Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax) – better dead or alive ?

My friends went birdwatching in Adams (Ilocos Norte) and were thrilled to see a family of Rufous Hornbills. A few minutes later, they encountered a hunter proudly showing off a dead juvenile hornbill (bill is not red yet). My friends showed the photo to the local police, who just shook his head saying the hunter is the son-in-law of the vice mayor. Whether he is a relative or not, it is sad that our countrymen do not realize the role these birds play in the balance of nature. Hornbills eat fruits of forest trees and spread the seeds far and wide, that is why they are called farmers of the forests. Can our authorities do anything ? Should they (we) start an advocacy campaign ? If you care about our environment, if you care about the future of our country, please share this photo to everyone you know – Mike Lu, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

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“Sabah” Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus x Epinephelus fuscoguttatus) (?)
Changi, 14th February 2014

This grouper likely originated from the fish farms situated off the northeastern coast of mainland Singapore; massive numbers of fishes being raised in these aquaculture facilities died during the mass mortality event which took place in the eastern Straits of Johor in early February.

Large numbers of dead groupers were found washed up on the beach, although their identity is unclear. Several grouper species are known to be farmed (or used to be farmed) in the Straits of Johor.

One source (Shannon Lim from OnHand Agrarian) states that the fish farms in the Straits of Johor now mostly raise hybrids informally known as “Sabah Groupers”, which are crosses between the Giant or Queensland Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) and Brown-marbled or Tiger Grouper (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus), although attempts are being made to introduce hybrids between other grouper species in the region.

Fig. 3. Remains of the partially eaten Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) (ZRC 2.7057). Photograph by Noel Thomas

Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) preying on Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina)

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Singapore Botanic Gardens; 14 March 2014; 1220 hrs.

Observation: At 1220 hrs, a Crested Serpent Eagle was observed landing on a grassy slope with an Oriental Whip Snake in its talons. The snake was still alive and writhing. The eagle first bit the back of the snake’s head, presumably killing the prey. It then proceeded to feed on selected parts of the snake while grasping it firmly in its talons. At 1501 hrs in the same area, the snake was found partially eaten and abandoned. It was retrieved for documentation purposes. Injuries were found mostly on the posterior ventral side of the snake. The specimen was then deposited in the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore, under catalogue number ZRC 2.7057.

Remarks: The Crested Serpent Eagle occurs in Singapore both as a very rare resident and a non-breeding visitor from neighbouring areas. It is found mainly in forest and old plantations, and is a well-known predator of reptiles, particularly tree snakes (Yong et al., 2013: 36).

Reference:

  • Yong D. L., K. C. Lim & T. K. Lee, 2013. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited, Oxford, England. 176 pp.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 82-83