BFF Big Birdwatch 25 April

On 25 April I finally looked out of my windows for more than a glance at a time 😂 I was surprised to see the plethora of birds that fly by every day! Not only do they call out to each other, they also pepper the rooftops and trees around my neighbourhood in Siglap. 🥰 One thing I really liked was seeing the birds fly around freely outside, unaffected by the threat of the coronavirus. 😍 One thing I found challenging was discerning the exact species of bird from so far away. As I stay on the 18th floor, the birds are just specks even through my binoculars and so I had some difficulty identifying some of them. Now that I’ve tried birdwatching from home, a tip I can suggest would be to open both your eyes as well as your ears, because sometimes the bird calls may reveal their location which may not be very obvious at first through the binocular lenses. 😜

Black-nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus maximus)

Black-nest Swiftlet (Credit: Boon Hong, Flickr)

The first birds I immediately spotted were a group of Black-nest Swiftlets among other species of swallows/swiftlets. I often see them flying past the HDB blocks and nesting in crooks and nannies around the neighbourhood. Some interesting facts about them would be their feeding behaviour, which involves them snatching insects out of the air mid-flight. It also lays only 1 egg per nest as opposed to the similar-looking Edible-nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus fuciphagus). The Black-nest Swiftlet’s nest is also comprised of saliva and feathers!

Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)

Spotted Dove in Lim Chu Kang (Credit: Me)

Next, I spotted a lone Spotted Dove which was roosting atop a red brick rooftop next to a rooftop garden. These are one of the more common birds in Singapore, often seen in urban areas and parks. It is often confused with the Zebra Dove, another dove which is often seen in groups strutting about on the ground. One identifying factor would be the black-and-white spotted pattern on its neck. Its feeding habits are not well-studied, but it is believed to feed on seeds of grasses and herbs, as well as small fruits.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Little Egret in a canal (Credit: Pinterest)

Near my HDB block is a canal which sports small fishes and frogs, which attracted a Little Egret! The Little Egret is a common egret species seen in Singapore along with the Great Egret (Ardea alba). They are found all over Singapore, regardless of how urban it is as long as there is a water source to find plenty of food. I personally have seen them all over from Sungei Buloh to Pulau Ubin to of course my neighbourhood canal. The Little Egret is distinguished by its black beak and yellow toes. An interesting fact would be that it uses its yellow toes to act as bait in the water to attract fishes (which it gulps up).

Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

Brahminy Kite in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (Credit: Me)

Of course, not wanting to be outshined by the Little Egret, my day ended off with our friendly bird of prey soaring above riding the atmospheric thermals. The Brahminy Kite’s signature reddish-brown wings and white underbelly and head are main distinguishing factors of this majestic bird. The Brahminy Kite is often called “the crow of the sea” as it has been seen picking up garbage from the ocean’s surface. A funny story about this particular bird: one time, a Brahminy Kite landed on the top of our school’s rock climbing wall (which is a 5-minute walk away from my home), and to my amusement everyone was like “WOW!!! A bald eagle!!!” 😂 The Brahminy Kite nests at coastal areas like the nearby East Coast Park, as well as transmission towers.

Today’s birdwatching experience has really relit my love for birdwatching. I think I’ll start to do this more often while I’m stuck at home during this circuit breaker period. I hope everyone stays strong so we can get outside to the natural environment we love after these tough times are over!

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