Er Bong Siong was alone at Bidadari on 17 April 2015 when he came across a tame pond heron feeding at a open field at Bidadari, the old Muslim Cemetery. His friend Francis Yap saw his posting and almost fell out of his chair. It was a near summer plumage Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii, a species that we were expecting after reported sighting by Tou Jing Yi in Ipoh last week. It’s breeding plumage can be separated from the Chinese and Javan by buffy-brown head, neck and breast and dark brown mantle and scapulars.
A few birders descended on to Bidadari very early this morning hoping to see it. But it was not until past 10 am when Alan Ng spotted it perched, partially hidden on a tree. We were all elated to finally get to see this out-of-range Pond Heron here. By noon, it flew down to the grass patch to feed giving all the late comers great views.
It’s range includes Persian Gulf to Indian Sub-continent, resident Myanmar, possible winter visitor to southern Thailand and Northern Peninsular Malaysia. On 20 March 1994, a summer bird was recorded at Senoko. It was placed in Category D ( Apparent wild bird where escape and release cannot be ruled out). There was a recent record in 2012 but unfortunately was not submitted to the Records Committee for deliberation. If the Records Committee accepts this record under Cat A it will be officially the first new record for Singapore. It will extend its most southern range as well. Congrats Bong Siong!
Update: Joseph Tan Kok Beng took this photo (above) on 11 April at Bidadari and assumed that it was a Javan Pond Heron transitioning to a full breeding plumage. Many of us will too. After reading the various postings on FB about the sighting of an Indian Pond Heron, he checked his photos and realized that his Pond Heron was also an Indian Pond Heron, most probably the same bird. This has pushed forward the sighting by six days. Great job and congrats Joseph. This Indian Pond Heron was last seen 2.14 pm on 18 April.
Reference: The Avifuana of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Craig Robson. Asia Books 2000.