The very rare winter visitor and passage migrant, Slaty-legged Crake, made land fall at the restricted Jurong Island. Photo: Lim Kim Chuah.
With many parts of Singapore receiving above average rainfall over the month of November, it was no surprise that sightings of many rare migrants followed suit as they sought shelter from inclement weather. Highlights for the month include an adult male Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis at Bidadari on 2nd (FYAP), at least two Northern Boobooks Ninox japonica at Tuas on 9th, a Besra Accipiter virgatus photographed flying over Sisters’ Island on 13th (JS), a Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus, and an Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus, both flying over the Botanic Gardens on 16th and 17th (RW), and a Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides at Jurong Island on 21st (LKC).
Male Zappey’s Flycatcher (left) formally treated as a race of the Blue and White Flycatcher. Photo: Zacc HD.
Both the Zappey’s Flycatcher and the Northern Boobook are currently not in our Checklist. The Zappey’s Flycatcher is split from the Blue-and-White Flycatcher while the Northern Boobook is a migratory species from East Asia that was split from the Brown Hawk Owl. The Records Committee is reviewing these records for inclusion under Category A. There are less than five confirmed records of the Besra as it is difficult to separate from the Japanese Sparrowhawk in flight. In addition, this is only our 6th record of the Slaty-legged Crake in Singapore, with the last two individuals recorded at Bedok and Lower Pierce respectively. We have only two previous records of the vagrant Grey-headed Lapwing, on 11 October 2007 and 5th Nov 2011 both from Sungei Buloh. The Asian House Martin is a rare passage migrant with sporadic records over the years. These records are now with the Records Committee for deliberation.
Ninox spp with its tear drop streaks photographed at Tuas is waiting for acceptance as the migrant Northern Boobook. Photo: Low Choon How.
Other noteworthy sightings for the month are lengthy and include a Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus at Turut Ponds on 1st (SRN), a Sand Martin Riparina ripanria and Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurthythmus at Tuas on the 1st (LKK & TJL), a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocauda at Bidadari on 2nd (FYAP), a breeding plumaged Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa flying over the Botanic Gardens on 2 November (RW), a Greater Spotted Eagle, Aquila clanga over at Tuas South on 4th ( KLH) and 11th (FYAP), a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus, at Bidadari on 6th (JT), a Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes at Pulau Tekong on 14th (FCh), a Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus over at Punggol Island on 14th (ZHD), White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis at Tuas on 15th (STYW), Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, at Tuas South (STYW) and Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata, at SBWR on 16th (LE), an Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus at Chinese Gardens on 17th (PT) and a White Wagtail Motacilla alba, at Punggol Barat on 29th (STYW).
Additionally, a fruiting tree at Dairy Farm Nature Park was a magnet for many migratory birds. Reports indicate that at its peak there were at least 6 Siberian Thrushes, Geokicla sibirica (CKS), in various plumages present at the tree. An Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus was also photographed feeding at the tree with them on 25th (ANg) while a first winter male Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana was showing regularly towards the end of the month, having been first sighted on 23rd (FL). It was joined by a Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki, which was first reported at Dairy Farm on 21st (VNg).
Other regular winter visitors reported over the month include a subadult Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides, that crashed into Shuqun Primary School on 2nd ( SC), another Large Hawk Cuckoo, a juvenile, at Jurong Island on 20th (FW), Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccenis at Bidadari on 4th ( KY), the largest one day count of 894 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus over Tuas South on 9th (TGC), Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus at Bidadari on 14th (VL), Yellow-billed Egret Mesophoyx intermedia at SBWR on 16th (LE) and a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis at Gardens by the Bay on 21st (JC).
We also had several reports of non-breeding visitors throughout the month. A Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos flavala was recorded at P. Hantu on 1st (RT & Co), an Osprey Pandion haliaetus over Punggol Island on 14th (ZHD), two Crested Serpent Eagles Spilornis cheela over at Kent Ridge Park on 21st (AOY & KS) and a Streaked Bulbul Ixos malaccensis at Dairy Farm on 28th (AC).
References: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng, 2009. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-east Asia. Craig Robson. 2000. A Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore. Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. 2013.
This report is compiled from the postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank the following contributors for their records. Francis Yap (FYAP), Jacky Soh (JS), Richard White (RW), Lim Kim Chuah (LKC), Subha and Raghav Narayenswany (SRN), Lim Kim Keang (LKK), Tan Julin (TJL), Frankie Cheong (FCh), See Toh Yew Wai (STYW), Chan Kai Soon (CKS), Philip Toh (PT), Vincent Ng (VNg), Alan Ng (ANg), Frankie Lim (FL), Zacc HD (ZHD), Laurence Eu (LE), Felix Wong (FW), Kwong Yew (KY), Tan Gim Cheong (TGC), Vincent Lao (VL), Johnson Chua (JC), Robin Tan (RT), Alan OwYong (AOY), Keita Sin (KS) and Alfred Chia (AC). We wish to thank Zacc HD, Lim Kim Chua, Low Choon How and Alan OwYong for the use of their photographs.