Monthly Archives: October 2015

Long-tailed Shrike fledglings and their diet.

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Contributed by Connie Khoo, a field researcher from Ipoh.

On the 27th May 2015 during one of my frequent visits to the Desa Park City outside Kuala Lumpur, I came across a Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach, picking up leeches and centipedes from the open grass patches by the side of the park. It did not occurred to me that they are nesting nearby until two days later when I saw them bravely chasing away House Crows, one of the most aggressive birds around. I found their well hidden nest 5 metres up the edges by the side of the park. Even the Asian Koels and a Crested Goshawk received the same treatment when they got too close to the nest.

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It was only on 2nd June that I saw the parents feeding the chicks very frequently with insects and lots of centipedes. I decided not to draw too much attention to them during this crucial period. When I returned on the 18th June, the two chicks were very active. To my surprise, they both fledged in the afternoon and were seen resting just outside the nest. I could not believe on the timing.

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In the next few days the fledglings were exploring the area near the nest perching on the nearby trees. The feeding continued and I was able to record their diet. They included dragonflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers and plenty of centipedes. In fact in a two hour morning, they ate a total of 27 centipedes. I managed to pick up a dead left over centipede on one occasion and found that their sting was still intact, which means that the chicks swallow the centipede alive. The House Crows were still around but did not attack the fledglings partly because the parents were keeping watch close by.

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I am glad to report that the two fledglings were happily flying around on the 24th June, almost a month after I first saw the parents picking up the centipedes. This pair had successfully brought up another new generation of shrikes to grace our parks and gardens.

For further reading:

Khoo S.Y. 2011. Observation on the hunting and feeding behaviour of breeding Long-tailed Shrikes. Birding Asia 16. 71-74.

Suara Enggang Vol 21/3. 2013.

You can also visit her blog at Edited by Alan OwYong.


Harris, T. & Franklin, K. 2010. Shrikes & Bush-Shrikes – Including Wood-shrikes, Helmet-shrikes,

Shrike Flycatchers, Philentomas, Batises and Wattle-eyes. Helm Identification Guide. Christopher Helm, London.


White-winged or Whiskered Terns?


The first arriving White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucropterus, was photographed by KweeChang Ling on the 26 Sept. This was followed about a week later by a Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybridus, photographed by See Toh Yew Wai on 4 Oct. Both at the Serangoon Reservoir. These two “marsh terns” are winter visitors to our shores. The White-winged usually can be seen earlier in the year (July) as they also passes through Singapore on their migration south. While the rarer Whiskered Tern appeared around mid September.

Since then there were many photos of these two terns gracing the facebook pages of various groups here. Most had a hard time telling the two species apart. This is understandable as they both look very much alike in size, plumage and shape when they are in their non breeding plumage. Further plumage differences due to age added to the confusion.

The above file photo taken at the Kranji Dam showed both tern species. Try and separate them before continuing. The extreme left tern looks a little bigger, has a stouter and slightly longer bill and the black patch from the crown does not extend below the eyes. All features of a non-breeding Whiskered Tern.

whiskered tern-See Toh

Non breeding Whiskered Tern photographed at Serangoon Reservoir on 4 Oct by See Toh Yew Wai.

Now take a look at the two extreme right terns. The first thing you notice are the black round ear patches (head phones) extending below the eyes. This is a distinctive field mark of the White-winged Tern. Their bills are slightly smaller and thinner as well.

Other subtle differences are: Whiskered has slightly forked tail while the White-winged has a almost square tail. Whiskered is slightly larger than the White-winged with longer legs. Non breeding Whiskered has a greyish rump while the White-winged upper tail and rump is white.

Now that you have the different features of the two terns sorted out, try to identify the second tern from the left.

Reference: A field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia.Wild Bird Society of Japan 1993. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia Simpson and Day 1993. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia.Craig Robson 2000. The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. 2009. Edited by Francis Yap.

Singapore Bird Report – September 2015

YVFP Wong Kook Yoke
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker at Dairy Farm Nature Park taken by Wong Koon Yoke on 26th.

The migration season is in full swing with many passerines making their first arrival here and three species establishing new extreme dates. For easy reading I will list the first arrivals with dates, species, location and name of observer.

EC Warbler Alan Ng
Eastern Crowned Warbler. A difficult species to photograph. Taken at Bidadari on 24th by Alan Ng.

(1/9/15) Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, at Mimosa Walk by Heather Goessel.
(2/9/15) Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius, at Pinnacle by Vivien Lee Min. (Previous extreme date 14 Oct).
(6/9/15) Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus, at Jurong Eco Gardens by Lee Van Hien.
(16/9/15) Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, at Bidadari by Alan Ng.
(17/9/15) Siberian Blue Robin, Luscinia cyane, adult male at Lasia Track by Alan OwYong. (Previous extreme date 21 Sept)
(17/9/15) Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, at Bukit Timah Summit by Lim Kim Seng.
(21/9/15) Black-backed Kingfisher,Ceyx erithacus, at Bidadari by Vincent Ng. ( One week ahead of previous extreme date)
(21/9/15) Daurian Starlings,, Sturnus sturninus, (<200) at SBWR by Francis Yap.
(28/9/15) Pond Heron spp, Ardeola spp, at Bishan Park by Abdul Shukor.

Tiger Shrike Frankie LimRuddy Kingfisher
An adult male Tiger Shrike taken at Bidadari by Frankie Lim on 18th. We normally get only the juveniles during the autumn migration. Unfortunately the Ruddy Kingfisher stayed only for a day at Bidadari. Photo Alan Ng on 16th.

Other passerine migrants of note were an influx of Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Ficedula zanthopygia. Both male and females at Venus Drive on 4th (Koh Lian Heng and Dean Tan), Singapore Botanic Gardens and Bidadari. Two reports of Eastern Crowned Warblers, Phylloscopus coronatus, one photographed by Alan Ng at Bidadari on 24th and another at Dairy Farm on 28th by Francis Yap. The newly split Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone paradisi affinis,  was the first record for Bidadari seen by YK Loke on 24th. We also had several sub adult and adult male Tiger Shrikes, Lanius tigrinus, passing through Bidadari during the month. Frankie Lim photographed one on the 18th.

OHB Seng AlvinAn orientalis OHB over at Pasir Ris Park by Seng Alvin on 16th. We finally got our orientalis Oriental Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhyncus, with one photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 16th by Seng Alvin. An early juvenile Rufous Bellied Eagle, Hieraaetus kienerii,  and a Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, were photographed from Jelutong Tower on 16th by Francis Yap. Both were first for the season. A migratory Peregrine Falcon was the first for Tuas South as per report from Low Choon How on 26th.

Non-breeding visitors includes three Jambu Fruit Doves, Ptilinopus jambu at Dairy Farm Nature Park feeding on the False Curry Leave Plant on 16th and a sub adult Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, at Upper Seletar Reservoir on 30th (both by Lee Van Hien).

Chestnut-winged Babbler See Toh Dillenia Hut 5.11.15
Hard to see Chestnut-winged Babbler at Dillenia Hut. Photo by See Toh Yew Wai

Residents that are of interest are a Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus, and a juvenile Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, being fed by a Malaysian Pied Fantail, Rhipidura javanica, both at Tampines Eco Garden on 1st by Seng Alvin, a calling Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, and a Grey-rumped Treeswift, Hemiprocne longipennis, at Ulu Pandan Canal by Ho Hwa Chew on 14th and Alan OwYong on 15th respectively and a sub adult Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, Sungei Buloh WR on 21st reported by Geoff Lim and photographed by Lim Ser Chai. Lim Kim Keang and Yong Yik Shih came back from Chek Java, Ubin on 21st with a partial shot of what looks like a Black Magpie, Platysmurus leucopterus. This was a former resident but now extinct. The Records Committee will have to deliberate on this sighting. But there was no mistaking the photo of one of our rare flowerpecker, the Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Dicaeum chrysorrheum, taken by a visiting Ipoh birder Wong Koon Yoke at a fruiting fig at Dairy Farm on the 26th. Many thanks to Subha for this report. We normally had to hike up to the Bukit Timah Summit to look for this species.

Eurasian Curlew LTK
One of the three Eurasian Curlews that was first reported by Ben Lee on 20th. A flight shot by Lee Tiah Khee showing the unmarked under wing coverts.

White-winged Tern Kwee Chang Ling
White-winged Tern at Serangoon Reservoir by Kwee Chang Ling on 26th.

The shorebird sightings was reported in our earlier blog “Of Godwits, Dowitchers and Curlew” with the exception of a Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, in summer plumage seen by Francis Yap and See Toh at P. Ubin on 1st and a late but first arrival White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus, shot by Kwee Chang Ling over at Serangoon Reservoir on 26th.

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. The above records are taken from the various bird FB groups. pages, reports and forums. Many thanks for your postings. Many thanks to Lee Tiah Khee, See Toh Yew Wai, Alan Ng, Wong Koon Yoke, Kwee Chang Ling, Seng Alvin and Frankie Lim for the use of the photographs.