Juvenile Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) being scavenged by Weaver Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina)
Pasir Ris, 25th June 2016

This juvenile Grey Heron was found beneath a tree that was part of a nesting colony. It’s possible that it had fallen out of the nest and died before it had fledged. Another possibility is that it had died in the nest due to some other reason, and the parents removed the carcass.

Juvenile Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) being scavenged by Weaver Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina)
Pasir Ris, 15th February 2016

This juvenile Grey Heron was found beneath a tree that was part of a nesting colony. It’s possible that it had fallen out of the nest and died before it had fledged. Another possibility is that it had died in the nest due to some other reason, and the parents removed the carcass.

Nestling of Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Pasir Ris Park, 14th December 2015

Yap Xinli and Riane Brittany Francisco were standing beneath several trees that serve as a nesting colony of Grey Herons when a nestling suddenly fell to the ground, and died shortly after.

Grey Herons lay their eggs over a period of several days; as a result, the eggs that are laid earlier hatch first, and feeding begins immediately. By the time the last chick finally hatches, its older siblings would have had a head start and grown larger. Competition between the chicks for food and parental attention can be high, and older chicks assert their dominance over younger siblings by pecking and basically pushing any smaller, weaker siblings aside when the adults arrive to feed them. As a result, nestling mortality can be very high in some colonies.

It’s possible that this particular nestling had been bullied by a sibling until it was forced to leave the nest and fell out of the tree, or might have been dying anyway due to bullying, starvation, or disease, and was then removed by a parent.

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Happy New Year everybody!

Here are some of my favourite finds of 2015:

Upper Left: Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

I was awestruck (and also very sad) to see such an impressively large (~1.7 – 2 metres long) Malayan Water Monitor dead by the side of the road, possibly hit by a vehicle.

Upper Right: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) @ Pasir Ris Park

There is a nesting colony of Grey Herons in Pasir Ris Park. It’s quite strange that they chose to nest in an area with quite a lot of human traffic and noise, but the colony seems to be expanding over the years. I’ve been looking at these herons for some time, but 2015 was the first time I could walk beneath the trees they nest in, and found chicks that had fallen out or otherwise didn’t make it.

Lower Left: Palm King (Amathusia phidippus phidippus) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Earlier in 2015, one of my colleagues found a caterpillar and kept it for a while. Shortly after, it pupated, and when the adult butterfly emerged, we learnt that it was a Palm King, and released it. Several months later, another colleague found a dead Palm King near our office. I doubt it was the same individual that we’d released though. Also, I’m really lousy at identifying butterflies, but thanks to these two encounters with Palm Kings, I now know how to identify this species in the field.

Lower Right: Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

One of the most elusive and rarest of our native mammals, and the last wild cat species still extant in Singapore. Leopard Cats are known to inhabit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, but finding a carcass was really unexpected.

Centre: Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) @ Singapore Strait

Finally, a carcass I didn’t actually see for myself, but this has got to be the most spectacular dead animal finding of the year.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Pasir Ris, 16th March 2015

This Grey Heron nestling was found beneath a tree that was used by several nesting Grey Herons.