“To escape from winter and enjoy warmer climate, migratory birds have started to return to Singapore. Last month, a group of photographers was treated to an unusual aerial chase involving some migratory Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and a flock of our feral resident Tanimbar Corellas (Cacatua goffini).
“Some time in September, a flock of Little Egrets migrated back to roost in the mangrove trees along the banks of Sungei Tampines. On the morning of 9th October, some of these Little Egrets were enjoying the morning sun in the trees when a flock of six Tanimbar Corellas were passing by. The Tanimbar Corellas, which were smaller in size than the Little Egrets, arrived to forage in the mangrove trees.
“Before the arrival of the Tanimbar Corellas, the location was quiet and peaceful. Just as the photographers present on site lamented the lack of action, the calm was broken by one of the Tanimbar Corellas screeching as it flew near the Little Egrets (left). The Little Egrets, which had been perching quietly, were flustered, causing some to scramble for new positions. Shortly after, two other Tanimbar Corellas were seen chasing after a Little Egret (below). At one stage, it seemed like one of the Little Egrets was doing the chasing. The aerial chase was brief and ended as suddenly as the way it had started. Immediately after the exciting aerial chase, the flock of Tanimbar Corellas disappeared from sight for peace to return. There was no physical contact observed.
“All the photographers did not have any idea what made the Tanimbar Corellas chased after the Little Egrets. Could the resident birds be impressing upon the migrating visitors that they are the true owners of their territory? Your guess is as good as mine.”
Kwong Wai Chong
8th November 2010