Encounter with a Brahminy Kite and an Oriental Pied Hornbill

on 3rd June 2011

“During our trip to Terumbu Pempang Tengah (left top) on 17th May, I had a strange encounter with a Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) (left bottom). Terumbu Pempang Tengah is a submerged reef off Pulau Hantu which is only exposed at low spring tide. We started working well before dawn. In the first glimmers of sunrise, I heard the calls of the kite when suddenly, it swooped towards me. And landed very close to me on the reef. After giving me a steely royal raptorial glare, it flew off.

“I’m not sure why it did that. We discussed among ourselves and one possibility is that, in the dark of early dawn, the bird thought I was a heron (a large and fat one) and was trying to intimidate me in order to steal prey? If so, it was probably sorely disappointed that I was quite useless and had caught no prey. We do often see the Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana) hunting on our submerged reefs. These reefs are seldom visited by humans.

“More about my trip here LINK.

“After our field trip to Changi on 18 May, at sunrise we noticed a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) flying into the trees planted at Changi Beach Park. They were eating the fruits of a non-native tree, Sea Grapes (Coccoloba uvifera) (kindly identified by Teo Siyang and Pat) (above). Pat added that this tree is dioecious [meaning that the male and the female flowers are found in different tree]. I noticed the birds had a bit of a struggle to get at the fruits which dangled at the ends of skinny branches that could hardly bear the weight of the heavy birds. They foraged at two of these trees which were fruiting.

“More about my trip here LINK.

Ria Tan
28th May 2011

NOTE: The fruits of sea grape are sweet and delicious, often made into drinks or jellies. In some region in its native tropical America, they are used for a wine-like beverage.

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.

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