The fig tree at Bukit Timah: 2. Comments by R. Subaraj

on 7th October 2006

The first part of the series, on documentation, was posted a few days earlier. The account attracted the attention of our bird specialist R. Subaraj who has this to say:

“I just had a read through the latest posting on the fruiting fig tree at Bukit Timah. The species list is great but reflects what was seen at the summit rather than just the tree itself. To the non-birder or less experienced, the list is therefore misleading as readers will believe that all the birds listed were seen in the fig tree and were there for the figs, which is definitely not true (but see below).

“Those that were seen over the summit and definitely not in the fig tree were Oriental Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), Japanese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter gularis) and the Himalayan (Collocalia brevirostris) and Edible-nest Swiftlet (Collocalia fuciphaga). Those seen generally in the summit area were Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) and Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis).

Additionally, the following species that may have been recorded in the fig tree, were there for insects rather than the fruits: Asian Paradise (Terpsiphone paradisi) and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers (Ficedula zanthopygia), Arctic ( Phylloscopus borealis) and Eastern Crowned Warblers (Phylloscopus coronatus), Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus), Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis), Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradisus).

It is also important to note that the great variety of species at the summit and in the fig was because of the time of the year….when many migrants were present.

“My comments are based on many past visits to this glorious fig tree since 1990.

“I visited the summit fig on September 27th, with Sham. There was less variety, birdwise, in the tree but we also had an Ashy Bulbul (Hemixos flavala), Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) and a small flock of Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis).

I hope that you can add the above to the article so that readers are better informed about which species were actually visiting the fig and who the real frugivores are.”

NOTE: I am afraid I have to take responsibility for the misunderstanding. In Yong Ding Li’s words, the birds listed “…are in and in vicinity of the tree.” In my enthusiasm to post the article I did not include this qualification. This has now been rectified in the blog post. Sorry about that. YC

Image of Asian-paradise Flycatcher (top) by Johnny Wee; Tiger Shrike (middle) and Asian Glossy Starlings (bottom) by Chan Yoke Meng.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

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.

Other posts by YC Wee

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