Woodpecker and Gecko Predation.

A short summary of the Woodpecker and Gecko predation.

By Evan Landy.


Friday 3rd July.


I encountered a pair of feeding Common Flamebacks, Dinopium javanense, early in the morning at Changi Beach Park. One of the flamebacks shuffled up and down a tree looking for insects but the other was relentlessly drilling away at a small hole in the bark of a sea almond tree. Curious about this behaviour I watched closely and, after several minutes of hard drumming, the woodpecker prised out a small gecko. It took about a minute to subdue the reptile, bashing it against a tree branch in the same way a kingfisher does with a fish, and then swallowing it tail-end first. The literature suggests that flamebacks are primarily insectivorous so I was surprised to see it with a larger prey item as the gecko was approximately twice the length of its beak. Given their habit of drilling into trees it seems they are capable of taking larger prey items too when these opportunities arise. And for the bird watcher it was a useful reminder to always remain curious even whilst watching commonly seen species. 

The male Common Flameback swallowing the gecko tail first. Photo: Evan Landy.
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Didn’t Pray Enough!

By Seng Alvin with Alan OwYong.

Besides photos of birds in flight the next most desired photos are those with food in mouth. There is so much we can learn and help with their conservation from the different food and prey that they take.

I found several photos of birds feeding on Praying Mantis from my backyard at Pasir Ris Park. I was curious to find out a little more about the prey and the other species feed on it too.

I posted my photos of the Oriental Pied Hornbill and Yellow-vented Bulbul on the Bird Sightings FB page and invited fellow members to post theirs. I was pleasantly surprised with the response. A total of nine more species were added to my post.

Seng Alvin’s close up photo of the Oriental Pied Hornbill with a mantis praying and hanging on for its dear life.
Yellow-vented Bulbuls needing some proteins to supplement their fruit diet. Seng Alvin.

I dug up some facts on the Praying Mantis on the internet and found that it is one of the top predators in the insect kingdom. There are over 2,000 species in the world and they come in all colours. They needed this to blend in to the natural environment as they are mainly ambushed hunters. For example the green Praying Mantis will use the green foliage as camouflage and wait for insects, birds, frogs, snakes or lizards to come by before they snap their powerful forelegs out in split seconds to snatch their prey. There is a video of a Praying Mantis holding the mouth of a Changeable Lizard open and biting its lips off with its sharp teeth and strong jaws.

Menlolong” You can almost hear the praying mantis pleading for its life.

Looking at the list, many of the birds are generalist and opportunists. Not many are insectivorous. Their ability to pick out a well camouflaged praying mantis staying motionless on a leaf or tree trunk is nothing short of amazing. Maybe the larger size of the praying mantis helped. Once spotted, all the “praying” will not help. Arboreal foragers like the Greater Racket Drongo, Pied Triiler, Black-naped Oriole, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha and the Common Iora must have inherited the skill of hunting for this particular prey from their parents when they were young.

Insects like the Praying Mantis form a big part of the diet of this nationally near- threatened Chestnut-breasted Malkoha. Photo: Evelyn Lee.
Male Pied Triller showing off its catch. Photo: Hearn Robin.
A praying mantis playing dead hoping and praying that the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo will pass it up. Photo: Lee Chin Pong.
The Common Iora sensibly chose a smaller praying mantis for its meal. Photo: Ros Qian.
Seah Kok Meng’s “Lo Hei ” shot of a Oriental Pied Hornbill tossing a praying mantis. It was still “praying ” hard seconds before being swallowed.

The Collared Kingfishers have moved inland from the coastal areas and have adapted to a new diet that includes the Praying Mantis.

Collared Kingfishers have adapted to life away from the Mangroves. Photo: Norhafiani A. Majid
Victor Tan’s image of the darling Collared Kingfisher chick being fed with a juicy mantis meal.

Even birds like the Long-tailed Shrikes were not choosy when it comes to feeding their chicks. If there are no centipedes around, a praying mantis will do nicely.

Long-tailed Shrike’s favorite food for its young included centipedes but a change of taste was just as welcomed too. Photo: Norhafiani A. Majid.

This unlucky Praying Mantis was at the wrong place at the wrong time even though the Malaysian Night Heron’s preferred food are the earthworms and skinks.

This praying mantis must have dropped to the ground much to the delight of this Malaysian Night Heron. Photo: Hearn Robin

Most raptors besides the Oriental Honey Buzzards take fish, birds and mammals. The Black Baza is an exception as large insects like the Praying Mantis and grasshoppers form the bulk of their diet.

Herman Phua excellent capture of a Black Baza enjoying its favourite snack.

From the diversity of the species, it would seem that the Praying Mantis form a good part of the diet of these birds. Maybe except for seed eaters and those without the proper bills, we can assume that many birds will not pass up a meal of the “Kung Fu Killer” of the insect world.

Yellow-vented Bulbul would not passed up a praying mantis meal even though they are mainly frugivorous. Photo: Agnes Chua.

We wish to thank all our friends for their contribution and the use of their photos.

Report on the 35th Annual Bird Census

Report on the 35th Annual Bird Census

By Lim Kim Seng

Asian Openbill 4

Five Asian Openbill Storks foraging at Kranji Marshes. Photo: Lim Kim Chuah.

The 35th Annual Bird Census (ABC) was conducted on 29th March 2020 just before the nation-wide “circuit breaker” kicked in. Organized by the NSS Bird Group, it saw the involvement of 39 members and volunteers at 26 sites all around Singapore. This is an improvement from last year when 39 counters covered 20 sites. Altogether, ABC 2020 logged a total of 6,342 birds and 147 species, an overall increase from 2019’s 5,496 birds and 143 species. This could be due to more sites been counted in 2020 as compared to 2019.

So what’s Singapore most abundant bird? If you are guessing Javan Myna, you’re wrong! It is the Asian Glossy Starling which scored 847 birds to beat Javan Myna, with 737 birds, into second place. Third was Pink-necked Green Pigeon (358), followed by a resurgent House Crow (256) and Yellow-vented Bulbul (250). The rest of the Top Ten species are Little Egret (186), Common Redshank (170), Black-naped Oriole (164), Spotted Dove (152) and the nationally threatened Grey Heron (149).

Last year’s fifth placing Pacific Golden Plover came in at 11th with 136 birds, down from 198 in 2020. In 12th position was Collared Kingfisher (124), followed by Olive-backed Sunbird (113), Olive-winged Bulbul (108), Pin-striped Tit-babbler (107), Common Iora (103), Rock Dove (101) and the globally near-threatened Long-tailed Parakeet (100). In 19th place was the Asian Openbill (98) that only invaded Singapore in huge numbers in late 2019. In 20th place was the ever-increasing introduced Red-breasted Parakeet (80).

The Top Twenty Species of 2020 are provided below:

20200526_145928

What about the sites? The most species diverse sites were Kranji Marshes with 70 species. The mixed habitats of marshland, grassland and open woodland provided at Kranji for a high biodiversity. Coming a distant second was Sungei Buloh Route 2 which had 56 species and third was Kranji Dam, with 47 species. The least species diverse sites were Lower Seletar Dam (27), followed by Chinese Garden, Mount Faber and Pasir Ris Park, all with 28 species.

20200526_145438

How about numbers? Well, the sites with the most number of birds counted were Sungei Buloh Route 1 with 495 birds counted followed by Sungei Buloh Route 2 (460) and Kranji Marshes (456). The sites with the least number of birds were Lower Peirce Reservoir with 80 birds, followed by Sime Track, Central Catchment Nature Reserve (130) and Bukit Batok Nature Park (137).

20200526_145503

Rare and interesting migratory species found during ABC2020 included Peregrine Falcon, Grey Plover, Drongo Cuckoo, Indian Cuckoo, Blue-winged Pitta, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow-browed Warbler. Eastern Crowned Warbler and Black-browed Reed Warbler. Globally threatened species included Lesser Adjutant (2 birds at Mandai Estuary), Straw-headed Bulbul (national count of 77 birds) and Greater Green Leafbird (2).

Nationally threatened specialties included Little Grebe (2 birds), Great-billed Heron (5), Changeable Hawk Eagle (9), Red-wattled Lapwing (11), Rusty-breasted Cuckoo (3), Mangrove Pitta (2 birds on Pulau Ubin), Asian Red-eyed Bulbul (7), Chestnut-winged Babbler (2), Oriental Magpie-robin (30) and White-rumped Shama (18)

This census would not have been possible if not for the counters who braved the elements and helped us to complete our 35th year of census. So, our grateful thanks to 39 volunteers.

Alan OwYong KP Teh Sin Yong Chee Keita
Alfred Chia Lee Bee Yong Steven Shields
Andrew Chow Leung Wei Kee Susan Knight
Atsuko Kawasaki Lim Kim Chuah Tan Kok Hui
Betty Shaw Lim Kim Keang Terry Heppell
Con Foley Martin Kennewell Twang Fangqi
Ding Li Yong Morten Strange Veronica Foo
Erika, Michelle Movin Nyanasengeran Willie Foo
Esther Kong MY Chan Wing Chong
Eunice Kong Nessie Khoo Yan Jiejun
Jane Heppell Ng Bee Choo Yap Wee Jin
John Spencer Ng Chay Tuan Yap Wee Jin
Kim Seng Lim Seng Beng Yeo Yong Yik Shih

Hope to see all of you again in 2021!

Birds Species Detectability in a HDB Heartland

Bird Species Detectability in a HDB Heartland

By Lim Kim Seng (ibisbill@yahoo.com)

Fig 2-1

Javan Myna, a joint Top Most Detectable Species With Rock Dove and Asian Glossy Starling. Photo © Lim Kim Seng

 Introduction

This is a continuation of my studies of birds outside my balcony window in a HDB heartland called Woodlands. In the previous study, I found out that my one-hectare HDB neighbourhood actually has a decent diversity of birds – 36 species seen or heard over 40 days. What I wanted to do in this particular study is to find out what species are the most regularly seen or heard. In other words, what bird species are present virtually every day? What are our most common birds in HDB heartland? What are the rarest?

Methodology

To find out the most common birds in my neighbourhood, I resorted to a simple method or recording “presence”“ or “absence”, based on my observations by sight or sound of birds outside my balcony and study windows. I also added species that I saw on my regular trips to the wet market and supermarket to buy groceries. I kept a list of species in a notebook from April 4th to May 16th, a total of 40 days. I tried to keep watch of a total duration of an hour a day, aided by my 8×30 binoculars and my 65x zoom bridge camera.

Detectability and “Common-ness”

Over 40 days, 36 bird species were recorded. The results for the Ten Most Common or “Detectable” Species included three that were ever present – Asian Glossy Starling, Javan Myna and Common Pigeon.  These species were most often seen utilizing man-made structures such as rooftops, TV aerials as well as on trees and different ground surfaces. It should come as no surprise that two of these were introduced to Singapore.

Joint fourth was the Brown-throated Sunbird. This was a surprise as I had expected the ubiquitous Olive-backed Sunbird to be the winner. The former came to a tree outside my balcony almost every day to perform its chiffchaff-like song, especially at dawn. I think it is just one or two pairs that exist in my neighbourhood but they are very noticeable when they call. The other species was Swinhoe’s White-eye, another dawn singer in my tree and also present almost daily with a variety of chirps that made them instantly recognizable. I missed both only on one day each.

The rest of the Top Ten included Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, one of four parrots recorded, Black-naped Oriole, Pacific Swallow, Spotted Dove, Red-breasted Parakeet and either Germain’s or Black-nest Swiftlet.

The Eleventh to Twentieth positions also include some very familiar “garden birds” such as Asian Koel, House crow, Yellow-vented Bulbul and Olive-backed Sunbird as well as newly colonizing species such as Little Bronze Cuckoo. The complete list is in Appendix 1.

Perhaps, as our HDB heartlands and urban spaces are landscaped with plants that attract wildlife and as urban green spaces become more heterogeneous, these and other species will invade more urban areas in Singapore in the future. In addition, balconies in more favorable surroundings like parklands, wetlands, coasts or forests should show a richer and more diverse birdlife than my neighbourhood.

Recommendations and Conclusion

Even though this was a one-off study at just one site, I hope that it gives us an idea of what our most common birds of urban Singapore is, and how such studies can be done very easily with a minimum of fuss. More detailed studies could perhaps be made on why these species are so highly successful at colonizing man-made habitats compared to others.

 Appendix 1

Full List of Birds Detected at Woodlands Study Site, April 4th to May 16th, 2020 (Numbers in brackets next to the species indicates the number of days they were detected.)

1            Asian Glossy Starling  Aplonis panayensis (40)

2            Rock Dove Columba livia (40)

3            Javan Myna Acridotheres javanicus (40)

4            Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis               (39)

5            Swinhoe’s White-eye Zosterops simplex               (39)

6            Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus (33)

7            Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis (32)

8            Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica (31)

9            Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis (31)

10          Red-breasted Parakeet  Psittacula alexandri (25)

11          Swiftlet sp. Aerodramus sp. (25)

12          Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis (24)

13          Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum (23)

14          Pied Triller Lalage nigra (20)

15          Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus moluccensis (17)

16          Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea  (16)

17          Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier (15)

18          House Crow Corvus splendens (14)

19          Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus (14)

20          Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri  (14)

21          Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans (13)

22          Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus  (11)

23          Zebra Dove Geopelia striata (7)

24          Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa (4)

25          Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis (4)

26          Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis (3)

27          Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata (3)

28          Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis (2)

29          Common Myna Acridotheres tristis (2)

30          Golden-bellied Gerygone Gerygone sulphurea (2)

31          Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda (2)

32          Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus  (1)

33          Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris (1)

34          Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus (1)

35          Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor (1)

36          White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster (1)

Fig 2-2

Spotted Dove and Asian Glossy Starlings seen from my balcony. Photo © Lim Kim Seng

Bird Species Diversity in a HDB Heartland.

Bird Species Diversity in a HDB Heartland

By Lim Kim Seng (ibisbill@yahoo.com)

Fig 1

The study site looking from my study window, Woodlands, Singapore. Photo © Lim Kim Seng

 Introduction

I live in Woodlands, a lively HDB township in the north of Singapore. My unit is on the 6th floor of a 13th storey HDB flat facing north, just 2 km from the Straits of Johor. My balcony and study room windows face the south, overlooking a 4-storey multi-story car park and another 13th flat just 100 m away. To north of my flat is a tiny patch of secondary forest that had been reduced in extent over the last twenty years due to the establishment of a new polytechnic and upcoming plans for retail, commercial and industrial infrastructure, and a new MRT station. To the south are yet more flats, a small shopping mall with an adjoining wet market and supermarket, an old folks’ home and a small community garden. To the south-west, a primary school where both of my kids studied.

From a landscape ecology perspective, my estate is about as concrete as it gets with about fifty trees (mostly Podocarpus, but also including saga, Cassia, Syzigium, rambutan, tembusu and mahogany), hedges and grassy verges surrounding my flat and the nearby roads. A small grassy field separates my flat from a neighbouring flat. The whole area is no more than one hectare.

Methodology

The unprecedented circuit breaker measures enforced by the Singapore government in late March 2020 to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak offered an opportunity to study the birds of my 25-year old neighbourhood. Beginning April 4th, I spent an average of one hour each day watching and listening birds outside my balcony or study room windows. I kept a list of species seen or heard each day. This was supplemented by walks to the supermarket about twice a week for groceries. On May 16th, I stopped to review what I have recorded after 40 days.

Species Diversity

Over 40 days, I recorded 36 species of birds. Of these, almost all were resident breeders. The sole exception was an Arctic Warbler, which wasn’t seen subsequently and likely passing through. The average daily diversity was 14.75 species with a low of 10 achieved on 4 days and a high of 22 on 2 days.

The most successful families were the pigeons with five species represented, followed by parrots (4 species), sturnids (4 species) and raptors (3 species).

Most of the 36 species were common species such as pigeons, crows, mynas and sparrows but they also included some surprises. Pied Imperial Pigeon was detected only once, two birds feeding on the fruits of a MacArthur’s Palm outside a neighbourhood supermarket. Long-tailed Parakeet was detected on two occasions and indicated that the planting of suitable fruiting trees could help it become a common urban species in Singapore. Also surprising was a Collared Kingfisher that demonstrated its adaptability to apparently unsuitable habitat in my study area.

The time of the year favours the resident species, for which April to June is peak breeding period, and was rather late for migrating birds. As such only one migrant (Arctic Warbler) was detected whereas common migratory species such as Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Daurian Starling, all of which I have recorded in my area in the past, went missing in this study.

Other surprise omissions include the following urban species: White-throated Kingfisher, Coppersmith Barbet, Common Flameback, Oriental Dollarbird, Long-tailed Shrike, Common Iora, Common Tailorbird and Paddyfield Pipit.

Perhaps, as our HDB heartlands and urban spaces are landscaped with plants that attract wildlife and as urban green spaces become more heterogeneous, these and other species will invade more urban areas in Singapore in the future. In addition, balconies in more favorable surroundings like parklands, wetlands, coasts or forests should show a richer and more diverse birdlife than my neighbourhood.

Species Discovery Curve

The 40-day period of observation also allowed me to plot a Species Discovery Curve for my neighbourhood. It gives an indication of the species diversity of an area. The richer the area is, the longer it would take for the curve to flatten out.

1-_1010324

Table 1: Species Discovery Curve for Woodlands Estate

The vertical axis marks the cumulative number of species from day 1 to 40 while the horizontal axis marks the number of days that the species were surveyed. It can be seen that the curve started flattening on Day 5 when 28 species were recorded. It took another 35 days to record an additional 8 species, to make a grand total of 36 species in all.

It would be interesting to do a similar graph for other HDB heartlands and urban areas in Singapore to see if the species diversity is similarly low. Of course, balconies located near richer ecosystems like coasts, mangroves or rainforests can expect higher species diversity as well as a different assemblage of species.

Recommendations and Conclusion

Even though this was a one-off study at just one site, I hope that it gives us an idea of what the bird species diversity is like for the more urban parts of Singapore. I hope that this study will show how such studies can be done very easily with a minimum of fuss.

Appendix 1

Full List of Birds Detected at Woodlands Study Site, April 4th to May 16th, 2020

  1. Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
  2. Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
  3. White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
  4. Rock Dove Columba livia
  5. Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
  6. Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
  7. Pink-necked Green Pigeon Teron vernans
  8. Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor
  9. Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
  10. Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus
  11. Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis
  12. Swiftlet sp. Aerodramus
  13. Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris
  14. Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis
  15. Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus moluccensis
  16. Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
  17. Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri
  18. Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula Longicauda
  19. Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus
  20. Golden-bellied Gerygone Gerygone sulphurea
  21. Pied Triller Lalage nigra
  22. Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
  23. House Crow Corvus splendens
  24. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier
  25. Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
  26. Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis
  27. Swinhoe’s White-eye Zosterops simplex
  28. Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis
  29. Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa
  30. Javan Myna Acridotheres javanicus
  31. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
  32. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum
  33. Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis
  34. Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis
  35. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
  36. Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata

Fig 2

Spotted Dove, one of the regulars seen from my balcony. Photo © Lim Kim Seng

Singapore Bird Report – March 2020

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

March continued to see the reporting of spectacular species – the 3rd record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo, a male, at Ghim Moh; the continued presence of the 3rd recorded Chinese Blue Flycatcher; and visitation by the globally threatened Chinese Egrets at Pulau Ubin.

Chinese Egret

Chinese Egret, 210320, Chek Jawa, Vincent Ng, crop

A Chinese (left) and Intermediate Egret at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 March 2020 by Vincent Ng

On 16 March 2020, Richard White and Francis Yap was at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin at low tide when Richard spotted a Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes, a rare visitor, on the intertidal zone. The egret continued to frequent the tidal flats on subsequent days, giving many birders a chance to see this globally threatened species in Singapore. T. Ramesh was delighted to spot the egret on 20 March 2020 just before the low afternoon tide and recorded some videos of its active feeding behaviour. On 31 March 2020, Vincent Ng recorded three individuals feeding together. The species was previously reported with a fair degree of regularity at Pulau Tekong only.

According to Dr. Yong Ding Li, “the egret can be tricky to ID, especially if in the non-breeding plumage, and seen from a great distance. But a nicely written article by Nial Moores shows that foraging behaviour can be a great clue towards its identification – especially its more erratic and ‘kancheong‘ movements!” This was also observed by T. Ramesh in his short notes and video.

Asian Emerald Cuckoo

AEC, 230320, Ghim Moh, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan

The Asian Emerald Cuckoo at Ghim Moh, photographed on 23 March 2020 by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan.

Singapore’s third record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus, came in the form of a splendid male. The two earlier records were at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park in May 2006, when an immature and a female appeared, and at Sentosa between late December 2017 and January 2018, when two females appeared. Social media reports indicated that the bird was first discovered on 23 March 2020 along the park connector at Ghim Moh. This bird continued to stay at the location until the end of the month, feeding on the abundant caterpillars that flourished in the trees.

The species is regarded at being of Least Concern and can be found from the Himalayas, through Nepal and Bhutan, NE India, Bangladesh and S China, through Myanmar, NW Thailand, N Laos and N and central Vietnam. During winter, it flies to S India, Sri Lanka, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indochina and Malaysia, with small numbers arriving at Sumatra (Payne, 2020). First reports of the bird arriving at the Penang Botanical Gardens were posted on social media around 16 December 2019 (Kelvin Low), and 19 December 2019 (Chan Kai Soon). Hence, it is possible that the bird encountered in March 2020, may well be a returnee heading back to its northern breeding grounds.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Chinese Blue FC, 110320, Dillenia, Angela Yeo

The Chinese Blue Flycatcher at CCNR, photographed on 11 March 2020 by Angela Yeo.

The core CCNR continued to support interesting forest species. These included a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus borealoides, which was spotted on 4 March 2020 at Mandai Track 15 by Choong YT, a non-breeding visitor in the form of a Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 8 March 2020, as seen by Lim Kim Chuah, the gem of an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, on 12 March 2020 along Rifle Range Link by Choong YT, and a Mugimaki Flycatcher, Ficedula mugimaki, on 14 March 2020 by John Ascher. Birders and photographers alike continued to be delighted to find the very rare Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis glaucicomans, from 1 March 2020, through to 14 March 2020, as seen by Norhafiani A Majid, and by Geoff Lim on 16 March 2020 (the same individual was first recorded on 25 February 2020). This presents the possibility that the species may be over-wintering in Singapore, albeit undetected.  Up to two Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, were also seen by Geoff Lim and Norman Wu on 16 March 2020.

At Dairy Farm Nature Park an Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, was reported on 4 March 2020 by Steven Cheong. Two owls were reported by Choong YT on 17 March 2020, a Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, (heard only), and a Northern Boobook, Ninox japonica, that was rehabilitated and released by Jurong Bird Park/NParks. About a week later, on 24 March 2020, three Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, were seen and reported by Oliver Tan, while an Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, was reported on 28 March 2020 by Mike Hooper.

Windsor Nature Park proved to fruitful, with a Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, seen on 14 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, a Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, reported on 16 March 2020 by Oliver Tan, and a Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus, seen and reported feeding on starfruit on 18 March 2020 by Kwok Tuck Loong.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

GPS, 060320, SBG, Herman Phua

Greater Painted Snipe at Botanic Gardens photographed on 6 March 2020 by Herman Phua.

A Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, was reported on 2 March 2020 on the Red Brick Path by Kwok Tuck Loong, while a Greater Painted Snipe, Rostatrula benghalensis was seen at the Eco-Lake of the Gardens on 5 March 2020 by Laurence Eu, and subsequently reported until 12 March 2020 (David Fur). During this period, a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, was reported on 8 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, while a Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, (possibly the same individual – Singapore’s first record – first seen on 30 November 2019) was reported on 14 March 2020 by Marcel Finlay and on 20 March 2019 by Myron Tay. At the end of the month, a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, was reported on 30 March 2020 by Choong YT. On the fringe of the Gardens, a Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus, was reported from Cluny Road on 5 March 2020 by Sandra Chia.

Taiga FC, 200320, SBG, Myron Tay

Taiga Flycatcher at Singapore Botanic Gardens, taken on 20 March 2020 by Myron Tay.

Central Singapore

Barn Owl, MAr 2020, TPY, David Fur

Eastern Barn Owl at Toa Payoh, photographed by David Fur on 16 March 2020.

Beginning on 11 March 2020, visitors to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park stumbled upon a Mangrove Pitta, Pitta macrorhyncha. First reported by Steve Ang a day after, the bird continued to be reported until 30 March 2020 by Vincent Chin.  This bird represents one of the few rare occurrences on mainland Singapore’s non-mangrove habitats, previous records included one at Singapore Botanic Gardens and two at the Lower Peirce Reservoir boardwalk in 2014, and a recent finding at Woodlands in January 2020. During this period, visitors also reported two Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, on 11 March 2020 (Martin Kennewell). An Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus, was also seen on 28 March 2020 by Angela Christine Chua. At Toa Payoh,  an Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto javanica, was reported on 16 March 2020 by Norman Wu.

Northern Singapore

A Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, was reported on 8 March 2020 from 960 Woodlands Road by Geri Lim, while a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, was reported on 21 March 2020 from Coney Island by Tan Kok Hui.

Eastern Singapore

An Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, was reported from Tampines Eco Garden on 5 March 2020 by Philip Howell, while a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, was seen on 14 March 2020 at Changi Business Park, by T. Ramesh, who also saw a Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, at Bedok North Street 1 on 16 March 2020, and a Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, on 28 March 2020 at Tanah Merah Coastal Road.

The star attraction at Pulau Ubin beginning on 16 March 2020 to the month’s end was the rarely encountered Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes. Also observed at Chek Jawa were a Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, on 18 March 2020 (Fadzrun A), a Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, on 20 March 2020 (Fadzrun A), as well as two Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, on 21 March 2020 (Tay Kian Guan).

Southern Singapore

Malaysian Plover, 190320, ME, Art Toh

Two Malaysian Plovers at Marina East photographed on 19 March 2020 by Art Toh.

One report of a Siberian Blue Robin, Larvivora cyane, was made on 20 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, while a White-throated Needletail, Hirundapus caudacutus, was spotted on 24 March 2020 on Sentosa by Dillen Ng. The Marina East area saw reports of two Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, on 19 March 2020 by Art Toh, a Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, on 28 March 2020 by Russell Boyman, a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 29 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, who also saw two Kentish Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus, and four Malaysian Plover on the same day. At the top of Pinnacle @ Duxton, a juvenile/female Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, was photographed by Angie Cheong on 7 March 2020.

Western Singapore

The Kranji Marshes-Neo Tiew Harvest Lane-Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 area continued to support a good number of species. Beginning with Kranji Marshes, we received sighting reports of eight White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, on 7 March 2020 from Lau Jia Sheng. Also seen were two Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus, and a single Red Avadavat, Amandava amandava, on 8 March 2020 by Martti Siponen, who also spotted two Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, on 21 March 2020. One Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was seen on 29 March 2020, as was an Ashy Minivet, Pericrocotus divaricatus, by Martin Kennewell.

Over at the monsoon drain running somewhat parallel to Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, one Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius, and a White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, were spotted on 23 March 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, who also spotted a Greater Painted-Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, on 27 March 2020. A Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, which was earlier reported at the site in January and February 2020, continued to be seen on 8 March 2020 by Vincent Chang and on 29 March 2020 by Michael Leong.

Ruddy KF, 080320, LCKL3, Vincent Chang

Ruddy Kingfisher at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 photographed on 8 March 2020 by Vincent S S Chang.

Along the fields at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, a Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, was spotted on 14 March 2020 by Martin Kennewell, while a Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, was reported on 15 March 2020 by Russell Boyman. Several days later, two Oriental Pratincole, Glareola maldivarum, were reported on 27 March 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy. At the nearby Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a  Black Baza, Aviceda leuphotes, was spotted on 28 March 2020 by Martti Siponen, while the resident Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, was observed on 30 March 2020 by Peter Bijlmakers.

Brahminy Starling, 010320, JLG, Art Toh

Brahminy Starling at Jurong Lake Garden on 1 March 2020, photographed by Art Toh.

The Brahminy Starling, Sturnia pagodarum, at Jurong Lake Garden continued to be seen, with a record on 1 March 2020 by Art Toh. Apart from the afore mentioned Asian Emerald Cuckoo on 23 March 2020, we also noted reports of a Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra at King Albert Park by Martin Kennewell, as well as a  Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis, on the same day at Ulu Pandan Park Connector by Oliver Tan. Two days later, an Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus, was reported from Ulu Pandan Park Connector as well, by Sylvester Goh.

 

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, Angela Yeo, David Fur, Herman Phua, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, Myron Tay,  Vincent Chang, and Vincent Ng for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCE

Payne, R. B. (2020). Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus), 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.asecuc1.01

Unexplained observations of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis nesting.

Unexplained observations of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis nesting.

By Alfred Chia.

I had written briefly on my Facebook page about the nesting of an Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis along the corridor of my flat. The nest was however built out-of-sight and out-of-reach and hung from one of my plant which overhangs beyond the parapet wall. You will not be able to see it unless you take the trouble to peer over the wall.

image4

Link: https://www.facebook.com/540928362/posts/10158109695448363/?d=n

Briefly, the female sunbird started constructing the nest on or before 10 February 2020. On 16 March, the female started occupying the nest. From 8 April onwards, the male was observed bringing food to the nest very frequently, each time perching on another plant that is visible to me as I stand within my house, before it flies into the nest to feed its fledgling. Out of two chicks, one survived, as is usual. This chick fledged on 18 April, about twelve days after hatching. After this, the fledgling was not seen but the two parent birds still came to my plants sporadically.

image2

On 21 April, something unexpected (at least to me) happened. I had peered beyond the parapet wall at 1100 hours just to see if there is still any activity at the nest. No activity was seen, as has been the case since the chick fledged on 18 April but it was noticed that the nest opening was a wee bit messed up such that the opening was partially blocked. At 1315 hours, I went back out again to have a look. I was shocked at what confronted me. The nest was missing! I looked at the small ledge that was directly below the area where the nest was at formerly to see if it had dropped onto it. Besides some remnant dried leaves that were already there for some time, the nest was nowhere to be found. Baffled, I took the lift to the ground floor to further check if the nest had dropped there. Again, it was not found.

image3

A flurry of questions immediately ran through my mind. What happened to the nest? Did the sunbird remove the nest intentionally? Or was it relocated? Why did they do it? Where could it have taken it to? Could it have been the female sunbird who remove it? Could it have carried the entire nest structure away in one fell swoop because the remnant dried leaves on the ledge does not indicate that it had increased exponentially?

I had a previous unexplained experience of an incomplete Olive-backed Sunbird nest missing too. This was on a plant along the corridor. It was halfway through construction when suddenly it just disappeared. It was a clean act too as the floor directly below the nest was clean and devoid of any nesting material. At that time, I had even surmised that my friendly block cleaner could have taken it off my plant as the nest building can be very messy with bits of the material being dropped onto the floor constantly. About two months after this incident, I had my niece, who lives in Yishun, coming up to me to ask if sunbirds are capable of removing nest after painstakingly building it. Hers was also in the midst of being constructed when she realised that it was missing the next day. When I ask if it could have been the block’s cleaner who had removed it, she replied that the cleaner hardly ever cleans the corridor.

A check through my Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Spiderhunters & Sugarbirds monograph by Robert A. Cheke & Clive F. Mann reveal no such information on nest removal or relocation. A check through the internet & other resources did not help either.

It will be interesting to know if any of our readers, birders or photographers have noted such behaviour from an Olive-backed Sunbird  before. I’d be glad to hear from you. Additionally, it may be well worth to follow-up on future nesting of this species if you come across it – both pre and post-nesting.

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2020

GFB, 080320, KM, MArtti Siponen, crop

Grey-faced Buzzard, at Kranji Marshes, on 8 March 2019, by Martti Siponen

Summary for migrant species:

In March 2020, 131 migrant raptors of ten species were recorded. There were 52 Oriental Honey Buzzards, including 7 at Pasir Ris on the 7th. The 27 Japanese Sparrowhawks included some, apparently on migration, over the Kent Ridge Park – seven on the 27th and nine on the 30th. There were also 19 Black Bazas, including 11 at Kent Ridge Park on the 27th.

The single immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle wintering here was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 22nd, and at Ulu Pandan Park Connector on the 24th. At Bedok, Ramesh T. managed to spot the Common Buzzard after a few visits, following the uncommon raptor’s appearance late last month.

JB, 160320, CBP, Herman Phua

Jerdon’s Baza, at Changi Business Park, on 16 March 2020, by Herman Phua

Four Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded, one each at Halus-Coney Island area, Tampines Eco Green, Changi Business Park and Pulau Ubin. Of the five Grey-faced Buzzards reported, one at Sentosa was found injured and taken in for care, one was flying over Pasir Ris on the 4th, two at Kranji Marshes on the 8th, and another at Chek Jawa on the 13th.

Seven Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, including five on migration over Kent Ridge Park (3 on the 27th, and 2 on the 30th). Nine Peregrine Falcons and six Western Ospreys rounded up the migrant raptors for March 2020. At Kent Ridge Park on the 27th, eight Accipiters, not identified to species level, were likely on northward migration.

BWK, 250320, Turut, James Gan

Black-winged Kite, with its striking red eyes well ‘captured’, at Kranji Marshes, on 25 Mar 2020, by James Gan

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were reported for four resident raptor species. A fledgling dark morph Changeable Hawk-Eagle was photographed at the Botanic Gardens on the 2nd. An adult White-bellied Sea Eagle was sitting on its nest at Coney Island on the 21st. A fledgling Grey-headed Fish Eagle was recorded on its nest at Springleaf on the 4th, with an adult closeby; and there was activity at the nest on the 20th.

For the Crested Goshawks, four nests were reported: one at Pasir Ris where an adult was on the nest guarding against a party of Oriental Pied Hornbills, on the 3rd; one at Thomson where an adult brought a Javan Myna for the fledgling, on the 7th; one at Pasir Panjang with two chicks, on the 7th; and on the 29th, another at Sentosa with a fledgling, and it was noted that ‘a few days prior’, the adults were ‘dive-bombing’ a party of Oriental Pied Hornbills to keep them away from the nest.

The other sedentary raptors recorded included three Crested Serpent Eagles: one at Goldhill Avenue area throughout the month, one adult at Pulau Ubin on the 18th, and one at King Albert Park on the 22nd. There were also six Black-winged Kites and the common Brahminy Kites.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Martti Siponen, Herman Phua, and James Gan for the use of their photos.

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

 

Singapore Raptor Report – February 2020

Common Buzzard, 270220, Bedok, Danny Khoo

Common Buzzard, juvenile pale morph, at Bedok North Avenue 3, on 27 Feb 2020, by Danny Khoo

Summary for migrant species:

In February 2020, 126 raptors of 10 migrant species were recorded. A scarce Common Buzzard perched on top of a HDB apartment block at Bedok North Avenue 3 was photographed by Danny Khoo on the 27th. A single dark morph Booted Eagle was photographed in flight at Coney Island on the 23rd by Yip Jen Wei, who also photographed a Grey-faced Buzzard at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin on the 29th.

Three Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, one at Pasir Ris, one at Lorong Halus – Coney Island area, and one female wintering at Ang Mo Kio. Of the six Jerdon’s Bazas, five were recorded in the Lorong Halus – Coney Island area between the 7th to the 22nd, and one at Pulau Ubin on the 23rd. At our coastal areas, six Western Ospreys were recorded, including one at Lorong Halus on the 25th, mobbed by a Peregrine Falcon. As for the Peregrine Falcons, seven were recorded around the island, including one that mobbed an Oriental Honey Buzzard at Lorong Halus on the 25th.

Nine Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, all singles, at various localities. Rounding off the migrant raptors were 45 Oriental Honey Buzzards and 47 Black Bazas, including a flock of 14 at Kranji Marshes on the 28th.

GHFE, 180220, Pandan River, Yeak Hwee Lee, cinnamon bittern 5

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, flying off with an adult male Cinnamon Bittern that it had caught in the river, at Pandan River, on 18 Feb 2020, by Yeak Hwee Lee

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were observed for five resident species. On the 10th, a pair of Changeable Hawk-Eagles (1 pale morph & 1 dark morph) were observed on their nest at Little Guilin. On the 23rd, a Black-winged Kite at Kranji Marshes was flying with nesting materials. At Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 25th, a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles were photographed in the act of mating. On the 28th, an active nest of the Brahminy Kite was found at the Jurong Lake Gardens.

February might just be the peak breeding period for the Crested Goshawk, as breeding-related activities were observed at five different locations: on the 5th, a nest with one chick was recorded at West Coast Park; on the 10th, courtship feeding was observed between a pair which had built a nest at Pasir Ris Park; the goshawk at Ang Mo Kio on the 10th was apparently nesting for the second season; at Pasir Panjang, an active nest with two chicks was observed throughout the month; and at Thomson, a nest with two chicks was recorded during the month, although only one chick survived.

Crested Goshawk, 130220, PRP, Michael Kwee, prey monitor lizard 4

Crested Goshawk, with a young Water Monitor Lizard that it had caught, at Pasir Ris Park, on 13 Feb 2020, by Michael Kwee.

Nine Grey-headed Fish Eagles were recorded at various waterbodies, including an adult at Pandan River on the 18th, ‘captured’ on camera by a lucky few (Yeak Hwee Lee, et al) in the act of catching an adult male Cinnamon Bittern that was hunting in the river. This is the second time a Grey-headed Fish Eagle was observed preying on a Cinnamon Bittern – the previous occurrence was on 13 Sep 2018, also at Pandan River. While mostly a fish eater, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle is known to take birds up to the size of a junglefowl, and small mammals like squirrels.

GHFE,-180220,-Pandan-River,-Yeak-Hwee-Lee,-cinnamon-bittern,-animation,-660

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, in a sequence ‘caught’ on camera as it caught and flew off with a Cinnamon Bittern, at Pandan River, on 18 Feb 2020, by Yeak Hwee Lee.

A Crested Serpent Eagle was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 12th & 25th. And, one torquatus tweeddale morph Oriental Honey Buzzard was recorded at Singapore Quarry on the 20th.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Danny Khoo, Yeak Hwee Lee, and Michael Kwee for the use of their photos.

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

Singapore Bird Report – February 2020

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

February continues with unusual species – the first occurrence of the Chinese Blackbird in Singapore, the first occurrence of the nominate subspecies of the White Wagtail, and our third sighting of the very rare Chinese Blue Flycatcher.

1. CBFC

Chinese Blue Flycatcher, photographed by a casual birder on 25 February 2020 at the CCNR.

The third sighting of the very rare Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis glaucicomans, was made by a casual birder on 25 February 2020 inside the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR).  On 29 February 2020, the bird was spotted again and heard in the early morning by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee, and subsequently seen by several others in the late morning. Previous occurrences for the species included a sighting in November 1997 at Sungei Buloh, and a male bird photographed at Bidadari in November 2013 (the supposed occurrence in December 2015 was a mis-identification).

The Chinese Blue Flycatcher was previously lumped together as a subspecies of the Blue-throated Flycatcher, Cyornis rubeculoides, (for more taxonomic info, see Zhang, et al., 2016). Although classified as Least Concern, the bird is generally uncommon and widespread across its breeding range, which extends from southern Shaanxi and western Hubei to Yunnan, and its non-breeding range in west, central and southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia (del Hoyo, Collar and Christie, 2020), and Singapore.

This species prefers dense thickets, and the low and shady understorey, rarely 3m above the ground (del Hoyo, Collar and Christie, 2020); though observations by volunteers have shown that the species does visit the mid to upper canopy levels of the rainforest. In view of its preferred habitat and skulking habits, and possibility of appearances by non-breeding juvenile or female plumages, this species may be under-observed and may overwinter in Singapore.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

2, OHT

The Orange-headed Thrush at Dairy Farm Nature Park photographed on 22 February 2020 by Alan Owyong.

The core CCNR forests yielded several good species. Apart from the Chinese Blue Flycatcher, other birds spotted include two Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps, seen on 2 February 2020 at Jelutong Tower by Sandra Chia, a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 22 February 2020 by Martin Kennewell, four Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, seen on 23 February 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, and a Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka, on 28 February 2020 by Richard Davis.

The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) yielded a Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cyanomelana, on 15 February 2020 by Martin Kennewell, a Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, on 21 February 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, who also saw two Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus, on the same day, a Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, on 23 Feb 2020, by Ryan Bruce, two Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, and one Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus borealoides, on 23 February 2020 by Lim Kim Chuah.

Over at the nearby Hindhede Nature Park, two Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, were reported by Norhafiani Majid at the quarry pool, as was a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 25 February 2020 by Richard Davis. On the same day, one Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, was seen by Lu Kiat.

Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) yielded a Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, which was spotted on 11 February 2020 by Art Toh, and on 25 February 2020 by Richard Davis. An Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, in partial moult was observed on 15 and 23 February 2020 by Geoff Lim, who also spotted another Green-backed Flycatcher together with Yong Ding Li on the latter date. On 12 February 2020, a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, was seen by Keita Sin.

3, RLC

Red-legged Crake with its chick at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 7 February 2020 and photographed by Herman Phua.

The month’s record at the gardens began with the sighting of a Blue-winged Pitta, on 1 February 2020 by James Tann. A report of a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, was made six days later on 7 February 2020 by Peter Bijlmakers, who saw the bird in the rainforest section of the gardens. On the same day, a Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, with a chick, was spotted by Herman Phua.

4a, apfc

A white-morph Amur/Blyth’s paradise flycatcher, on 28 February 2020, photographed by Isabelle Lee

The month’s end saw reports of an Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, on 25 February 2020 by Sandra Chia; a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, on 26 February 2020 by Choong YT; and the re-appearance of the Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, also on 26 February 2020 by Josh Spiler. The appearance of a white morph Blyth’s / Amur Paradise Flycatcher, on 28 February 2020, delighted many birders, such as Norhafiani A Majid who provided the report in social media. Interestingly, one of the long tail streamers of the paradise flycatcher was half-brown half-white! On 29 February 2020, a Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, was reported by Felicia Tay; and Cheong Khan Hoong observed a pair of Banded Woodpeckers Chrysophlegma miniaceum mating.

4, TF

Taiga Flycatcher at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 26 February 2020 photographed by Vincent Lao

Central Singapore

A Lanceolated Warbler, Locustella lanceolata, was spotted under the hedgerow near the CHIJ Toa Payoh playground on 6 February 2020 by Richard Davis, who subsequently also spotted a Chinese Hwamei, Garrulax canorus, and an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis, at Toa Payoh on 12 February 2020. (Note: the Chinese Hwamei appears to be a recently escaped pet).

Northern Singapore

5, HHC

A Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo spotted on 4 February 2020 on Coney Island by Oliver Tan.

A Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, was spotted on 4 and 7 February 2020 on Coney Island by Oliver Tan, and again on 22 February 2020 on the same isalnd by Tan Kok Hui. A Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis, was seen at Lorong Halus Wetland on 11 February 2020 by Peter Bijlmakers. On 22 February 2020, a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, and five White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, were spotted at Lorong Halus Wetland by Lu Kiat, while a solitary Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, was spotted on 26 February 2020 by Martin Kennewell. Other birds spotted in the north included one Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, on 24 February 2020 at Seletar Dam by Martin Kennewell, as well as up to 80 Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, seen at Yishun St 11 in a communal roost by Oliver Tan.

Eastern Singapore

The woods at Changi Business Park proved to be a cuckoo magnet, given the sighting of a Himalayan Cuckoo, Cuculus saturatus, on 4 February 2020 photographed by Choong YT, and a Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides, on 22 February 2020 by Yeo Seng Beng. A distance away, a single White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, was spotted at Sungei Bedok on 26 February 2020 by Choong YT, while two Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, were seen at Pasir Ris Park on 29 February 2020 by William Mahoney.

A visit on 23 February 2020 by Oliver Tan to Pulau Ubin yielded several species of shorebirds, such as fifty Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, thirty Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, three Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, one Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, ten Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, and thirteen Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii. During another visit on 25 February 2020, Oliver also counted 15 White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, on the island.

Southern Singapore

A White-rumped Munia, Lonchura striata, was spotted on 19 February 2020 at Telok Blangah Heights by Oliver Tan. A report of the nesting activities of this rare munia, was made by Vincent Chiang. At Gardens by the Bay on 4 February 2020, Lam SG observed a pair of Zebra Doves, Geopelia striata mating.

Western Singapore

6, Brah St

Brahminy Starling at Jurong Lake Gardens photographed on 29 February 2020 by Alan Owyong.

Jurong Lake Gardens, with its aquatic and park setting, has shown to support various types of birds. A Brahminy Starling, Sturnia pagodarum, descended on the gardens on 1 February 2020, and was reported by Tan Kok Hui; the bird has remained till the end of the month. Another starling, a Chestnut-cheeked Starling, Agropsar philippensis, was spotted on 9 February 2020 by Sandra Chia. A single Large Hawk-Cuckoo, was spotted on 8 and 16 February 2020, by Thana Sinnathamby and Peter Bijlmakers, respectively. A Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, was also reported on 15 February 2020 by Tan Kok Hui.

7, BWS

Three Black-winged Stilt at Jurong Lake Gardens on 16 February 2020 photographed by Geoff Lim.

The next day on 16 February 2020, three Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, were reported in the morning by Adrian Silas Tay. The birds, two adults and a juvenile, remained for the rest of the day. They were not seen on subsequent days. The grass fields of the gardens also supported a Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, which was spotted on 20 February 2020 by Keita Sin.

The Kranji Marshes, Neo Tiew fields and Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 continued to provide delights. At Kranji Marshes, besides a Red-rumped Swallow, Cecropis daurica, spotted on 7 February 2020 by Keita Sin, there were also three Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus, spotted on 23 February 2020 by Martin Kennewell, who also spotted a Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius. Visitors to the monsoon drain at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 were delighted to see a Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, which was reported on 1 February 2020 by Chan Tsan Tsai, and subsequently seen during the month by others. A  Pin-tailed Snipe, Gallinago stenura, was reported on 8 February 2020 by Fadzrun A.

8, WWT alba

White Wagtail, nominate species (M. alba alba) photographed at Neo Tiew on 9 February 2020 by Lee Van Hien.

The fields at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane harboured a White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, reported on 9 February 2020 by Lee Van Hien; the bird was a male of the nominate (alba) race, a rare find indeed. According to Alfred Chia, who posted a detailed note on the wagtail, he noted that “This is a summer plumage male Motacilla alba alba, another subspecies that will be new to Singapore…The black on breast of race leucopsis, whether in summer or winter plumage, do not extend to the throat, unlike this individual. The black on the throat also continues up on the neck-sides, a feature not found in leucopsis too. The two distinctive white wingbars formed by the white tips & edges to the median & greater coverts also rules out leucopsis. The lack of a black eye-stripe & the presence of the wingbars also rules out the lugens…”

Also seen was a Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, which was reported on 22 February 2020 by Fadzrun A, two Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, on 23 February 2020 by Pary Sivaraman, and a Red-throated Pipit, Anthus cervinus, on the same day by Martin Kennewell.

Nearby at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a single Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, was reported on 5 February 2020 by Choong YT. Subsequently on 26 February 2020, a House Swift, Apus nipalensis, was reported by Richard Davis, while a Blue-winged Pitta, was spotted by John Paul Briones.

Down by the West Coast Park, a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita, was seen on 14 February 2020 by Keita Sin, who also flagged out the existence of Singapore’s second Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, on 22 February 2020. On 28 February 2020, a Black Bittern, Dupetor flavicollis, was reported by Peter Bijlmakers, who also saw a Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, winging over the park. Further east at the NUS Education Research Centre, the previously reported Daurian Redstart, Phoenicurus auroreus, continued to be seen on 8 February 2020 by Tan Kok Hui.

Unusual Sightings

9, blackbird

Chinese Blackbird spotted at Jurong Lake Garden on 11 February 2020 by Oliver Tan

A Chinese Blackbird, Turdus mandarinus, was photographed on 11 February 2020 at Jurong Lake Gardens by Oliver Tan and others – this is the first occurrence of this species in Singapore; while an Asian Pied Starling, Gracupica contra, was spotted on 23 February 2020 at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane by Pary Sivaraman. The starling was previously spotted at Neo Tiew on 10 January 2020.

This report is compiled and by written by Geoff Lim and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, and 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 Alan Owyong, Isabelle Lee, Herman Phua, Lee Van Hien, Oliver Tan, Vincent Lao, Geoff Lim and the casual birder for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCES

del Hoyo, J., N. Collar, and D.A. Christie (2020). Chinese Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis glaucicomans), 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.butfly2.01

Zhang, Z., Wang, X., Huang, Y., Olsson, U., Martinez, J., Alström, P. & Lei, F. (2016) Unexpected divergence and lack of divergence revealed in continental Asian Cyornis flycatchers (Aves: Muscicapidae). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 94: 232–241.