Singapore Bird Report – October 2020

by Geoff Lim & Isabelle Lee.
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

The highlight of October 2020 was the discovery of a new species for Singapore – the Common Swift, plus the rare Chinese Blue Flycatcher and Red-footed Booby. Most of the action was centred around Henderson Waves, as many birders welcomed the arrival of migratory raptors, among other birds. More about the major sightings of raptors can be found here in the October Raptor Report.

Common Swift – new species for Singapore

Common Swift, 271020, HW, TGC

Common Swift photographed at Henderson Waves on 27 Oct 2020 by Tan Gim Cheong

The Common Swift, Apus apus, is a large swift with a long, deeply forked tail and sharply pointed wings, and a small off-white throat patch. There are two subspecies, the nominate A. apus apus which is distributed in Europe and winters from Congo, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique in Africa, and A. apus pekinensis, which is found in Central Asia, through the Himalayas and North China, and wintering in South and East Africa, particularly in Botswana and Namibia (Chantler et al, 2020).  The race pekinensis is found in the Himalayas at 1500–3300 m, foraging to 4000 m, and recorded migrating at 5700 m in Ladakh.

Incredibly, not one, but two sightings, with photographs, were reported – one on 9 October 2020 by Richard White, Francis Yap & Martin Kennewell from Jelutong Tower, which was the first record for Singapore; followed by another on 27 October 2020 by Keita Sin, Tan Gim Cheong & Deborah Friets from Henderson Waves. There were no prior records of the species in Singapore. A long-distance migrant, reports of vagrants have been noted in oceanic islands (Chantler et al, 2020). It remains to be seen if we would see more visits by this wandering species in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

A Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus, was reported from Venus Loop on 5 October 2020 by Khoo Meilin. Other reports included the already mentioned first record of the Common Swift, Apus apus, on 9 October 2020 at Jelutong Tower by Richard White, Francis Yap & Martin Kennewell; a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, on 13 October 2020 by Joseph Lim, a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, on 17 October 2020 by Desmond Yap, a Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, on 20 October 2020 by Andy Teo, and a Crow-billed Drongo, Dicrurus annectans, on 30 October 2020, by Ho Siew Mun, at Dairy Farm Nature Park.

2 BRP, 051020, Venus, Norhafiani

Blue-rumped Parrot feeding on starfruit at Venus Loop on 5 October 2020 by Norhafiani A. Majid

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

Migratory species were also reported at SBG, with the sighting of a Crow-billed Drongo, Dicrurus annectans, and a white-morph Terpsiphone by Hoi Yew Khong and an Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone incei, by Geoff Lim on 10 October 2020. A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, was spotted on 12 October 2020 by Alan Owyong, while an Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus, was spotted on 28 October 2020 by Victor Tan.

Central Singapore

A Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Merops philippinus, was reported from Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 9 October 2020 by Terence Tan, while a Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis, was reported from Ang Mo Kio on 30 October 2020 by Chew Serteck.

Northern Singapore

An Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, (Black-backed subspecies) was found at Kampong Admiralty on 4 October 2020 by Hazel Ling and subsequently released in Admiralty Park. At nearby Marsiling Drive on 1 October 2020, a pair of Golden-bellied Gerygones, Gerygone sulphurea, were feeding a Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, (Loh Wei).

3 Whiskered, WWT, 101020, Seletar Club Rd, Herman

Over at Seletar Reservoir, a number of Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, and White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus, were spotted on 10 October 2020 from Seletar Club Road by Herman Phua, while during Global Birding Weekend on 17 October 2020, an estimated 152 Grey wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, were counted at Yishun St 11 by Isabelle Lee and her friends. A pair of Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, was seen at Hampstead Wetlands on 27 October 2020 by Jimmy Lim, while the male Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Dendrocopus moluccensis, with long bill was seen again on 26 October 2020, by Paul Lee. On 31 October 2020, a Lanceolated Warbler, Locustella lanceolata, was spotted within the allotment gardens of Punggol Park by Andy Chew and this difficult to see skulker drew many other birders, but promptly disappeared the next day.

Lanceolated Warbler, 311020, Punggol Park, Andy Chew

Lanceolated Warbler, Punggol Park, 31 October 2020, by Andy Chew

Eastern Singapore

Among the waders arriving on Pulau Ubin, a Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa, was reported on 5 October 2020 by Tay Kian Guan; while a rare Oriental Plover, Charadrius veredus, was photographed at Chek Jawa on 19 October 2020 by Oliver Tan and friends, and the plover was reported again on 20 October 2020 by T. Ramesh and others. The last record of this bird occurred in October 2012 at Seletar Dam. At Chek Jawa on 19 October 2020, Oliver Tan and friends also recorded approximately 800 Lesser Sand Plovers, Charadrius mongolus, two Greater Sand Plovers, Charadrius leschenaultii, one Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, seven Curlew Sandpipers, Calidris ferruginea, one Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, and 46 Red-necked Stints, Calidris ruficollis.

Also discovered in the east during its peregrinations is a Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, spotted at Bedok South on 19 October 2020 by Kwok Tuck Loong, while a rare Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, was spotted at Marine Parade on 24 October 2020 by Thio HB. A wandering juvenile Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, was reported on 28 October 2020 at Pasir Ris Park by Terence Tan.

4 DSFC, Veronica Foo

Dark-sided Flycatcher at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 13 October 2020 by Veronica Foo

Southern Singapore

Among the various birds seen at Henderson Waves, the sighting of the second Common Swift, Apus apus, for Singapore on 27 October 2020 by Keita Sin, Tan Gim Cheong & Deborah Friets was of significance. The raptor sightings from this location can be viewed here in the October Raptor report.

Other southern sightings included a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 13 October 2020 by Veronica Foo, a rare Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, at Pinnacle@Duxton on 15 October 2020 by Chen Boon Chong, a Crow-billed Drongo, Dicrurus annectans, on Sentosa on 17 October 2020 by Ros Qian, a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, at Berlayer Creek on 26 October 2020 by Khoo Meilin, and a Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus, at Lazarus Island on 30 October 2020 by Tan Gim Cheong.

6 BCJFC, 121020, JLG, Joseph Lim

A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher spotted on 12 October 2020 at JLG by Joseph Lim

Western Singapore

Visitors to Tuas on 3 October 2020 reported seeing a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, at Tuas Bay (Khoo Meilin) and a Bridled Tern, Onychoprion anaethetus, at Tuas West (Tan Kok Hui). 

Jurong Lake Gardens yielded a rare male Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis glaucicomans, on 11 October 2020 (a 1-day bird), as discovered by Keita Sin and Dillen Ng, a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, on 12 October 2020 by Joseph Lim, and a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 22 October 2020 by Jimmy Lim.

Chinese Blue FC, 111020, JLG, Peh Chee Ee

Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Jurong Lake Gardens, 11 October 2020, by Peh Chee Ee

Over at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a Marsh Sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis, was spotted among the regular waders on 18 October 2020 by Alfred Chia, while a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, was seen on 29 October 2020 by Ho Siew Mun. Further away at Kranji Marsh, an Asian Openbill, Anastomus oscitans, was reported on 31 October 2020 by Martti Siponen.

Singapore Strait

Two pelagic trips were made in October 2020, on the 4th & 18th, by Francis Yap with two different groups of birders. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these pelagic trips were kept within Singapore port limits. For the second month, practically all the seabirds recorded could be treated as Singapore records. The most significant find was an immature Red-footed Booby, Sula sula, spotted by Martin Kennewell, during the trip on 4 October 2020.

Booby, 041020, SG Straits within port limits, Angie Cheong, same

Red-footed Booby, within port limits, 4 Oct 2020, by Angie Cheong

Booby, 041020, SG Straits within port limits, Angie Cheong

Red-footed Booby, within port limits, 4 Oct 2020, by Angie Cheong

The Aleutian Tern, Onychoprion aleuticus, was recorded on both trips, with approximately 24 birds on the 4th, and between 22-28 birds on the 18th. At least 34 White-winged Terns, Chlidonias leucopterus, were recorded on the 4th, and 113 birds on the 18th when a flock of 40 were feeding around the boat and a second group of 64 were roosting on a buoy. One Common Tern, Sterna hirundo, was recorded on the 4th, and two on the 18th.

Approximately 19 Greater Crested Terns, Thalasseus bergii, were recorded on the 4th, and 14 birds on the 18th. At least three Little Terns, Sterna albifrons, were recorded on the 4th, and 16 birds on the 18th. The Lesser Crested Terns, Thalasseus bengalensis, were recorded only on the 18th (10 birds), as were the Black-naped Terns, Sterna sumatrana, (2 birds).

Abbreviations:
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens

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 Norhafiani A. Majid, Herman Phua, Andy Chew, Veronica Foo, Joseph Lim, Peh Chee Ee, and Angie Cheong for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCES

Chantler, P., P. F. D. Boesman, and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Common Swift (Apus apus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.comswi.01

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Singapore Bird Report – September 2020

by Geoff Lim & Isabelle Lee.
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

September heralded the start of the autumn-winter passage migration, with reports of migratory songbirds reaching Singapore as passage migrants, as well as pelagic species transiting between their breeding and wintering grounds.

YRFC,-300920,-Tuas-Bay-Lane,-TGC,-denoise-x-4

A female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at Tuas Bay Lane on 30 Sep 2020 by Tan Gim Cheong

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

The parks and forests fringing the CCNR yielded a Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, on 4 September 2020 (Veronica Foo) at Upper Seletar Reservoir; two Sunda Scops Owl, Otus lempiji, on 16 September 2020, at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (Marcel Finlay); a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, on 23 September 2020 at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park (Martin Kennewell); eleven Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, on the same day (23 September 2020) at Mandai Park Connector (Veronica Foo); an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, (Black-backed subspecies), on 24 September 2020 along the Lower Peirce Boardwalk (Alfred Chia); and a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, on 27 September 2020 at Bukit Brown Cemetery (Lim Hong Yao).

Visitors to the Hindhede-Bukit Timah Nature Reserve park complex reported seeing a Brown Hawk-Owl, Ninox scutulata, on 16 September 2020 (Martin Kennewell); a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, on 21 September 2020 (Richard White); a Common Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica, on 25 September 2020 (Raghav Narayanswamy, at Hindhede); and a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 27 September 2020 (Lim Kim Chuah). A birding blitz on 30 September 2020 yielded three Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, one Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, one Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, two Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, two Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, two Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, two Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus borealis, three White-crested Laughingthrush, Garrulax leucolophus, one Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, two Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa latirostris, and two Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, (Alfred Chia).

The area around Jelutong Tower yielded a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 1 September 2020 (Steven Cheong), one Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus, and one Short-tailed Babbler, Malcocincla malaccensis, on 30 September 2020 (Oliver Tan). The forest cover along Rifle Range Link yielded two Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, and one Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, on the same day along Rifle Range Link. About two weeks prior to this report on 18 September 2020, a Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, was seen being fed by a Pin-striped Tit-Babbler, Macronus gularis (Art Toh).

Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) yielded a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 1 September 2020 (Tay Kian Guan), a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, Leptocoma brasiliana, on 4 September 2020 (Richard Davis), a Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Orthotomus sericeus, and a Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, on 29 September 2020 (Martin Kennewell).

YRFC, 230920, SBG, HSM

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at SBG on 23 Sep 2020 seen by Ho Siew Mun

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Over at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, an Asian Palm-Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, was spotted on 15 September 2020 by Oliver Tan, a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, on 23 September 2020 by Ho Siew Mun, and two Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, on 26 September 2020 by Krishna Gopagondanahalli.

CPH, Kerry

Chinese Pond Heron seen along Kallang River on 7 September 2020 by Kerry Pereira

Central Singapore

An early arriving Chinese Pond Heron, Ardeola bacchus, in transition between summer and winter plumage, was spotted on 7 September 2020 along Kallang River by Kerry Pereira. A report of an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, (Black-backed subspecies), was made from Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 on 22 September 2020 by Jonathan Wu, while the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (BAMK) delivered four Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Merops philippinus, on 28 September 2020 (Oliver Tan) and four Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, on 30 September 2020 (Calista Tan).

Northern Singapore

Two locations in the north are popular with birders, viz. the area between the Halus Wetlands and Coney Island, and the Seletar Dam and area around Seletar Airport.

Visitors to the Halus-Coney complex reported five Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus, on 19 September 2020 (Tan Kok Hui at Coney Island), while a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, and Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, were spotted on 23 and 25 September at the Halus Wetlands by Mike Hooper and Alfred Chia, respectively.

Over at Seletar, an Asian Openbill, Anastomus oscitans, was seen at Seletar Club Road on 20 September 2020 (Oliver Tan), while waders were spotted along the tidal mudflats at the sea-ward side of Seletar Dam. These included Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius, on 21 September 2020 (Martin Kennewell), a Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, on 22 September 2020 (Steven Cheong) and a Greater Sand Plover, Charadrius leschenaultii, on 24 September 2020 (Mike Hooper). A Western Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, was spotted on the same day (24 September 2020) by Mike Hooper. On 4 September 2020, Khoo Meilin photographed the chicks of the Greater Painted-Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, hiding under the vegetation in a wet area, and the grass fields at Piccadilly yielded two of these Painted-Snipes, on 26 September 2020 (Martin Kennewell).

At Hampstead Wetlands on 18 September 2020, Michael Kwee photographed a female Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Dendrocopus moluccensis, with an unusually long bill. Interestingly, Peh Chee Ee photographed a male with a longer than normal bill (though not as long as the female) at the same place on 13 June 2020.

Sunda PWP, posted 13 June 2020, Peh Chee Ee

Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, male, with unusually long bill, Hampstead Wetlands, 13 Jun 2020, by Peh Chee Ee

Other reports from the north include the sighting of a Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, at Yishun Street 11 on 8 September 2020 (Fadzrun A), and a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, at Jalan Ulu Sembawang on 27 September 2020 (Evelyn Lee).

Eastern Singapore

Shorebirds began their stop-over at Pulau Ubin as early as 6 September 2020, with the report of 430 Lesser Sand Plovers, Charadrius mongolus, four Red-necked Stints, Calidris ruficollis, and one Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres, spotted at Chek Jawa by Martin Kennewell. Other waders included thirty-two Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, and four Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, on 22 September 2020 by Oliver Tan, who also saw a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, on the same day. Besides the waders, a Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica, was reported on 20 September 2020 by Krishna Gopagondanahalli.

Visitors to Pasir Ris Park reported a Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, on 27 September 2020 (YK Han); the regularly seen Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu, on 30 September 2020; as well as a pair of Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, (Ryan Lim). A Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus, was also spotted on the same day (Tan Hong Kai). In addition, Ko Engwee photographed a Collared Kingfisher, Todiramphus chloris, feeding its fledgling on 10 September 2020. Over at Tampines Eco Green, a Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis, and a Rufous Woodpecker, Micropternus brachyurus, were spotted on 30 September 2020 by Kee JY.

Over at Changi Business Park, we received reports of two Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea, occurring at the canal by Ryan Lim, while an Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone incei, was seen on 28 September 2020 by T. Ramesh working one of his regular patches.

Southern Singapore

Gardens by the Bay yielded sightings of six Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, two Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, one Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, one Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone affinis, and six White-headed Munia, Lonchura maja, on 28 September 2020 (Oliver Tan).

Over at Marina East, three Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, and Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, were spotted on 27 and 28 September 2020 by John Marriott and Yip Jen Wei, respectively. Further away at the Pinnacle@Duxton, eight House Swift, Apus nipalensis, were seen on 29 September 2020 by Oliver Tan. At Kent Ridge Park, a Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, was recorded on 30 September 2020 by Zahidi Hamid.

WSS, 250920, JLG, TGC

White-shouldered Starling at Jurong Lake Gardens on 25 Sep 2020 by Tan Gim Cheong

Western Singapore

Sightings were made at predominantly three areas – Jurong Lake Gardens, the Neo Tiew-Kranji Marshes, and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Noteworthy sightings at Jurong Lake Gardens included a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, on 22 September 2020 (Ho Siew Mun), a Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, (Krishna Gopagondanahalli) and a Javan Munia, Lonchura leucogastroides, (Sandra Chia) on 27 September 2020, eight White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, that fed on several flowering Syzygium trees (Chen Boon Chong), a Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator,(Wong Wai Loon) and two Long-tailed Parakeet, Psittacula longicauda,(Wong Wai Loon) on 29 September 2020. Also spotted were four Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus (Norhafiani A. Majid) and two Grey-rumped Treeswift, Hemiprocne longipennis, (Sreekar Rachakonda) on 30 September 2020. A pair of Zitting Cisticola, Cisticola juncidis, were photographed during their brief mating moment on 12 September 2020 by Nigel Tan.

WBC, 120920, NTHL, JL

White-browed Crake at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 12 Sep 2020 by Joseph Lim

A Cinnamon Bittern, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, was reported from Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 4 September 2020 by Martin Kennewell, while two Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, were spotted within the same area the next day on 5 September 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, while a White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea, was spotted on 12 September 2020 by Joseph Lim. On 20 September 2020, two Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, were seen at Kranji Marsh by Sreekar Rachakonda, a Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, was spotted at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 26 September 2020 by Tan Kok Hui, while a Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos, was seen within Kranji Marsh on 30 September 2020 by Yip Jen Wei.

LA, 290920, SBWR, LKS

Over at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a pair of displaying Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, were seen on 20 September 2020, as was a Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, on 29 September 2020; both sightings were made by Lim Kim Seng,  while several numbers of Marsh Sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis, Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia, 160 Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, 120 Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, 110 Common Redshank, Tringa totanus, three Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, and one Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, were reported on 30 September 2020 by Spencer Yau and Yip Jen Wei.

GBH, 200920, SBWR, LKS

Great-billed Heron displaying at SBWR on 20 September 2020; photo by Lim Kim Seng

Other notable species spotted in the west included a Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus, over Holland Plain on 1 September 2020 by George Presanis. At Tuas South, Khoo Meilin recorded a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, on 19 September 2020, and Tan Gim Cheong recorded a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, on 30 September 2020. 

Singapore Strait

Three pelagic trips were made in September: on 20 September 2020 by Francis Yap & friends, and on 19 & 27 September 2020 by Oliver Tan & friends. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these pelagic trips were kept within Singapore port limits. For once (in a long while), practically all the seabirds recorded could be treated as Singapore records. The records from these three pelagic trips within our port limits are particularly valuable as the majority of the sightings from the previous pelagic trips had occurred on the Indonesian / Malaysian side of the Strait.

Notably, the Aleutian Tern, Onychoprion aleuticus, was recorded on all three pelagic trips: 2 birds on the 19th, ‘good numbers’ on the 20th, and 2-3 birds on the 27th. This species was rarely recorded on the Singapore side of the Strait before September 2020.

Aleutian Tern, 200920, port limits, Adrian Silas Tay

Aleutian Tern, within Singapore port limits, 20 Sep 2020, by Adrian Silas Tay

The Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel, Oceanodroma monorhis, was recorded on two trips, with at least 28 birds on the 19th, and few birds on the 20th. The White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus, was also recorded on two trips: a few on the 20th, and two on the 27th. The Bridled Tern, Onychoprion anaethetus, was recorded only on the 19th, when at least 3 birds were encountered. 

The pelagic on the 19th headed towards the south on their last leg and recorded twenty Little Terns, Sternula albifrons, plus approximately fifty Black-naped Terns, Sterna sumatrana, off Pulau Satumu. In addition, one Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, was seen flying low over the waters on the 27th.

Abbreviations:
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve


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, Kerry Pereira, Peh Chee Ee, Joseph Lim, Lim Kim Seng, and Adrian Silas Tay for allowing us to use their photographs.

Singapore Raptor Report – November 2020

RBE, 251120, Jln Asas, TGC

Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, adult, on 25 Nov 2020, at Jalan Asas, by Tan Gim Cheong

Summary for migrant species:

It’s another amazing November, and the arrival of four species boosted the number of migrant raptors to 18 species. The 1st of the month start well with a Northern Boobook photographed at Tuas Bay Lane by Ken Ng, and the first Jerdon’s Baza of the season photographed at Jurong Lake Gardens by Dennis Lim.

Northern Boobook, 011120, Tuas South (Bay Lane), Ken Ng

Northern Boobook, 1 Nov 2020, Tuas Bay Lane, by Ken Ng

The one and only Booted Eagle, a dark morph, was photographed by Zacc HD and others at Henderson Waves on the 10th. The first Besra for the season was photographed at Henderson Waves on the 8th, followed by another two the next day – one at Henderson Waves and another at Mandai Track 15.

Besra, 081120, HW, AST, 0917. crop

Besra, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 8 Nov 2020, by Adrian Silas Tay

Only two Black Kites were recorded, one photographed by Richard White at Bukit Timah hilltop on the 1st, and another photographed by Ang HouBoon at Pasir Ris Park on the 3rd. There were also only two records of the Common Kestrel, one at Henderson Waves photographed by Ash Foo and others on the 9th, and another at Tuas South photographed by Martti Siponen on the 14th.

JB, 241120, CBP, Wang Sangmen

Jerdon’s Baza, Changi Business Park, 24 Nov 2020, by Wong Sangmen

Kestrel, 141120, Tuas View Crescent, Martti Siponen

Common Kestrel, Tuas View Crescent, 14 Nov 2020,  by Martti Siponen

Unlike the previous two species which were one-day birds, the two Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagles were detected on many days. The adult was first recorded at Bukit Timah hill top on the 20th, and at Jalan Asas on the 25th, when the juvenile flew in to join it at its perch. However, the adult did not seem to appreciate the company and took off shortly. The juvenile was first recorded at the Botanic Gardens on the 1st, but subsequently stayed at the Jalan Asas – Bukit Timah area between the 6th to the 29th.

RBE, 011120, SBG learning forest, Derrick Wong, same

Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, juvenile, Botanic Gardens, 1 Nov 2020, by Derrick Wong

Next, we have three species with three records each. The Grey-faced Buzzard was recorded at Henderson Waves on the 1st, an adult at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on the 16th and another adult at Jelutong Tower on the 18th. The Pied Harriers were all juveniles, one each at Choa Chu Kang Christian Cemetery and Henderson Waves on the 8th, and one at Jelutong Tower on the 20th.

Pied Harrier, 081120, CCK christain cemetery, Choong YT

Pied Harrier, juvenile, Choa Chu Kang christian cemetery, 8 Nov 2020, by Choong YT

A juvenile Eastern Marsh Harrier was recorded at Pasir Ris Park on the 5th, a female at Jurong Eco Garden on the 8th, and an interesting looking juvenile at Pasir Ris Park on the 9th, for which most of the field marks seen in the photos point to Eastern Marsh Harrier, with a small possibility of it being an Eastern x Western hybrid, but definitely not a Western.

EMH, 051120, Pasir Ris, Tan Eng Boo, same, crop

Eastern Marsh Harrier, juvenile, showing the long unfeathered tarsus of harriers, Pasir Ris Park, 5 Nov 2020, by Tan Eng Boo

Five Greater Spotted Eagles were recorded, one at Henderson Waves on the 1st, a juvenile at Venus Loop on the 9th, two juveniles at the southern ridges on the 10th, and another juvenile at Jelutong Tower on the 13th. For the Common Buzzard, there were also five records, three at Dawson – Henderson Waves area on the 8th, one at the southern ridges on the 14th, and another at Henderson Waves on the 15th.

CB, 141120, HW, STYW

Common Buzzard, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 14 Nov 2020, by SeeToh Yew Wai

Seven Western Ospreys were recorded, from the northern coast including Pulau Ubin, to Hindhede to Henderson Waves. Of the twelve Peregrine Falcons recorded, a few were at Henderson Waves, and a juvenile of the calidus subspecies at Kranji Marsh on the 30th. Eighteen Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded, including five at Coney Island on the 21st, a few at Henderson Waves, up to three at Changi Business Park canal from the 14th onwards, and two on Pulau Ubin.

CSH, 141120, Coney, Ngo Lih Yee, same

Chinese Sparrowhawk, male, Coney Island, 14 Nov 2020, by Ngo Lih Yee

Seventy two Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them over Henderson Waves, while an adult female, possibly the same individual, returned again to Ang Mo Kio on the 15th. Two hundred and fifty three Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them at the southern ridges, with 34 birds over Kent Ridge Park on the 14th.

JSH, 131120, TBHP, TGC

Japanese Sparrowhawk, Telok Blangah Hill Park, 13 Nov 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

We had 485 Black Bazas this month, with 113 birds over Henderson Waves on the 1st. We recorded 1213 Oriental Honey Buzzards, with a day high of 240 birds over Henderson Waves on the 9th, and 210 birds passing Skyville @ Dawson on the 11th. Interestingly, one adult male over Henderson Waves on the 20th had falconry jesses on both tarsus.

BB, 141120, PRP, CY Tan

Black Baza, Pasir Ris Park, 14 Nov 2020, by Tan Chuan Yean

OHB w jesses, 201120, HW, Zacc HD, crop

Oriental Honey Buzzard with falconry jesses on both tarsus, Henderson Waves, 20 Nov 2020, by Zacc HD

Highlights for sedentary species:

GHFE, 061120, Hindhede, CY Tan, same 8

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, juvenile, at Hindhede Quarry, 6 Nov 2020, by Tan Chuan Yean

There were six Crested Serpent Eagles, one at Mount Faber on the 5th, one at Jurong West on the 11th, one at the Botanic Gardens – Goldhill Avenue area, one on Pulau Ubin, and two at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 on the 21st. For the torquatus subspecies of the Oriental Honey Buzzard, there were three individuals, a juvenile at Pasir Ris on the 5th, 14th, 16th, and 30th; an adult male at Pasir Ris on the 8th and 11th; and another adult male at the Botanic Gardens on the 14th, 16th and 19th.

CSE, 261120, Ubin, Tay Kian Guan

Crested Serpent Eagle, Pulau Ubin, 26 Nov 2020, by Tay Kian Guan

Breeding-related activities were observed for four resident species. An adult Brahminy Kite was feeding two chicks on its nest at Seletar on the 3rd, and by the 28th, the chicks were on and around the nest, ready to fledge. There were two fledgling Crested Goshawks on and around the nest at Pasir Panjang on the 8th.

Brahminy chick, 201120, Seletar Aerospace Dr, Michael Phua on BS

Brahminy Kite, one of two chicks on the nest at Seletar, 20 Nov 2020, by Michael Phua

Two adult White-bellied Sea Eagles at Potong Pasir mated on the 18th, and the pair at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve were adding sticks to their nest on the 28th and 30th, another one at Jalan Asas was seen flying with a branch on the 29th.

WBSE, 291120, Jln Asas, Philip Ng

White-bellied Sea Eagle, Jalan Asas, 29 Nov 2020, by Philip Ng

At Hampstead Wetlands, the regular Grey-headed Fish Eagle pair was observed mating on the 20th, and the Buffy fish Owls mated on the 26th and 27th. A pair of Black-winged Kites at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane mated on the 28th and 30th. Mating was also observed for the pair of Crested Goshawks at Pasir Ris Park.

BFO, 261120, Hampstead, Lee Hew-Son

Buffy Fish Owls, mating, at Seletar, 27 Nov 2020, by Lee Hew-Son

BWK, 301120, NTHL, Desmond Yap

Black-winged Kites, mating, Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, 30 Nov 2020, by Desmond Yap

On the 11th, two Crested Goshawks at West Coast Park were on the ground, talons locked. They eventually separated and flew off separately. For the Changeable Hawk-Eagle, a mixture of pale morphs, dark morphs and juveniles were recorded.

Table 1

Abbreviations
BTNR – Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
DFNP – Dairy Farm Nature Park
KM – Kranji Marsh
KRP – Kent Ridge Park
NTHL – Neo Tiew Harvest Lane
PRP – Pasir Ris Park
SBWR – Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Ken Ng, Wong Sangmen, Tan Chuan Yean, Zacc HD, Tan Eng Boo, Choong YT, Ngo Lih Yee, Adrian Silas Tay, See Toh Yew Wai, Derrick Wong, Desmond Yap, Michael Phua, Philip Ng,  Tay Kian Guan, and Lee Hew-Son for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details please click Singapore Raptor Report – Nov 2020

Allopreening of a pair of Common Ioras.

Allopreening of a Common Iora pair at NTHL Singapore.

By Joseph Lim

This bird report wishes to record observations on the allopreening of a Common Iora pair at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane this October.

In birds, allopreening is a conspicuous feature of interactions between breeding partners and has been hypothesized to play a role in strengthening and maintaining pair bonds within and across breeding attempts. Usually, one bird nibbled the other’s head and face feathers with its bill, and the bird being preened usually lowered its head and moves its head to facilitate preening in whatever area that is being preened.

On a morning of 31 October this year, I was checking on the Pallas Grasshopper Warblers at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane when I noticed a pair of Common Iora Aegithina tiphia, preening each other. The male and the female Common Ioras started off by picking a firm perch before getting ready for allopreening. They picked a good spot with the morning sun shining directly on their body, most likely for the purpose of sunning.

Both the male and the female performed self-preening first before continuing with allopreening (See Plate 1). The female then moved on to initiate preening on the male by using the beak to nib on the chest features in a gentle manner. It then continued to preen on the male while the male also nibbed itself concurrently on the neck area (See Plate 2). The male then reciprocated by preening on the female on the mid chest area (See Plate 3). Subsequently, the female then continued to preen on the male on the throat area.

The whole process lasted for about 6-7 minutes. After the preening process, the couple perched for about a minute before flying off together.

These are some key notes of the observations :

  • The female preened more thoroughly and intensively on the male. The male preened on its partner only once and briefly as compared to the female.
  • The male was very cooperative and moved its body, mainly the head and neck to facilitate preening in whatever area that is being preened.
  • Both seemed relaxed and was quiet during the process. They also seemed unconcerned of the observer’s presence standing approximately 5 metres away.

Plate 1- Female (left) with male (right) performing self-preening before proceeding with allopreening.

Plate 2- Female (left) continued to preen on the male (right) while the male also nibbed itself concurrently on the neck area.

Plate 3- The male (right)then reciprocated by preening on the female (left) on the mid chest area.

References:

  1. ‘Allopreening in birds is associated with parental cooperation over offspring care and stable pair bonds across years’, Behavioral Ecology, Volume 28, Issue 4, July-August 2017, Pages 1142–1148,
    source: https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article/28/4/1142/3865432
  2. ‘A bird Preen it’s feathers’ ,’Through the Lens’, Fujingaho Magazine, November, 2019 . Source : https://www.birdlife.org/asia/news/bird-preens-its-feathers.

36th Singapore Bird Race (2020) – Arbitrator’s Report

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The 36th Singapore Bird Race, held from 5-6 December 2020, attracted nearly 250 participants – a record number. They formed 79 teams, and competed in six categories including three new categories – Novice, Family and Youth. To ensure the safety of participants due to COVID-19, team size was limited to four members and all reporting of bird observations were done remotely via eBird.

CategoryNumber of Teams
Marathon6
Sprint18
Novice21
Family15
Youth4
Photographer15

In line with the aim to raise the profile of nationally threatened bird species in Singapore, these species were accorded more points, and the winning team would be the one that scored the most points, rather than the most number of species. This led to interesting results.

Marathon Category – Top 3 Teams

The Weekend Birders (Adrian Silas Tay, Axl Tay & Jerold Tan) scored an amazing 165 points with 123 species to clinch the top position, successfully defending their title. It was a close fight for the second and third positions with the difference of just 1 point and 1 species. Batman and Robins (Low Bing Wen, Benjamin Lee & Dillen Ng) scored 150 points to edge into second place despite seeing 1 species less than the next team. The 3Dads (Fadzrun Adnan, Muhd Fitri & Eyzat Affandi) were hot on their heels scoring 149 points with 115 species, garnering third place. Superb work by the marathoners.

Sprint Category – Top 3 Teams

The Flycatchers (Bryan Lim, Kenneth Er, Adrian Loo & Max Khoo) scored an impressive 101 points, recording 71 species, to claim the top position. They must have strategized wisely to see more of the nationally threatened species which propelled their score beyond the other teams. Three Men and a Baby (Alfred Chia, Desmond Lee, Yeo Seng Beng, Sandra Chia) came in second with 89 points and they actually saw the most number of species in this category – 73 species. The Pratincoles (Veronica Foo, Henrietta Woo & Jan Tan) beat the next team to come in third with a score of 79 and 61 species, despite recording 4 species less than them. Awesome work.

Photography Category – Top 3 Teams

Team Fly Away Liao (Goh Cheng Teng & Lester Tan) topped the Photography category with a score of 80 points, having photographed 60 species, successfully defending their title. Team Staraptor (Tay Sia Ping, Esther Ong & Kwok Tuck Loong) came in 2nd with a score of 63 points and 51 species. Close behind them were the Eurasian Birders (Evan Landy, Jackie Yeo & Wilson Leung Wei Kee) with 60 points and 42 species, two points more than the next team which had two more species, another good fight! Fantastic work.

Novice Category – Top 3 Teams

Team Public Transport (Yip Jen Wei, Zachary Chong & Chen Hui Lin) scored a cool 84 points with 68 species recorded, to come in first. It was a close fight for the next two places with just one point difference between the teams. Duck Vaders (Siti Nur Nadirah Asmadi, Norlinda Ishnin & Edzra Iskandar) took the second place with a score of 62 points and 52 species. Team Fledglings (Darren Leow, Chang Chee Pey, Owen Chang & Elke Wong) were right behind with 61 points and 47 species. Well done.

Family Category – Top 3 Teams

SSKY Birders (Senthil Kumar Damodaran & Krissh Danvantan Senthil Kumar) came in first with 78 points and 56 species. Falcon (Wong Chung Cheong, Edwina Seah & Kimberly Wong) took the second place with a score of 54 points and 40 species. Bird-smith (Kevin Lim & Samuel Lim) was next in line with 44 points and 30 species, overcoming the odds over the next team which saw 5 more species but scored less. Great work.

Youth Category – Top 3 Teams

The 3 Birdiots (Yap Bao Shen, Chong Xiu Yi & Karyn Tania Lee) scored 87 points with 73 species recorded, coming in tops. HC Hornbills (Jeff Tan, Lucas Tan, Lu Kiat & Yuen Yuan) came in second with a score of 74 points and 62 species. Team sc fly! (v2.0) (B K Preethi, Wathiqah Kassim & Sng Yi Xin) was third with 30 points and 26 species. Nice work.

Race Highlights

A total of 182 species were recorded during the bird race, including 25 nationally threatened species. Three out of the four 5-point birds were recorded during the race. They are the Greater Green Leafbird at Dairy Farm Nature Park and Upper Seletar; the Blue-rumped Parrot at Dairy Farm Nature Park, seen only by one team – The Distracted Novices, who were not that distracted after all; and the Straw-headed Bulbul, seen by several teams.

BRP by TGC

The Blue-rumped Parrot, featured in this year’s logo, was one of the 5-point birds recorded during the bird race. Photo by Tan Gim Cheong

The rarest species recorded must have been the male Narcissus Flycatcher at the Botanic Gardens. There are less than a handful of records for this species and this is the first male Narcissus Flycatcher ever known to visit Singapore. Other scarce migrants recorded included the Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Grey-headed Lapwing at Marina East, Grey Nightjar at Bukit Batok Nature Park, Sand Martin at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, and the Siberian and Eye-browed Thrushes at Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Narcissus Flycatcher

The male Narcissus Flycatcher recorded the Botanic Gardens during the bird race. Photo by Adrian Silas Tay.

Other notable species recorded during the race included the Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Oriental Darter and Van Hasselt’s Sunbird on Pulau Ubin; Jambu Fruit-Dove at Jurong Lake Gardens; Lesser Adjutant at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve; and Green Imperial Pigeon at Pasir Ris Park.

Tan Gim Cheong
Chief Arbitrator, 36th Singapore Bird Race

Bird Race Results

 

PositionMarathon CategoryScorespecies
1Weekend Birders165123
2Batman and Robins150114
3The 3Dads149115
4The Nutcrackers9771
5The Permanently Exhausted Pigeons3426
6Pangolin75
PositionSprint CategoryScorespecies
1The Flycatchers10171
2Three men and a baby8973
3Pratincoles7961
4SBWR Team7765
5WingIt7052
6Birbs6852
7Jiak Hong Birders6650
8Charlie’s Angels6149
9Sunbirds5842
10CNRaptors5741
11The Distracted Novices5640
12Bird Discovery5240
13Wild Bird Chase4939
14ASE Easties4939
15Old World Flycatchers4632
16Run Birby Run4135
17Forest Feathers1816
18We Fly Kite
PositionPhotographer CategoryScorespecies
1Fly Away Liao8060
2Team Staraptor6351
3Eurasian Birders6042
4Team Plovers5844
5Lord of the wings5242
6NPSS 45143
7The Trio4834
8Uwu birb3632
9whimbrel2925
10F4 JJ2824
11F4 VJ2521
12birdseye2119
13Birds of a Feather1010
14Azzerenet99
15NPSS 1
PositionNovice CategoryScorespecies
1Team Public Transport8468
2Duck Vaders6252
3Team Fledglings6147
4Pittachu5442
5Big Bird5242
6Dinosaur Hunters5042
7Green-Horned Watchers4337
8Flying comrades4234
9Shen Me Niao?3224
10Bishan Park3226
11Elephant Turtle3121
12Bird3125
13Okurrr3026
14Eagles,take flight!2921
15Zazu2220
16Buchanan Birdwatchers2117
17Walk Hey!1715
18Team St Mary1311
19Kuajiao119
20Hedwigggg86
21Fly-A-Way11
PositionFamily CategoryScorespecies
1SSKY Birders7856
2Falcon5440
3Bird-smith4430
4The Eurasian Twin Sparrows4335
5ClicKid3929
6Hornbill3228
7Kao Kakao2717
8Marine Paraders2624
9Wingseekers2117
10Sungei Duo1612
11Team Birdee119
12Apex Predator108
13Happy Family88
14Helang11
15Non
PositionYouth CategoryScorespecies
13 Birdiots8773
2HC Hornbills7462
3Sc fly! (v2.0)3026
4Burbwatchers139

Singapore Raptor Report – October 2020

GSE,-301020,-TBHP,-TGC-crop

Greater Spotted Eagle, juvenile, at Telok Blangah Hill Park, 30 Oct 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

Summary for migrant species: 

October 2020 was exceptional with 15 migrant raptors species recorded. In contrast, 11 species were recorded in the month of October in the last two years. Thanks much to ardent raptor fans spending time at Henderson Waves and elsewhere. A total of 1768 migrant raptors were recorded, more than twice the number for October 2019, with another 10 unidentified raptors and 393 unidentified accipiters, many of which were probably migrants.

The most remarkable record for October 2020 was the Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo at Henderson Waves on 23 Oct 2020, reported by Zacc HD, Oliver Tan, Ginny Cheang, Veronica Foo and many others. It was our second record and the only one photographed, a great rarity indeed.

Eurasian-Hobby,-231020,-HW,-Zacc-HD,-1020h,-first-spotted-by-Veronica

Eurasian Hobby, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 23 Oct 2020, by Zacc HD

Eurasian Hobby, 231020, HW, Zacc HD, 1020h, same

Eurasian Hobby, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 23 Oct 2020, by Zacc HD

A few other rarities were also recorded. These included two Greater Spotted Eagles Clanga clanga: a distant juvenile photographed at St John’s Island on the 29th, and another closer juvenile at Telok Blangah Hill Park the next day (30th). Two Black Kites Milvus migrans (lineatus) were photographed, a juvenile at Pinnacle@Duxton on the 19th by Angie Cheong, and another juvenile at Taman Jurong on the 30th by Alok Mishra.

One sub-adult Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle Lophotriorchis kienerii was photographed at Bukit Timah summit on the 23rd by Martin Kennewell and again, two days later, on the 25th, at Dairy Farm Nature Park, by Krishna Gr. A juvenile Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos was photographed at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on the 29th, by Choong YT and Alfred Chia’s relative.

Both the Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus were recorded at Henderson waves, one on the 24th and the other on the 29th, in both instances by many observers. Four Eastern Marsh Harriers Circus spilonotus were recorded on passage: an immature male at Henderson Waves on the 17th, a juvenile at Henderson Waves on the 21st, a male at Kranji Marsh on the 25th, and another juvenile at Henderson Waves on the 31st.

EMH,-211020,-HW,-TGC

Eastern Marsh Harrier, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 21 Oct 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

The four pale morph Common Buzzards Buteo buteo were recorded over a period of just three consecutive days: one on the 29th, one on the 30th and two on the 31st, all at Henderson Waves. The individual recorded at Skyville @Dawson on the 31st could also have passed over Henderson Waves. (Note: the various subspecies are ‘lumped’ as Buteo buteo in the NSS bird checklist).

Up to eight Western Ospreys Pandion haliatus were recorded, one each at Chek Jawa, Seletar Country Club and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and the rest at Henderson Waves and nearby Dawson. Eleven migrant Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were reported – from Bukit Batok transimission towers, Tuas South, Henderson Waves, Dairy Farm, Sembawang Park, Lazarus Island, and adults on the roof top of apartment blocks at Bedok South, Jurong East and Taman Jurong.

Peregrine, 221020, Bedok South, Derrick Wong

Peregrine Falcon, adult, at Bedok South, 22 Oct 2020, by Derrick Wong

It was a good month for the uncommon Grey-faced Buzzards Butastur indicus with a record number of 31 birds – singles at Jelutong Tower on the 23rd, Henderson Waves on the 25th & 29th, Lazarus Island on the 29th, and Pasir Ris Park on the 30th; plus 22 at Henderson Waves on the 30th (the highest number in a single day for the species), and another four on the 31st at the same site.

GFB,-291020,-Lazarus,-TGC

Grey-faced Buzzard, adult, at Lazarus Island, 29 Oct 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

The most numerous migrant raptors were the 716 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus, including 103 birds at Henderson Waves on the 30th, 76 at Kusu Island on the 13th, and 70 at Tuas South on the 22nd.

They were followed by an exceptionally high 587 for the Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, the highest single month count for the species. This included 104 birds at Kusu Island on the 13th, the highest single day count for the species. A mixed kettle of 29 sparrowhawks at Kusu Island included 25 Japanese Sparrowhawks, gaining height before crossing the sea towards the Riau Islands, Indonesia.

248 Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes were recorded, including 114 birds on the 30th and 122 birds on the 31st, both at Henderson Waves. Lastly, 144 Chinese Sparrowhawks Accipiter soloensis were recorded, another highest number in a month; of these, 36 were recorded at Henderson Waves on the 30th.

OHB torquatus, 211020, HW, TGC

Oriental Honey Buzzard, torquatus male, note the male tail pattern and yellow eyes (red eyes for male orientalis), at Telok Blangah Hill Park, 21 Oct 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

Highlights for sedentary species:

Four Oriental Honey Buzzards of the torquatus subspecies were recorded: a tweeddale morph at Henderson Waves on the 13th, and the same individual at Bedok South on the 23rd; a male at Pasir Ris Park on the 15th; another male at Telok Blangah Hill Park and Henderson Waves from the 21st to 25th; and a juvenile at Pasir Ris Park from the 21st to 24th. Two Peregrine Falcons of the resident ernesti subspecies were recorded: one at Ulu Pandan on the 4th and another in the Central Business District on the 16th.

The other resident raptors recorded included ten Black-winged Kites; ten Grey-headed Fish Eagles; 11 Crested Goshawks, 11 Changeable Hawk-Eagles; and the common Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle. There was also a record of the infrequently encountered Eastern Barn Owl, a nocturnal bird of prey, at Pasir Ris Seashell Park on the 23rd.

Breeding-related activities were recorded for four resident species. An adult White-bellied Sea Eagle was seen on its nest on Pulau Ubin on the 6th. For the Brahminy Kite, an adult flew into its nest at Seletar on the 18th; one adult each, at West Coast Park on the 19th, and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 29th, was flying with a stick in its beak, probably for nestbuilding. A pair of Black-winged Kites at Seletar was observed to have mated on the 3rd, 7th, 10th and 13th; and another pair at Neo Tiew mated on the 11th.

As for the Crested Goshawks, an adult was flying with a stick at West Coast Park on the 19th & 22nd, and the pair mated on the 30th, but the nest was subsequently abandoned; at Pasir Ris Park, an adult was sitting on the nest on the 22nd, with its mate perched on an adjacent tree, this pair had to regularly defend their nest from the oriental pied hornbills that roam the park; and the pair at Bukit Chandu had two chicks in their nest on the 30th.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Zacc HD and Derrick Wong for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details please click Singapore Raptor Report – October 2020

Singapore Bird Report – Aug 2020

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

August saw the influx of migratory shorebirds, as well as courtship dances by Great-billed Herons and the appearance of a Pied Bushchat.

Pied Bushchat, Geoff Lim

On 6 August 2020, a Pied Bushchat, Saxicola caprata, was reported at Holland Green by Kwok Tuck Loong. The news brought a steady trickle of birders and photographers to look at the diminutive jet black bird with trimmings of white along its wing coverts.

The species is conspicuous by its absence in literature such as Wells (2009) on Malaysian birds, as well as global perspectives by Collar and Christie (2020), who noted that birds in the west of the species range are largely migratory. On the Indus plain, Pakistan, birds make local migrations and summer migration into warm dry mountain areas beginning in March and departing in September, Cold weather migration begins in September into NW India, while birds in Myanmar exhibit elevational migration, wintering in plains and breeding in hills. Applying Occam’s razor on the bird’s appearance outside the migratory season and lack of records in previous decades, it is therefore possible that the bird is an escapee.

This highlights the plight of Asian songbirds, as many species are trapped, shipped in unsavoury conditions and sold as pets.  In recent times, Eaton et al (2017) noted that small numbers of Pied Bushchats were sold in local bird shops. We are fortunate to have strict wildlife protection laws that protect our wild birds and urge readers to be alive to the possibility of poachers taking an active interest in our wild songbirds.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Visitors to fringe parks around the CCNR reported a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 09 August 2020 at Old Upper Thomson (Lee Chin Pong), two Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, on 18 August 2020 (Oliver Tan) and an Asian Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica on 21 August 2020 (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan) Dairy Farm Nature Park, as well as a Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, on 27 August 2020, at a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, and Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis, on 28 August 2020 at Singapore Quarry (Ho Siew Mun).

BBC, Siew Mun

Banded Bay Cuckoo at Singapore Quarry, taken on 28 Aug 2020 by Ho Siew Mun

Central Singapore

A White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, was reported on 11 August 2020 at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park by Jimmy Lim. An Asian Openbill, Anastomus oscitans, was photographed at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 18 August 2020 by Steven Cheong.

Northern Singapore

The Halus wetland area yielded a single Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, on 8 August 2020 (Lim Kim Chuah), and two Black-throated Laughingthrush, Garrulax chinensis, an escapee species, on 12 August 2020 (Peter Bijlmakers). At the grassy fields around Piccadilly, Seletar, two King Quail, Excalfactoria chinensis,were spotted on 22 August 2020 by Oliver Tan.

LSP, Meilin Khoo

Lesser Sand Plovers at Yishun Dam, taken on 9 Aug 2020 by Khoo Meilin

Observers at the Yishun Dam noted the return of the Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, on 9 and 11 August 2020 (Khoo Meilin and Desmond Yap, respectively). The Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, was subsequently noted on 21 August 2020.

At Woodlands Waterfront Park, Loh Wei photographed a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni,  on 16 August 2020.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pasir Ris Park reported seeing a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, on 6 Aug 2020 (Terence Tan), a fledgling Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus being fed by it host, an Ashy Tailorbird, Orthotomus ruficeps, on 10 August 2020 by Jonathan Kuahand the young Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus again on30 August 2020 (Ho Siew Mun). Further afield, a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, was reported on 27 August 2020 from Changi Business Park by Herman Phua.

Southern Singapore

Reports from the Gardens- and Satay-by-the-Bay park complex during the period included Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, on 15 August 2020, a female Laced Woodpecker, Picus vittatus, on 19 August 2020 at SBB, and a Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, on 22 August 2020 (Ho Siew Mun).

The Bay area, comprising the waters off Marina Bay East and Marina Barrage, also attracted species such as a white morph Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 22 August 2020 (Norman Wu), Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, on 23 August 2020 and a Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, on 24 August 2020 (both by Ho Siew Mun). A breeding attempt by a pair of Malaysian Plovers, Charadrius peronii, at Marina East failed as it seemed that heavy rain might have washed the egg down the rocky slope, damaging it (Lo Wai Mun, 13 August 2020).  

Further away at East Coast Park, a Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, was reported on 26 August 2020 by Mike Hooper.

Western Singapore

The focal species at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) were several displaying Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana; about 3-4 birds were seen from Platform 2 on 9 August 2020 (Geoff Lim), and 5-6 on 23 August 2020 (Geoff Lim & Yong Ding Li) and 24 August 2020 (Terence Tan). Also spotted on those days were Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus; 3 were seen 23 August 2020 (Geoff Lim & Yong Ding Li) and six were counted on 24 August 2020 (Joseph Lim).

GBH, Geoff Lim

Two Great-billed Herons at SBWR, taken on 9 Aug 2020 by Geoff Lim

Also seen was a solitary Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea, on 23 August 2020 by YK Han, and the resident Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, on 30 and 31 August 2020 by Herman Phua and Ho Siew Mun.

CPS, Herman Phua

At Jurong Eco Garden, a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was seen on 1 August 2020 by Andy Lee, and a fledgling Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 19 August 2020 by Avadi L Parimalam. Asian Openbills were present at Neo Tiew area for much of the month, and the highest number was 53 birds on 10 August by Martti Siponen. On Jurong Island, two House Sparrow, Passer domesticus, were seen on 4 August 2020 by Lim Kim Chuah.

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, Khoo Meilin, Herman Phua and Geoff Lim for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCE

Collar, N. and D. A. Christie (2020). Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.piebus1.01

Eaton, J. A., Leupen, B. T. C., and Krishnasamy, K. (2017). Songsters of Singapore. An

Overview of the Bird Species in Singapore Pet Shops. TRAFFIC: Petaling Jaya. Accessed from https://www.traffic.org/site/assets/files/2278/songsters-of-singapore.pdf

Wells, D. R. (2009), The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Volume 2. London: Christopher Helm.

13th Singapore Raptor Watch Report – 7 Nov 2020

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Oriental Honey Buzzard – 5 individuals were recorded despite the poor weather

This is probably going to be the shortest report for raptor watch. 7 November 2020 was a washout day with lots of rain, interspersed with periods of gloomy overcast weather, cutting short the count. For the migrants, only 5 Oriental Honey Buzzards and 4 Japanese Sparrowhawks were out and about.

  • Tuas South                   : no raptors
  • Jurong Lake Gardens     : 1 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 1 Crested Goshawk, 1 Brahminy Kite
  • Kent Ridge Park            : no raptors
  • Telok Blangah Hill Park   : 1 Oriental Honey Buzzard
  • Mount Faber                 : 1 Japanese Sparrowhawk, 1 White-bellied Sea Eagle
  • St John’s Island             : 3 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 3 White-bellied Sea Eagle,
      3 Brahminy Kite, 1 un-identified accipiter
  • Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin     : 3 Japanese Sparrowhawk, 4 White-bellied Sea Eagle,
      1 Brahminy Kite, 1 Changeable Hawk Eagle

Thanks to everyone, including NParks staff, for their time and effort despite the weather.

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Pdf version here13th Singapore Raptor Watch – 2020

Singapore Bird Report – July 2020

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

Brown-streaked FC, 210720, DFNP, Art Toh, FB BS, crop

A Brown-streaked Flycatcher along Old Thomson Road on 21 July 2020 photographed by Art Toh

Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Fringe Parks

Visitors to Hindhede Park noted the presence of one Brown Hawk-Owl, Ninox scutulata, on 5 July 2020 (Darren Leow) and 24 July 2020 (Martin Kennewell); while a Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, was spotted in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 24 July 2020 by Lim Kim Chuah.

At the nearby Dairy Farm Nature Park, a pair of Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, were seen on 1 July 2020 by Oliver Tan. A Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, was seen on 14 July 2020 by Desmond Yap, while a Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, and a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, were spotted on 15 July 2020 by Wang Wee Woan. A few days later, a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, possibly first-for-the-season, was reported on 21 July 2020 by Martin Kennewell. A globally endangered Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, (male) was reported on 25 July 2020 by Habeeb Rahman.

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A female Greater Green Leafbird along Old Thomson Road on 31 July 2020 photographed by Herman Phua

Over at Thomson, a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, Leptocoma brasiliana, was reported at Windsor Nature Park on 23 July 2020 by Josh Spiler, while a Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, was seen on 31 July 2020, along Old Thomson Road by Herman Phua, as was a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on the same day at Thomson Nature Park by Lester Tan.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, was seen within the garden grounds on 11 July 2020 by Ros Qian.

Common Ioral feeding Banded bay Cuckoo, 140720, NTHL, Joseph Lim, crop

Banded Bay Cuckoo chick with Common Iora host (left) at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on 14 July 2020, by Joseph Lim

Central Singapore

A pair of Vinous-breasted Starlings, Acridotheres burmannicus, were nesting at Ang Mo Kio Street 53, 3 July 2020, by Adrian Silas Tay. Visitors to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park spotted a Scaly-breasted Munia, Lonchura punctulata, feeding three young birds on 3 July 2020, by Chen Boon Chong; a Grey-headed Fish-Eagle, Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, on 11 July 2020 (Desmond Yap); and a White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, on 12 July 2020 (Herman Phua).

Northern Singapore

Observers at Baker street noted the presence of a nesting Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, on 1 July 2020 (Harry Geno-Oehlers). Photographers also reported Pin-tailed Whydah, Vidua macroura, along Seletar North Link on 1 July 2020 (Andy Lee), and Coney Island on 18 July 2020 (Oliver Tan).

Pied Fantial feeding RB Cuckoo, 180720, NTHL, Norhafiani A Majid

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo chick with Malaysian Pied Fantail host (left) at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on 18 July 2020, by Norhafiani A. Majid.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pulau Ubin reported sightings of a Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, and a Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps, on 5 July 2020 (Martin Kennewell), while a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, and six Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, were spotted on 12 July 2020 by Adrian Silas Tay.

Over at Pasir Ris Park and vicinity, visitors spotted a Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, on 26 July 2020 (Derek Wong KM), four Monk Parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus, on 28 July 2020 (Evelyn Lee) and three Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, on 31 July 2020 (Ra Kay).

At Changi Business Park, one Rufous Woodpecker, Micropternus brachyurus, was seen on 30 July 2020 by Herman Phua.

Southern Singapore

Several observers spotted a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 16 July 2020 at Marina Barrage (Herman Phua), a Chestnut Munia, Lonchura atricapilla, on 24 July 2020 (Wong Siew Mun), and a Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Estrilda rhodopyga, on 31 July 2020 at Gardens-by-the-Bay (Mike Hooper).

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Two Lesser Adjutants photographed at SBWR on 28 July 2020 by Herman Phua

Western Singapore

The Lim Chu Kang area continued to support a good variety of residents. Visitors to Neo Tiew Harvest Link spotted a Chestnut Munia, Lonchura atricapilla, and a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, hosted by Malaysian Pied Fantail, Rhidipura javanicus, on 16 July 2020 (Desmond Yap); as well as a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, on 19 July 2020 hosted by Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, (Herman Phua).

A Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, was seen at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 and three Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, were spotted at SBWR on 28 July 2020 (Herman Phua) while a Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus, was reported on 29 July 2020 from Kranji Marsh (Khoo Mei Lin). Over at Jurong Lake Gardens, a Javan Munia, Lonchura leucogastroides, was spotted on 2 July 2020 by Wong Siew Mun.

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 Art Toh, Herman Phua, Norhafiani A Majid, and Joseph Lim for allowing us to use their photographs.