“It was a great delight to watch a family of 5 White-breasted Waterhens (Amaurornis phoenicurus) swimming together (above) in an artificial pond at Pasir Ris Park on 27th October 2017. Two adult birds were leading 3 fluffy black chicks across the pond. I have seen this species countless of times walking or flying but this is the very first time that I had observed this species of Rail swimming.
“The wonderful thing about observing nature is that it is full of surprises; you never know what it will throw at you. There is always something new to observe in a common species that may display an uncommon behaviour. What a treat!
“The birds were swimming like a family of ducks, gliding smoothly across the shallow pond. However, the waterhens were using their feet which had elongated toes without webbings (above). These feet were probably less efficient in paddling under water but still able to allow the birds to glide effortlessly.
“It is always difficult to identify the gender of this species because they are solitary birds. However, with the two adults seen side by side, it is a great opportunity to easily compare and observe the physical differences (above). There are 2 obvious differences. The bird that is furthest away has a bigger head and body. Its beak also looks different. The dorsal ridge (or Culmen) of the upper mandible, ends higher up the forehead. It also has a greater amount of red colour on its upper mandible. I suspect this is the male bird.”
Thong Chow Ngian
31st Octover 2017