Chestnut-winged & crimson-hued stars

Save for our trip to Singapore back in April, 2017 has been a year where we found disgracefully little time for regular birding adventures. Fortunately, we found ourselves back in Singapore for an end of year visit to friends and family and hope for some sustained birding adventures. Arriving on the 30th December to an unfamiliarly cloudy and almost temperate Singapore, we made for the Botanic Gardens within a few hours of landing.

Our aim was for a brief visit, more to acclimatise and get our ‘bird-eyes’ back in than a proper excursion. We were to be pleasantly surprised in our short early evening visit though. As our eyes and ears re-tuned to the sights and sounds of Singapore, our first sighting was an arrow-like vermilion Banded Woodpecker.

Sharing this bright and confiding woodpecker with us was a very friendly nature photographer who was also fairly new to the area. He shared some of his earlier sightings with us and we exchanged some tips and information on places to go and id’d what he had photographed for him. It’s always good to share information and sightings with other people who share our passion and in this instance the information exchange brought a rich reward.

Red was definitely the colour of the day as a Crimson Sunbird flower-hopped all around us. At times it was too close to Mrs Sausage camera to even take some shots.

We were in a part of the Gardens where the fellow nature lover had taken some lovely shots of some birds we were very interested in seeing. Whilst the Crimson Sunbird was very welcome, it was the appearance of this Chestnut-winged Cuckoo that really got our birding pulses racing.

We were, for all intents and purposes, alone with this wonderful bird for around 20 minutes and at no time did it move more than around 3 metres away from us. While we kept our respectful distance, the bird did not seem too worried about us or our lenses. A very confiding and stunning looking bird.

The Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (or CWC) is a migrant bird to Singapore; and breeds from the western Himalayas to the eastern Himalayas and winters down into Southeast Asia. It has been recorded from India, Nepal, China, Indonesia, Laos, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

We left this CWC in peace and made our way around the Garden a little longer. With some Asian Glossy Starlings, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Pink-necked Green Pigeons and some very acrobatic Clear-winged Woolly Bats we were well accompanied on our walk. Our last highlight being this Common Kingfisher.

Despite the name, it is only a regular sight in Singapore during the August – March migratory season. A bird we see all year round back home in the UK, but always good to see, especially in action.

A very pleasant welcome back to one of our favourite birding locations. A rich start to two weeks of feathered (and furred and scaled) adventures!

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