Yong Ding Li, Singapore’s up-and-coming birder, encountered a Barred Eagle Owl (Bubo sumatranus) last night (18th January 2008) and sent in this report:
“Singapore’s mysterious Barred Eagle Owl which has been recorded by a handful of birders in the past two decades decides to show up last night at the Central Catchment Forest.
“As we were walking into the forest, the first major piece of clue was the resonant double note ‘hu‘ of slightly different pitch and tone, classic Barred Eagle Owl song. The first ‘hu‘ was longer and more penetrating than the second note and was given by a perched bird at estimated less than 50 metres distance. After vocalising twice, the bird silently flew across the canopy with the beams on it, confirming its identity. Birders visiting the Central Catchment Forest should keep a lookout for this enigmatic individual.
“And as if the night wasn’t enough, two hours after the owl was sighted, at 11.55 pm, a stunning Slow Loris (Nycticebus coucang) appeared and clambered over a giant rattan to cross the canopy in full view for some 20 minutes allowing many minutes of live video footage to be captured and proving its continued existence on the mainland.”
The latest Annotated Checklist has this to say of the owl:
“Status – Very rare non-breeding visitor. Former resident, appears to be not rare in Singapore in the 1920s but it is certainly not so numerous as Ketupa (B & C, 1927). CITES II.
“Records – 1 collected on 1 Jun 1925 (RMBR). No further records until 1 was heard and seen at BTNR on Oct 1996. It was probably a stray from Johor and stayed until at least 4 Jul 1997 (OBC Bull. 25). 1, possibly the same one from BTNR was seen in NS on 28 Jan 1998 (OBC Bull. 27), 29 Jan 1998 and 15 Mar 1998 (SINAV 12-1) and again on 29 May 2001 (OBC Bull. 34).”
Yong Ding Li
(Image courtesy of Cheong Weng Chun)
Wang. L.K. & Hails, C. J. (2007) An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bull. Zool. Suppl. 15:1-179.
NOTE: Please note that our Nature Reserves are out of bounds at night. Prior permission from NParks is necessary to enter such areas after dark. For the information of readers, Ding Li and his collegues were there conducting research for the National University of Singapore and NUS and NParks have a memorandum of understanding on such studies.
Cheong Weng Chun
judging by the records shown, this species is indeed a rare encounter. well done for adding more data to the birds sighting.