The star bird of the month had to be the pelagic Brown Booby, Sula leucogaster an unexpected non-breeding visitor that is playing a cat and mouse game with us at the Johor Straits. It was first seen on 21st by Choo Tiong Whee, Lee Van Hien and Benny Lim fishing off Platform 1 on 21st March.Link. Our last record was in 1982. It was still around on the 9th.
Brown Booby flying over the Johor Straits taken on 21st March by Choo Tiong Whee.
Adding to the excitement, Francis Yap posted a photo of a male Little Green Pigeon, Treron olax, taken from his favorite Jelutong Tower on 16th. Our last record for this rare non-breeding visitor was in 2004.
First photo record of this rare non breeding visitor, the Little Green Pigeon in Singapore by Francis Yap.
March was the height of the Spring migration for most of the passerines as can be seen from the reports from our Central Forest, Bidadari and Tuas South. Species reported from Central Forest include a Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, photographed by Adrian Silas Tay on 3rd, a Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, heard calling and 3 Blue-winged Pittas, Pitta moluccenis at the MacRitchie Boardwalk and an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceryx erithaca, at Prunes Trail on 7th by Yong Yik Shih.
Over at Bidadari, a Large-hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides, was sighted by Lena Chow on 5th. It stayed for only a few days. Another Cuckoo, the Hogdson’s Hierococcyx nisicolor, was photographed by Francis Yap on 13th. Flycatchers include an incei Asian Paradise, Terpsiphone paradisi, reported by Low Choon How, 3 male Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Ficedula zanthopygia, by Lim Kim Keang both on 17th.
The patch of leguminous trees at the open fields at Tuas South continued to offer a rest stop for returning migrants. Blue-winged Pitta, the rare Japanese Paradise, Terpsiphone atrocauda, and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers were reported by Low Choon How on 20th.
A juvenile Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo making a rest stop at Pasir Ris Park. Photo: Seng Alvin
Other migrant passerines reported were a flock of 10 Oriental Pratincoles, Glareola maldivarum, at Gardens East by Daniel Ong and Lawrence Cher on 5th, and at CCK Cemetery on 20th by Lee Van Hien, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, at the SBTB by Eric Wa on 8th , one more Blue-winged Pitta and a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, at the Singapore Botanic Gardens by Richard White on 16th and 23rd respectively and a roosting Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka, reported at Venus Loop by Atish Banerjee, new for that location.
Non-breeding visitors like the Cinereous Bulbuls, Hemixos cinereus, were seen at Chek Java: a flock of 25 by Lim Kim Keang on 16th, a lone bird on 30th by Lim Kim Seng and another at Jelutong Tower on 6th by Lim Kim Chuah. A juvenile Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx Fugax was photographed by Seng Alvin at Pasir Ris Park on 31st.
March is also the time for courtship, mating and some early nesting for many of our residents. The Tanjong Rhu Western Barn Owl, Tyto alba, paid a brief visit to the SBTB on 4th (Atis Banerjee’s photo left) and a Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, was photographed there on 5th by Khong Yew. We had two reports of the hard to see Barred Button Quails, Turnix suscitator. Roger Boey photographed one over at Butterfly Hill at P. Ubin on 7th and Lim Kim Keang was lucky to see two crossing his path at Lorong Halus on 23rd. Staying at Halus, Lawrence Cher shot a reclusive Painted Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, on 23rd. The most exciting resident was the Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, first photographed flying over Neo Tiew Crescent on 18th by Nicholas Tan and Cindy Yeo and later at the Western Catchment shores by See Toh’s boat group on 26th.
The Lesser Adjutant flying over Neo Tiew Crescent on 18th. Photo: Nicholas Tan.
Within a month of opening, the Kranji Marshes came alive with many of marsh residents reappearing. Low Choon How was the first to report the Common Moorhens, Gallinula chloropus, on 8th, followed by the Black-backed Swamphens, Porphyrio indicus, and White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea, found by Alfred Chia during the NSS walk on 20th, and the wintering Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, during AWC on 27th by Lee Ee Ling and Lena Chow. Another Watercock was also seen at a canal at Neo Tiew Lane 4 on 25th by Alan OwYong and Lim Kim Keang.
Remaining at Kranji Marshes, Lim Kim Keang reported a flying Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhyncus, on 29th and a large flock of 130 Long-tailed Parakeets, Psittacula longicauda, flying over on 26th was photographed by Richard Lim
Common Moorhens are returning to the new Kranji Marshes. Photo: Richard Lim
Other notable residents was a Straw-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus zeylanicus, reported by Vincent Lao at King’s Avenue on 19th during his weekly cross country rides. James Tann found a fruiting fig at Bukit Brown and counted 15 uncommon Thick-billed Pigeons, Treron curvirostra, feeding there. A good record especially on the numbers. Andrew Chow posted a video of 3 Chestnut-winged Babblers, Stachyris erythroptera, taken near to Jelutong Tower. They are more visible and vocal during mating.
A male Thick-billed Pigeon from a flock of 15 photographed at Bukit Brown by James Tann.
We still have small pockets of shorebirds waiting for the right time to fly back north. Six Bar-tailed Godwits, Limosa lapponica, were seen on 16th by Lim Kim Keang, and three Chinese Egrets, Egretta eulophotes, on 30th by Lim Kim Seng, both at Chek Java, a lone Grey-tailed Tattler, Tringa brevipes, was reported by Lim Kim Seng at SBWR on 29th and a late returning Great Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, flying west to east along the Johor Straits on 19th identified from a photo by Arman AF.
Juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle over Springleaf Park. Photo: Leslie Fung.
Some raptor reports: Two Peregrine Falcons, Falco peregrinus, both japonensis were seen this month, one at Bishan on 14th reported by Lena Chow and the other photographed from Eagle Point on 20th by Francis Yap. An adult Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, was photographed by Lee Li Er at Kent Ridge Park on 25th. Tan, and a rare juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle, Lophotriorchis kienerii, was photographed flying over Springleaf Park by Leslie Fung, on 31st. Tan Gim Cheong will be posting a full raptor report for March in the coming days.
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 Choo Tiong Whee, Francis Yap, Atish Banerjee, James Tann, Nicholas Tan, Richard Lim, Seng Alvin and Leslie Fung for the use of their photos.
SBWR – Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves, SBTB– Satay by the Bay, AWC – Asian Waterbirds Census