African Tulip Tree and Spiderhunters

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

Post 1

I returned to the flowering Spathodea campanulata (African Tulip Tree) where I again saw 4 species of Spiderhunters feeding on nectar, high up:

  1. Long-billed Spiderhunter Arachnothera robusta robusta
  2. Grey-breasted Spiderhunter Arachnothera modesta modesta
  3. Spectacled Spiderhunter Arachnothera flavigaster
  4. Yellow-eared Spiderhunter Arachnothera chrysogenys chrysogenys

Post 2

The Spectacled Spiderhunter was the most aggressive species and often chased away the others from flowers or trees.

Post 3

All the Spiderhunters feed on this exotic tree nectar by dipping their heads into the large flowers (Post 1). However I noticed today that the Spectacled Spiderhunter also uses nectar robbing techniques and pierces the flower base to access nectar (Post 2). This may have to do with perch access or just convenience.

Post 4

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Secondary growth adjacent to limestone outcroppings

Date: 7th December 2020

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Spectacled Spiderhunter – behaviour

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

Post 1

I have watched the Spiderhunters that visit the flowering Spathodea campanulata (African Tulip Trees) extensively and would like to share some further observations. A number of immature birds also visited the trees; in particular the immatures of the Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster).

Post 2

When I first saw this behaviour (Post 1 & 2) I thought it could be aggressive behaviour to chase off other feeding spiderhunters. But I saw these birds also chasing their own species and posturing in this manner towards adult Spectacled Spiderhunters. So this could be immature birds begging for food.

Post 3

Wells (2007) reports similar behaviour seen before copulation, however I did not observe any mating. This particular bird did this for close to 2 minutes, with calls, allowing me some distant images. I also saw immature Grey-breasted Spiderhunters (Arachnothera modesta modesta) begging for food from adults


Post 4

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Secondary growth adjacent to limestone outcroppings

Date: 10th December 2020

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

An odd Brown Shrike

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

I saw this odd Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) today that had no tail to speak of. Either moulting but more likely lost in some traumatic event.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Wetlands, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Extensive ex-tin mining area with pond/lakes, wetlands

Date: 24th February 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Grey-bellied Bulbul – call

posted in: birds, Vocalisation | 0

I saw a Grey-bellied Bulbul (Pycnonotus cyaniventris cyaniventris) making calls and managed a very short recording of two different calls (above).

The song and calls of this bird are possibly more varied than currently known. The audio recording (edited with some noise reduction) and sonogram/waveform (above) show two types of calls – a lively pipping call rendered “pi-pi-pi-pi…” (Wells 2007) and another softer “wit-wit-wit…” (HBW 2019). Call recording here:


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Primary jungle at foothills

Date: 14th February 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone


Paddyfield Pipit  – extended vocalisation

posted in: birds, Vocalisation | 0

I had an unusual experience with a Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus malayensis) today. I arrived at this wetland site around 6.57am and immediately encountered a Paddyfield Pipit calling out non-stop. The total duration, of continuously calling out, exceeded 1.5 minutes, as it had already been calling before I started any recordings. I am sure many of us are used to the hurried burst of 3-4 calls when taking flight or the less common 4-5 notes given when in a high display flight (courtship flight song). But this was something I have not encountered before. The bird was on a small mound of grass and singing, turning the head from side to side. There was no sequence or rhythm to the song. 64 calls were recorded in 75 seconds. The first half of the calls were different from the second half. The first half were the more classical 2-4 notes (occasionally single or 5) that sound like ‘tchep’ or ‘tseep’ or ‘chep’ (Wells 2007, HBW 2019). As the bird continued to all out the nature of the calls changed and became more complex – notes were harder to count, were more closely interspersed and the quality of the sound changed.

A video recording in low light is here:

An audio recording of the calls is here:


Post 1 is a waveform and sonogram of the first type of calls.

There is some similarity on the sonogram of both types of calls but a good look at the waveforms shows there are different and the sonograms are not identical.

I am making an assumption that this is a Paddyfield Pipit. It was dark, ISO for images was 29,000, making clear DSLR photos not possible. But it is the predominant Pipit for the region and we are at the tail end of the migration season. Once light was up I looked at every Pipit in the area and all were Paddyfield Pipits.If anyone has comments about the ID I would appreciate this.

Post 2 is a waveform and sonogram of the second type of calls.

There is a similar encounter by Peter Boesman on 27th March 2016 at 5:45am at the Bundala Ramsar Wetland, Sri Lanka. He notes this as “singing from the ground at dawn”. His recording here:

The majority of the Paddyfield Pipits I encountered were nesting, some collecting nesting material. I wonder if these calls I witnessed are early morning territorial calls and, because they are made very early, often missed?


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)- Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Malim Nawar Wetlands, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Extensive ex-tin mining area with pond/lakes, wetlands, fish farming

Date: 25th April 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Golden-bellied Gerygone – plumage

posted in: birds, Morphology-Develop. | 0

An earlier account describes the Little Bronze Cuckoo (Chalcites minutillus peninsularis) being fed by the Golden-bellied Gerygones (Gerygone sulphurea sulphurea) HERE.

This post provides further images of the Golden-bellied Gerygone host parents.

Note a feature that I have not seen described in literature – the symmetrical brown curved lines that come from the base of the neck into the breast but do not meet.

This feature can be seen in the Oriental Bird Club Image Database, especially of the G. s. sulphurea subspecies. Some birds (on-line image search) have it very prominently, others less obvious. I wonder if it is a breeding plumage and waxes-wanes?

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld



Cattle Egret – social group

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

This is a rather long panorama image of part of a Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis coromundus) flock; only part is shown. I have detailed individual images and there are more than 414 birds in the flock. This is not a roosting flock but a group resting on Eichhornia crassipes (Water Hyacinth) and preening together in the mid-morning after feeding. 50-60% of them have some breeding plumage and about 10% have bill facial skin breeding changes. There were other Cattle Egrets nearby on trees and large bushes.

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Outskirts of Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Wetlands, ex-mining pools

Date: 28th January 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld

Mountain Imperial Pigeon  – in flight

posted in: birds, Miscellaneous | 0

Mountain Imperial Pigeons (Ducula badia badia) are known to forage in the lowlands and I have seen them a number of times at different locations.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Broken primary forest with secondary growth

Date: 23rd November 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Phylloscopus warbler for ID: possible Two-barred Warbler

posted in: birds, Identification | 0

I saw this Phylloscopus warbler (dark green leaf-warbler) that was feeding on a caterpillar. The key features include:

  1. Two easily seen wingbars
  2. A long supercilium which is pale (hardly any yellowish)
  3. Lower mandible orange-yellow, upper mandible horn black
  4. No median crown stripe
  5. No yellow under the tail; very little yellow on underparts

I considered the commoner (for my region) Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) but there is definitely no median crown stripe. The Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides) has not yet been recorded this far south but is a possibility; however there is limited yellow on the underparts. That suggests the Two-barred Warbler (Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus) which is considered a vagrant to my region. I have seen a similar bird on 23rd December 2007 in my Ipoh garden.

Note that feeding just 2-3 meters away from this bird was an ‘Arctic Warbler’ (unsure which one).

Appreciate any opinions.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail along primary jungle

Date: 17th January 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone


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:

  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…

  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?

  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!


  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 – 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:

    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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