Wildlife Around Singapore: The birds and the bees

·Lifestyle Editor
·4-min read
Black dwarf honey bees and white-bellied sea eagles in Singapore. (Photos: Clarence Chua, Kelvin Ow)
Black dwarf honey bees and white-bellied sea eagles in Singapore. (Photos: Clarence Chua, Kelvin Ow)

Singapore's urban and green environment is home to a rich abundance of beautiful wildlife that we don't often see. In our Wildlife Around Singapore series, we share interesting flora and fauna that have been sighted around the island.

Not one, but two vulture species spotted

Birdwatchers were very excited on 29 Dec as rare avian visitors dropped in on Singapore in the form of five Himalayan griffon vultures as well as a solitary cinereous vulture.

This is the first recorded appearance of the cinereous vulture in Singapore. It is distinguished from the Himalayan vulture by its bi-coloured beak and dark-coloured head.

Himalayan vultures live mainly in the Himalayas mountains, but have been known to disperse as far as locations in Southeast Asia.

The cinereous vulture, also called the monk vulture or black vulture, is found across Eurasia.

These two species of vultures are among the largest flying birds, with wingspans that can reach 2.5–3m. 

Here are the raptors hanging out at Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Himalayans seemingly accepting the cinereous as one of their own:

Himalayan vultures and a solitary cinereous vulture (bottom) in Singapore Botanic Gardens, 30 Dec 2021. (Photo: Shiu Ling/Facebook)
Himalayan vultures and a solitary cinereous vulture (bottom) in Singapore Botanic Gardens, 30 Dec 2021. (Photo: Shiu Ling/Facebook)
A Himalayan vulture flying above Singapore Botanic Gardens, 30 Dec 2021. (Photo: Loh Wei/Facebook)
A Himalayan vulture flying above Singapore Botanic Gardens, 30 Dec 2021. (Photo: Loh Wei/Facebook)
A Himalayan vulture in Singapore Botanic Gardens, 30 Dec 2021. (Photo: HP Lian/Facebook)
One of the Himalayan vultures. (Photo: HP Lian/Facebook)
A cinereous vulture (bottom) in Singapore Botanic Gardens, 30 Dec 2021. (Photo: Trevor Teo)
The cinereous vulture in flight. (Photo: Trevor Teo)

According to netizens, birdwatchers said the cinereous vulture later crash-landed mid-flight, probably from exhaustion and hunger after days of travelling before reaching Singapore. It was rescued by the Animal and Veterinary Service and was brought to Jurong Bird Park to get the care it needed.

White-bellied sea eagles get it on

While the vultures are rare visitors to Singapore, our island is home to various native birds of prey, among them, the white-bellied sea eagle. These eagles are known to live in places like Pasir Ris Park and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

A juvenile male white-bellied sea eagle and an adult female were recently spotted mating at Pasir Ris Park.

A juvenile male and adult female white-bellied sea eagle couple in Pasir Ris Park, Singapore, 26 Dec 2021. (Photo: Kelvin Ow)
A juvenile male (left) and adult female white-bellied sea eagle couple in Pasir Ris Park, Singapore, 26 Dec 2021. (Photo: Kelvin Ow)
A juvenile male and adult female white-bellied sea eagle couple in Pasir Ris Park, Singapore, 26 Dec 2021. (Photo: Kelvin Ow)
A juvenile male and adult female white-bellied sea eagle couple in Pasir Ris Park, Singapore, 26 Dec 2021. (Photo: Kelvin Ow)

Peregrine falcon in Sengkang

A peregrine falcon was seen in Sengkang around Anchorvale Lane, Block 535 in late December. 

The peregrine falcon is the most widespread bird of prey in the world, being commonly found in most parts of the world, including urban areas. It's also the fastest bird in the world, being able to clock speeds of over 320km/h when it dives towards its prey.

A peregrine falcon was seen in Sengkang, Singapore around Anchorvale Lane, Block 535 in late December 2021. (Photo: Jasper Ong)
(Photo: Jasper Ong)
A peregrine falcon was seen in Sengkang, Singapore around Anchorvale Lane, Block 535 in late December 2021. (Photo: Pher Thuan Chong)
(Photo: Pher Thuan Chong)

First record of ashy-headed green pigeon in Singapore

The Singapore Birds Records Committee, a team of civilian birdwatching enthusiasts, recently on 25 Dec officially recorded the first occurrence of the ashy-headed green pigeon in Singapore. 

The pigeon in question had been seen in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in October, but the committee had to undertake an analysis to rule out other green pigeon species in order to confirm that it was the first sighting of a wild ashy-headed green pigeon here. Factors that the committee took into account included the bird's plumage colour and condition, whether the species is known to travel long distances in the wild, and whether it was an escaped pet.

Ashy-headed green pigeon in Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Singapore, 9 October 2021. (Photo: Yip Jen Wei)
Ashy-headed green pigeon in Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Singapore, 9 October 2021. (Photo: Yip Jen Wei)
Ashy-headed green pigeon in Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Singapore. (Photo: Francis Yap)
Ashy-headed green pigeon in Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Singapore. (Photo: Francis Yap)

Kingfisher catches lizard

A netizen shared this picture in the Singapore Wildlife Sightings Facebook group of a white-throated kingfisher in Pasir Ris Park with its big catch – a changeable lizard.

A white-throated kingfisher with its prey, a changeable lizard in Pasir Ris Park, Singapore on 14 Dec 2021. (Photo: Sangmen Wong)
(Photo: Sangmen Wong)

Blue-tailed bee eaters in Seletar

There's a population of blue-tailed bee eaters around Seletar Aerospace Park which often provides striking pictures for photographers such as these as they catch bugs:

A blue-tailed bee eater catching an insect at Seletar Aerospace Park, Singapore. (Photo: Vincent Lim)
A blue-tailed bee eater catching an insect at Seletar Aerospace Park, Singapore. (Photo: Vincent Lim)
A blue-tailed bee eater catching a dragonfly at Seletar Aerospace Park, Singapore. (Photo: Tan Heng Liang)
A blue-tailed bee eater catching a dragonfly at Seletar Aerospace Park, Singapore. (Photo: Tan Heng Liang)

Bees around Singapore

We promised birds and bees in this article – you didn't think we were done after showing you white-bellied sea eagles procreating, did you? 

Here are literal bees seen around Singapore:

Bees among flowers in a housing estate in Singapore. (Screenshot from video by Gumamela Red/Facebook)
Bees among flowers in a housing estate in Singapore. (Screenshot from video by Gumamela Red/Facebook)
A hive nest of the Apis andreniformis (black dwarf honey bee) and weaver ants in Singapore, Nov 2021. (Photo: Clarence Chua)
A black dwarf honey bee hive and weaver ants in Singapore, Nov 2021. (Photo: Clarence Chua)
A hive nest of the Apis andreniformis (black dwarf honey bee) and weaver ants in Singapore, Nov 2021. (Photo: Clarence Chua)
A black dwarf honey bee hive and weaver ants in Singapore, Nov 2021. (Photo: Clarence Chua)

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