Annual Bird Census 2016 Report

Text and photos by Lim Kim Seng.

Javan Mynas

Figure #1: Javan Mynas were the most abundant bird counted in ABC 2016. They made up 13.4% of all birds detected that day.

The 31st Annual Bird Census was conducted by the Bird Group of the Nature Society (Singapore) on 27th   March 2016. The weather was good and the count went well for the most part for the 24 sites counted.  The number of sites showed a drop from 26 in 2015 probably due to the Good Friday long weekend.  Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Poyan, Serangoon and Pulau Ubin West were not counted due to lack of personnel. In all, 44 people participated as compared with 48 last year.

In terms of birds recorded, we saw a significant drop in both number of species and number of birds counted this year, 6,738 birds from 134 species (7,804 birds from 152 species in 2015). These figures were also lower than the 31-year mean of 149 species and 8570 birds, based on census data between 1986 and 2016

Let’s look at the sites next.  The sites with the best bird diversity were Ubin Central with 55 species followed by khatib Bongsu (51) and Kranji Marshes (49).  The lowest bird diversity came from Lower Seletar (20 species), Telok Blangah Hill Park (24) and Dairy Farm Nature Park (24 species).

In terms of abundance, the sites with the biggest numbers were the waterbird haven of Sungei Mandai with 1,133 birds, followed by Pasir Ris Park (487) and Ubin Central (393). The poorest sites were Telok Blangah Hill Park with 87 birds, followed by Nee Soon (115) and Sime Track (132).

So what is Singapore’s most abundant bird? Well, it is the ubiquitous Javan Myna, with 900 birds counted, down from 911 last year. Second is the same as 2015, Asian Glossy Starling, with 797 birds and third is Pink-necked Green Pigeon which kept its position with 581 birds. Fourth is the migrant Pacific Golden Plover which scored 581 birds, an increase of 117 birds from last year. Fifth is the Yellow-vented Bulbul with 284 birds. Next is the Little Egret with 214 birds, followed by Black-naped Oriole (213) and Spotted Dove(190). Making up the rest of the top ten are two migrant waders, Whimbrel (172), and Common Redshank (155).

The top twenty birds of 2016 are listed below, with comparative totals and rankings from last year:

1 Javan Myna 900 911 1
2 Asian Glossy Starling 797 567 2
3 Pink-necked Green Pigeon 581 464 3
4 Pacific Golden Plover 522 274 6
5 Yellow-vented Bulbul 284 361 4
6 Little Egret 214 230 10
7 Black-naped Oriole 213 240 9
8 Spotted Dove 190 159 13
9 Whimbrel 172 345 5
10 Common Redshank 155 246 7
11 House Crow 138 103 19
12 Common Iora 129 137 14
13 Pacific Swallow 109 137 15
14 Collared Kingfisher 103 118 17
15 Olive-backed Sunbird 102 128 16
16 Grey Heron* 101 187 12
17 Rock Dove 98 240 6
18 Long-tailed Parakeet 94 98 21
19 Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 81 104 18
20 Eurasian Tree Sparrow 62 73 25

Table 2: Top Twenty Birds of Annual Bird Census 2016

(Migrants are denoted in bold. The only nationally threatened species is the Grey Heron*)

Of the 134 species counted, 103 (76.9%) were resident, 28 (20.9%) were migrant and two, non-breeding visitors (1.5%). Of 57 nationally threatened species, 21 species (36.8%) were recorded in this census. The most abundant nationally threatened species is the Grey Heron, which dropped to 16th place from 12th position with 101 birds counted nationwide.

The only globally threatened species recorded during the census is the Straw-headed Bulbul, with 34 birds counted, down drastically from 60 individuals last year.  It is in 38th position overall.

Raptors were also visible by their presence with nine species accounted for. The most abundant species are Brahminy Kite (27), White-bellied Sea Eagle (24) and Japanese Sparrowhawk (9). Looking at the parrot tribe, we see Long-tailed Parakeet retaining its superiority in numbers over the introduced Red-breasted by a 94-47 margin. It remains to be seen whether this situation will remain over the next decade.

Noteworthy sightings included Little Grebe (Halus), Javan Pond Heron (Khatib Orto), Watercock (Kranji), Greater Paintedsnipe (Halus), Wood Sandpiper (Kranji), Pied Imperial Pigeon (Buloh 2), Black-capped Kingfisher (Kranji), Blue-rumped Parrot (Nee Soon, Sime) and Siberian Blue Robin (Nee Soon).

Last but not least, thanks to the following observers who made the 31st edition of the Annual Bird Census possible:  Joseph Beh, MY Chan, Andrew Chow, Lena Chow, Margie Hall, Gerard Francis, Jane Heppell, Terry Heppell, Ho Hua Chew, Kenneth Kee, Nessie Khoo, Susan Knight, Angus Lamont, Lee Ee Ling, Jimmy Lee, Lim Kim Keang, Lim Kim Seng, Yvonne Loh, Joan Low, Ng Chay Tuan, Angela Oh, Alan Owyong, Freda Rickword, Ian Rickword, Kerry Pereira, Mick Price, Rehan Yusof, See Swee Leng, Alvin Seng, Betty Shaw, Steven Shields, Jacky Soh, John Spencer, Sutari Supari, KP Teh, Tan Li Li, Rajesh Varma, Wee Sau Cheng, Wing Chong, Wong Chung Cheong, Woo Lai Choo, Yan Jiejun, Yang Pah Liang, Yong Yik Shih.

See you again in 2017!

Grey Heron

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