Encounter with a Brahminy Kite and an Oriental Pied Hornbill

posted in: Feeding-plants, Hornbills, Raptors | 1

“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.

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