Raptors In The Rain

25th April and a mid-afternoon visit to Chinese and Japanese Gardens seemed a good idea. And for around twenty minutes, it was definitely a good idea as we had some excellent close ups with one of the many Grey Herons that reside on the Japanese side.

We were then treated to a very low-flying Oriental Honey Buzzard, spotted and followed enthusiastically by Mrs Sausage. This magnificent rusty-hued bird landed in some very low branches and was quite unconcerned by our reasonable proximity.

Despite it’s somewhat chicken-like appearance, there is no doubt that this is a bird of prey, just look at those talons. The Oriental Honey Buzzard’s diet consists largely of the larva and honey of bees and wasps but it will also take small reptiles, frogs and insects.

With storm clouds and thunder rumbling ever closer, we cleared the trees and planted ourselves under cover. As we were about to partake in a small picnic, we saw the OHB break cover where it was immediately involved in an aerial entanglement with an aggressive raptor that came out of nowhere. At first we thought this was a buzzard to buzzard contretemps, with our original bird making a quick getaway into dense trees. We followed the other bird as it perched itself high on a dead tree, overlooking the river and our section of the park. It soon became apparent that the Honey Buzzard had been chased off by a mean looking Grey-headed Fish Eagle.

The rain then fell, and fell. A very heavy and noisy storm broke directly over us. Luckily we were in good shelter and still managed to find a few birds through the dense rainfall. Braving the heavy precipitation was a single Blue-throated Bee-eater, a still hunting Grey Heron and of course an increasingly bedraggled but steadfast and ever vigilant Grey-headed Fish Eagle.

Our shelter was visited by the ubiquitous and ever noisy Collared Kingfisher.

As the rain finally relented, we had a Brahminy Kite over and our OHB presented itself to us once again. Staying below the canopy of the trees, it very much looked like it was doing its best to avoid another meeting with the Fish Eagle.

Intermittent bursts of rainfall punctuated the second half of our walk – so we decided to take a nap while waiting for the worst of the rain to pass. Birding brings many little side pleasures with it, and napping outdoors while waiting for the intermonsoon rains to calm is definitely one of them! Our last leg via Chinese Garden brought us the usual Peaceful Doves, White-breasted Waterhens and some lovely serenading by some Common Iora. The Grey-headed Fish Eagle was still on sentry duty a good hour or more after we watched it land in the dead tree.

Mrs Sausage endeavoured to get a clear shot of this female Koel which was booming its distinctive call on the bridge by the park exit / entrance.

A distant Stork-billed Kingfisher added a splash of colour to the grey skies still lingering above us as our short but rewarding/restful journey to Jurong came to a close.

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