Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bidadari, Haven For Wildlife Amidst The City

2012 ~ 2013 - Bidadari, a small patch of woodland, formerly the Muslim section of the cemetery, bounded by Bartley Road, Upper Serangoon Road, Upper Aljunied Road has become overgrown since the graves there were exhumed in the early 2000s. It has become a haven for wildlife, especially birds, some rare or endangered. it is also one of the very few places in Singapore where you can see the Variable Squirrel. Several ecologists say that Bidadari has been observed to support the highest density of migratory birds, more than at any other sites in Singapore. This is particularly impressive given the small size of the area. It had been theorized that Bidadari is part of a migratory pathway used by thousands of birds heading South for the winter migration, some hail from as far as Russia. This has attracted the attention of many nature lovers, especially birders & when news of the area is to be redeveloped into a new town under the Government’s land use plan, it was received with dismay.

Currently, many nature lovers & the Nature Society of Singapore are planning a campaign to protect part of Bidadari. A proposal by Nature Society to conserve 25 hectares of the 200 hectares Bidadari was sent to the Ministry of National Development (MND) in December last year (2012). Till date, outcome unknown.

Together with my guy, I'd visited Bidadari a numbers of times & love the little friendly forest there, but now, this entry might be a goodbye to Bidadari. I'm sad that forest has to be destroyed as a result of our overpopulated city. The last time I was there, I could feel the sadness of the forest & the anger.
Yes, Mother Nature is angry! Angry at the stupidity & the greed of our country's leaders! Make the wrong choice & your ivory tower will collapse! What would you choose… Death or Life?

Seeds of Death & Water of Life

Left on its own, a forest is a beautiful place, full of life.

Fungus in the forest.

Variable Squirrel & an American Bullfrog.

Songs of the Cicada & other insects fill the forest.

Cicada, a Beetle & a Sweat Bee that landed on my finger.

Crickets & GrassHoppers

Empty cast of a GrassHopper & a Jungle Cockroach.

Spiders are not inserts, but are Arachnid. Sighted a giant female Golden Orb Web Spider with a tiny male & a small golden spider with spiky legs (ID unknown to us).

Spiders at Bidadari

Spotted a pair of Fishing Spiders mating. Male spiders, which are usually much smaller than the female, are always at risk when mating with a female. She will eat him if he's too slow in disengaging after mating. Little deaths are for real to male spiders. LOL! =P

Fishing Spiders mating & he got away fast!

Photographing Butterflies is also one of our interest although I'm not good at ID-ing them.

Jacintha Eggfly & Peacock Pansy.

Lemon Emigrant & Dark Brand Bush Brown.

Bush Hopper & Chestnut Bob

Correctly identifying Moths is a hair-pulling task.

Artaxa ormea, Hemistola Moth & Noctuid Moth.

Love taking pic of Dragonflies & Damselflies too, but ID-ing them is a complete nightmare!

Blue Dasher & Common Parasol.

Common Blue Skimmer & Scarlet Grenadier.

Spine-tufted Skimmers, male & female.

Slender Blue Skimmers, male & female.

White-barred Duskhawks, male & female.

Hierarchy of female White-barred Duskhawks.

Variable wisp, male & female (red form).

Variable Wisp male (white form) & Common Bluetail.

Of all our interest in wildlife photography, birds are one of our favorite subject. Whenever possible, I would join in the fun of birding with my baby camera, a Nikon CoolPix S6300 while my guy is armed with a longer reach Canon SX50.

Me with a group of birders @Bidadari.

According to a list in a FaceBook group, 'Saving Bidadari for Birds and People', at the current count, a total of 139 species (37% of national total) of birds are spotted at Bidadari. Of this 139 species, 81 are resident species & 58 are winter or passage migrants.

List of birds sighted at Bidadari as of April 2013:
Red Jungle Fowl
Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker
Rufous Woodpecker
Banded Woodpecker
Laced Woodpecker
Common Goldenback
Lineated Barbet
Coppersmith Barbet
Oriental Pied Hornbill
Oriental Dollarbird
Black-backed Kingfisher
Stork-billed Kingfisher
Ruddy Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Black-capped Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Chestnut-winged Cuckoo
Large Hawk-Cuckoo
Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo
Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo
Indian Cuckoo
Oriental Cuckoo
Banded Bay Cuckoo
Plaintive Cuckoo
Rusty-breasted Cuckoo
Little Bronze Cuckoo
Asian Drongo-Cuckoo
Asian Koel
Lesser Coucal
Rainbow Lorikeet
Yellow-crested Cockatoo
Tanimbar Corella
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Red-breasted Parakeet
Long-tailed Parakeet
Germain's Swiftlet
Asian Palm Swift
Fork-tailed Swift
House Swift
Grey-rumped Treeswift
Collared Scops Owl
Spotted Wood Owl
Grey Nightjar
Large-tailed Nightjar
Common Pigeon
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Pink-necked Green Pigeon
Jambu Fruit Dove
Slaty-breasted Rail
White-breasted Waterhen
Jerdon's Baza
Black Baza
Crested Honey-Buzzard
Brahminy Kite
White-bellied Sea Eagle
Crested Serpent Eagle
Crested Goshawk
Chinese Sparrowhawk
Japanese Sparrowhawk
Grey-faced Buzzard
Booted Eagle
Rufous-bellied Eagle
Changeable Hawk-Eagle
Peregrine Falcon
Purple Heron
Cattle Egret
Chinese Pond Heron
Striated Heron
Malayan Night Heron
Von Schrenck's Bittern
Cinnamon Bittern
Hooded Pitta
Blue-winged Pitta
Golden-bellied Gerygone
Tiger Shrike
Brown Shrike
Long-tailed Shrike
House Crow
Large-billed Crow
Black-naped Oriole
Pied Triller
Ashy Minivet
Pied Fantail
Ashy Drongo
Crow-billed Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher
Common Iora
Orange-headed Thrush
Siberian Thrush
Eyebrowed Thrush
Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
Dark-sided Flycatcher
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Brown-streaked Flycatcher
Ferruginous Flycatcher
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
Chinese Flycatcher
Mugimaki Flycatcher
Blue-and-white Flycatcher
Siberian Blue Robin
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Asian Glossy Starling
Daurian Starling
White-shouldered Starling
Common Myna
White-vented Myna
Common Hill Myna
Barn Swallow
Pacific Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Zitting Cisticola
Oriental White-eye
Oriental Reed Warbler
Common Tailorbird
Dark-necked Tailorbird
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird
Ashy Tailorbird
Yellow-browed Warbler
Arctic Warbler
Eastern Crowned Warbler
Striped Tit-Babbler
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Brown-throated Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird
Crimson Sunbird
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Forest Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Paddyfield Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
Scaly-breasted Munia

And we have the pleasure of capturing some of them with our cameras.

White-collared Kingfisher had caught a lizard meal, White-throated Kingfisher & Ruddy Kingfisher.

A pair of loving Oriental Dollarbirds starting a family.

A pair of Tanimbar Corella at their nest.

Dark-sided Flycatcher & Ferruginous Flycatcher.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher & Mugimaki Flycatcher.

Laced Woodpecker (female) & Banded Woodpecker.

Ashy Minivet, Asian Brown Flycatcher & Little Bronze Cuckoo (juvenile).

Indian Cuckoo & Oriental Cuckoo.

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo & Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo.

Asian Drongo-Cuckoo & Brown Shrike.

Oriental Honey Buzzard & Black Baza.

It would be a great pity if this gem of a forest in the middle of the city is destroyed. Rich does not always means money. We will definitely be poorer if the little forest of Bidadari is gone.

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Friday, April 05, 2013

Story of a Baby Oriental Pied Hornbill

March 8, 2013 ~ I was told by some birders (bird watchers/photographers) that for the past 5 years, a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills has been using a hole in a particular tree @Changi Village as their nest to rear their young. The Oriental Pied Hornbill is one of my favorite birds of Singapore & I could hardly miss the chance to see a baby hornbill. When we (my guy & me) arrived on Sunday (March 3rd), 2 of the chicks had already fledged the day before, leaving one behind. We waited, hoping the third chick will fledge. No such luck & all we saw was the tip of its beak poking out of the nest, but we did get to see Daddy Hornbill coming back with food for the chick.

Daddy Hornbill outside the nest.

Information: When the female Oriental Pied Hornbill is ready to lay her eggs, she will choose a suitable hole in a big tall tree. The male gathers and delivers mud & fibre to the female, which seals herself inside the hole. A narrow slit is left open so he can feed her & the chicks. She will be confined in that hole for 3 months or more. 3 eggs are laid. The female will stay in the hole, incubate the eggs & care for the nestlings. During these time, the female is entirely dependent on the male to provide food for her & the chicks. Only when the chicks are ready to fledge, she will then leave the nest by breaking the seal at the entrance. Usually, 2 chicks will fledged first, followed by the 3rd one later in a few days time. After leaving the nest, the female only come back now & then to check on the last chick. The male will continue to feed the remaining chick till it fledged.

More info on Oriental Pied Hornbill in Singapore:

The Singapore Hornbill Project:

Male Oriental Pied Hornbill brought food to nest.

Daddy Oriental pied-hornbill Feeding its Chick @ Changi Village

Disappointed that I couldn't watch the last chick fledged, I wanted pics of it at the least. So, every morning, for the next few days, my guy kept vigil @Changi Village, taking pics & reported the day's event to me.

Day by day, Baby Hornbill grew stronger, sticking its head out more from its nest, curious about the world outside.

Oriental Pied Hornbill Chick.

And Daddy Hornbill will faithfully brought food to the baby.

Hardworking Daddy Hornbill.

Daddy feeding the Baby.

The male Hornbill fed the chick with a wide variety of food, mostly consisted of fruits, figs & palm dates. Occasionally, insects (beetles & locusts), scorpions, giant centipedes, spiders, snails & even lizards were added to the chick's diet. I believe all those food items are stored in a pouch inside the male Hornbill's throat & coughed out one at a time to feed the hungry chick.

Food Varieties.

The feeding at the nest went on for 5 days. During this period, my guy observed the female Hornbill visited the nest only twice & once, she brought the 2 older fledglings with her, perhaps to encourage the last chick to fledge.

Mommy Hornbill.

One of the older Hornbill siblings.

The Baby Hornbill was sticking its head out further & more often, curious, but still refused to fly.

Cautious Baby Hornbill.

On the morning of the 5th day, Daddy Hornbill persuaded the Baby to get out of the nest, but failed. Baby refused to budge from its safe & snugly nest.

Why don't you come on out & play?

I'm afraid of the Hard & Cruel world out there!

Meanwhile, a few birdies had moved into the neighborhood, finding suitable nesting cavities in trees nearby the Hornbill nest.

Tanimbar Corella & Red-breasted Parakeet checking out nesting cavities.

A pair of Red-breasted Parakeets at their new home.

Sunda Woodpecker excavating a nest.

Sunda Woodpecker in their newly build nest.

As you know, there are always nosy neighbors, poking their noses… beaks into other's business. When Daddy Hornbill was away, a nosy Red-breasted Parakeet went check out the Hornbill nest.

Nosy Parakeet taunting Baby Hornbill.

And got promptly chased away by a Tanimbar Corella.

Tanimbar Corella on guard.

No, I didn't make that up. It did happened & my guy saw the whole thing. A Red-breasted Parakeet was hopping around the entrance of the Hornbill nest, trying to peek inside. The next moment, a Tanimbar Corella came shrieking & chased the Parakeet away. Tanimbar Corella & Red-breasted Parakeet are plentiful at Changi Village & it is one place in Singapore where you can easily see the Oriental Pied Hornbill.

No one likes nosy neighbors & gossips, do we? =P

Gossiping Parakeets.

Complaining Neighbors.

Helpful Tanimbar Corellas

On the morning of the 6th day, Daddy Hornbill purposely fed the Baby just a tiny amount of food. Then it came back with a tasty fruit to lure the Baby out of the nest.

Tasty Morsel

Daddy Hornbill tempted the Baby with this fruit & flew to another tree across the road.

Tempting The Baby.

At the same time, Mommy Hornbill returned, calling to the chick from another tree. There was a loud racket going on as both adult Hornbills were calling, joined in by the shrieking of many parrots. The Baby was hungry & kept calling to its parents desperately, but the adults refused to go to it.

Hungry Baby

Then, at 9.50 am on Friday, March 8, the third Hornbill chick shot out of its nest like a rocket. It finally fledged!

Baby Hornbill coming out of its nest.

It flew across the street, tried to join its father. Suddenly, its flight weaken. The fledging made a u-turn, glided toward & crash landed at a roti-prata shop nearby, scattering some of their customers.

On that morning, there were about 20 birders waiting for the third chick to fledge. My guy is the one least encumbered by photographic equipments & reached the fallen chick first. He shooed the fledging out into the open hoping it could fly to its parents. Suddenly, a man (some said he is a taxi-driver) sitting nearby, stepped in & caught the Baby! As his camera was still switch on, my guy instantly snapped a pic, shooting from the hip & at the same moment, told that man to release the chick. That person refused & said he wanna keep it as a pet despite being told that it is illegal to catch/poach or harass any wild animal in Singapore.

Note: The Oriental Pied Hornbill is the only species of Hornbill in Singapore & is classified as a threaten species. Under Singapore's law, all birds are protected, except for a few like the Common Mynas, Crows & Rock Pigeons which are classified as pests.

There was a huge commotion as more & more birders screamed at or tried to persuade that man to release the chick. Meanwhile, up above the trees, the adult Hornbills were in a panic, hopping/flying from branches to branches, crying fanatically. In his frenzy hopping, the male Hornbill accidentally broke the fragile branch which the Sunda  Woodpeckers had build their nest. Poor Woodpeckers suffered collateral damage, all due to that asshole!
That asshole is really stubborn, inconsiderate, selfish, self-centered & deaf to reason. He refused to release the chick in spite of the many people telling him to. Later, realizing he couldn't keep the Hornbill chick, that bastard restrained the chick till he has the satisfaction of taken many pics of it. The Baby Hornbill was freed only after that despicable moron had a final pic taken (by a shop staff) of himself holding  the bird up like a slaughtered chicken!

Despicable Bastard mishandled & restrained Baby Hornbill.

*When my guy called & related the whole incident to me, I cried. I wanna scratch out the eyes of that complete asshole, chopped him up & feed him to stray dogs! But I believe even hungry strays would not want to eat such contaminated stuff!

The whole experience left the Baby Hornbill badly traumatized. In shock & in fright, it peed uncontrollably on the ground. Don't know what injuries that man might had caused to the chick by the way he was holding it. After its release, Baby Hornbill sat quietly on the ground for a long time. The adult Hornbills had to leave as they were caring for another two juveniles of the same brood. The group of birders formed a wide circle around it, preventing anyone or any stray cat/dog from approaching it.

Poor Traumatized Baby.

About after half an hour later, The Baby Hornbill gathered strength & courage to fly across the road with some birders chasing after it, trying to herd it to safer ground, away from the road. Its flight was feeble & low. Able to fly only about a meter above the ground & it can't perch well, always falling to the ground.

Feeble Baby Hornbill.

They shooed it further into a wooded area where it is known that the adult Hornbills usually forage, hoping its parents will find it. With many birders standing guard nearby, keeping away stray cats or dogs, it was safe. Eventually, Daddy Hornbills came by & spotted the fledging.

Daddy Hornbill spotted Baby Hornbill.

Even when the Baby saw its Daddy, it did not call out. I wonder if its neck or voice box was injured due to that idiot mishandling. As the male Hornbill approached closer, the birders backed off further in order not to alarm it or frighten it away. Encouraged by its Daddy, Baby Hornbill slowly inched its way higher.

Getting higher off the ground...

With Daddy watching & encouraging.

Finally, it reached a height where Daddy feel it's safe enough & let it rest for a while.

Safe Height.

Then Daddy Hornbill flew to the Baby & fed it a long giant centipedes. Baby must be very hungry by then & Daddy knows best. Mommy Hornbill with the 2 siblings came later & they all flew away together. The Hornbill family were reunited at last! A happy ending to a near tragedy. Stay safe, Baby Hornbill & wishing you all the best!

Fatherly Love (Photo is used by courtesy of Billy Goh)

Hope the little Baby Hornbill grow up to shit many many times on that selfish & inconsiderate asshole who had abused it!

Note: An earlier write-up of this incident was put up in STOMP & my FaceBook for awareness. It was also reported to SPCA Singapore, NPark Singapore, AVA (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority) of Singapore & ACRES Singapore. They are investigating & might take action against that person who mishandled the Hornbill fledging. NPark, AVA & ACRES had contacted us regarding certain details. My guy had given them his assurance of giving statement & providing his pics as evidence if needed. He also released the rights to his pics to certain news media for reportage. Reporters from some newspapers had found & contacted that person. I hope that if this case goes to court, the judge will throw the book at that Despicable Bastard!