Monthly Archives: March 2018

Birding at Simei-Changi Business Park

Birding at Simei- Changi Business Park

By T. Ramesh

I have been walking around Simei-Changi Business Park estate for the  past three years . Ever since I started birding in Jan 2017,  I combined my morning 5 km walk with birding (with bino and a zoom camera) which yielded interesting sightings of various species of birds.

I have recorded 65 species so far in this area . Many are residents and some are uncommon or rare visitors during migratory season.  Below is the list in random order.

1.     Black-naped Oriole
2.     Eurasian Tree Sparrow
3.     Common Goldenback
4.     Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker
5.     Red-breasted Parakeet
6.     Rose-ringed Parakeet
7.     Blue crowned Hanging Parrot
8.     Common Kingfisher
9.     White-throated Kingfisher
10.  Collared Kingfisher
11.  Yellow Bittern
12.  Grey Heron
13.  Striated Heron
14.  Cinnamon Bittern
15.  Black-crowned Night heron
16.  Blue-throated Bee-eater
17.  Blue-tailed Bee-eater
18.  White-breasted Waterhen
19.  Spotted Dove
20.  Zebra Dove
21.  Pink-necked Pigeon
22.  Green Imperial Pigeon
23.  Red Turtle Dove
24.  Oriental Pied Hornbill
25.  Red-whiskered Bulbul
26.  Little Egret
27.  Common Iora
28.  White-headed Munia
29.  Scaly-breasted Munia
30.  Brown Shrike
31.  Long-tailed Shrike
32.  Tiger shrike
33.  Pied Triller
34.  Oriental Dollarbird
35.  Oriental Magpie Robin
36.  Asian Glossy Starling
37.  Asian Koel
38.  Lesser Coucal
39.  Grey Wagtail                                                                                                                            40.  Paddyfield Pipit
41.  Malayan Pied Fantail
42.  Pacific Swallow
43.  Asian Brown Flycatcher
44.  Dark-sided Flycatcher
45.  Large-tailed Nightjar
46.  White-bellied Sea-eagle
47.  Ashy Tailorbird
48.  Common Tailorbird
49.  Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
50.  Large-billed Crow
51.  Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
52.  Oriental White-eye
53.  Slaty-breasted Rail
54.  Arctic Warbler
55.  Oriental Reed Warbler
56.  Chinese Pond Heron
57.  Crow-billed Drongo
58.  Ashy Minivet
59.  Snipe Spp.
60.  Oriental Honey Buzzard
61.  Brahminy Kite
62.  Changeable Hawk Eagle
63.  Black Baza
64.  Jerdon’s Baza                                                                                                                                 65. Pacific Golden Plover.

Map of the birding spots in Simei- Changi Business Park.Map

If you are driving,  you can park your car next to CBP bus terminal down slope going into the canal path ( marked in red here) .

Photos of birds of Simei – Changi Business Park

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Green Imperial Pigeon

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Jerdon’s Baza

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Five Black Bazas in a tree

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Snipe Spp

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Juvenile Cinnamon Bittern

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Dark-sided Flycatcher

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White headed Munia

The best time for birding in this area is 7-9 am . (except Green Imperial Pigeon which comes around  around 10-11 a.m.)

Changi Business Park with many open fields have large number of  equatorial spitting cobras  and I spotted three spitting cobras within a span of 8 minutes walk in different locations!  I definitely need to get Phua Chu Kang boots J ( yellow safety boots ) and  eye protection if I decide to  I go into the fields.

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Equatorial Spitting Cobra

If you are interested in watching metal birds landing, this is an ideal place as well, as flights land every few minutes.  This poses danger to birds and below photo is a carcass of a bird ( grey heron?) may be  due to collision with a plane.

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Collision with an aircraft?

Look forward to seeing more birders in this area before this area develops into a complete concrete jungle.  Remember to cover the canal behind Changi Bus terminal where Jerdon Baza, Black Baza , Grey Wagtail, Juvenile Cinnamon bittern &  Juvenile night heron  were sighted.

Happy birding !

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Singapore Bird Report – February 2018

STBabbler, 21 Feb 18, Venus, Alex Fok, crop

A brilliant capture of a Short-tailed Babbler under the dim lighting at Venus Loop, 21 Feb 2018, by Alex Fok

A rare Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis that flew over from Bukit Batok Nature Park must have made the day for Francis Yap when he looked out the balcony of his new apartment on the 8th. At nearby BTNR, the rare Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides found last month was still there at the Cave Path on the 3rd (Martin Kennewell). BTNR also harboured a Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane on the 26th (Richard White). Another rarity, an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was seen at Singapore Quarry by Richard White and on 18th. This was the second record for this location and could well be the same bird seen at the Bukit Gombak Quarry on August 2014.

At Singapore Botanic Gardens, the very rare Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii continued to be present throughout the month, even attracting birders from overseas! An Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina on the 4th (Khong Yew) heralded the arrival of the Lunar New Year. On 18th, Alan OwYong recorded a Van Hasselts’ Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana, possibly a first for the locality. On 24th, Richard White found a female Cinnamon Bittern.

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Orange-headed Thrush, a fitting welcome for the Lunar New Year, at SBG on 12 Feb 2018, by Terence Tan

In the Central Catchment, a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae, possibly the same bird recorded last month, was recorded on the 4th by Michael Noble. Also on 4th, Subha & Raghav Narayanswamy recorded a little jewel, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca (black-backed race). On the 7th, Francis Yap had the good luck of seeing two species of pittas, a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida and a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis. The next day, Oliver Tan also got lucky with a Hooded Pitta. On the 17th, Martin Kennewell found a Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps. On 20th, along the Rifle Range Link, Veronica Foo recorded a Siberian Blue Robin, a Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris and two Abbott’s Babblers Malacocincla abbotti.

At the fringes of the Central Forests, Veronica Foo found a Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus and a Siberian Blue Robin at Windsor Park on the 1st. Art Toh recorded a Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji at Lower Pierce on the 4th. Short-tailed Babblers Malacocincla malaccensis were recorded by Vincent Lao at Lower Pierce on the 10th and at Venus Loop on the 18th by Alex Fok. Venus Loop also held a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu on the 17th (Art Toh & Peach Won). Yong Ding Li reported that a rare Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was seen at MacRitchie by visiting Chinese birders on the 16th. Hindhede Park held a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka on the 17th, outside Rainforest Condo, and another two were recorded at the Rail Corridor on the 18th (Richard White).

Pulau Tekong held a rare Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes and a Rufous-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis on the 21st (Frankie Cheong). During a survey of the marine areas south of Singapore on the 22nd, Alan OwYong recorded four Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana, one at Raffles Marina, two at Pulau Salu and one at Terembu Bembang Besar. At Pulau Hantu, he managed to find the Mangrove Whistler which had eluded others previously.

Great-billed Heron caught Copperband Butterfly Fish, 220218, Pulau Salu, Lester Tan

Great-billed Heron caught a Copperband Butterfly Fish, 22 Feb 2018, Pulau Salu, by Lester Tan

Pulau Ubin continued to deliver amazing records: a very rare Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea on the 9th came from Jojo and Jen (reported by Roger Boey). A few days later, on the 12th, Wang HengMount photographed a Black Kite Milvus migrans over Pekan Quarry; on 13th, Keita Sin found two Cinerous Bulbuls Hemixos cinereus and on 18th Lim Kim Chuah saw a Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha. Also, on the 4th during an NParks survey, notable records included a Crested Serpent Eagle (Tan Ju Lin), Blue-rumped Parrot Psittinus cyanurus (Yong Ding Li), Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata (Lim Kim Keang) and Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni (Keita Sin). Also, Jacky Soh found a scarce Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus.

At Pasir Ris Park, Seng Alvin photographed a White-headed Munia Lonchura maja on the 5th, while Feroz Fizah found a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectens on the 6th. At nearby Lorong Halus, Lim Kim Keang counted 37 Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica on the 24th, a pretty high number, and Alfred Chia found them still there on the 25th; Geri Lim saw a number of Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni on the 6th, estimating 8-10 birds but was unsure if they were all of the same species, while Ramesh Thiruvengadam had one on the 7th at Changi Business Park, which also held a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus on 25th (also by Ramesh). At Tampines Eco Green on the 17th, Marc Ng found a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor while Feroz Fizah photographed a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus on the 22nd.

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Plaintive Cuckoo at Tampines Eco Green, on 22 Feb 2018, by Feroz Fizah

A Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola was seen at Seletar on 4th (Wang HengMount) and on 6th (Luke Milo Teo). At nearby Seletar Aerospace Drive, Lim Kim Keang found a Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus on the 9th. On the 20th, an Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum was seen at Seletar end (Gerald Chua) and on 27th, Martin Kennewell had a Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator at Piccadilly Seletar.

A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea put up an appearance at West Coast Park on 9th (Art Toh). Richard White reported that his friend photographed a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus at Holland Village on the 17th. At Woodlands Drive, also on the 17th, Kannan A. found a Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris. Down at Telok Bangah Walk, Alan OwYong encountered a Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus on the 26th. At Bishan Park on 26th, 27th and 28th, Martin Kennewell found five Asian Palm Swifts Cypsiurus balasiensis flying low.

Satay by the Bay held a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus on 9th (Thana Sinnathamby) and a Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula on 19th (Deborah Friets). On owls, Heather Goessels found a grey morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia on the 14th at Mimosa Walk.

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Watercock at Kranji Marshes, on 18 Feb 2018, by Goh Cheng Teng

Kranji Marshes continued to hold good birds. The vagrant Booted Warbler Iduna caligata was recorded throughout the month. On 18th, a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was recorded by Goh Cheng Teng and Keita Sin, while Tanvi DG had a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis. On 25th, Martin Kennewell recorded secretive species such as the King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis, Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla, Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis and Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago. On the 26th, Adrian Silas Tay found a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia. And on the last day of the month, Martin Kennewell recorded a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis sepulcralis, Watercock, Plaintive Cuckoo, Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola.

For breeding-related records, Felix Wong was at Changi Business Park on the 10th when he saw two pairs of Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea and witnessed the mating, followed by courtship feeding (female prodding the male for food, and then fed by male). A Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis was building its nest at Ang Mo Kio Town Park on 18th (Alan OwYong). On the 24th, Felix again witnessed another courtship feeding, a male Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus regurgitating yellowish liquid to feed a female at a potential nest hole at Whampoa. Richard White reported a newly fledged chick of the Buffy Fish Owl at SBG in late February and another at SBWR on 27th, which Khoo MeiLin photographed a day earlier.

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A young Buffy Fish Owl at SBWR, 26 Feb 2018, by Khoo Meilin

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
This report is compiled by Tan Gim Cheong and Alan OwYong based on selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from ebird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Terence Tan, Alex Fok, Lester Tan, Feroz Fizah, Goh Cheng Teng and Khoo MeiLin for the the use of their photos.

More Insect Prey for Malkoha Chick

By Gerald KC Lim.

After reviewing the many photographs I took of the parents bringing back food for the chick at the Jurong Eco Gardens, I found that a few were not mentioned in the earlier post. I also had a high number of Praying Mantis which was noted to be their favourite prey.  I would like to share some of the others, a leafhopper and two locusts in this follow up article. These photos were taken between 6th and 13th of March 2018.

Gerald Lim

A leafhopper.

Locus Gerald Lim

A Locust.

Caterpillar Gerald Lim

Caterpillar, not sure if it is an Atlas Moth Cat.

Leaf Hopper Gerald Lim

Another locust/grasshopper.

Praying Mantis Gerald Lim

Praying Mantis, its favourite prey.

The Varied Prey for the Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Chick.

The Varied Prey for the Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Chick.

Compiled by Seng Alvin.

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Seng Alvin’s photo showing the parent bringing back a grasshopper.

Between 1996 and 2005, the Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, had not been recorded outside the Central Catchment Forest, Bukit Timah Nature Reserves or Nee Soon Swamp Forest, based on the Annual Bird Census findings. The highest number recorded for each year were six birds, the lowest one and the total of thirty birds for the ten years. These data confirmed that they were not common and were forest specific although they were seen foraging at forest edges at Mandai Lake Road, Bukit Batok Nature Park and Bukit Brown. It is listed as nationally near threatened (Lim 1992). Their population trend since 2001 was declining which was not surprising for a bird of this size.

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The Praying Mantis is their favourite prey either because of its abundance at the park or an easy catch. Photos Top: Art Toh, Bottom Chen Boon Chong.

Chee Wei-lin Praying Mantis

Chee Wei-lin’s full portrait of the parent with another Praying Mantis.

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More Praying Mantis prey. Photos Top: Isabella Lee, Bottom: Geoff Lim.

The first sign of their spread outside of the central forests was the presence of a pair at the Western Catchment Forest on 28 October 2006. This may be due to strays from outside Singapore. They have also been recorded as far south as Kent Ridge Park on a few occasions. How much park connectors play in this movement has yet to be studied. Historically, dead specimens were collected from Kranji River, Jurong, Seletar, Sungei Sembawang and Ulu Pandan.

Fat and juicy caterpillars of the largest moth in the world, the Atlas Moth. Photos: Left Esther Ong, Top Right: Edwin Choy, Bottom Right: Calinda Yap.

The most visible nesting records in the past were from the old Mandai Orchid Gardens and along the Mandai Lake Road the early 2000s, followed by one outside the Bukit Timah NR Visitor Centre.

The recent nesting records at Jurong Eco Gardens were a good sign that they are adapting well to nature parks that are close to denser forests, in this case the Western Catchment Forest.

Tan Eng Boo Long Horn Grasshopper

A Katydid prey identified by its long antennae. Photo by Tan Eng Boo.

Early this week, a pair of Chestnut-bellied Malkohas nested in the gardens again. We were concerned about the chances of success as the nest was next to a walking path. But they were able to adapt and brought up one chick successfully, overcoming a mass school running event a few days before fledging.

Chen Boon Chong

One of the smallest prey, a spider. Photo by Chen Boon Chong.

Seng Alvin saw the value of the many closed up images of the parents bringing back food for the chick for a study of their diet. From the many closed up photographs that he managed to compile, the Praying Mantis was their favourite prey, followed by the Atlas Moth caterpillars. It may be a case of the abundance of these two insects at the time. Other insects brought back included Katydid, a spider and large grasshoppers. All these are sizable prey and are rich in proteins, allowing the chick to fledge in the shortest time possible. We hope that such information will help park planning if we want to keep species like this near threatened Malkoha expands across to all our green spaces islandwide.

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A large grasshopper like this will keep the chick full for a while.

We are grateful to Lena Chow for the identity of the insects and prey. Many thanks to Art Toh, Calinda Yap, Chee Wei-Lin, Chen Boon Chong, Edwin Choy, Esther Ong, Geoff Lim, Isabella Lee, Tan Eng Boo, Seng Alvin and Alan OwYong for the use of the photographs.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore).

Lim Kim Chuah and Lim Kim Seng. State of Singapore’s Wild Birds and Bird Habitats. A Review of the Annual Bird Census 1996-2005. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore).

A Short History of the Jerdon’s Baza in Singapore.

A Short History of the Jerdon’s Baza in Singapore.

By Alan OwYong and  Tan Gim Cheong.

We are indeed fortunate when a juvenile Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni moved from the northern part of Singapore to the heart of the island at Bishan Park in late February 2018. This raptor has eluded birders and photographers for many years as they make sporadic appearances at Lorong Halus and Tampines Eco Green. Last weekend, it was hunting at Bishan Park from early morning to late afternoon giving many of us our lifers and hundreds of perched, feeding and flight shots.

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An exceptional shot of the Jerdon’s Baza making a low fly pass at Bishan Park captured by Lim Ser Chai. 

But surprisingly this raptor was not recorded in the 1920s to 1990s. One of the reasons may be that it is largely sedentary. We should consider the winter population in Singapore to be true but short distance migrants. They are very rare in Peninsular Malaysia, so the birds we see could have come from north of Chumphon, possibly Northern Thailand, Myanmar or India. Their range includes South India and Southern China down to parts of South East Asia and across to Borneo, Sumatra (breeding recorded) and the Philippines.

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A well taken and nicely framed habitat shot of Jerdon’s Baza by Mettalady Yeo.

It was listed as a rare accidental here, based on only seven records from 1996 to 2008. Our first record was an injured juvenile from Maju Camp at Clementi on 6 December 2002. I remembered someone pointed out the serrated upper mandible as one of the identity features. It was revised when a miss-identified juvenile Blyth’s Hawk Eagle photographed at Bidadari in January 1996 by the late Ong Kiem Sian was re-identified as an adult Jerdon’s Baza.

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Martii Siponen’s photo of a Jerdon’s Baza (left) with an Oriental Whip Snake at Hindhede Quarry.

Between 2006 and 2008, a bunch of records came in from the Lim Chu Kang, Poyan and Choa Chu Kang areas. Con Foley photographed one in flight over the Chinese Gardens in 2007. In 2010, we had several records from the reclaimed land at Changi Cove (Lau JiaSheng et al). These records do point to a case of this species being overlooked in the past. In fact,  Martti Siponen, a keen raptor watcher shot one in flight over Hindhede Quarry in 2010 and kept it filed as a Changeable Hawk Eagle.

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The Jerdon’s Baza is also called a Lizard Hawk, well illustrated by Terence Tan’s dramatic shot of a Changeable Lizard being torn up. 

Most of the recent sightings were at Lorong Halus where up to eight birds were roosting there during the migratory months. Their foraging ground then extended to Tampines Eco Green and the open fields of Pasir Ris Park. My first sighting was at Biopolis at one-north in 2012 where two birds were seen perched by Horst Flotow from his office window. This is also the first for one-north. Last November two were seen flying over Henderson Wave.  Lets hope they will be returning year after year and enjoy our warm weather during the winter months.

(PS. The Jerdon’s Baza was last seen at Bishan Park on 12 March 2018).

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore). Toru Yamazaki. Field Guide to the Raptors of Asia. 2012 Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network. 

Many thanks to Lim Ser Chai, Mettalady Yeo,Martti Siponen and Terence Tan for the use of their photographs.

 

A Witness to a Hunt.

A Witness to a Hunt – Changeable Hawk Eagle. By Thio Hui Bing.

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I was about to leave Lorong Halus on a hot and sunny March day 3rd, 2018, just past midday, when I heard and saw two Changeable Hawk Eagles flying some distance away. I took a few record shots of them. I walk slowly back along the road keeping a lookout for other birds.

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It was then I noticed a dark colored raptor on a tree about 10-20m away on the right side from the road. It was a dark morph Changeable Hawk Eagle, perched on tree branches fairly high up.  It was behaving normally, looking around, just like what raptors do. I took a few photos and video of it. Just when I was about to leave, it suddenly flew down across the road with its legs hanging swooping down into the secondary vegetation.

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The next moment I heard and saw some mynas flying out. I knew the raptor had likely caught a prey. Curiously, I approached with care and wondered if it was still inside. Looking around I managed to see it among the branches some 10m away, on a low perch. I took some more shots of it. It seemed to know that I was watching it. My close presence may have caused it to fly out of the semi thick vegetation to the other side of the road where it was previously.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to get a focused shot even though I got it in frame for flying off with its prey. This time it opted to perch on a branch of tall tree,  probably not wanting to be disturbed. After landing on the tree, it hopped and flew to an even higher tree branch. I could still see it with the backlight,  but not see its prey. I took some shots and video of it plucking the prey’s feathers for records, before leaving it in peace.  What an amazing sight to witness its precision hunting skills.

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