On the afternoon of 15th February 2008, Dr Leong Tzi Ming was taking a casual stroll along the Telok Kurau Canal near his home when he spotted a heron foraging in the shallow water of the canal.
Tzi Ming is familiar with Little Heron (Butorides striatus), Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), but not this bird. His suspected it to be a Pacific Reef Egret (Egretta sacra).
According to our bird specialist R Subaraj, “This is indeed a dark-phase Pacific Reef Egret. I have seen him flying over East Coast Road by your canal a couple of times over the past month.”
These birds are usually seen singly or in pairs. And most pairs Subaraj saw consisted of a dark and a white morph.
The Pacific Reef Egret is an uncommon resident. Its typical habitats are rocky shores, exposed reef flats and sometimes along sandy shore and low-tide mud around mangroves. But in urbanised Singapore, our concretised canals are becoming feeding grounds for this as well as other herons like Grey, Night and Striated.
Dr Leong Tzi Ming & R Subaraj