Author Archives: Alan OwYong

About Alan OwYong

Retiree birder and photographer.

Pacific Reef Egret fish sorting behaviour?

Pacific Reef Egret fish sorting behaviour?

By Yeo Seng Beng.

On Sunday 7th October 2018, at 5 pm in the evening, I observed a Pacific Reef Egret (Egretta sacra) dark morph catching fish at low tide off Singapore’s West Coast Park.  The egret was positioned where a large monsoon drain with a continuous flow of water connects to the sea.  I suspect small fish congregate here because the drain water carries food into the sea.

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As it was low tide, the sea was quite shallow, and the egret easily caught 4 fish during the 25 minutes that I was observing it.  What was interesting was how the bird handled the fish, depending on the size of the fish.

The smallest fish, the egret ate immediately.

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The largest fish, which the bird was unable to hold on to, escaped within a few seconds.

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But the 2 intermediate sized fish, the egret surprisingly did not eat straight away, but placed the fish on dry land up on the bank of the monsoon drain, presumably to wait until the fish became less active.

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In the meantime, the egret would return to the sea to catch more fish.  But if the fish it left on dry land, started to flip or jump too vigorously, the egret would return to the bank to check on, or watch over these fish.

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Unfortunately, I did not have time to wait to see what the egret finally did with the fish it left on the bank, but one assumes after all the hard work to catch and monitor the fish, the egret would eventually eat the fish as delayed gratification!

Here is a 3 min video demonstrating how the egret handled the 4 fish it caught.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/sucii0jd84rdiid/PRE%28eating-stabilised%20quiet%29.mts?dl=0

 

 

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Saving Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve just celebrated its 25th anniversary this year as the premier stop over site for migratory shorebirds in Singapore. But we were concerned for its future as the Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves further east was delisted from the Singapore Green Plan (2012). The government had announced plans to reclaim the mudflats. The visiting shorebirds depend on Mandai Mudflats to refuel during its stop over. They then fly to Sungei Buloh to roost during high tides. To show this connection, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves and NParks in 2011 initiated a study of the movement of shorebirds between the Mandai Mudflats and Sungei Buloh. The Bird Group of the Nature Society was invited to be part of the study which we gladly accepted. This was a first of its kind systematic study to determine that the visiting shorebirds that feed at Mandai Mudflats fly back to Sungei Buloh to roost.

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Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves at low tide. It is part of the Kranji-Mandai IBA, Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Two Horseshoe Crab species are found to be breeding here. 

A total of six sessions were conducted between 28 November 2011 and 9 March 2012. Teams of 2 to 3 observers were stationed at Sungei Buloh, Pang Sua Estuary and in a boat at the Straits of Johor mid way along their flight path hours before the respective high and low tides.  We did not managed to be at Mandai Mudflats for all the sessions due to lack of observers. The numbers and time of each species taking off, landing and flying past each station were recorded. A good collegation was when most of the same species were recorded at the respective stations at around the same time.

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Teams locations A-SBWR, B- Boat in Johor Straits, C-Pang Sua Estuary, D-Mandai Mudflats.

The results were what we expected. During four high tide sessions, 200, 205, 241 and 177 Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus were recorded at all the stations flying from Mandai back to Sungei Buloh to roost. At the other two low tide sessions, 215 and 240 Whimbrels were recorded flying back to Mandai from Sungei Buloh to feed. These counts confirmed that high numbers of Whimbrels that feed at Mandai Mudflats returned to Sungei Buloh and vice versa.

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Good numbers of Whimbrels that feed at Mandai flew back to Buloh to roost.

Next were the Common Greenshanks Tringa nebularia. For the four high tide sessions, 50, 8, 62 and 60 flew from Mandai to Sungei Buloh and 57 and 93 flew out of Sungei Buloh back to Mandai/Pang Sua to feed during the two low tide sessions. Most of the Common Greenshanks that feed at Mandai returned to Sungei Buloh and vice versa, except for one session.

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Pacific Golden Plovers flying over Johor Straits on their back to Sungei Buloh and fish farms to roost.

We monitored the movements of the Pacific Golden Plovers, Pluvialis fulva and Lesser Sand Plovers Charadrius mongolus as well. But we only managed to record one collegation of 130 Lesser Sand Plovers flying from Mandai to Sungei Buloh at high tides and two records for the Pacific Golden Plovers, 40 from Mandai to Buloh at high tide and 75 from Buloh back to Mandai at low tide. The reason for this was that some of the Lesser Sand Plovers flew over to the Danga Bay, Johor to roost while the fish farmers reported large numbers of Pacific Golden Plovers roosting on their fish farms at high tides.

We had two interesting findings during the study. The Pang Sau estuary just west of Mandai was just as important as a feeding ground for the shorebirds as Mandai. Thankfully this estuary will form part of the nature park. Not all the Common Redshanks left Buloh at low tides. Many preferred to stay at Buloh to feed and roost.

The then Singapore Branch of the Malayan Nature Society had identified the Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves as “Top priority” in the Master Plan for Conservation of Nature in Singapore 1990 and the present Nature Society (Singapore) had been advocating for its protection ever since. The Bird Group carried out the first Annual Bird Census (ABC) there in April 1986 and added the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) in 1990. Both censuses are still on going without any breaks. The data collected have been shared with NParks and other organisations. We are delighted that Mandai was finally designated as a Nature Park on 17 October 2018. We would like to think that censuses and studies like these play a small part in achieving this outcome.

  • Study Team: Sharon Chan, David Li, Mendis Tan, Bari Mohamad, Lim Hai Bi, Loh Wan Jing, Alan OwYong, Ho Hua Chew, Lim Kim Keang, Gerard Francis, Con Foley,  Lau Jia Seng, Han Chong, See Swee Leng, Jimmy Chew, K.S. Wong.

Reference:  Ho, H. C. & OwYong, A. 2015. Report on the Shorebird Monitoring Project at the Sungei Buloh-Mandai Mudflat Coastal Sector: 28 November 2011 – 18 September 2012. Singapore: Bird Group, The Nature Society. Unpublished.

Will Bidadari still be a haven for the birds?

Will Bidadari still be a haven for the migratory birds?

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Bidadari today is still a stop over and wintering ground for migratory birds despite the loss of a large part of its woodlands and forests. 

When the announcement that the old Bidadari Cemetery would be developed for housing, the nature and birding community were mourning the loss of yet another nature and birding haven. We have documented more than 155 species of birds here, half of which are migrants. In fact it is one of the best places to find some of the rarer migrant species in Singapore.

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The core of the 9 hectare park, with a lake and a creek added to the landscape. Photo from CPG Corporation. The beige colored road is the old Upper Aljunied Road which will be converted into a pedestrian and cycle “Heritage Walk” with all the large Rain trees preserved. 

Bidadari today is almost devoid of forest and green cover. There is only a patch of woodlands near to Mt. Vernon parlours that is semi-wild. This is where part of the 9 hectare park will be. If you go there today, you can see many of the transplanted trees growing in between the huge Ficus and Acacia trees. The old Upper Aljunied Road will be converted into a pedestrian and cycle “Heritage Walk” lined with spreading Rain trees. On the other side of the Heritage Walk, a new water body “Alkaff Lake” will hopefully bring in waterbirds to the area with the planting of wetland vegetation. Facing Bartley Road to the north is the one- hectare Albizia Hillock which will be left untouched. This is the highest part of Bidadari where most migrants make landfall. A “Bidadari Greenway” running from north to south will serve as a green corridor for both the residents and wildlife to move around.

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The one hectare Albizia Hillock will be left untouched. The Bird Group mapped this out as the migrant hotspot during a six month study. It will be linked to the park by green connectors and link bridge.

The landscape consultants will adopted a biodiversity enhancement approach by keeping as much of the present greenery and paths while adding in layered planting of suitable trees and shrubs similar to what was done at Gardens by the Bay. The HDB and NParks with contribution from NSS want to show that it can create a park that is rich and conducive to wildlife, to achieve their vision of “A community in Garden” living for Bidadari.  Will the migrants return? Only time will tell especially when all the buildings are up and the residents moved in. There will be more noise and disturbance. But so far this season 14 migrant species have shown a high sense of site fidelity and found their way back, even though their numbers were low.

The flycatchers led by the Asian Brown Flycatchers were the first to arrive. The Yellow-rumped and the Paradise Flycatchers follow suit. Last week we saw the arrival of the globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers. Bidadari is one of the best places to see this flycatcher in its wintering range.

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The Yellow-rumped Flycatchers were one of the first flycatchers to arrive at Bidadari. We get more females than males during Autumn.

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Both the Amur and Blyth’s Paradise Flycatchers  descended at Bidadari in good numbers. Amurs like this one outnumbered the Blyth’s during this period.

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Bidadari is one of the best places to see this Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher in its  wintering range.

The star for this season had to be this Ruddy Kingfisher that went missing for three years. It stayed for more than a week delighting many of its admirers and fans. We hope that the migrants will continue to come back and use the new Bidadari Park as their stop over wintering ground.

Bidadari

List of migrants recorded so far this season at Bidadari:

  1. Arctic Warbler
  2. Eastern-crowned Warbler
  3. Asian Brown Flycatcher
  4. Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
  5. Dark-sided Flycatcher
  6. Amur Paradise Flycatcher
  7. Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher
  8. Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
  9. Ferruginous Flycatcher
  10. Tiger Shrike
  11. Brown Shrike
  12. Crow-billed Drongo.
  13. Ruddy Kingfisher.
  14. Drongo Cuckoo.

Source reference: Housing and Development Board

 

 

 

 

Wood Sandpiper feeding behaviour

Wood Sandpiper feeding behaviour.
T. Ramesh.
T Ramesh
Wood sandpipers ( Tringa Glareola) are uncommon migrants to Singapore . When they migrate they prefer to be at shallow freshwater wetland. They feed on aquatic insects, worms, spiders, shellfish, small fish.
On 23- Sep-2018, I spotted a lonely wood sandpiper along the construction site at Kranji Sanctuary Golf course .  It caught a small fish and kept poking at it while bobbing its tail continuously. I noticed the bobbing was intense when its head was down ( See video link below). In between, it washed its prey at the puddle of water few times. Once prey was swallowed , it drank water from the puddle  as if to gulp it down the throat .
Probably it was it’s first meal of the day Satisfied with its breakfast the Wood Sandpiper walked off daintily.

Pollination disrupted by Rose- Ringed Parakeets.

Pollination disrupted by Rose-ringed Parakeets. 

By T.Ramesh

I recently observed and video recorded the feeding behavior of Rose-ringed parakeet at Changi Business Park canal.  Rose-ringed Parakeets also known as Ring-necked Parakeet is an uncommon introduced resident .  Their diet generally includes fruits, berries, vegetables, buds, nuts, and seeds.  A  female Rose-ringed Parakeet flew and perched on to a Tabebua rosea with white Trumpet flowers.  It nicely plucked one  flower , sucked its nectar from the bottom  and dropped the flower . It continued this process of plucking &  sucking nectar from seven  such flowers .  I was curious to understand more about this behavior and researched online.

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Parakeets feed on nectar  only if other food listed above is in short supply .  Some plants in Amazon & Tasmania do attract certain  parakeets & parrots ( Golden winged Parakeets in Amazon & Swift Parrots in Australia) to feed on its nectar and rely on them for pollination. These birds have both physical and behavioural  adaptation for nectar feeding and tend not to destroy the flowers.  They provide pollination services through their  pollen-laden beaks.

However, in case of Rose-ringed parakeets , I noticed they do not have adaption for nectar feeding and hence simply pluck and suck the nectar from the flowers and while doing so disrupting  food & the process  of other pollinators.

Reference Parrots: The animal answer guide by Matt Cameron.

Thanks to Angie Ng for the tree identification,

Asian Koel Raids Pied Triller’s Nest.

Pied Triller’s nest raided by an Asian Koel.

I chanced upon the nest of a pair of Pied Trillers Lalage nigra on an Ordeal Tree Erythrophleum suavolens along one-north Crescent during my evening walk early this August . It was a cup shaped nest about 10 cm in diameter stuck between the fork of two thin branches near the canopy. The two chicks must have hatched a few days ago. Both parents were busy bringing back insects and caterpillars to the chicks.

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I went there to check on their progress two days later and witnessed a heartbreaking incident. A male Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea flew in and went straight to the nest. It must have been watching this nesting for some time.

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The Koel attacked and pecked at the chick which clung on to the nest. As the Koel pulled the chick out, the nest was came off the branch too. The Koel then shook the chick violently by its neck several times until it went limped. It dropped the chick and the nest to the ground instead of eating it. I think it was trying to take over the nest by getting rid of the chicks but destroyed the nest while doing so.

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The parents came back after the attack and was totally confused to find the nest gone and the chicks nowhere in sight.  They went up and down the branches frantically searching for the chicks for some time, gave up and flew away.

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The first chick had no chance. It was dead before it hit the ground.

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But surprisingly the other chick survived the attack and fall with a few ruffled feathers.

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I picked up the nest and wedged it by the trunk of the tree a few meters above the ground and left the chick there. At least it will be safe from feral predators. I stayed around for a while but the parents did not show up. Next morning I found it back on the ground. It must have fallen out of the nest during the night.

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I decided to tied the nest on a low twig near the ground and put the chick back in. By now the chick had not been fed for more than 24 hours. It was chirping and calling for its parents. Luckily the parents heard the calls this time round and came back. I experienced the most wonderful moment when the daddy found the chick. They were so happy being reunited!

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I was also happy to see the parents resumed feeding the chick.

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The mummy was more concerned and hang around to make sure junior was safe. She did not want to lose another chick again.

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The chick was strong enough to climb up the tree with the help of some flapping. It seemed to know that it had a better chance of surviving if it moved up to the safety of the dense foliage above.

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Next morning I found the chick resting at the mid storey of the Tembusu and the parents still feeding it. Now I was sure that this chick would survive.

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PS. The Asian Koel is an invader species to Singapore. There were no previous records of its destructive behaviour. In fact they were attributed for helping to control the crow’s population here by parasitizing their nesting. This may be the first time such an aggressive behaviour has been recorded. I would like to hear if there were other such attacks seen here or elsewhere.

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

 

 

 

Black-crowned Night Herons – Stages of Growth.

Black-crowned Night Herons – Stages of Growth by Seng Alvin.

Black-crowned Night Herons, Nycticorax nycticorax, as the name suggests are nocturnal birds. They rest in the day and hunt at dusk. As such they do not need bright plumages like other birds. Both sexes have the same grey and white plumage. None of the guidebooks and images in Oriental Bird Club have captioned the sexes and separate them.

I was lucky that a small colony of these herons took up residence at the mangroves at my backyard, Pasir Ris Park and nested. This allows me to photograph them at various stages of growth.

These are my observations and humble assumptions:

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Juvenile birds have dull grey-brown plumage on their heads, wings, and backs, with numerous pale spots. Their underparts are paler and streaked with brown. The juvenile birds have orange eyes and duller yellowish-green legs (above). However, the eyes will begin to change to red before it grows into sub-adult stage ( below)

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From the sub-adult stage onward, I noticed that there were differences in the color of the bills.

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This is a sub-adult based on the duller greys and whites. It has a black upper mandible and a pale yellow lower mandible. Could this be a feature of a female?

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This is another sub-adult but it has an all black bill. Could this be a male bird?

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I found the same difference in bill color for the adults too. This one has a bi-colored bill.

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And this adult has a totally black bill. Is this a male bird? My next project is to try to find out if and when do the color of the lower mandible change from greenish-yellow to black for both sexes or only the males.

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During the breeding season, only the male Night Heron’s legs turns from greenish-yellow to pinky-orange (above). Their bills are all black.  It this part of color change during breeding or a feature to separate the sexes?  Your views and comments are most welcome.

 

2017 Year in Review – Residents and Non-breeding Visitors.

2017 Year in Review- Part 3. Residents and Non-breeding Visitors.

We had several important breeding records for 2017 but the most significant was the first documented record of the successful nesting of the Red-legged Crakes Rallina fasciata at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 3rd November by Mike Smith. Prior to this, all we had were sightings of juveniles being fed by their parents.

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Mike Smith’s timely photo of the hatching of the first Red-legged Crake chick at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The other notable breeding record was the sighting of a pair of Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana sitting on a nest inside a row of Mangroves at Pulau Ubin near Chek Java on 2nd January by Daniel Ong. This was our first breeding record from the north of Singapore. On 30th August, Chua Yen Kheng of Sungei Buloh proudly announced the sightings of a pair of chicks with the adult Black-backed Swamphens Porphyrio indicus at Kranji Marshes, a first since its opening and an indication of the success of the enhancement of the Marshes.

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Pair of Black-backed Swamphens with youngs at Kranji Marshes. Photo: Bari Mohamed and NParks.

A juvenile Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was photographed at Pulau Ubin by Serin Subaraj on 18th September during an NParks survey. The adults were heard calling (Jonathan Tan of NParks). Breeding evidence of this rare owl at Ubin?

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Juvenile Barred Eagle Owl photographed by Serin Subaraj at Pulau Ubin.

The nesting of the introduced Monk Parakeets Myiopsitta monachus at Pasir Ris Park was however a little worrying as these aggressive parakeets may impact negatively on our native parrots. (Lim Kim Keang on 24th February)

Staying in Ubin, David Tan retrieved the carcass of a Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos on 24 August, after it crashed into a building at the Outward Bound School there. This was our third record. A female Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus was reported at Ubin on 21st September by Alan OwYong with another sighting by Martin Kennewell at Sentosa, sex unknown.

Black Hornbill Rob Arnold

The female Black Hornbill was one of the latest addition to the Checklist. Taken at Ubin by Rob Arnold.

The nationally threatened Mangrove Blue Flycatcher Cyornis rufigastra was heard calling at the eastern end of the island by Lim Kim Keang and Low Choon How on 1st September. Sharinder Singh also reported seeing one across Lorong Halus on 13th May. Another rare resident seen at Pulau Ubin was the Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea, once on 1st April by Lim Kim Keang and again on 16th September by James Tann. Mike Hooper reported seeing another at Marina East on 30th July. This is the only Whistler here.

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A rare photo of the Mangrove Whistler taken at P. Ubin by James Tann in September

The Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was reported at the Pekan Quarry on 22nd March, 4th June and 26th December. The surprise find by Thio Hui Bing at the Singapore Quarry on the same day 26th December could mean that there could be two darters around?  Seetoh Yew Wai and friends reported a skittish Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda at the southern mangrove area on 23rd September. Could this be our resident minor sub species extending its territory from Pulau Tekong? Rounding up at Ubin, a total of 68 Straw-headed Bulbuls Pycnonotus zeylanicus were recorded during a census on 4th June coordinated by Yong Ding Li. Pulau Ubin is the most important site for this globally threatened species.

SHB Ted Ng

Pulau Ubin is the most important site for this globally threatened species. Photo like this by Ted Ng will be difficult to get elsewhere.

Over at the resort island of Sentosa, Lim Kim Seng had our only record of the rare introduced Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea for the year on 30th September. He also reported a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata there on 18th September. Two other records of the White-rumped Munias came from Chinese Gardens on 3rd Aug and Kent Ridge Park Forest Walk on 16th December. Their status and origin are not too clear as recent escapees cannot be fully ruled out.

Francis Yap had the only record of the rare Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon from our Central Forest for the year with a sighting at Jelutong Tower on 17th May.

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This is the only record and photo of the nationally threatened Lesser Green Leafbird taken by Francis Yap this year inside our Central Forest.

But the secretive King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis was more cooperative with multiple sightings from Kranji Marshes on 10th February, 5th November and Seletar end on 20th February all by Martin Kennewell.

The large Lesser Adjutants Leptoptilos javanicus had been making rounds over the Kranji Marshes and Sungei Buloh areas during the last quarter of the year. Again Martin Kennewell and Con Foley were there to record the sightings on 30th September, 8th October where four birds were seen, and 4th December.

The forest loving Blue-eared Kingfishers Alcedo meninting continued with their location expansion with records coming in from Hindhede, Bukit Batok and Dairy Farm Nature Parks between 15th May and 24th June. Good news for our nationally threatened kingfisher.

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Gerals Chua’s photo of the spreading Blue-eared Kingfisher with its catch at Kranji Marshes.

This final part concludes the Bird Review for 2017. We want to thank all of you for your timely posts in the various facebook groups, e-forum and alerts. Let us look forward to another impressive year ahead with more lifers for all.

Compiled from the monthly Bird Reports for 2017 by Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong. Reference: Lim Kim Seng, The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009. Many thanks to Mike Smith, Bari Mohamed/NParks, Serin Subaraj, Rob Arnold, James Tann, Ted Ng, Francis Yap and Gerals Chua for the use of their photos. 

Nesting of Long-tailed Parakeets in Singapore – A 11 weeks Monitoring Report

11 Weeks Monitoring of the nesting Long-Tailed Parakeets in Singapore – by Mike Smith

Introduction

The Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda is a social bird found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sumatra, Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. It is globally near threatened.

In Singapore it a common parakeet, easily recognised by its long tail and loud screeching but have been photographed on numerous occasions but little was known of their nesting behaviour. This is the first full documentation of its successful nesting in Singapore.

A nest is spotted.

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I heard from a friend that Liu Zhongren had discovered a Long-tailed Parakeet nest. It was off the beaten track in Hort Park and I decided to take a look. In the 11 weeks, I had visited the area on 29 days and spent over 90 hours monitoring and observing its nesting behaviour. This has increased the knowledge base of how a male parakeet and at least four females raise a healthy fledgling.

Information from Liu Zhongren and a photo on the internet from ebird.org suggest that a male and female parakeet cleaned up a lineated barbet nest hole 6 metres from the ground in a Rainbow Gum tree (left) and took it over during the last week of April 2018. After the first week of May the male disappeared and females incubated the nest.

Nest monitoring starts

My first visit was on 8th May 2018.  I was lucky to see a female because as I soon discovered, when she sits on the eggs she rarely makes an appearance and never left the nest during my normal viewing hours of 10 am – 4 pm. It just poked her head out of the nest a few times for a few minutes and occasionally hung out upside down. Not a sound was heard; complete silence! No male parakeet was observed during the first month!

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Parakeets like to hang around with me but they do it upside down. My photographs showed that more than one female was doing the incubation. My records show at least four over the 11 weeks! Communal breeding my “go to” expert explained! Apparently it’s not uncommon in the birding world.

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On 25th May at 8.30 am a female hanging upside down outside the nest suddenly gave a soft screech and from that position flew rapidly from the nest to feed in the forest, 0.5 km away. A different female returned after 10 minutes. This was repeated 10 minutes later. Then nothing else happened so I left at 10 am.

Monitoring the nest was rather boring as there were long periods of inactivity and apart from park staff I was usually on my own under a harsh sun and humid conditions. However, I did get to practice trying to capture female parakeets in flight but opportunities were few and far between. Most of the action took place between 7 and 9 am and 5 to 7 pm. After landing at the nest the female parakeet would disappear inside within a couple of seconds.

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The National Parks Board made both me and the mummy parakeet in the nest nervous when they started boring into the tree to check it was “safe”. The bird flew off in anger, I watched in frustration but all was all well 30 minutes later and the female returned.

Even more disturbing was a Lineated Barbet coming back to inspect its former nest hole. I feared there would be a turf war but I guess the parakeet signed a lease and stayed put.

A change in behaviour.

Initial flights I witnessed were only for a few minutes, I assumed this was because the eggs were being incubated. After feeding the female would rest and watch the nest from a tall trumpet tree some 50 metres away, for a few minutes before giving a small screech and heading into the nest.

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On 13th June I noticed a change in behaviour, the absence of the female was getting longer, up to an hour and a week later up to 3 hours. For the first time the male appeared on the trumpet tree and fed the female by regurgitating food. The female then flew to the nest and the male back to the forest. Clearly there were chick(s) deep in the nest hole. Flights increased in number with an extra flight during the 10 am – 4 pm period.

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Occasionally the male would feed the female on a different tree a few hundred metres away. The female sometimes went to a nearby rain tree to feed and sharpen her claws.

The Baby Appears!!

My first sight of a chick was not until 8th July. Even then it was impossible to get a good photo. I think I saw two dark, scrawny, ugly babies but the photo isn’t very clear but for sure only one hatched. My first clear sight of one chick, which had grown significantly and was now a colourful bird was on 17th July.

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Watching the nest was now much more interesting. The baby was growing fast and there were regular photo opportunities. The female stayed away from the nest for longer periods and would watch from the trumpet tree for up to an hour. The baby appeared at the hole entrance regularly.

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Another behavioural change – Females spend more time close to but not in the nest.

On 19th July the females spent time on the nest tree but not in the hole which was presumably now a tight fit for two birds.

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The Male Returns to the Nest Vicinity.

On 20th July at 9 am the male bird posed much closer to the nest on nearby trees. Suddenly the baby stretched its neck out of the hole and started screeching at the top of its voice, both the male and female flew near to it (the first time I had seen the male anywhere near the nest). The male fed the female before flying off, the female flew into the nest and fed the baby out of sight.

Fledgling.

At 8.00 am on July 21st the young baby stretched its neck out of the nest and at 8.10 am a female parakeet landed on top of the trumpet tree some 50 metres away. 30 minutes later with a loud screech the male joined the female but did not feed her. At 8.50 am the female flew to the nest.  At 8.55 there was a terrific amount of screeching from the male on the distant tree and the female at the nest. Without warning the female flew towards the male and the baby followed. The male took off and all three headed for the jungle.

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The finale happened so quickly I only got a blurred picture of the male and female with the fledgling flying below them to Kent Ridge Park. I wondered if the chick would return to the nest but it did not and presumably is being looked after communally at Kent Ridge Park. The female did return to the nest and stayed in it overnight before flying off next morning. The male and female returned to the trumpet tree the next day (I speculate that they cleaned up the nest or were checking that the fledgling didn’t try and return) but not thereafter.

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It was rather disappointing that the chick didn’t pose outside the nest or put or feed at the entrance (unless it did so in the dark) but at least it successfully left the nest aged at an estimated 7 weeks. From these observations I learned a significant amount about the nesting of the Long-tailed Parakeets.

Observations and My Conclusions:

Nest Prepared: Last week of April by male and female

Eggs Laid: Ist week of May after which the male left the nest area. Incubated by 4 females (male not involved)

Egg(s) Hatch: End of May (approx 3-3.5 weeks)

Feeding of Baby: Is done by females deep in the nest hole.

Baby: Chick does not appear regularly at nest entrance in daylight until it is 6 weeks old.

Fledge: I chick fledged on 21st July (approx 7 weeks old)

Male does not go inside nest once eggs have been laid

Male feeds in Kent Ridge Park and trees above Hort Park. Females feed on their own food plus get additional food from the male, by regurgitation, on a lookout tree away from the nest.

Brood Parasite: Golden-bellied Gerygones hosting a Little Bronze Cuckoo.

Brood Parasite: Golden-bellied Gerygones hosting a Little Bronze Cuckoo.

By Lee Kai Chong.

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The Golden-bellied Gerygone, the smallest bird in Singapore, has known to nest in urban parks here. I did not see the nesting but I spotted a pair feeding a juvenile Little Bronze Cuckoo on the 23 July 2018 at our HDB neighbourhood park at Jurong West. I find this interesting that this is taking place right in the busy heartland park.

Both foster parents took turns to feed the juvenile cuckoo. Their favourite tree was the Mango tree because of the many tiny insects present. They had to do many rounds of feeding as the insects were too puny for such a large bird, stopping only for 5-10 minutes for the cuckoo to digest the food. Feeding started at the first light and continued throughout the day. I last saw them feed on the 27 July.

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Many park goers were aware of the sound and sight of Little Bronze Cuckoo being fed by Golden-bellied Gerygone but don’t know what was going on. It may be because of their relatively small size, non stop movement during feeding under the canopy. When I showed them the photos, they were very surprised to see a such large young bird being fed by a smaller bird of a different species. I told them that this is ” Brood Parasite” an unusual breeding behaviour in our natural world. I am glad to show a bit of nature at our neighbourhood park to the residents there.