Tag Archives: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

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.

Mandai Mudflats

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.

PGP

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.

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Common Goldenback Mating at SBWR

Common Goldenback mating at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve. By Rob Arnold.

 

Unfortunately I was travelling outside Singapore when the Indian Paradise Flycatcher was spotted and identified, and missed all the excitement. By the time I returned, most people had seen it, and visiting Sungei Buloh there were many fewer eyes looking for it; most people were seeking the Buffy Fish Owls. On my third unsuccessful morning wandering around the entry and car park, I noticed a pair of Common Goldenbacks in a tree at the far end of the car park. They were in a flowering tree and flew off as I approached.

 

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The female Goldenback took up an erect position and waited for the male.

 

I worked my way back towards the entry, and heard a Plaintive Cuckoo loud and close. I tried to whistle it in, and amazingly it flew into a small tree and I was congratulating myself on my bird imitations. Must be rubbing off from spending time with Kim Chuah sifu. The bird flew off and I reviewed the pictures: something wrong here, it had a clear eye-ring and peachy buff up to the chin…a Rusty-Breasted. Oh well, good bird. Maybe not such good imitation.

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The male was busy looking for grubs and did not seem to notice its mate waiting above.

I looked up and saw the female Goldenback climbing the big tree just opposite the Assembly Point. She got to a large branch and started prospecting along it. Then the male flew up to the same branch. Immediately she assumed an erect position on the top of the branch, which I suppose was at least anticipatory and at most invitational. He didn’t notice she had done this and went on prospecting – to be fair, he was underneath the branch and could not see her.

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Once he noticed her erect position, the male moved along the look at her inquisitively.

As you can see, she maintained her erect position. Then he came to the top of the branch and noticed her, moved along and looked at her inquisitively, then hopped on. All this time she maintained the same position. Then he hopped off and she went off prospecting again. Seems clear from this that she instigated the mating – he did nothing and in fact did not notice until he was just along the branch from her, while she did not move from the time she assumed her position until they were done mating. Possibly of interest to others.

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Success at last!

In the meantime, still looking for the Indian Paradise Flycatcher….

First known nesting record of the Buffy Fish Owl

25.3.2016

Taken on 25 March  2016 about 2 week after it was discovered.

In the 1980s and 90s, the Buffy Fish Owls, Ketupa ketupa, were found at only a few locations in Singapore, like Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh and Central Catchment Forest. Our only record that indicate breeding was the sighting of two immatures at the Lower Peirce Reservoir in 1994 & 2010 and MacRitchie Reservoir in October 2011.. In recent years, they have spread out to Sentosa, Pasir Ris Park, Punggol and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It augurs well for this owl.

Buffy Fish Owl Terence Tan

A month later, a fully fledged chick looking inquisitive. 25 April 2016. Photo: Terence Tan.

In early March this year, staff of SBWR noticed a fur ball through a gap in a Bird Nest Fern on a Rain Tree. It turned out to be an owl chick. It was the same with the Buffy Fish Owls I seen in Perak, Malaysia. They were also using Bird Nest Ferns as nests, which makes it hard to spot looking from below. Unlike other nesting birds, the parents do not feed them during the day and avoid undue attention.

Despite the attention of visitors to the Wetland Reserve, the parent birds don’t seem to feel threatened during the nesting. They just perched in the mid canopy nearby, keeping a watchful eye on the young. The chick was mostly exposed to the elements during the day staying awake most of the time.

On the 25th April, about seven weeks after being discovered, the chick was seen out of its nest, perched in the open on a branch of a nearby tree. It must have made the short flight across from the nest. It stayed at the same position for most of the day without trying to go near the parent birds perched below.

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Taking its first wobbly steps to see the brave new world.

We are so privileged to have a close up view of the  nesting of this nationally threatened species , probably our first, and happy to see that it’s successful fledged. Richard White just posted a photo of another newly fledged juvenile with its parent at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. What a happy co-incidence!

Reference: Lim Kim Seng.The Avifauan of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore). Thanks to Terence Tan for the use of his photo.