Monday, December 22, 2014

Final Farewell to Bidadari

Dec, 2014 ~ This entry is a tribute & final farewell to Bidadari. In the recent months, a dark cloud of foreboding doom hangs over the head of many Singapore's nature lovers. Beloved Bidadari will soon be just a memory. Its wildlife faces a bleak future.

Memory of Bidadari.

For where & what is Bidadari, please refer to my previous entry on Bidadari:

By the end of December 2014, the area around Bidadari will be boarded up & out-of-bound to the public. Bidadari will become an integrated transport, commercial and residential project known as Bidadari estate, as reported in the link below.

Bidadari in the Malay language means fairy. In the name of economical growth, the beautiful jungle fairy in the midst of the city will be murdered. The first of the death knell has began. Another disaster for Mother Nature in Singapore. Due to greed disguised as progress, another green sanctuary, a natural treasure in Singapore will be brutally destroyed. Developing Bidadari into a housing estate would be a future coin which we will pay with deepest regrets.

Not much more is needed to be said, except sharing of photos taken by us (my guy & me) of wildlife at Bidadari between late 2013 to end of 2014. Most probably, these pics would be the last pics of the wildlife in Bidadari before they are gone forever.
Most of our wildlife photography tend to lean heavily towards birds, but here are some other animals to start off this entry with. Let the Butterflies & Moths take the lead.

A tattered Jacintha Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina jacintha) & a pair of mating Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe contubemalis).

Hemistola Moth & Artaxa ormea.

Noctuid Moth & Tussock Moth Caterpillar.

Followed by the Dragonflies.

A male Slender Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum luzonicum) & a male Spine-tufted Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysis).

Indigo Dropwing (Trithemis festiva) & a female Common Parasol (Neurothemis fluctuans).

A male Blue Dasher (Brachydiplax chalybea) & a female Common Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum glaucoma).

And a parade of creepy crawlies. It's this promising feast of creepy crawlies that lures many birds to Bidadari.

Oval St. Andrew's Cross Spider (Argiope aemula).

While we & a few birders were waiting for the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher to put on a show, a drama was unfolding on the jungle floor near us. First, I noticed a big Wasp buzzing, circling our group of birders, as if it was searching for something among us. Instinct, armed with certain knowledge, told me that it's hunting a prey, most probably a Spider. I scanned the jungle floor around us & noticed something sizable scurrying beneath the leaf litters. It was a giant Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda lunula) fleeing from the Wasp. In desperation, the Spider tried to hide by crawling up a brick which a female birder was sitting on. I told the woman that there is a BIG Spider under her butt. She thought I was playing a prank, but immediately realised that I don't do such thing. She got up quickly, but couldn't find the Spider. Told her that it had crawled up between her legs (fortunately, she was wearing long pants tucked into boots). Her searching hand felt a big hairy thingie & panicky swept it out. The Spider hit the jungle floor, stunned & exposed. This is the chance the Wasp was waiting for. It swooped in & sting the Spider. Then it backed away, waiting for its venom to do the work. Game over for the poor Spider. When the Wasp was sure that the Spider is in a proper state of stupor, it grabbed its prize & dragged it into a nearby undergrowth, which presumably where its barrow is. The next stage of this natural history we did not observe, but many research articles had been written about it. The Spider is still alive, but in a sort of coma. The female Wasp (only female of the species do Spider hunting for reproduction) will lay her eggs inside the Spider. When those eggs hatched, the larvas will use the still alive, but in coma Spider as a food source, eating it from inside out. *Shivers…

Parasitoid Wasp attacked a Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda lunula).

In Bidadari, lives a big Equatorial Spitting Cobra aka Black Spitting Cobra. Birders & nature lovers who frequent that place often see it. Once, a friend of ours nearly stepped on it while it was swallowing a Toad. Amid a panicky commotion, my guy took the pic a little too late before the snake slithered into a tall grass patch. No one was crazy enough to pursue for pics.
You can only see a hind foot of the Toad protruding from the Cobra's mouth in the pic below.

Common Sun Skink & Equatorial Spitting Cobra swallowing a Toad.

Bidadari & the nearby area is the only place in Singapore where Variable Squirrels could be found. I wonder where will they go when Bidadari is no more. No doubt they will raid nearby houses & gardens for food. Then the complains will begin. Sigh… we invaded & destroyed their habitats. We are at fault, not the wildlife.

Variable Squirrels

As previously mentioned, Bidadari is an important stopover for many migrating birds when they fly South for the winter. Many rare & endangered species of birds use Bidadari as a rest stop before continuing their journey. Year 2014 sees more species added (from 138 to 149) to the list of birds sighted at Bidadari. List of earlier record can be view in my previous entry on Bidadari (link above).
Addition to the list are:
Oriental Scops Owl
Brown Hawk-owl
Common Emerald Dove
Thick-billed Green Pigeon
Eastern Marsh Harrier
Black Bittern
White-throated Rock Thrush
Chinese Blue Flycatcher
Chestnut-cheeked Starling
Cinereous Bulbul
Javan Munia

Bidadari seems to be a magnet for Cuckoos & Flycatchers, attracting many species, residential & migratory.
List of Cuckoo species sighted at Bidadari:
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

List of Flycatcher species sighted at Bidadari:
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher
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
Chinese Blue Flycatcher

Here are some pics of Cuckoos & Flycatchers we took at Bidadari between late 2013 and late 2014.

Asian Drongo-Cuckoo (Fork-tailed).

Asian Drongo-Cuckoo (Fork-tailed & Square-tailed).

Asian Drongo-Cuckoo (Square-tailed) adult & juvenile.

Asian Drongo-Cuckoo (Square-tailed) juvenile.

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.

Indian Cuckoo.

Indian Cuckoo loves caterpillars.

A sub-adult Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo.

Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo.

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo.

There was a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo at Bidadari which has lost its tail. We dunno how or why it happened, but it seems to get along fine without its tail.

A tailless Chestnut-winged Cuckoo.

Asian Paradise Flycatchers (female).

Japanese Paradise Flycatchers (female).

In the pic above, a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher has just stolen a trapped moth from a spider web. We had not much luck getting good pics of these 2 species of Flycatchers. They are very skittish & all our shots are of the females. Only managed to catch a glimpse of the white long-tailed male at a very high perch.

Mugimaki Flycatcher (male) & Asian Brown Flycatcher.

Dark-sided Flycatcher.

Surprisingly, the most friendly (in our opinion) of all the Flycatcher species at Bidadari is the globally endangered Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher which happily posed for photos. There were at least 4 ~ 5 of them in Bidadari during the migration period.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher posing for pics.

Another friendly bird that visited Bidadari is the Blue-winged Pitta. For a period of about 2 weeks in late 2013, it posed daily for photographers before it left.

Blue-winged Pitta.

One of our regrets is missing the Hooded Pitta which my guy only managed to get a head shot before it's gone. Hope it come back for us to get a decent pic before it's too late.

Hooded Pitta looking angry.

Bidadari is home to many local birds & welcomes many migratory species. Some of the migrants stop over only briefly (a day or 2) & others stay longer, from a week to months.

Black-backed Kingfisher.

Black-naped Oriole & Daurian Starling.

Common Hill Myna.

Rose-ringed Parakeet (female).

Crow-billed Drongo.

Jambu Fruit Dove (male).

Siberian Blue Robin (first winter male & female).

Siberian Blue Robin (first winter male & female).

Laced Woodpecker (female).

Lineated Barbet & a Banded Woodpecker calling for its mate.

Changeable Hawk-eagle (pale morph) & female Asian Koel.

Black Baza.

A juvenile Chinese Sparrowhawk.

One puzzling thing about the migratory Tiger Shrikes in Singapore is that we & many local birders encountered lots of female, but no male. Every year during the migration period, there are at least 20 or more Tiger Shrikes in Bidadari. All female & no male. Whenever some birders thought they had gotten a pic of a male, it always turned out to be a Brown Strike.

Tiger Shrike (female).

Tiger Shrike (female).

Anyway, at Bidadari, local wildlife will be deprived of a home & the visitors will lost a much needed rest stop soon. Many of us had partition the authorities to do something, but to no avail. What they planned is to preserved just a tiny area (at the wrong location) as a well manicured garden & ignored the fact that to have a healthy wildlife population, you need to have a well-balance eco system which is originally in place. Once that is destroyed, it is near impossible to duplicate. The death of Bidadari marks another sad chapter in the tale of Singapore's shrinking biodiversity.

The Death of Bidadari.

We can only say our goodbyes & moan her passing.

Crow-billed Drongo moaning the lost of Bidadari.

Farewell, Bidadari. We will miss you. *Sad…

Goodbye, Bidadari.

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At Monday, December 22, 2014 11:34:00 PM, Blogger Qu'que chose said...

Thank you for a wonderful look at Bidadari today.

At Tuesday, December 23, 2014 6:21:00 AM, Blogger EddyC said...

Very well written. To bad it had to surrender for development.

At Monday, January 26, 2015 12:04:00 AM, Blogger Cinder said...

How very sad to lose such a treasure. How large an area is it and what's the space going to be used for?

At Monday, January 26, 2015 12:07:00 AM, Blogger Cinder said...

Such a sad story . Where is the Nature Conservancy???
How large an area is Bidadari and what is going in there?

At Monday, January 26, 2015 12:09:00 AM, Blogger Cinder said...

What a sad commentary on the (lack of) preservation of nature. Where is the Nature Conservancy?
How large an area is Bidadari and what will it become?

At Monday, January 26, 2015 12:45:00 PM, Blogger Nikita Hengbok said...

Hi Cinder, thanks for commenting. To answer your questions, firstly, there is little active nature conservancy going on in Singapore & what little there are, is mostly still in the infancy stage. There was a partition to save Bidadari, but was completely ignored. The part where the authorities want to preserve is the wrong area. The important biodiversity area will be turn into a housing estate as reported in the link enclosed here (area size of Bidadari is mentioned it this link):

A modern new look for Bidadari


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