Blue-billed Duck

posted in: bird, ducks | 0
                                                                                    Australian Blue-billed duck ( Oxyura australis )

Wong Kais spotted a single male Blue-billed duck at the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens on 30 October 2022.  It was very avoidant in behaviour and only a few quick shots and a short video were obtained after 30 minutes. The photo gallery below is a sample of the photos of this elusive duck.

Image A : Australian Blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis) ( Warrnambool Botanic Garden, 30th October 2022). Body is deep reddish brown color, head is black, bill is powder-blue. Black eyes are well camouflaged by the black head. It is a diving duck that usually sits low in the water, with its short spiky tail submerged. They are rather shy. When they notice an observer nearby, they will frequently dive or sneak into the reeds, making it difficult to obtain a good picture.
Image B : sits low in water, with short spiky tail submerged.
Image C: turns and swims away when photographer came into its view.
Image D: A closer shot of the duck.
Image E: Blue-billed duck swimming amongst water lily plants.
Image F: Another perspective of the duck amongst water lily plants.
Image G: short spiky tail seen when it dives.  Water cascades over the stiff tail feathers.
Image H: Black eyes indistinguishable from the black head.
Image I: Duck paddling in the pond.
Image J: The eyes are discernible in this close-up shot.
Image K: Paddling away very quickly.
Image L: Again and again, the duck paddled away when it spotted the photographer’s interest in it.

 

photos, videos, texts by Michael wong

 

References

( 1 ) Birds of Australia – A photographic guide by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods and Nick Leseberg

( 2 ) Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin

( 3 ) Fleurieu Birds by Peter Gower

( 4 ) Field Guide to Australian Birds by Micheal Morcombe

( 5 ) Wildlife of Australia by Iain Campbell and Sam Woods

( 6 ) The Robins and Flycatchers of Australia by Walter E. Boles

( 7 ) Handbook of the Birds of the World vol. 1 edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott and Jordi Sargatal

( 8 ) Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-billed_duck

( 9 ) Blue-billed duck : Game management authority Australia https://youtu.be/fZ1H0hFklTc

(10) Blue-billed ducks, males and females, videoed by Allan Broomhall at Edithvale wetlands https://youtu.be/ke1rjjlsKoE

 

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Australasian Grebe

posted in: Nesting | 0

                                                 Australasian Grebe ( Tachybaptus novaehollandiae )

( Lake Pertobe, Warrnambool, Australia. 6th November 2022 )

During my holiday at Warrnambool, I strolled around placid Lake Pertobe a few times and noticed the grebes going about their nest-building.  The breeding plumage made them stand out from the background.  I noticed a pair of these birds returning to a particular point amongst the plants growing in the middle of the lake.  Close observations for a period of time revealed a floating nest, with a bird sitting in it for varying lengths of time.

 

The photo gallery  and videos  documented the grebes’ activities amidst the goings on of other birds that shared this living space.

Image A: Tachybaptus novaehollandiae. Breeding plumage: striking yellow eye with central black pupil, a pale yellow teardrop patch sloping diagonally from lower front corner of eye towards base of lower beak, a mostly black head, a bright reddish brown, broad stripe of color extends posteriorly from each eye towards the nape and downwards along each side of the neck. The beak is black with a white tip.
Image B: collecting nest-building material.
Image C: looking for suitable nesting materials with urgency and determination.
Image D: one grebe happened to turn with its rear facing me.
Image E: searching amongst the plant island near its floating nest.
Image F: blackish brown wings and light brown flank. Whitish rump.
Image G: Whitish belly and vent. Breast is greyish. Legs are steel grey. Clambering into nest.
Image H: Two yellow eyes, leading to two white streaks and ending in a white dot makes for a scary look. Sitting in nest.
Image I: grebe sitting on a floating nest of vegetation, protected by surrounding water, under shady tree branches makes a good nesting site. Checking out the construction.
Image J: Sitting on nest whilst observing its surroundings.
Image K: suspicious sounds coming from behind her?
Image L: one bird or two? mate playing ambush/ springing surprises?.
Image M:swimming around the floating nest.
Image N: mate brings nest-building material.
Image O:mate brings a long plant fibre in its beak, lower left of picture.

 

Video 1: A grebe goes about its nest-building with great urgency.

Video 2: It was a windy day and the nest bobbed on the water.

 

Photos, videos, texts by Michael Wong

 

References

( 1 ) Birds of Australia – A photographic guide by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods and Nick Leseberg © 2015

( 2 ) Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin © 2007

( 3 ) Fleurieu Birds by Peter Gower © 2012

( 4 ) Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe © 2004

( 5 ) Wildlife of Australia by Iain Campbell and Sam Woods © 2013

( 6 ) The Robins and Flycatchers of Australia by Walter E. Boles © 1988

( 7 ) Handbook of the Birds of the World edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott and Jordi Sargatal © 1992

( 8 ) Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australasian_grebe

 

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Juvenile Australian Magpies playing wrestling

posted in: bird | 0

A group of Australian Magpies (Gymnorhina tibicen) was observed gathered in the shade of a large tree at King’s Domain, Melbourne. Wong Kais observed them from a distance and decided to train his camera on them. They were rolling on the grass, leaping at each other, chasing, kicking, pecking and wrestling.  There was an absence of sound and fury and Kais concluded that it was not a bird battle. By the time Kais was ready to roll his camera, there were 2 birds left continuing with the friskiness.

When viewed on the computer back home, the 2 birds could be seen to have grey scalloped patches on the white back, indicating juveniles or females. There were moments when one bird rolls onto its back and sticks its legs up straight into the air.

“A magpie, particularly a juvenile, may also fall, roll over on its back and expose its underparts.[77] Birds may fluff up their flank feathers as an aggressive display or preceding an attack.[78] Young birds display various forms of play behaviour, either by themselves or in groups, with older birds often initiating the proceedings with juveniles. These may involve picking up, manipulating or tugging at various objects such as sticks, rocks or bits of wire, and handing them to other birds. A bird may pick up a feather or leaf and flying off with it, with other birds pursuing and attempting to bring down the leader by latching onto its tail feathers. Birds may jump on each other and even engage in mock fighting. Play may even take place with other species such as blue-faced honeyeaters and Australasian pipits.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_magpie

Kais concluded that he had witnessed a family group enjoying a bit of family time in the cool shade.

View the video below to see what Kais observed.

Image and video © Wong Kais.

15 November 2022.

Texts by Teo Lee Wei.

References: 

  1. Birds of Australia A Photographic Guide by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods, Nick Leseberg © 2015
  2. Cronin’s Key Guide Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin © 2007
  3. Fleurieu Birds by Peter Gower © 2012

 

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Willie wagtails harass Australian raven

On 7 November 2022, Wong Kais witnessed an epic bird battle that lasted 30 minutes. He was walking along Liebig Street, Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia when he heard a lot of bird flaps and flashes of black and white darting across the top of a roof. He stepped off the pavement and found a position that allowed him to film the kerfuffle.

Two little birds, Willie wagtails, were taking turns to attack an Australian raven, Corvus coronoides.  At other times both willies attacked at the same time by swooping down in mad-hatter fashion.  The raven stayed put and defended itself against the determined willies. Sometimes the raven turned around to fight off the feisty little birds, at other times it tried to peck at the pesky attackers.  For a short while, a third willie joined in the affray but eventually went on its way.

Willie wagtails, Rhipidura leucophrys,  breed from August to January. The willies were probably defending their nest nearby. These little birds have been documented to fight off Magpie Larks, Magpies, and even Wedge-tailed Eagles.  Wong Kais observed a pair of these little birds harassing a Kookabura at the Blue Mountains and tt Continental Park, Port Elliot, South Australia he witnessed a pair of Willie wagtails mob an Australian magpie (2 July 2022).

Image 1: The raven calls loudly and raises its hackles feathers on the throat as a willie attacks from behind. 7 November 2022.
Image 2: The raven turns its head to face its enemies. 7 November 2022.
Image 3: As the raven turns around to face off the stationary one, another pesky one flew above and behind it. 7 November 2022.
Image 4: The aggressive willies attack the raven from different heights. One willie distracts it from above and another on attacks below the belt? 7 November 2022.
Image 5: In this action sequence, the willies attack from the same direction but from different heights again. 7 November 2022.
Image 6: The raven turns around to face off the two willies by leaping up and going air-borne. 7 November 2022.
Image 7: During an interlude in the fight, the nemeses rested along the edge of the roof. 7 November 2022.

 

Below are photographs of a raven and a Willie wagtail snapped at Victor Harbor, South Australia.

Image 8: Australian raven seen in Victor Harbor, South Australia. Kent Reserve. 3 July 2022.
Image 9: Willie wagtail portrait. Wee little bird with warrior demeanor following Kais on the beach, snatching insects that became airborne when disturbed. Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor, South Australia. 3 July 2022.

 

View the following You-tube clip documenting the fierce battle launched by the wee little birds against the bigger raven.

https://youtu.be/yvfGyv-lQN

 

All photographs © Wong Kais.

Texts and captions by Teo Lee Wei.

 

References: 

  1. Birds of Australia A Photographic Guide by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods, Nick Leseberg © 2015
  2. Cronin’s Key Guide Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin © 2007
  3. Fleurieu Birds by Peter Gower © 2012

 

 

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Warrnambool holiday

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

Wong Kais explored Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia from 25/11/2022 to 8/11/2022.  Warrnambool is a city along the Great Ocean Road, sandwiched between the famous towns of Port Fairy and Port Campbell.  A V/line train service runs from the Southern Cross Station, Melbourne to Geelong and terminates at Warrnambool. During his stay he was soaked and inconvenienced by the frequent spells of  rain drizzle which hampered his photo taking, and had to don a raincoat whenever he stepped out of the accommodations. On the few days when clear skies appeared, Wong Kais took in the scenery from the Cannon Hill Lookout as well as visit the Botanical Gardens designed by William Guilfoyle, who was then the Director of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.

The city is laid out neatly in typical style seen in Australian towns and cities.  Warrnambool has round-about at almost every road junction and this makes the city stand out from other towns/cities he has visited so far. Drivers are law-abiding and considerate, always giving way to pedestrians who cross at designated spots near the round-about.

The city is well served by the usual big players : IGA, Aldi, Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. The fresh local produce requires little cooking and flavouring to bring out the best. Visitors are spoilt for choice of cuisine. Even Penang delicacies prepared by the son and daughter-in-law of a Penangite Peranakan can be savoured here in Warrnambool.  Wong Kais tried the delectable nasi lemak: amazingly fragrant rice in Malaysian style, the usual condiments and a side of fork-tender, juicy rendang from another cooking era. He indulged in lamb shanks at the Whalers Hotel and stuffed his face. He would like to try other cuisines such as Mexican, Italian and Vietnamese offerings on his next trip.

Tourist spots are within walking distance.  In this post, he shares photos and observations he made at the Cannon Hill Lookout and Botanical Gardens.

Cannon Hill Lookout

Cannon Hill Lookout offers panoramic views of Lake Pertobe and distant views of the Foreshore Promenade and Lady Bay. Visitors can view a display of cannons used during World Wars I and II, monuments commemorating Portuguese exploration of the South West and The Dirty Angel statue installed in 1925 in tribute to war veterans. Beautifully maintained footpaths with a downward gradient lead towards Lake Pertobe and Foreshore Promenade. Tour buses unload tourists at the spacious carpark here; locals take their lunch and tea-breaks while feasting on the views from the refuge of their parked cars.

Image 1: Echium candicans (Pride of Madeira) growing on slopes of Cannon Hill Lookout. Lady Bay can be seen in the distance. 2 November 2022.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/140824749

Image 2: New Holland Honeyeaters ( Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) dart in and out of the Echium candidans, making their characteristic ‘chit chit’ calls. They were too fast for the photographer to catch on camera. 2 November 2022.
Image 3: Cypress (Cupressus sp.) at Cannon Hill Lookout. Cypresses are evergreen plants which belong to the Class Pinopsida. Pine trees belong to Family Pinaceae but cypresses belong to Family Cupressaceae. Part of an old cannon can be seen. 2 November 2022.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/141106963

Image 4: Globose cones of the cypress trees have very little resemblance to the usual pine cones most of us are familiar with. 2 November 2022.
Image 5: Banksia repens, the creeping banksia, is a creeping shrub with cylindrical inflorescences arising near the ground. These two inflorescences are pinkish. Photograph was taken from ground level on a gentle slope. Lady Bay is visible in the distance. 2 November 2022.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/141106648

Image 6: Fledgling begging father for food.
Image 7: Father and fledgling on a pedestrian path.

 

At Cannon Hill Lookout, a fledgling Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) was seen begging its father to feed it; and probing the soil successfully for earthworms. A pair of hares shared the grass turf with the magpies. View the following You-tube shots and the You-tube video.

https://youtube.com/shorts/PhSv-rbBLCk

https://youtube.com/shorts/EhEUOaUzDqc

 

 

Botanical Gardens Warrnambool (designed in 1879)

We entered a quiet and tranquil garden on a Sunday morning.  Beautiful tall trees, spring flowers in full bloom, a rotunda built in 1913, wide lawns and a pond populated by ducks and frogs, are all packed into 8.1 ha. Visitors can walk a circuit of the gardens in half an hour but there are plants spaced out in little niche corners that are worthy of one’s attention.

Image 8: The King George V Memorial Gates entrance to the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens dates back to 1937. 30 October 2022.
Image 9: The garden signage. 30 October 2022.
Image 10: Heuchera sp. (alumroots). 30 October 2022.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/140456673

Image 11: The heavy flowering plant is a dicotyledonous plant which the photographer is unable to identify. 30 October 2022.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/140456847

Image 12: Viburnum opulus. (Guelder-rose). Each white globe is a corymb varying from 4-11 cm in diameter. The flowers are pollinated by insects which then develop into round red drupes. 30 October 2022.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/140456544

Image 13: The flowers of Guelder-rose open as white flowers which gradually turn pink as they age and fade. 30 October 2022.
Image 14: Acanthus mollis (Bear’s breeches) growing in partial shade of tall trees. 30 October 2022.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/140456801

Image 15: Acanthus mollis is also known as Bear’s breeches because the curved bracts of the flowers look like bear claws. 30 October 2022.
Image 16: Erigeron karvinskianus ( Mexican fleabane). Dainty daisies growing out from nooks and crannies of a flower bed. 30 October 2022.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/140456603

Image 17: Erigeron karvinskianus, also known as Mexican fleabane. Flower profusely and often grown in crevices. 30 October 2022.
Image 18: Spring flowers in full bloom and brightening up the gardens. 30 October 2022.
Image 19: Colourful daisies planted in beds make a very pretty sight. 30 October 2022.
Image 20: Grey-headed flying foxes sleeping upside down. To new visitors, the animals could be mistaken for fruit pods when sighted from a distance. 30 October 2022.
Image 21: Signboard to educate the public about the role and importance of these Grey-headed flying foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) in the ecosystem. 30 October 2022.

Wong Kais is hoping to visit Warrnambool again during the whale sighting months of June- September. The water off Logans Beach is a renowned whale nursery and thus a whale watching hot-spot. He also hopes to trek the Foreshore Promenade to Thunder Point and the breakwater. Maybe he will share more photos with BESGroup in the coming months.

 

Pictures © Wong Kais, Teo Lee Wei

Texts by Teo Lee Wei.

References:

  1. Description of New Holland Honeyeaters https://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Phylidonyris-novaehollandiae#:~:text=Description%3A,to%20give%20an%20extended%20view.
  2. Botanic Gardens Warrnambool https://vintagevictoria.net.au/warrnambool-botanic-gardens/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=warrnambool-botanic-gardens
  3. Botanic Gardens Warrnambool https://www.warrnambool.com/botanic-gardens

4.  Article on Cannon Hill Lookout Warrnambool https://www.weekendnotes.com/cannon-hill/

5. How to grow Erigeron karvinskianus ‘Mexican Fleabane’   https://horticulture.co.uk/erigeron-karvinskianus/

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Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos

posted in: bird, Black and Red Broadbill | 0

These beautiful birds possess brilliant blue and yellow bills which are easily recognised in the field. The females are similar to the males except for a slightly smaller size.

Residents of forests and prefer areas with access to rivers, water edges, mangrove areas with Sonneratia trees and salt-water plants like Pandanus sp.  Untidy nests jointly built by mating pair.

Feed on arthropods, berries, molluscs, crabs and small fish.

Locally extinct but rare visitors from Peninsula Malaysia drop by Singapore precincts, sending bird photographers into wild excitement.

Image 1: Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos. Sg Buloh Wetland Reserve. 22 May 2022.
Image 2: Another beautiful shot of Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos. Sg Buloh Wetland Reserve. 22 May 2022.
Sim Chip Chye was tipped  by his buddy Art Toh of this rare sighting at 1600 hrs. Since he had missed the opportunity at Pulau Ubin’s Chek Java, he hurried to record this birdie in the mainland. By the time he picked up his gears, travelled there and brisk walked to the location, he walked pass many of his birding friends who assured him that the bird was still around. He reached the location around 1700 hrs! Lighting had diminished somewhat and the bird was rather fleet-winged and flying all over the tall trees. With the help of some buddies, he managed to take home some records of this lovely avian species that he had also missed during a trip up north some years back.
Photographs ©Sim Chip Chye
28 May 2022
∼1706 hrs
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Texts by Teo Lee Wei

References:

  1. Black and Red Broadbill, Birds of Borneo by YC Lee  https://youtu.be/Br4t-sP-yeg
  2. A Pocket Guide to the Birds of Borneo by Charles M. Francis © 2005
  3. The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula Volume Two by David R. Wells © 2007
  4. Biodiversity of Singapore: An encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development © 2011 Edited by: Peter KL Ng, Richard T. Corlett and Hugh T. W. Tan
  5. Black and Red Broadbill by WF Chin (video documents a bird calling) https://youtu.be/PmYxfOLsjF8
  6. Black and Red Broadbill building nest in slow motion by Liewwk https://youtu.be/663tObRD7Is
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Hoverfly Monoceromyia javana mimics wasp

posted in: Arthropod, hoverfly | 0

Order       : Diptera

Subfamily: Eristalinae ( droneflies and allies)

Hoverflies, also known as droneflies, belong to the Insect Order Diptera characterised by one pair of wings (di: two; pteron: wing) and one pair of tiny wings known as halteres.  The halteres are modified hindwings which have flight  mechanosensory functions and stabilise flight events. Many of them hover around flowers and feed on pollens or nectar. They are good mimics of wasps and bees.

These flies have been known to pollinate orchids like Epipactis veratrifolia and slipper orchids.  Their larvae, known as maggots, may be terrestrial and perform pest control of aphids or feed on decaying plant matter; or aquatic e.g. rat-tailed maggots found in water bodies polluted with organic matter like sewage. Larvae of Microdon are adapted to live in ant nests and feed on ant larvae, their faecal pellets and pupae.

Soh Kam Yung shares his photographs of these flies, Monoceromyia javana, taken at Lim Chu Kang and Chestnut Nature Park.

Image 1: Lim Chu Kang. 25 December 2020
Image 2: Lim Chu Kang. 25 December 2020
Image 3: Lim Chu Kang. 25 December 2020
Image 4: Lim Chu Kang. 25 December 2020

 

‘Monoceromyia javana, a Drone Fly (subfamily Eristalinae) spotted in Singapore (Kranji Marshes) on 25 Dec. 2020. Soh Kam Yung thought it was a wasp at first until he took a closer look and realized what it was. Good mimicry.’

 

Image 5: Chestnut Nature Park. 11 October 2021
Image 6: Chestnut Nature Park. 11 October 2021
Image 7: Chestnut Nature Park. 11 October 2021
Image 8: Chestnut Nature Park. 11 October 2021

 

In Soh Kam Yung’s inaturalist account he writes:

Happy to spot this Monoceromyia javana at Chestnut Nature Park on 11 Oct 2021. It looks like a wasp from a distance, but it’s really a Hover fly, and a good wasp-looking mimic.
He received the following comment from a member with moniker ‘arbonius’:
‘Your photos show all the diagnostic characters for the species ID very clearly. This is a male (from the “eyes touching” at the top of the head).’
References:
5.  How hoverflies spawn maggots that sweeten your oranges https://youtu.be/E3nLuK7D7LY
6. Hoverfly larva eating aphids https://youtu.be/YSRo2sgR45c
7.  Biodiversity of Singapore: An encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development © 2011 Edited by: Peter KL Ng, Richard T. Corlett and Hugh T. W. Tan
All photographs © Soh Kam Yung.
Texts and captions by Teo Lee Wei.

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Long-tailed shrike frequents Bishan MRT station vicinity

posted in: bird, Long-tailed shrike | 0

Dave observed a lone Long-tailed shrike Lanius schach in the vicinity of Bishan MRT station on many occasions (Image 1). The bird is unafraid of people and allowed the photographer to approach it to a distance of 2 m.  It is often seen around noon, perched on the tallest wire of the fence (Image 2). On 31 December 2022 Dave observed it perching and scanning its surroundings in the shade of  small shrubs in the same vicinity.

Image 1: Google street map shows the location frequented by the long-tailed shrike. It is often found perched on the fence within the red circle.
Image 2: The bird is often seen perched on the highest wire of the fence.
Image 3: The long-tailed shrike seen perched on a branch of a shrub.
Image 4: The shrike allowed the photographer to approach up close and take shots from different angles.
Image 5: The shrike hopped onto the cement planter but remained in the shade.
Image 6: It remained in the same position and scanned its surroundings, aware of the presence of the photographer.
Image 7: Photographer got even closer to the bird.
Image 8: The long tail trails onto the cement planter.
Image 9: Now the bird scans for prey on the ground.
Image 10: The shrike turns towards the photographer.

At approximately 5 pm on 1 January 2023, Dave documented the shrike diving into the grass to catch insects.  Below are some videos that he shared with BESGroup.

Video 1: The shrike flying down to the grass to foray. The sound of a passing train did not perturb the bird at all.

View the following shorts taken of the bird going about to catch its dinner.

Shrike caught an insect prey   https://youtube.com/shorts/5cMt4VVZk-4

Shrike hopping about                https://youtube.com/shorts/w3WeF47kFrc

Shrike  looking for insect prey   https://youtube.com/shorts/pRO72n54rGc

 

 

All photographs and videos © Dave, taken with phone camera.

Read the following posts to find out more about the Long-tailed shrike:

https://besgroup.org/2022/04/07/long-tailed-shrike-talons/

https://besgroup.org/2022/03/13/long-tailed-shrike-call-and-song/

https://besgroup.org/2019/05/16/long-tailed-shrike-mobbing-barn-owl/

https://besgroup.org/2013/01/28/diet-and-feeding-behaviour-of-the-long-tailed-shrike/

 

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Lineated Barbet wishes All a Blessed Christmas 2022

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

 

The following excerpt accompanied Jeremiah’s video.

Megalaima lineata, the lineated barbet, belongs to the order Piciformes (woodpeckers and relatives), family Capitonidae (barbets), and subfamily Megalaimatinae (typical asian barbets) (Shorts & Horne, 2002). This species has two subspecies—Megalaima lineata hodgsoni (Fig. 1), which is an exotic species in Singapore, and distributed from northwest India and Nepal east towards western Yunnan, south to Orissa, Bangladesh, Manipur, southern Myanmar, South and Central Vietnam to northern Peninsular Malaysia but absent in southern Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, although Wells (2002) reported that they spread south naturally in Peninsular Malaysia, and the other subspecies, Megalaima lineata lineata, is found in Java, and Bali, both in Indonesia (Glenister, 1971; Jeyarajasingam & Pearson, 1999; Robson, 2005; Shorts & Horne, 2002; Wang & Hails, 2007).Megalaima lineata hodgsoni like Megalaima lineata lineata is about the size or bigger than a common myna (Acridotheres tristis), has a short, heavy-set beige to pinkish, not laterally compressed beak which is used to excavate nest holes (Fig. 2) (Shorts & Horne, 2002). It has short nasal and chin bristles, which do not extend past half the length of the beak. The head, nape and breast are generally cream with light to dark brown streaks, extending slightly to the belly. It also has a distinct bright yellow eye ring surrounded by naked yellow skin, and has bright yellow feet. The rest of the bird is predominantly bright green. A prerequisite for barbet habitats seems to be trees with sufficient dead wood in their branches, which is suitable for excavating cavities for roosting as well as nesting, and brooding can be for as long as 11 hours and which is extended during cool or rainy days (Shorts & Horne, 2002). Wells (2002) has, however, reported the preference of the lineated barbet for living trunks and branches for nesting. The lineated barbet is found in varied habitats ranging from evergreen (including pine), deciduous and teak forests, woodlands, open secondary forest, plantations and gardens, especially when fruiting trees are in season, and where there is sufficient vegetation cover (Shorts & Horne, 2002). In India, with its long history of human occupation and tolerant attitude towards wildlife, some barbets, such as the lineated barbet which is usually confined to forest, do exploit fruiting trees in urban areas as well as orchards, where they can become a pest (Shorts & Horne, 2002). This situation is akin to that in Singapore, where the original population of lineated barbets which were confined to secondary forests, is now venturing out into housing estates, parks and their connectors, to exploit fruiting ornamental trees planted by the National Parks Board (NParks). The lineated barbet, like most barbets, is well known as a frugivore, but generally has a varied diet that comprises mainly of fruits, especially those of figs (Ficus species; Fig. 3), flower petals as well as nectar from Bombax and Erythrina (del Hoyo et. al., 1999). Lineated barbets have been observed to feed on the fruits and flowers of the exotic species—Cecropia species, Falcataria moluccana, and Ptychosperma macarthurii (Fig. 4) as well as fruits of Macaranga, Mallotus and Prunus species (A. F. S. L. Lok, pers. obs.; M. Chua, pers. comm.). Their favourite fruits are however those of figs, which they depend strongly on, especially those of the strangler, Malayan banyan (Ficus microcarpa) and the yellow-stemmed fig (Ficus fistulosa). Because of their predominantly fruit diet, barbets are thus major disperses of seeds of plants and are therefore important in maintaining the health of the ecosystem (Shorts & Horne, 2002). This however, has, negative effects especially when it feeds on exotic plant species such as albizia (Falcataria moluccana), cecropia (Cecropia species), and MacArthur’s palm (Ptychosperma macarthurii) (Fig. 4), dispersing their seeds into forest areas, and potentially extending the range of these exotic plants.

SONG                                O Holy Night (arr. Carmen Dragon)
ARTIST                              Southwestern Seminary Oratorio Chorus, The Fortworth Chamber Orchestra
ALBUM                              The Majesty of Christmas
LICENCES                         Syntax Creative (on behalf of Resmiranda Records); Public Domain Compositions, LatinAutor,  LatinAutorPerf, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, Kobalt Music Publishing, LatinAutor – UMPG, and 5 music rights societies

 

Video courtesy of Jeremiah Loei.

This post is a cooperative effort between  https://www.facebook.com/groups/394479540610099/   (Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia) and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.

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Blue-tailed Bee-eater of Seletar Aerospace, Singapore

posted in: bird, Feeding strategy | 0

This photo gallery showcases the Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Merops philippinus, getting on with its life. Johnny Wee visited the Seletar Aerospace Park between November 2021 and January 2022 and was rewarded with these beautiful photo shots.  The bird is noticeable as its blue and green feathers are very eye-catching.  A black eye stripe gives the illusion of a bandit in flight. The long blue tail is obvious in flight and at perch.

The birds at this park forage acrobatically and return to the same favourite perch after snaring a prey. The sorties can be short and frequent. The patient photographer is able to observe the birds taking off and returning to low and bare branches.

Photo 1: Bird in flight. 1 November 2021
Photo 2: With a dragonfly prey. 2 October 2021
Photo 3: Preening its feathers while perched on a bare branch. 3 October 2021
Photo 4: Manipulating an insect prey. 4 October 2021
Photo 5: Landing on favourite perch with prey in beak. 5 October 2021
Photo 6: Resting on favourite perch with prey in beak. 6 October 2021
Photo 7: Hornet prey in beak. November 2021
Photo 8: Manipulating hornet prey. November 2021
Photo 9: Flying towards favourite perch with insect prey. November 2021
Photo 10: Potential prey unaware of danger it is facing. November 2021
Photo 11: Dragonfly prey in beak. November 2021
Photo 12: Tossing a grasshopper prey. November 2021
Photo 13: Grasshopper caught after the tossing. November 2021
Photo 14: Beautiful flight and tail feathers in full display during flight. November 2021
Photo 15: Catching an insect prey in flight. November 2021
Photo 16: A satisfied Bee-eater. December 2021
Photo 17: Enjoying a rain shower. January 2022
Photo 18: Insect prey in beak. January 2022
Photo 19: Feathers ruffled in the wind. January 2022

 

All photos © Johnny Wee.

Seletar Aerospace Park.

 

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26 Responses

  1. kris

    I just found a young dollarbird in the garden.. It seems to have left the nest too early and cannot fly yet. How am i to keep and feed it for a few days untill it can fly.???

  2. Iwan

    We have a small pond in our garden surrounded by trees and steep bedrock. The other day we saw a heron flying over and attempting to land – I guess to try to eat our small stock of fish. We managed to frighten it away before it landed, and have since installed trip wires around the pond in order to dissuade the bird. The amount of shelter around the pond means that a heron would have to land practically vertically. Does anyone know whether these birds have the agility to hover and land in this way, or do they always need a “glidepath” in order to land successfully?

  3. Khng Eu Meng

    Today, at the former Bidadari Cemetery, there was a buzz about a sighting of a Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka). I heard some birders say this nightjar isn’t commonly seen in Singapore. After some hunting, we spotted it asleep on a tree branch, some 15 m above ground. This was rather interesting as my previous encounters with nightjars have been on either terra firma or on low branches.

    Is this perching so high up the tree normal or is it unusual? I have posted a photo of it on my Facebook Timeline: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151125012234135&set=a.108191464134.96538.617499134&type=1&theater

  4. Jess

    Bird Sanctuary At Former Bidadari Cementry

    1)Which is the best spot in Bidadari cemetery for bird watch?

    2)Where this bird usually resident at?

    3)What are some of the rare bird species that can be found at Bidadari?

    4)Where is the particular hot spot for the hornbills, eagles, kingfishers and some of the rare migratory bird?

    5)Which part of Bidadari are richest in it wildlife?

    6)Can you name me the 59 migratory bird species found?

  5. YC

    Why not search the website using the word ‘Bidadari’ to obtain the information you need. There should be sufficient info in past postings to satisfy you.

  6. Firdaus Razak

    Hai, I just want to ask did anybody had an experience bring bird from oversea via MasKargo? Did the bird will stress at high altitude?

  7. Chung Wah

    Hi, I am new to bird photography! Could anyone advise a good pair of binoculars to get for this hobby?

  8. Geam Liang

    I ‘acquired’ a female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot 5 days ago – was in a public place when the bird flew overhead hit the wall and dropped right in front of me dazed. I picked it up, it appeared unhurt but could not sustain it’s flight. I have since constructed a fairly large ‘cage’ for it, about 4ft x 2fx x 2ft and placed it there last night. I temporarily placed her in a normal bird cage until I had completed the build.
    From what I have read up, it’s a fruit, seed and insect feeder and also nectar, flower buds. It’s doing as well as it can on bananas, papaya, jack-fruit (didn’t touch the grape) and seeds (black and white sunflower and other smaller ones). It loves to bathe so I’ve gotten it a tray and from what I read it’s important to keep things clean as it easily succumbs to infection.
    Does anyone else have any useful experience and sharing on it’s upkeep? I suspect this bird is an escapee – as far as I can read up, it’s not common, if at all, found in Georgetown, Penang where I am. I’m also not optimistic that it can survive if I were to set it free – assuming it can sustain it’s flight and not go crashing down and if there were dogs/cats around that would be the end of it.
    I can attach some pictures but not sure how to do this…
    thanks.

  9. Lee Chiu San

    The blue-crowned hanging parrot, even though very closely related to the lovebirds, is a nectar feeder. You would raise it the way you raise a lorikeet – which is a messy process. And because you are mixing batches of food for just one little bird, whereas I used to do it for about half a dozen pigeon-sized lorikeets each morning, I don’t know how you are going to get the portions down to manageable sizes. Anyway, here goes, with my recipe for feeding big lories. You can adjust the proportions down accordingly for your little bird.

    The staple diet would be a couple of slices of soft fruit (papaya, apple, grapes, even though I am surprised that you said the bird would not eat any) and a mixture of cooked rice sweetened with nectar mix.

    How to make nectar mix? Go to a pharmacy and get a can of food for invalids or infants. I use Complan, but I am sure any good baby formula would do. I usually make up enough to fill a beer mug, but there is no way you need that amount for a day’s feeding. If in doubt, make the mixture thinner, not thicker. Birds cannot digest baby formula that is too thick. If it is too thin, they simply have to consume more to get the required amount of energy. Then to this mug, add half a teaspoonful of rose syrup. Also stir in about a cup of cooked rice, well mashed up.

    In the case of your bird, I suggest that you pour this lot into an ice-cube tray, freeze the mixture, and defrost one cube to feed it each day.

    Now, you said that this bird eats sunflower seeds. This is most unusual for a blue-crowned hanging parrot. Are you sure that this is actually the species you have? Could it be possible that you have actually got a pet lovebird that escaped? There are so many different artificially-created breeds of lovebirds in so many colours that you might have been mistaken.

    If you actually have a lovebird, feeding is much simpler. Just go to the nearest pet shop, buy a packet of budgerigar or cockatiel seed of a reputable international brand, and offer it to the bird. You can supplement this with a couple of slices of fruit each day, and that will be all. Plus of course fresh water and a piece of cuttlefish bone to nibble on.

  10. Lee Chiu San

    About nectar feeding birds. I forgot to add that feeding nectar is messy, and it goes rancid very quickly in our tropical weather. Feeding containers have to be removed and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. The birds also splatter the mixture and wipe their beaks on perches and the bars of the cage. All my lories and lorikeets used to be housed in outdoor aviaries which were hosed down daily.

    If Geam Liang does not think the bird will survive if released, I really hope that it is a case of mistaken identity, and that you have a lovebird, rather than a blue-crowned hanging parrot. In our part of the world, all available lovebirds are domestically bred, take to captivity readily, and are easy to feed with commercially available seed mixtures. Yes, and being domestic pets, they would not survive if released.

  11. Geam Liang

    Thank you Chiu San for your inputs. Thus far, bananas and papayas work well. I’m not sure why it did not take to grapes – will try again. Am I supposed to peel it? I didn’t the last time, basically skewered a couple of grapes to a satay stick and positioned it as I did for the sliced and skinned papaya and peeled bananas.
    I have yet to try rice and certainly not nectar but will try out your concoction – have half a mind to go to a pet shop to see if they carry nectar for birds. The ice-cube freeze method is a good one, will try that. I might be mistaken on the sunflower seeds… not touched but it did eat the much smaller roundish, mixed colored seeds. Will remove the sunflower seeds.
    I’m sure it’s a female blue crowned hanging parrot.. it sleeps like a bat every night.

  12. Lee Chiu San

    When feeding local birds which are unfamiliar with imported fruits such as grapes, it helps to split the fruits to expose the edible parts. As to your remark that the bird sleeps hanging upside down like a bat, yes, that is the way blue-crowned hanging parrots sleep.

  13. Geam Liang

    Thanks… I need to think like a bird – yup. She has probably not seen a grape much less know that it’s edible, unless the previous owner has fed her with grapes… even then… Today she’s done pretty well making the most of the banana and all of the papaya plus quite a bit of seeds. Will try the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup.
    Will regular honey do instead of rose syrup?
    Thanks.

  14. Lee Chiu San

    About making nectar to feed birds. Most aviculturalists do not use honey for two reasons: 1. It is expensive and does not seem to give any added benefits. 2. Honey is made by bees, and the composition varies wildly. Some honeys are also known to cause fungal infection in birds.

    If you do not want to buy a huge bottle of rose syrup just for one tiny bird, there are cheaper alternatives. The first is plain table sugar, though most don’t seem to like it very much.

    What many birds will accept quite readily as a sweetener is condensed milk – the type with sugar that coffee shop owners use.

    Many, many birds have a sweet tooth (or should I say sweet beak?) Besides the usual suspects of lories, lorikeets, sunbirds and hummingbirds, for whom it is an essential part of the diet, nectar mixture is readily consumed by mynahs, leafbirds, fairy bluebirds, barbets, doves, parrots of all kinds, and a whole host of other species.

  15. Geam Liang

    I tried the condensed mild, placed in in a small bottle cap.. only the ants showed interest. Am I supposed to dilute it? I didn’t =( I took you advice and refrained from honey. Have yet to find Rose Syrup from the shelves of TESCO… will try to mix the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup/sugar syrup this week…

  16. David Thackray

    Can anyone help me identify a bird I saw in Singapore last week. Size of a smakll dove or thrush. Dark metallic back. Grey breast with red throat, chest.

  17. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers

  18. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers.

  19. Mahadevi Bhuti

    One of best souce for the bird watcher’s enjoying knowledge about ornithology

  20. Martin Nyffeler (PhD)

    Dear Sir / Dear Madame,

    I am a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at a University in Switzerland and I urgently need to get in touch with photographer Chan Yoke Meng, who takes beautiful photographs of birds near Singapore. Would you please mail me the email address of this photographer!

    Thanks,
    Martin

  21. Wee Ming

    Hello Besgroup,

    Trust this email finds you well. We chance upon your photograph on your website and found the amazing image of the Laced Woodpecker and durians. We would like to explore the possibility of getting permission to use them for a new Bird Park in Singapore.

    Spacelogic is a company based in Singapore and we have been contracted by Mandai Park Development to carry out design and build works relating to the exhibition interpretive displays in this new Bird Park.

    Some background of the new Mandai Bird Park project; it will build upon the legacy of the Jurong Bird Park – https://www.wrs.com.sg/en/jurong-bird-park.html by retaining and building upon a world-reference bird collection and creating a place of colour and joy for all visitors. The new Bird Park will have a world-reference ornithological collection displayed in a highly immersive way with large walk-through habitats. To enhance visitors’ experience with storyline and narrative of the bird park, transition spaces are added to display exhibits that provide a varied type of fun, intuitive, interactive and educational experiences for all visitors. One of the habitats features the Laced Woodpecker on a flora panel It is in this flora panel that we are seeking your permission to feature the Laced Woodpecker. We are looking to use the first image on the link here.
    Link can be found here: https://besgroup.org/2012/06/28/laced-woodpecker-and-durians/

    We would like to ask if this is something that we can explore further and if yes, how can we go about with putting through a formal permission request. Thank you so much for considering our request and we look forward to hearing from you.

    Warmest Regards,
    Wee Ming
    SPACElogic Pte Ltd

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