Monthly Archives: February 2016

Singapore Raptor Report – December 2015

OHB, 261215, Bidadari, Nicholas Tan (one of 2 birds)Oriental Honey Buzzard, juvenile, Bidadari, 26 Dec 15, by Nicholas Tan. 

Summary for migrant species:

For the month of December, a total of 145 migrant raptors of 11 species were recorded. The most abundant was the Oriental Honey Buzzard with 89 birds, followed by the Black Baza with 36 birds and the Japanese Sparrowhawk with 7 birds – no surprises here, except for the one-eyed Japanese Sparrowhawk at Tuas photographed on the 7th – how does it catch prey without depth perception? There were 3 Ospreys at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, one of the usual sites for this common migrant.

Next up – the uncommon raptors. A Jerdon’s Baza was photographed at Tampines Eco Green on the 19th and the 21st. A juvenile pale morph Common Buzzard – an uncommon bird despite its name – was photographed at Tuas on the 8th. A juvenile Chinese Sparrowhawk was photographed between the 13th to 21st at Bidadari; the small raptor had brown leather ties (known as falconry jesses) around its tarsus – could it have escaped from its masters in North Asia and followed its instinct to migrate? The origins of this particular individual may remain a mystery. There were 3 records of the Peregrine Falcon, 1 at Mandai mudflats, 1 at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and 1 that returned to the 35th floor balcony of Vista Residences, the last bird was also recorded in the previous season.

Lastly, the rare raptors. A juvenile Black Kite was photographed on the 18th at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and an older individual photographed on the 29th at Punggol Barat. A juvenile Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle was photographed on the 22nd at Dairy Farm Nature Park. There was a sight report of a Greater Spotted Eagle, a lifer for the observer who was undergoing basic military training at Pasir Ris Camp, on the 31st.

Highlights for sedentary species:

By the end of December, the young Grey-headed Fish Eagle on the nest at Little Guilin had grown to be as big as its parents. Other records of this fish eagle came from Venus drive on the 2nd and Lorong Halus Wetland on the 31st. The Crested Goshawk was recorded from Pasir Ris on the 2nd, Sentosa on the 25th and Little Guilin on the 27th, all being adults, while an un-aged individual was recorded on the 16th at the Botanic Gardens. There were 3 torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzzards; a tweeddale morph was photographed at Pasir Ris Park on the 9th and 11th, a juvenile normal plumage type at Park East Condo on the 16th and an immature at Bidadari from the 20th to the 30th. The White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Changeable Hawk-Eagle and Black-winged Kite completed the roundup for the month. 

S/N Species No.   S/N Species No.
1 Osprey 3     Residents / Sedentary Species
2 Jerdon’s Baza 1   12 Black-winged Kite 5
3 Black Baza 36   13 Brahminy Kite 12
4 Oriental Honey Buzzard 89   14 White-bellied Sea Eagle 15
5 Black Kite 2   15 Grey-headed Fish Eagle 5
6 Chinese Sparrowhawk 1   16 Crested Goshawk 4
7 Japanese Sparrowhawk 7   17 Changeable Hawk-Eagle 7
8 Common Buzzard 1        
9 Greater Spotted Eagle 1     Unidentified  
10 Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle 1   18 Unidentified Raptors 1
11 Peregrine Falcon 3   19 Unidentified Accipiters 8
             
  Total for Migrants 145     Grand Total 202

For details and more photos, please see the full report Singapore Raptor Report Dec15

Singapore Birders’ Contribution to the Discovery and Conservation of the Plain-pouched Hornbill in Peninsular Malaysia

A Pair of Plain-pouched Hornbills (female with blue pouch)  Photo: Jimmy Chew

A Pair of Plain-pouched Hornbills (female with blue pouch) Photo: Jimmy Chew

This recent article by Yeap, C. A. et al in the Malayan Nature Journal on the Plain-pouched Hornbill traces and summarises the great and conscientious efforts by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) towards the protection of this species which occurs in massive numbers in the Belum-temengor Forest Complex from the nineties to 2012.

Singaporean birders may be interested to know that it was Sutari who was the first birder to have discovered the massive flight of the Plain-pouched Hornbill in Peninsular Malaysia — in 1992 at the  Temengor area, along the upper reaches of the  Perak River.  Subsequently , in 1993 a team organised by Sutari  and Hua Chew,  comprising mostly of the members of the Bird Group, carried out two earlier attempts (1993 & 1998) at a systematic count of their spectacular flight along the Perak transect, yielding  a maximum  of 2, 067 individuals in one morning session.  The presence of this hornbill species in Peninsular Malaysia was considered non-existent or highly controversial among ornithological experts at that time. In 1999, Sutari and Hua Chew submitted the results of their observations to the MNS-Bird Conservation Council for scrutiny and within the year the Plain-pouched was “accepted as Malaysia’s tenth hornbill species” by MNS Birds Records Committee.  The experience was most exhilarating and unforgettable for the participants, and the count sessions constitute Singaporean birders’ contribution to the Malayan Nature Society’s  efforts to protect  the species.   The “totals of more than 2000 hornbills at Temengor  seem to be unprecedented anywhere in the world for any hornbill species …. “ said Dr. Geoffrey Davison” (Yeap, C.A. et al, 2015). A later count by an MNS team in 2008 yielded 3, 261 individuals, the highest number obtained so far in a single session at the peak period.

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A large flock of Plain-pouched Hornbills. Photo: Sutari.

According to Yeap, C. A. et al (2015: “The seasonal migration of Plain-pouched Hornbills must rank as one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Asia. The Hornbill Triangle offers the best hope for the future survival of the southernmost population of Plain- pouched Hornbills.” We wish our Malaysian counterpart great success towards the achievement of this goal for the benefit of the present and future generation of the world.

Video by the late Ong Kiem Sian on their 1998 Hornbill survey here (Video)

Reference:  Yeap C.A. et al “Conserving the globally threatened Plain-pouched Hornbills in the Belum-temengor Forest Complex, Peninsular Malaysia”Malayan Nature Journal  (MNJ) (2015, 67 (2), Link

Kranji Marshes, a New Haven for Waterbirds

 

 

 

 

Desmond Lee opening of Kranji Marshes LKC

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Mr. Desmond Lee declaring the Marshes open with URA and NParks CEOs and Directors. Photo: Lim Kim Chuah.

Contributed by Alan OwYong and Alfred Chia. 1st February 2016.

Two years ago, Senior Minister of State for National Development & Home Affairs Mr Desmond Lee visited the Kranji Marshes. After touring the place, he saw the potential benefits that can be reaped if the marshes can be protected & properly managed. His vision and support on the project finally turned into reality when the Kranji Marshes was officially opened by him on 1 February 2016.

The fully covered marshes 21 March 2014 before work began (left). The marshes today with open water patches for the ducks and moorhens. Photos: Alan OwYong.
The Nature Society (Singapore) [NSS] was involved as early as 1985 when it proposed to the authorities to conserve the marshes. But it was not until 2008 that the society was finally allowed by the authorities to adopt & manage the marshes under the PUB’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters Programme (ABC). This was the first time that NSS was tasked to manage a nature area, a ringing endorsement of what the society had managed to accomplish over the years.

Pond Maintenance under NSS management, 12 Jan 2013. (left). Heavy dredgers needed to clear the vegetation to open up the marshes 21 Feb 2015. Photos: Alan OwYong.

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A Pair of Grey-headed Fish Eagles have made their home at the Marshes taking advantage of the aquatic life in the open ponds

With help from both Bloomberg and various student groups, weeds were periodically cleared. Small islands were also built to entice back the waterfowl. Soon, resident birds like the Black-backed Swamphens, Lesser Whistling Ducks & Common Moorhens returned. Migrant waterfowl like Watercocks & snipes also made Kranji Marshes their wintering ground. Passerines like reed and grasshopper warblers also made their visits.

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SMOS Mr. Desmond Lee with Lim Kim Keang, Wong Tuan Wah and Lim Kim Chuah touring the marshes. Photo: Alan OwYong

The culmination in the opening of the marshes is a result of long term planning & vision of statutory boards like the National Parks Board (NParks) and Urban Redevelopment Authority. It is to be lauded. The Bird Group of NSS is glad to have played its part in the planning of the marshes by offering its input on design and planning. It will continue to do so after the opening when it partners NParks in conducting guided tours to the public.

Albert Low of NParks showing the Purple Heron to the students from Raffles Institution. Bird Group Chairman Lim Kim Chuah scanning for waterbirds. The lush Lotus Pond from Bee-eaters Blind with photo panels by Lee Tiah Khee. Photos: Alan OwYong.