Monday, 4 November 2013

A Plethora of Pelicans. (Jurong Bird Park. Post 1)

A Plethora of Pelicans

Jurong Bird Park (1)

During my daughters stay we visited Jurong Bird Park in the East of Singapore. Jurong Bird Park opened in January 1971 and had a revamp in 2006. It is Asias largest Bird Park with over 5000 birds and 400 species. 29 of these species are on the endangered list. When we first entered the park parts of it were under restoration and some parts were not open, initially we thought it looked a little old and tired but after going in further it improved massively and was a thoroughly enjoyable visit and a steal at S$20, although we got it cheaper as we purchased a joint ticket with the Singapore Zoo which was valid for 30 days. If we had walked and taken a different route first impressions would of been better.

I have decided as we took so many photos of this day that the easiest way would be to break the information down into different posts, this being post 1, rather than have one post with so many photos that it was unlikely anyone viewing it would ever get to the end! so forgive me splitting the day.

I have titled this post "A Plethora of Pelicans" but in fact the correct name for a group of these birds is "a squadron" however I liked the ring of a plethora of pelicans and plethora does mean a large amount of something, so I shall stick to my choice :)

The Bird Park houses Pelican Cove containing 7 of the 8 species of pelican and is the worlds largest collection of pelican species. There is a walkway around part of the cove where you can get really close to the birds as you will see from some of the photos. There is also an underwater viewing gallery where at feeding time you can watch them dive down to catch the fish seeing them scoop them up into their pouches. Staff at this time will also explain about the different species and pass on some information. The Bird Park has among its collection the Dalmation Pelican (pelican crispus) which is on the endangered list.

The smallest pelican species in the Brown Pelican (pelican occidentals) weighing just 2.5kg, 106 cm long and a wingspan of 1.83 metres. The endangered Dalmation Pelican (pelican crispus) is the largest of the species weighing 15kg, 183 cm long with a wingspan of 3 metres. My favourite of them all however is the brightly coloured Australian Pelican (pelican conspicillatus) which has the longest bill of them all and a latin name which they certainly live up to as they are indeed conspicuous! An Australian Pelicans bill is upto 50 cm in length. We stood watching them wave their pouches and it really looked as if they were talking to each other.

Australian Pelicans have a good old chatter
Pelicans live on freshwater, estuaries and marine wetlands. They cannot flap there wings for a long time so use thermals to soar. They can cover huge distances like this and can remain airborne for upto 24 hours rising to incredible heights of 1-3,000 metres with speeds of 56 km ph by using these thermals. Pelican bills are very sensitive allowing them to find fish in murky waters. They use the pouch on the lower half of the bill as a net to scoop up the fish, then empty out the water before swallowing the fish head first.

As I mentioned the Australian Pelican was my favourite as it is so vibrant in colour compared to the others. At the Park they also had a lake to themselves whereas the other species are in another lake together. When "courting" the males follow the female around showing off (as all men do!!) they pick up sticks/fish and toss them up into the air before catching them and repeating again and again. They open their bills and ripple their pouches. By shutting their bills together quickly and often, this causes the lower bill/pouch to ripple and it's really fascinating watching them do this. I don't know if it was the mating season when we visited but they were certainly chasing one another around the pond and rippling their pouches an awful lot. During mating the colour of the bill also changes for a brief time, the end becomes a bright salmon pink and near to the throat it turns hello. A black line appears diagonally along the bill and some parts change to a bright blue.

Australian Pelican (pelican conspicillatus)

I have to admit I don't think I have ever seen a pelican before visiting the park and I'm sure I would of remembered. They are indeed beautiful graceful birds and when up close look almost unreal. The Australian Pelicans look like they have been painted. I hope the photos do them justice.

Pelicans grooming

Feeding time!

Snoozing the afternoon away….

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