Raining Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoos at Punggol

31 May 2015

Horsefield's Bronze Cuckoo
Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoo Marina South June 2005.

The one cuckoo on everyone’s wish list made a spectacular appearance at Punggol Barat this month. Following Francis Yap’s post of Lim Kim Seng’s article on the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx basalis, Albert Tan and Eric Wang, both shared their photos on facebook of this very rare Austral migrant taken this early this week. When Francis Yap went down to look for it yesterday afternoon, he was shocked to find not one but 10 birds flying among the Mimosas.

Some of us were lucky to encounter this Cuckoo way back in June 2005 at Marina South. It was spotted by Paul Huang feeding on the caterpillars of the Golden Showers Tree. My photo of a juvenile showed the eye strip, the incomplete belly bands and dark forehead. The rufous sides of the tail unfortunately cannot be seen. There was another adult there then and both stayed for a week.

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Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo at Punggol Barat taken on 31 May 2015. The whole upper tail is rufous with a black terminal band.

I joined the hordes of photographers at Punggol Barat this morning and fanned out to try to get better shots of this cuckoo. Great to meet up with many of the rare birders like Wong Lee Hong, Nicholas Tan & Mick Price and meeting new one like Vincent Lao and Cyrus Low. Hio John and Vincent Ng already had the cuckoo on their sensors by the time I caught up with them. It seemed that the cuckoos were flying around among the Mimosas. You just have to be lucky to have one perched near you.

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Cuckoo hunters at Punggol Barat this morning.

One of the diagnostic features of of the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo is the rufous side of tail. But from the above photo, the whole upper tail is rufous with a narrow black terminal band. Hope to get some answers on this and also why so many birds congregate at one location. Vincent Lao shot a cuckoo there on 10 May. It was later identified as the Horsfield’s, which means that they were “wintering” here for the past 20 days.

We also noticed that they tend to move around together. Six birds were seen together at one bush yesterday by Hio John. Some of the photographers even managed to have two birds in one frame. Lets hope we can monitor these cuckoos to get some better insights in their wintering behavior.

Ref: Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia Simpson and Day.

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