (3)
Bridled Tern (2)
Little Tern (2)
Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel (2)
Frigatebird spp (1)
Parasitic Jaeger (1)
Grey Heron (3)
Swiftlets spp (10)

group photo
(Group photo L-R Jane Rogers, See Toh Yew Wai, Alan OwYong, Lim Kim Keang, Albert Low, Colin Poole, Francis Yap, Yong Yik Shih, Lawrence Cher. Not shown: Con Foley the photographer)

Photo Gallery

Update from David James, an expert on frigatebirds (1 May 2015)
Your initial diagnosis is correct, Lesser Frigatebird.
Firstly, the proportions are wrong for CI Frigatebird, the bill, neck and tail are not long enough and the base of the wing is does not broaden obviously close to the body.
The belly patch is too small, with black already reaching the base of the legs. It shows what I described in my 2014 article as a triangular belly patch with the the front corners stretched out as axillary spurs. That description can be problematic as the ‘triangle’ shape appears to vary depending on the viewing angle. In Francis’s FY7D382 it looks nothing like a triangle, but in Con’s shot with the bird preening ‘triangle’ is a good description. The belly of frigatebirds is a complex 3 dimensional surface, not usually noticed in other birds. The spurs are also a bit too short and narrow for a juvenile CIF.

A Murmuration of Starlings – in Singapore.

Daurian Starlings

Murmuration of Daurian Starlings over Seletar Dam. File photo dated 19.9.2012. 

If you google murmurations, you will find many fascinating videos of flocks of Starlings in their thousands flying in formation over meadows and towns in the USA and the English countryside. These are murmurations of Starlings, where thousands gathered at dusk and weaved around in a mesmerizing display before setting down to roost.

According to a study by George Young at Princeton University, they co-ordinate their movements by looking at the nearest seven neighbours. The fluid synchronized movement is not led by any leaders. They more or less follow each other’s movement and stay within the group. This may be their instinct to feel safe in numbers.

From September, flocks of Daurian Starlings Sturnus sturninus start arriving to our island. These common winter visitors and passage migrants numbered in their hundreds during the peak in October with the 1,200 starlings, the largest ever recorded, at Yishun Polytechnic on 27 September 2009.

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This is part of a flock of 600 plus photographed at the Seletar Dam on 19 September 2012. Unfortunately I was so engrossed watching the display that I forgot to video this spectacle. Before the fly around they gathered on the beach near to the mangroves but did not appear to be foraging. During the fly around some returned to perch on the dead trees above the mangroves for a while before flying off again to join the flock. These murmurations lasted till late dusk when they would descent and roost among the tall mangroves there. I am sure before long someone will have a video of our very own Murmuration.

Daurian Starling Daurian Starlings

Close up of a Daurian Starling and close formation flying. They are one of the six unprotected birds in the Wild Animals and Birds Act, together with our resident Asian Glossy Starlings Apolnis panayensis. The Bird Group is working with the AVA to see if they can be taken out of the schedule.

Reference. The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009.

Destination Singapore: A Birder’s Gateway to the Jungles of Southeast Asia – Part 2

When asked about Singapore’s birdlife, many locals bemoan the perceived lack of colour displayed by the birds they encounter in their daily life. While mynas, sunbirds and orioles may not be on the same level as the rainbow-coloured denizens of Asia’s rainforests, Singapore does have its fair share of colourful birds, some of which are also difficult to observe elsewhere in Asia. In this instalment, we profile three colourful avian residents which dwell unobtrusively in our midst, many of whom can be observed even in our urban parks and green spaces.

copper-throated sunbird-zacc We start with one of the more specialised sunbirds in the region – the mangrove-dwelling Copper-throated Sunbird. In poor light, males of this species can appear almost uniformly black, but when seen well, the iridescent quality of its plumage comes into its own, with a kaleidoscope of colours that even modern cameras struggle to document. This large sunbird has a patchy distribution throughout Southeast Asia, confined primarily to large tracts of good quality mangroves in southern Thailand and the Malay Peninsula as well as the Greater Sundas and Palawan. In Singapore, the species has persisted where most of our other mangrove specialists have faded away, and is regularly seen, some would say even locally common, in our remaining mangrove forests. The readily accessible Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, one of the local strongholds of this species, is one of the few places in the World where one could expect an encounter within minutes of stepping out of a taxi.

 

red-legged crake-zacc
(Red-legged Crake by ZaccHD)

Our next representative is a widespread resident throughout our island, but its crepuscular habits and strange vocalisations have confounded numerous observers over the years. Meet the Red-legged Crake. This forest-dwelling rail is widespread throughout Southeast Asia. However, its tendency to scurry mouse-like away from danger, coupled with being most active at dawn and dusk, means that few observers see anything more than a fleeting glimpse in the field. In Singapore, however, this species has adapted to inhabiting a wide range of wooded habitats throughout the island. Arguably the best place to see this species in the World is at our world-renowned Singapore Botanical Gardens, where individuals and even parents with young chicks frequently forage by the sides of footpaths and on open lawns in broad daylight, seemingly unperturbed by the multitude of park users and tourists. When viewed up close, it is an extremely attractive species, sporting a crimson-red iris and legs, rich chestnut brown plumage and Zebra-esque barring on its belly.

Long-tailed ParakeetFinally, we can’t have an article on colourful birds without a representative from the parrot family! Of the three species of parakeet found in Singapore, the Long-tailed Parakeet is the only native representative, and also has the distinction of being a globally near-threatened species. Males of this species are an eyeful with their bright red bills, peach coloured cheeks, black “beard” and long flowing tails. Unlike the other introduced parakeets, this species prefers the forest edge and adjacent areas of suitable habitat. In Singapore, despite competition from the introduced Red-breasted Parakeet, it is still readily observed on the edge of our nature reserves and larger tracts of woodland, while recent studies have shown that it also roosts communally in urban areas throughout the country. This is in marked contrast to the rest of Southeast Asia, where the species is generally only uncommonly recorded, and usually flying high above forested areas or along the coast.

While the spectacular birds of Southeast Asia’s rainforests tend to grab all the headlines, Singapore’s colourful avian residents are equally sought after by well-travelled global birdwatchers. Now that you, the reader, are familiar with some of our local avian jewels, look out for them on your daily commute or during your leisure time, they could well brighten up your day as well!

Photo Gallery of the birds featured:

Part 1 of the series
Part 3 of the series

This article is written and edited by our guest contributor Albert Low with help from Yong Ding Li. They are both highly travelled birdwatchers from Singapore, and are among the top Asian birders, ranked by number of bird species seen in Asia. Photo Credits: ZaccHD, Francis Yap.

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2015

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A Torquatus Crested/Oriental Honey Buzzard. File Photo: Alan OwYong. We recorded two of these Torquatus race OHBs in March.

We are coming towards the tail end of the Spring Migration when most of the raptors are making their way back north. The attached Singapore Raptor Report Mar15 is compiled by Tan Gim Cheong.  We had a total of 52 raptors from 7 species recorded passing through our island. Have a good read and thanks for your records.

China to Sumatra via Singapore: The Journey of the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher

To many casual birdwatchers, the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher (Rhinomyias brunneata) is just another of the many hundreds of ‘brown jobs’ that dwell in the region. The more serious birders and conservationists however, know it to be globally threatened, and appreciate its rarity in the region.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
(A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher from Bidadari, Singapore. Photographed in September 2012)

In Singapore, veterans of the Singapore Bird Race remember it as a ‘species in bold’, in the race checklist, a classification reserved for many of our rarest birds, and thus in need of special documentation in the race. First discovered in northern Singapore back in the early 1980s, the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher was a bird one seldom saw, and there were only a handful of records every year. In recent years, much has been learnt about the ecology of this little songbird. Birdwatchers visiting the famous Bidadari Cemetery found small numbers of these birds every October since 2006, and in 2013, a total of eight birds were sighted in the little patch of woodland of no more than 15 hectares in size. Parallel surveys I conducted in the Central Catchment Forest found as many as six birds in one morning in mid-October, or an average of 1 bird for every kilometre walked. Birdwatchers around the world now acknowledge that Singapore is probably the best place to see the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher in the world during the fall migration period between October-November, much more so that at it’s breeding habitat in China.

So, why the apparent rarity? One reason is that the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher has a habit of skulking in dense patches of undergrowth in woodlands and forests, perching motionless on a low twig while watching the ground for the unfortunate bug. Many birdwatchers are thus likely to have walked past the flycatcher without realising that it is there, just metres away in the bushes. Secondly, the drab-brownish colour tones of the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher mean that to the uninitiated, it can be quite a challenge to tell it apart from other flycatchers, many of which are also brownish and show subtle differences which are difficult to pick out when seen poorly. Thirdly, not many people know the calls the Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher makes. Only in recent years do we now know it produces a harsh series of ‘ticks’, a call made when it is alarmed, or when another Jungle Flycatcher comes too close into its territory. (Link to my recording on Xeno-canto Link1, Link2). This call is so similar to that made by Blue Flycatchers of the genus Cyornis, that it is not surprising why some taxonomists now consider it part of that group.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
(A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher from Bidadari, Singapore. Photographed on a low twig.)

In Singapore, the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher occurs as a passage migrant, which means that birds seen here are on their way to their wintering destination elsewhere. Breeding in the mountainous broadleaved forests of southern and central China (e.g. Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guizhou), Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers head south from August onwards, briefly passing through northern Vietnam. By mid-September, they would have reached Central Thailand, as confirmed by regular sightings around Bangkok . Sightings from Singapore are mainly from the last few days of September to early November and there are very few records of birds staying through winter. Birds have also been collected from the One Fathom Bank Lighthouse in the Straits of Malacca in November before the 1920s, while hundreds were mist-netted on migration in Frasers Hill in the 1960s.

For many years, no one knew for sure where they spend their winters. A major clue came when a team in Java mist-netted a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher in the Gunung Halimun National Park southwest of Jakarta. Subsequently, photographers based in Sumatra obtained images of ‘unknown flycatchers’ which were subsequently re-identified as the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers. Part of the confusion stemmed from the fact that the bird was not listed for Sumatra in the main bird field guide (i.e. Mackinnon et al’s Birds of Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Bali) covering the region. We now know that the bird has been found in the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Lampung, and the Harapan Rainforest in Jambi province. In short, we now know that the humble Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher makes a journey of 3,500km each way in Autumn and Spring, a massive distance for such a small little bird.

Photo Gallery

Reference:
MacKinnon, J., & Phillipps, K. (1993). A field guide to the birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Bali: the Greater Sunda Islands. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

This post is written by our contributor Yong Ding Li with additional input from Albert Low. Photographs by Francis Yap.

The Cockatoos of Singapore

Like most urban cities in the world, we have our share of Cockatoo species flying around our parks, gardens and our estates. They are either introduced, released or escaped pet birds. As we do not have any native cockatoo species their impact will be on our native parrots that share the same food sources and nesting sites. So what are the cockatoos that you see flying around your place, where are they from and how are they doing?

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A. Tanimbar Corrella C. goffiniana 32 cm is the smallest and the most common of the four species. They are the only ones with a pinkish lore. Established in 1980 (Briffet 1984), they are endemic to the Tanimbar Islands in Indonesia and are classified as globally near-threatened by Birdlife International. Large flocks used to congregate around the Changi Jetty area but now are widespread all over the island. Breeding recorded in our wooded parkland and gardens.

Tanimbar Corellas looking for nest holes at Bidadari. 

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B. Yellow-crested Cockatoo C. sulphurea 33-35 cm is only slightly larger than the Tanimbar Corella They are not common and can be separated from the Tanimbar Corella in the field by its larger yellow crest and dark bill. They also have a yellowish cheek. Residents of Sulawesi, Sumba and Lesser Sundas and are considered globally threatened (BL Int). They were introduced into Singapore with recent records at West Coast and Alexander Parks and Changi Point. Surprisingly we do not have any breeding record.

Yellow-crested Cockatoo taken at Faber Hill. Notice the yellow cheeks. Photo: Francis Yap

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Sulphur-crested Cockato at Dempsey Hill

Sulpur-crested Cockatoos from Sentosa (left) and Dempsey Hill (right)

C. Sulphur-crested Cockoo C. galerita 50 cm is a large noisy cockatoo. More common than the Yellow-crested, they lacked the yellowish cheek but has a blue eyering. They are native to New Guinea and Australia brought over as pet birds. Mainly escapees, there is a fairly large population in Sentosa, Southern Ridges and Loyang. We do not have any breeding records.

D. Salmon-crested Cockatoo C. moluccensis 50 cm was once fairly common but seem to disappeared. Their crest is dark pink from where it gets its name.  Its range includes Moluccan Islands, Seram and Ambon. Like the Sulphur-crested, they are escapees and are found mostly in Sentosa. They are considered as globally threatened (BL Intl). We have yet to have a breeding record here.

While their numbers are threatened and in decline in this native ranges due to poaching, their population in bird parks, private collection and free roaming in our urban spaces are stable enough to ensure their long term survival. Every year in February, the Bird Group conducts a Parrot Count to document the trend of all the parrot species including these cockatoos in Singapore. If you come across roosting sites of our parrots and these cockatoos, please drop us a note but better still help us with the count.

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Craig Robson. Asian Books 2000.

Singapore Raptor Report-February 2015

Black Baza

Black Baza was one of the species that passed through in February.

We are well into the Spring migration in February as most of the migratory raptors make their way back north. As expected not many raptors were recorded as Singapore is not in their main path back. Still nine species including surprised visitor were recorded thanks to the many reports sent in. Gim Cheong has been diligently compiling these reports for the past years. To find out which raptor species was seen click on this Singapore Raptor Report Feb15

Pelagic Survey on the Singapore Strait – 12 April 2015

The NSS Bird Group’s first pelagic trip for the year was conducted last Sunday, 12 April 2015. As usual, we went around the Singapore Strait, touching international waters and passing through both Indonesia (Batam) and Malaysia (Pengerang)

We started our journey at 6am before first light from Sentosa and headed to clear immigration off Sisters’ Islands. After some delays, we boated southwards towards the direction of Batam.

Our first bird for the day was a passing Grey Heron. It too was heading towards Batam for the weekend, perhaps?

Grey Heron
(A Grey Heron seen at 7:10am flying low towards Batam)

Thereafter we met our first feeding flock of Black-naped Terns and Little Terns. The exciting event of the day was the documentation of the Black-naped Tern feeding on flying fish.

Black-naped Tern
(Black-naped Tern flying off with a freshly caught flying fish)

Black-naped Tern
(Another view of the Black-naped Tern flying off with a freshly caught flying fish)

The rest of the journey went smoothly save for some choppy waters. There was another fishing flock that consists mainly of Lesser Crested Terns and one Bridled Tern. In total, we saw 5 different species of terns, which was to be expected.

Mixed Terns
(A Bridled Tern in the middle surrounded by Lesser Crested Terns hunting for fish.)

Little Tern
(A pair of breeding plumage Little Terns on a buoy. Buoys are great places to find resting birds)

Lesser-crested Tern
(A pair of Lesser Crested Terns at another buoy. The bottom bird is in full breeding plumage)

pelagicmap-20150412
(Our route tracked and mapped using GPS)

Below are the list of birds seen and their numbers:
Swift (Greater Crested) Terns (12)
Lesser Crested Terns (34)
Little Terns (14)
Black-naped Terns (10)
Bridled Terns (1)
Swiftlets spp. (22)
Grey Heron (2)
Barn Swallow (1)

The migratory return of the Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels and Short-tailed Shearwaters will commence a few weeks from now, and we expect the next pelagic trip to be more bird rich. All in all it was a good start for the year and we got to brush up our bird identification skills.

Interview with Raghav, an early bird.

 RaghavThe Singapore Bird Group is pleased to introduce an up and coming young birder to you. Raghav is 13 and have been birding for only three years, but have recorded close to 200 species, many with his camera. We do not get too many keen and committed birders in this age group. So we are very happy to see him progress and help with the study of our birds here. I met him a few times birding with his mom at Bidadari and was very impressed with his knowledge of our avifauna. He is credited for photographing the rare resident Cotton Pygmy Goose at Turuk Ponds this year. Probably the second photo of this water bird taken here. You can see his bird images at Flickr under birdbrains@spg.

Here is the interview we had with him recently.

SBG: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Raghav: I’m 13, and started birding almost three years ago. Besides birding I also play field hockey and tennis.

SBG: How did you get started on bird watching? When was that?

Raghav: In the summer of 2013, my family went on a trip to Taman Negara and at the hotel we saw a line of Oriental Pied Hornbills following each other in a straight line across a busy human footpath. The next day we were out in the field for almost six hours!

SBG: What do you get out of bird watching?

Raghav: The satisfaction of seeing a new species is incredible, and there’s always something happening when you’re out in nature.

SBG: Did anyone inspire you to take up birding and photography?

Raghav: My mom was the inspiration who decided to “just walk” at Taman Negara. From then we never looked back.

SBG: How often do you go bird watching and with who?

Raghav: Once or twice a week with my mom.

SBG: What is your list now? What is your best bird so far?

Raghav: My list is touching 200 including escapees in Singapore. Best bird so far… Sri Lankan Frogmouth from Thattekad. The experience: walking around the bird for different angles and watching the bird’s eyes follow us.

SBG: Do you have a favourite birding site in Singapore? Why?

Raghav: Tough one… It’ll have to be Prunus Trail. The joy of listening and seeing a Short-tailed Babbler’s singing and a Siberian Blue Robin’s bathing is pretty awesome.

SBG: Do you have a favourite family or group of birds? Why?

Raghav: It’s got to be the Babblers. Their singing is probably the coolest thing that I have experienced as a birder.

SBG: Any favourite bird or birds that you want to see?

Raghav: I’m happy as long as the list is ticking, so I don’t really have a favorite.

SBG: What do you aspire to be as a birder?

Raghav: My raptor ID skills still have a long way to go, so I would really like to improve on that.

SBG: How long have you been a member of the NSS and what do you like about it?

Raghav: I became a member two years ago and the walks are a great way to begin my weekends.

SBG: Any advice to youngsters like yourself on taking up bird watching?

Raghav: When you start off, it seems like it’s really easy to add to your list, and you’ll think it’ll be like that forever. But after a few years you start to slow down. At this point don’t give up, no matter how hard it is. Keep pushing and once you see one new bird, your count will keep ticking on.

SBG: Where else have you been bird watching outside Singapore?

Raghav: We made one trip to Thattekad in India last fall and another to Panti in Malaysia (and got the Black-thighed Falconet) last spring. During our China trip, we also visited Chanba in Shaanxi.

Some of Raghav’s most meaningful moments in his birding journey with his comments: