Jerdon’s Baza: Fourth sighting

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“On 1st Jan, New Year Day, I was alone birding at Lim Chu Kang as the usual birding kaki were either overseas or suffering from hang-over from the previous year’s indulgence.

“Just before 9.00 am, I caught sight of a raptor perched on a bare branch of an Albizia tree (Paraserianthes falcataria). Through the scope, the white tipped blackish crest was outstanding. I took a few shots but the bird had its back to me and the sun was not really favourable.

“Happy to have sighted the Jerdon Baza (Aviceda jerdoni), I took a loop trail hoping to get in front of it to have a better view but lost it. Shortly before 9.30 am I received a recall msg from home and had to turn back. On the way out, the raptor was back at the same perch. Perhaps another day.

“Viewing the not so sharp ID picture, there were doubts about the obvious shaded eye band of the bird – could it be a juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle (Hieraaetus kienerii)? The best way was go find it again!

“The following morning Jia Sheng was with me at Lim Chu Kang. Moments after arrival, we spotted the raptor but it flew off (mid-canopy flight) in the opposite direction. Happy it was around, we continued with our birding routine hoping it would return. Around 11 am we decided to leave. On the way out, the raptor flew in and landed on a tree just behind me. Out of the tree another raptor flew off. There were two of them! The raptor which flew off landed on the same bare branch as previous but this time there was no eye band but again, its back was facing us. After a few shots it flew off.

“Following the flight, we spotted both raptors in a cluster of Albizia trees. They were behaving like what I’ve observed of parents and fledged juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster). The juvenile raptor was trying to get close to the adult but every time it did, the adult would fly off, though never too far away.

“Later with the help of some experienced birders and sharper pictures taken by Jia Sheng, there was consensus about the raptors as an adult and a sub-adult. However, there was no frontal picture of the adult raptor. Hopefully someone could ID the sub-species.”

Happy Birding,
Danny Lau & Lau Jia Sheng.

This extremely rare passage migrant was spotted around the same area in early December 2006, the third time seen locally (see 1, 2 and 3). The current sighting by Danny Lau and his son Jia Sheng, less than a month later, would make it the fourth.

Our bird specialist, R. Subaraj has this to say: “Actually, the Jerdon’s Baza was always considered a sendentary resident until the first one turned up as a roadkill a few years ago. As there are only 4 records (I have only seen 2 photographed records), it is too premature to determine the true status of this species. Thus, we should not say passage migrant as we are unable to confirm this yet. I would consider this bird a scarce visitor for now until we can formulate a better impression with more confirmed records.”

Input and images by Danny Lau and his son Jia Sheng.

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