Sight of openbill storks thrills birdwatchers in Singapore
Thousands of Asian openbill storks were spotted across Singapore yesterday and over the weekend - a Christmas delight for many birdwatchers.
Updates soared on social media platforms such as Facebook and messaging app Telegram as birdwatchers across the island posted photographs and videos of this rare sight, and updates on where and when the birds were seen.
Jokes also flitted about as to how the arrival of storks - a symbol of fertility in many cultures - could mean a boost to Singapore's birth rate.
Yesterday, the birds were seen in the morning at St John's Island and in the Changi area around noon.
Retiree Steven Cheong, 58, saw about 30 to 40 storks flying near Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun yesterday morning.
He said: "It was amazing to see such a large flock, as the last time I sighted this bird, (it) was a solitary one on April 1 this year at Sungei Buloh."
Large flocks were first spotted in the Kranji area earlier this month, but their appearance in Singapore in such large numbers is unusual as normally only one or two are seen.
Public servant Darren Leow, 31, spotted the birds in Kranji earlier this month.
He said: "Happy to hear that they are back after not being seen for several weeks - with even more of them this time."
The Straits Times reported earlier this month that the storks usually forage in the rice fields in South-east Asia, especially along the Mekong and Chao Phraya River basins, for prey such as water snails.
"The drought and the dry weather experienced in countries like Thailand could have reduced the number of snails in that region," said Dr Yong Ding Li, an ornithologist at conservation group BirdLife International.
This could have led them to fly our way for sustenance.