“The Mangrove Pitta (Pitta megarhyncha) is the only resident pitta species in Singapore. It is listed as critically endangered nationally and considered globally near-threatened. An elusive bird, it is normally confined to the offshore islands of Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. This species is very rarely sighted on main land Singapore.
“When news spread that the Mangrove Pitta is sighted at the mangrove boardwalk at Pasir Ris Park, flocks of photographers and birders visited, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive pitta. Many were not disappointed; but some had to wait for days, and after waiting for long hours, to see this elusive species. With more eyes searching, there were news that there could be more than one bird. Since there was no knowledge of anyone seeing two pittas together, whether there was one or more cannot be easily verified.
“I had my first sighting on Christmas eve (24th Dec 2011) (above) and my second sighting on Chinese New Year eve (22nd Jan 2012) (below). Please note that the sightings were 4 weeks apart.
“…Photos from the first sighting seemed to be that of a juvenile; judging by the appearance of its orange-coloured gape. Photos from the second sighting showed a more matured bird that did not have the orange gape. A side-by-side close-up of the side profile of the head is attached for easy comparison (below). Please note that the bird on the left is from first sighting and the right from second sighting.
“Still not quite sure whether the two sightings were the same or different individuals. Is 4 weeks sufficiently long for a juvenile to grow into an immature adult with its orange-coloured gape disappearing? This question begs to be answered for enlightening whether there is one or more of this species in the area. Many will be happy to see even just one Mangrove Pitta. Many more will be even happier to see this elusive species propagate for generations to appreciate.”
Kwong Wai Chong
22nd January 2012