Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Lifer Number 4

Banded Woodpecker
@Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore

Banded Woodpecker looking for breakfast on a vine
This morning, the Nature Society of Singapore conducted a bird watching trip in the Bukit Brown Cemetery, which the government has proposed to build a motor expressway through it. Something that has gotten many nature lovers upset as this is one of the few remaining green lungs in urban Singapore.

This more than a hundred-year-old Chinese cemetery is forested in parts and is rather tranquil. It has paved narrow roads, which makes walking easy. There were quite a number of people riding their horses and walking their dogs. It is rather scenic with its valleys, streams and hillocks. Many prominent early Chinese settlers are buried here, including Ong Sam Leong, Tan Keong Saik, Lim Chong Pang and Tan Kim Ching.

At 8 a.m. the air was filled with bird calls and songs and many birds were flitting here and there. Some, such as the Coppersmith Barbet and Green-necked Pigeons, were sunning themselves on tree tops.

Owing to the thick foliage it wasn't that easy to spot the birds clearly through scopes or binoculars. But you know they are there through the calls they make. Sunbirds, Black-nape Orioles, mynahs, bubuls and koels were among the more commonly seen birds. There were a couple of White Whistling Thrush, which were heard but not seen. One bird guide said that as recently as 10 years ago, I hardly saw the koel, a parasitic bird belonging to the cuckoo family. It likes to lay its eggs in crows' nest. Today, one hears and sees them all over Singapore. Also, the White Whistling Thrush is an introduced bird which the birders don't quite like as it competes with some local bird species for food and territory.

Near the end of our two-hour trek, one of the bird guides alerted us to the presence of a Banded Woodpecker (Picus mineaceus). Ah, the fourth lifer for me in 2012!

For a few fleeting moments, the bird was in clear view as it was hunting for food on a vine hanging down from a large ficus tree. It is a beautiful bird with flame-red wing feathers and brown barred back and underbelly, and red crown. This was probably a male as it had reddish tinge ear-coverts. It was pecking all the time as one would associate with the woodpecker.

But it soon flew off. And I fear may never return when the highway with its noise and pollution invade this green haven in the near future.


All Wild said...

beautiful bird.

Unknown said...

It certainly is, what brilliant reds