White-throated kingfisher claiming dominance

A simple picture but I guess there’s a story to tell.

This picture was taken just outside Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. It’s like this bird is telling us they have a right to state land too or any other environment for that matter. I certainly hope they’ll be considered in any environmental plans!

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Finally, a good picture

After months of tracking these creatures down and listening to their calls, finally, I’m rewarded with this picture!

Is this the Red Jungle Fowl?

This bird has very similar morphology to the Red Jungle Fowl and does possess the morphological features of the Red Jungle Fowl. In particular, the white ear patch and white rump with grey legs. However, whether this is a hybrid between the domestic chicken and the Red Jungle Fowl, DNA testing needs to be done, which unfortunately is not within the scope of my mini UROPS project.

I was really excited to see this picture! In fact, I was jumping and screaming, as my family members can testify. Truly, a sweet fruit after months of being the “doggie at the window”, staring forlornly at the patch of greenery, hoping to get a glimpse of it.

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more monitor lizards

As part of my UROPS, I’ve set up the camera trap, hoping for some Red Jungle Fowls to be caught in action. No fowls were caught but on 2 occasions, the monitor lizard came up really close to the camera trap!

Take 1: A monitor lizard coming up close and personal with the camera!

Take 2: Monitor lizard peeking at the camera

2 times the monitor lizard came right up to the camera! These pictures, along with my previous sightings of the monitor lizards, could there be a population there?

PS, notice the different angles of the two pictures though I didn’t change the location of the camera. I’ll let everybody know why the next time!

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Monitor lizard

I’ve seen the monitor lizard perched way up in the tree in Pulau Ubin, but in my mini plot of sanctuary, I’ve seen at least 2 monitor lizards in the grass. I know there are at least 2 because I’ve seen a rather big one, at least 1.5 metres long vs another smaller one, 1 metre long.

This one is the smaller one.

Monitor lizard in the grass!

I’ve been told that the way to differentiate the species of monitor lizard is to look at the length of the nose to the eyes. I’m not sure how to though. Note to self: check this up!

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White-throated Kingfisher

Right from the 1st day I moved it, I saw this bird. It was a brilliant flash of blue and made really bad noises.

This particular bird has a favourite spot on a particular tree in the secondary forest of my backyard. I have seen it perching there more than a few times. That was when this picture was taken.

White throated Kingfisher

After scouring (that’s a bit of an exaggeration) the pictures of kingfishers online, I finally found that this is the white throated kingfisher.

It is noteworthy that the pillar of my house is also another favourite perching spot of this kingfisher. That was where it was when it welcomed me to this new house the first day I moved in. At least I like to think that was what it was doing.:)

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A flash of colour and it’s gone..

As part of my UROPS project, I’ve been listening out for the Red Jungle Fowls and looking out for them. Since 6 weeks ago when I first started my project, I’ve somehow cultivated a habit of looking outside the window everytime I pass it. Each time, I would pause a couple of minutes, wait for movement, then go away disappointed, thinking, “WHERE ARE THE CHICKENS!!” Though I have seen the jungle fowls quite a few times in the short few months I’ve lived here, the fowls have been evading me for 6 weeks. Frustration was certainly building up.

Since I started work just yesterday, I imagined my sightings and hearings of the junglefowl would decrease accordingly.

But today, I hit jackpot.

Around the evening at 630pm when I reached home, I heard the call of the Red Junglefowl and looked out of the window as usual. To my surprise, in the distance, I saw 2 male Red Junglefowls! I scrambled for the camera I borrowed from DBS and tried desperately to take pictures.

Alas, the fowls were not in my direct line of vision since they were hiding behind the trees. In the few moments when they were exposed, I saw the 2 males fighting for territory, then started to forage individually.

A flash of colour and it's gone!

The above picture was all I could manage. A flash of colour and it’s gone. I later ran to the backyard, hoping to get a picture but the junglefowls were gone. 😦

I could have sworn I saw the white ear patch though!

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Water, water everywhere?

My first suspicion that there is probably some pool of water in that secondary forest is when I saw some waterhens.

Waterhen preening

Waterhen with head tucked under wing

These waterhens appear rather frequently, especially after it rains. Unlike the Red Jungle Fowls, which I have been trying to photograph for weeks!

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The Red Jungle Fowl

Ever since moving to this new house, I’ve been seeing a few “chickens” in that secondary forest. Wild chicken, I thought, but found it strange that there would be wild chickens in that area.

As fate would have it, the very same week, the LSM2251 lecture I attended mentioned the Red Jungle Fowl. This was said to the wild ancestor of the domestic chicken. Amazing. I also knew that this was considered endangered in Singapore.

An endangered animal in my backyard? Now that was an interesting idea to explore. I learnt that one of the distinguishing factors of the Red Jungle Fowl was its truncated call. I listened out for it and eventually found that that it was really the case for those chickens in my backyard. I was extremely excited about that.

Then on one occasion, 10-April 2010, I was quietly studying in my room when I heard some rustling outside. I looked outside, only to find at least 10 of these Red Jungle Fowls foraging outside.

I tried to take a picture, but it didn’t turn out well.

Red Jungle Fowl in my Backyard?

So that, is the history of my UROPS project.

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I saved a bird!

The honour of the very first post should go to my heroic save of a bird.

This happened sometime in the afternoon on 2-Jun 2010. I was sitting in the living room when I heard a bang, flutter flutter flutter then thud just outside my window. Curious what it was, I opened the door only to find a bird (I wasn’t sure what it was at that time) lying upside down on the floor and breathing very heavily.

I was sure it was going to die but I tried to save it anyway. I picked it up gently and brought it to a shadier place and offered it water to drink. I even smsed my TA for LSM2251 to ask what I should do. Paul said I should give it some fruits. I checked and found that my house did not have any fruits so I gave it some seeds instead. This bird was unappreciative and refused my seeds and water.

Checking on it every 5 minutes, this bird eventually was able to hop around the backyard, as seen in the picture below.

Juvenile Koel hopping around my backyard

Finally, after about 1.5 hours, the bird was finally strong enough and flew away.

I checked with Siva later and found that it was a juvenile koel.

Technically, I didn’t do much, but can’t help smiling to myself that I saved a bird!

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The Wildlife Sightings began..

14th December 2009, I moved to Upper Bukit Timah View.

My new house faced a patch of secondary forest which proved interesting. Almost immediately after shifting in, I began seeing different animals in the limited area I can see from my window. Nonetheless, I think even these are worth showing. Who else has a secondary forest in their backyard?

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