Life around a rotting tree trunk 1: Introduction

posted in: Interspecific | 1

The location: A small piece of wasteland around Eng Neo bordering the Pan Island Expressway on one side and a sprawling low-rise housing apartments on the other.

The vegetation: A young secondary growth dominated by clumps of palms and bamboos overgrown with mainly exotic weeds. A few scattered emergent old albizia (Paraserianthes falcataria) trees.

The cast of characters: Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa), Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus), Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis), Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradisus) and Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda), Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus), among others.

The attraction of the area: The presence of a few tall and old albizia trees. These trees provide excellent perches for birds, perches where they can get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. These old trees, as well as at least one dead and semi-rotting tree trunk are full of cavities, natural as well as otherwise, that many of these birds nest in. Also, the overgrown vegetation is rich in invertebrate fauna, besides providing fruits, like melastoma (Melastome malabathricum) and white-leafed fig (Ficus grossularioides).

The focal point: A rotting albizia trunk that is infested with termites. Half way up the trunk is a number of cavities, with more at the top.

This rotting trunk is the focal point of many birds during the early morning and late evening. A pair of Collared Kingfishers was nesting in the cavity around the centre of the trunk while the upper cavities were inhabited, at different times, by Long-tailed Parakeets and Dollarbirds, among others.

With these different species congregating around this single rotting tree trunk, it is inevitable that conflicts will occur. And occurred they did. In subsequent postings we will bring to you the various dramas that unfolded in this very interesting area, small as it is, in urban Singapore.

PS: This is also the area where a pair of Great (Buceros bicronis) and Rhinoceros Hornbills (B. rhinoceros) was prospecting a potential nesting hole in a living albizia tree. But that is a story already told.

Thanks to Ng Bee Choo and Eng Tow who introduced me to the site. Text and images by YC, except Great Hornbill image by Meng and Melinda Chan.

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Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

  1. invertebrate fauna

    […] but their impact on the unstudied invertebrate fauna is unknown – this is an unstudied iceberg …Bird Ecology Study Group Life around a rotting tree trunk 1 …Also, the overgrown vegetation is rich in invertebrate fauna, besides providing fruits, like […]

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