Singapore Raptor Report – October 2016

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Common Buzzard, at Tuas South, 22 Oct 16, by Adrian Silas Tay.

Summary for migrant species:

October is the month when raptor migration starts to pickup and more than six hundred raptors of 9 migrant species were recorded. In terms of numbers, Oriental Honey Buzzards made up the bulk with 562 individuals, and the first influx of 246 birds was recorded on 16 Oct at Tuas South. There were 38 Japanese Sparrowhawks, mostly on passage, followed by 13 Chinese Sparrowhawks.

Observers spending time at Tuas were rewarded with a number of sought-after species. These included a Common Buzzard recorded on 22 Oct by Adrian Silas Tay and a few other birders; an immature male Eastern Marsh Harrier photographed on 22 Oct by Low Choon How; a dark morph Booted Eagle photographed on 23 Oct by See Toh Yew Wai; and a juvenile Pied Harrier photographed on 30 Oct by Low Choon How.

A Peregrine Falcon recorded at Lorong Halus on 29 Oct and an Osprey recorded at Kranji Marshes on 24 and 25 Oct completed the line up for the month. Surprisingly, there were no records of the Black Baza this October!

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Changeable Hawk-Eagle with prey (a Colugo), at Dairy Farm Nature Park, 1 Oct 16, by Siew Mun.

Highlights for sedentary species:

A rare image of a Changeable Hawk-Eagle with a Colugo in its talons was captured at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 1 Oct by Siew Mun. The rare Crested Serpent Eagle made a number of appearances at Kent Ridge this month, while a single record was reported at Sengkang Riverside Park. Kent Ridge and the nearby Telok Blangah Hill continued to be reliable areas to see the Crested Goshawk; additionally, there was a single record of an adult from Tagore/Lentor forest on 1 Oct. Also notable was an adult torquatus OHB photographed on 11 Oct by Marcel Finlay in the Central Forests.  The other resident raptors recorded included the Black-winged Kite, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Grey-headed Fish Eagle.

S/N Species No.   S/N Species No.
(1) Osprey 1 Residents / Sedentary Species
(2) Oriental Honey Buzzard 562 (10) Black-winged Kite 2
(3) Eastern Marsh Harrier 1 (11) Brahminy Kite 3
(4) Pied Harrier 1 (12) White-bellied Sea Eagle 6
(5) Chinese Sparrowhawk

13

(13) Grey-headed Fish Eagle 2
(6) Japanese Sparrowhawk 38 (14) Crested Serpent Eagle 2
(7) Booted Eagle 1 (15) Crested Goshawk 5
(8) Common Buzzard 1 (16) Changeable Hawk-Eagle 11
(9) Peregrine Falcon 1  
Unidentified
(17) Unidentified Accipiters 20
(18) Unidentified Raptors 117
Total for Migrants 619 Grand Total 787

Table 1

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Chinese Sparrowhawk, adult female, at Pasir Ris Park, 9 Oct 16, by Rey Aguila

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Japanese Sparrowhawk, adult female, at South Buona Vista Road, 31 Oct 16, by Francis Yap.

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Crested Goshawk, adult, at Kent Ridge Park, 20 Oct 16, by Francis Yap

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Adrian Silas Tay, Siew Mun, Rey Aguila and Francis Yap for the use of their photos.

For more details, please see the pdf version singapore-raptor-report-oct16

32nd Singapore Bird Race 2016 Review.

Close to 100 eager participants gathered at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves on 16th October for the 32nd Singapore Bird Race 7.30 am flag-off. 18 Photographer teams, 14 Advanced and Novice birder teams made up this record turn out for a chance to bird inside the conservation core of the Kranji Marshes. The change of format to a half day instead of a 24 hours race help to entice more new participants to get a feel of what a bird race is all about. All enjoyed the race and most will take part again based on the survey done after the race. Some even asked a longer race!

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A record turnout of close to 100 participants from 32 teams for the 32nd Singapore Bird Race.

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Shawn Lum President of Nature Society (Singapore) welcoming the participants.

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Lim Kim Chuah Chairperson of the Bird Group and organizer for the 32nd Bird Race briefing the participants on the Rules and Regulations before the start of the Race.

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We are most grateful to Simon Siow ( second from the right) for fielding not one but two teams from MNSJ for this year’s Bird Race. His team ( with Alyce Ang and Jimmy Lee) recorded a creditable 60 species in the Advanced Category. The Bird Group will be visiting Danga Bay with MNSJ to check on the waders wintering there in December as part of joined activities with MNSJ.

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Just after flag-off, all eyes peeled to the skies for the early ticks

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Teams in intense action inside the Conservation Core of the Kranji Marshes. Many thanks to SBWR for opening this area for the Bird Race.

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Teams at the main bridge at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves shooting egrets roosting on the mangroves.

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The Duck Hide inside the Kranji Marshes Core was a great spot to tick the Black-backed Swamphen. This is the first visit to the Core Conservation Area for many of the participants.

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Teams hard at work tallying up the day’s count before submission

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Team CAL taking a deserved break after a frantic morning of chasing ticks. From right Richard Lim,  Ang Kok Hwa, Chang Wei Hean and supporter Lim Chun King 

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Arbitrators Morten Strange, Albert Low, Francis Yap, Tan Gim Cheong and Lee Taih Khee checking on the entries of the various teams to determine the winners. Many thanks to all our arbitrators for helping out on their rest day.

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Time to tuck in to a sumptuous buffet after a hard morning’s work and swapping stories with other teams. 

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We are grateful to Dr. Lena Chan, Director of the National Biodiversity Center at NParks, for gracing the Bird Race as our Guest of Honor.

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Morten Strage author of several regional bird guides highlighting some of the notable species recorded during the race like the Bar-tailed Godwit, Long-toed Stint, Little Ringed Plover and Pacific Swifts.

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Albert Low talking about the bird diversity in South East Asia. He and Yong Ding Li recently launched their book “100 Best Bird Watching Sites in Southeast Asia” which was on sale on the day.

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Leong Kok Peng Vice President of NSS giving away prizes to Eyzat Amer of Team “Tiger Shrike” Winners of the Advanced Category with 75 species, a super effort. The team was led by Martin Kennewell with Richard Carden. Congratulations!

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Father and daughter Team “Sandpiper”. Dad Lim Kim Seng turned a family bonding session with daughters Nur Diana and Nur Nadia ( both not in the photo) into a winning affair taking second prize in the Advanced Category with 69 species. 

Team “Little Terns” Lim Kim Keang, Willie Foo, Wong Chung Cheong and Leung Wai Kee tied with the Malaysian Nature Society Johor Team 1 led by Simon Siow both with 60 species. “Little Terns” took third spot based on count back. 

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Team “Aim High” ( Richard White and See Toh Yew Wai with G.O.H Dr. Lena Chan) certainly did that. They came up tops among the 18 photography teams with 66 species photographed. This was a fantastic feat making them Winners of the Photography Category and third overall total for the day. Well done Richard and See Toh.

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Team “OOF” came in second in the photography category with 50 species. G.O.H Dr. Lena Chan with Leader Keita Sin, Goh Cheng Teng and Tan Rui Siang. A very commendable effort. 

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Dr. Lena Chan with team “The 3 Roosters” of  Laurence Eu, Alan Yeo and Zenon Kosiniak. They shot a combined 43 species to claim the third prize. Great effort for first timers, definitely something to crow about.

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Adrian Silas Tay led team “Weekend Birders” with Daniel Ong, Jerold Tan and Aung Mee to pick up the first prize for the Novice Category with 60 species receiving their prizes from Leong Kok Peng VP of NSS.  Great job guys. Congrats. You are hereby promoted to the Advanced Category next year.  

Another family team the “Banerjee Family” led by Anish with Atish and Debina came in second in the Novice Category with 51 species. A great family effort.

Team “Rajawali ” led by Ann Ang with her Mum Cecila Mah and Pat Ong took it easy this year to claim a podium place with 47 species. They were past winners in this category. 

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Leong Kok Peng, Vice President of NSS presenting tokens of appreciation to our sponsors and friends. Top: Dr. Lena Chan, Director. National Biodiversity Center. NParks, our Guest of Honor; bottom: Klenn Koh of Swarovski Optics, Bird Race Sponsors.

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 Top: Chua Yen Kheng of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves, Venue Sponsors and bottom: Tony Wong Committee Member Malayan Nature Society Johor. The Bird Group thanked Andrew Chow for his generous donation of his beautiful bird paintings as prizes and tokens of appreciation to our sponsors. 

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Swarovski Optics, long time sponsor of our Bird Race with their latest scopes and binoculars for the participants to try out.  Many thanks to Swarovski Optics and Klenn Koh for your continued support.

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Lim Kim Chuah Chairperson of the Bird Group and Organizer of the Bird Race thanking our sponsors, volunteers and participants at the close of the race. Special thanks to co-organizer, Lee Ee Ling, Yap Wee Jin, Nisha and Delphin. See you all next year!

Photos credit: Yap Wee Jin. Many thanks.

 

 

Singapore Bird Report-October 2016

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Second land record of a Red-necked Phalarope after 22 years absence photographed at P. Tekong by Frankie Cheong.

The reclaimed land at Pulau Tekong continued to attract unexpected rare migrants for October. A juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus, made a surprised landfall on the 8th (Frankie Cheong). This is only our second land record after an absence of 22 years. They normally migrate and winter at sea where we had our second record at the Singapore Straits on 17.4 2011. The stormy weather over the South China Sea may have forced it to land. On the same day Frankie Cheong photographed a juvenile Sanderling  Calidris alba, feeding nearby.  The stormy weather may also account for the sighting of a rare non-breeding Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidan nilotica, at Tekong on the 1st.

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A rare land shot of a Gull-billed Tern in non breeding plumage at P. Tekong by Frankie Cheong.

The other big find was a juvenile Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus, that made a short refueling stop at the Kranji Marshes on the 23rd. We had to thank Martin Kennewell for spotting it from the tower and the quick alert. This rare vagrant visited nearby SBWR on 5th November 2011 (Lim Kim Chuah). Last year Richard White reported one flying over the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 16th November.

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The Grey-headed Lapwing hanging out with the Red Wattled Lapwings inside the core area of the Kranji Marshes digiscoped by Martin Kennewell.

Staying at Kranji Marshes, the rare Black-capped Kingfisher Halycon pileata, made a two-day appearance there on the 24th and 25th (Eyzat Amer Affandi). Terence Tan managed to get close for this shot on the second day.

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Super close up shot of this shy and sensitive Black-capped Kingfisher at Kranji Marshes. Photo: Terence Tan.

Unfortunately efforts to locate it during the Bird Race was not successful. But we ended the month on a high note with Laurence Eu’s visit to the Zoo on 31st. He found the rare and much sought after Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocauda, feeding around the Garden Pavilion. It stayed for a week fattening itself up before resuming its migration. Many of us got some great images thanks to Laurence.

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Laurence Eu’s photo of the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher at the Zoo earned WRS a few hundred dollars in new memberships and some great images for us.

Despite the on going forest clearing work at Bidadari, the incoming migrants and other visitors were still using the place as a rest stop. On the 1st the globally threatened Brown-chested Flycatcher Cyornis brunneata, (first arrival) and the uncommon Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica, were sighted by Richard White together with a rather tame non-breeding visiting Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax. Two days later he counted two more Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers there. A first winter Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans, on 2nd (Koh Lian Heng), a Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris, on 5th (Veronica Foo) and an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca, on 10th (Frankie Lim) made up the list.

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Photographer’s favorite, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher was recorded across the island this month.

Two days later, another concussed and lost Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher was picked up at NIE and handed over to ACRES (Diana and Adrian Tan). On 23rd another very tired Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher landed at Tuas South (Lim Kim Keang) giving photographers a field day as did another at Hindhede Nature Park on 29th (Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy). Gil Jones had one that flew into her house at Ridout Road on the 28th. Five known records in one month!

I learnt that Marcel Finlay had created a small wetland marsh besides the Sport Hub with the blessings of the authorities. He was rewarded by a first of the season arrival of an Oriental Reed Warbler Acrophalus orientalis, on 4th and a skulking Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola, on 18th. It just shows that you can attract uncommon migrants with the right habitat even in a suburban setting.

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A first winter male Siberian Blue Robin taken at Jelutong Tower by Adrian Silas Tay.

Other notable migrant passerines for October includes three Red-rumped Swallows, Cecropis daurica, flying over the Ecolake on 2nd at SBG (Richard White), three records of the Siberian Blue Robin Luscinia cyane: first at SBG on 3rd (Richard White), then a first winter male Siberian Blue Robin at Jelutong Tower on 9th (Adrian Silas Tay), and lastly three along the Petai Trail on 24th (Marcel Finlay). First arrivals Ruddy Kingfisher Halycon coromanda, at Jurong Eco Gardens on 10th (James Tann), White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis, at Seletar on 14th (Dean Tan), Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Calamatar coromandus, at Tuas South on 26th (Robin Tan and Lim Kim Keang), a confiding Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata, at Tuas South on 29th (Lim Kim Keang). Chuin Ming Lee’s sighting of a juvenile White Wagtail Motocilla alba,at Marina Barrage on 31st was the second record of this wagtail there.

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First arrival of the season, the White-shouldered Starling at Seletar on 4th. Photo: Dean Tan.

Records of the Blue-winged Pittas Pitta moluccenis, were coming in as expected. David Tan reported one that flew into a house at Woodlands on 12th, while James Tann spotted another at Kranji Marshes on 22nd. We can expect more crashes and sightings of this pitta in November.

As for the rest of the shore and sea birds, there were six Black-tailed Godwits, Limosa limosa, an Asian Dowitcher, Limnodromus semipalmatas, on 1st and 4 Eurasian Curlews Numenius arquata,on 22nd all at P. Tekong  (Frankie Cheong), three Bar-tailed Godwits, Limosa lapponica, 34 Grey Plovers, Pluvialis squatarola, at P. Sekuda off Ubin on 5th (Lim Kim Keang and Willie Foo) and two more Bar-tailed Godwits at SBWR on 15th ( Martin Kennewell).

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Geoff Lim’s record shot of the Oriental Pratincole roosting at the open land next to the Kranji Marshes was his lifer as well.  We had records of this wader from Tuas to Changi this month.

Martin also reported several Oriental Pratincoles Glareola maldivarum, roosting at the construction site next to Kranji Marshes on the 15th. Diana Jackson photographed 5 Oriental Pratincoles flying over Changi on 17th while Zacc shot another two migrating over Taus South on 20th and 8 more Oriental Pratincoles were reported flying over Kent Ridge Park on 21st by Keita Sin. Good to see these insect feeding shorebird are coming through.

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Two Ruddy Turnstones at the Marina Barrage were spotted by Atish Banerjee on 28th. Photo: Atish Banerjee.

During a pelagic trip to the West Singapore Straits, a Common Tern Sterna hirundo, was photographed on 15th by Francis Yap and company.  A lone Grey Plover at Marina Barrage on 22nd (Robin Tan), 20 Curlew Sandpipers Calidris ferruginea, at SBWR 0n 23rd (Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy), a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus, at Tuas South on 23rd (Lim Kim Keang) and 2 Ruddy Turnstones Arenaria interpres, also at Marina Barrage on 28th (Atish Banerjee and Jerold Tan) complete the list.

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A former resident, the Barred Eagle Owl made a brief appearance at the BTNR on 31st October. Photo: Lim Kim Chuah.

We had several interesting reports of uncommon and rare residents in between, notably a pair of Thick-billed Pigeons Treron curvirostra, feeding over at DFNP on 4th (Mark Nelson Valino), a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela, seen over Kent Ridge Road on 10th, 14th and 20th (Gavan Leong), a hard to find House Swift Apus nipalensis, flying past Kent Ridge Park on 20th (Keita Sin), a Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata, at Hindhede NP (Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy) on 31st.

October ended with a bang! Veteran birder Lim Kim Chuah found the returning Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus, by the BTNR’s biycle track. This former resident was on everyone’s most wanted list. It was recently added to the Singapore Checklist as a rare non-breeding visitor.

Legend: SBWR Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. BTNR Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. DFNP Dairy Farm Nature Park. SBG Singapore Botanic Gardens. NIE National Institute of Education

Reference:

Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore). 

Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. 2013. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited. 

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan. 1993

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Frankie Cheong, Martin Kennewell, Terence Tan, Laurence Eu, Alan OwYong, Adrian Silas Tay, Dean Tan, Geoff Lim, Atish Banerjee and Lim Kim Chuah for the use of their photos. If you have any earlier records than those reported here, please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com. 

 

Birding Kent Ridge Park

Text and photos by Keita Sin 

The Southern Ridges of Singapore, stretching from Mount Faber to Kent Ridge Park, with places of historical interest and great hiking trails, is a great place to spend a weekend. The four parks making up the Ridges are also great for birdwatching. Kent Ridge Park, located at the western end is one of the most wooded parks there.

Raptor watch

Kent Ridge Park is one of the places where the annual Raptor Watch is held. A panoramic view of the sky can be appreciated from the top car park area, and Oriental Honey Buzzards and Sparrowhawks can usually be observed during the migration period. Other notable species such as the rare visiting Booted Eagle has been recorded here too. In 2000 and 2001 we had our first two records of the Blyth’s Hawk Eagle, a very rare non-breeding visitor from this park.

Other rare resident raptors, such as the Crested Goshawk and Crested Serpent Eagle, can also be seen here. The former had been recorded nesting at the park.

photo-1Crested Goshawk, January 2016. This top-down photo was taken from the canopy walk area.

photo-2Crested Serpent Eagle, April 2016.

Attractive Trees

The fig tree near the top car park (shown), as well as the rows of Tembusu trees at the area below it, is another area that attracts plenty of birds.

photo-3View from top car park. This is a great spot to look out for both raptors and birds feeding on the fruits, at the same time.

A relatively big population of Red-Whiskered Bulbuls can often be seen here.

photo-4Red-Whiskered Bulbul. An uncommon introduced resident. I often see them travelling together with Yellow-Vented Bulbuls.

The Violet Cuckoo and Banded Bay Cuckoo have been observed on this tree too.

photo-5Male Violet Cuckoo. Listen for their flight calls, this bird is often heard before seen.

photo-6Female Violet Cuckoo. More drab looking than the male, but so is the female Asian Emerald Cuckoo – don’t ignore them, you’ll never know.

photo-7Banded Bay Cuckoo. This individual was seen on the same day as the pair of violet cuckoos. Maybe they were having a conference.

When this fig tree fruits trees, occasional surprises such as the Thick-Billed Pigeon can occur too.

This coming season…

The migratory birds have once again started visiting (returning?) to Singapore. When in Kent Ridge Park, look for the fruiting trees, and do make an effort to scan the skies for raptors as well!

Further reading Angus Lamont’s bird records of Kent Ridge Park at http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/rbz/biblio/46/46rbz113-122.pdf

Reference: Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East-Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd.

Bird Watching for Beginners 2 Oct 2016

Text and photos by Yap Wee Jin. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

It was a warm and sunny morning to start the day. By 7:30am, a group of us (21 members + 4 ) were already gathered at the Sungei Buloh Visitor Centre. After a briefing on shorebirds recognition and identification by Kim Chuah, we set off to the Main Bridge.

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The tide was just beginning to rise as we strolled to the Main Bridge. This meant some of the mudflats were exposed and a good place for us to scan for shorebirds and other water-birds. And we were not disappointed. In the far corner of the river, we saw a small flock of Common Redshanks, their red legs giving their identity away even at that distance. Several Common Sandpipers were chasing each other and their distinctive shrill calls could be heard. And nearer right under the bridge, three menacing looking Estaurine Crocodiles lurked just at the water surface. There were many other birds near the bridge – a lone Purple Heron stood at the edge of the water waiting for its breakfast, a Stork-billed Kingfisher gave its presence away with its loud raucous call. There were many Little Egrets showing off their dainty yellow toes as they flew further upriver as the tide came in. We spent almost an hour birdwatching at this bridge while we waited for the tide to rise.

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dpp_11549A hungry crocodile waiting for its first meal of the day? (It has a ‘broken’ tail)

At about 9 am, Kenneth signaled that it was time to go to the Main Hide and wait for the arrival of the waders. And true to Kenneth’s words, the waders arrived on the dot. We were first greeted by the fly-in of Common Redshanks and then Whimbrels. It was simply an awesome and unforgettable spectacle. More waders flew and cameras clicked continuously to try to capture the moment.

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As the waders settled down, the lesson on waders resumed. Kim Chuah, Kenneth, Wing Chong then explained to the participants on how to differentiate the different waders – the Whimbrel with its long curved bill, the Common Greenshank with its light yellowish green legs and two-toned slightly upturned bill…..and the list goes on.

After an educational morning, we decided to call it a day at 11 am. On the way out, Kim Chuah decided to check if the Copper-throated Sunbird was around at the Mangrove Boardwalk. Some of the more lucky ones saw the sunbird hiding in the midst of the dense mangrove foliage which meant we could not fully appreciate the beauty of this sunbird. Well better luck next time!

Species of birds seen:                                                                  Species heard only:

1 Common Sandpiper                                                                  1 Asian Paradise Flycatcher

2 Common Redshank                                                                   2 Arctic Warbler

3 Stork Billed Kingfisher                                                              3 Oriental Magpie Robin

4 Striated Heron                                                                           4 Rufous Woodpecker

5 Little Egret

6 Painted Stork

7 Common Greenshank

8 Whimbrel

9 Red Turtle Dove

10 Spotted Dove

11 Lesser Sand Plover

12 Collared Kingfisher

13 Grey Heron

14 Purple Heron

15 Common Iora

16 Ashy Tailorbird

17 Little Tern

18 White Bellied Sea Eagle (juvenile)

19 Great Egret

20 Eastern Cattle Egret

21 Brahminy Kite

22 Marsh Sandpiper

23 White-breasted Waterhen (with chicks)

24 House Crow

25 Common Flameback

26 Copper-throated Sunbird

To those who were there to share the morning with us, here are some of the pictures taken. Birds and animal photographs – courtesy of Kim Chuah.

greenshank-redshank-buloh-20161002-5l5a5481Common Greenshanks and Common Redshanks

marsh-sandpiper-buloh-20161002-5l5a5530Marsh Sandpiper

redshank-buloh-20161002-5l5a5527Common Redshanks

Estaurine Crocodile

whimbrel-redshank-buloh-20161002-5l5a5503Whimbrels and Common Redshanks

Happy Birding!

Reference: Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing Company. 2013.

 

 

Singapore Raptor Report – Early Autumn Migration, July-September 2016

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Oriental Honey Buzzard (torquatus tweeddale morph) at Pasir Ris Park, 21 September 2016, by Tony Chua

The Osprey, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Japanese Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon were recorded during early autumn migration. The number of records for the Oriental Honey Buzzard during this period has increased slightly to 21 (compared to 16 for the same period last year). Out of these, only 4 were of the resident torquatus form. The remainder 17 were orientalis and at least 7 were juveniles – 5 in July and 2 in August. These juveniles were continuing their moult, showing new primaries (up to P5) and missing some primaries (up to P6), whereas in the last 3 months from Apr-Jun, only new P1 & P2 (counting from inside) were seen. These juveniles would have spent the summer in this region.

The first Japanese Sparrowhawk arrived on 16 Sep, followed by one on 21 Sep and another on 28 Sep. 4 Ospreys were recorded, one at Hindhede Quarry on 19 July and another at Springleaf Nature Park on 1 Aug, the other two were at the usual areas near Sungei Buloh and Seletar Dam. A Peregrine Falcon was recorded at Singapore Quarry on 21 Sep, seemingly in an aerial ballet with a Brahminy Kite.

A striking torquatus Oriental Honey-buzzard (sedentary subspecies) tweeddale morph was photographed at Pasir Ris Park throughout the 3 months and an ernesti Peregrine Falcon (sedentary subspecies) was photographed at Pulau Punggol Barat on 31 Aug.

For the resident raptors, highlights included the locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle on 23 Sep at Bukit Kalang Service Reservoir. A juvenile Crested Goshawk was found dead near a window at the Botanic Gardens in early September. The unfortunate bird may have collided with the window and it is probably one of the 4 juveniles that fledged in the gardens in June. Another rescued juvenile was released at the Warren Golf Course. The Grey-headed Fish Eagles at Bukit Batok Town Park (Little Guilin) were spending time on and around the nest at end September and may be starting to breed again. An intriguing Changeable Hawk-eagle showing a rare mix of dark and pale morph features was photographed at Choa Chu Kang Park on 16 July.

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An unusual looking Changeable Hawk-eagle showing a mix of dark and pale morph characteristics, at Choa Chu Kang Park, 16 July 2016, by Lau Jia Sheng

Many thanks to everyone for sending in / sharing their records; and to  Tony Chua and Lau Jia Sheng for the use of their photos.

For the full report in pdf with more photos, please click here singapore-raptor-report-early-autumn-migration-jul-sep-2016-v2

 

 

Singapore Bird Report-September 2016

Following the arrival of the Forest Wagtails, Yellow-rumped, Asian Brown and Asian Paradise Flycatchers last month, we had another thirteen passerine species arriving this month. Starting on the 4th with an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis, picked up at Mandai Mudflats by Martin Kennewell with Lim Kim Keang, David Li and Andy Dinesh during the Fall Migration Bird Census and a Tiger Shrike, Lanius tigrinus, at the Japanese Gardens on the 6th  (Timothy Chua). An Eastern Crown, Phylloscopus coronatus, and an Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus borealis, at the Rifle Range Link were reported by Francis Yap on 7th and a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, at Kranji Marshes by George Presanis on 8th.

The most interesting arrival of the month was a White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, photographed by Richard White at the flooded fields besides the Marina Barrage on the 19th. This is more than a month earlier than the previous arrival date of 21st October.

white-wagtail-richard-whiteA female non breeding leucopsis White Wagtail photographed by Richard White near Marina Barrage on 19th is more than a month earlier than the previous extreme date.

A sub-adult Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, photographed at Bidadari on 10th by Marcel Finlay, signalled the return of the migrant to this soon to be developed site. Francis Yap at his favourite Jelutong Tower photographed a passing Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, and a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, on the 23rd.

pacific-swift-fyapPacific Swift photographed migrating over Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap.

David Tan retrieved a dead Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, from River Valley High on 23rd. This is the second Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher to hit the school in two years. He reported that a weakened Cinnamon Bittern, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, was picked up by ACRES from Hougang on 28th. This is most probably a migrant.

On 24th Lim Kim Chuah shared a photo of another casualty from his office at Jurong Island. This time it was an uncommon and hard to see Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Locustella certhiola, found dead by his colleague Nisha Begum. Unfortunately we will be seeing more migrants crashing into buildings during this period as they migrate at night.

pallass-grasshopper-warbler-lkc

The dead Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler showing the streaked upper parts. Photo: Lim Kim Chuah

Rounding off this month’s arrivals were the returning Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Merops phillippinus, reported at Serangoon Tidal Gates 0n 28th by Lim Kim Seng, a Squared-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, from Tuas South on 29th by Robin Tan and a Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 30th by Lim Kim Chuah. (A earlier Squared-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo was reported at MacRitchie Trail on 23rd by Marcel Finlay, but its status is not clear as we also have a resident population there).

@ sime track

You can just make out the buffy crowned stripe of this Eastern Crowned Warbler, but the yellow undertail is very obvious. Taken at Terangtan Trail on 21st by Laurence Eu.

Other migrants of note were another Eastern Crowned Warbler at Terangtan Trail on 21st (Laurence Eu) and three Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Ficedula zanthopygia, at Gardens by the Bay on 21st (Dawn Birding). This is a new record for GBTB. Still at the Gardens, two adult Rosy and Brahminy Starlings created much excitement during the month. Both birds were either released or escapees.

We had only one non-breeding visitor, a Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, photographed by Zacc at Dillenia Hut inside our Central Forest.  A Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, was reported at Kranji Marshes on 13th by Joseph Tan K. B. This flycatcher has its status revised from a non-breeding visitor to a winter visitor in our 2015 Checklist based on the recent arrival dates. It is listed as a resident and a migrant in Malaysia.

bsfc-joseph-tan-kb

Brown-streaked Flycatcher, a Winter Visitor, at Kranji Marshes on 13th. Photo: Joseph Tan Kok Beng.

We added five newly arrived shorebirds and one tern this month. A non-breeding Grey-tailed Tattler, Tringa brevipes, was photographed at SBWR on the 1st ( Zacc HD). It stayed for a few days, long enough for most of us to tick it. Another Grey-tailed Tattler photographed at Seletar Dam on 7th by Lawrence Cher may be the same bird.

grey-tailed-tattler-zaccGrey-tailed Tattler dropping in to SBWR on 1st Sept. Photo: Zacc HD.

An adult Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, was counted at Mandai Mudflats by David Li and Lim Kim Keang during the Fall Migration Bird Census on the 4th. Two days later Frankie Cheong reported two more Red-necked Stints at Pulau Tekong. Both were in non-breeding plumage. Another was sighted at the Marina Barrage on the 16th morning by Lim Kim Keang but it did not stay. We found out later from TT Koh that he photographed a Red-necked Stint in transition plumage at Seletar Dam on 23rd August. His record marked the first arrival of this stint.

red-necked-stint-tt-koh

TT Koh shot this Red-necked Stint (right) in a transition plumage from breeding to non breeding at Seletar Dam on 23rd August, making it the first arrival for the season.

Red-necked Stint at MB LKK

Red-necked Stint (left) at Marina Barrage on the 16th. Photo: Lim Kim Keang

The five globally threatened Bar-tailed Godwits, Limosa lapponica, flying past Seletar Dam on 11th ( Lawrence Cher) and the two Broad-billed Sandpipers, Limicola falcinellus, at the Marina Barrage on 15th (Lim Kim Seng) made a one day appearance and could be on passage.

bar-tailed-godwits-lawrence-cherBar-tailed Godwits flying across the Seletar Dam. Their threat status had been uplisted by Birdlife in the latest IUCN Red List update due to the reclamation of their refueling site at Yellow Sea mudflats 

But the single Swinhoe’s Plover, Charadrius dealbatus, a distinct sub species of the Kentish Plover, sighted by Robin Tan at the Marina Barrage on the 19th was joined by another on the 23rd. Acceptance of this species to our checklist is pending.

swinhoes-plover-robin-tanThe Swinhoe’s Plover was first seen on the 19th at the Marina Barrage. Photo: Robin Tan

A single Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, was reported at the Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell on the 3rd. This was 6 days earlier than the earliest arrival date of 9th September. Richard White also reported three Whiskered Terns flying near the Marina Barrage on the 19th.

The numbers of Curlew Sandpipers, Calidris ferruginea, arriving here have declined drastically over the years. Only one was photographed at P. Tekong by Frankie Cheong on 21st and another two at SBWR reported by David Li on 26th.

img-20160921-wa0008A single Curlew Sandpiper photographed at Pulau Tekong by Frankie Cheong.

Long-toed Stints, Calidris subminuta, and Wood Sandpipers, Tringa glareola, were still around at Kranji on 10th (Alfred Chia and Lim Kim Keang). Both these waders were also seen at Pulau Tekong at a fresh water patch on 21st by Frankie Cheong together with two juvenile Ruddy Turnstones, Arenaria interpres.

Uncommon and notable residents for the month came from Bukit Kalang Service Reservoir in the Central Catchment where Keita Sin photographed a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, flying overhead on the 23rd, a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, was spotted at the West Coast Park Marshes on 12th (Kristel Yeong). Kieta Sin recounted that he had seen this heron there on 15 September 2015.

Others include a juvenile Crested Goshawk, Accipter trivirgatus, at GBTB on 14th (Danny Khoo), a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, at Terangtan Trail on 21st (Laurence Eu), a hard to find House Swift, Apus nipalensis, over at Punggol Barat on 27th (Joseph Tan KB) and an adult Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, photographed at SBWR by Zacc on 27th.

  1. List of first arrivals for the Season recorded in September.
Date Species Location Observer Remarks
         
1st Grey-tailed Tattler SBWR Zacc HD Non-breeding
1st Whiskered Tern x 2 Kranji Marshes Martin Kennewell New arrival date.
4th Yellow Wagtail Mandai Mudflats David Li & Lim KK FMBC
4th Red-necked Stint* (Adult) Mandai Mudflats David Li & lim KK FMBC
6th Tiger Shrike Japanese Gardens Timonthy Chua Juvenile
7th Eastern-crowned Warbler Rifle Range Link Francis Yap
7th Arctic Warbler Rifle Range Link Francis Yap
8th Grey Wagtail Kranji Marshes George Presanis
10th Indian Cuckoo Bidadari Marcel Finlay Sub adult
11th Bar-tailed Godwit x 5 Seletar Dam Lawrence Cher In flight
15th Broad-billed Sandpiper x2 Marina Barrage Lim Kim Seng
19th White Wagtail Marina Barrage Richard White New arrival date
19th Swinhoe’s Plover Marina Barrage Robin Tan
21st Curlew Sandpiper P. Tekong Frankie Cheong Breeding
23rd Dark-sided Flycatcher Jelutong Tower Francis Yap
23rd Pacific Swift Jelutong Tower Francis Yap
23rd Black-backed Kingfisher River Valley High David Tan Dead. Crashed
24th Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Jurong Island Nisha Begun Reported by Lim Kim Chuah
28th Blue-tailed Bee-eater Halus Barrage Lim Kim Seng Winter visitor
29th Squared-tailed Drongo-cuckoo Tuas South Robin Tan Winter Visitor
30th Ferruginous Flycatcher BTNR Lim Kim Chuah

*TT Koh later reported that he photographed a Red-necked Stint at Seletar Dam on 23rd

August. This marked the first arrival for this shorebird for the season.

Legend: SBWR-Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. BTNR- Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. FMBC Fall

Migration Bird Census 2016. GBTB-Gardens by the Bay.

Reference:

Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore). 

Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. 2013. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited. 

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan. 1993

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Richard White, Francis Yap, Lim Kim Chuah, Laurence Eu,  Joseph Tan Kok Beng,  Mohamad Zahidi, TT Koh, Lim Kim Keang, Lawrence Cher, Robin Tan and Frankie Cheong, for the use of their photos.

 

 

Birding West Coast Park

Text and Photos by Keita Sin

West Coast Park is where my birding journey begun in January 2014 and I’ve gotten quite a lot of interesting lifers there. This park, however, is probably not one of the places many would include their birding itinerary. Though usually associated with McDonald’s and the iconic giant pyramid, West Coast Park actually has a good diversity of bird life to offer.

Marsh Gardens

Located at the western end of the park, the best part about this place is that due to the small size, many of the birds can be seen at close proximity.

The highlight of the Marsh Gardens would probably be this lone Great-Billed Heron that has been seen rather consistently since September 2015.

photo-1wGreat-Billed Heron. This is an uncropped photo from a 300mm focal length x 1.6 crop factor. There are not many places in Singapore which offers such a close view of this bird.

The Marsh Gardens boardwalk, though a short one, is worth exploring too. A family of Abbott Babblers has been recorded there and I once encountered this friendly juvenile Crested Goshawk, which might have flew over from Kent Ridge Park. I was told that Black Bitterns had been seen here in the past ( per con Alan OwYong).

photo-2wCrested Goshawk, February 2015.

Carpark 2

The area around Carpark 2, especially the patch of vegetation indicated in this map, is another interesting area worth exploring (it’s quite hard to describe a location in West Coast Park).

wcp-map

Map retrieved from NParks. Watch out for snakes and random holes when exploring the area.

I found a lone Spotted Wood Owl here in August 2016, and a flock of Pied-Imperial Pigeon is usually around in the morning. I’ve seen most of Singapore’s parrots (every in the checklist except the Blue-Rumped Parrot) here too. The palm trees probably attract them to the area. A trio of Tanimbar Corellas and two Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos frequent this place as well.

photo-4wSulphur-Crested Cockatoo perched on a Pong Pong tree. They have been seen chewing on the pulp of the fruit.

The eastern half of West Coast Park

Majority of the people whom I see in the eastern half of West Coast Park are either joggers or dog-owners, because there are barely any facilities there apart from a dog-run. Just trees, trees and more trees – fantastic for birds.

I didn’t expect to see this Orange-Headed Thrush on a young Casuarina tree.

photo-5wOrange-Headed Thrush, December 2015.

I experienced one of my greatest birding moments so far when I spotted this Black-Capped Kingfisher through my binoculars.

photo-6wBlack-Capped Kingfisher, January 2016

Birding in West Coast Park

West Coast Park is a rather elongated one, so be prepared to walk some distance if you intend to explore the whole place. While there were few reports of rare finds in this park, the environment is fantastic for birding and it could just be because not many birders visit the place.

If you are unable to decide on a location this migratory season, do give West Coast Park a try. I was told that a Hooded Pitta spent a few week wintering here some years back.

Reference: Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd.

Missing Birds-Moustached Babbler

By Lim Kim Chuah.

MISSING SINCE 1994

MOUSTACHED BABBLER Malacopteron magnirostre

Status: Extinct???

moustached-babbler-lkc
Moustached Babbler from Panti (LKC)

This species was occasionally reported in very small numbers from the Upper Seletar and Sime Forest during the 1980’s. Breeding was also reported on several occasions. The last known report was from the MacRitchie catchment forest between 1993-94.

Considering the minimal size of the forest in Singapore and the vocal nature of this species, it is unlikely that the Moustached Babbler would have gone unnoticed all these years if the bird around. Also the sedentary nature of this species would probably rule out any possibility of birds dispersing from neighbouring Johor to Singapore. There is a high likelihood that this species could be extinct in Singapore today.

Hopefully I am wrong and should anyone discover this species in Singapore, please contact the Nature Society Bird Group.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009.

Yishun Dam and the returning Shorebirds.

Text and Photos by Mohamad Zahidi. 1st Oct, 2016.

There are a few places in Singapore we can go for shorebirds but I chose Yishun Dam as its close to where I live. For the shorebirds that flew thousands of miles from their Arctic breeding ground, the rich sand banks and mud flats provide a great refueling stop and a natural habitat to document them.

august-06Some of the early migrants to Yishun Dam. Small numbers of the Lesser Sand Plovers were seen.(6 Aug 2016).

c-august-15Increased in numbers in the following week. (15 Aug 2016)

I normally spend few hours playing the ‘waiting game’ under the hot sun and try to scan that area for some lifer or uncommon shorebird. The birds there also tend to forage for food at Khatib Bongsu and at some smaller island nearby.

img-20160825-wa0001Shorebirds shooting at low tide under the hot sun at the Yishun Dam. Photo: AlanOwYong

 

This year I am so determined to see the uncommon Greater Sand Plover. During my last Pelagic Trip in May, I was asking around about this Plover which I dipped during my unofficial Big Year in 2014. FrancisYap and See Toh suggested that I should go visit YD frequently in the month of Aug so that I can have a better chance to see the Greater Sand Plover there. 

september-22Lesser Sand Plovers at the sandbank. Background is the shoreline of Khatib Bongsu.

I finally decided to visit Yishun Dam (sandbank) somewhere in late July in order to see some early migrants with my birding kaki, David Tan. We ended up finding the Great-Billed Heron which Alan OwYong said was a new record for Yishun Dam (sandbank). The Western Osprey also made a brief appearance towards the end of our morning session there.

c-july-23Great–billed Heron adjusting to a new standing position. (23 July 2016)

a-july-23
Western Osprey was seen hunting for fish (23 July 2016)

b-july-23Western Osprey dropped its catch in mid-air (23 July 2016)

The news that a Great Knot landed in Yishun was sent to many by Francis Yap on a Saturday morning while I was at work. It attracted many photographers and avid birdwatchers to Yishun Dam again. It was time for me to get some new shot of this globally endangered star bird. There was a chance of getting the Greater Sand Plover as well.

a-august-15

b-august-15Great Knot was seen flying with the Lesser Sand Plover (15 Aug 2016).

Finally, on 22 August Lawrence Cher alerted us about Greater Sand Plover spotted in Yishun Dam. I was eager to go down asap but only managed to do it on 26 Aug 2016 despite the haze that morning.

aug-26Greater Sand Plover foraging along the shoreline (26 Aug 2016)

september-17-1Spotted another Greater Sand Plover at the sandbank. (17 Sep 2016)

Yishun Dam is a perfect place to see these great shorebirds and really hope that it will not be lost to development. I would like to thank Singapore Bird Group for the invite to write this article.

Below are some of my collection of birds taken recently at Yishun Dam.

september-22Common Sandpiper with baby cobra in threat posture (22 Sep 2016)

b-sep-22A pair of Pacific Golden Plover (22 Sep 2016)

a-sep-22Terek Sandpipers foraging on sandbank. (22 Sep 2016), Their numbers are in decline over the years.

oct-5-2014A juvenile Yellow Wagtail was spotted catching insects at Yishun Dam (5 Oct 2014)

sep-28-2014-1Ruddy Turnstone (28 Sep 2014)

oct-23-2013Close-up shot of Ruddy Turnstone (5 Oct 2013)

Reference: A Naturalsit’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited 2013.