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Monday, November 14, 2005

Grey Heron foraging at night in Bedok canal?

Grey Heron foraging at night in Bedok canal?

I was walking along Bedok canal at 11 pm one night when I spotted what looked like a large heron hunting in it. Couldn't have been my eyes playing tricks on me because there was a Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) nearby and it was definitely dwarfed by the larger heron. The large heron was distinctly whitish with black around the head and I thought around the wings as well, but it was dark. However, the neck was clearly whitish.

I went back to the canal the next night with a pair of binoculars but the large heron was not there. However, one of the foraging herons seemed to be a bit smaller and greyer than the usual Night Heron. I was wondering if that could be a Striated Heron (Butorides striatus). But then every bird that I spotted in the past had been a Night Heron.

I returned to the canal again a few nights later at 8.30 pm. And the large heron was there, standing on the side of the canal, on a set of steps. Its head was definitely moving, so it wasn't asleep. Again, a Night Heron was nearby, this time perched on the railing.

A Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) does hunt along Bedok canal in the day. I have got used to seeing a solitary Grey Heron hunting along this canal on the rare occasions I walked by it during the day. I have seen it remaining there till twilight gloom sets in, though I have never seen it catch anything yet. I am not sure if it is the same bird I spotted foraging at night.

Contributed by Timothy Pwee


Timothy's account provides excellent feedback on the feeding habits of our usually diurnal herons. Night Herons are regularly seen in canals and along waterways at night. We also have records of Striated Herons feeding in canals at night. However, I do not recall any prior local observations of Grey Herons feeding at night. Timothy's sighting provides evidence that this species does take advantage of nocturnal low tides.

Not only does this observation adds to our local knowledge of the Grey Heron's feeding habits, it also provides information about the bird'’s adaptation to our urban environment. What other species utilise our concrete waterways at night and also during the day? We have records of several feeding in canals/drains during the day but the suitability of these urban habitats depends on their design.

Input by our Bird Specialist, R Subaraj

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7 Comments:

At 7:36 pm, Blogger budak said...

Purple herons are actually relatively common by canals and even in open urban areas (e.g. the field by Jurong East MRT). I have seen a little egret following the canal in front of Sim Lim Square, and lone specimens can quite often be seen in even HDB area canals (presumably feeding on the guppies). I have not seen any night herons yet, but I have seen gray herons fishing at night (about 9 pm at the Upper Seletar reservoir).

 
At 8:01 pm, Blogger YC said...

Heh Budak, your extensive experience on bird behaviour needs to be shared with others. Would you consider posting your more interesting snippets in blogs such as this? I am sure there are a number of people like you who have observed Grey Herons feeding at night. But when such observations are not reported, they go unnoticed. After all, knowledge not shared is knowledge lost. So how about it? YC

 
At 9:01 pm, Blogger budak said...

Found my photo of the heron: [url=http://budak.blogs.com/the_annotated_budak/2005/11/night_heron.html]here[/url]!

 
At 9:30 pm, Blogger YC said...

Thanks Budak for an interesting posting. I have now linked up your url for viewers to read your account of 'night' herons.

 
At 8:40 pm, Blogger Kevin said...

I dunno if its due to the migration period. but I have spotted birds (can't id sorry, but one of the birds look like a grey heron the other is much smaller) hanging around the canal at west coast as well.
they were very jittery and took flight when i came close. so I suspect they were jus resting there.

 
At 11:42 pm, Anonymous Slow said...

Spotted the Grey again. It was hunting in Bedok Canal from 8.40pm till 11.13pm. When I spotted it at 8.40pm, the mud flats of the Canal were exposed. I noticed that the whole evening it stayed around the same section of the Canal: opposite the outlet of a smaller feeder canal. The Night Herons seem to like that area too.
It was hunting until the water came up to its belly (about knee level I think). At about 10.49pm, a lot of debris started floating up the Canal and lots of fish started splashing. Two minutes after the fish splashes stopped, it flew off down the Canal following the far bank.

 
At 12:32 am, Blogger YC said...

Keep up the observations all of you out there. Why not collate them and write your account for posting in this blog? Your observations and feedback are important.

 

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