by Geoff Lim & Isabelle Lee.
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)
September heralded the start of the autumn-winter passage migration, with reports of migratory songbirds reaching Singapore as passage migrants, as well as pelagic species transiting between their breeding and wintering grounds.
A female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at Tuas Bay Lane on 30 Sep 2020 by Tan Gim Cheong
Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks
The parks and forests fringing the CCNR yielded a Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, on 4 September 2020 (Veronica Foo) at Upper Seletar Reservoir; two Sunda Scops Owl, Otus lempiji, on 16 September 2020, at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (Marcel Finlay); a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, on 23 September 2020 at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park (Martin Kennewell); eleven Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, on the same day (23 September 2020) at Mandai Park Connector (Veronica Foo); an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, (Black-backed subspecies), on 24 September 2020 along the Lower Peirce Boardwalk (Alfred Chia); and a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, on 27 September 2020 at Bukit Brown Cemetery (Lim Hong Yao).
Visitors to the Hindhede-Bukit Timah Nature Reserve park complex reported seeing a Brown Hawk-Owl, Ninox scutulata, on 16 September 2020 (Martin Kennewell); a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, on 21 September 2020 (Richard White); a Common Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica, on 25 September 2020 (Raghav Narayanswamy, at Hindhede); and a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 27 September 2020 (Lim Kim Chuah). A birding blitz on 30 September 2020 yielded three Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, one Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, one Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, two Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, two Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, two Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, two Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus borealis, three White-crested Laughingthrush, Garrulax leucolophus, one Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, two Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa latirostris, and two Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, (Alfred Chia).
The area around Jelutong Tower yielded a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 1 September 2020 (Steven Cheong), one Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus, and one Short-tailed Babbler, Malcocincla malaccensis, on 30 September 2020 (Oliver Tan). The forest cover along Rifle Range Link yielded two Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, and one Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, on the same day along Rifle Range Link. About two weeks prior to this report on 18 September 2020, a Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, was seen being fed by a Pin-striped Tit-Babbler, Macronus gularis (Art Toh).
Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) yielded a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 1 September 2020 (Tay Kian Guan), a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, Leptocoma brasiliana, on 4 September 2020 (Richard Davis), a Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Orthotomus sericeus, and a Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, on 29 September 2020 (Martin Kennewell).
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at SBG on 23 Sep 2020 seen by Ho Siew Mun
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Over at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, an Asian Palm-Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, was spotted on 15 September 2020 by Oliver Tan, a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, on 23 September 2020 by Ho Siew Mun, and two Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, on 26 September 2020 by Krishna Gopagondanahalli.
Chinese Pond Heron seen along Kallang River on 7 September 2020 by Kerry Pereira
An early arriving Chinese Pond Heron, Ardeola bacchus, in transition between summer and winter plumage, was spotted on 7 September 2020 along Kallang River by Kerry Pereira. A report of an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, (Black-backed subspecies), was made from Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 on 22 September 2020 by Jonathan Wu, while the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (BAMK) delivered four Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Merops philippinus, on 28 September 2020 (Oliver Tan) and four Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, on 30 September 2020 (Calista Tan).
Two locations in the north are popular with birders, viz. the area between the Halus Wetlands and Coney Island, and the Seletar Dam and area around Seletar Airport.
Visitors to the Halus-Coney complex reported five Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus, on 19 September 2020 (Tan Kok Hui at Coney Island), while a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, and Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, were spotted on 23 and 25 September at the Halus Wetlands by Mike Hooper and Alfred Chia, respectively.
Over at Seletar, an Asian Openbill, Anastomus oscitans, was seen at Seletar Club Road on 20 September 2020 (Oliver Tan), while waders were spotted along the tidal mudflats at the sea-ward side of Seletar Dam. These included Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius, on 21 September 2020 (Martin Kennewell), a Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, on 22 September 2020 (Steven Cheong) and a Greater Sand Plover, Charadrius leschenaultii, on 24 September 2020 (Mike Hooper). A Western Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, was spotted on the same day (24 September 2020) by Mike Hooper. On 4 September 2020, Khoo Meilin photographed the chicks of the Greater Painted-Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, hiding under the vegetation in a wet area, and the grass fields at Piccadilly yielded two of these Painted-Snipes, on 26 September 2020 (Martin Kennewell).
At Hampstead Wetlands on 18 September 2020, Michael Kwee photographed a female Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Dendrocopus moluccensis, with an unusually long bill. Interestingly, Peh Chee Ee photographed a male with a longer than normal bill (though not as long as the female) at the same place on 13 June 2020.
Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, male, with unusually long bill, Hampstead Wetlands, 13 Jun 2020, by Peh Chee Ee
Other reports from the north include the sighting of a Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, at Yishun Street 11 on 8 September 2020 (Fadzrun A), and a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, at Jalan Ulu Sembawang on 27 September 2020 (Evelyn Lee).
Shorebirds began their stop-over at Pulau Ubin as early as 6 September 2020, with the report of 430 Lesser Sand Plovers, Charadrius mongolus, four Red-necked Stints, Calidris ruficollis, and one Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres, spotted at Chek Jawa by Martin Kennewell. Other waders included thirty-two Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, and four Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, on 22 September 2020 by Oliver Tan, who also saw a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, on the same day. Besides the waders, a Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica, was reported on 20 September 2020 by Krishna Gopagondanahalli.
Visitors to Pasir Ris Park reported a Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, on 27 September 2020 (YK Han); the regularly seen Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu, on 30 September 2020; as well as a pair of Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, (Ryan Lim). A Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus, was also spotted on the same day (Tan Hong Kai). In addition, Ko Engwee photographed a Collared Kingfisher, Todiramphus chloris, feeding its fledgling on 10 September 2020. Over at Tampines Eco Green, a Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis, and a Rufous Woodpecker, Micropternus brachyurus, were spotted on 30 September 2020 by Kee JY.
Over at Changi Business Park, we received reports of two Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea, occurring at the canal by Ryan Lim, while an Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone incei, was seen on 28 September 2020 by T. Ramesh working one of his regular patches.
Gardens by the Bay yielded sightings of six Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, two Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, one Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, one Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone affinis, and six White-headed Munia, Lonchura maja, on 28 September 2020 (Oliver Tan).
Over at Marina East, three Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, and Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, were spotted on 27 and 28 September 2020 by John Marriott and Yip Jen Wei, respectively. Further away at the Pinnacle@Duxton, eight House Swift, Apus nipalensis, were seen on 29 September 2020 by Oliver Tan. At Kent Ridge Park, a Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, was recorded on 30 September 2020 by Zahidi Hamid.
White-shouldered Starling at Jurong Lake Gardens on 25 Sep 2020 by Tan Gim Cheong
Sightings were made at predominantly three areas – Jurong Lake Gardens, the Neo Tiew-Kranji Marshes, and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Noteworthy sightings at Jurong Lake Gardens included a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, on 22 September 2020 (Ho Siew Mun), a Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, (Krishna Gopagondanahalli) and a Javan Munia, Lonchura leucogastroides, (Sandra Chia) on 27 September 2020, eight White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, that fed on several flowering Syzygium trees (Chen Boon Chong), a Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator,(Wong Wai Loon) and two Long-tailed Parakeet, Psittacula longicauda,(Wong Wai Loon) on 29 September 2020. Also spotted were four Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus (Norhafiani A. Majid) and two Grey-rumped Treeswift, Hemiprocne longipennis, (Sreekar Rachakonda) on 30 September 2020. A pair of Zitting Cisticola, Cisticola juncidis, were photographed during their brief mating moment on 12 September 2020 by Nigel Tan.
White-browed Crake at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 12 Sep 2020 by Joseph Lim
A Cinnamon Bittern, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, was reported from Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 4 September 2020 by Martin Kennewell, while two Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, were spotted within the same area the next day on 5 September 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, while a White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea, was spotted on 12 September 2020 by Joseph Lim. On 20 September 2020, two Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, were seen at Kranji Marsh by Sreekar Rachakonda, a Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, was spotted at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 26 September 2020 by Tan Kok Hui, while a Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos, was seen within Kranji Marsh on 30 September 2020 by Yip Jen Wei.
Over at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a pair of displaying Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, were seen on 20 September 2020, as was a Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, on 29 September 2020; both sightings were made by Lim Kim Seng, while several numbers of Marsh Sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis, Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia, 160 Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, 120 Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, 110 Common Redshank, Tringa totanus, three Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, and one Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, were reported on 30 September 2020 by Spencer Yau and Yip Jen Wei.
Great-billed Heron displaying at SBWR on 20 September 2020; photo by Lim Kim Seng
Other notable species spotted in the west included a Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus, over Holland Plain on 1 September 2020 by George Presanis. At Tuas South, Khoo Meilin recorded a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, on 19 September 2020, and Tan Gim Cheong recorded a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, on 30 September 2020.
Three pelagic trips were made in September: on 20 September 2020 by Francis Yap & friends, and on 19 & 27 September 2020 by Oliver Tan & friends. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these pelagic trips were kept within Singapore port limits. For once (in a long while), practically all the seabirds recorded could be treated as Singapore records. The records from these three pelagic trips within our port limits are particularly valuable as the majority of the sightings from the previous pelagic trips had occurred on the Indonesian / Malaysian side of the Strait.
Notably, the Aleutian Tern, Onychoprion aleuticus, was recorded on all three pelagic trips: 2 birds on the 19th, ‘good numbers’ on the 20th, and 2-3 birds on the 27th. This species was rarely recorded on the Singapore side of the Strait before September 2020.
Aleutian Tern, within Singapore port limits, 20 Sep 2020, by Adrian Silas Tay
The Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel, Oceanodroma monorhis, was recorded on two trips, with at least 28 birds on the 19th, and few birds on the 20th. The White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus, was also recorded on two trips: a few on the 20th, and two on the 27th. The Bridled Tern, Onychoprion anaethetus, was recorded only on the 19th, when at least 3 birds were encountered.
The pelagic on the 19th headed towards the south on their last leg and recorded twenty Little Terns, Sternula albifrons, plus approximately fifty Black-naped Terns, Sterna sumatrana, off Pulau Satumu. In addition, one Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, was seen flying low over the waters on the 27th.
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
This report is compiled/written by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird make up this report. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified.
Many thanks to Ho Siew Mun, Kerry Pereira, Peh Chee Ee, Joseph Lim, Lim Kim Seng, and Adrian Silas Tay for allowing us to use their photographs.