Tag Archives: Kent Ridge Park

A pair of Peregrine Falcons

The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) a fearsome bird of prey that is reputed to be the fastest recorded bird in flight. When it swoops down to hunt for its prey which are normally other birds, the speed recorded is well in excess of 389 km/h.

In Singapore we have two subspecies, ennesti which is considered a resident subspecies in the region although rarely seen in Singapore itself, and japonensis which is the migratory subspecies that comes during the winter months, mainly from northeast Siberia to Kamchatka and Japan.

On a recent morning lookout at Kent Ridge Park before work, I was observing two squawking Tanimbar Corellas that suddenly flew around in circles. Thinking they were quarrelling, I took the opportunity to track one of them. As it flew around, another bird appeared suddenly. I sensed that it was not the Tanimbar. It was flying straight on at great speed and I immediately switched focus. As I acquired focus and clicked the shutter, it seems to have a confrontation with another bird and I thought one of the Tanimbar was a victim. It happened too fast, but I saw the bird barely escaping. In a split second the action was done and the two birds disappeared.

On checking the pictures, I realised that I had first seen an adult japonensis Peregrine Falcon with legs out that was intent to grab on to a juvenile Peregrine Falcon. The juvenile just has enough time to turn its body around facing the adult that was less than a metre away in mid-air. It somehow managed to manoeuvre itself away and behind the attacking adult and escaped unharmed.

The sighting of two Peregrine Falcons itself is not common, but the attack of one against another made my photographic day. Below is the sequence of events in photographic form with explanation of the scene.

 

Photo Gallery

Red-billed Blue Magpie – Status in Singapore

The Red-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythrorhyncha) is a striking looking magpie species. As the name suggest, it has a red bill and also red legs. It’s head, neck and breast are black with a bluish spotting on the crown. It’s shoulders and rump are a duller blue and the underparts are a greyish cream. The long tail is a brighter blue.

Red-billed Blue Magpie

It’s usual range cover northern India, the Himalayas, northern parts of South East Asia up to China.

It’s presence in Singapore has been reported dating back to at least 2001 (wildbirdSingapore)1. Reports of sightings have been concentrated mainly in the Southern Ridges, covering anywhere from Mount Faber to Kent Ridge Park and adjacent areas.

It has been speculated that the birds originated from the illegal bird smuggling activities fromĀ  the southern coast and outer islands of Singapore as illegal smugglers came in from the Riau Islands, with reports of housing station for these birds located along Pasir Panjang Road (wildbirdSingapore)1

Whatever the case of their origin, the magpies have been around for more than a dozen years with regular sightings ever since with individual sightings of 9-10 birds reported. Have they established a feral population or are the sightings of original released/escaped birds? No one can be certain, as magpies in general can live up to a decade, and breeding records are not available.

What we do know is that these magpies have been mating. This have been observed in April 2013 in the below photographs.

Red-billed Blue Magpie

Notice the position of the male’s legs. One is wedged on the female’s leg to prevent her from jumping off. The other is holding on to the wings of the female to prevent flying.

Red-billed Blue Magpie

The actual act, like most other birds mating is brief and vigorous. No further observations of the fate of these birds as they tend to roam around. No nesting records are known.

So what is their diet?

Red-billed Blue Magpie

The partial answer is that sometimes they visit nearby buildings to rummage through the nearby garbage collection points. Here it is observed eating cooked rice grains from one such building.

What we can conclude is that there magpies are roaming around the Southern Ridges, are adaptable enough to be around for more than a decade, have managed to adapt at least some parts of their diet to reflect their urban settings.

Most of the pictures taken here are from my office building which is opposite Kent Ridge Park over a period of 3 years. And in most of the sighting, they come in pairs or in groups.

I leave you with some more pictures of these magnificent, hardy birds.

Red-billed Blue Magpie

Red-billed Blue Magpie

 

Video taken handheld and stabilized in post. Please pardon the jerkiness.

 

Reference:
1. wildbirdSingapore Yahoo Group