The Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) are a perennial favourite of mine. From the early days of my wildlife photography journey, I have encountered and written about them here, here and here.
I continue to bump into them repeatedly in recent years, but unique photographic opportunities have been rarer.
On an early morning in April this year, I managed to track down a family of these otters at Sungei Serangoon near to the barrage. Lighting condition was still low, but these otters were happily frolicking by the bank of the river. One of them had a fish and seem more interested in eating than playing with the rest of the group. My long lens setup was ideal for some close-up shots, as it was unconcerned about my presence, while the rest went away soon after.
What’s with the mention of wasabi? Go to the photo gallery to find out.
The Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) is a common bird of prey that is widely distributed in the South Asia, South-east Asia and Australia. The subspecies in the Malay Peninsular and Singapore is intermedius.
In Singapore, they are found in all habitat except forest, and especially common in coastal areas. One of the easier area to see them is Sungei Serangoon.
Because of their abundance, most bird photographers have no problem taking close photos of the species and take no further notice of it. Most photos taken, including mine are mainly of the bird in flight seen from below, with nice blue skies if possible.
On a sunny morning in November 2013, I brought my daughter along for a nature stroll at Lorong Halus. As we walked to the bridge across Sungei Serangoon (Serangoon River), we spotted an adult kite flying around the river. Having lugged along my camera and lens, I thought it’ll be a good opportunity to take some shots of it. I mainly wanted to get some unusual angles and background.
A bird flying upwards after a failed fishing attempt. I chose to position myself to see it fly in front the green foliage next to the river. Technically the background is considered busy so the autofocus must be set on a smaller area to avoid misfocus.
The Yellow-fronted Canary (Serinus mozambicus), or sometimes called the Green Singing Finch is a small bird in the finch family. It is natively found in Africa south of the Sahara.
In Singapore, it has been reported as an escapee species since at least 2005 if not earlier. It is hard to give a exact date and it is rather unimportant if it is a single bird. However in 2009 there were sightings of a pair at Punggol.
In 2010, I sighted my first three birds in a mix flock of other seedeaters in Punggol as well. I have written about my encounter here previously. Since then, more and more reports of the species has surfaced. They were sighted at Punggol, Lorong Halus, Garden by the Bay, Marina East (ex), Chinese & Japanese Garden,Seletar West/Punggol Barat area, and even Changi Airport.
A pair at Punggol grassland showing front and side view seen in early January 2011.
The Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis) is a species of nightjar found in South and South-east Asia. Its preferred habitat are scrub, open country and particularly grassland with open stony patches.
Unknown to most, it is actually a recent resident species of Singapore. It is believed to have colonised Singapore through the Riau Archipelago in Indonesia, and spread to Singapore and Malaysia subsequently from the 1980s onwards. What is surprising about this fact is that the species is not known to be a strong flier nor is it a migratory one. So perhaps what one can say about birds in strange places is that one should not jump to conclusion about their origin!
The bird is largely nocturnal and hunts for insects at night, usually solitary but sometimes in a small group. They are very vocal in flight, and that one of the way to find them.
(In flight during daytime in Lorong Halus after being flushed, showing the vermiculated upperparts. This is a male, with white outer-tail feathers.)
The Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus) is an uncommon resident in Singapore. In the past it was called the Malayan Brain Fever Bird. The Malay name is “Burung Anak Mati” which translate to dead child bird. All these names refer to the mournful sounding call that the adult male use to attract the female bird.
Although listed as uncommon, the male can be rather easily found during the breeding season if one recognises its call. And it can be found in many areas in Singapore. It is a brood parasite, with hosts reported including ioras, prinias, cisticolas and tailorbirds.
Below are some of my encounters with the species.
(A male at Tuas Grassland. Contrary to what some guide books mentioned, which is that the Plaintive Cuckoo is separated from the similar looking Rusty-breasted Cuckoo by the lack of yellow eye-ring, here this plaintive does have a yellow eye-ring. The difference is that it’s eye-ring is rather incomplete.)
The Banded Bay Cuckoo (Cacomantis sonneratii) is an uncommon resident cuckoo in Singapore. It is found in forest edge, mangroves, secondary growth, orchards, plantations and wooded gardens.
Recent sighting include areas like Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Bukit Timah, Neo Tiew and Lorong Halus. It is most easily recognized by its call. The male bird normally sings from the top of a tree to attract the mate.
(Front view of an adult male seen calling at Jelutong Tower in January 2014 perched on a vine at the top of a tree.)
(Back view of the adult. It is normally seen perched upright as in this picture.)