Richard White first “discovered” the Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu,at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 8th May. This may be the first record of this owl in the Gardens. We think that it and the Sunda Scops Owls, Otus lempiji were flushed out of the Tyersall Forest by the work going on there to extend the gardens. This pair eventually settled in a dense patch of rain forest near the Symphony Lake. This could be the same lake that they used to hunt.
During the day they perched high up in between twigs and foliage, asleep.This is their usual behavior. Getting a clear view or shot is almost impossible. Those hoping for a photo of these large owls with their eyes open will need lots of patience and a bit of luck. They become active at dusk when they come out to hunt. I have seen them diving for fish at midnight.
I got a nice surprise this morning when I went to their roost to look for them. One of them was perched at a open branch with a half eaten fish in its claws. The head and stomach of the fish had already been eaten. This was around 10 am, which means that it may have gone fishing in the earlier. This is not their normal behavior to hunt in the day. Could it be that it was unsuccessful the night before? Are they adapting to a new routine being close to human disturbance during the day? This is the first time I came across this fish owl feeding during the day.
With the fish held firmly in its claws, it would take small bites of the flesh with its beak. It had to twist its head and pull the flesh off the body. If a bigger piece became loose it will swallow it whole. Whenever there is any sound nearby by, like the calls of the Hill Mynas or human noise, it would stop, look up and stared at the direction of the call.
There was no waste. Even the last bit of the tail with the bones was swallowed up in the end. They must have a way to deal with the bones by passing it out after digesting all the soft parts. What a efficient feeder!