“One early morning in January 2014, more than a dozen Black Bazas (Aviceda leuphotes) were discovered resting just inside a patch of wooded forest. Some flew off after detecting that they were being watched. The few that remained were unperturbed and calmly perched, basking in the early morning sunlight.
“At a distance of more than 20 metres away, my attention was focused on the nearest bird (above left). As I started shooting, this individual was noticed stretching its neck from its previously relaxed stance. With neck extended, it was seen gaping widely for one or two seconds (above right). After a short pause, the gaping action was repeated. This gaping was to continue another few times.
“The action reached a climax when the raptor gaped and leaned forward in its ultimate attempt. It then turned its head to its right (above).
At this juncture, a brownish object could be seen just within its opened beak. In a swift and sudden movement, it swung its head from right to left, then to right again (above). This resulted in the brownish object being forced out of its gape (below).
“Will need verification whether this object is a pellet. The object also seemed to have an irregular shape unlike any of those that had been documented previously in besgroup.
“The object quickly exploded and disintegrated into many loose pieces that were spread out over a vast area as it was cast out (below).
“I was further rewarded after the pellet casting when the Black Baza put on a display of its wings and tail feathers. It was indulging in comfort behaviour (below). It stretched out each of its wings on separate occasions. The tail feathers were simultaneously fanned out during the wing stretching.
“Unknown to many, during the migratory season, Black Bazas have been regularly roosting in the forest areas along Pasir Ris Drive 3 between Elias Road and Sungei Tampines. In previous years, as many as 20 Black Bazas had been observed returning in the evening to roost in the forest patch opposite Pasir Ris Elias Community Centre. Unfortunately, this particular forest patch has already been cleared for a condominium development.
“Thus, the roosting area has been reduced and I fear that unhindered development will further deprive the Black Bazas of their roosting ground. The discovery of Jerdon’s Bazas feeding in the same forested area last year meant that these forests are an important habitat for both species of bazas. Let’s hope that the Authorities will save these forests from any further development for these majestic bazas and for our future generations.”
Kwong Wai Chong
19th January 2014