Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Breakfast with a Milky Stork

Went in search of a little kingfisher that recently got his passport stamped to winter in Singapore. Yes, the migrants are arriving in hordes from as far Siberia and Manchuria. Instead, a vagrant species that has a relatively healthy population here decided to have breakfast with me.
Someone, I know laughed when he saw me concentrating on the Milky Stork having breakfast. In his words, “Aiyah! This bird you also want.” Well I like insights into animal behavior. I don’t care if the bird is or is not an introduced species if it allows me a glimpse of it life I’m taking it. Anyway, this solitary Milky was minding its own business searching the pond for tasty morsels among the lotus plants, when a man comes along with a bag of bread to feed the fish. Milky realizes that it too had a chance of an easy meal. It ran towards the bridge and positioned itself slightly before the feeding frenzy that was created by fish and turtles. When it picked out a likely prey, it would stick its bill with mandibles open as though it was herding a fish away, and to lessen reflection off the water a wing would be opened to cast a shadow over the water.
During the short feeding frenzy, Milky caught two good sized Tilapias for breakfast.
For those of you who have not seen a Milky Stork, it is a large wading bird in the stork family. Not the prettiest of storks but still quite a commanding bird as it stands approximately 97 cm tall. It is a predominantly coastal resident in Indonesia and Malaysia, inhabiting mangroves and adjacent, less saline, swamps. It forages on tidal mudflats, in saline pools, freshwater marshes, fishponds and rice-fields. The species is listed as in 2010 IUCN Red List Category as vulnerable because it has undergone a rapid population decline owing to ongoing loss of coastal habitat, human disturbance, hunting and trade.

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