Tag Archives: SBWR

The Grey-tailed Tattler in Singapore

The Grey-tailed Tattler (Tringa brevipes) is a medium-sized wader that breeds in northeast Siberia and migrates southward to South-east Asia and Australia post-breeding.

There are two species of tattler birds. The Grey-tailed Tattler and the Wandering Tattler. They both look alike, and both fittingly called tattlers because they have the habit of issuing alarm calls to alert other birds if an observer gets to close. Both these tattlers migrate to different parts of the world, although there are places where they overlap. When they do, the best way to differentiate them is by their call. The Grey-tailed Tattler has a disyllabic whistle, and the Wandering Tattler has a rippling trill.

In Singapore, we only have Grey-tailed Tattlers visiting us. They are classified as rare winter visitors or passage migrants. There are some years where they were not seen at all. Mostly there are only reports of 1-2 birds a year. In recent years, the best place to find this species is at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve although in the past, they have been reported at the sandy shores of Changi as well. In 2011, there was a bird in breeding plumage at Sungei Buloh in late August to early September. In 2012, there was no bird reported, and in the previous season in 2013-2104, there was a bird that spent its entire winter months at Sungei Buloh. This season, there is a bird currently at Sungei Buloh.

The Grey-tailed Tattler has almost the same shape and size as the much more abundant Common Redshank and they like to mingle with the Redshanks for protection. However they can be told apart by a few features. Firstly, they have short yellow legs instead of the longer reddish legs of the Redshanks. As with the legs, the bill is also yellowish base. The white eyebrow stripe (supercillium) extends beyond the eye and contrasts with a prominent dark loral stripe which also continues a little behind the eye. This contrast is really apparent compared to the Redshanks. They also have unpatterned, greyish wings and back.

More observations and comments at the photo gallery below.

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The Terek Sandpiper in Singapore

August and September marks the start of search for migrant birds in Singapore for most birders. And shorebirds are the first to arrive. During this time, similar looking shorebirds start appearing mainly at our mudflats and our limited shoreline. It is a confusing time for the new birders, as sorting out the various species is not helped by the fact that their plumage and size does not differ much. So here is a short introduction of one of the easier species to pick out, the Terek Sandpiper.

The Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus) is a smaller sized wader that migrates from their breeding ground that stretches from Finland all the way to Siberia. They make a journey of anywhere between 3500km – 4800km to their wintering grounds in Africa, India, the Malaysian Peninsula and Australia. The female starts their journey first in early July and the males and females follow in August. They reach Singapore as early as late July although more commonly seen by September.

The bird itself is rather distinctive. It has short orange legs and a prominent long upcurved bill that is orange at the base. As the scientific specific name implies (cinereus means grey), this wader has a grey back, face and breast in all plumages. Behaviourally, it is a busy looking bird that walks briskly pecking at the surface or probing in shallow water, on soft wet intertidal mudflats and even sandy beaches.

Where can one find the wader and do they appear in large numbers? Normally the Terek Sandpiper will appear at Sungei Buloh, Mandai Mudflats, Seletar Dam. They also appear along Changi Coast, but that location is currently off limits. As they are listed as an uncommon winter visitor, one does not expect a large flock, but perhaps a few birds here and there in any one locality.

This year, one Terek Sandpiper was already reported at Sungei Buloh on 31 August. There will be more to come, as is usually the case.

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Saltwater Crocodile at Sungei Buloh

The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), also known as saltie, estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles, as well as the largest terrestrial and riparian predator in the world. The male can reach lengths of up to 7 meters and weigh as much as 2 tonnes. The female is much smaller and usually does not exceed 3 meters in length.

It is a formidable and opportunistic apex ambush predator capable of taking almost any animal that enters its territory, including fish, crustaceans, reptiles, birds and mammals, including other predators. Due to their size and distribution, saltwater crocodiles are the most dangerous extant crocodilian to humans.

The above is taken in part from Wikipedia. Sounds really dangerous. I had a few encounters with them before in Sungei Buloh and once at Kranji Bund.

This particular encounter in August 2013 was the closest. Nonetheless I kept my distance and was stationed at a bridge while the crocodile was down below with no chance of contact. All photos were taken with my 500mm lens, so the crocodile appears closer than in real life. If you do encounter a crocodile, you are ill advised to go near to take a close-up shot. They may be still or appear sedentary, but the danger is still there.

Saltwater Crocodile
(Very still in the water, may even be mistaken for a piece of driftwood from a distance)

 

Saltwater Crocodile
(In dry land, you can see the body. This one is around 3m, a small sized specimen, but still dwarfing a human nonetheless)

 

Saltwater Crocodile
(A closer look at the head)

 

Saltwater Crocodile
(A closer look at the tail)

 

Saltwater Crocodile
(Going back to the water. Notice one of it’s tooth is stained red)

 

Saltwater Crocodile
(A saltie taken at Kranji Bund in 2011. This one is nicknamed Barney. Recently deceased 1. Seen here with some foolhardy illegal anglers nearby. One of them was taking a picture of it)

References:
1. Asiaone report on Kranji crocodile

Giant mudskippers at Sungei Buloh

A pair of Giant mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) found at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in September 2013.

Giant Mudskipper

This species is found mainly in the mangroves. As the name implies, it is one of the largest mudskipper species around. In the morning in which these pictures were taken, the tide was low. Therefore the mudflats were exposed and these came out from their burrows. These 2 didn’t seem to be aggressive towards each other although their fins were upright. I suppose they were having a courtship ritual, but frankly I am not sure.

Giant Mudskipper

 

Further reading:
http://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/fishes/giant-mudskipper.htm