(Chestnut-cheeked Starling at Bidadari by Zacc HD)
The diversity and number of migrants seen during October proved again that this is the peak migration month. The soon to be developed former Muslim Cemetery at Bidadari as expected provides the most migrant sightings with the Japanese Gardens and Tuas South coming in close.
(Cinereous Bulbul at Lazarus Island by Daniel Wee)
The star migrant was the single vagrant Chestnut-cheeked Starling (Sturnus philippensis) photographed at Bidadari on 11th feeding together with the Daurian Starlings. Unfortunately it did not stay long enough for further documentation. This is potentially our second record, the last on 8th December 1987 in Loyang.
An Asian House Martin (Delichon dasypus), a very rare passage migrant was seen flying over the CCNR from Jelutong Tower on 3 consecutive days from the 16th. Last record was over MacRitchie Reservoir on 23 October 2005. The more common Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) were seen hawking over the Serangoon Reservoir on the 30th.
(Asian House Martin at Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap)
A Sakhalin Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus borealoides) spotted at Sime Forest was awarded the “Bird of Day” prize during the Annual Bird Race. This species was previously listed as the Pale-legged Warbler in the Checklist. Identification of this rare warbler is best by its song that they normally sing in Springtime. A lone Cinereous or Ashy Bulbul (Hemixos flavala) was photographed at Bidadari on 17th with reports from East Coast MOE Adventure Center on the same day and another sighting at the Japanese Gardens the next day. A report from Lazarus Island on 26th of 20 birds beats the previous record of 15 birds at St John’s island on 1989. This is an uncommon non-breeding visitor that prefers island locations and coastal forests. Another rare non-breeding visitor the Brown Streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa williamsoni) was photographed at the Japanese Gardens on 5th suggesting a winter visitor status. A more common non-breeding visitor the Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo (Hierococcyx fugax) flew over to SBWR on 3rd and another seen at Lorong Halus on 13th.
(Oriental Cuckoo at Bidadari by Francis Yap)
A male Jambu Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus jambu) was photographed at the Japanese Gardens on 2nd, first for the season, followed by another male at Bidadari on 19th.
Migrant flycatchers were well represented by two Ferruginous (Muscicapa ferruginea) at Bida on 6th and 25th, Dark-sided ( Muscicapa sibirica) at MacRitchie Reservoir on 7th and Brown-chested Jungle (Rhinomyias brunneata) crashing in an office on Jurong Island on 15th.
(Ferruginous Flycatcher at Bidadari by Francis Yap)
Bidadari, our own cuckoo land hosted four species this month: Indian Cuckoos (Cuculus micropterus), both an adult and juvenile, a lone Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (Clamator coromandus) on 20th, a juvenile Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) on 24th, firsts for the season and an Asian Drongo Cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) on 28th. A Crow-billed Drongo (Dicrurus annectans) at Tampines Eco Gardens on 28th, a Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) at Jurong Central Gardens, a female Siberian Blue Robin (Luscinia cyane) at Japanese Gardens on 13th and a juvenile leucopsis White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) were the other notables.
The members of the Bird Group conducted two Pelagic surveys during the month. Highlights were a rare Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) on the 19th, an uncommon Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica) and first winter Common Tern ( S. hirundo) on 5th. The Aleutian (S. aleutica), Bridled Terns (S. anaethetus) and Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels (Oceanodroma monorhis) were seen in good numbers on both trips.
(Parasitic Jaeger at Singapore Strait by Francis Yap)
The Raptor Group is in the midst of a 47 days Raptor Count at Tuas South and I will leave the October Raptor Report to Gim Cheong. But watchers at Tuas were pleasantly surprised to find other interesting migrants flying over Tuas. Red-rumped Swallows (Hirundo daurica) were first recorded coming in on the 5th and were seen throughout the month. Ten were seen over at Serangoon Reservoir on the 9th. A large flock of over 60 Fork-tailed or Pacific Swifts (Apus pacificus) were recorded migrating over Tuas on the 31st. This was preceded by the first sighting of this Swift at Simei on 23rd. Oriental Pratincoles (Glareola maldivarum) were seen on 11th and 25th thermaling. We believed some of them were roosting at some grasslands at Tuas.
(Pacific Swifts in large numbers over Tuas South by Francis Yap)
With the migration season at its peak so are the crashes into our high rise buildings. This is David Tan’s busiest month rushing around to collect the dead specimens for his sequencing research. It seems that both the Black-backed Kingfishers (Ceyx erithacus) and Blue-winged Pittas (Pitta moluccenis) were the most affected. A total of 5 kingfishers and 4 pittas were picked up for the month all over Singapore. Even a Fork-tailed Swift was not spared. It crashed into a house at Woodlands on 17th. The surprise was a Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida) found dazed at Serangoon Gardens Way on the 31st. The staff at Acres managed to revive and release it later. This is a new extreme date for this pitta as they are normally seen in late November. A Von Schrenck’s Bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus) was found dead at Jurong West on 13th another early arrival that did not make it.
On the home front, the Large-tailed Nightjars (Caprimulgas macrurus) were raising their young at Japanese Gardens, Green Imperial Pigeons (Ducula aenea) have spread to Pasir Ris Park (13th), a Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porohyrio) somehow found itself in a monsoon drain at Tampines Eco Park. It was rescued and set free by staff from Acres. A splendid male Violet Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) found a caterpillar patch at the Jurong Eco Gardens but did not stay for long after 28th. The pair of Greater Painted Snipes (Rostraula benghalensis) reappeared at the marsh ponds at Jurong Central Gardens on the 15th but went into hiding after a few days much to the disappointment of its many admiring photographers.
Ref: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009. Bird Crashes records mostly from David Tan supplemented by Felix Wong, Albert Low and Azmi Mohamad. All other records were taken from postings in the various facebook, bird forums and individual facebook pages from Francis Yap, Seng Alvin, Zacc HD, Tan Chee Keon, Rey Aguila, See Toh Yew Wai, Lim Ser Chai, Lim Kim Seng, Khun Eu Meng, Lim Kim Keang, Johnson Chua, Lawrence Cher, Vincent Ng, Lau Jiasheng, Daniel Wee, Lee Van Hien and Alan OwYong. Many thanks to one and all.