20-year-old wading bird spotted at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

SINGAPORE - A wading bird was recently spotted again at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) on January 29, nineteen years after it was first ringed here in 1995. 

The Whimbrel, also known as a Numenius phaeopus, is believed to be about 20 years old. This is the longest record for a repeat sighting of an individual Whimbrel species in Singapore.

Another significant record for Singapore was the ringing of a Common Redshank (Tringa tetanus) in 1990, which was later sighted again here in 2011.

Bird ringing, sometimes also called bird banding, is the process of netting wild birds and attaching a small ring with a unique serial number around its legs for easy identification. During the process, the measurements of the bird - such as its weight and length - are recorded for research purposes.

Mr Wong Tuan Wah, Director of Conservation at National Parks Board, said: "Apart from other monitoring practices, bird ringing enables researchers to determine the migration patterns and longevity of different bird species. Repeat sightings of the same individual can be quite rare and we are very fortunate to be able do so.

"The Whimbrel and other migratory bird species can still be seen at Sungei Buloh and visitors will be able to observe them until around late March, which is usually the end of the migratory bird season."

SBWR started the bird ringing process in 1990. During the annual migratory bird season from September to March, SBWR conducts bird ringing sessions at least once a month. In 2001, the Reserve formally became part of the East Asian Australasian Flyway Shorebird Site Network.