34th Singapore Bird Race with “Wings of Johor”

34th Singapore Bird Race with “Wings of Johor” by Belinda Wong.

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I am surprised to see at least 14 tagged Common Redshanks in this group.

This year’s Singapore Bird race has an additional category of “Best Bird Photo’ contest offered by main sponsor Sony Singapore.  A Sony RX10 Mark IV awaits the best photo.  The catch is the photo must be captured by a Sony RX10 Mark IV camera.  So for that we drove over to Sungei Buloh Visitor Centre (SBVC) Singapore for a brief camera familiarization on 10th November 2018, a day before the race. The Sony RX10M4 is a really amazing camera from what we learnt during the short training with lots of amazing features.

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Just loved how the Common Redshank is reflected in the water.

Our friend, YK Han had kindly offered to show us around the known birding spots around Sungei Buloh and Kranji areas before the training in the afternoon.  My team mate, Lai Peng and I gladly accepted the opportunity as we were unsure how to move around the area.  Last year we had taken part for the first time, also in the “photography category” and we found ourselves getting lost a few times, losing lots of precious time trying to find our way to and from Sg. Buloh and Kranji Marshes.

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Lesser Coucals are normally difficult to spot, glad I got a decent shot.

The next morning, 11th November 2018, we were all geared up for the actual day of the race.  As we had to register by 7.00am and flag off at 7.30am, we aimed to reach SBVC by 6.30am just to be on the safe side.  For this I was up by 4.30am, had a quick breakfast at home and picked up Lai Peng at around 5.30am.  There was no jam at the Causeway as it was really early and we reached SBVC just before 6.30am.  I thought we were the first to arrive but there were already quite a few people before us, probably the race organisers.

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Little Egret looking so elegant walking across the water.

We registered ourselves and were pleasantly surprised we were given a nice grey race tee-shirt.  After a short briefing by Lim Kim Chuah, the race was flagged off at 7.30am sharp.

We birded at the SBVC till about 8.15am and did not regret it as we ticked off 21 species here, including 2 cuckoos – a Drongo Cuckoo and a Little Bronze Cuckoo.   After that, we headed off to Neo Tiew, Turut Track and Kranji areas. First bird we had was the Long-tailed Shrike which I only managed to get one shot of it – taking off……phew.  It almost got away.

We birded around the area and decided to make a rush to Kranji for a very quick walk up to the watch tower to try to get some raptors, and also that Scaly-breasted Munia which we hoped to get since it was building a nest the day before.  It was already getting very late, almost 10.00am and it was a really long walk in. After checking off the Dark-morph Changeable Hawk-eagle, and as it was really quiet with hardly any birds at this time of the day, we decided to move off to SBWR even though the scaly-breasted did not show up. We were hoping for the Black-naped Oriole but even that was not there.  As we reached the exit, I was lucky to get a shot of the Ashy Minivet.  We then quickly left for SBWR to look for our waders.

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One of the two Brahminy Kites that looked like they may be building a nest.

It was already past 11.00am when we finally reached SBWR and started chasing after the crows for a shot of them at the car park (can’t believe I was chasing for shots of crows !).  We stayed for about 15 minutes at SBWR and got all the usual wader suspects. As we reached the exit, I looked up to see 2 smallish birds on a bare branch some distance away and quickly took a shot.  I thought they were Lineated Barbets but was really excited when upon closer look they were Coppersmiths.

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Juvenile Oriental Honey Buzzard dark morph flying over Kranji Marshes.

Soon it was already 11.30am and we quickly rushed back to SBVC.  We had planned to reach SBVC by 11.30am but we were running a little late.  We had learned from last year’s experiences that we need at least an hour to sort out the photos, unlike last year when we gave ourselves only 30 minutes.

After parking the car, we rushed in to try to find a spot to plug in our lap-tops and realised, to my horror, that I was using CF card for my photographs. Our laptops do not have slots to read CF cards and I had forgotten to bring my card reader!

After asking around to see who has a card-reader, I finally decided to check with Han, who was actually so busy himself trying to sort out his team’s photos with his partner Francis.  As luck would have it, he did have a card reader. Thank you Han!

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The waders are so well camouflaged at the ponds at SBWR

Then we realised we had another problem – the image number I see from the camera is different from the image viewed on the computer.  Luckily I had learned from our mistakes from last year – i.e. delete unwanted photos straight from the camera.  Thus I did not have too many photos to go through.  We managed to complete and handed in our paper and SD card, with only 1 minute to spare!  Phew! That was so stressful!  We will have to be better prepared if we do come back next year to avoid the stress!

We were delighted and surprised to walk away as second runners up with 44 species. The book prizes were much appreciated.

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Receiving our prizes from GOH Professor Leo Tan.

We would like to congratulate NSS Bird Group for a very well organised and successful event and also to Sony for their generosity in sponsoring 3 awesome cameras as prizes.  Well done guys!

 

 

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Singapore Raptor Report – October 2018

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Chinese Sparrowhawk, female, at Henderson Waves, 24 Oct 2018, by Francis Yap. Two generations of feathers can be seen, the older (brownish) and the newer (grey) feathers.

Summary for migrant species:

October 2018 is probably the most remarkable October on record, with 11 migrant species recorded. This is in stark contrast to last October when only 6 migrant species were recorded (we usually record around 9 species in October). A big thank you to the burgeoning number of raptor watchers, especially at Henderson Waves.

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Chinese Sparrowhawk, female, at Henderson Waves, 21 Oct 2018, by Pary Sivaraman.

453  migrant raptors were recorded, many times the 70 recorded last year. The most numerous were the 219 Oriental Honey Buzzards, followed by 123 Japanese Sparrowhawks, and 57 Chinese Sparrowhawks. In addition, more than 100 unidentified Accipiters were spotted this month and these were likely to have been either Chinese or Japanese Sparrowhawks. The first of the 35 Black Bazas appeared on 22 Oct, more than a week earlier than last year.

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Japanese Sparrowhawk, male (left), at Jelutong Tower on 22 Oct 2018 by Francis Yap, female (middle), at Henderson Waves, 2 Oct 2018, by Zacc HD, & juvenile (right) at Henderson Waves, 20 Oct 2018, by Zacc HD.

Birders at Henderson Waves were rewarded with three sought-after species. The first was the appearance of two Grey-faced Buzzards on 21 Oct, followed by a juvenile Eastern Marsh Harrier on the same morning. Another four Grey-faced Buzzards were spotted over Henderson Waves days later: two on 26 Oct and two on 27 Oct, around mid-day on both dates. In addition, birders on 27 Oct also spotted a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo before noon (note: the various subspecies are ‘lumped’ as Buteo buteo in the NSS bird checklist).

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Eastern Marsh Harrier, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 21 Oct 2018, by Adrian Silas Tay

Later the same day, 27 Oct, around noontime, a rare Greater Spotted Eagle made an appearance at Kent Ridge Park, delighting Alan OwYong. Before the month ended, Fadzrun Adnan photographed an immature Rufous-bellied Eagle, another rare visitor, at Pang Sua park connector on 30 Oct, flying about in the company of an Oriental Honey Buzzard.

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Common Buzzard, at Henderson Waves, on 27 Oct 2018, by Francis Yap. Comment from Dr. Chaiyan – looks like refectus/burmanicus juvenile.

Two Western Ospreys were recorded, one at the Kranji-Sungei Buloh area and one at Henderson Waves. Six migrant Peregrine Falcons were recorded.

Highlights for sedentary species:

October was a good month for the locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle, with records from four different areas, from Nanyang Technological University (west) on 8th, Pulau Tekong (offshore) on 8th, Jelutong Tower (centre) on 24th and the Southern Ridges (south) on 16th, 21st & 30th.

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A Crested Serpent Eagle over Jelutong Tower, on 24 Oct 2018, by Francis Yap.

On 6 Oct, a pair of Crested Goshawks were observed mating at West Coast Park. Then on 23 Oct, 2 chicks of the White-bellied Sea Eagle were seen on a nest at Woodlands. These  are good signs for our resident raptors.

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Peregrine Falcon, ernesti juvenile, at Pulau Ubin, 9 Oct 2018, by See Toh Yew Wai.

On 6 Oct, at Pulau Ubin near the main jetty, a juvenile Peregrine Falcon of the resident ernesti subspecies was photographed. This form bears some resemblance to, and may be mistaken for, the Oriental Hobby. The other resident raptors recorded included the Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Brahminy Kite and Changeable Hawk-Eagle.

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Pale morph Changeable Hawk Eagle, at Henderson Waves on 8 Oct 2018, by Feroz & Fizah (left), and on 13 Oct 2018 by See Toh Yew Wai (right).

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For more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – Oct 2018

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Francis Yap, Feroz & Fizah, See Toh Yew Wai, Adrian Silas Tay, Pary Sivaraman, and Zacc HD for the use of their photos.

34th Singapore Bird Race Winners

The 34th edition of the Singapore Bird Race 2018 ended on a high with three teams walking away with a priced Sony RX10M4 camera each. This is also the first time we have a “Best Photo Contest” for the photography teams using the on-loan Sony RX10M4. We would to thank Sony Singapore for their sponsorship and generous donation.

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Tuck Loong and Sia Ping’s winning photo of the Blue-winged Pitta with kind permission from Sony Singapore. 

Team Alpha Dynamic led by Kwok Tuck Loong with Tay Sia Ping took the initiative to go all the way to the Chinese Gardens to shoot the colorful Blue-winged Pitta at its well known hideout. The image wowed the judges, clinched the “best photo” contest and won them a Sony RX10M4 camera. Congrats to Tuck Loong and Sia Ping.

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Beaming Tuck Loong and Sia Ping receiving the Sony RX10M4 from Rubin Zheng, Product Manager (Singapore) Digital Still Camera. Sony Singapore. Photo Yap Wee Jin.

Team Terns led by veteran birder and former Bird Group Chairperson Lim Kim Keang with Alfred Chia and Tan JuLin pipped the Lau family team Drongoes by one species to win the Birders Category. They returned with 78 species and lugged home a Sony RX10M4 as well. They got the last two species just as they were on the way back to hand in their scores. Congratulations to Team Terns!

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The “Terns” – Champions for the Birder Category with Guest of Honour Professor Leo Tan. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

It was no contest in the photography category when the sharpshooters team “In the Tree” led by Goh Cheng Teng with Lester Tan came back with 55 photos of different species. They were also winners of last year’s photography category. Congratulations to Cheng Teng and Lester who were all smiles hugging the new Sony RX10M4.

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Team “In The Tree” – Champions for the Photography Category. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

A total of 31 teams took part in this year’s race, the highest to date. We are heartened by the turn out of 9 teams from 4 schools when we opened up this year’s race to both primary and secondary students. The excitement and smiles on their faces when they received their prices were reward enough for the organisers. Many thanks to Minister Desmond Lee for the donation of the Schools Champions trophy and Challenged Shield which went to team ‘Unity 1″ from Unity Secondary with an impressive 36 species.

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Team Unity 1 – Champions for the Schools (Sec) Category being presented the Challenge Shield by GOH Joseph Koh. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

Team Eagles from Shuqun Primary came back with a score of 32 species to win the Primary Schools category. We wish to thank John Beaufoy Publishing Company for the book prizes for the schools teams.

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We also wish to thank our partners Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve for the use of the venue, Friend of Buloh, Birdlife International, East Asia Australasia Flyway Partnership, PUB and Nature Photography Society of Singapore for their support.

See you all again next year!

 

34th Singapore Bird Race (2018) – Arbitrator’s Report

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The 34th Singapore Bird Race, held on 11 November 2018, saw the participation of 31 teams across three categories, including the first ever ‘School’ category. Some of the participants also took part in the inaugural Best Picture Contest.

Category Number of Teams
School 9
Photographer 10
Birder 12

School Category – Top 3 Teams

For this category, the enthusiastic students lead by volunteer guides, scoured the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, recording good numbers of species, most of which were ‘lifers’ (first time seeing a species of bird) for the students.

There were four primary school teams, two each from Shuqun Primary and Yumin Primary. The Eagles (Shuqun Primary) led the pack with 32 species. Team Champs A (Yumin Primary) was a very close second with 31 species, just 1 species behind. And the Vultures (Shuqun Primary) took the third place with 24 species.

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The “Eagles” (Shuqun Primary) – Champions for the Schools (Pri) Category. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

For secondary schools, there were four teams from Unity Secondary and one team from Chung Cheng High (Main). Again,  it was a close fight between the top two places. Unity 1 came in tops with 36 species, closely followed by Team Cool & Mysterious (Unity Secondary) with 35 species.  Team CCHM came in third with 32 species. As it turned out, there were winning teams from all the schools, congrats.

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Team “Unity 1” – Champions for the Schools (Sec) Category. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

Photography Category – Top 3 Teams

Ten teams took part in this category. Team In the Tree (Goh Cheng Teng & Lester Tan) topped the Photography category with 55 species caught on camera, successfully defending their title from last year. Team Alpha Dynamo (Kwok Tuck Loong & Tay Sia Ping) came in 2nd with 45 species. Right behind them was Wings of Johor (Belinda Wong & Chiang Lai Peng) with 44 species, another close fight! Great work.

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Team “In The Tree” – Champions for the Photography Category. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

Birder Category – Top 3 Teams

To minimise time spent travelling, most of the birder teams limited themselves to the Kranji-Sungei  Buloh areas. The Terns (Lim Kim Keang, Alfred Chia & Tan Ju Lin) turned in an amazing 78 species to clinch the top prize, successfully defending their title. Hot on their heels were the Drongoes (Danny Lau, Lau Jiasheng & Ang Bao Jun) who managed 77 species, just 1 species behind – another close fight. The Falconets (Benjamin Lee, Max Khoo & Bryan Lee) finished 3rd with 73 species. Well done.

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The “Terns” – Champions for the Birder Category. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

Best Picture with SONY RX10IV – Winner

Out of the ten best photos shortlisted from all the entries, Kwok Tuck Loong’s photo of a Blue-winged Pitta emerged as the winner of the Best Picture Contest.

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Kwok Tuck Loong – Winner of the Best Photo Contest with his winning image. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

Race highlights

Interesting species recorded during the race included a juvenile Pied Harrier, a rare migrant, in flight, near the Visitor Centre; a Stejneger’s Stonechat, another rare migrant, at Harvest Link; Blue-eared Kingfisher at Kranji Marshes; a Drongo Cuckoo that showed well near the Visitor Centre; Red-throated Pipit at Harvest Link; Black-capped Kingfisher at Kranji Marshes; Wood Sandpiper at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3; Black Drongo at Turut Track and the globally threatened Straw-headed Bulbul at Kranji Nature Trail.

Thanks to the panel of arbitrators for generating the results so quickly.

Tan Gim Cheong
Lead Arbitrator, 34th Singapore Bird Race

Bird Race Results

Position School Category (Primary) Score
1st Eagles – Shuqun Primary 32
2nd Champs A – Yumin Primary 31
3rd Vultures – Shuqun Primary 24
4th Champs One – Yumin Primary 21

 

Position School Category (Secondary) Score
1st Unity 1  – Unity Secondary 36
2nd Team Cool & Mysterious – Unity Secondary 35
3rd Team CCHM – Chung Cheng High (Main) 32
4th Unity 2 – Unity Secondary 31
5th Unity 3 – Unity Secondary 26
Position Photography Category Score
1st In the Tree 55
2nd Alpha Dynamo 45
3rd Wings of Johor 44
4th Skylark 43
5th Whimbrel 37
6th Jiak Hong Shooters 36
7th The JJ 25
8th Bird Seekers 24
9th Raptor 11
10th Pitta Pan
Position Birder Category Score
1st Terns 78
2nd Drongoes 77
3rd Falconets 73
4th King Albird Park 68
5th Distracted Novices 62
6th Pipipi 62
7th Friends of Buloh 61
8th Beebeebee 60
9th The Latebirds 58
10th Bibibi 54
11th The Nobirdies 50
12th Serendipity 27

The 34th Singapore Bird Race (2018) – Chairman’s Message

by Lim Kim Chuah 

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Participants of the inaugural School category. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

The 34th Singapore Bird Race took place on Sunday, 11 November 2018 at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. This year’s race saw 31 teams competing in three categories – Birder, Photographer and the first ever School category.

9 teams from 4 schools competed for the coveted championship trophy and shield donated by Minister Desmond Lee.

Also for the very first time, a Best Picture Contest was organized. This was made possible by the generous contributions from our main sponsor, Sony. Sony loaned out their RX10M4 to all participants who wanted to compete in this category.

This year’s race was organized in partnership with Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Friends of Buloh, Birdlife International, East Asia Australian Flyway Partnership, Nature Photographic Society Singapore and PUB.

A BIG thank you to main sponsor Sony, venue sponsor Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and other sponsors including Swarovski, Vortex and John Beaufoy Publishing.

And another HUGE thank you to all volunteers for making this event possible.

Also many thanks to all participants for your support in making this another successful Singapore Bird Race and congratulations to all prize winners.

Stay tuned for the results to be published soon.

Lim Kim Chuah
Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group

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Participants of the Birder & Photographer categories. Photo by Yap Wee Jin.

Pacific Reef Egret fish sorting behaviour?

Pacific Reef Egret fish sorting behaviour?

By Yeo Seng Beng.

On Sunday 7th October 2018, at 5 pm in the evening, I observed a Pacific Reef Egret (Egretta sacra) dark morph catching fish at low tide off Singapore’s West Coast Park.  The egret was positioned where a large monsoon drain with a continuous flow of water connects to the sea.  I suspect small fish congregate here because the drain water carries food into the sea.

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As it was low tide, the sea was quite shallow, and the egret easily caught 4 fish during the 25 minutes that I was observing it.  What was interesting was how the bird handled the fish, depending on the size of the fish.

The smallest fish, the egret ate immediately.

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The largest fish, which the bird was unable to hold on to, escaped within a few seconds.

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But the 2 intermediate sized fish, the egret surprisingly did not eat straight away, but placed the fish on dry land up on the bank of the monsoon drain, presumably to wait until the fish became less active.

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In the meantime, the egret would return to the sea to catch more fish.  But if the fish it left on dry land, started to flip or jump too vigorously, the egret would return to the bank to check on, or watch over these fish.

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Unfortunately, I did not have time to wait to see what the egret finally did with the fish it left on the bank, but one assumes after all the hard work to catch and monitor the fish, the egret would eventually eat the fish as delayed gratification!

Here is a 3 min video demonstrating how the egret handled the 4 fish it caught.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/sucii0jd84rdiid/PRE%28eating-stabilised%20quiet%29.mts?dl=0

 

 

Saving Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve just celebrated its 25th anniversary this year as the premier stop over site for migratory shorebirds in Singapore. But we were concerned for its future as the Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves further east was delisted from the Singapore Green Plan (2012). The government had announced plans to reclaim the mudflats. The visiting shorebirds depend on Mandai Mudflats to refuel during its stop over. They then fly to Sungei Buloh to roost during high tides. To show this connection, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves and NParks in 2011 initiated a study of the movement of shorebirds between the Mandai Mudflats and Sungei Buloh. The Bird Group of the Nature Society was invited to be part of the study which we gladly accepted. This was a first of its kind systematic study to determine that the visiting shorebirds that feed at Mandai Mudflats fly back to Sungei Buloh to roost.

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Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves at low tide. It is part of the Kranji-Mandai IBA, Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Two Horseshoe Crab species are found to be breeding here. 

A total of six sessions were conducted between 28 November 2011 and 9 March 2012. Teams of 2 to 3 observers were stationed at Sungei Buloh, Pang Sua Estuary and in a boat at the Straits of Johor mid way along their flight path hours before the respective high and low tides.  We did not managed to be at Mandai Mudflats for all the sessions due to lack of observers. The numbers and time of each species taking off, landing and flying past each station were recorded. A good collegation was when most of the same species were recorded at the respective stations at around the same time.

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Teams locations A-SBWR, B- Boat in Johor Straits, C-Pang Sua Estuary, D-Mandai Mudflats.

The results were what we expected. During four high tide sessions, 200, 205, 241 and 177 Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus were recorded at all the stations flying from Mandai back to Sungei Buloh to roost. At the other two low tide sessions, 215 and 240 Whimbrels were recorded flying back to Mandai from Sungei Buloh to feed. These counts confirmed that high numbers of Whimbrels that feed at Mandai Mudflats returned to Sungei Buloh and vice versa.

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Good numbers of Whimbrels that feed at Mandai flew back to Buloh to roost.

Next were the Common Greenshanks Tringa nebularia. For the four high tide sessions, 50, 8, 62 and 60 flew from Mandai to Sungei Buloh and 57 and 93 flew out of Sungei Buloh back to Mandai/Pang Sua to feed during the two low tide sessions. Most of the Common Greenshanks that feed at Mandai returned to Sungei Buloh and vice versa, except for one session.

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Pacific Golden Plovers flying over Johor Straits on their back to Sungei Buloh and fish farms to roost.

We monitored the movements of the Pacific Golden Plovers, Pluvialis fulva and Lesser Sand Plovers Charadrius mongolus as well. But we only managed to record one collegation of 130 Lesser Sand Plovers flying from Mandai to Sungei Buloh at high tides and two records for the Pacific Golden Plovers, 40 from Mandai to Buloh at high tide and 75 from Buloh back to Mandai at low tide. The reason for this was that some of the Lesser Sand Plovers flew over to the Danga Bay, Johor to roost while the fish farmers reported large numbers of Pacific Golden Plovers roosting on their fish farms at high tides.

We had two interesting findings during the study. The Pang Sau estuary just west of Mandai was just as important as a feeding ground for the shorebirds as Mandai. Thankfully this estuary will form part of the nature park. Not all the Common Redshanks left Buloh at low tides. Many preferred to stay at Buloh to feed and roost.

The then Singapore Branch of the Malayan Nature Society had identified the Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves as “Top priority” in the Master Plan for Conservation of Nature in Singapore 1990 and the present Nature Society (Singapore) had been advocating for its protection ever since. The Bird Group carried out the first Annual Bird Census (ABC) there in April 1986 and added the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) in 1990. Both censuses are still on going without any breaks. The data collected have been shared with NParks and other organisations. We are delighted that Mandai was finally designated as a Nature Park on 17 October 2018. We would like to think that censuses and studies like these play a small part in achieving this outcome.

  • Study Team: Sharon Chan, David Li, Mendis Tan, Bari Mohamad, Lim Hai Bi, Loh Wan Jing, Alan OwYong, Ho Hua Chew, Lim Kim Keang, Gerard Francis, Con Foley,  Lau Jia Seng, Han Chong, See Swee Leng, Jimmy Chew, K.S. Wong.

Reference:  Ho, H. C. & OwYong, A. 2015. Report on the Shorebird Monitoring Project at the Sungei Buloh-Mandai Mudflat Coastal Sector: 28 November 2011 – 18 September 2012. Singapore: Bird Group, The Nature Society. Unpublished.

Singapore Raptor Report, Early Autumn Migration, July-September 2018

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An immature Oriental Honey Buzzard, showing a mixture of juvenile and adult tail as well as wing feathers, at Tampines Eco Green, 22 July 2018, by Pary Sivaraman

Summary:

The early migrants included all the five expected species, namely the Western Osprey, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Chinese Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon, during the July to September period.

A total of 27 Oriental Honey Buzzards were recorded. At least nine were immature orientalis, which would be individuals hatched last year, spending the summer here this year and migrating to the north only next spring. One torquatus tweeddale morph was photographed at Mandai Road on 10 July, and another at Pasir Ris Park on 24 & 25 August, both being adult males.

Twenty nine Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, a much higher number compared with the same period last year when only five were recorded. The first  arrival was on 1 September at Kranji Marsh; seven around the central forests from mid-to-end September; one at Pulau Ubin and 20 at the southern ridges, notably 8 on 27 September and 11 on 29 September at Henderson Waves.

The three Chinese Sparrowhawks recorded were all juveniles. The first arrival was a single bird on 24 September at Henderson Waves, followed by another on 29 September and the last one at Pulau Ubin on 30 September.

One Western Osprey was recorded at Yishun Dam on 18 August and another at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) on 24 Sep. At Lower Pierce after sunset on 24 September, a sparrowhawk, not identified to species, was going after bats.

Five Peregrine Falcons were recorded, however only the individual on 24 September at  SBWR is likely to be a migrant, with the rest being of the resident ernesti subspecies. The individuals recorded at Hindhede park on 28 July, and Pulau Ubin near the jetty on 19 & 22 August, both perched on telecom towers, were noted as ernesti. The other two recorded on 21 July at Gardens by the Bay, and 25 July at Changi Coastal Road were probably ernesti as well.

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Adult Crested Goshawk showing the crest, the thick dark tailbands, and finely barred ‘thighs’, with a rat, at Pasir Ris Park, 28 Sep 2018, by Alvin Seng

For the resident raptors, seven species were recorded, and only the notable records are highlighted. A young White-bellied Sea Eagle was observed sitting on a nest at Loyang on 9 July. A Brahminy Kite was mobbed by crows at Lorong Halus on 28 August. For the Crested Goshawk, two juveniles recorded during this period are good signs of breeding, one at Windsor Nature Park on 7 July and another at Bidadari on 28 September.

Two Crested Serpent Eagles were recorded. One individual photographed by Benny Ng at Yusof Ishak Secondary School on 18 August was notably a juvenile, which is rarely seen in Singapore. The other was an adult photographed flying over the Learning Forest at the Botanic Gardens on 25 September.

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A juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle, at Yusof Ishak Secondary School (Bukit Batok Street 25), on 18 August 2018, by Benny Ng

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report, Early Autumn Migration, Jul-Sep 2018

Many thanks to everyone for their records and to Pary Sivaraman, Alvin Seng and Benny Ng for the use of their photos.

Will Bidadari still be a haven for the birds?

Will Bidadari still be a haven for the migratory birds?

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Bidadari today is still a stop over and wintering ground for migratory birds despite the loss of a large part of its woodlands and forests. 

When the announcement that the old Bidadari Cemetery would be developed for housing, the nature and birding community were mourning the loss of yet another nature and birding haven. We have documented more than 155 species of birds here, half of which are migrants. In fact it is one of the best places to find some of the rarer migrant species in Singapore.

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The core of the 9 hectare park, with a lake and a creek added to the landscape. Photo from CPG Corporation. The beige colored road is the old Upper Aljunied Road which will be converted into a pedestrian and cycle “Heritage Walk” with all the large Rain trees preserved. 

Bidadari today is almost devoid of forest and green cover. There is only a patch of woodlands near to Mt. Vernon parlours that is semi-wild. This is where part of the 9 hectare park will be. If you go there today, you can see many of the transplanted trees growing in between the huge Ficus and Acacia trees. The old Upper Aljunied Road will be converted into a pedestrian and cycle “Heritage Walk” lined with spreading Rain trees. On the other side of the Heritage Walk, a new water body “Alkaff Lake” will hopefully bring in waterbirds to the area with the planting of wetland vegetation. Facing Bartley Road to the north is the one- hectare Albizia Hillock which will be left untouched. This is the highest part of Bidadari where most migrants make landfall. A “Bidadari Greenway” running from north to south will serve as a green corridor for both the residents and wildlife to move around.

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The one hectare Albizia Hillock will be left untouched. The Bird Group mapped this out as the migrant hotspot during a six month study. It will be linked to the park by green connectors and link bridge.

The landscape consultants will adopted a biodiversity enhancement approach by keeping as much of the present greenery and paths while adding in layered planting of suitable trees and shrubs similar to what was done at Gardens by the Bay. The HDB and NParks with contribution from NSS want to show that it can create a park that is rich and conducive to wildlife, to achieve their vision of “A community in Garden” living for Bidadari.  Will the migrants return? Only time will tell especially when all the buildings are up and the residents moved in. There will be more noise and disturbance. But so far this season 14 migrant species have shown a high sense of site fidelity and found their way back, even though their numbers were low.

The flycatchers led by the Asian Brown Flycatchers were the first to arrive. The Yellow-rumped and the Paradise Flycatchers follow suit. Last week we saw the arrival of the globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers. Bidadari is one of the best places to see this flycatcher in its wintering range.

Bidadari

The Yellow-rumped Flycatchers were one of the first flycatchers to arrive at Bidadari. We get more females than males during Autumn.

Bidadari

Both the Amur and Blyth’s Paradise Flycatchers  descended at Bidadari in good numbers. Amurs like this one outnumbered the Blyth’s during this period.

1-PA112066

Bidadari is one of the best places to see this Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher in its  wintering range.

The star for this season had to be this Ruddy Kingfisher that went missing for three years. It stayed for more than a week delighting many of its admirers and fans. We hope that the migrants will continue to come back and use the new Bidadari Park as their stop over wintering ground.

Bidadari

List of migrants recorded so far this season at Bidadari:

  1. Arctic Warbler
  2. Eastern-crowned Warbler
  3. Asian Brown Flycatcher
  4. Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
  5. Dark-sided Flycatcher
  6. Amur Paradise Flycatcher
  7. Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher
  8. Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
  9. Ferruginous Flycatcher
  10. Tiger Shrike
  11. Brown Shrike
  12. Crow-billed Drongo.
  13. Ruddy Kingfisher.
  14. Drongo Cuckoo.

Source reference: Housing and Development Board

 

 

 

 

Singapore Bird Report – September 2018

A rare, globally threatened Chinese Egret, and a Grey-headed Fish Eagle preying on a Cinnamon Bittern capped this month’s sightings. A steady stream of migratory birds continue to reach Singapore as the northern hemisphere cools with the onset of autumn. Migratory passerines like flycatchers, Tiger Shrike and the ubiquitous Arctic Warbler begin to be seen on our shores. Resident species continue to be observed, notably the presence of an Oriental Darter at the Singapore Quarry.

Oriental Darter

On 2 Sep 2018, Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy observed an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster at Singapore Quarry. The next day, Diana Jackson saw the shape of a Darter flying over Rail Mall. These reports rippled across the birding community and drew many to the vicinity for photo opportunities. The bird continued to be seen through September, fishing, swimming and flying at the farther reaches of the quarry. There were also several anxious moments as onlookers sometimes wondered if Grey-headed Fish Eagles perched nearby had any nefarious designs on the more ungainly bird. The bird continued to be seen and photographed on 29 Sep 2018.

1, Oriental Darter, Lee Van Hien

The Oriental Darter at the Singapore Quarry with its piscine prey. With its body submerged and only its sinuous head and neck visible, this species is also called the Snakebird. Photo by Lee Van Hien taken on 8 Sep 2018.

2, Oriental Darter, Siew Mun

The Oriental Darter taking flight at the Singapore Quarry on 8 Sep 2018. Photo taken by Siew Mun.

3, Oriental Darter, Zhang Licong, 080918

The distinct silhouette of the Oriental Darter flying over the Singapore Quarry on 9 Sep 2018. Photographed by Zhang Licong.

Chinese Egret

As a fitting tribute to the 25th anniversary of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a rare and globally threatened Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes make an appearance at the reserve on 13 Sep 2018, YT Choong and Deborah Friets were the lucky ones to bump into the elegant egret, and managed to obtain some images which were then identified by Dave Bakewell.

Two Featured Flycatchers

The male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia, also called the Korean Flycatcher, is a visually delightful bird with its contrasting colours of black, yellow and white wing patch. Females and juveniles have somewhat distinct wingbars and a rather distinct yellow rump that separates them from Common Ioras. The species breeds across eastern Mongolia, the Russian Far East,  and China from Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Sichuan to the Changjiang valley and is known to winter regularly in peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Java (Wells, 2007:533). It is currently deemed to be of Least Concern by IUCN due to its extensive range range and stable population.

This flycatcher is known to be active at dusk, and hunts mostly at crown-level, much to the chagrin of those who wish to photograph the species, though birds were known to venture down to scrub or in areas overlooking an open space from which birds would perch and aerial-sally for flying insect prey (Wells, 2007:534).

A male was spotted in Bidadari on 2 Sep 2018 by Goh Cheng Teng, followed a female spotted by Ramesh T on 4 Sep 2018, a male and female on 10 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and a male and female on 15 Sep 2018 by Terence Tan. One bird was also spotted at Hort Park on 12 Sep 2018 by Tay Kian Guan, while a female was spotted on 28 Sep 2018 at Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) by Terence Tan, and another female was seen on 29 Sep 2018 at Kranji Marsh by Geoff Lim.

4, Yellow-rumped FC, Terence, Tan

A male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at Bidadari on 15 Sep 2018 by Terence Tan.

5, Yellow-rumped FC, Terence Tan, female

The yellow rump of a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher shows up distinctly in this photo by Terence Tan, taken at Bidadari on 15 Sep 2018.

6, Yellow-rumped FC, Geoff Lim, female

A distant photo of a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher showing the distinctive yellow rump and wing bars in this photo Geoff Lim, taken at Kranji Marsh on 23 Sep 2018.

The less photogenic Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni is sometimes considered a sub-species of the Asian Brown Flycatcher superspecies (Wells 2007:578). A sighting on 7 Sep 2018 at Bidadari by Martin Kennewell represented the first of the season this year, while a second sighting was made on 14 Sep 2018 at Singapore Quarry by Wiliam Mahoney.

7, BSFC,-crop

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

Migratory species encountered within CCNR during September include an Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus on 12 Sep 2018 at Upper Peirce Reservoir by Veronica Foo, the aforementioned Brown-streaked Flycatcher at the Singapore Quarry and a Pacific Swift Apus pacificus at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 14 Sep 2018 by William Mahoney and John Ascher, Daurian Starling Agrospar sturninus on 15 Sep 2018 at Venus Loop by Sandra Chia and a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 25 Sep 2018 by Diana Jackson.

Resident species sighted in this region include the Oriental Darter featured earlier on 2 & 3 Sep 2018 at the vicinity of the Singapore Quarry, a young male Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra on 11 Sep 2018 at Singapore Quarry by Alan Owyong, a Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera on 29 Sep 2018 at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, a Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex at Lower Peirce Reservoir by Art Toh and Peach Won,  up to three Asian Fairy Bluebird Irena puella and a pair of Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata at Hindhede Park by Geoff Lim on 30 Sep 2018.

8, AFBB

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

SBG yielded one record of a migrating Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis on 22 Sep 2018 by Stuart Campbell, and the resident Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus on 15 Sep 2018 by Geoff Lim and Kozi Ichiyama.

9, GHFE

Grey-headed Fish-eagle at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 15 Sep 2018. Photo by Geoff Lim

Central Singapore

The parks and gardens of Central Singapore hosted migratory species such as the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher on 2, 4 & 10 Sep 2018 as mentioned above. Bidadari held Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus on  3 & 9 Sep 2018 by Oliver Tan and Feroz, respectively; an Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris on 7 Sep 2018 by Khoo MeiLin; the aforementioned Brown-streaked Flycatcher on 7 Sep 2018; an Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis on 10 Sep 2018 by Steven Cheong; and a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica on 11 Sep 2018 by Terence Tan.

10, Arctic Warbler

An active Arctic Warbler photographed by Herman Phua at Bidadari on 9 Sep 2018.

11, Tiger Shrike

Resident species spotted include about 20 House Swifts Apus nipalensis wheeling above Ngee Ann City at Orchard Road on 11 Sep 2018 by Geoff Lim

Northern Singapore

A Forest Wagtail Dendroanthus indicus was seen on 2 Sep 2018 at Yishun St 11 by Oliver Tan, while Tay Kian Guan and Ramesh T spotted a Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida at Lorong Halus on 19 and 30 Sep 2018.

12, Whiskered Tern, Tay Kian Guan

Eastern Singapore

The September Ubin survey on 16 Sep 2018 yielded four species of owl – the Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji, the Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus, the Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, and the Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo.

An Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei was also spotted on Pulau Ubin on 16 Sep 2018 by Feroz and Francis Kayano Chia. Farther east, Frankie Cheong spotted a Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii and Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus on Pulau Tekong on 17 Sep 2018, while a Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis was spotted at Tampines on 19 Sep 2018 by Lawrence Cher, representing a first for the season.

Southern Singapore

Migratory species seen in southern Singapore include the previously mentioned Yellow-rumped Flycatcher spotted by Tay Kian Guan at Kent Ridge Park on 12 Sep 2018.  Also seen were a Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus at Hort Park on 13 Sep 2018, by Art Toh, and a juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica was seen at Telok Blangah on 26 Sep 2018 by Art Toh.

13, DSFC, Art Toh, crop

A Dark-sided Flycatcher seen at Telok Blangah on 26 Sep 2018 by Art Toh. The streaked breast is a distinctive feature of the juvenile this species.

A resident Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus was reported to be nesting at Wessex Estate on 2 Sep 2018 by Isabellle Desjeux and two eggs were observed, while a Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis  was seen at Kent Ridge Park on 12 Sep 2018 by Tay Kian Guan.

Western Singapore

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) yielded an Eastern-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus on 1 Sep 2018 by Russell Boyman, a first-for-the-season Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia on 2 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, Great Egrets Egretta alba – one sighted on 3 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and four on 4 Sep 2018 by Veronica Foo, Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis on 15,  17 and 30 Sep 2018 (Pary Sivaraman, Deborah Friets & Martin Kennewell, respectively), and the uncommon Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea on 17 Sep 2018 (Deborah Friets). A Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans was subsequently seen on 19 Sep 2018 by Lim Hong Yao.

The only note-worthy resident at SBWR was a juvenile Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus, fed by its host, an Ashy Tailorbird Orthotomus ruficeps, on 18 Sep 2018, spotted by John Marriott.

The area bound by Kranji Marshes, Neo Tiew and Lim Chu Kang also yielded a substantial number of sightings. Kranji Dam yielded a Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida on 9 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell), while Kranji  Marshes yielded a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea on 2 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell), 38-50 Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia in the adjacent field on 8 Sep 2018 (Veronica Foo), a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis on 23 Sep 2018 (Geoff Lim & Kozi Ichiyama) and Pallas’ Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola on 22 , 23, 25 and 28 Sep 2018 by Fadzrun A. (2 birds), Geoff Lim (1 bird), Martin Kennewell, and Geoff Lim & Kozi Ichiyama (1 bird), respectively.

Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course supported species such as the Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis and Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta, sighted on 15 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and nineteen Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on 19 Sep 2018 by Lim Kim Keang & Veronica Foo. Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 yielded another Little Ringed Plover on 2 Sep 2018 (Kozi Ichiyama and Geoff Lim), Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus on 12 Sep 2018 (Luke Milo Teo), Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea on 15 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell) and Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis on 26 Sep 2018 (Dillen Ng).  

14, Little Ringed Plover

A Little Ringed Plover photographed at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 on 2 Sep 2018 by Geoff Lim.

Other species seen in the west include a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus taken by a Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus at Pandan Canal on 13 Sep 2018 (Chan Yoke Meng & Melinda Chan); and on 15 Sep 2018, two House Swift Apus nipalensis at West Coast Drive (Tay Kian Guan) and a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at Chinese Garden (Dani M Queddeng).

========================================

Pelagic Trips along Straits of Singapore

Lim Kim Keang, Alan OwYong and participants of the NSS pelagic trip along the multi-national straits between Singapore and Batam on 22 Sep 2018 hit the peak of the migration of the Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis with 532 birds counted; they also spotted eight Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus, 136 Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus, 18 Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii, 25 Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis, a juvenile Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida, a juvenile Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel, and a single Pacific Swift Apus pacificus. Another private pelagic trip on 30 Sep 2018 along the same Straits yielded a Common Tern Sterna hirundo (Tan Kok Hui et al). Note that these sightings might not be in Singapore waters.

15, Frigatebird 220918

Lesser Frigatebird at the Straits of Singapore on 22 Sep 2018. Photo by Mahesh Krishnan

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 compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong, based on selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from ebird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Lee Van Hien, Siew Mun, Zhang Licong, Terence Tan, Feroz, Martin Kennewell, Art Toh, Herman Phua, Tay Kian Guan, Mahesh Krishnan  and Geoff Lim for the use of their photos. 

References: 

Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of Thai-Malay Peninsula. Vol. 1. Non-passerines. London: Academic Press.

List of Bird Sightings in report

Family Species Date
Ardeidae

 

Cinnamon Bittern 13-Sep
Chinese Pond Heron 12-Sep
Great Egret 4-Sep
Great Egret 3-Sep
Intermediate Egret 1-Sep
Intermediate Egret 8-Sep
Chinese Egret 13-Sep
Anhingidae Oriental Darter 2-Sep
Oriental Darter 3-Sep
Accipitridae

 

 

Chinese Sparrowhawk 19-Sep
Japanese Sparrowhawk 22-Sep
Grey-headed Fish-eagle 15-Sep
Rallidae Watercock 2-Sep
Charadriidae Little Ringed Plover 2-Sep
Little Ringed Plover 19-Sep
Greater Sand Plover 17-Sep
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 26-Sep
Scolopacidae

 

 

 

 

 

Marsh Sandpiper 15-Sep
Marsh Sandpiper 17-Sep
Marsh Sandpiper 30-Sep
Terek Sandpiper 17-Sep
Long-toed Stint 15-Sep
Curlew Sandpiper 17-Sep
Laridae

 

Whiskered Tern 9-Sep
Whiskered Tern 19-Sep
Whiskered Tern 30-Sep
Columbidae Thick-billed Pigeon 17-Sep
Cuculidae

 

Greater Coucal 12-Sep
Plantive Cuckoo 18-Sep
Strigidae

 

 

 

Sunda Scops Owl 16-Sep
Barred Eagle Owl 16-Sep
Buffy Fish Owl 16-Sep
Spotted Wood Owl 16-Sep
Brown Hawk Owl 30-Sep
Caprimulgidae Large-tailed Nightjar 2-Sep
Apodidae

 

 

 

 

Pacific Swift 9-Sep
Pacific Swift 13-Sep
House Swift 11-Sep
House Swift 15-Sep
Alcedinidae Common Kingfisher 15-Sep
Pittidae Blue-winged Pitta 20-Sep
Laniidae

 

 

Tiger Shrike 3-Sep
Tiger Shrike 9-Sep
Tiger Shrike 13-Sep
Dicruridae Crow-billed Drongo 19-Sep
Monarchidae

 

Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher 23-Sep
Amur Paradise Flycatcher 16-Sep
Pycnonotidae Cream-vented Bulbul 30-Sep
Phylloscopidae

 

 

Arctic Warbler 10-Sep
Eastern Crowned Warbler 1-Sep
Eastern Crowned Warbler 12-Sep
Locustellidae Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 22-Sep
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 23-Sep
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 25-Sep
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 28-Sep
Timaliidae Chestnut-winged Babbler 29-Sep
Irenidae Asian Fairy Bluebird 30-Sep
Sturnidae Daurian Starling 15-Sep
Muscicapidae

 

Dark-sided Flycatcher 11-Sep
Dark-sided Flycatcher 25-Sep
Dark-sided Flycatcher 26-Sep
Asian Brown Flycatcher 7-Sep
Brown-streaked Flycatcher 7-Sep
Brown-streaked Flycatcher 14-Sep
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 2-Sep
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 4-Sep
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 10-Sep
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 12-Sep
Estrildidae Java Sparrow 29-Sep
Motacillidae Forest Wagtail 2-Sep
Eastern Yellow Wagtail 15-Sep
Grey Wagtail 15-Sep