Johnny Wee’s images of a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) were photographed at Singapore’s Lorong Halus Wetland on 20th November 2013.
Subaraj Rajathurai examined the images of the kite with its prey and concluded that the latter is probably a Garden Supple Skink (Lygosoma bowringii).
This kite usually hunts from a perch. It keeps a close watch on any prey appearing below. Once the prey is sighted, the raptor lunges down, snatch the prey with its powerful talons and return to the perch LINK 1 and LINK 2. The raptor would then deals with the prey, attacking its head and tearing it up.
In the case of the Black-shouldered Kite, it probably attacked the head of the lizard before slowly swallowing it head-first until only the tail stuck out of its mouth.
Johnny Wee & Subaraj Rajathurai
Lee Chiu San
Sorry to disagree with the identification of the prey, but I doubt that the lizard in question is a supple skink. The supple skink has very small legs and is a good example of evolution towards leglessness in lizards. The supple skink is also small,(maximum length 12 cm) and in past, when it was more plentiful, was commonly sold in pet shops as food for shamas and magpie robins. A lizard so small would be swallowed in one gulp by a bird the size of a kite.
The prey in the picture is probably a sub-adult specimen of either the mangrove skink, or a many-lined sun skink. The former is to be found in wetland habitats, while the latter is common in suburbs everywhere in Singapore. Both these species have clearly visible legs, and grow to between 26 to 35 cm in adult size.
Thanks for your input, Chiu San.