I bumped into Eric Tan this morning at Bidadari. Eric, a long time bird photographer, was on a home break from his work in Queensland. He was photographing the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher at the OHT area with other photographers. He happily told me that this was his lifer. It just reminded me how precious and rare this flycatcher is even though we get to see it every year at Bidadari.
It is listed as a rare passage migrant and winter visitor to Singapore, but we think that the numbers passing through may be higher. It is globally threatened and served as one of the criteria for an Important Bird Area (IBA). It breeds in SE China and passes through Thailand on way to winter in Peninsular Malaysia. This particular genus Rhinomyias has two others, the Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher, R. olivacea and Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher R. umbratilis in it. They are residents of Greater Sundas for Fulvous-chested and Sumatra and Borneo for Grey-chested. Rare residents in Southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia.
Interestingly, there were no records of this Flycatcher before the 70s. Our first record was on 4th Jan1980 at Ulu Sembawang reported by Lim Kim Chuah. There were only ten records between this sighting and 1992. The earliest photo was one taken at Nee Soon Swamp Forest on 9th October 1994 ( Alan OwYong, Kenneth Kee and Alfred Chia) followed by others at Bukit Timah and Sime Road Forest in the subsequent years. Other sightings were at Tyersall Avenue, Kent Ridge Park and again at Ulu Sembawang.
When Bidadari gives way to HDB housing in a couple of years time, will we get to see this dainty Flycatcher returning to its favorite wintering ground again? I hope so.
Ref: The Avifauna of Singapore Lim Kim Seng. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009.