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.

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