Singapore Raptor Report – February 2021

Brown FO crop, Jackie Yeo

Brown Fish Owl, at Hindhede Nature Park, 17 Feb 2021, by Jackie Yeo

The highlight for February 2021 must have been the incredible sighting of the first Brown Fish Owl in Singapore, and the Black-thighed Falconet which had not been seen for decades, more on these later.

Summary for migrant species:

In February 2021, 139 raptors of eight migrant species were recorded. The only Rufous-bellied Eagle wintering in Singapore was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 1st, Woodlands on the 6th, and Hillview MRT vicinity on the 21st. Only two Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, the wintering female at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West on the 12th and 13th, and a male at Lorong Halus Wetlands on the 20th.

Five Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded, singles at Pulau Ubin, Changi Business Park, Pasir Ris Park, Tampines Eco Green, and Lorong Halus-Punggol Waterway area. There were also five Western Ospreys and they were recorded at Changi Business Park, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Upper Seletar Reservoir, Jelutong Tower, and Hindhede Nature Park. Fourteen Peregrine Falcons were recorded, often perched on buildings. There were also 22 Japanese Sparrowhawks, 39 Black Bazas,and51 Oriental Honey Buzzards.

Highlights for sedentary species:

Jackie Yeo was at Hindhede Nature Park on 17 Feb 2021 when he photographed an unusual-looking large brown owl that proved to be a Brown Fish Owl, the first sighting of the species in Singapore. The nearest known population is at northern Peninsular Malaysia, some 500-600 kilometres away. More incredibly, the next day, Vincent Yip photographed the Brown Fish Owl perching next to an almost fully grown hybrid owlet that looked mostly like a young Buffy Fish Owl. Subsequently, the Brown Fish Owl was seen perched next to an adult Buffy Fish Owl, presumably its mate. The mystery deepens when Jan Tan checked her photos of an unusual-looking owl taken at nearby Singapore Quarry on 3 Aug 2019, one and a half years ago, and discovered that it was a Brown Fish Owl!   

Brown FO crop, Jan Tan

Brown Fish Owl, at Singapore Quarry, 3 Aug 2019, by Jan Tan

The other amazing occurrence was that of a juvenile Black-thighed Falconet that was found by Lee Lay Na, perched on the parapet of an HDB flat in Yishun Street 71, on 12 Feb 2021, as if to welcome the first day of the Lunar New Year. The last confirmed record for the falconet was more than 30 years ago.

150998907_10159235630236214_6006288479226158474_o

Black-thighed Falconet, perched on HDB parapet at Yishun Street 71, 12 Feb 2021, by Lee Lay Na

Breeding-related activities were noted for three other species. At least one chick was observed in the nest of a pair of Black-winged Kites at Seletar on the 28th. Separate pairs of White-bellied Sea Eagles were observed on their respective nests at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 6th, and Fort Canning on the 20th. For the Buffy Fish Owl, a fledgling was observed with its parents at Yishun on the 4th & 9th, another owlet at Jurong Lake Gardens had fledged from its nest (a Bird’s Nest Fern) by the 6th, and yet another owlet was observed in its nest (another Bird’s Nest Fern) along Hampstead Gardens on the 6th and 8th.

One adult ernesti Peregrine Falcon was recorded in the vicinity of the Botanic Gardens on the 25th. There were four records of the Crested Serpent Eagle at SBWR, Chek Jawa, Goldhill Avenue, and Kent Ridge Park. Ten Grey-headed Fish Eagles, 12 Black-winged Kites, 17 Crested Goshawks, and eight Changeable Hawk-Eagles were also recorded. Finally, one Barred Eagle Owl was recorded at Rifle Range Link, while one Spotted Wood Owl was recorded at Goldhill Avenue, Satay by the Bay, and Pasir Ris Park.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Jackie Yeo, Jan Tan, and Lee Lay Na for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – February 2021

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The Gangster Monitor Of PRP

by Seng Alvin

The Malayan Monitor Lizard, Varanus salvator, is the most common of the three lizard species found in Singapore. It is also the largest, growing up to 3 meters in length. They feed on crabs, fish, frogs and small vertebrates. They are also not fussy eaters helping to clean up rotting fish and carrion.

As an apex predator, their numbers have grown in many parts of Singapore including Pasir Ris Park, my backyard. I likened them to “gangsters” here, attacking all the other species in the park whenever there is an opportunity

One such opportunity came on the morning of 10 March 2021, I was on my usual birding walkabout stopping first at the main bridge across Sungei Tampines. Every thing was calm and peaceful. A few Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Egrets and Striated Herons were happily foraging by the bank of the river.

Suddenly I saw a Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, dropped into the river. I did not see how and why it fell. It was struggling in the water trying to get out, sending ripples across the river. This attracted a Malayan Water Monitor lurking nearby. Immediately it swam over and start attacking the heron in the water. There was nothing I can do except to document the attack.

Most unusual for an adult heron to suddenly fall into the water.

The heron put up a fight and managed to fend off the monitor lizard. But it was clearly injured from the bite of the lizard. I can see a few of it’s white feathers floating in the water.

A few feathers came off after the first attack, It must have been injured.

The monitor lizard bid its time, circling the wounded heron waiting for the right time to attack again. It’s main concern is from other lizards trying to steal its prize.

After a few minutes the monitor lizard launched a second attack. This time round the heron was too weak to resist. It took less than a minute. It was game over for the heron.

The second and fatal attack giving the heron no chance at all.

With it’s prey in its mouth, the lizard quickly dragged it to the bushes along the river bank to finish the meal away from the prying eyes of the other lizards. After close to an hour, this “gangster monitor” came out of the bushes with the half eaten carcass and swam across the river, showing off its trophy to the many birders and visitors to the park.

Showing off its trophy prey as it swam out of the bushes.

While we have to accept that this is part of the life and death cycle in the natural world, where predation is nature’s way of maintaining the biodiversity, this balance can easily be unhinged if a dominant species expanded out of proportion and becomes a threat to the other wildlife in the ecosystem.

The Black-crowned Night Heron is listed as critically endangered in the 2008 Singapore Red Data Book. The main reason is the destruction and disturbance of its feeding and nesting sites and pesticide poisoning. Our largest colony of 1,200 birds at Khatib Bonsu was wiped out in July 1990 when officials from the Ministry of Environment’s Vector Control and Research Division (VCD) start fogging the mangrove island continuously for months in response to complaints of culex mosquitoes. Since then only a few smaller colonies of 20 odd pairs were found at Jurong Lake, Sungei Buloh and Pasir Ris Mangroves. We need to protect all the breeding sites across the island if we are to see this nocturnal heron survive and thrive.

Reference: Nick Baker & Kelvin Lim. Wild Animals of Singapore.

Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore.

G.W.H Davidson, P.K.L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew. The Singapore Red Data Book.

Lim Kim Seng. Vanishing Birds of Singapore.

Singapore Raptor Report – January 2021

Osprey, 290121, CJ Ubin, TGC

Western Osprey, at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin, 29 Jan 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

Summary for migrant species:

The end of the month seemed to be a good time for scarce migrants. A Himalayan Vulture was photographed in flight at Marina East on the 30th, a Black Kite photographed at Changi Boardwalk on the 31st, and an Oriental Scops Owl photographed at the vicinity of Hindhede Nature Park on the 30th.

The wintering juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle was spotted at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 6th and 31st. Only one Chinese Sparrowhawk was recorded, at Telok Blangah Hill Park on the 3rd. Two Jerdon’s Baza were still around the Changi Business Park canal in January.

OHB, 300121, Pelton Canal, Saravanan

Oriental Honey Buzzard, adult male, 30 Jan 2021, Pelton Canal, by Saravanan Krishnamurthy.

Four Western Ospreys were around at the northern areas, thirteen Peregrine Falcons were recorded, often perched on buildings. Of the 61 migrant Oriental Honey Buzzards, one at Changi Business Park on the 17th & 18th appeared to be a juvenile ruficollis. Finally, there were 15 Japanese Sparrowhawks, and 37 Black Bazas.

OHB, 170121, CBP, Peter Wong, maybe ruficollis

Oriental Honey Buzzard, this appears to be a  juvenile ruficollis, 17 Jan 2021, Changi Business Park canal, by Peter Wong.

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were noted for four species. Two chicks of the Brahminy Kite were observed on a nest at West Coast Park on the 23rd. On the 30th, mating was observed for a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. At Pasir Ris Park on the 3rd, it appeared that the Crested Goshawks had built a new nest; in the middle of the month, there were two newly fledged juvenile goshawks at West Coast Park; and another two at Sin Ming Drive. And for the Buffy Fish Owl, the owlet at SBWR had fledged and was seen outside the nest on the 9th; at Jurong Lake Garden, another owlet was seen on its nest on the 20th, with an adult nearby; and at Yishun on the 23rd, another recently fledged juvenile.

WBSE, 160121, SBWR, Teo Chee Yong

White-bellied Sea Eagle, in flight with a half-eaten prey (possibly an eel), SBWR, 16 Jan 2021, by Teo Chee Yong.

There were six records of the Crested Serpent Eagle at Jalan Anak Bukit, Goldhill Avenue, Pasir Ris Park, Admiralty Park, Botanic Gardens, and Pulau Ubin. One torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzard was recorded – a male on the 8th at the Botanic Gardens. Ten Grey-headed Fish Eagles were recorded, all near water, eleven Black-winged Kites and twelve Changeable Hawk-Eagles were also recorded. Unfortunately, one dark morph Changeable Hawk-Eagle was found dead in the grounds of a condominium on the 27th, possibly a casualty of ‘window-strike’. Finally, one Barred Eagle Owl was recorded at Rifle Range Link on the 6th and two on the 27th, while two Spotted Wood Owls were seen at Pulau Ubin on the 22nd.

CGH, posted 220121, Wong Sangmen

Crested Goshawk, juvenile, 22 Jan 2021, Sin Ming, by Wong Sangmen.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Teo Chee Yong, Peter Wong, Saravanan Krishnamurthy, and Wong Sangmen for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – January 2021

White-faced and Kentish Plovers- a side by side comparison.

By Alan OwYong and Yong Ding Li.

Dave Bakewell and Peter Kennerley first alerted us to a distinct looking Charadrius plover in their 2008 paper titled “Malaysia’s Mystery Plover” after studying them at Tuas, Singapore in winter of 1993-1994 and in Penang in 2006-2007. This led to a comprehensive study of the plover in question, in collaboration with Philip Round in 2008. They then coined the name “White-faced Plover” for its predominately white looking face.

Following the publication of the article, birders in China started searching for them along the coast. In 2011, a China-based birder Brian Ivon Jones stumbled a breeding population on China’s southern coast. 270 birds were counted at two sandy beaches at Dahu, Haifeng in Guangdong Province.

Further research found that renown British ornithologist Robert Swinhoe had described the form in 1870 based on a specimen collected from Taiwan and had it named Aegialites dealbatus. This was treated as a subspecies of the Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus.

So it was more of a rediscovery and the bonus was that it was accepted by the IOC as a new species following the name given by Bakewell and Kennerley, White-faced Plover, Charadrius dealbatus after the split. Numerous studies have been conducted by researchers thereafter to better understand is taxonomic relationship with other similar plovers.

The granite seawall by Marina East Drive where all the three Charadrius Plovers can be found.

On the 31 January 2021, all three Charadrius plovers were present at the seawall along Marina East Drive. There were a few pairs of Malaysian Plovers, several Kentish and at least one male White-faced Plover moulting into breeding plumage.

Both the Kentish and White-faced Plovers were seen mixing together and came close to each other for these photos. With these we are able to compare them better side by side.

Male Kentish (back) and White-faced Plovers.

At first glance, both plovers look similiar. But the first thing you will notice are the lores or rather the absence of the black loral patch for the White-faced. The patch behind the eyes are also visibly darker for the Kentish. Another useful feature for birders to take note of is the black breast typical of the Malaysian and Kentish Plovers, this feature is less pronounced in the White-faced. The black band across the crown is further back on the White-faced Plover, giving it the appearance of a much whiter forehead and an overall paler face. Lastly the Kentish Plover has a darker brown upperparts compared to the lighter, ‘milky tea’ color for the White-faced.

Side profile of the female Kentish Plover ( left ) and the male White-faced Plover (back).

This side profile photo shows that the two plover species are of about the same size with a slightly rounder body for the Kentish. The flanks of the Kentish has more white than the White-faced. The legs of the Kentish do look darker but the length is hard to judge. The most contrasting feature is the shape of the head. The White-faced has a steeper forehead compared to the sloping forehead of the Kentish Plover, giving it a more “dome-shaped” look.

This White-faced Plover has been accepted into the International Ornithological Congress’s checklist after the split, and has now been added into the 2021 Nature Society (Singapore)’s Birds of Singapore Checklist.

References:

Bakewell, D.N. & Kennerley, P.R. (2007). Malaysia’s Mystery Plovers. Available at http://www.surfbirds.com/Features/plovers1108/malayplovers.html

Kennerley, P.R., Bakewell, D.N., & Round, P.D. (2008). Rediscovery of a long-lost Charadrius plover from South-East Asia. Forktail24, 63-79.

Swinhoe’s ( White-faced Plovers)-Birdingbeijing.com

Sadanandan, K. R., Küpper, C., Low, G. W., Yao, C. T., Li, Y., Xu, T., … & Wu, S. (2019). Population divergence and gene flow in two East Asian shorebirds on the verge of speciation. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-9.

Lim, K. S. (2009). The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). Singapore.

“Tomial tooth” in the Tiger Shrike

TGC_1270_00001,-Tiger-Shrike,-crop,-960v

Tiger Shrike, Changi Business Park canal, 19 Jan 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

Fun Facts

The upper edge of the Tiger Shrike’s hooked bill features a pointy protrusion on each side, called “tomial tooth.” The shrike tackles prey with a precise attack to the nape, probably using the “tooth” to sever the spinal cords of their vertebrate prey with a bite and paralyze them.

Birds of Singapore Checklist 2021 Edition.

The 2021 edition of the NSS Bird Group Checklist is attached for your reference.

There are no changes to the order and number of species, 407, as the one attached in the Bird Records Committee Report (Jan 2021), except for the corrected scientific names of 12 species namely Slaty-breasted Rail, Baillon’s, Ruddy-breasted, Band-bellied and White-browed Crakes, Black-and-white, Black-headed and Black-crested Bulbuls, Chestnut-winged, Pin-striped Tit, Short-tailed and White-chested Babblers, following IOC Version 10.2.

The names of Red Collared Dove and Barred Eagle-owl have also been updated while the status of Himalayan Vulture is now a Non-breeding Visitor.

White-browed Crake Poliolimnas cinereus, uncommon breeding resident.

Birds Records Committee Report ( Jan 2021)

By Lim Kim Seng.

Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee.

The Records Committee continues to receive records of new bird species to the Singapore List and rarities. This report updates the findings of the period, November 2019 – December 2020.

New Species

Nine new bird species were added to the Singapore List, bringing the total number of species to 407. These included three firsts – Common Swift, White-bellied Erpornis and Hair-crested Drongo – that had been recorded in the period under review. In addition, six species that had been previously categorized under Categories B or D had been re-reviewed by the committee and found to fit Category A. 

Common Swift Apus apus

An individual seen and photographed flying over Jelutong Tower on 9 Oct 2019 by Richard White, Francis Yap and Martin Kennewell was the first record for Singapore. Amazingly, this was followed by a second record from Henderson Waves on 27 Oct 2020 seen by Keita Sin, Tan Gim Cheong and Deborah Friets. The subspecies recorded is pekinensis which breeds in Northeast China and Transbaikalia, winters in Africa and have recently been seen in Thailand.

Common Swift Apus apus at Jelutong Tower, 9 Oct 2020. Photo by Francis Yap.

Orange-breasted Green Pigeon Treron bicincta

A male photographed at Chinese Garden on 22 Dec 2007 by Jonathan Cheah and Jimmy Chew is the only record for Singapore (Lim 2009). Previously assigned to Category D.

White-faced Plover Charadrius dealbatus

This is a taxonomic split accepted by IOC. The first Singapore records were up to four birds at Tuas from late Oct 1994 to Mar 1994 by Peter Kennerley (Lim 2009). Subsequent records were received from Changi and Marina East. Previously treated as a distinct subspecies of Kentish Plover C. alexandrinus.

White-faced Plover, Charadrius dealbatus, a taxonomic split accepted by IOC,
Photo taken at Marina East Drive by Alan OwYong.

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis

A bird seen at Punggol on 18 Sep 1994 by Alfred Chia, Kenneth Kee, Lim Kim Chuah, Lim Kim Keang, Lim Kim Seng and Alan Owyong was the first record for Singapore (Lim 2009). This species was recently seen in southern Johor, Malaysia during the northern winter. It was previously assigned to Category D.

Crimson-winged Woodpecker Picus puniceus

Up to two birds seen at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve between 5 Nov 2001 and 16 Feb 2008 by Todd Birzer, Reuben Braddock, Andrew Chow, Lim Kim Seng and Yong Ding Li were our first records since 1970 (Lim 2009). Another record from Singapore Botanic Gardens on 16 Oct 2004 could not be confirmed. This species was previously assigned to Category B.

Green Broadbill Calyptomena viridis

1 photographed at East Coast Park by Seetoh Yew Wai on 27 Nov 2014 and another at Pulau Ubin by Keita Sin on 25 Dec 2014 were our first records since 1970 (Lim 2009). Previously assigned to Category B.

Green Broadbill Calyptomena viridis, at East Coast Park on 27 Nov 2014. Photo by See Toh Yew Wai.

White-bellied Erpornis Erponis zantholeuca

One seen and heard at the summit of Bukit Timah on 16 Jun 2020 by Richard White was the first record for Singapore. Martin Kennewell who arrived later was able to capture some excellent photos of the individual.

White-bellied Erpornis, Erpornis zantholeuca at Bukit Tiamh NR on 16 Jun 2020. Photo by Martin Kennewell.

Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus

An individual videoed at Changi Business Park on 26 Nov 2019 by T Ramesh and Steven Cheong was misidentified as a Crow-billed Drongo. Excellent detective work by Frank Rheindt proved that it was actually the subspecies brevirostris of Hair-crested Drongo, which is the migratory subspecies that breeds in China and northern Vietnam and winters in subtropical Southeast Asia and – this once – also in Sundaic Southeast Asia.

Hair-crested Drongo, Dicrurus hottentottus, at Changi Business Park on 26 Nov 2020. Video grab by T. Ramesh

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis

An individual seen at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 14 Jul 1996 by Lim Kim Chuah was our first record of this lowland Sundaic forest species. It was subsequently seen by other observers and last seen on 6 Jul 1999 (Lim 2009). Previously assigned to Category D.

Updates to the Checklist

In addition to the new species, the Records Committee have also been reviewing the checklist with a view to producing a checklist that is up-to-date, accurate and user-friendly.

One minor change was to use the term “Vagrant” instead of “Accidental” to describe the status of birds that do not breed in the Thai-Malay Peninsula region but occasionally stray into Singapore. An example would be Booted Warbler. Vagrants are denoted by “V” in the checklist.  

Perhaps the most important change was to Categories A and C. The committee decided to apply a 30-year timeframe instead of the traditional 50 years. The rationale for this is to better reflect the presence of extant breeders and to exclude extinct species in Singapore. Therefore, the cut-off for Categories A and C would be January 1st 1991. Any record that pre-dates 1991 would be transferred to Category B.

These are the species that have been removed from categories A and C due to the absence of records for the last thirty years:

English NameScientific NameRemarks
Eurasian TealAnas creccaReassigned to Category B
Christmas FrigatebirdFregata andrewsiReassigned to Category B
Hen HarrierCircus cyaneusReassigned to Category B
Eurasian WoodcockScolopax rusticolaReassigned to Category B
DunlinCalidris alpinaReassigned to Category B
Roseate TernSterna dougalliiReassigned to Category B
Black-thighed FalconetMicrohierax fringillariusReassigned to Category B
Plain SunbirdAnthreptes simplexReassigned to Category B
White-capped MuniaLonchura ferruginosaRemoved from Category C
Java SparrowLonchura oryzivoraRemoved from Category C
Yellow-breasted BuntingEmberiza aureolaReassigned to Category B

The committee has also taken the opportunity to review a number of records that were deemed to lack conclusive evidence of occurrence. As a result, the following species have been removed from the checklist proper:

English NameScientific NameRemarks
Blyth’s Hawk-EagleNisaetus albonigerRemoved from Category A
Western Marsh HarrierCircus aeruginosusRemoved from Category A
Oriental HobbyFalco severusRemoved from Category A
Richard’s PipitAnthus richardiRemoved from Category A

Another action was with regards to the occurrence of seabirds within Singapore territorial waters. As both the Straits of Johor and Singapore Straits are shared with Malaysia and Indonesia respectively, there is a need to ascertain that birds seen are inside Singapore territory. Therefore, seabird records were scrutinized to confirm that they were all seen in and not outside Singapore by referring to the GPS coordinates for these records. Records outside Singapore territorial waters or without verifiable GPS data are therefore categorized under Annex 1.    

The following species have been assigned to Annex 1:

English NameScientific NameRemarks
Lesser Black-backed GullLarus fuscusAssigned to Annex 1
Pomarine SkuaStercorarius pomarinusAssigned to Annex 1
Bulwer’s PetrelBulweria bulwerii Assigned to Annex 1

Acknowledgements

We would like to thanks the following observers for submitting their records for review and for the use of their photographs in this report:  Steven Cheong, Deborah Friets, Martin Kennewell, T. Ramesh, Tan Gim Cheong, Richard White, Francis Yap, See Toh Yew Wai and Alan OwYong. Finally, thanks are also due to my fellow committee members for their expertise in the deliberation process:  Alfred Chia, Kenneth Kee, Benjamin Lee, Lim Kim Chuah, Lim Kim Keang, Movin Nyanasengeran, Dillen Ng, Alan Owyong, Frank Rheindt, Keita Sin, Tan Gim Cheong and Yong Ding Li.

Reference

Lim, K.S. (2009). The avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore.

Singapore Raptor Report – December 2020

PF, Esther Ong

Peregrine Falcon, juvenile, feeding on a Rock Dove, Woodlands, 8 Dec 2020, by Esther Ong

Summary for migrant species:

Quite a few scarce migrants were recorded in December. A juvenile Eastern Marsh Harrier was flying at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on the 1st, and an adult male flying over the Botanic Gardens on the 7th. On the 10th, a Black Kite was photographed over Pulau Ubin. A Greater Spotted Eagle in flight at Changi Business Park on the 8th, and another at Lazarus Island on the 25th, flying towards Sentosa, harassed by the resident Brahminy Kites. On the 30th, a Common Buzzard was photographed at the field opposite Ghim Moh market. As for the nocturnal Oriental Scops Owl, one was at Botanic Gardens on the 6th, and another at Mandai Track 15 on the 30th.

GSE, 081220, CBP, KW Seah

Greater Spotted Eagle, Changi Business Park, 8 Dec 2020, by KW Seah

OSO, 301220, Mandai T15 trail, Julie Edgley

Oriental Scops Owl, Mandai Track 15, 30 Dec 2020, by Julie Edgley

The wintering juvenile Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle was spotted at the Botanic Gardens on the 6th, and at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 30th. Only 3 Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, an adult female wintering at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West, plus a male and a juvenile at Coney Island.

JSH, posted 021220, Jasman Ashar, catch BTBE

Japanese Sparrowhawk, juvenile, caught a Blue-tailed Bee-eater, by Jasman Ashar

Of the 6 Western Ospreys, 3 were flying over Mandai Track 15 on the 3rd. Ten migrant Peregrine Falcons were recorded, two adults and eight juveniles, often on the rooftop or ledges of upper stories of tall buildings.

Osprey, LEster Tan

Western Osprey, at Seletar Island, 14 Dec 2020, by Lester Tan

There were 11 Jerdon’s Bazas, three at Pulau Ubin on the 10th, six at Coney Island on the 11th, one at Pasir Ris, and one at Changi Business Park. Finally, there were 25 Japanese Sparrowhawks, one of which caught a Blue-tailed Bee-eater, 54 Black Bazas and 79 migrant Oriental Honey Buzzards.

OHB, posted 271220, NTHL, Wai Munn

OHB, Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, Dec 2020, by Lo Wai Munn

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were noted for several species. A Changeable Hawk-Eagle was standing on a nest in the vicinity of Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 6th. The Black-winged Kite pair at Seletar was building their nest on the 12th, 20th and 27th, and were harassed by crows. The pair of Brahminy Kites at West Coast Park was perched near their nest on the 25th. A White-bellied Sea Eagle at Jalan Asas was flying about with nesting materials on the 2nd.

CGH chasing OPH away from CGH nest, Dec 2020, PRP, Soumen, posted 010121

Crested Goshawk, chasing away an Oriental Pied Hornbill near its nest, Pasir Ris Park, Dec 2020, by Soumen Mondal

The Crested Goshawk pair at Pasir Ris was nestbuilding on the 27th, and mated on the 30th, and had to chase away the neighbourhood Oriental Pied Hornbills when these came close to their nest. And for the Buffy Fish Owl, a pair mated on the 2nd and another pair at SBWR had a chick on nest on the 20th.

GHFE, 131220, Ulu Pandan, Roland Chan, attack Purple Heron

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, adult, harassing a Purple Heron in its territory, Ulu Pandan Park Connector, 13 Dec 2020, by Roland Chan

At Ulu Pandan park connector on the 13th, the resident Grey-headed Fish Eagle was seen attacking a Purple Heron that was fishing in the eagle’s territory. At SBWR Eagle Point on the 15th, two White-bellied Sea Eagles were tussling in the air over a fish, with one eagle upside down mid-air.

WBSE, 151220, SBWR eagle pt, CK Theng

White-bellied Sea Eagles tussling over a fish (in left foot of bottom eagle), SBWR Eagle Point, 15 Dec 2020, by CK Theng.

The Crested Serpent Eagle was recorded at Goldhill Avenue, Pasir Ris and Ubin. The Changeable Hawk-Eagles reminded us of their presence by putting up a good show, allowing for good photos of the dark morph, pale morph and juvenile pale morph.

CHE, 261220, PRP, Chen Boon Chong

Changeable Hawk-Eagle, dark morph, Pasir Ris Park, 26 Dec 2020, by Chen Boon Chong

CHE, 261220, PRP, Chen Boon Chong, 2

Changeable Hawk-Eagle, juv. pale morph, Pasir Ris Park, 26/12/2020, by Chen Boon Chong

CHE, 311220, DFNP, Angie Cheong, crop

Changeable Hawk-Eagle, adult pale morph, Dairy Farm NP, 31 Dec 2020, by Angie Cheong

An adult ernesti Peregrine Falcon was present at Jurong West on the 2nd and 4th. Five torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards were recorded – at the Botanic Gardens, a male on the 6th, and a female on the 7th; another male flew by Jelutong Tower on the 7th and Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on the 13th; yet a different male at Pasir Ris on the 22nd; and an immature at Springleaf on the 26th.

OHB torquatus, 071220, SBG, Tan Eng Boo

Oriental Honey Buzzard, adult female torquatus subspecies, Botanic Gardens, 7 Dec 2020, by Tan Eng Boo

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Esther Ong, CK Theng, Lester Tan, Tan Eng Boo, Lo Wai Munn, Jasman Ashar, KW Seah, Julie Edgley, Roland Chan, Soumen Mondal, Chen Boon Chong, and Angie Cheong for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – Dec 2020 v2

Singapore Bird Report – October 2020

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

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

Common Swift – new species for Singapore

Common Swift, 271020, HW, TGC

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

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

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

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

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

2 BRP, 051020, Venus, Norhafiani

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

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

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

Central Singapore

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

Northern Singapore

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

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

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

Lanceolated Warbler, 311020, Punggol Park, Andy Chew

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

Eastern Singapore

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

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

4 DSFC, Veronica Foo

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

Southern Singapore

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

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

6 BCJFC, 121020, JLG, Joseph Lim

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

Western Singapore

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

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

Chinese Blue FC, 111020, JLG, Peh Chee Ee

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

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

Singapore Strait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abbreviations:
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens

This report is compiled/written by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird make up this report. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified.

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

REFERENCES

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

Singapore Bird Report – September 2020

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

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

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

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

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

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

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

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

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

YRFC, 230920, SBG, HSM

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

Singapore Botanic Gardens

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

CPH, Kerry

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

Central Singapore

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

Northern Singapore

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

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

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

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

Sunda PWP, posted 13 June 2020, Peh Chee Ee

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

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

Eastern Singapore

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

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

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

Southern Singapore

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

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

WSS, 250920, JLG, TGC

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

Western Singapore

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

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

WBC, 120920, NTHL, JL

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

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

LA, 290920, SBWR, LKS

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

GBH, 200920, SBWR, LKS

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

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

Singapore Strait

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

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

Aleutian Tern, 200920, port limits, Adrian Silas Tay

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

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

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

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


This report is compiled/written by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird make up this report. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified.

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