Great Billed Heron
One good thing about going to a nature reserve with experts is that you're gauranteed an ID of whatever creature you're looking at minus the head-scratching. I saw this unusual looking heron along the the mangrove reefs and was told instantly that it was a great-billed heron. Again, this was a rare sighting as it was not commonly found on the mainland. Ah, another lifer* for me.
*first time sighting of a winged creature.
Large Billed Crow
When you're in Pulau Semakau, you don't have to go all out to look for birds, they'll simply fly past you!
A large-billed crow flew overhead as I was standing on the shore, cawing as it flew past. Intially I didn't give it a second look, but the folks from the National University of Singapore pointed out that it was no ordinary crow. It was a large billed crow, different from the ones in the mainland, they added. The easiest way to distinguish them was from the soft cawing sounds they made.
I listened and true indeed, it was softer compared to the harsh cries made by the house crow. Also, it appeared much larger than the ones on mainland, though it had a smaller head and larger bill.
There was a little Japanese girl in our group and what sharp eyes she had! She spotted at least 2 large birds In Pulau Semakau that day and got everyone excited by shouting out - "Eagle! Eagle!".
How right she was.
The NUS* folks scooped out the bird with the bino and identified the bird as the local eagle, (Brahminy Kite) since it had a white chest and chesnut wings. Those beautiful birds were flying in circles, catching the updraft along the fields of P.Semakau.Though this was the not the first time I saw them, my mouth was agape, just like the rest.
*National University of Singapore
Hubby and I were wading along the sea grass beds off the shore of Pulau Semakau when we heard cries of birds.
Where were the birds? Hubby asked after he scooped the shore using the Nikon Monarch bino we had.
Up above you! I said and that they were, 3 or 4 of them flying overhead and dipping down occasionally for a fishy breakfast.
All had a black mask over their white faces, making them like a flying Zorro!
Pacific Reef Egrets
I spotted these rare beauties on an intertidal walk at Pulau Semakau. At first sight, I thought these elegant birds were Chinese egrets, what with their pure white feathers and long slender neck but the kind guide from the biodiversity department ( National University of Sinagpore) pointed out that it was a Pacific Reef Egret! There were subtle differences, she mentioned, as she pointed to a foraging pair by the shore. The pacific reef egrets had a stockier neck. And she added that this was not seen on the mainland anymore.
Ah, at that moment, I felt priviledge and mentally checked off one more bird on my must see list.