Drongos & Dragons

After over 17 hours of recycled air, a garishly lit Dubai International Airport and some very varied in-flight service, Team Sausage arrived in a sultry, sweaty and welcoming Singapore late Saturday evening.

Once settled, fed, rested and readjusted we decided on a small reconnaissance of the local area to see what avian action we could uncover. Under the guidance of Mrs Sausage, who was of course on her home patch, we quite literally popped down the road for a little urban birding.

Common everywhere in Singapore are the ubiquitous Javan Myna.

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On rooftops, hanging around outdoor eateries, on any patch of open ground or populating nearly every tree the Myna can be found. Also abundant on our walk down to Ghim Moh were Eurasian Tree Sparrows and as a throwback to our own recently ended summer-time, the skies were full of Swifts. Singapore sees a variety of these scimitar-winged birds and they are equally as difficult to photograph. Most likely varieties would be Asian Palm Swifts, House Swifts and Silver Rumped Swifts.

Our chosen location for day 0.5 of our visit was along the Ghim Moh longkang. A longkang being a canal-wide open drain, used mostly for channeling rain water from street level. These steep sided channels are often surrounded by vegetation and are popular with joggers, dog walkers and casual walkers but very few birders or nature watchers it seems.

We noticed the channel was quite well populated with some large dark fish and I thought to myself that these could be an enticing snack for a few creatures that have been known to be found around these large open waterways. We were only a few steps along the walk when we spotted a large, almost green Monitor Lizard making it’s way along the opposite bank, We have seen them here before so wondered if this was a Monitor hot spot?

We made our way onward and had a Black-naped Oriole cross to the opposite bank, hiding among the trees. Casting our bins over to the far bank a splash of vibrant colour could be seen atop the railings. It was Mrs Sausage who spotted it first and it obligingly stayed still for what seemed like hours. Please take a bow White Throated Kingfisher:

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And give us a twirl maybe?

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A really stunning bird and a tick for us both. We suddenly became spolit for choice as overhead a Brahminy Kite circled several times, a Yellow-vented Bulbul briefly showed from a tree behind us and a Great Racket Tailed Drongo put in several appearances as it moved from tree to tree. This red-eyed, long-tailed bird is a real stunner and I was disappointed we were unable to catch any pics this time, although the Kingfisher was the real star of the moment.

Spotted next in the crook of a tree slightly further down were at least two Rufous Woodpeckers:

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As we made our way back down the return route striding across the bottom of the channel was this mighty Water Monitor Lizard:

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These lizards have been known to grow up to 3 metres in length and look pretty fearsome although interaction with people here seems limited.

For a brief 90 minute local excursion the results were excellent, 3 ticks for the Team but more importantly a taster of what can be found in and among the high rise buildings and the urban hustle and bustle of Singapore.

More of our short adventure can be seen on the Flickr page:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/94900571@N05/

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4 responses to “Drongos & Dragons

  1. Pingback: Singa Summary | Winging It·

  2. Pingback: Singa Summary | Winging It·

  3. Hello Tony, Glad you found time to bird and check out the wildlife around Ghim Moh. Last year we had a Pied Wagtail wintering at the Longkang outside the BV MRT station. There used to be a large Parakeet roost there as well. The Rufous Woodpeckers and the GRT Drongo were good finds. I suspect the forest patch further down toward Dover were hosting these species. The mynas are the introduced Javan Mynas which I am sure you know by now, The typo error for the Eurasian Tree Sparrows is quite common. The very small population of House Sparrows is confined to Jurong Island. Most of the Swiftlets you see flying overhead are the Germain’s and the Black-nest. Asian Palm Swifts and House Swifts unfortunately is getting hard to see in Singapore. So are the Glossy. We have only one accepted record of the Sliver-rumped Spintail in 1997 over at the Southern Island. This is one swift that all the birders are hoping to add to their SG list including myself. Not sure if you know about the Birds Apps on iphones and Android smart phones, which is free for download. Next time you are back go and check out the ground of the Singapore Polytechnic which is not too far from Ghim Moh. They have a site devoted to the birds seen there.

    • Thanks Alan! Every trip and every day you bird is a learning experience and we have been lucky that the Singapore birding community has been very generous in sharing knowledge and locations on our visits. Learning a whole new environment and the details of its birds and wildlife is an exciting endeavour, we have yet to find anything we find as “lup sup” yet 🙂

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