A short history of the Black-and-red Broadbill in Singapore

TGC_0582,-Black-and-red-Broadbill,-600x800

Black-and-red Broadbill, Chek Jawa, 5 May 2022, by Tan Gim Cheong

The Black-and-red Broadbill, Cymbirhynchus macrohynchos, a former resident bird, was considered “not common” in Singapore (main island), but “quite numerous on Pulau Ubin” in the early days (Bucknill and Chasen, 1927).

By the 1980s, its fortune had changed and was considered extinct. Then in August 2004, one individual was discovered at the fittingly named Discovery Trail on Pulau Ubin, where it was seen and photographed (Lim, 2004). It was considered non-breeding visitor, probably from southern Johor.

After a dry spell of 13 years, another Black-and-red Broadbill was found dead, sadly, on Pulau Ubin in August 2017. Finally, in March 2019, a Black-and-red Broadbill was caught and ringed during a bird-ringing session at SBWR, the first modern day record for Singapore’s main island. Four months later, in July 2019, another Black-and-red Broadbill was recorded during a survey on Pulau Ubin.

That brings us to the present occurrence on Pulau Ubin, on 5 May 2022, where one individual was spotted along the coastal forest at Chek Jawa, bringing much joy to many birders who grabbed the chance to see this very rare beauty of a bird.

Below is the list of the ‘modern day’ records of the Black-and-red Broadbill, notably 4 out of 5 are on Pulau Ubin:

1) 7 & 22 August 2004, Pulau Ubin Discovery Trail (9 April 2005 also)
2) 24 August 2017, Outward Bound School, Pulau Ubin (found dead)
3) 20 March 2019, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
4) 7 July 2019, Pulau Ubin
5) 5 May 2022, Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin        

References:

Bucknill, J. A. S. & Chasen, F. N. (1927). Birds of Singapore Island. Government Printing Office, Singapore.

Lim, K. S. (2004). Black-and-red Broadbill Rediscovered. Singapore Avifauna, vol 18:3, pp 38-39.

Brahminy Kite nesting @ East Coast Park, 8 December 2021 – 11 March 2022

by SB Lim (including all photos)

Brahminy, 101221, SB Lim

8 Dec 21 – Discovery of Brahminy Kites building nest.

10 Dec 21 – Nest building exercise continued.

20 Dec 21 – Rare sighting of the pair of Brahminy Kites mating on the tree top.

Brahminy mating, 201221

11 Feb 22 – Both kites were sitting on the nest.

Brahminy, 110222, on nest

17/19 Feb 22 – Sighting of a chick, and feeding by adult kite. Chick could have hatched during the first week of Chinese New Year (did not visit during that period). The chick’s feathers were all white.

Brahminy Kite Chick, 170222,

Brahminy Chick, 170222

28 Feb 22 – Chick growing up well, brown in appearance now. Expecting the chick to fledge in another couple of weeks.

Brahminy Chick, 280222, ECP

8 Mar 22 – chick on nest, exercising its wings

Brahminy chick, 080322, SB Lim, preparing for 1st flight

11 Mar 22 – chick fledged

Brahminy Fledged, 110322, SB Lim

Observations by SB Lim, East Coast Park, Singapore.

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2022

N-Boobook,-270322,-SBTB,-Lam-SG,-same,-brighten

Northern Boobook, at Gardens by the Bay, 27 Mar 2022, by Lam SG

Summary for migrant species:

In March 2022, 146 raptors of eleven migrant species were recorded. A shy Northern Boobook Ninox japonica was photographed at Gardens by the Bay on the 27th, while an Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia was photographed at Thomson Nature Park on the 4th and 5th.

Wintering migrant raptors that were still around included the juvenile Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus at Telok Blangah Hill Park on the 11th; two Rufous-bellied Eagles Lophotriorchis kienerii – a sub-adult and a juvenile at the Dairy Farm Nature Park / Singapore Quarry area; the female Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis at Ang Mo Kio on the 5th (another four Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, probably passing through); three Jerdon’s Bazas Aviceda jerdoni were still at Coney Island on the 12th (while another four – two at Sentosa on the 9th, and 2 at Ubin on the 30th were recorded).

There were also four Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus, seven Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus, 17 Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, 33 Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes,and68 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhynchus.

GHFE, 060322, Ulu Pandan, Julian Wong

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Ulu Pandan, 2 Mar 2022, by Julian Wong.

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were observed for four resident raptor species. The two chicks of the Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus nest at Turut Track had fledged and were seen grabbing prey from their parent’s talons in mid-air on the 26th. The chick of the Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus nest at East Coast Park had also fledged by the 11th. A chick of the Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus fledged at the Dairy Farm area on the 9th. And there were two nests of the White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster – one at Lorong Halus had 1 chick, while the one at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve had 2 chicks.

March was a good month for the Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela, with records from Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 5th (adult), Kent Ridge Park on the 15th (adult), Pasir Ris Park on the 16th, Telok Blangah on the 17th, Goldhill Avenue on the 20th, Changi Business Park on the 24th (immature), Botanic Gardens on the 25th (adult), and Choa Chu Kang park on the 28th. The other diurnal resident raptors recorded were the Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus, and Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, both reported from various localities.

At Hampstead Wetlands on the 12th, an adult Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu was on the ground ‘sunning’ its feathers, and it was apparently a daily routine. In the leafy compounds at the zoo, two Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo were spotted in late March.

BFO, posted 310322, sunning, Wong Sangmen

Buffy Fish Owl ‘sunning’ its feathers on the ground, Hampstead Wetlands, 31 Mar 2022, by Wong Sangmen.

Table 1

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – March 2022

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Lam SG, Julian Wong, and Wong Sangmen for the use of their photos.

Observations of Gallinago Snipes at Labrador NR.

By Alan OwYong.

The fenced-up open fields at the former British Petroleum Refinery between Belayer Creek and Labrador Nature Reserve has been the foraging grounds of Pond Herons, Egrets and late this season, Gallinago Snipes.

Several ditches were left on the soft muddy ground by the tyres of grass cutting tractors. With the monsoon rains, an ideal wetland habitat that the snipes love was created. The long grasses also provide them cover as they move around looking for earthworms to fatten themselves for the long flight back north.

Taking an evening bath at one of the waterlogged ditches

Only the Javan Mynas were seen trying to steal the earthworms from the snipes. While the White-breasted Waterhens and the Malayan Monitor Lizards that were feeding there did not bother the snipes at all.

Javan Myna waiting for the snipes to pull out the earthworms from the soil.

On 30 March, we counted a total of 6 snipes all within a small area not to far from the fence. We will able to identify two Pin-tailed Snipes (G. sterura) that day from some of the excellent photos of their pin feathers at their tail when they preened after taking a bath.

Pin-tailed Snipe. Preening after a bath revealing the pin feathers at the tail.

I had a photo of another on 8 April whose tail spread did not show any pin or the broader feathers of the Swinhoe’s Snipe (G. megala). Ayuwat J. was not able to identify it without more photos but did not rule out a Common Snipe (G. gallinago).

Cannot be identified as the tail is not fully spread to show all the outer feathers. Could may a Common Snipe as well.

Unfortunately none of us managed to get any definitive photos of the other snipes before they all left on the 12 April between 12.30 pm and 4.00 pm. I was able to pin down this timing as there were 4 snipes resting in the grasses when I left at 12.30 pm. I came back later at 4 pm, scanned until dusk and could not find a single snipe. A day before, I noticed that they were not active at all. Hardly moving out from hiding in the grasses. It may be that they had enough food and resting to gain strength for the flight back. They could have moved to other parts of the field but there were no records of them since. This timing is interesting as I always assumed that they would normally depart in the night.

Three snipes well hidden by the long grasses

The extreme departure dates recorded in the Avifauna of Singapore were 21 March for Swinhoe’s, 4 April for Common and 24 April for the Pin-tailed. I did not check in ebirds. Based on these dates we may have to look for the Swinhoe’s much earlier next season.

As an aside, a total of 5 Chinese Pond Herons were counted on 9 April. No Javan or Indian Pond Herons were seen here. They were foraging close to the snipes without any drama. They were still around on the 11 April but also disappeared on the 12 April. If any of you have any later dates please let me know.

A fully ripe Chinese Pond Heron having its last meal before its long flight back.

References:

Lim Kim Seng. Avifauna of Singapore. NSS 2009.

ayuwat.blog: Pintailed/Swinhoe’s/Common Snipe.

Bakewell. D. (2004). Keep Calm and Study Snipes Part 1 and 2.

Singapore Raptor Report – February 2022

BB, 060222, Nanyang Crescent, Chen Boon Chong

Black Baza, at Nanyang Crescent, 6 Feb 2022, by Chen Boon Chong

Summary for migrant species:

In February 2022, 156 raptors of eleven migrant species were recorded. The highlight is the report of a Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus at Yishun Dam on the first weekend of the month. The juvenile Black Kite Milvus migrans at Neo Tiew area was still around until the 20th, and the juvenile Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus wintering at Telok Blangah Hill Park was still around on the 25th.

Two Rufous-bellied Eagles Lophotriorchis kienerii were recorded – the sub-adult from last month was recorded on the 2nd & 3rd at the Jalan Asas area, while a newly arrived juvenile was recorded at the same area throughout the month. Only three Chinese Sparrowhawks Accipiter soloensis were recorded – the wintering female at Ang Mo Kio, one at Lower Peirce on the 2nd, and another at Sentosa on the 21st. Of the four Jerdon’s Bazas Aviceda jerdoni, two were at Pulau Ubin on the 2nd, and another two at Coney Island on the 3rd.

There were also six Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus, mostly along the northern coast, and ten Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis. Rounding up the migrant raptors were 12 Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus. 20 Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes, and 94 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhynchus.

Osprey, 020222, Kranji Rd, Angie Cheong

Western Osprey, Kranji Road, 2 Feb 2022, by Angie Cheong.

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were observed for five resident raptor species. At West Coast Park on the 4th, a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles Haliaeetus leucogaster were nest-building. At NTU on the 6th, the Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus was carrying nesting material. At Turut Track on the 18th, a nest of the Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus contained two chicks. At East Coast Park, a nest of the Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus held one chick in white down on the 17th, and the chick appeared juvenile-like on the 28th.

For the Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus, there were three separate breeding-related activities. At West Coast Park on the 7th, an adult was tearing up prey to feed its chick on a nest, and on the next day, the chick was perched outside the nest; at Pasir Ris Park, the pair whose two chicks fledged in January, mated again on the 11th (after the male offered the female a junglefowl chick) and 21st; while at Bukit Panjang Park on the 23rd, an adult brought prey to a fledgling, with another fledgling perched at the nest.

RBE, 050222, Jln Asas, Chen Boon Chong

Rufous-bellied Eagle juvenile, Jalan Asas, 5 Feb 2022, by Chen Boon Chong

Six Crested Serpent Eagles Spilornis cheela were recorded, two at Pulau Ubin on the 3rd, including an immature that had moulted a few primaries into adult type feathers; two adults at Holland Plains on the 9th; one at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 11th; and one at Goldhill Avenue on the 20th.

An adult ernesti Peregrine Falcon was photographed at Shenton Way on the 22nd, and there were several records of the Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, including a juvenile at Potong Pasir. Additionally, a Brahminy Kite was photographed hunting a bat successfully at Rower’s Bay in daylight hours.

For the nocturnal raptors, two Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji fledglings were seen with one parent owl at Bukit Batok Nature Park on the 15th; another year and another chick of the Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu fledged from their nest at Hampstead Wetlands on the 26th; the same goes for the Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo pair at Pasir Ris Park with two chicks fledging on the 17th. In addition, the Spotted Wood Owl was recorded at a few places where records are scarce – Bukit Batok Nature Park on the 15th, Berlayer Creek on the 19th, and St John’s Island on the 27th.

Table 1

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – February 2022

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Chen Boon Chong and Angie Cheong for the use of their photos.

Records Committee Report 2022

Records Committee Report 2022

By Lim Kim Seng

Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee.

Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus at Singapore Botanic Gardens, 29 Dec 2021. Photo by Justin Jing Liang.

The Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee continues to receive records of new bird species to the Singapore List and rarities as it has done every year since the early 1980s. 2021 was an exceptional year with 12 new species in Category A alone being added to the List. This report updates the findings for the period, January 2021 – January 2022.

New Species

Seventeen new bird species were added to the Singapore List, bringing the total number of species to 421, up from 407 in 2021 (Lim 2021). These included thirteen additions to Category A, three additions in Category C and one addition in Category D.

Category A: Species which have been recorded in an apparently wild state in Singapore within the last thirty years

Javan Plover Charadrius javanicus

Two birds photographed on 16 July 2021 at Pulau Tekong by Frankie Cheong were the first record for Singapore and mainland Southeast Asia. Prior to this record, the Javan Plover was recorded from South Sumatra, Java east to the Lesser Sundas. In addition, examination of photos taken in June at the same site revealed three birds including a juvenile. This indicates probable breeding in Singapore or somewhere nearby. One individual was still present at the site on 15 September. Amazingly, another individual was also seen at the Marina East breakwater on 17 December 2021 by Pary Sivaraman, the second record for Singapore and the first from the Singapore mainland. 

Javan Plower, Charadrius javanicus at Pulau Tekomg on 16 July 2021. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater Ardenna pacifica

One individual was seen found by a resident of the estate around Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 23 June 2021. He brought it to the park seeking help for the weakened bird since there were bird photographers present according to William Khaw who photographed it. The bird was eventually rescued by ACRES but did not survive. This is the first confirmed record of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater for Singapore. It ranges widely in the tropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and breeds on small tropical islands from hose off Japan to waters off Eastern and Western Australia. Two subspecies are known: A.p. pacifica and A. p. chlororhyncha.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater Ardenna pacifica at BAMK Park on 23 June 2021. Photo by William Khaw.

Christmas Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi

Previously in Category B. An immature bird photographed at Marina East breakwaters by Evelyn Lee on 26 January 2022 reinstates this species in Category A. The Christmas Frigatebird breeds only on Christmas Island but ranges widely in the Indo-Malay Archipelago during the non-breeding season.

Christmas Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi over Marine East on 26 Jan 2022. Photo by Evelyn Lee.

Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus

One with five Himalayan Vultures Gyps himalayensis at the Learning Forest, Singapore Botanic Gardens, on 29 December 2021 first spotted by Justin Jing Liang and Cecilia Yip and shortly after by Yip Jen Wei and Martin Kennewell was a first record for Singapore. The Cinereous Vulture breeds in western and south-eastern Europe, Algeria, the Middle East, Himalayas east to central Asia. 

Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 30 Dec 2021. Photo by Vincent Yip.

Long-eared Owl Asio otus

An individual photographed being pestered by House Crows at Marina East Drive on 20 November 2021 by Choo Shiu Ling was our first record for Singapore. The Long-eared Owl has a wide distribution occurring in North America, Europe, Eurasia and Far Eastern Asia south to Northern Indian Subcontinent.  Four subspecies are known.

Long-eared Owl Asio Otus at Marine East on 20 Nov 2021. Photo by Choo Shiu Ling.

Black-thighed Falconet Microhierax fringillarius

Previously in Category B. Three records, all in 2021: A juvenile seen and photographed at a HDB block along Yishun Street 71 on 12 February 2021 by Lee Lay Na, an adult from Goldhill Avenue on 20 May 2021 by Art Toh and another adult at Jalan Mashhor from 9 to 12 July 2021 by Art Toh, Tan Choon Siang and Vincent Lao (Lim 2021b). The Black-thighed Falconet is resident in the Thai-Maly Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Java. 

Black-thighed Falconet Microhierax fringillarius at Goldhill Ave on 20 May 2021. Photo by Art Toh.

Malayan Black Magpie Platysmurus leucopterus

Previously in Category B. One seen at Hindhede Quarry on 9 June 2021 by Vinod Saranathan, Kenneth Chow and Ash Foo was the first confirmed record since the 1950s. The Malayan Black Magpie is a forest resident of the Thai-Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. It was previously considered conspecific with Bornean Black Magpie, P. aterrimus

Malayan Black Magpie Platysmurus leucopterus at Hindhede Quarry on 9 June 2021. Photo by Kenneth Chow.

Siberian House Martin Riparia lagopodum

One seen at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 3 January 2021 by Mike Hooper and another at Marina East Drive on 28 December 2021 by Oliver Tan were the first records for the country. The Siberian House Martin breeds in north-eastern Russia, Mongolia and northern China and winters in Myanmar and Indochina. It was previously considered conspecific with Common House Martin, R. riparia.

Siberian House Martin Riparia lagopodum over Harvest Lane on 3 Jan 2021. Photo by Oliver Tan.

Pale-legged Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes

An individual seen, sound recorded and photographed at Petai Trail, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, between 12 and 27 November 2021 by Yong Ding Li, Sreekar Rachakonda, T Ramesh, Tan Gim Cheong and Tan Kok Hui was the first acceptable record for Singapore. A sonogram is needed to distinguish this species from the near-identical Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, P. borealoides. The Pale-legged Leaf-warbler breeds in Manchuria and winters in Southeast Asia.

Pale-legged Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes at Petai Trail CCNR on 25 Nov 2021. Photo by Tan Gim Cheong.

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

An adult seen at Marina East Drive on 13 December 2021 by Gabriel Koh and subsequently by many other observers was the first record for Singapore. It breeds in Europe and the Palearctic eastwards to Mongolia. Northern populations are migratory and winters south to Spain and Africa. It has also been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, North America, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Fiji. 12 subspecies have been described.

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris at Marine East on 13 Dec 2021. Photo by Jenny Koh.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata

One photographed at Kent Ridge Park on 15 October 2021 by Alex Kang was the first record for Singapore. It breeds most of Europe and the Palearctic and winters in Africa and south-western Asia. Five subspecies are known.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata at Kent Ridge Park on 15 Oct 2021. Photo by Alex Kang.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrorus

One female seen at Springwood Walk on 28 November 2021 by Ian Cash was initially identified as a Daurian Redstart. It was seen again 6 December 2021 by Art Toh who correctly identified it as a Black Redstart. This is a widespread breeder in Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Northern populations are migratory and winter in southern and western Europe and Asia, and north-west Africa, south to Morocco and east to central China. Between five and seven subspecies are known to exist.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrorus at Springwood Walk on 6 Dec 2021. Photo by Art Toh.

Tree Pipit Anthus trivalis

One seen at the Ulu Pandan Park Connector (beside Clementi Road) on 23 October 2021 by Soo Kok Choong was our first record for Singapore. The Tree Pipit occurs through most of Europe and the Palearctic and migrates south to winter in Africa and Southern Asia. Two subspecies are known: A.t. trivialis and A.t. haringtoni

Tree Pipit Anthus trivalis at Ulu Pandan PC, besides Clementi Road, on 23 Oct 2021. Photo by Soo Kok Choong.

Category C: Species which although introduced by man have now established a regular breeding population which may or may not be self-sustaining

The following species have been accepted as new entrants in Category C: 

Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles

Previously in Category E (Lim 2009). A polytypic species ranging New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, the Masked Lapwing was first recorded in Singapore when four birds were sighted at Lower Peirce Reservoir on 3-9 September 1994 (Lim 2009). They were believed to be escapees from the nearby Zoo. Subsequently, there were reports from other parts of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Kranji Reservoir, Lower Seletar Reservoir, Seletar Country Club, Tanah Merah and Marina East. The first breeding record was from Seletar Country Club on 24 November 2004 and, more recently, chicks have been seen at Marina East. This Australasian species appears established in the localities listed and is therefore added to Category C.

Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles at Marina East. Photo by Alan OwYong.

Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea

Previously in Category E (Lim 2009). The Milky Stork is a monotypic species with a range covering the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Indochina, Greater Sundas and Sulawesi (Clements 2007). It was first reported in Singapore when 2 birds were reported on 9-22 September 1997 at Seletar Farmway (Lim 2009). The birds were believed to be free-flying birds from the Zoo. Subsequently, sightings became regular in the north and northwest of Singapore. Breeding has not yet been reported outside the Zoo but juveniles are frequently seen and are indicative of local breeding.  

Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea at Chinese Gardens. Photo by Alan OwYong.

Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

Previously in Category E (Lim 2009). The Painted Stork is a monotypic species ranging from the Indian Subcontinent to South China and Southeast Asia (Clements 2007). It is a common escapee, presumably from free-flying stock from the Zoo, first reported in Singapore at Senoko on 29 March 1987 (Lim 2009). Subsequently, sightings have become frequent in coastal wetlands in the north and north-west of Singapore, especially at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Like the preceeding species, breeding has not yet been reported outside the Zoo but juveniles have been seen. Hybrids with the previous species are common and care should be taken to separate them.

Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala. Photo by Alan OwYong.

Category D: Species which have occurred in an apparently wild state but for which the possibility of escape or release cannot be satisfactorily excluded

The following species have been accepted as a new entrant in Category D:

Ashy-headed Green Pigeon Treron phayrei

A male seen in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 9 Oct 2021 by Yip Jen Wei was the first record for Singapore. However, since it was not clear if the bird was a genuine straggler as it is over 1,000 km from its normal range, or whether it is a product of the regional cagebird trade, this record was assigned to Category D, pending further evidence.

Ashy-headed Green Pigeon Treron phayrei at CCNR on 9 Oct 2021. Photo by Yip Jen Wei.

Other updates to the Checklist

The taxonomy, nomenclature and systematics follow that of the latest IOC version 12.1 which was released in January 2022. 

An update done by the committee was to review species in Category C and apply a shorter timeframe to introduced species. Instead of 30 years as applied for species in Category A, Category C species must be present in the last ten years and there must be records of breeding within that period. As a result, two species, Crested Myna and Black-winged Starling, have been removed.

Another important change is an update on the nationally threatened species of Singapore using IUCN criteria and extending the coverage to include non-resident species except introduced species. This was possible through the excellent work of the Singapore Red Data Book Working Group for Birds, headed by Yong Ding Li. The recently completed re-assessment also highlighted the plight of wild birds in Singapore and the rest of the world from a multitude of threats of extinction including habitat loss and disturbance, poaching, pollution and climate change. 

Please click on the link to download the NSS Bird Checklist 2022.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the following observers for submitting their records for review and for the use of their photographs in this report: Ian Cash, Frankie Cheong, Choo Shiu Ling, Kenneth Chow, Ash Foo, Mike Hooper, Alex Kang, William Khaw, Gabriel Koh, Jenny Koh, Vincent Lao, Evelyn Lee, Lee Lay Na, Justin Jing Liang, Pary Sivaraman, T. Ramesh, Soo Kok Choong, Sreekar Rachakonda, Tan Choon Siang, Art Toh, Tan Gim Cheong, Tan Kok Hui, Oliver Tan, Vinod Saranathan, Vincent Yip, Alan OwYong, Yip Jen Wei and Yong Ding Li. Finally, thanks are also due to my fellow committee members for their expertise in the deliberation process:  Benjamin Lee, Lim Kim Keang, Tan Gim Cheong, Tan Kok Hui, and Yong Ding Li. 

References 

Clements, J.F. (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World, Sixth Edition. Christopher Helm, London.

Lim, K.S. (2009). The avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore.

Lim, K.S. (2021a). Records Committee Report 2021. Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee, Singapore. Accessed on 24th March 2022.  https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2021/02/02/birds-records-committee-report-jan-2021/?msclkid=6dd4d878ab7011ec99532166de9b43cbLim, K.S. (2021b). The Black-thighed Falconet in Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group, Singapore. Accessed on 24th March 2022.  https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2021/09/11/the-black-thighed-falconet-in-singapore/

Singapore Raptor Report – January 2022

Kestrel, 120122, MED, Trevor Teo 1

Common Kestrel, Marina East Drive, 12 Jan 2022, by Trevor Teo

Summary for migrant species:

A number of rare raptors were recorded in January 2022. A Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus showed up at Marina East on 11 Jan 2022 and was present on-and-off through the rest of the month. Another two were detected at Seletar Aerospace Crescent on 15 Jan 2022. The lone Black Kite Milvus migrans at Neo Tiew area was observed between 22 to 30 Jan 2022 (having been there since 12 Dec 2021). On 28 Jan 2022, a Rufous-bellied Eagle Lophotriorchis kienerii was photographed at Dairy Farm Nature Park.

On 12 Jan 2022, two Himalayan Vultures Gyps himalayensis were found heading towards Pasir Ris from Punggol, and one was detected on 13 Dec 2022 at Pasir Ris Park. Five days later, on 18 Jan 2022, a flock of 7-8 were seen near Bayshore Park Condo, and two were recorded at Satay by the Bay. On the morning of 19 Jan 2022, seven of these huge vultures were found roosting on tall trees at Lorong Sesuai. They flew off towards noon time and were not recorded on subsequent days. (there were five of these in December 2021). The lone, weak Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus taken in for veterinary care in December 2021 was released successfully on 10 Jan 2022.

GFB, 310122, TBHP, Julie Edgley, crop

Grey-faced Buzzard, Telok Blangah Hill Park, 31 Jan 2022, by Julie Edgley

Three uncommon species of raptors were recorded in January 2022. These included the juvenile Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus wintering at Telok Blangah Hill Park; four Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni at Coney Island (15 Jan 2022) and one at Tampines Eco Green (3 – 27 Jan 2022); single Chinese Sparrowhawks Accipiter soloensis at Skyville at Dawson on 9 Jan 2022, NTU on 10 Jan 2022, the site faithful adult female at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West on 15 Jan 2022, and another at Lorong Halus Wetlands on 15 and 30 Jan 2022.

Black Kite, 300122, Bollywood veggies, Chen Boon Chong

Black Kite, Neo Tiew Road, 30 Jan 2022, by Chen Boon Chong

Seventeen Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, 45 Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes and 67 migrant Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus were recorded at various locations. Three Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus, and nine migrant Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were also recorded.

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were noted for four resident species. A pair of Black-winged Kites Elanus caeruleus, was nesting at Turut Track. For the White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster, the pair comprising an adult female and an immature male was in a mating position at Pasir Ris Park on 3 Jan 2022 (they were in a similar position on 25 Dec 2021). At Pasir Ris Park, the two chicks of the  Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus fledged on 4 Jan 2022, and the pair at Pepys Road nested again. One juvenile Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus fledged from its nest at Little Guilin in mid January and the nesting started in October 2021, with the chick first seen in early December 2021.

The rare Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was recorded at Kranji Marsh only, on 23 and 30 Jan 2022. An adult ernesti Peregrine Falcon was photographed at the ‘supertrees’ at Gardens by the Bay on 9 Jan 2022. A male torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzard was recorded at Sentosa on 30 Jan 2022. The other diurnal resident raptors recorded included the Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus, and Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus.

Barn Owl, 180122, Blk 833, Tampines St 83, Angie Cheong

Eastern Barn Owl, Tampines Street 83, 18 Jan 2022, by Angie Cheong

For the nocturnal raptors, an Eastern Barn Owl Tyto javanica was recorded at Tampines Street 83 on 18 Jan 2022; the Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo pair at Pasir Ris were nesting again and two chicks were noted on 29 Jan 2022; and for the Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu a family with one recently fledged juvenile was observed at Jurong Lake Gardens south promenade on 5 Jan 2022, while another juvenile was recorded at NTU on 25 Jan 2022.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Trevor Teo, Chen Boon Chong, and Angie Cheong for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – January 2022 v2

Asian Pied Starling – first successful breeding record

TGC_9113_02,-Pied-Myna-juv,-composite,-1080v

A juvenile Asian Pied Starling begging to be fed as its parent approached with food, Sungei Tengah Road, 18 Feb 2022, by Tan Gim Cheong

On 18 Feb 2022, an adult Asian Pied Starling Gracupica contra was seen feeding on the flowers of a few African Tulip trees along Sungei Tengah Road. Closer observation revealed 2 juveniles hiding in the lower levels of the trees. Occasionally, the juveniles could be heard begging for food, partially lowering and vibrating their wings as they begged. From time to time, the adults would fly towards the juveniles to feed them. Apart from a mole cricket, the adults also brought a caterpillar and other small unidentified invertebrate prey.

This is the first known successful breeding of the Asian Pied Starling, which is listed as a rare escapee (Lim, 2009). The first record was of three birds at Choa Chu Kang on 7 November 1987, followed by one at Sarimbun Scout Camp on 19 March 1989, and Kranji Reservoir on 30 December 1989. All to the west.

After almost 20 years, another was spotted at Changi reclaimed land on 29 November 2008, the only time it was spotted in the east. Then on 5 November 2010, one individual was photographed at Neo Tiew Lane 2, and a different bird photographed at NSRCC (Kranji), back in the west.

On 29 Jan 2012 and 3 Feb 2012, three birds were photographed at NSRCC (Kranji) where a nest was built but subsequently abandoned. Fast forward to 2020, two birds were photographed at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane – Turut Track – Kranji Marsh area in January and February. In May and June of 2020, up to two birds were recorded at Jurong Lake Gardens.

In March 2021, one bird was detected at Jurong Lake Gardens. Then in November & December 2021, two birds were recorded at Sungei Tengah Road / Peng Siang River area. Subsequently, there were no reports of the species until this present sighting of two adults feeding two juveniles on 18 February 2022.

Reference: Lim, K. S. (2009). The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore).

Nesting time line of the Olive-backed Sunbird.

By Malathy.

After reading Alfred Chia’s article “Unexplained observations of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis, nesting” in the Singapore Bird Group’s blog, I would like to contribute my recent observations of a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds nesting at my balcony.

Last December, I brought back a branch and set it over my house plants at my 5 room executive apartment balcony together with some hanging Spanish Moss. Days later, I noticed a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds visiting my balcony and on 10 December 2021, they decided to build their hanging nest using the branch. We were delighted to welcome them to our home. It was an untidy nest and the balcony floor was littered with fallen nest materials, but we don’t mind. This was the first time that these sunbirds nested here.

Typical untidy hanging nest of the Olive-backed Sunbirds at my balcony garden.

Two eggs were laid on 24 December 2021. We saw the female sunbird incubating on and off during the day and full time during the night.

After two weeks on 8 Jan 2022, both eggs hatched. The parents were seen feeding the young with insects. They also take away the fecal sacs from the chicks to keep the nest clean. We can hear faint chirpings on the 13 Jan. The feeding intensified as the chicks got older and near fledging. 

Mummy sunbird feeding the ever hungry chicks

On 22 January, 29 days after egg laying, both chicks fledged one after another. Just before fledging the father sunbird was demonstrating and encouraging the chicks to fly. 

The two chicks days from fledging.

For the first few days, the chicks would sit at the balcony and fly to the trees around the neighborhood and return to the balcony a couple of times.

They did not come back to roost in the nest and must have left to explore the neighborhood as we did not see them again.

Interestingly, another pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds and a pair of Brown-throated Sunbirds came around on 26 January 2022 to check on the empty nest. They were seen discussing over who should be taking over the nest. 

On 29 Jan 2022, it was a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds that took over the nest. They carried out some repairs and renovations daily and laid two eggs on the 5 February 2022. They are now incubating and we hope for another successful nesting.

All Photos by Malathy.

Singapore Bird Report – November & December 2021

By Geoff Lim, Isabelle Lee,
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

November and December continued with a bull run of rarities, with the year culminating with the sad but spectacular arrival of five Himalayan Vultures and Singapore’s first record of a Cinereous Vulture at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. No less exciting were the first ever record of another four species for the country – the Black Redstart, the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, the Long-eared Owl, and the Common Starling. In addition, we had the second ever sighting of the Grey-streaked Flycatcher, thirty years after the first.

Common Starling, 141221, MED, Lee Chin Pong

Common Starling, photo by Lee Chin Pong, Marina East Drive, 14 Dec 2021

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) & vicinity

The Fairy Pitta, Pitta nympha, that was spotted in end-October 2021 at Hindhede Nature Park continued to be seen for the first four days of November 2021, with Rene Sun providing the last report on 4 Nov 2021. Visitors also saw an unspecified number of Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, on 2 Nov 2021 (Kyaw Htay) at the foothills of Bukit Timah while queuing for the pitta. Visitors to Hindhede during subsequent weeks reported the presence of the resident pair of Brown Hawk-Owl, Ninox scutulata, on 6 Dec 2021 (Kwok Tuck Loong), 15 Eyebrowed Thrush, Turdus obscurus, on 6 Dec 2021 (Gan Lee Hsia), a single Siberian Thrush, Geokichla sibirica, on 7 Dec 2021 (Russell Boyman), one Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, on 8 Dec 2021 (Fitri Adnan), the Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, on 16 Dec 2021 (Jai Humphries), and a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, on the last day of the year (31 Dec 2021, Max Khoo).

Fairy Pitta, Geoff Lim

Fairy Pitta, 2 November 2021 at Hindhede Nature Park by Geoff Lim.

The brave souls who traversed Bukit Timah’s steep incline were amply rewarded by sightings of a Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, on 15 Nov 2021 (Fadzrun A), three Asian House Martin, Delichon dasypus, on 20 Nov 2021 (Lua Wai Heng), a Streaked Bulbul, Ixos malaccensis, on 29 Nov 2021 (Ee-Ling Wong), and a Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Dicaeum chrysorrheum, on 1 Dec 2021 (Boon Chong Chen). Other notables included an Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, on 30 Nov 2021 (Leslie Loh), a Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, and three Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, on 15 Dec 2021 (Sreekar Rachakonda). The most significant find at the hill top was a Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker, Prionochilus thoracicus, which made a brief appearance on 19 Nov 2021, photographed by Boo.

Within the confines of the CCNR, a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone affinis, was seen on 28 Nov 2021 (Fadzrun A), and a male Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis, photographed at Jelutong Tower on 7 Dec 2021 by Shuna Maekawa. Meanwhile, while meandering around the mature secondary forests of MacRitchie on 12 Nov 2021, Drs Yong Ding Li and Sreekar Rachakonda came upon the single note calls of an unseen bird that was initially thought to be the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler. Further analysis of the audio recordings revealed that the notes were 1,000 Hertz higher than that of the regular visitor, and on 25 Nov 2021, Tan Gim Cheong managed to photograph and record the call of the bird, and this constituted our first confirmed record of the Pale-legged Leaf-Warbler, Phylloscopus tenellipes. Other sightings at this location included an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, on 26 Nov 2021, a Short-tailed Babbler, Malcocincla malaccensis, and Siberian Blue Robin, Larvivora cyane, on 14 Dec 2021, and two sightings of an Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, on 21 and 27 Dec 2021 by Marcel Finlay.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, 251121, Petai, TGC

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, photo by Tan Gim Cheong, Petai Trail, 25 Nov 2021

Sightings in buffer parks around CCNR showed these habitats to be important in supporting sensitive species. Over at Windsor Nature Park, a Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, was spotted on 6 Dec 2021 (Boon Chong Chen), while further north at Thomson Nature Park, a pair of Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, were spotted on 8 Dec 2021 (Sylvester Goh) and on 26 Dec 2021 (Vinchel Budhardjo). Meanwhile, at Chestnut Nature Park, a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was spotted on 15 Dec 2021 (Vivian Neo).

Dairy Farm Nature Park continued to shine with reports of good species, due to its proximity to Bukit Timah Hill and the adjacent mixed mature secondary and mature coastal dipterocarp forest. Previously seen regularly at Bidadari before the woods were lost to development, there was a sighting of the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, on 14 Nov 2021 by Low Zhi Hao within the park.

The park also supported a Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, which was spotted on 6 Nov 2021 (at the Jalan Asas end of the park) by Lucas Oh, Streaked Bulbul, Ixos malaccensis, on 20 Nov 2021 and 22 Nov 2021 by Norhafiani A Majid and Alex Low respectively, a Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, and Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, on 12 Dec 2021 by Mike Hooper, and a Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, on 13 Dec 2021 by Kaeden Sim.

This season we had four sightings of the Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, on 8 Dec 2021, 11 Dec 2021, 19 Dec 2021, and 20 Dec 2021 (by Andy Lee, Saw Than Oo, Betty Shaw and Sin Wai Jack, respectively). It appears that Dairy Farm is a location where this species may be regularly spotted.

GBFC, 081221, DFNP, Siew Mun, crop

Green-backed Flycatcher by Ho Siew Mun, 8 December 2021 at Dairy Farm Nature Park.

One or more Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, was also spotted at Dairy Farm on 2 Nov 2021, 22 Nov 2021, 9 Dec 2021, 12  Dec 2021, 13 Dec 2021 and 14 Dec 2021 (Andy Lee, CY Tan, Lee Chin Pong, GS Goh, Vish M and Ho Siew Mun, respectively).  On 9 Dec 2021, Lee Chin Pong and friends witnessed an individual that became trapped in a spider web. The bird could not break free on its own and was rescued when someone broke the web with a branch.

DSFC, 091221, DFNP, Lee Chin Pong

Dark-sided Flycatcher trapped in spider web, by Lee Chin Pong, 9 December 2021 at Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

Cinereous Vulture, 301221, SBG, Geoff Lim

Cinereous Vulture, 30 December 2021 at Singapore Botanic Gardens by Geoff Lim.

Visitors to SBG spotted a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, on 12 Nov 2021 (Vincent Chin) and a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, on 27 Nov 2021 (Steven Woon). The following month, a male Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cyanomelana, was photographed on 1 Dec 2021 by Frankie Lim, and a single Himalayan Vulture, Gyps himalayensis, was spotted on 8 Dec 2021 by Marcel Finlay. Other species seen within the month included a Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, on 9 Dec 2021 (Kwok Tuck Loong), a surprise find of a Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis,  on 11 Dec 2021 by Tan Chuan Yean, a Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, on 15 Dec 2021 (M Tay), a Mugimaki Flycatcher, Ficedula mugimaki, on the same day (Vinchel Budihardjo) and a Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, on 16 Dec 2021 (Elisha Lee). These were followed by the spectacular sighting of the five Himalayan Vultures and a single Cinereous Vulture, Aegypius monachus, on 29 Dec 2021 by Cecilia Lee and Justin Jing Liang.

Central Singapore

Eyebrowed Thrush, 011221, Kay Siang Rd, YDL

Eyebrowed Thrush by Dr Yong Ding Li, 1 December 2021 at Kay Siang Road.

The body of an Eyebrowed Thrush, Turdus obscurus, was recovered by Dr Yong Ding Li on 1 Dec 2021 outside the BirdLife International office at Kay Siang Road. Other notables include the regular Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, spotted on 15 Dec 2021 at Goldhill Ave by Leong Yan. In addition, the five Himalayan Vulture, Gyps himalayensis, mentioned above were first detected on 27 Dec 2021 over Novena by Wong Weng Fai, and on 28 Dec 2021 over Orchard Road by Yip Jen Wei.

An Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, (black-backed subspecies) at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park was a darling for birders, but on 13 Nov 2021 the dimunitive jewel failed to re-appear after diving into the pond where a family of predatory snakehead fish was present, reported Woo Jia Wei. A pair of House Crows, Corvus splendens, were attending to two chicks of the Asian Koel, Eudynamys scolopaceus, (their brood parasite) in their nest at Ang Mo Kio Autopoint on 17 Dec 2021, photographed by Tracy Thu.

Northern Singapore

The mega-find for the season and region was a Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa griseisticta, located on 9 Nov 2021 by Desmond Yap at a private plant nursery in Sembawang. Initially thought to be a regular Asian Brown Flycatcher, other birders checked in to confirm that the sighing was indeed of a rarity last seen in Singapore in 1991.

GSFC, 151121, Sembawang, Lim Joseph

Grey-streaked Flycatcher by Joseph Lim, 15 November 2021 in Sembawang.

Over at Halus Wetlands, a Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus, and an Amur Falcon, Falco amurensis, were spotted on 14 Dec 2021 by Lim Yu Jun, who also spotted a Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, and a Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, the next day. Also on 15 Dec 2021, a Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, was seen by Vish M. At nearby Coney Island, a White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, two Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, and Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis, were seen on 15 Dec 2021 on Coney Island by Evelyn Lee.

Other sightings in the north included a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, seen on 21 Nov 2021 at Punggol Park by Lim Sheen Taw, a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Locustella certhiola, spotted on 26 Nov 2021 at Sengkang Floating Wetlands by Andy Lee, a skulking Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, seen on 4 Dec 2021 in the monsoon canal adjacent to Block 833 Hougang Avenue 10 by Joel Wee, as well as a Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka, on 9 Dec 2021 at Hampstead Wetlands Park by Larry Lim,

Over at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, visitors spotted a Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, on 16 Nov 2021 (Lynn Tan), a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 29 Nov 2021 (John Chin), a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, fifty Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, thirty Common Redshank, Tringa totanus, and a pair of Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, on 12 Dec 2021 (Lukasz Wojciech).

Visitors at Turut Track reported four Red-billed Starling, Spodiopsar sericeus, on 12 Dec 2021 (Martin Kennewell) and up to twenty invasive Golden-backed Weaver, Ploceus jacksoni, on 13 Dec 2021 (Alan OwYong). Over at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, ten Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis, were spotted on 15 Dec 2021 by Krishna Gopagondanahalli, while a solitary Red-throated Pipit, Anthus cervinus, was seen on 17 Dec 2021 by Raghav Narayanswamy.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pulau Ubin spotted a Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Chalcoparia singalensis, on 4 Nov 2021 (Martin Kennewell), an eruption of numerous Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus on 5 Nov 2021 (Tan Gim Cheong) at Chek Jawa, a Great Knot, Calidris tenuirostris, on 6 Nov 2021 (Yap Bao Shen) and one Lesser Crested Tern, Thalasseus bengalensis, on 6 Nov 2021 (Mike Hooper). On 6 Dec 2021, a single Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes, was seen by Joshua Chong, who also spotted five Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, three Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, one Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, one Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres, twelve Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, and one Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea. A pair of Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis, were seen on 8 Dec 2021 at the Ubin Living Lab by Chen Boon Chong, while a Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus, was spotted on 20 Dec 2021 by Lim Yu Jun. One Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres, was also seen on 30 Dec 2021 (Darren Leow), while three Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, were spotted on 31 Dec 2021 (Kaeden Sim).

WTKF eat changeable lizard, 141221, PRP, Wong Sangmen pic 2

White-throated Kingfisher caught a Changeable Lizard, 14 December 2021 at Pasir Ris Park by Wong Sangmen.

Over at Pasir Ris Park, a male Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, was photographed in the mangroves on 17 Nov 2021 by Kevin Sim. A pair of Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, had a nest with two chicks in Dec 2021, while a White-throated Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, caught a Changeable Lizard on 14 Dec 2021 (Wong Sangmen), a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, was seen on 16 Dec 2021 (Gan Lee Hsia) and 21 Dec 2021 (Joseph Lim); while on 24 Dec 2021, an Oriental Pied Hornbill, Anthracoceros albirostris, fledged from its nest (Theresa Chow), and on 28 Dec 2021 a pair of Zebra Doves, Geopelia striata, mated (Wong Sangmen).

In the meantime, a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida was found at the hedges beside the multi-storey carpark at Blk 450B Tampines Street 42 and reported in eBird on 15 Dec 2021 by Alan Tan. At East Coast Terrace on 1 Dec 2021, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, was found dead on a ledge by Tok Sock Ling, while on 6 Dec 2021, a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was photographed in a passenger lift at an apartment block at Bedok North Street 3 by Andy Lim who reported that the pitta flew out after a ride.

Hooded Pitta, 151121, Tampines, Geoff Lim

Hooded Pitta, 15 November 2021 at Tampines St 42 by Geoff Lim.

Southern Singapore

The first record of the Black Redstart, Phoenicurus ochuros, came as a surprise as Ian Cash, who discovered the bird at Jambol Place on 28 Nov 2021, had thought it was the more likely Daurian Redstart. It was fortuitous that Art Toh, Lee Chin Pong and Lum Lai Har visited the location to investigate the sighting, and realised that it was a Black Redstart, a new species for Singapore. The redstart was seen foraging along a small drain and adjacent areas around Jambol Place for the remaining weeks of 2021.

Balck Redstart, Art Toh, pic 1 crop

Black Redstart, 6 December 2021 at Jambol Place by Art Toh.

Along the Southern Ridges, a Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, was spotted on 6 Nov 2021 at Henderson Waves by Joshua Chong and Adrian Silas Tay, while a Silver-backed Needletail, Hirundapus cochinchinensis, was also seen on the same day on the bridge by Choong YT. On 17 Nov 2021, Alan OwYong spotted a Pied Harrier, Circus melanoleucos, from Telok Blangah Hill Park. Spotters at Mount Faber reported seeing a Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus, on 6 Nov 2021 (Tay Kian Guan), a Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, on 14 Nov 2021 (Max Khoo) and a Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, on 21 Nov 2021 (Raghav Narayanswamy). Over at Kent Ridge Park, a Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, was spotted on 11 Nov 2021 by Lee Chin Pong, while an Eyebrowed Thrush, Turdus obscurus, was seen on 12 Dec 2021 by John Marriott.

Marina East proved to be exciting ground, following the sighting of a Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, a first for Singapore, on 20 Nov 2021 by Choo Shiu Ling, who spotted the bird during the day harassed by crows; a Common Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, another first for Singapore, on 14 Dec 2021 by Gabriel Koh, a family of Greater Painted-Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, with four chicks on 15 Dec 2021 by Alan OwYong, as well as a Dusky Warbler, Phylloscopus fuscatus, on 30 Dec 2021 by Martin Kennewell. Other notable sightings included a single King Quail, Excalfactoria chinensis, seen on 11 Dec 2021 by Marcel Finlay, a Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, spotted on 13 Dec 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, thirteen Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, on14 Dec 2021 by Martin Kennewell, one Kentish Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus, on the same day by Kaeden Sim, a Baillon’s Crake, Porzana pusilla, two Oriental Pratincole, Glareola maldivarum, two Oriental Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus orientalis, a Laced Woodpecker, Picus vittatus, five  Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus, and one Black-browed Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus bistrigiceps, on 15 Dec 2021 by Oliver Tan, one Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, and one White-faced Plover, Charadrius dealbatus on the same day (15 Dec 2021) by Prasad Shinde, and a report of what appeared to be a Javan Plover, Charadrius javanicus, on 17 Dec 2021 by Pary Sivaraman. Towards the end of the year, we noted reports of a Sand Martin, Riparia riparia, and the second record of the Siberian House Martin, Delichon lagopodum, on 28 Dec 2021 by Oliver Tan, a Brown-backed Needletail, Hirundapus giganteus, on 29 Dec 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, as well as a Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Hydrophasianus chirurgus, on 30 Dec 2021 by Mithilesh Mishra.

Dusky Warbler, 301221, MED, Vincent Yip

Dusky Warbler, 30 December 2021 at Marina East, by Vincent Yip.

At Tiong Bahru, a juvenile Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, was photographed in an urban area on 20 Nov 2021 by Ant Wilson. Over at Central Boulevard, a single Lanceolated Warbler, Locustella lanceolata, was seen on 2 Dec 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, while a Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides, was seen on 14 Dec 2021 by Oliver Tan. Two Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, were reported from Satay-by-the-Bay on 13 Dec 2021 by Elisha Lee.

Visitors to the southern islands reported one Mangrove Whistler, Pachycephala cinerea, on Pulau Hantu on 6 Nov 2021 (John Ascher), two House Swift, Apus nipalensis, over Lazarus Island (Joshua Chong), and a Western Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, on 16 Dec 2021 (John Marriott).

Other sightings in the south include a dead Northern Boobook, Ninox japonica, on 1 Nov 2021 at Block 23 Ghim Moh (Tan Yen Yi), a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita, on 13 Dec 2021 on The Greenway at Alexandra (Yip Jen Wei), a Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, on 29 Dec 2021 at Dawson (Ganesan Siba Siba). A Mangrove Whistler, Pachycephala cinerea, showed up at Berlayer Creek in December, seen by many including Low Zhi Hao on 30 Dec 2021; and Karen Chiew realised that she had photographed the whistler at the same location on 9 Oct 2021.

Western Singapore

Visitors to Jurong Lake Garden were delighted by the sighting of an Eastern Marsh Harrier, Circus spilonotus, on 20 Nov 2021 (Martti Siponen), four Oriental Darters, Anhinga melanogaster, photographed in flight on 8 Dec 2021 (Philip Toh), three Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, on 13 Dec 2021 (Joshua Chong), a Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, on 15 Dec 2021 (Kaeden Sim), a single Blue-and-white/Zappey’s Flycatcher, Cyanotila sp, on 15 Dec 2021 (Alan Tan), and two Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, on 16 Dec 2021 (Evelyn Lee). At the south promenade, a rare Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus, was photographed on 28 Dec 2021 by TP Voon.

Over at Tuas, a Black Drongo, Dicrurus macrocercus, was spotted on 1 Nov 2021 at Tuas Bay Street by no less than Singapore’s intrepid twitcher and author, Albert Low. Visitors plying the fields at Tuas South Boulevard found a Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, on 3 Nov 2021 (Martin Kennewell), a rare Band-bellied Crake, Porzana paykullii, on 13 Nov 2021 (Lau Jia Sheng), four Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, on 6 Dec 2021 (Martin Kennewell), one Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, on 15 Dec 2021 (Yip Jen Wei), and two Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Locustella certhiola, on 16 Dec 2021 (Raghav Narayanswamy).

Other species spotted in the west included an Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus, on 1 Nov 2021 at NTU by Frank Chen, a Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, on 12 Nov 2021 at Farrer Road by Cheng Li Ai, an Oriental Scops Owl, Otus sunia, found along the roadside at Jurong West Street 51 on 17 Nov 2021, photographed by Chen Boon Chong, and an Asian Pied Starling, Gracupica contra, on 30 Nov 2021 at Warren Golf and Country Club by Yip Jen Wei.


This report is compiled/written by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird make up this report. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified.

Many thanks to Ho Siew Mun, Lee Chin Pong, Dr Yong Ding Li, Joseph Lim, Wong Sangmen, Art Toh, Vincent Yip & Geoff Lim for allowing us to use their photographs.