Nature’s Vitamins for the Birds.

By Seng Alvin.

We go to our Watson’s and Guardian for our vitamins and health supplements fix paying an arm and a leg for them. But our avian friends can get theirs for free at our parks and gardens when the Palm Oil trees (Elaeis guineensis) fruit. Scattered over most green areas around the island, these remnant palms survived the development partly due to the dispersal of the seeds by the birds themselves.

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Woodpeckers have no problem getting to the pulp of the Palm fruit. The male Common Goldenback had the pick of the crop. Link https://wp.me/p4VGho-aF on how they feed.

During my walks around Pasir Ris Park, I was fortunate to come across a large variety of birds feeding on the fruit of the oil palms at the park. The orange freshy pulp, mesocarp, has a high content of beta-carotene, a provitamin that helps the body to make Vitamin A. It is also an antioxidant. (Wikipedia). Pet shops sell bird food containing Red Palm Oil supplement that professes to provide Vitamin A and E and Omega 3 and 6 for parrots. That may be the reasons why the birds at the park are so healthy and happy.

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This greedy Red-breasted Parakeet is having the whole fruit for itself. Easy meal for its strong bill.

More than 20 species of birds have been documented to feed on the palm oil seeds in various forums and articles. Here are some of the “healthy” birds that I found taking their vitamins regularly at Pasir Ris Park.

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Our lupsup Asian Glossy Starling takes just about everything that is edible.

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Rose-ringed Parakeets chose the ripest and best fruit.

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Even our domestic chicken cannot pass up the fruits that dropped to the ground.

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If my cousin the Goldenback likes it, it must be good.

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Javan Mynas fighting each other over an oil palm fruit.

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A seed eating weaver bird having a change of diet, enjoying the taste of the palm fruit.

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The Spotted Dove just cannot stand by and watch others taking the fruit. 

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

 

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“Singapore Birds on the Brink” A Retrospective.

“Singapore Birds on the Brink” Exhibition.

Following the successful conclusion of the Mapletree sponsored Straw-headed Bulbul Conservation Planning Workshop in 6 May 2019, Mr. Wan Kwong Weng, Group Chief Corporate Officer proposed to host an exhibition on this globally threatened Bulbul for the public. Yong Ding Li, Asia Advocacy and Policy Manager, Birdlife International (Asia) agreed to work with the Nature Society (Singapore) to curate it but felt that a single species-focused exhibition may not capture enough public interest and suggested to expand it to include the endangered songbirds like the White-rumped Shama and Green Leafbirds.

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He consulted the Bird Group of the Nature Society (Singapore) for contributions of photographs and material. It was during the discussion that we hit on the idea of showcasing the threatened birds of Singapore in our national Red Data Book, which also includes the many song birds that we wish to highlight. Mr. Wan gave the go ahead, came up with the title and the “Singapore Birds on the Brink” was conceived.

The closing panel of the exhibition highlighting the globally threatened Straw-headed Bulbul, the species that kick-started this exhibition. Panel photos: Alan OwYong. and Francis Yap. Photo by Chung Cheong.

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To be included in Mapletree Arts in the City’s August event to be held at Vivocity, we had just over two months to set up this exhibition. There were more than 50 resident species of birds listed in the Red Data Book as nationally threatened mainly due to loss of natural habitat, and this provided the foundation of our exhibition. Photo: Alan OwYong.

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Group photo of the contributing photographers with GOH Mayor Low Yen Ling. From left Cheng Heng Yee and Quek Oon Hong, Wang Bin, Lee Tiah Khee with Samuel Lim, Alan OwYong, Mohamad Zahidi (Zack), Francis Yap and Keita Sin. Absent Con Foley, Bjorn Olesen and Derrick Wong. Photo: Chung Cheong.

Luckily all our bird photography friends gave their full support and provided us with their best photographic images of some of the uncommon and rare species for the exhibition. We thank them all ( Alan OwYong, Bjorn Olesen, Cheng Heng Yee and Quek Oon Hong, Con Foley, Derrick Wong, Francis Yap, Keita Sin, Lee Tiah Khee, Mohamad Zahidi (Zack) and Wang Bin) for their generosity and a special thanks to Alfred Chia and Yong Ding Li for the panel and species write ups. We are grateful to have Mapletree Investments coming in as the main supporter of this initiative to bring awareness of our imperilled resident birds and natural habitat, to the larger public and masses.

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The exhibition was declared opened at Vivocity on the 16 August by Ms. Low Yen Ling, Mayor of South West District and Senior Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education and Manpower and Mr. Edmund Cheng, Chairman of Mapletree Investments. Our special guests are from the National Junior College Greenlink Club. Photo courtesy of Mapletree Arts in the City.

Geoff Lim

GOH Ms. Low Yen Ling, Mayor of South West District touring the exhibition with Mr. Edmund Cheng Chairman of  Mapletree and Mr. Wan Kwong Weng, Group CCO with Yong Ding Li and Alan OwYong in attendance Photo: Geoff Lim.

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Lee Tiah Khee explaining to Mayor Low Yen Ling on how he took the photo of the rare Cotton Pygmy Goose at the Gardens by the Bay. Photo: Mapletree Arts in the City.

Nationally Critically Endangered
Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus. 棉凫     

A very rare resident, the Cotton Pygmy Goose is a shy waterfowl which inhabits freshwater marshes, ponds and reservoirs. They may be found singly, in pairs or in small groups. This species may still be found in the Western Catchment but due to its inaccessibility, information on its presence there is scant. They have also been seen in Kranji Marsh and Lorong Halus Wetlands in recent years. Extinction rank high for this species as numbers may now be in the single digit.

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Cheng Heng Yee and his wife Quek Oon Hong sharing the moment of the shot of a pair of Changeable Hawk Eagles with Mayor Low Yen Ling. Photo: Mapletree Arts in the City.

Changeable Hawk Eagle

The Changeable Hawk Eagle is a surprisingly powerful predator that can take prey as large as a small monkey. Although medium-sized animals like squirrels and large lizards form the mainstay of its diet, these eagles have been observed in the wild to threaten far larger prey. One individual was seen to have successfully taken a young Banded Leaf Monkey from its troop at the edge of the forest, while another made a number of unsuccessful attempts on a young macaque.

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Francis Yap contributed more than 10 photos for the exhibition including this panel of four photos (from top left clockwise): Red-crowned Barbet, Mangrove Whistler, Red-legged Crake and Short-tailed Babbler.

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Keita Sin (right) giving Mayor Low Yen Ling a brief history of our White-bellied Woodpecker in the company of Yong Ding Li. Con Foley was away and was not able to personally elaborate on how he shot this pair of woodpeckers. Photo: Chung Cheong

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Derrick Wong happily posing next to his photo of a Little Tern dropping its catch in mid air. He did not realised that he captured this moment until after he reviewed his photos later that day.

Little Tern Sternula albifrons 白额燕鸥 Nationally Endangered

The aptly named Little Tern is one of the smallest of the nearly 50 tern species in the world. In Singapore, it is best seen at some of our reservoirs such as Kranji, and in our coastal waters. Because of its tendency to nest on open sandy ground, especially on beaches, Little Terns are extremely vulnerable to human disturbance (especially from beach-goers), as well as the conversion of its sandy shore habitat to development.

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The public can participate in the crossword puzzle at the back of these cards to win shopping vouchers from Mapletree. A fun way to learn about our threatened birds. We had to do a reprint as it ran out on the first day.  Green Imperial Pigeon and Barred Eagle Owl on the panel, Mangrove Pitta, Blue-naped Monarch and Straw-headed Bulbul on the cards. Photo: Chung Cheong.

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Mohamad Zahidi’s photo of the nationally threatened Great-billed Heron, the largest bird in Singapore.

Nationally Critically Endangered
Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana 大嘴鹭

Standing at well over a metre, the Great-billed Heron is among the world’s largest herons. In Singapore, small numbers may be found in coastal mangroves, mudflats, reefs and the rocky coasts of the offshore islands. Extensive development along Singapore’s southern coastline meant that the Great-billed Heron has lost most of its habitat here. It is also one of the bird species from Southeast Asia described and named by Sir Stamford Raffles, who was himself an ardent naturalist.

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A brilliant take on our Blue-eared Kingfisher by Bjorn Olesen, an international award winning photographer and author.

Nationally Critically Endangered
Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting 蓝耳翠鸟   

 A shy and rare resident kingfisher that inhabits forested streams within the Central Catchment Forest previously, the Blue-eared Kingfisher has, in recent years, been seen in various other localities like the Bukit Batok Nature Park and Neo Tiew area. Although the increasing numbers of places where this species can be sighted now is an encouraging sign, its population remains low and continued protection of its habitat is vital.

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Wang Bin sharing the plight of the Little Grebe in Singapore (Wang Bin’s photo at the top) with GOH Mayor Low Yen Ling and Vinayagan Dharmarajah Regional Director Birdlife International Asia.  Less than ten Little Grebes are struggling to survive at only one location in Singapore. Another threatened wetland species, the Greater Painted Snipe by Alan OwYong is featured at the bottom panel.

Nationally Critically Endangered
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 小䴙䴘

The Little Grebe is a rare resident found in freshwater ponds and marshes. The Singapore population of the Little Grebe has never been stable and numbers are low though they have been observed in some disused quarries. Small numbers may appear in a locality and disappear just as quickly, either through habitat destruction or disturbance.

Threatened birds featured in the Exhibition:

Cinnamon-headed Pigeon , Green Imperial Pigeon, Thick-billed Pigeon (EN), Jambu Fruit Dove, Barred Eagle Owl, Buffy Fish Owl (CR), Spotted Wood Owl (CR), Blue-rumped Parrot (CR), Long-tailed Parakeet, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (EN), Straw-headed Bulbul (EN), Black-headed Bulbul (CR), Lesser Whistling Duck (EN), Little Grebe (CR), Crested Serpent Eagle (CR), Crested Goshawk (CR), Changeable Hawk Eagle (EN), Grey-headed Fish Eagle (CR), Black-naped Tern (EN), Little Tern (EN), Violet Cuckoo (EN), Drongo Cuckoo (CR), White-chested Babbler (CR), Chestnut-winged Babbler (EN), Short-tailed Babbler, Cotton Pygmy Goose (CR), Great-billed Heron (CR), Malaysian Plover (CR), Malaysian Eared Nightjar (CR), Greater Painted Snipe (CR), Plume-toed Swiftlet (CR), Ruddy Kingfisher (CR), Blue-eared Kingfisher (CR), Mangrove Pitta (CR), Mangrove Whistler, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher (CR), Scarlet Minivet (CR), Black-naped Monarch (CR), Greater Green Leafbird (CR), Lesser Green Leafbird (CR), Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (CR), Beach Stone Curlew (CR), Red-crowned Barbet, Red-legged Crake (VU), White-bellied Woodpecker (CR), Yellow-eared Spiderhunter (CR) and Zitting Cisticola.

National Status: VU- Vulnerable. EN- Endangered.  CR- Critically Endangered.

Reference: The Singapore Red Data Book. Threatened Plants & Animals of Singapore. Edited by G.W.H Davison, PK.L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew. Second Edition.

Many thanks to Mapletree Arts in the City, Chung Cheong, Geoff Lim, Derrick Wong and Alan OwYong for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – July 2019

by Geoff Lim & Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

July 2019 was an amazing month, with the first record of the Pied Stilt, not just occurring, but also breeding, in Singapore; and the first breeding record of the rare Black-winged Stilt, so far only known as a visitor. The month also closed with the complete loss of a brood of 11 ducklings of a pair of Lesser Whistling Ducks.

First record of Pied Stilt in Singapore.

In July 2019, Frankie Cheong reported the first record of the Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus in Singapore, on the new reclaimed land around Pulau Tekong. It was on 17 July 2019 that he saw an adult Pied Stilt and four juveniles that appeared to associate with the adult. The four juvenile stilts were seen again on 23 July 2019.

Pied Stilt, posted 180719, Tekong, Frankie Cheong

Adult Pied Stilt (above) and four juvenile stilts (below) spotted on 17 July 2019, by Frankie Cheong.

Pied Stilt, posted 180719, Tekong, Frankie Cheong, juveniles

First breeding record of Pied Stilt in Singapore.

Just three days later, on 20 July 2019, he found that a pair of Pied Stilts were nesting! The nest contained one egg on 20 July 2019, and by 23 July 2019, the nest yielded four eggs. On 27 July 2019, the Pied Stilts were still sitting on their eggs.

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Pied Stilt showing its long black ‘mane’ on back of neck, 20 July 2019. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

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Pied Stilt with nest containing one egg on 20 July 2019. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

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Pied Stilt nest containing four eggs on 23 July 2019. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

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Pied Stilt sitting on its nest on 27 July 2019, by Frankie Cheong.

The rare Black-winged Stilts

A rare Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus was also seen in the same vicinity on 17 July 2019, and again on 23 July 2019, fighting with the Pied Stilt.

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Black-winged Stilt spotted on 17 July 2019 by Frankie Cheong.

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Black-winged (left) and Pied (right) Stilts fighting on 23 July 2019. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

First breeding record of Black-winged Stilt in Singapore.

On 25 July 2019, Frankie stumbled on yet another nest with four eggs. This time, it belonged to a pair of Black-winged Stilts, which was unexpected as these birds have so far been known as rare migrants. By 27 July 2019, one chick was visible and tended to by its parents, while the nest only had one egg visible. The two other eggs had disappeared. By 29 July 2019, the Black-winged Stilt’s nest was empty, while two chicks were seen nearby, in the presence of two adult birds.

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Black-winged Stilt with chick on 27 July 2019, by Frankie Cheong.

The Black-winged Stilt is widely distributed and is found from France and Iberia S to sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, and E to C Asia and NC China, Indian Subcontinent (including Sri Lanka), Indochina and Taiwan; winters S to Africa (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019), while the Pied Stilt, also known as the White-headed Stilt, occurs in Sumatra and Java, E to New Guinea, and S to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand; winters N to Philippines, Greater Sundas and Sulawesi, and as far as Sri Lanka (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019). Historically, the Black-winged Stilt is listed as the only species of stilt found in the Malay Peninsula (Wells, 1999:273-274).

Hitherto, the Black-winged Stilt has been listed as a rare migrant to Singapore. The last three sightings were at the main hide at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in November 2011, Punggol Barat in December 2012 and Kranji Marsh in November 2015. Hence, Frankie’s breeding records presents new knowledge on the status of the bird in Singapore.

The Pied Stilt had previously been considered a sub-species of the Black-winged Stilt (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019) and is notably a largely Indonesian/Australasian species. In recent years, it has more frequently been accorded full species status (Sonobe & Usui, 1993; Robson, 2005). There are no previous records of the Pied Stilt in Singapore, much less a breeding record, therefore Frankie’s sightings constitute the first records of the Pied Stilt in Singapore.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) & Fringes

While resident species continued to hold sway, early migratory species have begun to reach our shores. In the heart of the CCNR, observers reported regular forest residents such as the Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus on 10 July 2019 (Francis Yap), Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps on 13 July 2019 at Jelutong Tower (Joseph Lim), the Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera on 23 July 2019 (Martin Kennewell), Short-tailed Babbler Malacocincla malaccensis on 23 July 2019 (Martin Kennewell – 2 heard) and on 25 July 2019 (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan – 1 bird seen on trail to Jelutong Tower), and Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati (Evelyn Lee – female at Jelutong Tower). A migratory Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni was reported as being seen on 22 July 2019 by Raghav N.

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Violet Cuckoo at Jelutong Tower on 10 July 2019 by Francis Yap.

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Short-tailed Babbler at CCNR on 25 July 2019 by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan.

CCNR fringe parks also received a fair amount of attention. Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) hosted a conference of Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana between 1 and 4 July 2019 (Peter Lim), beginning with 11 individuals on 1 Jul 2019, to 7 birds and eventually 4 birds by 4 July 2019. The Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus was spotted on 27 July 2019 (Yeong Wai Kai) and a female Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra was seen on 31 July 2019 (Roberta Cheok). Along the Rail Corridor, a Tanimbar Corella Cacatua goffiniana was spotted on 5 July 2019 (Lim Sheen Taw).

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Chestnut-bellied Malkoha at DFNP on 27 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai.

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Tanimbar Corella along Rail Corridor on 5 Jul 2019 by Lim Sheen Taw.

Further away at the Singapore Quarry, a foraging Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus was spotted on 3 July 2019 (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan), a pair of Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus and its juvenile were variously spotted on 16 July 2019, from 21 to 25 July 2019 by Art Toh and friends, and heard on 28 July 2019 by Yong Ding Li and Geoff Lim; while a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was spotted on 30 July 2019 by Francis Yap. Observers also noted the presence of the Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata at Hindhede Park on 4 and 26 July 2019 (Terence Tan and Joseph Lim).

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Barred Eagle Owl at Singapore Quarry on 31 July 2019 by Herman Phua.

A Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax was spotted at Upper Peirce Reservoir on 24 July 2019 by Morten Strange and Bee Choo.

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Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo at Upper Peirce Reservoir on 24 July 2019 by Morten Strange & Ng-Strange Bee Choo.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Two Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata were seen on 2 July 2019 by Mike Smith, while the White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata was spotted on 13 July 2019.

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Red-legged Crake at SBG on 2 Jul 2019 by Mike Smith.

Central Singapore

A White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster was seen at Potong Pasir Park Connector on 5 July 2019 by Paul Tan, while three Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela were seen at Goldhill Avenue on 6 July 2019 by Soon Yi Pak

Northern Singapore

The Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis was spotted at the Lorong Halus Wetland by Dean Tan and Siew Mun on 5 and 17 July 2019. Towards the end of July, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia were spotted at Yishun Dam on 28 July 2019 (Art Toh), as were up to four Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus on 31 Jul 2019 (Khoo Mei Lin), together with Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii, on 28 July 2019 (Art Toh) and 31 July 2019 (Khoo Mei Lin).

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Malaysian Plover at Yishun Dam on 28 July 2019 by Art Toh.

Eastern Singapore

Singapore’s eastern flanks contain habitats that yielded surprises. Pulau Ubin delivered spectacular species, such as a rare Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos discovered during a joint NParks-NSS Ubin survey on 7 July 2019, a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela on 2 July 2019 by Feroz Ghazali, while the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus put up two appearances on 14 and 21 July 2019 at Chek Jawa for Francis Yap. There were also shorebirds lingering farther away – three Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus and two Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos spotted on 18 July 2019 by Feroz Ghazali, and Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and more Whimbrel on 21 July 2019 by Francis Yap.

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Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 July 2019 by Francis Yap.

Pasir Ris Park continued to support Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea (14 July 2019; Steven Cheong), the adult and juvenile Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo (28 July 2019; Jimmy Ng), the one-eyed Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu (28 July 2019; Jimmy Ng), and the juvenile Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting with a deformed foot (31 July 2019; Dean Tan). Nearby at the Sungei Tampines Canal East, Little Tern Sternula albifrons had been seen earlier on 1 July 2019 foraging above the waters by Alvin Seng.

Changi Business Park continued to be a stronghold for the Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea, which was reported on 14 July 2019 (T. Ramesh) drinking water in the canal, and on 19 July 2019 at a more conventional location. Also spotted was an early arriving Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, seen on 17 July 2019 by T. Ramesh.

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Juvenile Spotted Wood Owl at Pasir Ris Park on 28 July 2019 by Jimmy Ng.

Southern Singapore

Gardens by the Bay gave nature lovers much grief and anxiety when the ducklings belonging to a pair of Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica were systematically decimated through the course of the month. (From 11 ducklings on 27 June 2019), by 1 July 2019, there were seven ducklings, as counted by Isabelle Lee and other birders. Staff from the Gardens took pains to build a floating platform for the birds to provide a safe haven from suspected underwater predators. Despite everyone’s best effort, the family was eventually reduced to four survivors by 22 July 2019 (Ronnie Koh), as individuals were picked off by predatory fish lurking beneath the murky waters under the lotus pads. On 24 July 2019, the family decided to move to the ponds at Gardens by the Bay East, and by 25 July 2019, the family was down to a single duckling (Mary Yeo). Then, on 26 July 2019, there were no more ducklings (Jeremiah Loei).

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Lesser Whistling Duck and young using platform built by Gardens by the Bay staff on 7 July 2019, by Isabelle Lee.

Barely a kilometre away, another family of birds captured the attention of photographers and birders. A pair of Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles made a nest out of a scrape on the ground next to a construction site at Marina Bay East. Four eggs were reported on 16 July 2019, which eventually hatched by 19 July 2019. The chicks were rescued by construction workers when they could not surmount the kerb when their parents moved to the golf course across the construction site.

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Masked Lapwing with chicks at Marina East Drive on 25 July 2019 by Norhafiani A. Majid.

Further away, White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata were reported at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 19 July 2019 by John Marriott, who also reported Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea at Sentosa on 23 July 2019.

Western Singapore

The Kranji Marshes and surrounding habitat comprising Turut Track and Neo Tiew Harvest Lane received reports of migrants and residents alike. Two Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus were reportedly inspecting a hole at Turut Track on 3 July 2019 by Steven Wong, who also reported the sighting of a Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus in the vicinity on the same day. A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was reportedly seen on 7 July 2019 at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane by William Legge, who noted that “a small bittern uniformly salmon cinnamon coloured flew away from us”. Two Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus were spotted on 17 July 2019 within Kranji Marshes by Vincent Chin, while a juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii was seen on 28 and 29 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai; the young cuckoo was being fed by a Common Iora Aegithina tiphia on 28 July 2019. An adult Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata was also seen regurgitating food for three young birds on 30 July 2019 at Kranji Marsh by Yeo Seng Beng. Migratory Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius were reported to have arrived at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 28 July 2019 by Art Toh.

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Juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo fed by adult Common Iora at Kranji Marsh on 28 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai.

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Wood Sandpiper at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 28 July 2019 by Art Toh.

Shorebirds were also reported at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. As early as 7 July 2019, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus were seen huddling together at the main pond by William Legge. Other shorebirds reported were a lone Common Redshank Tringa totanus on 14 July 2019 (Adrian Silas Tay), and Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva on 23 July 2019 (YK Han). The Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus were also spotted on 7 July 2019 by YK Han, 14 July 2019 perched on a tree at Platform 2 by Adrian Silas Tay and two overflying birds on 20 July 2019 by Ng Wei Khim & Ng Wee Hao.

Two adults and a juvenile Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu were reported at the newly opened Jurong Lake Garden on 21 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai and seen again on 27 July 2019 by Ang Siew Siew, while the White-headed Munia Lonchura striata was also spotted on 23 July 2019 by Vincent Chin. The munia species was also seen along the Ulu Pandan Park Connector Network on 18 July 2019 by Brenda Chua LH, while further afield, a Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra was spotted at the West Coast Park on 22 July 2019 by John Marriott.
Abbreviations:
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park

This report is 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, 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 Frankie Cheong, Francis Yap, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, Yeong Wai Kai, Lim Sheen Taw, Herman Phua, Morten and Bee Choo Strange, Mike Smith, Art Toh, Jimmy Ng, Isabelle Lee, and Norhafianni A. Majid for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCES

Pierce, R.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53759 on 26 August 2019).

Robson, C. (2005). Birds of South-east Asia. New Holland Publisher: UK.

Sonobe, K. & Usui, S. (1993). A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan: Tokyo.

Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Academic Press: London.

LIST OF BIRDS REPORTED IN JUNE 2019

Family Species name Scientific Name Date
Anatidae Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica 1 Jul 2019
Anatidae Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica 22 Jul 2019
Podicipedidae Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 5 Jul 2019
Podicipedidae Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 17 Jul 2019
Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 7 Jul 2019
Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 14 Jul 2019
Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 20 Jul 2019
Ardeidae Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus 7 Jul 2019
Ardeidae Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra 22 Jul 2019
Accipitridae Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela 2 Jul 2019
Accipitridae Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela 6 Jul 2019
Accipitridae Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus 3 Jul 2019
Accipitridae Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus 3 Jul 2019
Accipitridae White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 5 Jul 2019
Rallidae Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata 2 Jul 2019
Recurvirostridae Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 17 Jul 2019
Recurvirostridae Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus 17 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus 3 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles 16 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles 19 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles 19 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 23 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 21 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 28 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 28 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 31 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus 31 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 7 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 18 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 21 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Common Redshank Tringa totanus 14 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 21 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 28 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 28 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 18 Jul 2019
Laridae Little Tern Sternula albifrons 1 Jul 2019
Columbidae Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra 31 Jul 2019
Columbidae Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 14 Jul 2019
Columbidae Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 19 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus 27 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus 10 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus 30 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii 28 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii 29 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax 24 Jul 2019
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 16 Jul 2019
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 18 Jul 2019
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 30 Jul 2019
Strigidae Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 21 Jul 2019
Strigidae Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 27 Jul 2019
Strigidae Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 28 Jul 2019
Strigidae Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo 28 Jul 2019
Strigidae Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata 4 Jul 2019
Strigidae Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata 26 Jul 2019
Alcedinidae Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting 31 Jul 2019
Cacatuidae Tanimbar Corella Cacatua goffiniana 5 Jul 2019
Cacatuidae Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea 14 Jul 2019
Cacatuidae Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea 23 Jul 2019
Eurylaimidae Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos 7 Jul 2019
Tephrodornithidae Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus 14 Jul 2019
Tephrodornithidae Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus 21 Jul 2019
Pycnonotidae Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus 17 Jul 2019
Pycnonotidae Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps 13 Jul 2019
Timaliidae Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera 23 Jul 2019
Pellorneidae Short-tailed Babbler Malacocincla malaccensis 23 Jul 2019
Pellorneidae Short-tailed Babbler Malacocincla malaccensis 25 Jul 2019
Muscicapidae Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni 22 Jul 2019
Chloropseidae Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati 27 Jul 2019
Nectariniidae Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana 1 Jul 2019
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 13 Jul 2019
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 19 Jul 2019
Estrildidae Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata 30 Jul 2019
Estrildidae White-headed Munia Lonchura maja 18 Jul 2019
Estrildidae White-headed Munia Lonchura maja 23 Jul 2019
Motacillidae Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 17 Jul 2019

Nesting of Zitting Cisticolas at Jurong Lake Gardens.

Nesting of Zitting Cisticolas at Jurong Lake Gardens.

By Norhafiani A. Majid and Alan OwYong.

  1. Introduction:

The Zitting Cisticola, Cisticola juncidis, formerly known as Streaked Fantail Warbler is listed as a common resident occurring in grasslands, reed beds and open fields throughout mainland Singapore. It has a wide global range from Southern Europe, Africa, Asia and SEA to Australia. The sub species in Singapore is the Malaya.

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Successful nesting of a family of Zitting Cisticolas at Jurong Lake Gardens. Parent with two newly fledged chicks. Photo: Norhafiani A. Majid.

It is not listed in the “Vanishing Birds of Singapore” (Lim Kim Seng 1992) or “The Singapore Red Data Book” (Second Edition 2008), but was included in the recent “Singapore Birds on the Brink” exhibition as they are under threat because of diminishing grasslands.

Fins

A new habitat of Pennisetum and African Tail Feather Grasses at Jurong Lake Gardens home to insects and grassland birds. Photo: Norhafiani A. Majid.

  1. A New Home:

As part of the rejuvenated Jurong Lakeside District, the lakeside gardens were remodelled to include a big expanse of open rolling grasslands of Pennisetum ( Lee Kai Chong) and African Tail Feather Grasses ( Sim Chip Chye). Insects such as grasshoppers and crickets are thriving in the new habitat, a wonderful attraction for the resident insectivorous Zitting Cisticolas.

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With the abundance of insects like this grasshopper the Zitting Cisticolas have no problems feeding three to four chicks at the same time.

3. Time to nest:

The Zitting Cisticolas at Jurong Lake Gardens were seen gathering nesting materials from as early as 14 July. It became apparent that their nesting was successful when the adult pair started feeding their first brood recorded there from 19 July. While observing the first nest, there was a flurry of activities from as many as four other Zitting Cisticolas in other parts of the grasslands.

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Parent bringing back grasshoppers for it chicks. The nest is hidden deep in the middle of the grass bush. Photo: Norhafiani A. Majid.

On 8th August, another nest was found in a more open spot. Three chicks were visible and appeared to be two to three days old. The nest is a small cup of leaves and grasses wound together with cobwebs deep inside the grasses. It is not visible from the side. The male is the nest builder and invites the female in with a special display ( Wikipedia).

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Tender moment of the parent feeding a grasshopper to its chick captured. Photo: Norhafiani A. Majid.

In the days that follow, the cisticolas can be seen flying up and down regularly and bringing back food for the young. The food was mostly grasshoppers and crickets as expected. An interesting observation was that the parents would land a few meters away to survey its immediate surroundings before hopping back to its nest. They were able to find the nest even when they landed at different spots.

JLG

Parent busy bringing back food to feed its hungry chicks.

  1. Fledglings

On 21 August the nest was empty.  We had a note from Lee Kai Chong that the chicks fledged on 20 August. Assuming that the chicks hatched on the 6 August, the time taken from hatching to fledging was about two weeks.  Three fledglings were seen on 24 August and a photo of the parent feeding the chick was captured. A new generation will be making their home here. It is heartening that the newly created habitat for grassland birds is thriving. The public garden provides easy access and enabled us to document the nesting behaviour of these Zitting Cisticolas.  We would like to thank our friends especially Chen Wah Piyong for sharing their knowledge and observations.

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This juvenile Zitting Cisticola is only a few days old but already has acquired all the markings of the parent.  Photo: Norhafiani A. Majid.

Reference:

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

Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia

 

 

 

How do Cuckoos choose their hosts?

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We have been seeing numerous posts recently on juvenile cuckoos being fed by Common Ioras and Golden-bellied Gerygones in Singapore. Based on Francis Yap’s article “Resident Cuckoos and their host parents- A Pictorial Guide”, (https://wp.me/p4VGho-hJ), it seems that different species of our resident cuckoos prefer one or two specific bird species as hosts. Examples:

  1. Rusty-breasted Cuckoos choosing Malaysian Pied Fantails as hosts.
  2. Drongo Cuckoos choosing Bulbuls or Pin-striped Tit-babblers
  3. Plantive Cuckoos choosing Common or Ashy Tailorbirds
  4. Banded Bay Cuckoos choosing Common Ioras
  5. Little Bronze Cuckoos choosing Golden-bellied Gerygone or Olive-backed Sunbirds.

Kiakee Leong

Kaikee Leong’s dramatic photo of a Common Iora feeding a Banded Bay Cuckoo at Kranji Marshes taken in July 2019.

The current feeding of the Little Bronze Cuckoo by a pair of Golden-bellied Gerygones at Jurong West Neighbourhood Park was first reported by Lee Kia Chong on 23 July 2018 at the same park. (https://wp.me/p4VGho-4Gb).  The residents there said that this feeding had been going on for some years now ( per comms Koh Lian Heng)

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The abundance of fruit flies around the mango trees at the park must be the reason for these Golden-bellied Gerygones to nest there year after year. 

So why do the Little Bronze Cuckoo choose the Golden-bellied Gerygones as host parents year after year? There were a few theories if you do a search on line. One was that the similar colour of the eggs and another was the imprint of the host parents on the cuckoo chick. But there were no evidence to support these theories.

Based on a study by Barbara Taborsky and colleagues of Konrad Lorenz Institute in Vienna, it is the habitat ( Nature. 28 Jan. 1999). The cuckoos return to the same place that reminds them of where they fledged and where they they will most likely to encounter the same host parents.

fantail-with-jv-rb-cuckoo-seng-alvin (2)

A Rusty-breasted Cuckoo chick begging for food from a Malaysian Pied Fantail at Tampines Eco Green. A 2015 photo by Seng Alvin.

In another study by Yang et al 2014 on Common Cuckoos hosted by Oriental Reed Warblers at the Zhalong National Reserves, China, reported in “Behaviour Ecology”, the female cuckoos spent some time monitoring the nests and will only lay the eggs if the nest is active and attended to.

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The super busy parents were feeding the cuckoo chick almost non stop. The Golden-bellied Gerygone at 10 cm is the smallest bird in Singapore.

This may explain why the Cacomantis cuckoos choose the mangrove species like Pied Fantails and Ashy Tailorbirds, forest dwelling Drongo Cuckoos going for forest edge Pin-striped Tit-babblers and Olive-winged Bulbuls and the Little Bronze and Banded Bay cuckoos seeking out the garden and parkland species.

Thank you all for sharing your sightings, records and photos of one of the more fascinating behaviours of our resident birds and help us to learn more about them.

Many thanks to KaiKee Leong and Seng Alvin for the use of their photos. Kevin Ng for the location.

Ref: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009.

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

Singapore Raptor Report – Late Spring Migration, April-June 2019

Peregrine, 170419, Toa Payoh, Ted Lee

Peregrine Falcon, an individual that was rescued, rehabilitated and released by JBP more than 10 years ago, at Toa Payoh, 17 April 2019, pic by Ted Lee.

Summary:

Only four migrant raptor species were recorded in the April to June period. They are the regulars during this period – the Western Osprey, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Japanese Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon.

There were eleven records of the Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus in April, ten in May and eight in June. At least five records in April were orientalis juveniles, as were six in May and four in June – these birds are spending the summer here in the tropics.

Five Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis were recorded between 1-12 April. Singles at Ulu Pandan on 1st April, Mount Faber on 5th April, Pulau Ubin on 7th April, and Dairy Farm Nature Park on 8th April & 12th April. These are the last birds to leave for their breeding grounds to the north.

Seven Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded, all in the month of April. Notably, the individual photographed at Toa Payoh on 17th April had, on its left tarsus (leg), a ring with ‘JBP’ engraved. This bird was rescued, rehabilitated and released by the Jurong Bird Park (JBP) more than ten years ago. Another individual recorded at Haig Road on 4th April was mobbing an Oriental Honey Buzzard.

Five Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus were recorded in the April-June period. Two at the Krani – Sungei Buloh area throughout, one at Gardens by the Bay on 3rd April, one at Jurong Lake on 27th April, and one at Pulau Ubin – Pasir Ris area on 22nd April and 8th May.

GHFE, 090619, Ulu Pandan PCN, Derrick Wong

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Ulu Pandan Park Connector, 9 June 2019, by Derrick Wong

Sedentary Raptors

The Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus was reported to be nesting at Kranji Marsh area on 19th April, and the White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster was also nesting at Fort Canning, with a well grown chick on the nest observed between 13-29 June. Juveniles of the Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus at Bishan (April), Pasir Ris (April – 2 birds), and Ang Mo Kio (May), and a fresh juvenile Changeable Hawk-Eagle at Pasir Ris (April & May) suggest that breeding had occurred in the preceding months.

A nest, presumably that of the Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus, based on the size of the nest and the observer’s experience, was recorded at the Rail Corridor near Phoenix Heights on 27th June. Also, a pair (a male & a female) of adult Crested Goshawks was recorded at South Buona Vista Road on 13th June, as were two adult Grey-headed Fish Eagles Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, probably a pair, at Sungei Ulu Pandan, also on 13th June.

One Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was present at Goldhill Avenue area in April and May, with the exception of 27th April when two birds were seen. In addition, one individual was recorded at Pulau Ubin (April & May), one at Toh Tuck Road (25th May), and one at Sentosa on 10th & 15th April. An adult Peregrine Falcon of the resident ernesti race was photographed at Jurong East on 2nd June, perched on a TV antenna consuming a bird.

Nocturnal Raptors

A family of Spotted Wood Owls Strix seloputo comprising two adults and a recently fledged chick was recorded at Cashew Road on 1st May, the nesting was first noted in March and the chick had fallen from the nest during the nesting period, but all was well after intervention by ACRES. On 9th June, a family of Buffy Fish Owls Ketupa ketupu, including a recently fledged juvenile, was photographed at Jurong Lake. As an indication of another successful nesting attempt, a juvenile Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus was photographed at Bukit Timah on 28th June. Notably, a Barred Eagle-Owl was recorded at Bukit Brown, a new locality for the species, on 27th April.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report, Late Spring Migration, Apr-Jun 2019, v1

Many thanks to everyone for posting / sending in / sharing their records, and to Ted Lee & Derrick Wong for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – June 2019

by Geoff Lim, & Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

Resident species dominate this month’s report. Of note is the report of 11 newly hatched Lesser Whistling Duck at Gardens by the Bay, the preponderance of forest species at Dairy Farm Nature Park, as well as the stars of Pulau Ubin – the Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Mangrove Pitta and the Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) & DFNP

The bulk of sightings in this area took place at Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) as birds were drawn to several fruiting mulberry and false curry leaf trees near Wallace Centre. Between 3 and 22 June 2019, a variety of forest species were spotted:

  • A Common Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica was spotted on 22 June by Saravanan Krishnamurthy;
CED, Saran

Common Emerald Dove at DFNP on 22 June 2019 by Saravanan K.

  • Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu; a male and female were spotted on 3 June 2019 by Steven Cheong, a female on 5 June by Betty Shaw, a female on 6 June by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, a female on 9 June by Nicholas Lim and a female again on 13 June by Peter Lim;
Jambu, Steven Wong

Male Jambu Fruit Dove at DFNP on 3 June 2019 by Steven Wong.

  • Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus: two sightings of this non-parasitic cuckoo were reported on 3 June (Steven Cheong) and 5 June (Terence Tan);
CBM, Terence Tan

Chestnut-bellied Malkoha at DFNP on 5 June 2019 taken by Terence Tan.

  • Both species of Barbets were observed. The resident Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii and introduced Lineated Barbet Megalaima lineata were spotted on 7 June by Terence Tan. The Lineated Barbet sighted was a juvenile;
  • A Banded Woodpecker Chrysophlegma miniaceum was spotted on 7 June by Terence Tan;
  • Both trees attracted the Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris, which is more commonly seen at the summit of Bukit Timah Hill, from 2 to 10 June by various observers such as Siew Mun, Dean Tan, Raymond Bong, Terence Tan and Steven Lee, the Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex on 8 June by Yong Ding Li and Geoff Lim, and the Asian Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus brunneus on 5 June by Betty Shaw and 7 June by Peter Lim, who also spotted the critically endangered Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus (BirdLife 2018) on 6 June;
BCB, Siew Mun

Black-crested Bulbul at DFNP on 2 June 2019 by Siew Mun.

SRB, Betty Shaw

Asian Red-eyed Bulbul at DFNP on 5 June 2019 by Betty Shaw.

  • Two species of Leafbirds were observed. A female Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati was seen on 5 June by Betty Shaw and Terence Tan feeding on the false curry leaf tree, and a male on 8 June by Yang Chee Meng. This species occurs in lower densities. Currently listed as being Vulnerable (Birdlife 2016), the bird’s singing abilities have made it a target of songbird poachers in Indonesia (Chng et al, 2017). The more colourful Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis was spotted on 4 June and 10 June (male) by Desmond Yap, 11 June (male) by Vincent Chin and 16 June (male) by Angela Yeo. All sightings involved the bird feeding on a mulberry tree.
GGLB, Terence Tan

Female Greater Green Leafbird at DFNP on 5 June 2019 by Terence Tan.

BWLB, AY

Blue-winged Leafbird at DFNP photographed by Angela Yeo on 16 June 2019.

  • The Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana was reported on 5 June (Terence Tan) and 13 June (Kok M Lee), the Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja on 9 June (Liu Xiao Dong; juvenile bird) and 13 June (Kok M Lee), and the Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra on 16 June (Angela Yeo).
LSPH, AY

Little Spiderhunter at DFNP on 16 June 2019 by Angela Yeo.

A short distance away at the Singapore Quarry, the Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was reported on 26 June 2019 by Benson Brighton, while a juvenile Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus was spotted on 28 June 2019 by Art Toh – good indication of successful breeding for the year. The regular pair of Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata was seen at Hindhede Nature Park on 26 June 2019 by Khoo MeiLin.

darter, BB

Oriental Darter at Singapore Quarry on 26 June 2019 by Benson Brighton.

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Juvenile Barred Eagle-Owl photographed at SG Quarry Road on 28 June 2019 by Art Toh.

BHO, KML

Brown Hawk Owl at Hindhede on 26 June 2019 taken by Khoo Mei Lin.

Mandai Track 7 held the Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera, which was spotted on 5 June (Steven Cheong), 9 and 16 June (Angela Yeo) and 22 June (Francis Yap), as well as the Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii, which was spotted on 9 June 2016 by Angela Yeo.

CWB, AY

Chestnut-winged Babbler at Mandai Track 7 on 16 June 2019 by Angela Yeo.

RCB, AY

Red-crowned Barbet at Mandai Track 7 on 9 June 2019 by Angela Yeo.

Other birds reported within the CCNR include Plume-toed Swiftlet Collocalia affinis reported on 11 June 2016 by Oliver Tan, a Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera, which was heard on 14 June 2019 by Oliver Tan, a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus on 16 June 2019 by Francis Yap, and a juvenile Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris on 16 June 2019 by Vincent Lao.

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Juvenile Drongo Cuckoo inside CCNR on 16 June 2019 by Vincent Lao.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A pair of Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa was spotted on 8 June 2019 in the Gardens by Cheng Li Ai.

Northern Singapore

A Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis was spotted on 6 June at the Baker Street pond by Veronica Foo. Two Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis were seen at the pond behind the Lorong Halus wetland centre on 18 June 2019 by Feroz Ghazali, while one was seen on 22 June 2019 at Lorong Halus by Darren Leow. A Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica was seen at the Lorong Halus Wetland vicinity on 30 June 2019 by Martin Kennewell. The bird was said to be flying east at 10:10am.

Eastern Singapore

On 4 June, two Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea were spotted within the grounds of Pasir Ris Park by Fadzrun Adnan; two birds were subsequently seen within the mangrove broadwalk on 22 June by Graham Risdon. The resident Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo was seen on 5 June by Charlie Pitts, while two female Common Flameback Dinopium javanense were observed fighting on 7 June by Jimmy Ng. The Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri was observed on 14 June by Alvin Seng. Further afield, Little Tern Sternula albifrons, which were reported since 5 June, continued to receive the attention of photographers at the water bodies around Pasir Ris Town Park.

RRP, alvin

Rose-ringed Parakeet spotted at PRP on 14 June 2019 by Alvin Seng.

About 1.5 kilometres away at Tampines Eco-Green, a Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis was seen on 8 June by Ken Joree Tan and on 15 June by Wang HM, while up to two Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus were spotted on 9 and 13 June by Wang HM.

P cockoo, Wang HM

Plaintive Cuckoo at TEG on 13 June 2019 by Wang HM.

Visitors to Pulau Ubin seeking out the rare Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis were rewarded by sightings of the bird on 2, 5, 8 and 23 June (Jerold Tan, Francis Yap, Adrian Silas Tay and Arasu Sivaraman, respectively). During this period, the Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha was seen on 1 June (Desmond Yap) and nesting activities observed on 8 June (Khoo Meilin), while the Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus was spotted on 2 June (Jerold Tan) and 8 June (Marvin Heng and Khong Yew). Visitors also saw the White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus, including one juvenile on 8 June by Khoo Meilin, and an adult on 11 June by Leong Kaikee. A rare Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus was seen on 22 June by Ben Keen, who noted that it was “seen clearly from top of viewing tower on east side of island around 8am. Flew into tree next to tower all white underneath, all dark on top. No white on wings. Recently saw some bar-winged flycatcher-shrike [sic] so I had a point of reference.”

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Mangrove Pitta at Pulau Ubin on 8 June 2019 by Francis Yap.

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Buff-rumped Woodpecker at Pulau Ubin on 5 July 2019 by Vincent Lao.

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Black Hornbill photographed on Pulau Ubin on 8 June 2019 by Khong Yew.

Also spotted on Ubin were four Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus during the joint NParks-NSS Bird Group survey on 23 June 2019, as well as a Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon Treron fulvicollis on Ubin Day on 29 June 2019 at the entrance of Butterfly Hill by Kerry Pereira.

Other birds seen in the east included more than thirty Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri on 3 June 2019 at the vicinity of Loyang Villa by a friend of Julie Wee, and feeding Coconut Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus on 18 June at Eastwood Estate by Herman Phua.

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Red-breasted Parakeet at Loyang Villa on 3 June 2019 through Julie Wee.

Southern Singapore

Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica were sighted at Gardens by the Bay on 8 June 2019 by Kay Aik. Subsequently a pair were seen with 11 ducklings at the Garden grounds on 27 June 2019 by Steven Wong.

LWD, Steven Wong

Lesser Whistling Duck with young at Gardens by the Bay on 27 June 2019 by Steven Wong.

A Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus was spotted at the nature park area of Sentosa on 12 June 2019 by Choong YT, while a House Swift Apus nipalensis was seen at the vicinity of Imbiah at Sentosa on 18 June 2019 by Dick Dallimore.

Western Singapore

Considerable attention was paid to the Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting at Jurong Eco Garden (JEG); the bird was seen on 9, 11 and 18 June by Leong Kaikee, Alok Mishra and Terence Tan, respectively. Visitors to JEG also observed the presence of a female Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus on 12 June (Kok M Lee) and Coconut Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus on 16 June (Desmond Yap). A Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus was spotted on 19 June by Terence Tan.

BEKF, TT

Blue-eared Kingfisher at Jurong Eco Garden on 18 June 2019 by Terence Tan.

A family of three Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, comprising a juvenile and two adults was spotted at Jurong Lake Garden on 9 and 12 June (Siew Mun and Dave Koh, respectively) indicates successful nesting for the species.  One of the adults appeared to have some abnormality in its left eye. Also, a family of Lesser Whistling Ducks with 7 ducklings were recorded on 28 June (Khoo Meilin).

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Buffy Fish Owl at Jurong Lake Garden on 9 June 2019 by Siew Mun.

 

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A Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis was reportedly found at the grounds of Chinese Garden on 7 June and left at an animal lover’s home at a nearby HDB estate in Jurong West in the morning. The incident was reported by Xin Yan, who reported that the bird remained weak and died during the night.

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Savanna Nightjar at Jurong West on 7 June. Photograph provided by Xin Yan.

There were no reports on bird activities around Kranji Marsh, save for one of a Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus seen on the ground foraging on 17 June by Tan Eng Boo. Further away, visitors at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) reported the presence of up to three Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus on 7 and 15 June (YK Han), while a Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana was reported on 9 June by Angela Chua. A pair of Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus were reported at Sungei Kadut during the evening of 16 June by Koh Tse Hsien.

Pandan River, which continued to attract photographers, saw Little Tern Sternula albifrons on 6 June (David Chan) while looking for the resident Grey-headed Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus.

Little Tern

Little Tern at Pandan River on 6 June 2019 taken by David Chan.

Further afield, we received continuing reports of the Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus at Jurong East on 6 June (Steven Chong), the House Swift Apus nipalensis at West Coast Drive on 20 June (Tay Kian Guan) and the Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti at West Coast Park on 27 June (Steven Wong).

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
JEG: Jurong Eco Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green
This report is 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, 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 Saravanan K., Steven Cheong, Terence Tan, Betty Shaw, Angela Yeo, Art Toh, Khoo Mei Lin, Alvin Seng, Wang HM, Marvin Heng, Steven Wong, Siew Mun, Benson Brighton, Julie Wee, Vincent Lao, Francis Yap, Xin Yan, and David Chan for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCES

Chng, S. C. L.; Eaten, J. A., and Miller, A. E. (1997) “Greater Green Leafbird – the trade in South-east Asia”. TRAFFIC Bulletin Vol. 29 (1): 4-8.

https://www.traffic.org/site/assets/files/…/traffic_pub_bulletin_29_1_greater-green.pdf

Downloaded on 10 July 2019.

BirdLife International 2016. Chloropsis sonnerati. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22704950A93992403. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22704950A93992403.en. Downloaded on 10 July 2019.

BirdLife International 2018. Pycnonotus zeylanicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22712603A132470468. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22712603A132470468.en. Downloaded on 10 July 2019.

LIST OF BIRDS REPORTED IN JUNE 2019

Family Species Scientific Name Date
Anatidae Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica 8 Jun 19
Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica 27 Jun 19
Podicipedidae Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 18 Jun 19
Ardeidae Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis 6 Jun 19
Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana 9 Jun 19
Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra 17 Jun 19
Anhingidae Oriental  Darter Anhinga melanogaster 26 Jun 19
Accipitridae Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus 17 Jun 19
Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus 10 Jun 19
Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus 11 Jun 19
Rallidae Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus 6 Jun 19
Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus 16 Jun 19
Recurvirostridae Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 23 Jun 19
Scolopacidae Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 7 Jun 19
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 15 Jun 19
Laridae Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica 30 Jun 19
Little Tern Sternula albifrons 7 Jun 19
Little Tern Sternula albifrons 6 Jun 19
Columbidae Common Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica 22 Jun 19
Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon Treron fulvicollis 29 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 3 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 3 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 5 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 6 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 9 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 9 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 10 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 11 Jun 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 13 Jun 19
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 4 Jun 19
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 22 Jun 19
Cuculidae Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus 3 Jun 19
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus 5 Jun 19
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus 19 Jun 19
Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus 16 Jun 19
Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus 9 Jun 19
Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus 13 Jun 19
Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris 16 Jun 19
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 28 Jun 19
Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 9 Jun 19
Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 12 Jun 19
Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo 5 Jun 19
Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo 4 Jun 19
Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata 26 Jun 19
Caprimulgidae Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis 8 Jun 19
Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis 15 Jun 19
Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis 7 Jun 19
Apodidae Plume-toed Swiftlet Collocalia affinis 11 Jun 19
House Swift Apus nipalensis 18 Jun 19
House Swift Apus nipalensis 20 Jun 19
House Swift Apus nipalensis 30 Jun 19
Alcedinidae Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting 9 Jun 19
Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting 11 Jun 19
Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting 18 Jun 19
Bucerotidae Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus 2 Jun 19
Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus 8 Jun 19
Megalaimidae Lineated Barbet Megalaima lineata 7 Jun 19
Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii 7 Jun 19
Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii 9 Jun 19
Picidae Banded Woodpecker Chrysophlegma miniaceum 7 Jun 19
Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus 12 Jun 19
Common Flameback Dinopium javanense 7 Jun 19
Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis 2 Jun 19
Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis 5 Jun 19
Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis 8 Jun 19
Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis 23 Jun 19
Psittacidae Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri 14 Jun 19
Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri 3 Jun 19
Coconut Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus 18 Jun 19
Coconut Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus 16 Jun 19
Pittidae Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha 1 Jun 19
Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha 8 Jun 19
Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha 14 Jun 19
Tephrodornithidae Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus 22 Jun 19
Pycnonotidae Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus 6 Jun 19
Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris 4 Jun 19
Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris 6 Jun 19
Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris 7 Jun 19
Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris 10 Jun 19
Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex 8 Jun 19
Asian Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus brunneus 7 Jun 19
Timaliidae Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera 14 Jun 19
Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera 5 Jun 19
Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera 9 Jun 19
Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera 16 Jun 19
Pellorneidae Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti 27 Jun 19
Leiothrichidae Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus 12 Jun 19
Sturnidae Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa 8 Jun 19
Muscicapidae White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus 8 Jun 19
White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus 11 Jun 19
Chloropseidae Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati 5 Jun 19
Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati 5 Jun 19
Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati 8 Jun 19
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis 4 Jun 19
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis 10 Jun 19
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis 11 Jun 19
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis 16 Jun 19
Nectariniidae Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana 5 Jun 19
Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana 13 Jun 19
Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja 9 Jun 19
Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja 13 Jun 19
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra 16 Jun 19

Nest Building by a pair of Chestnut-winged Babblers in Singapore.

Nest building by a pair of Chestnut-winged Babblers in Singapore.

By Alan OwYong

  1. Introduction:

The Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera is an uncommon breeding resident found in thick vegetation along the forest edges within the Central Catchment Forest in Singapore (Lim and Gardner 1997). It is the last surviving representative of its genus Stachyris in Singapore. The subspecies in Singapore is erythroptera (Gibson-Hill 1950). They are listed as nationally threatened due to their small, highly localised population. Breeding has previously been recorded at Nee Soon and Sime Road forests in 1987. More recently, courtship and nesting had been reported in 2007.  Its global range includes Southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and the island of Borneo.

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Laurence Eu’s photo of the Chestnut-winged Babbler building the first nest in the open.

  1. Finding the first nest:

On 13 May 2018, Laurence Eu came across a pair of Chestnut-winged Babblers flitting around the base of a clump of dry vegetation by the side of the track at the Sime Forest. He saw them going in and out with some twigs and leaves close to the ground. They were clearly building a nest.

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The nest that Laurence first came across was among the tangled mass in the middle of the photo almost at ground level.

He went back the next morning but the babblers were not around. They seemed to have abandoned this nest, which was just a few metres off the track. I met up with him later. We then came across a pair of babblers moving around behind some thick foliage not too far from the old nest.

3. Finding the second nest:

Our guess was that they were the same pair and were building another nest. The Chestnut-winged Babblers were known to abandon nests and rebuild if they feel that a particular location is unsuitable. We were right. Both of them were bringing back dry rattan (Calamus sp) leaves to an untidy hanging clump of vines and dead leaves. It seems that they preferred longish leaves as the main nesting material. This time the nest was at mid storey but still close to (about 2 metres) the walking track.

Sitting sluggly in the nest

Side view of early nest building in progress, wiggling to press their preferred longish leaves down.

An earlier Chestnut-winged Babbler’s nest I came across in the forests around Gunung Panti in Johor on 30 July 2017 was also built with broad leaves as well. There are also photos in the internet showing them bringing back bamboo leaves to build their nests.

Both parents are involved in the nest building

Both parents were actively involved in nest building often competing with each other in bringing back the leaves.

4. Building the second nest:

Both birds were actively involved in the nest building, often bringing back the leaves at the same time. The nest was round, about 20 cm wide, made out of a cluster of dry leaves and twigs, attached to an intertwined mass of leaves and thin branches. The entrance is just a small hole by the front side of the nest.

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The nest is a cluster of leaves and twigs intertwine among the dry mid storey hanging masses.

They must have just started nest building and did not appear bothered with our presence there. As the rattan plant was nearby, the pair were able to construct the nest quickly. After pushing a leaf in through the entrance hole, the bird would go inside the nest to place the leaf and line it up by wiggling its body before flying out again.

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We were a little worried as the nest was very close to the track and associated human disturbance. We returned the next morning to check on their progress and hoped to see them using the nest. But alas it was not to be! Again they decided to abandon this nest as well. We checked to see if they were building another nest nearby but there was no sign of them. We did not hear any calls from them either for the rest of the morning. All the nesting records of this babbler that I have read online have the same ending of the nest being abandoned. The search goes on to find a stable nest to document and learn more of the nesting behaviour of these elusive forest babblers.

The nest inside the tangled mess near the top of the photo was only 2 meters away from the walking track.

Many thanks to Laurence for showing me the site and for the use of his photo and Albert Low for the editing.

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

Lim Kim Seng. Vanishing Birds of Singapore. Nature Society ( Singapore) 1992.

Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd 2000.

 

 

 

Scaly-breasted Munia enjoying Algae.

Scaly-breasted Munia enjoying algae
 
by T.Ramesh 

Scaly-breasted Munias ( Lonchura punctulata) are common residents in Singapore and have two races  – the local fretensis with paler upper parts and the introduced topela with distinctive brownish upper parts.   The introduced species of topela are common along the grass patches of Changi Business Park (CBP) canal which is behind the CBP bus depot.

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During one of my regular birding walk along this  canal recently,  I noticed a thick layer of green algae had bloomed on the canal.   Algae are plants lacking roots, stems and leaves and they are widespread in terms of habitats.  Singapore with equatorial climate has algal abundance and richness with 1054 species recorded .
I observed a Scaly-breasted Munia  landed on the algae.  Generally they are gregarious in groups but foraging can be individual or in group .  Studies have established the economic consequences of joining other munias in two models :  i) Information sharing model and ii) producer-scourger model .
However,  here it was alone . It poked the slimy algae and pulled the strands out to munch.  It kept hopping on different parts of the algae and continued to feed while alertly looking around for any threat . I quote below Avery, ML ‘s observation in his research paper in 1975 on White-rumped Munia’s feeding behaviour  in Malaysia:
 “Field observations and stomach analyses showed that the munias ate rice and the green filamentous alga, Spirogyra, almost exclusively. The primary periods of algae eating occurred in January and June-August, coinciding with the munias’ two peak periods of reproductive activity, as determined by gonadal examination. Apparently munias on the study area ate Spirogyra as a source of protein to enable them to become physiologically ready for breeding, much as other tropical bird species eat insects .”
Ref: Diet and breeding seasonality among population of White-rumped Munia, Lonchura striata, in Malaysia by Michael L. Avery.
 Though this behaviour is observed in other countries, glad to video record this in Singapore .
Click on the link below for the video.

Nesting of Rufescent Prinias in Peninsular Malaysia.

Nesting of Rufescent Prinias in Peninsular Malaysia.

By Connie Khoo.

The Rufescent Prinia Prinia rufescens is a common breeding resident in Malaysia. The subspecies found in Peninsular Malaysia is extrema. It is one of the three Prinia species listed in Malaysia. It can be found in open scrub and dry grasslands next to forest edges. It is also a common resident across South East Asia except Central Thailand and Singapore. Its range include North and North East India, Bhutan and SW China.

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The fledgling staying close to the nest just below it while the parent kept watch from above.

On 3rd June 2019 I came across a low nest by the side of a forest outside Ipoh, Perak. The nest was built by stitching up the sides of a large leaf into a conical shaped cup just like a tailorbird’s nest. The one meter tall plant is identified as the Terung Asam, Solanum lasiocarpum, by my friend Amar-Singh HSS. It was lined with fine dried grasses inside and hung about a half meter above ground.

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The nest is very similar to that of the tailorbird’s nest, leaf sewn together, cup shaped and filled with fine grasses inside.

Three hatchlings with pin feathers and exposed naked skin were seen inside the nest. Their eyes were closed. I estimated that they hatched no more than 2 to 3 day before.

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A wide angle view of the surrounding habitat and forest edge of the nesting area with the Terung Asam on the left.

When I visited the nest again on the 6th June, the parents were more relaxed and were feeding the chicks regularly. During the monitoring over the next few days, I saw the parents bringing back a variety of insects for the chicks with caterpillars as the main diet. Other insects include grasshoppers, small moths and butterflies, termites, spiders, black ants and insect eggs. However no dragonflies or damselflies were brought back.

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Parent checking on the hatchlings inside the sewn leaf of the Terung Asam plant.

On 8th June, the chicks were fully covered by feathers and their eyes were open. By now they were about 7-8 days old.

The first chick fledged on the morning of the 12th June at 8.38 am, 11-13 days after hatching. It jumped out of the nest and then flew to a thin branch 3 meters away. This caused much anxiety and excitement with the parents. The second and third chick followed suit at 8.46 am and 9.18 am. They flew straight to the nearest branch much to the relief of the parents. The feeding continued that morning but I was surprised to find two more adults coming by to help feed the chicks. This communal feeding was recorded in other species but this is the first time I have seen it with this prinia.

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The first fledgling came out of the nest after 11-13 days after hatching.

The parents led the chicks out to the forest edges to feed the next day. By now it was hard to monitor them as the chicks moved deeper into the denser part of the forest.

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The parents staying close to the fledglings at the edge of the forest on the second day after they fledged.

I was glad to be able to document this nesting as past nesting failed either due to predation or inclement weather.

Thanks to Alan OwYong for editing and additional notes on its distribution.

Reference: Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Company 2000.