View of the Western Anchorage from Kent Ridge Park Lookout Point.
The cuckoos were feeding on the fig tree facing the toilets. Photo: Geoff Lim.
Kent Ridge Park at the western end of the Southern Ridges is often overlooked as a birding site. But it was the richest birding park in the 1990s based on a 1993-95 survey by Angus Lamont. (Link). Over a 3 years period he recorded a total of 151 species at the park, a remarkable diversity for an urban park. A national first, the Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficudela elisea, and the Blyth’s Hawk Eagle were recorded here.
A family of Red-whiskered Bulbuls is doing well at the Park.
The park has a hillside view point overlooking the Western Anchorage and Pulau Bukom. I am not sure if the fig trees below the view point were planted with the intention to attract birds. But when they fig, pigeons, bulbuls and other frugivores come to feed. In the mornings with the sun behind you, this is one of the best places to shoot birds at eye level.
An unusual leucistic plumage for a bulbul. The rest of the bulbuls avoid mixing with it.
This morning (6 April 2016), I was there with Keita Sin to look for the Thick-billed Pigeons. But they did not show up. Instead a family of Red-whiskered Bulbuls were the first to fly in to feed on the remaining figs. We counted six of them. One was a leucistic bird, a plumage common among mynas but this is the first time I seen it among bulbuls. Keita Sin told me that he photographed a male Violet Cuckoo here last week and sure enough one was heard calling behind us. It flew down to the valley but Keita that it will come back.
Banded Bay Cuckoo quietly feeding away at the caterpillars on the fig tree.
He was right. It flew back and perched on the Golden Showers tree. It was a female. It then flew into the big fig tree and started to preen itself. While we were trying to get a better angle, another cuckoo came into view. It was a Banded Bay Cuckoo, a cuckoo that can be hard to find when you need one. It must be the moth caterpillars that are attracting them there. We saw both of them finding and eating the caterpillars. Can we expect to see more cuckoos here in the coming days? Maybe the Austral migrant Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo even though it had not been recorded here before. Two nice cuckoos on one tree is not a bad morning of birding.
Violet Cuckoo Female joining in the caterpillar feast at the fig tree.
Reference. Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah & Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd 2013.