Herons fly past

on 13th September 2011

“I was at the Sin Ming Walk, which is near Bishan Park, this morning at about 9 am when I saw a pair of big birds flying towards me from the direction of Lower Peirce Reservoir, perhaps on their way to the foraging ground at the other end of Bishan Park.

“I thought they were White-bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) as they were frequently seen in this area. I quickly took out my camera and turned on the video to record their flights. It was a wonderful sight as they flapped their wings gracefully and almost always in unison. Only after reviewing the recording did I realise that they were herons (couldn’t tell the species though).

“I have also attached a screen grab (top) which shows the worn and missing flight feathers in one of the herons. Hope to see some comments on this.”

Sun Chong Hong
3rd September 2011

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

8 Responses

  1. Hi Ching Hong, think is the black crowned night heron. I live right beside Bishan Park 2.

    They have been “fishing” at night in the canal which is now the “new” river.
    Once in a while I still can see them early in the morning.

    Brice Li

    1. hi Brice,

      This is definitely not night herons, the silhouette is wrong for night herons that had a short and stout neck and very much shorter leg where the toes extend beyond the centre of the tail that gives it s typical jaeger or bee-eater look on the tail.

      From neck, bill, legs, this is definitely an Ardea heron, but lighting is not sufficient to help in differentiating between Purple and Grey Heron, the Purple heron is usually more widespread than Grey Heron in this region but could also co-occur, from the blur image, from color, bill, legs, I have a stronger sense towards the Purple Heron.

  2. Thanks Jing Yi for sharing the very much needed info.

    But purple heron seldom fly in pair right?
    There are so far 2 “regular” purple heron there.

    Could be that 2 but I noticed they don’t seem to like to be close to each other.


    1. In my home at Ipoh, it is not unusual to see a pair of Purple Herons flying cross the skies, sometimes could had more but they are often loners. At my work place in Kampar, there is a heronry but again I never saw groups of Purple Herons flying in the skies (except too close to the heronry where they would circle around), usually only singles or a pair of them.

      I was lucky to work beside a heronry where I get to watch different herons flying pass always, giving me good opportunities to be familiar with the different heron species, I however still find it challenging to attempt to differentiate a Cattle and Little Egret when they are flying very high up or when I its too far for my naked eyes to differentiate.

      Sometimes the whitish colorations of the Grey Heron could be seen from pretty far even under evening lights but if they were too far, it could be pretty hard to be told apart from the Purple Herons as well.

  3. May be grey heron. Once I saw a grey heron in the Kallang River canal adjacent to the Bishan-Toa Payoh park connector downstream of Bishan Park 2.

    1. Usually Purple Herons are always found near Grey Herons but this is not true otherwise because the Grey Heron is less widespread than the Purple Herons.

  4. Saw 2 Herons that looked like the Purple species on 12 Feb 2012 at about 7.10 pm at Bishan Park 1, now known as Pond Gardens. They were quite close together near the water edge. Even though they were 80 to 100 m away from me, one took flight to take cover in a tree nearby when it discovered that I was observing them (see video of one of them at )

    On 24 Feb 2012 at about 7 pm, I saw one again at almost the same spot (see video at )

    These sighting gave weights to Jing Yi’s view that the herons recorded in my fly past video are likely to be the Purple species, though this is not a conclusive proof.

    1. Ya, not conclusive but at least the Purple Heron certainly appears there, at my hometown backyard, I still failed to get any recognizable record shots of the Grey Heron, much rarer compared to the Purple but can quite easily be told even from far as the underparts are generally very whitish and don’t happen in all ages of a Purple.

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