Looks like many of the really rare and cool migrants are moving through Singapore right now, although not all of them make it through alive. This migrating Von Schrenck’s bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus) found its unfortunate end when it flew into a wall at Jurong West near Boon Lay MRT Station sometime this morning.

Source: David Tan Instagram

The carcasses of a Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis) (left) and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (Clamator coromandus), both migratory birds, spotted in Jurong.

For birds, skyscrapers can mean fatal collision
Many die yearly after crashing into buildings here: Nature Society
By Lim Yi Han, 13th October 2014;

Singapore’s skyline may be revered by tourists but it is spelling death for scores of migratory birds.

The Nature Society (Singapore) has found that every year, many of these birds die after hitting skyscrapers here.

While millions of birds worldwide also die in this way, many studies have been done to mitigate the problem overseas. The society, however, noted that such a phenomenon is “chronically understudied” in Asia.

With the avian migratory season under way, the Nature Society’s Bird Group has started a survey and is asking for those who have witnessed dead or injured migratory birds here to come forward.

It plans to collect information from now until next May and release a preliminary report by late next year. There are plans to run the survey for at least five years to observe short-term trends.

Mr Yong Ding Li, 30, a coordinator of the project, said such crashes may lead to a loss in the bird population, which is already in decline due to habitat loss, hunting and climate change.

“If we know which species are more affected, and what settings increase their risk of crashes, we might then be able to make recommendations to mitigate this,” said Mr Yong, a graduate student specialising in ecology and bird conservation at the Australian National University.

Each year, some 2,000 migratory birds from countries like Russia, Mongolia, China and Japan arrive in Sungei Buloh in August and September for a respite from harsh winters, said the National Parks Board. Some fly off again, heading to Australia or Indonesia, while others live in Sungei Buloh and surrounding areas till the next March or April.

Mr Yong explained that migratory birds crash into buildings because many fly at night. They are often attracted to, or disoriented by, the lighting from buildings, as they navigate using star patterns of the night sky. They may also be confused by the reflection of trees and sky on the buildings’ exterior.

Strix Wildlife Consultancy director Subaraj Rajathurai, 51, noting that the study was interesting and worthwhile, said: “We know this is happening but we don’t know on what scale.

"But it’s not an easy study to do because we have such an efficient clean-up system in Singapore… Our clean-up crew may sweep away the dead birds before anyone wakes up.”

Bird Ecology Study Group co-founder Wee Yeow Chin, 77, said: “In other countries, there are architectural adaptations so that birds don’t crash. This study can help us find out the extent of the tragedy and whether we need to take some steps to crack down on this.”

Visit http://tinyurl.com/SGBirdCrash to help in the survey.

Source: The Straits Times (Mirror 1) (Mirror 2)

We found this tiny Common Wolf Snake (Lycodon capucinus) at a roadside path at Boon Lay (Singapore) today. Its body is bruised and its head is gone. We suspect that it was killed by someone who might be afraid of its presence.

The Common Wolf Snake is non-venomous and is a native in Singapore. It may move its tail much like a rattlesnake when threatened, and it gets nervous and bites if handled by humans.

This nocturnal snake is most commonly found on open ground, around buildings or in low vegetation.

Leave them alone if you see them. They feed mainly on lizards such as geckos and skinks and they really mean no harm to humans.

Want to know more about snakes in Singapore? Download the “SG Snakes” mobile app (available on iPhone and Android) if you havent already done so! This very educational app will come in handy and help you identify snakes when you chance upon them.

Project: WILD (护野团队) Facebook

No better place to usher in the Chinese New Year than in the lab surrounded by close friends and loved ones.

On an unrelated note, my response this year to the question “You got girlfriend already or not?” Is “I have many, but they’re all in the freezer”.

Source: David Tan Instagram

This is an Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps) carcass, apparently collected from the Jurong Lake area.

Von Schrenck’s Bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus)
Corporation Drive, 18th November 2013

This particular carcass has an interesting story. Von Schrenck’s Bittern is considered an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant in Singapore, with the last recorded individual being a single female in the mangroves at Pasir Ris Park in late April-early May this year (i.e. during the tail end of the 2012-2013 migratory season).

This individual, a male, might be the first local record of the species for the 2013-2014 season. Charmaine Chong encountered the carcass as she was leaving for work and tweeted a photograph of it (the image at the top). This was then forwarded to me by Justin Chan.

Once I was able to view the photo, I shared the details with my friend David Tan, who is a research student from the Avian Genetics Lab at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and who has been going around collecting bird carcasses reported all over Singapore.

David was subsequently able to retrieve the carcass, and took more photos, which he shared on Facebook. The bittern has been sampled for DNA and added to the Zoological Reference Collection of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR), for future research purposes. The cause of death is still unknown, although it might have collided with a building, or simply died from exhaustion while on migration.

It’s especially sad to think that a migrant like this Von Schrenck’s Bittern could have come from as far away as Japan, Russia’s Amur region, or northern China, and survived all sorts of challenges along the way, only to die in Singapore. The possibility that this bird’s journey came to a premature end because it crashed into a building or window makes it even more heartbreaking; how many more of Singapore’s birds, both residents and migrants, are killed by buildings?

It also makes one wonder about all the rare birds that could be seeking refuge or simply passing through various parts of Singapore, with their presence going unreported because people in the area don’t initially realise their potential significance to ornithologists and birdwatchers.

Find out how you can contribute to Monday Morgue too.

Gecko

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Gecko (F. Gekkonidae)
Jurong, 23rd November 2010

This gecko carcass was found within a light fixture along a pathway. I presume that it entered the light fixture to feed on insects attracted by the light, only to be trapped and subsequently killed as a result of the intense heat given off by the light bulbs.

It most probably belonged to one of the following species:

Flat-tailed gecko (Cosymbotus platyurus)
Ecology Asia
Wildlife Singapore

Four-clawed gecko (Gehyra mutilata)
Ecology Asia
Wildlife Singapore

Spiny-tailed house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)
Ecology Asia
Wildlife Singapore

Dragonfly Nymph

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Exuvia (shed exoskeleton) of Dragonfly Nymph (Anisoptera)
Lake at SAFTI Military Institute, 22nd November 2010

The dragonflies (Odonata) of Singapore: current status records and collections of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Dragonflies and damselflies of Singapore
Nature Photography – Singapore Odonata
Dazzling Dragonflies of Singapore!
Dragonflies and Damselflies of Sungei Buloh
Odonata of Peninsular Malaysia