Pelagic Survey on the Singapore Strait – 3 May 2015

The NSS Bird Group went on another pelagic survey in the early morning of 3 May 2015. Our route was almost the same as in previous survey, along the Singapore Strait.

We were anticipated a good haul of birds as previous year’s count at this same period usually yielded good number of migrants passing through the strait on the way to their breeding ground. Unfortunately the day started rather gloomily with overcast sky.

Lesser Crested Tern
(The first birds of the day were a flock of Lesser Crested Terns travelling south-east. The sky was still dark)

We encountered a flock of Lesser Crested Terns around 7am, followed by a Bridled Tern soon after. At around 7:20am, a few of us who were looking at the sea saw a pod of 6 Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, south of St John’s Island. This was not the first time we have seen dolphins, but it is always a pleasure to encounter them. We had good views for about 8 minutes after which we sailed on to the first yellow buoy.

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
(It was hard to photograph the dolphins as the long lens for birds limited the field of view. However we did get a picture of a surfacing dolphin)

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
(There were 6 dolphins altogether, but we only managed to get a picture of 5 in a frame)

At the first yellow buoy, we saw 11 Lesser Crested Terns together with 3 Little Terns.

Yellow Buoy
(The Little Tern is the leftmost bird, and is smaller than the bigger-sized Lesser Crested Terns)

Yellow Buoy
(A close-up of the group of terns, permitting better size comparison)

Not much happened until we saw the second yellow buoy. Again another flock of Lesser Crested Terns were resting.

Yellow Buoy
(The second yellow buoy with resting Lesser-crested Terns)

It was relatively uneventful until we reached near Pengerang where the Leisure World casino ship normally does a slow cruise in international waters. There we saw our first 5 Swinhoe’s Strom Petrels. They were far away this time and we did not manage to catch up. By this stage last year, we already were counting triple figure of this bird species, so it was very disappointing count wise. We headed back soon after and there were a few birds here and there. We headed back to the second yellow buoy to see whether any jaegers were around, kleptoparasitizing the terns. No luck either!

Finally after that buoy we saw a pair of Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels. A bit far, but at least we had a picture of one.

Swinhoe's Storm Petrel
(Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel, flying just above water)

At the first yellow buoy, we again encountered the same terns. They scattered as we neared, permitting us to practice some tern flight shots.

Lesser Crested Tern
(Non-breeding plumage Lesser Crested Tern)

Lesser Crested Tern
(Breeding plumage Lesser Crested Tern)

The last birds we saw was a pair of Black-naped Terns following a big ship. A pretty boring and rather uneventful trip except for the dolphins encounter. But perhaps helpful for us to chart the migratory patterns of the various seabird species.

Black-naped Tern
(A Black-naped Tern dwarfed by the size of the ship)

Our final count include:
Lesser Crested Tern (62)
Greater Crested Tern (1)
Black-naped Tern (2)
Bridled Tern (7)
Little Tern (3)
Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel (7)
Grey Heron (1)
Swiftlets spp (12)
Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins (6)

(Our route)

(Our team L-R: Lawrence, Alfred, Yik Shih, Samantha, Kim Keang, Ju Lin, Francis)

Photo Gallery


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