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.