Of Godwits, Dowitchers and Curlew.

32 Black-tailed Godwits David Li

Part of the 32 Black-tailed Godwits that arrived at Sungei Buloh last week. Photo David Li.

The wetlands at Sungei Buloh came alive this September with the arrivals of three uncommon and sought-after shorebirds. David Awcock started the ball rolling with the sighting of a lone Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa on the 7th. Timothy Lim managed to get a group photo of about 30 the next day. David Li, Researcher Officer the Reserve did a count and came out with a total of 32. The highest count were 60 here on 9 October 1994 ( Iora 1).

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Very hungry Asian Dowitchers feeding in a line.

As the excitement subsided, John Ang photographed a single Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus on the 19th. This is listed as a rare winter visitor and passage migrant to our shores but have been sighted in the last few years. This was followed by a photo of a Eurasian Curlew, Numenius arquata taken at Hide 1D by Ben Lee the next day. He posted it on the WildbirdSingapore e-forum. Most of the sighting of this Curlew were at our sandy coasts like Con Foley’s sighting on 22 Sept 2007 and another by Lena Chow, Jimmy Lee and Gerard Francis on 14 November 2010. Both were at the Changi Cove. Frankie Cheong had not one but three records at newly reclaimed land at Pulau Tekong ( 18.9.10, 4.10.10 & 22.2.12).

Euraisan Curlew

Euraisan Curlew, a uncommon wader normally found at our sea coasts.

Ben Lee’s sighting brought Francis Yap, Zacc HD, Robin Tan and Alan OwYong to the main hide the next Monday morning. Fortunately we were joined by David Li and Mendis Tan later. Mendis was the one who picked the Curlew among the flock of Whimbrels just as we were about to give up.

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A most unexpected photo of both the Eurasian Curlew and the rarer Asian Dowitchers in the same frame.

Earlier Robin was photographing the Whimbrels when he found the Asian Dowitcher. We had a pleasant surprise when four birds were seen. In 2013, we had the highest count of 7 birds on 9th Sept, beating the old high count of 6 birds on 7th Sept 1980. Then heavy rain fell and to our delight, they all came down from the bund to feed. This gave all of us the opportunity of getting better and nearer shots, but the low light was not ideal. But we were compensated with precious photos of both the Curlew and the four Dowitchers in one frame. Everyone except Alan got their lifers for the day with Francis getting his long awaited global lifer, the Eurasian Curlew. PS. David Li made a very interesting observation. All these birds were juveniles. Could it be that they being younger need to have a stopover for a rest and refuel. The Eurasian Curlew was still around at the main pond on the 22nd.

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This photo was submitted on the 23rd clearly showed that there were seven Asian Dowitchers at SBWR on 21st Sept. This equals the highest count of seven birds in 2013.

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009. A field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. 1993 Wild Bird Society of Japan. Thanks to David Li for the use of his photo and the alerts from David Awcock, John Ang and Ben Lee. Also thanks to Robin Tan and Mendis Tan for picking out the Dowitcher and Curlew on 21st.

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