We all were expecting another quiet month when Yong Ding Li dropped a bombshell on 22nd. He reported that ACRES had retrieved a White-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon Lepturus, from Pioneer Sector at Tuas. This will our very first record of an identified tropicbird in Singapore. From the yellowish wash in the plumage this is the Fulvus form. The Record’s Committee will be deliberating on its status and decide on its inclusion into the Checklist. There were two unidentified records of tropicbirds previously. One bird seen flying off Seletar on 11 December 1963 off (MBR 1964) and another in 1986 by Tan Gim Cheong off Serangoon Estuary. The nearest breeding colony is at the Cocos-Keeling and Christmas Islands.
The other big find for the month was a Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Hemipus hirundinaceus, photographed by a visiting German birdwatcher Wolfgang Kraemer, at Chek Java, P. Ubin on the 28th. This is our second record following Francis Yap’s sighting at the Jelutong Towers on 23 August 2013. This species was previously listed in Category F: Doubtful species because of mis-identification, but have since ungraded to Category A and added in the 2013 Checklist. Efforts to find this flycatchershrike two days later was not rewarded.
The Oriental Darter captured by Cherry Goh at the Pekan Quarry on 2nd Ubin Day.
The migrants reported this month include a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis at SBWR on 1st (Andy Dinesh). During Ubin Day an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster, made a surprised appearance at the Pekan Quarry. It was first seen there by John Ascher sometime in April (per con Andy Dinesh). This Darter was first reported at Ketam Quarry co-incidentally during the first Ubin Day on 30th October 2014. It is not in our current checklist but these sightings will strengthen its inclusion. There were two sightings of the Oriental Honey Buzzards, Pernis ptilorthyncus, one a juvenile at the Botanic Gardens on 18th by Tan Eng Boo and the other a second year bird over at Dempsey Hill on 20th by Sampath Ah. Both are summering and will only return north next spring.
A rare find for Pulau Ubin of a Blue-eared KingFisher by Wolfgang Kraemer.
Non-breeding visitors reported were a Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax, at the Kranji Park on 13th by Sampath Ah and the Cinereous Bulbul Hermixos flavala,at Chek Java on 28th by Wolfgang Kraemer. Wolfgang also photographed our forest Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, there showing how this once Central Catchment species have spread. Choo Chong Teck showed us a photo of a Chrysococcyx cuckoo taken at the Tampines Mountain Bike Trail on 27th. It turned out to be another Horsfield Bronze Cuckoos Chrysococcyx basalis, at a new location. The Austral cuckoos at Punggol Barat were still wintering there as of the 28th based on reports from See Toh Wai Yew.
Fishing Grey-headed Fish-eagle caught by David Awcock at the Swan Lake.
The resident Grey-headed Fish-eagles, Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, were keeping the photographers busy with their daily fishing antics at the Singapore Botanic Garden’s Swan Lake. They were first videoed by Jeremiah Loei on 10th. A pair of Buffy Fish Owls Ketupa ketupu, were roosting at the Rain Forest section of the gardens (Zacc HD 13th). They were first spotted at the Gardens by Richard White last month on 8th May. We think that they may have been flushed out from the Tyersall side due to the construction of the new extension to the gardens.
The once rare Crested Goshawks Accipiter trivirgatus, are now being seen more often. Seng Alvin photographed a second year bird in flight over at Pasir Ris Park on 10th with another photographed at Ang Mo Kio Park by Audrey Ngo on 7th. Jia Wei Woo was delighted to have captured a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus flying over at the Swan Lake on 27th. It was the resident ernesti race.
Other notable records were an Asian Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris, photographed at the Dillenia Hut by Vincent Lao on 28th. This should to be our resident subspecies barussarum. A pair of Plaintive Cuckoos, Cacomantis merulinus were photographed at Punggol Barat on 23rd by Liz How. We usually get to see single bird of this species. From the sightings this month, it is evident that we cannot slack off for any periods if we are to keep track of the rarities.
Reference: Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. 2009. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-east Asia. Craig Robson Asia Books Ltd.2000. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Simpson and Day, Edited by Francis Yap and Yong Ding Li. The above records are taken from the various bird FB groups. pages, reports and forums. Many thanks for your postings. Many thanks to ACRES, Wolfgang Kraemer, David Awcock and Cherry Goh for the use of the photographs.