Encountering a raptor in the heartland

on 18th March 2008


Ms Koh had an exciting encounter with a large raptor in a highrise housing area in Jurong West in March 2008:

“I was walking out to the bus stop (about 10am) from my flat in Jurong West when suddenly a bird with a large wing span (at least one metre in total) swooped past me. I saw a magnificent brown eagle perched up the tree, in the rain.

“I was so excited that I ran back home three blocks away, got my camera, ran back, and took… [a] photo… (from ground level).

“I then climbed up the carpark… and took [another] photo (left). I noticed a large swarm of flies (bees?), or some other sort of insect, flying around the eagle. You can see the insects in the photo.

“It sat for about fifteen minutes, and then flew off. I didn’t dare to get too close as I didn’t want to frighten it. In the… photo, though, I must have been just several metres away from it (hiding behind a pillar!).”

I sent an image to our bird specialist, R Subaraj who commented: “From the photo, it is difficult to be certain but it looks very much like an Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), with the small pigeon-like head. It is moulting too and looks pretty messy.

“This bird looks like it may be raiding a honey bee nest and that has dispersed the bees that are around it. The Common Honey Bee nests in urban and parkland areas but have nests that are small enough so as not to draw attraction from the paranoid public.

“These bees are important pollinators but today’s public is so wrapped with fear that any stinging insect nests in public use areas are destroyed immediately when detected… even within our parks and reserves! As our wild areas continue to shrink and humans continue to spread into the remaining nature pockets, this is becoming a very serious situation.”

It is exciting to know of the possible presence of the Oriental Honey Buzzard amidst our highrise apartment buildings. The excellent work of planting trees around the urban areas by our National Parks Board and its predecessor agencies must take top credit for this.

Check out another encounter with the Oriental Honey Buzzard at the Japanese Garden in Jurong.

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

One Response

  1. I’m not an avid birdwatcher and even as a scubadiver, I’ve always been more interested in the larger marine life. Thats why when I spotted what I think is an eagle, perched high in a tree, guarding a large nest, I got terribly excited. Has anyone seen a nest in Singapore? I’ve only managed a glimpse as the 2 occasions I’ve seen it, my husband was driving so it was really fast. Anyone with a good camera interested in taking a picture? The bird was spotted after Yishun, heading towards the CTE.

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