Migratory duck makes rare visit to Singapore

A male northern pintail (centre) seen among a group of egrets at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Wednesday evening. The last time this species of bird was sighted here was in 1992 in Senoko South.
A male northern pintail (centre) seen among a group of egrets at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Wednesday evening. The last time this species of bird was sighted here was in 1992 in Senoko South. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A rare visitor has flown into Singapore's Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, sparking a flurry of excitement among nature lovers here.

A male northern pintail, a breed of duck, was seen feeding among a group of egrets in the reserve at about 7pm on Wednesday.

The last time this species of bird was sighted here was in 1992 in Senoko South. This is the first time that the species has been seen in the wetland reserve, said the National Parks Board (NParks).

Mr Wong Tuan Wah, director of conservation at NParks, said the migratory bird is a "very rare visitor" to Singapore.

"We are excited that the northern pintail has decided to stop over at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve - particularly in the week of World Wetlands Day. This shows that the wetland reserve is a significant stopover point for migratory birds."

According to conservation group BirdLife International, the bird is native to countries such as Britain and Switzerland. The omnivorous creature feeds on algae and amphibians, among other things.

Its sighting comes as the avian migratory season is about to end.

SIGNIFICANT STOPOVER POINT

We are excited that the northern pintail has decided to stop over at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve - particularly in the week of World Wetlands Day. This shows that the wetland reserve is a significant stopover point for migratory birds.

MR WONG TUAN WAH, NParks director of conservation, who said the migratory bird is a "very rare visitor" to Singapore.

Every year, thousands of migratory birds arrive at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in August and September from their breeding grounds in Russia, Japan and North China.

Some roost and feed at the wetland reserve before continuing their journey to places such as Australia and Indonesia.

Others stay in the wetland reserve and its surroundings until March and April, when they return to their breeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere.

News of the sighting caused bird lovers to flock to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve yesterday morning, said Mr Alan OwYong from the Nature Society's Bird Group.

"The northern pintail migrates from North Asia to South Asia, stopping over in Indochina... I personally think that the cold snap south of China may have forced the birds to fly further south," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2016, with the headline 'Migratory duck makes rare visit to Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe