When bird watchers go in search of birds in the forests, they looked for fruiting and flowering trees. These trees often attract the frugivorous species like the Bulbuls, Pigeons, Flowerpeckers and nectar seeking sunbirds. But there is another place that they congregate during the end of the day especially if it is a hot day. Shallow pools of water in the forest for their evening baths.
One of these spots can be found along the MacRitchie Track at the tip of an inlet (Above).
It is just a small puddle at the edge of a sloping forest surrounded by dead leaves and covered by a fallen tree. It seems almost a perfect place for them to enjoy their evening baths. I was surprised that they are oblivious to people walking by. I could sit on the boardwalk less than a meter away from them without disrupting their daily wash.
Olive-winged Bulbul Striped Tit-Babbler.
There seem to be a queue system, with each species taking turns. There were the occasional chasing and queue jumping but nothing serious. The Olive-winged and Red-eyed Bulbuls were the first to bath. They usually come in after 5 pm and spend the next hour taking dips in the water and then preening and drying themselves on a nearby twit. I have seen the rarer Cream-vented Bulbuls here as well.
Siberian Blue Robin Male and Female
The migrant Siberian Blue Robins will start calling around 6 pm and will slowly and tentatively made its way down. The females were always the first to do so followed by the males much later on..They are more skittish. By now the resident babblers have joined in. The Short-tailed Babblers seemed to be the ones enjoying the bathing most, They kept coming back for more before retiring. Next come the Striped Tit-Babblers. They are quick bathers. Last year we had the rare Chestnut-winged Babbler, Little Spiderhunter and Rufous-tailed Tailorbird. By 7 pm it was all over. The bathing is done for the day. Photography is challenging due to the very low light conditions. All these photos have to be brightened.
Unconfirmed past records include very rare migrants like the Pale-legged Warbler ( which we now know is the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler) and the Slaty-legged Crake. Just shows that watching bathing beauties can be rewarding.