Singapore Bird Report – February 2015

We are seeing many of the returning migrants on their way back north this month. Some will stay for a while to fuel up, others will just past through.

The outstanding sighting for the month was a bird that we have been expecting but unfortunately was only seen by a visiting birder. Canadian Gareth Puth reported to Kenneth Kee that he saw a Himalayan Griffon Vulture Gyps himalayansis flying over Fort Canning on the 14th. No subsequent sightings of this vagrant were reported. We are waiting for his full report for verification.

White-shoulderd Starling See Toh at Halus

White-shouldered Starling caught in flight by the fast lens of See Toh Yew Wai at Lorong Halus.

Returning migrants reported were a uncommon Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea at its favourite wintering Bidadari by Adrian Hall on 1st, a uncommon White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis flying over Halus on 14th “captured” by See Toh Yew Wai and the rare Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda at the Sime Forest on 19th by Ng Chay Tuan while looking for the Green-backed/Chinese Flycatcher Ficedula elisae.

Chloe Tan had been reporting about a very rare passage migrant Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius up at the Pinnacle@Duxton since December. She sent us another photo taken on the 17th of this month. Could it be wintering there? The female Siberian Stonechat Saxicola torquata reported in January is certainly wintering at the waste land at Punggol Barat based on Zacc HD’s 23/2 photo posted on fb

Most of us missed the rare Malaysian Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus that was wintering at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden photographed by Craig Williams on 13th.  He also reported a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccenis wintering there as well. Another Blue-winged Pitta was reported at the Rifle Range Link on the same day by George Presanis.

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This Von Schrenck’s Bittern was delighting us at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves earlier this month.

On the 7th, Low Choon How was surprised to find a female Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurththmus feeding in the open at the pond behind the Visitor’s Center at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves. David Li at SBWR told us that they mist-netted and ringed it the day earlier. No matter, it was the main attraction during the first half of the month. (Matt Prior commented after the post that he saw this Bittern at the same pond on 2nd)

Orange-headed Thrush Frankie Lim

Uncommon Orange-headed Thrush performing well at Hindhede Nature Park, beautifully captured by Frankie Lim.

Just when we got tired of the Bittern, a pair of Orange-headed Thrushes Zoothera citrina innotata made its appearance at Hindhede Nature Park.  Choo Ju Tiek first spotted them on 21st competing for territory with our resident White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus He also came across a juvenile Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji nearby but it did not stay around unlike the Thrushes. Soon the facebook pages were flooded with beautiful photos of this uncommon ground thrush.

Pin-tailed Snipe at Chinese Gardens by Alan Ng

You can just about see the “pins” tail feathers of this snipe taken at the Chinese Gardens by Alan Ng.

A lone snipe returned to the Lily pond at the Japanese Gardens on the 26th. It was later identified as the uncommon Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura by photo of tail feather spread from Alan Ng. This could be the same snipe that winters here last two years. Other snipe sightings were at Bishan Park and the canal at Farmway 3 as per email from Laurence Eu. Two Savanna Nightjars Caprimulgus affinis found the dark brown roof tiles of the Guest House at Japanese Gardens perfect for roosting as it can blend in.

As for raptors, a japonensis Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus was shot over a Punggol Barat by Aldwin Recinto on 21st, a Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus at the same place the next day by Zacc HD. Two records of our once rare resident Crested Goshawks Accipiter Trivirgatus  were coming in. Yam Tee Yang reported one at Pasir Ris Park on 23rd and another at West Coast Park from Toriwomtai on the 27th. A Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus was seen perched on a dead tree at Dempsey Hill on 1st by Alan OwYong.

Purple Heron Nesting at Bishan Shirley Ng

Happy Purple Heron family at Bishan Park photographed by Shirley Ng. 

Breeding records were coming in and we were so happy to hear from Shirley Ng that the nationally near-threatened Purple Herons Ardea purpurea were feeding three grown-up chicks on top of an Angsana Tree at Bishan Park on 19th. On the 6th, Seng Alvin reported a Striated Heron Butorides striatus bringing back nesting material to the side of the river at his favourite stomping ground Pasir Ris Park. Robin Tan pointed out a Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis nesting at the Chinese Gardens on the 26th.

Zacc HD reported a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Nectarnia sperata at Mount Faber, a first there, although there were previous records at Telok Blangah Hill and Sentosa. Good to see it spreading across the Ridge. Vincent Lao had an early arriving Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis, a breeding visitor at Venus Loop on the last day of the month.

Great to end this month’s report without any bird casualties except for a disoriented Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis found by Pamela Soh at the void deck of a HDB block at Jurong West on 26th.

Pied Cuckoo Micah Sixeight

We came across this late post in the Nature Society page in July of a sighting of the Pied Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus, (left) by Mark Oei on the 18th between the Halus bridge and the Tampines Expressway. This is our second record ( first on 4th December 2013) and first for the year.

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. 2009. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Craig Robson. 2000. Edited by Francis Yap. All the records are taken from postings in various fb groups, pages and bird forums. Many thanks for your postings. Thanks to See Toh Yew Wai, Alan Ng, Shirley Ng, Mark Oei and Frankie Lim for the use of your photos. All rights belong to the respective photographers. 

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