BICA members had a whale of a time photographing the Black-winged Kites at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore in early October 2022. A pair of Elanus scriptus were very active and successful hunting rodents in the area. They also displayed aerial transfer of food, much to the delight of the admiring crowd. The photo gallery below shows some excellent photographs captured on different days.
Video by Jeremiah Loei showing House crows (Corvus splendens) stealing a rat prey that had been attached to the tree by the hunting Black-winged Kites (Elanus scriptus). Long-tailed Shrikes are known for impaling their prey to thorns https://besgroup.org/2010/01/11/long-tailed-shrike-impales-lizard/ ,however these Black-winged Kites have been observed to do the same.
View this clip by Jeremiah Loei that shows a Black-winged Kite hovering in the air and then finally diving down for the kill.
This post is a cooperative effort between http://Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia (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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For some years now Wong Kais has been discovering Achatina fulica, the African Land Snail chomping on his letters in the letter box. Some letters were partially eaten within a few hours of being dropped into the letter box while letters left for a few days have been chewed up at very strategic locations. Luckily for him most of the illegible letters are merely advertisements for house services.
He picks off snails from inside the letter box and on the concrete pillar of the letter box every few days. Occasionally he finds up to 3 snails of different sizes indulging communally on a letter gourmet. Every so often he cleans up their poo strings in the letter box.
Wong Kais is diligent in picking off snails in the garden: on banana tree trunks, crawling on the grass, hiding on the sides of flower pots which are in the cool shady areas and those sleeping amongst the chives. He has placed crushed egg shells in the vegetable bed to deter the hungry molluscs from eating the few stalks of vegetables he grows. He heard that water melon rinds can be used as snail baits but the rinds were found clean and uneaten in the letter box. He wonders if the snails have genetic memory of the nutritional goodness found in printed matter and envelopes.
Thoughts of eating up the molluscs to solve this icky problem has flickered in his mind but his wife is not eager to touch them. His counter-point that the much prized abalones so ubiquitous during Chinese New Year is also a snail (marine snail, Family Haliotidae) has not convinced her to experiment on the idea. Read the links quoted in the references list for her rebuttal. After all, the gong gong snail (pearl conch snail, Strombus turturella) so popular with Singaporeans has never featured on his dining table.
Readers who decide to dine on this common snail are welcomed to share their culinary highlights in our comments section. Just a gentle reminder: the snails carry parasites. Read this link about schistosomiasis/bilharzia caused by parasitic worms which use a fresh water snail as one of its vector hosts and this excellent educational video link about the parasitic worm that infects land snails.
Christoper Tan came across a Gold-ringed Cat Snake (Boiga dendrophila) and an Oriental Tree Snake a.k.a Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) at the playground near Rail Mall. The Boiga had the Ahaetulla clamped in its mouth. The predator had probably paralysed the prey with venom.
The white-throated kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, is sometimes spotted flitting in and out of trees surrounding the MCKL field. After several laughable attempts to photograph it, which include my camera running out of battery after finally getting it in focus (twice!), the stars have finally aligned recently. Ironically enough, since getting the photographs, I can see it almost every day now. Maybe now it is just a matter of knowing where to look?
Despite its name, H. smyrnensis does have other nourishment other than fish, which includes earthworms, centipedes and other terrestrial invertebrates. After making a catch, it bashes the poor prey a few times to immobilize it before gulping it down.
Fig. 1-4 shows H. smyrnensis perched on MCKL’s bird hot spot, the goal post in the field. It was spotting for worms on the field.
Fig. 5-6 shows H. smyrnensis on a higher, natural perch (the raintree) where it was observed to engage in its prey-bashing maneuver.
Fig. 7-10 shows H. smyrnensis atGamuda Gardens, northern Klang Valley. It seemed to enjoy the view before being chased away by the recent arrival, the brown shrike!
All photos taken with Nikon P530 by Ng Di Lin.
25 September 2022.
Ng Di Lin
Lecturer, American Degree Transfer Program
Methodist College Kuala Lumpur
Off Jalan Tun Sambanthan 4, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur.
Read these posts about the White-throated Kingfishers:
The Bronze-winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus) is considered an uncommon resident (very localised) in the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Wells 1999); more often seen on the Thai side of the peninsula. Birds of the World (Jenni and Kirwan 2020) does not mention it for Malaysia but does suggest local seasonal movements in response to the weather. The recent ‘Birds of Malaysia’ (Chong et al 2020) suggest that it is a very local winter visitor to Peninsular Malaysia. The MNS Bird Conservation Council (2021) documents it as a resident for Peninsular Malaysia.
Reports in the eBird dataset show an increased number of sightings especially in Perlis and the Penang state mainland. Some of these reports are accompanied with images of juveniles.
Some of us were fortunate to see a breeding pair in a wetlands site in mainland Penang in the past few weeks. Observation on 23rd August and 22nd September 2022. Early observations suggest that there were 4 chicks but currently only 2 are left (see Plate 1); the others are assumed to have been lost due to predation.
It is well known that sex roles are reversed for incubation and brood rearing (Wells 1999). During our observations, we are able to differentiate the adult male from the adult female by size; females are reported to be up to 60% larger (Jenni and Kirwan 2020).
Observations show that only the male cares for and ‘shepherds’ the chicks (see Plate 2). The male is very protective of the young and at times will shield them in dense vegetation or keep them under its wings. The male is also constantly on the lookout for threats and will address these aggressively by flying out to meet the perceived threat.
The adult female Bronze-winged Jacana is usually found some distance away (10-20 meters), feeding and preening; only occasionally involved in parenting activities. Once, when a group of juvenile and adult Indochinese (Purple) Swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus) came too close, the adult male Bronze-winged Jacana flew out to defend his brood; at this time we also observed the adult female joining him to defend the chicks.
At times we observed the chicks completely unattended while the adult male was off defending them or was some distance away feeding. All observations showed the 2 juveniles were self-feeding. No observations of the chicks being fed by either parent was observed at earlier or later visit to the site (four weeks apart). The juveniles tend to wander off in all directions and are often about 1 to 2 meters away from the adult male. It was observed that occasionally the adult male would go into ‘panic mode’ when he could not locate all the chicks.
Towards dawn and dusk all the chicks would huddle under the wings of the adult male, probably to keep warm, with only the legs visible (see Plates 3 and 4).
For roosting, the adult male prefers wet, open spaces surrounded by grass vegetation; likely for visibility of predators, such as monitor lizards (a few were seen stalking the birds). Swamp hens could also be a threat.
These and earlier observations by colleagues confirm that the Bronze-winged Jacana is a resident for Peninsular Malaysia and breeds locally. Protection of wetlands sites is critical for the survival of this species. The Batu Kawan wetlands site on the Penang mainland, where these birds were seen, is an excellent location but is sadly scheduled for extensive development.
Chong Leong Puan, Geoffrey Davison, Kim Chye Lim (2020). Birds of Malaysia: Covering Peninsular Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo and Singapore. Lynx and BirdLife International Field Guides Collection.
Jenni, D. A. and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Bronze-winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.
MNS Bird Conservation Council. 2021. A Checklist of the Bird of Malaysia 2020 Edition. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Nature Society. (MNS Conservation Publication No. 22)
Wells, D.R. (1999) The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1 (Passerines). Christopher Helm, London.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Robin Cheng and Cecilia Lim
22 September 2022.
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A long-tailed shrike (Lanius schach) family attracted Shahrul’s attention at the Singapore Business Park. His efforts paid off as this set of photographs show: moments when the two juveniles begged loudly for food, parent feeding a juvenile and food preparation.
Some of us were devastated by the news that Dr Clive F Mann, suddenly and unexpectedly, died on 24th August 2022 due to a medical problem. This short article is to remember our friend and help as we work through the grief of losing him.
Some of you may know Clive as an excellent ornithologist and an expert on the birds of Southeast Asia. Clive was a member of the MNS Record Review Committee, where his special Borneo bird knowledge was put to good use.
He had written numerous research articles and three wonderful books, which include:
Sunbirds: A Guide to the Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Spiderhunters and Sugarbirds of the World. Helm Identification Guide Series, 2001, Helm. Written together with Robert A Cheke and illustrated by Richard Allen.
The Birds of Borneo. BOC Checklists Volume: 23, 2008, British Ornithologists’ Union. At one time in his life, Clive had a teaching role in Brunei, where he took over the role of coordinating national record keeping and published intermittent country reports. This led to his book on Borneo birds.
Cuckoos of the World. Helm Identification Guide Series, 2012, Helm. Written together with Johannes Erritzøe, Frederik P Brammer and Richard A Fuller.
At the time of his demise, he was actively working on a major revision to the Helm Identification Guide – Sunbirds: A Guide to the Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Spiderhunters and Sugarbirds of the World. We hope this will be part of his continued legacy to all of us.
Clive was based in London, England and had a PhD in Ornithology from the City of London Polytechnic in 1979-1984. He was involved in many ornithology societies and was the past chairperson of the British Ornithologists’ Club, Trust for Oriental Ornithology and the present chairperson of the Trust for Avian Systematics. He was also a long-standing member of the British Ornithologists’ Union and Linnean Society of London.
Clive was far more than a gifted ornithologist. He was interested and involved in human rights, civil rights and social action, disaster and humanitarian relief, poverty alleviation and, of course, the environment.
Clive was a wonderful person and friend. He was an encouraging person and was always appreciative and respectful of the observations of others, including young bird watchers. Having communicated often with him, it was always a joy to listen to his insights and perspectives. He was humble and always willing to learn from others.
We shall miss his wise words and kind opinions; and especially his friendship. We trust that he lives on in the work that he has shared with us and in the impact he has had on our lives.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
18th September 2022
Note: Clive’s funeral will take place at Mortlake Crematorium on : 23rd September, Friday at 12.40 pm.
Jeremiah Loei visited the Grey-rumped Treeswifts (Hemiprocne longipennis) nesting at Dawson Road, Singapore. The other bird-watchers who had been staking out the place related that Mrs Treeswift had been sitting at the nest for many hours. Mr Treeswift was no where in sight. It went M.I.A! (missing in action). The video above by Jeremiah shows a very restless Mrs Treeswift.