Tag Archives: Grey-headed Fish Eagle

Grey-headed Fish Eagle. Dive to Survive.

Grey-headed Fish Eagles as the name suggests live on a diet of mainly fresh water fishes found at inland ponds, lakes and rivers. This family of Grey-headed Fish Eagles have been fishing at the Ulu Pandan Canal for over a decade and have adapted very well to the conditions there.

Cleaning crew at Ulu Pandan Canal where the fish eagles hunt, The Albizia trees arevon the opposite bank

They have become experts in diving for the fishes in the canal from the tall Albizia Trees by the side of the canal. This is a photo documentation of one of the many successful dives and catches.

It would find a prominent perch on a branch of the Albizia overhanging the canal and wait patiently, sometimes for hours for the fishes to break surface.
Dive! This morning, a pair of Otters were chasing the fishers just below where the eagle perched. One fish came up to the surface. This was the moment the fish eagle was waiting for. Talons ready and eyes focused.
The momentum of the dive carried the eagle into the water. Its nictitating membrane would have covered it eyes and it would not be able to see the fish. If its aim is accurate, its talons would have caught the fish.
Pushing its way out of the water with the fish in its talons needed great effort. The nictitating membrane is still covering its eyes.
Life off, just!
But not enough to pull clear off the surface.
It caught a big Keli catfish. Due to its weight, the fish eagle could not turn around and flew straight at me.
Its determination to keep the fish showing.
Finally it managed to turn around and head towards the other side of the canal
And landed on the side of the canal to take a breather.
To avoid ground predators it flew up to this low tree and started tearing the guts out of the catfish.
With the dead fish, it flew up to the highest branch from where it can check the surroundings for the presence of the House Crows.
With no signs of the House Crows around, it finally flew off with its catch to its nest at Toh Tuck forest. This catch will be enough to feed the family for the day.

Their survival will depend on the continued presence of the mostly alien fishes in this part of the canal. The family of Sooth-coated Otters here appear to be in competition but in reality, they play a symbiotic role in helping the fish eagles with their catches. Other times, their discarded half eaten fish serve as a easy meal for the fish eagles and Brahminy Kites as well.

Longkang Birding-Ulu Pandan.

Ulu Pandan Canal

The bus depot had taken away many of the trees lining the canal leaving a narrower buffer.

The wild scape along the Ulu Pandan Canal fronting the Faber Crest Condominium was badly affected by three recent developments there. There is now only a small buffer of trees lining the canal due to the clearing of the forest for the building of the bus depot. The bird life has been impacted. This forest was where the Changeable Hawk Eagle had been nesting for years. Then the new IBP Road curved over another nesting site of the nationally threatened Purple Herons. Lastly a new condominium took away whatever greenery was left of the northern end. I used to see the Abbott’s Babblers here.


The Pacific Swallows were feeding and flying low along the canal making them easier to shoot.

Luckily the pair of Grey-headed Fish Eagles still come back to hunt for catfish at the canal. We been getting lots of stunning photos of these eagle hunting here recently.

Ulu Pandan

A baby skink is as good as a fish for this White-throated Kingfisher.

I went down this morning to look for them but the fish eagles were not around. Either were the Pond Herons which should be foraging along the banks of the canal at this time of the year. Instead I recorded twenty-four other species in my one hour walk, a good number considering it was late morning. Most are the usual garden species but good to find a Grey-rumped Treeswift hawking for insects, a White-throated Kingfisher enjoying a baby skink, Asian Dollarbirds sallying overhead, a calling Drongo Cuckoo and a Brahminy Kite looking for scraps.


The more common Collared Kingfishers are well adapted to small forests patches and a fresh water canal for food.

Telok Blangah Walkway

The hollow tree branches of the Albizias that lined the canal made good nesting holes for the Dollarbirds.

List of birds recorded from 10.30-11.30 am 31 March 2018

  1. Black-naped Oriole
  2. Pink-necked Pigeon
  3. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  4. Asian Dollarbird
  5. Common Iora
  6. Pacific Swallow
  7. Asian Glossy Starling
  8. Swiftlet Spp
  9. Javan Myna
  10. Brahminy Kite
  11. Common Tailorbird
  12. Drongo Cuckoo
  13. Spotted Dove
  14. Asian Koel
  15. Brown-throated Sunbird
  16. Red Jungle Fowl
  17. Olive-backed Sunbird
  18. Blue-throated Bee-eater
  19. Lineated Barbet
  20. Red-whiskered Bulbul
  21. Grey-rumped Treeswift
  22. Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot
  23. White-throated Kingfisher
  24. Pied Imperial Pigeon.




Fishing Eagles at the Swan Lake

For the Grey-headed Fish Eagle it is all about getting its catch before dark. I thought that this photo of the Fish Eagle staring intently down sums up what it is all about.

The photographers gathered by the side of the Swan Lake this evening were waiting for the Grey-headed Fish Eagles to show up. Right on cue, it came in and perched on top of a tall tree. We all ran back to our cameras. Everyone was exited. But it is too far for any shots even for the big guns. We waited. After half an hour or so, it scooped down to a lower perched on the other side of the lake. We all moved to this side and started shooting.

Its favorite perch on a low palm close to the water.

It finally ended up at its favorite perch on a low palm in the middle of the lake. For us it was all about getting some action and moment shots. But for the fish eagle it was all about getting its catch before dark or else go hungry for the night. The day ended well for both the eagle and the photographers. It got a nice size catfish and the photographers the shots they came for.

One dive,one strike. Flying off to the back woods with a nice size catfish dinner with its mate.