Monthly Archives: March 2016

An unexpected “Booby” prize.


Just missing a catch. The first few photos taken on 21st March 2016. Photo: Choo Tiong Whee.

A most unexpected rare pelagic Brown Booby, Sula lecuogaster, turned up at the Johor Straits on the morning of 21 March 2016. Choo Tiong Whee and friends Lee Van Hien and Benny Lim were at SBWR Platform 1 photographing the Ospreys when they saw the booby flying around the fish farms diving for fish. Apart from some great photos, Van Hien even had the time to video the fishing. He said that the booby was fishing there for around 15 minutes or so. This was a prized SG lifer for them.

Brown Booby Lee Van HIen

Lee Van Hien’s diving shot of the booby taken on 21st March.

We had only four records of this non-breeding visitor. Two were specimens dating back to 1878 ( Hume and Davison collection in Gibson-Hill 1950) from open seas and the other from Horsburgh Lighthouse in 1935 ( now in RMBR). Gibson-Hill (1950) mentioned a sighting in 1948 and the most recent was off Changi in 1982 (Paul Bristowe).

This latest sighting caused great excitement among the birding community here as this will be a SG lifer of all of us. Platform 1 was packed to capacity the following days with hopes of getting a sight of it.


Great overhead shot. It was so close that David could not get the whole bird in the frame.

But the lucky birder was David Li who was out on a boat on the 24th doing shorebirds tracking. The booby flew right over his head around noon just missing him with its bombing. Luckily he was fast enough to click this great overhead shot as it passed over. He also reported seeing the booby from Sungei Buloh the day before at 9.15 am.

Platform 1 Solomon Anthony

Bird’s eye view of SBWR Platform 1 with Choo Tiong Whee waving to the boat group. Photo: Solomon Anthony. 

This prompted See Toh Yew Wai and friends to charter a boat from Raffles Marina to go in search of this prize catch on 26th. Alas the booby did not make an appearance and they had to be satisfied with ticking the rare resident Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, off the shore of the Western Catchment.

Brown Booby FYap

A long shot of the booby near to Johor by Francis Yap. It went missing after this shot was taken.

Francis Yap decided to try his luck at SBWR Eagle’s Point on Sunday 27th and was duly rewarded with a sighting and record shots of the booby at 10 am. Just how lucky can you get? This is the last reported sighting so far and a great end to one of the most exciting finds in local birding history after the sightings of the Mask Finfoot in 1999.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. A field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan. 1993.

Many thanks to the use of photographs from Choo Tiong Whee, Lee Van Hien, David Li, Solomon Anthony and Francis Yap. 



Nesting of the Grey-headed Fish Eagles at Little Guilin

Little Gulin Ulf
Little Guilin. Nesting tree is the large one in the Middle.
Contributed by Ulf Remahl. 24 March 2016. All photos by Ulf Remahl.
Until 2008 Little Guilin was for me only on the must see list for overseas visitors to prove that Singapore could indeed be scenic. Even today immediate parkland along Bukit Batok East Avenue 5 is only biologically interesting when the world largest orchid Grammatophyllum speciosum is flowering. For anyone keen on wildlife you instead have to look at far side of the quarry.
Tiger Orchid Ulf
World largest Orchid Grammatophyllum speciosum
In July 2008 I spotted a Grey-headed Fish Eagle feeding on a freshly caught 2-foot Malayan Water Monitor. From how the eagle behaved I had a premonition that it could be nesting in the area. Other people confirmed my hunch during coming days when I was already overseas. That year there was one eaglet.
GHFE on Cliff Ulf
Favourite perch of the Grey-headed Fish Eagle at the top of the protruding outcrop.
Until mid 2015 I have over the years only been able to see snippets of the breeding cycle for GHFE. Last year it became different. On August 14th I saw an eaglet being fed by an adult. One interesting fact was that both adult and juvenile bird started to feed on the fish from the head. The eagles had this time nested at an alternative site, which I have never managed to find. That the primary nesting tree since 2008 opposite Lianhua primary school had been reduced to a tall barren tree stump sometimes during spring 2015 didn’t matter for this pair of GHFE.
GHFE by nest Ulf
Adult Grey-headed Fish Eagle guarding its nest.
In spite of severe haze during autumn 2015 I irregularly continued to visit Little Guilin when the smoke seemed less thick. That was fortunate because on September 23rd I found out the eagles had built a completely new nest at northern end of lake inside the 39 days I had been absent.
GHFE on nest Ulf
Grey-headed Fish Eaglet close to fledgling. 
My next visit was on October 11th. My first few fairly thorough scan of the area including nest with a scope 20 – 60 times magnification was discouraging. There was no sign of any eagles anywhere. So I decided to make one final absolutely meticulous search. I hit pay dirt. What a joy! I suddenly spotted the eye of a GHFE between the branches below the rim towards the left side of the nest using 40x magnification.
Now and then the bird moved the head. Then I could see beak and part of the head. Once during the 1 ½ hour I stayed the bird stood up in the nest. Although I couldn’t see into the nest from the movement of the head of the bird – only being able to see hind part of it – the behaviour was the familiar one you see for example when a hen is turning her eggs. At least that is the way I interpreted the movements. This activity only lasted a couple of minutes.
Adult Grey-headed Fish Eagle flying off after feeding.
Next visit to Little Guilin was on October 29th.  Without knowledge gleaned during previous visit I probably would never have been able to spot the eagle. It was now even better concealed below rim of nest. Considering that GHFE eggs incubate in 28-30 days there ought to be nestling(s) during coming November.
A subsequent visit on November 26th became a happy occasion. Then I could for 10 seconds see a tiny head covered in white down pop up above the rim of the nest during the 1-½ hours I was there. Could there be a sibling? It was too early to tell. Considering that a normal clutch is 1-2 eggs there was still that possibility. Without having a high vantage point on slope towards Gombak Stadium I would never have been able to see what I just experienced. As usual two very vocal parents were present the whole time. 
GHFE Perch Ulf
 About a fortnight later or on December 11th it could be confirmed there was only one offspring. It was amazing to find out how fast eaglet had grown. By now the plumage was a mixture of feathers & down. It was even big enough to be able to relieve itself over the rim of the nest.
By next visit December 30th eaglet was still in nest. It was now as big as the omnipresent parents. I was never able to see when eaglet fledged, as I couldn’t visit nesting site until January 24th 2016. In spite of that knowing that GHFE fledge after about 10 weeks from having hatched the eaglet should have left its home between 15 – 20th of January. This also fits in with that egg was laid sometimes
around October 10th 2015. (Can you spot the Eagle on the rock face?)
When researching a bit about GHFE I found out that even today nobody knows for how long GHFE eaglets are dependent on their parents. Here I make an attempt to figure out what it can be. I try to do this by first working out when eggs are laid by GHFE in Singapore
One possible reference point might therefore be when GHFE build or repair a nest. I presume that shortly after that eggs will be laid drawing on the experience with the latest Little Guilin crop. Another option is when there are eaglets in the nest. The optimum one is when they fledge.
Myself I have seen nest building activity as follows – August 12th & 29th 2011 Little Guilin, – October 1st and 23rd 2012 Bukit Batok NP,  – Little Guilin between August 14th /September 23rd 2015.
Dr Cheong Loong Fah recorded GHFE building nest @MacRitchie October 1997
From Raptor Reports Alan OwYong & Lim Kim Keang had 2 adults on nest December 4th 2011 in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery. There is nothing noted about any young ones but I presume something was going on.
Then there is a very good record by Tan Chuan Ming at Lentor Avenue where eaglet fledged May 8th 2012. That egg should have been laid during the last days of January 2012.
There is nesting recorded at Upper Seletar Reservoir by Doreen Ang & Freda Rickwood November 15th 2014.
The only other information to add would be that the latest eaglet in Little Guilin probably fledged during 15th – 20th of January 2016
Although materiel is limited it can tentatively be said that in Singapore GHFE commence nesting any time from September to January.
Next logical step in my investigation was to find any records about juveniles being fed. To my utter astonishment it seems mine is the only one? Working from that as a template assuming the Little Guilin pair nested as late as the one Tan Chuan Ming recorded 2012 the feeding goes on for just over 3 months or 14 weeks. On the other hand if my pair nested at the same time during 2014 as 2015 the feeding period would be roughly 8 months.
So if ornithologist here in Singapore either closely follow the feeding pattern of a pair of GHFE or just record any time they see anything this country could score a world first into settling something unknown until today.

2nd NSS/NParks Kranji Marshes Bird Trip

Contributed by Alfred Chia. All photos by Yap Wee Jin 20 March 2016.
Yap Wee Jin 2
The 2nd NSS/NParks collaborative birdwatching trip to the Kranji Marshes was organised on 20 March. 23 who signed up for this still sought-after trip were treated to a good show of birds on a sweltering hot morning.
Black-backed Swamphen Yap Wee Jin
The Black-backed Swamphen peeping out of the water weeds. Good to see it back.
We managed to garner all wanted species: Black-backed Swamphen, Common Moorhen, a preening White-browed Crake, Red-wattled Lapwing and a perched Grey-headed Fish Eagle. The uncommon but pretty Black-capped Kingfisher was also a good find. In total, we had 5 species of kingfishers. Besides the Black-capped, there was also the Collared, White-throated, Stock-billed and Common Kingfishers. In the reeds, Pallas’s Grasshopper & Oriental Reed Warblers were heard but not seen.
Common Moorhen Yap Wee Jin

Common Moorhen is not so common due to the loss of fresh water marshlands.

Both Blue-throated & Blue-tailed Bee-eaters provided colour to the morning while the air was constantly filled with the incessant calls of both the Long-tailed & Red-breasted Parakeets. Not to be outdone too were calling Banded Bay & Rusty-breasted Cuckoos while at the Raptor Tower, a lone Lineated Barbet called desultorily.


White-browed Crake Yap Wee Jin

White-browed Crake is another shy wetland species that is hard to see.

It was also at the tower where ironically, we had unblocked view of a single Black-backed Swamphen, seen feeding far away on one of the island in the marshes. Prior to this, while making our way to the tower, some of us had fleeting flight views while some had just one-two second type of look when it momentarily appeared from the thick vegetation.


BCKF Yap Wee Jin

Uncommon winter visitor Black-capped Kingfisher wintering at the marshes.

We ended the trip with 50 species of seen birds and another 8 species heard. All agreed it was a morning well-spent, sweat and the intense heat notwithstanding!

Singapore Raptor Report – January 2016

Japanese Sparrowhawk, subadult male, from Bidadari 14 Jan 16, Con Foley, same bird

Japanese Sparrowhawk, immature male, showing a mix of old (brown) and new (grey) feathers, Bidadari, 14 Jan 16, by Con Foley.

Summary for migrant species:

The highlight for January must be the single juvenile Himalayan Vulture that turned up at Toa Payoh on the 5th, greatly emanciated and unable to stand firm. It was rescued and given medical treatment at the Jurong Bird Park. A total of 96 migrant raptors of 13 species were recorded. The Black Baza claimed the top spot with 41 birds, relegating the Oriental Honey Buzzard to the second place with 32 birds.

There were 6 Japanese Sparrowhawks including an immature showing an interesting mix of brown and grey feathers.  3 Jerdon’s Bazas were wintering in the Tampines-Lorong Halus area and 3 Ospreys frequented the northern shores. 3 Peregrine Falcons and 2 Chinese Sparrowhawks were also reported.

Now for the single birds. An adult dark morph Common Buzzard was photographed at Tuas on the 8th. A juvenile Booted Eagle was photographed on the 25th at Punggol Barat. The juvenile Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle was still present at the Bukit Timah area, photographed on the 10th and the 24th. A male Common Kestrel was wintering at Pulau Punggol Barat, making appearances in the late afternoon/sunset period, on the 5th and 25th.  Lastly, a nocturnal raptor, the Northern Boobook was photographed at Pasir Ris Park mangroves on the 31st.

ohb, 100116 pm, Lim Kim Seng

Oriental Honey Buzzard, torquatus tweeddale morph, Pasir Ris Park, 10 Jan 16, by Lim Kim Seng.

Highlights for sedentary species:

January was a good month for the rare Crested Serpent Eagle as 3 birds were recorded – one at SBWR, one at Pasir Ris Park and one at Kent Ridge Park. There were 2 records of juvenile Crested Goshawks, one at NTU and the other at Sentosa, indications of successful breeding. Last month’s Crested Goshawk records were all adults. The torquatus tweeddale morph Oriental Honey Buzzzard was photographed a few times and the other torquatus OHB at Bidadari was still present. The young Grey-headed Fish Eagle at Little Guilin had left the nest but was still in the vicinity. It will probably still depend on its parents for food for a while more. The White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Changeable Hawk-Eagle and Black-winged Kite completed the roundup for the month.

Table 1

S/N Species No.   S/N Species No.
1 Osprey 3     Residents / Sedentary Species
2 Jerdon’s Baza 3   14 Black-winged Kite 2
3 Black Baza 41   15 Brahminy Kite 10
4 Oriental Honey Buzzard 32   16 White-bellied Sea Eagle 12
5 Himalayan Vulture 1   17 Grey-headed Fish Eagle 10
6 Chinese Sparrowhawk 2   18 Crested Serpent Eagle 3
7 Japanese Sparrowhawk 6   19 Crested Goshawk 5
8 Common Buzzard 1   20 Changeable Hawk-Eagle 8
9 Booted Eagle 1        
10 Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle 1     Unidentified  
11 Common Kestrel 1   21 Unidentified Raptors 3
12 Peregrine Falcon 3   22 Unidentified Accipiters 2
13 Northern Boobook 1        
  Total for Migrants 96     Grand Total 151

For a pdf copy with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report Jan16.




Nesting of a pair of Rufous Woodpeckers

Diversity Trail Seng Alvin

The Rufous Woodpeckers chose to nest at a tree by the side of Diversity trail at the Tampines Eco Green. Photo: Seng Alvin.

Contributed by Birder Dawn and Seng Alvin 18 March 2016

I was birding with friends at the Tampines Eco Green on the 28 February 2016 when a darkish woodpecker flew across our path. From the plumage I knew it was a Rufous Woodpecker, Celeus brachyurus, an uncommon resident found in forests, mangroves and parklands.

The nest is in the middle of the small tree by the side of the path, well hidden from sight. Photo: Seng Alvin and Birder Dawn.

We followed it to a small tree by the side of the trail hoping to get a shot. We found it perched near an old termites nest in the middle of the tree.

28.2.16 One of the chicks BD

One of the two few days old chicks inside the nest 28.2.16. Photo Birder Dawn.

When we got nearer we were surprised to find two young birds inside the nest. Their eyes were still closed. They must have hatched only a few days ago. The parent was actually bringing back food to feed the hungry chicks. We were so elated to discover the nest and witness the nesting.

14.3.16 BD

Two fully grown chicks about to face the outside world. Photo: Birder Dawn

The first documented nesting ( Ridley 1898) at the Botanic Gardens was also in a tree-ant nest. Recent records of their nesting were in ant nests as well. A good example of how a different genus can benefit another. These ant nests are softer and easy to excavate than tree trucks. These woodpeckers have been seen foraging for any larvae at these termite nests as well.


Papa bird busy feeding its grown chicks on 11.3.16. Photo: Seng Alvin

Why do these woodpeckers chose to nest so close to a walking path used by park visitors. Could it be that this termite’s nest is the only one available? As it was very hidden the woodpeckers must have felt safe to use it. We knew that this is a critical stage of the nesting and any disturbance may result in the parents abandoning the nest. After a few quick record shots we left them alone.

Clearing waste 13.3.16

Besides feeding Papa also did the house keeping 13.3.16 Photo: Seng Alvin.

My decision to return two weeks later to check on them was spot on. Both chicks fledged a few hours apart, much to my relief. My estimate is that they took close to three weeks from the time they hatched to fledged

14.3.16 Pecking BD

The first fledgling up on the tree trunk pecking away instinctively. 14.3.16. Photo: Birder Dawn

The first fledgling was already climbing up a tree trunk and instinctively started pecking on it. But it fell off the tree trunk as it legs were not strong enough to cling on to the bark. They would move to a semi bushy edges and wait for the parents to feed them. A survival move that will bode well for its early existence. Great to see another pair of these beautiful woodpeckers adding to the biodiversity of our green places.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009.


Identifying the Smaller Charadrius Plovers.

Compiled by Alan OwYong and Yong Ding Li.

2016-03-05 18.36.48

Granite seawall next to the Marina Barrage where the plovers are spending the winter.

We were fortunate that Loke Peng Fai found some Kentish, Charadrius alexandrinusand Malaysian Plovers, Charadrius peronii, at the granite embankment next to the Marina Barrage on 24 Oct 2015 now that the access to Changi Cove was restricted. Not only that, a distinctive subspecies of the Kentish Plover were also spending the winter there together with a few Lesser Sand Plovers, Charadrius mongolus,. These are the Swinhoe’s or White-faced Plovers (ssp. dealbatus). This gives us an great opportunity to study them in different plumages close up as they can be rather difficult to identify as a result of their superficially similar plumage patterns.

Let’s start with our resident Malaysian Plovers first.

Malaysian Plovers are more sandy in appearance, and show more mottling on the upperpart. They also have paler legs and more extensive breast band. Both male and female have a white collar. The male has a black breast band while the female has a rufous band both extending over the neck. (Male left, Female right)


The Kentish Plovers also have the same white collars as the Malaysian. But they are duller brown with plainer and more uniform upperparts. The legs are darker and the breast band is also less extensive than that of the Malaysian Plover. Unlike the Malaysia Plover, the black breast band of the male does not extend fully around the neck.(Male left, Female right).

White-faced Plover

White-faced or Swinhoe’s Plover (spp. dealbatus)

The Swinhoe’s or White-faced Plovers is a rather distinct looking subspecies (ssp. dealbatus) of the Kentish Plover. It has a similar white collar and uniformly brown upperparts as the Kentish. But the breast band is often hardly noticeable and the broader white lores and brow gives it a white looking face.

Kentish and Lesser Plovers

Kentish and Lesser Plovers

The Lesser Sand Plover (behind) is 2 cm larger than the Kentish ( front) as can be seen from this photo. The key difference is the lack of a white collar for the Lesser Sand Plovers.

Kentish Plover Juvenile

Which Plover is this?

Now that you are clear about the different features of the four small plovers, can you tell which plover is this? Better still can you tell the sex and age as well?

Reference: A field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan 1993.

Further reading on the spp dealbatus. “The Rediscovery of a Long-lost Charadrius Plover from South East Asia. Peter Kennerly, Dave Bakewell and Philip Round” at

NParks BioBlitz 2016

Contributed by Lim Kim Chuah, Chairman Bird Group. 12 March 2016.



Dr. Lena Chan Director of  National Biodiversity Center at Nparks officiating at the BioBlitz 2016.

NSS Bird Group participated in the SGBioBlitz event on 12 March 2016. This is the first time NParks is organizing this event and its part of NParks’ Citizen Science program. The event was held at Pasir Ris Park. The BioBlitz is an intensive biodiversity activity where experts work with members of the public to identify and count as many plants and animals in a 12 hour period from 12 am to 12 pm.

Briefing LKC

Lim Kim Keang briefing the participants for this morning’s bird survey.

The Bird Group was obviously focused on counting birds. We had 4 teams and each team counted in a designated sector of Pasir Ris Park. Kim Keang also led an early morning count that started at 4 am. A number of volunteers from the public also joined us in the count.


Lim Kim Chuah, Chairman of the Bird Group giving a summary of the birds seen this morning.


At the end of the event, we counted 58 species of birds excluding two unidentified species – swiftlet and a raptor. The 58 species represents about 37% of the park total – not bad for a brief 7-8 hour count!



Highlights of the count must be seeing the famous One-eyed Buffy Fish Owl roosting in the dense mangrove. Despite the loss of its left eye, this individual continues to thrive here. Another owl, the Spotted Wood Owl was heard early in the morning by Kim Keang but not seen despite a thorough search among its usual roosting trees. Other usual residents of the park were also seen including the Red Junglefowl, Oriental Pied Hornbill and many local songbirds like the Oriental Magpie Robin, Common Iora, Pied Triller, Pied Fantail, Olive-backed and Brown-throated Sunbird.


Migrants were also very conspicuous including 5-7 Oriental Pratincole, one Indian Cuckoo, several Arctic Warbler, Tiger Shrike and numerous Asian Brown Flycatcher. These birds were probably on their way back home in the north.


Brown Streaked or Dark-sided Flycatcher? on the Spring migration back

Overall, it had been a successful event and the Bird Group is proud to be part of this event. Thanks go to the leaders of the count including Low Choon How, Lee Ee Lin, Lim Kim Keang and Alan Owyong. Also special mention to Lim Kim Keang for coordinating and working with NParks to ensure that we have a successful count. Last but not least, to Alvin Seng, a “regular” of Pasir Ris Park for leading me in the count.

Red Jungle Fowl LKC

Red Jungle Fowl doing well here.

Bronzeback, Pink-necked Pigeons and Pied Triller. All photos by Lim Kim Chuah. 


Singapore Bird Report-February 2016

Northern Pintail M. David Li

The very rare winter visitor Northern Pintail, male, at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve ( Photo: David Li)

We had a great start for the month with the surprised arrival of a Northern Pintail, Anas acuta, at Sungei Buloh. Mendis Tan reported a duck flying over Sungei Buloh in the morning of the 3rd and his colleague David Li found it in the evening. The last record was more than 23 years ago.Link

On the 13th, Alfred Chia was driving along the PIE when he saw two large woodpeckers flying across to the Mount Pleasant area. They were our long lost White-bellied Woodpeckers, Dryocopus javensis, co-incidentally last seen at the same area.

We also had a great ending for the month with the sighting of two Cinnamon-headed Pigeons, Treron fulvicollis, at Tampines Eco Green by Terry Chen on the 24th. They were foraging on the red berries of the Salam tree. A great Ang Pow Lifer for most of us. There were fewer than ten confirmed records of this non-breeding visitor, the last was at Pulau Ubin in 2011. Link. The other rare sighting was an Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, reported by Nicholas Tan on 6th over at Gombak Forest.

Cinnamon Pigeon Terry Chen-001

Terry Chen’s photo of the Cinnamon-headed Pigeon turned the quiet Tampines Eco Green into a mecca for birders and photographers. 

Most of the action for February was centered again at Gardens by the Bay and the re-opened Kranji Marshes. The uncommon Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, made a brief appearance at SBTB on 5th (Laurence Eu) followed by sightings of a Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis, a forest edge species on the 8th ( Saravanan Krishnamurthy, Lim Ser Chai and Arman AF). The closest record was at Labrador and Mount Faber.

Greater Coucal Sara Krishnamurthy

A surprise find of a forest-edge Greater Coucal at the SBTB on first day of CNY. Photo. Saravanan Krishnamurthy.

Francis Yap photographed a Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, flying over the Gardens on 16th ( Anish Banerjee reported seeing one over the Barrage last month). A far away shot of a female Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, by Cindy Yeo on 20th caused a stir when it was thought to be an Eurasian Sparrowhawk. Most of these birds are new for the Gardens.


A Black-crowned Night Heron flying over the GBTB beautifully captured by Francis Yap.

Even though the core area of the Kranji Marshes were not accessible to the public, there were still plenty to see along the old NTL2 to the Raptor Tower. Lena Chow got the super sulking Lanceolated Warbler, Locustella lanceolata, near the tower on 5th. Wong Chung Cheong, Lawrence Cher and a few others got lucky with great photos of this uncommon warbler later on 13th at the same place.

Super sulker, Lanceolated Warbler at Kranji Marshes. 5th on left by Lena Chow and 13th on the right by Wong Chung Cheong. 

Sunda Scops Owl, Otus lempiji, was nearly run over along NTL2, but was spotted in time by Arjun Sai Krishnan on 8th. The open site next to the marshes attracted several shorebirds that prefer fresh water patches. A Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, was reported by David Li on the 9th ( Adrian Silas Tay managed to photograph them on the 13th). Two Wood Sandpipers, Tringa glareola, were photographed there on 15th by Frankie Cheong. A female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, was spotted by Koh Lian Heng on the 18th along NTL2 on its spring migration. We are happy to see the resident Blue-eared Kingfishers, Alcedo meninting, returning to the canal. Lawrence Cher photographed one on 27th.

Blue-eared Kingfisher L. Cher

The Blue-eared Kingfisher returned to its favourite hunting ground at Kranji. Photo: Lawrence Cher.

Two species of wagtails were also making their stop over on their way north. A Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, at SBWR on 2nd (James Tann), a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, was at the Masjid Hang Jabat canal on the 3rd ( Marcus Ng), and another at Bishan Canal on 10th (Lim Jit Yin). Other stopover migrants of note were a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurthythmus, reported at the Serangoon Ave 3 Condo on 10th by Joe Lim, Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus,at the BTNR summit on 14th (Lim Kim Chuah). Some of the pond herons are assuming their breeding plumage. A Chinese Pond Heron , Ardeola bacchus, was photographed by James Tann over at the Chinese Gardens on 17th, another at Seletar on the 20th by Zacc HD, a Large Hawk Cuckoo , Hierococcyx sparverioides, at Halus Farmway 3 (Lim Kim Keang), a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccenis, at Rifle Range Link on 26th (David Tan) and a Hogdson’s Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, back to Bidadari on 26th photographed by Frankie Lim.

Residents were more active and vocal this month as most were out looking for a mate. Grey-rumped Treeswifts, Hemiprocne longipennis,were seen flying over the HDB heartland of Mei Chin Road on 3rd (Marcus Ng), and over Mount Faber on 18th (Alan OwYong). A calling Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, at Mount Faber on 6th ( Alan OwYong) first for this location, a Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorthynchus, back feeding on the caterpillars at the JEG on 12th ( Lawrence Cher), the rare Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Dicaeum chrysorrheum, at the BTNR summit on 14th (Lim Kim Chuah), Thick-billed Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, new to TEG on 18th (Ananth Ramasamy), a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, seen over at Siloso heads at Sentosa on 20th (Ang Hock Chuah) and later across at Belayer Creek 3 days later ( Wolfe Repass) and a Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps, at the edge of Sime Forest on 23rd by Lawrence Cher.

Brahminy Starling FYap

Brahminy Starling at Punggol Barat, an escapee?  Photo: Francis Yap.

Just one non-breeding passserine visitor was reported this month. A Streaked Bulbul, Ixos malaccensis, on 14th at the summit at BTNR (Lim Kim Chuah). Francis Yap photographed a Brahminy Starling, Sturnus pagodarum, at Punggol Barat on the 8th. We had only one record of this out of range starling in 2008. It was listed under Category E for suspected released or escaped birds. This species was accepted into the Malaysian Checklist recently.

On the waders front, Grey Plovers, Pluvialis squatarola, were reported wintering at Pulau Semakau on 8th (Andy Dinesh) and more than 20 birds over at Seduku off P. Ubin on 11 reported by Daniel Ong. He also reported 4 Black-tailed Godwits, Limosa lomosa, one in breeding plumage at the same place and day.

Common Kestrel Joseph Tan

Hovering Common Kestrel over Punggol Barat. Photo: Joseph Tan.

Our resident raptors were busy again raising their offsprings this month. Both the Changeable Hawk Eagles, Nisaetus cirrhatus, and the Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, have been seen feeding their chicks in the southern part of Singapore. A male Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, was seen hunting over Punggol Barat on 23rd (Joseph Tan) and two Crested Serpent Eagles, Spilornis cheela, seen at NTL2 on 24th (Nicholas Tan) and an old haunt at Goldhill Avenue on 28th by Low Choon How.


Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore)

Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. 2013. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited. 

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from the postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to David Li, Terry Chen, Lena Chow, Wong Chung Cheong, Joseph Tan, Francis Yap, Lawrence Cher and Saravanan Krishnamurthy for the use of their photos.

NTL2 – Neo Tiew Lane 2, SBWR – Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves, JEG – Jurong Eco Gardens, BTNR – Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, PIE – Pan Island Expressway, SBTB– Satay by the Bay.


Kranji Marsh Walk-28 February 2016

By: Lim Kim Chuah & Lee Ee Ling. 

NSS led a public walk to Kranji Marsh core area on 28 February. We were fortunate to have a nice balmy morning. The group of 22 participants was immediately greeted by a grand fly pass of 13 Black Bazas at the start. And it was continuous wave of action after that. Blue-throated and Blue-tailed bee-eater displayed openly on a bare tree. And not to be outdone were Red-breasted Parakeets and also a beautifully “litted up” Dollarbird under the warm morning light. However a rather skittish and distant Banded Bay Cuckoo had other ideas and could not be persuaded to keep still. And skulking Pallas’ Grasshopper Warbler could be heard calling in the dense reeds and as usual refusing to show. In the marsh, the usual Red-wattled Lapwing did not disappoint. Some lucky birders also had good views of the specialty here – the Black-backed Swamphen. Then there were the usual hoard of bird foraging in the marsh –  Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Intermediate Egret, Yellow Bittern, Stork-billed, Collared and Common Kingfisher. To add some excitement, a lone “Swintail” Snipe left birders puzzled over its identity and an “unripe” Pond Heron generated some discussions on whether it is a Chinese or Javan (or maybe even an Indian).  In the fenced up open field, there was a small flock of Pacific Golden Plover. The brownish plumage blended nicely to the colour of the ground and took the sharp eyes of some birders to pick them out. There was also a lone Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and several Paddyfield Pipit roving around the field. And finally to end the walk, some of us were treated to an insomniac Savanna Nightjar calling and flying low over the marsh.

Thanks to Ee Ling for coordinating and organizing the walk.

Kranji Marshes 28 Feb 2016 Chung Cheong

Birding at Kranji Marsh.  Picture by Wong Chung Cheong

Kranji Marshes Chung Cheong

Klenn Koh showing participants how to take pictures through the telescope using a mobile phone. Picture by: Wong Chung Cheong

Blue-tailed Bee-eater Kleen Koh

Some bird pictures from Klenn’s “phone-scoping” technique: A Blue-tailed Bee-eater basking under the morning light

Red-wattled Lapwing Kleen Koh

One of the stars of Kranji Marsh – Red-wattled Lapwing. Photo: Klenn Koh

Wood Sandpiper Klenn Koh

A lonely Wood Sandpiper – becoming increasingly difficult to see this species in Singapore. Photo: Klenn Koh.

Many thanks to Klenn Koh and Chung Cheong for the use of their photos.

A Green Avadavat at Punggol Barat?

Green Avadavat Dean Tan

Contributed by Dean Tan 6 March 2016.

I went down to Punggol Barat to look for birds on a sunny Satursday (05 March 16) afternoon at 4pm when I came across this green avadavat. I had less than 3 seconds to shot, while it perch on a branch approx. 6m from away. I was shooting common waxbills while this avadavat chased away the waxbills and perch on the same branch.
Initially, I thought it was a female red avadavat and did not think much about it. Until I went home, downloaded the shots, which I taken in my PC when I noticed that it don has the white spots where the female Red Avadavat has on it’s wings.
Immediatelly, I checked out on the web and found that it was actually a Green Avadavat. Understand from Alan OwYong that this is another introduced species, that had not been recorded before. Many of these alien species may not adapt to our climate and habitat, but those that do may impact on our native species. It is best to stop if not minimize this type of invasion to safeguard our native birds.
Admin notes: It has been identified as the female Orange-breasted Waxbill by Ron Chew.