Monthly Archives: August 2016

Text and Photos by Raghav Narayanswamy.

I stumbled upon Hindhede Nature Park last spring when an Orange-headed Thrush popped up there. I had two hours to spare for birding that day and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Before this not many people have heard about this corner of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The reserve now is only opened on weekends.

In just a couple of months, this rather small plot of land with nothing more than a flooded quarry and a short loop has offered me some great birding.

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Male Jambu Fruit Dove

There’s always something happening here. Calls of the loud Greater Racquet-tailed Drongos, Red-breasted Parakeets, and Common Hill Mynas greet you when you walk in. Other uncommon birds like the Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Western Osprey, and the Emerald Dove, will keep you busy for long periods of time.

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Brown Hawk Owl. 

Compared with other more popular birding spots, this park is compact and you can expect to be amazed by the proximity of the birds to each other. It sometimes seems overwhelming to deal with so many birds at once, especially when they are meters from each other. At one particular spot in the park, a pair of Red-legged Crakes, four Sunda Scops Owls, and a pair of Brown Hawk Owls converge each evening, with me right in the middle of it all, struggling to pick one to shoot over the rest.

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This family of Sunda Scops Owl is doing well at the Park.

What’s the first place you think of when asked, “Where can you find the Blue-winged Leafbird?” Chances are it was probably the Central Catchment, or Dairy Farm Nature Park, or Bukit Timah Hill. And I’d bet a large — avery large — sum of money that it was not Hindhede Nature Park. But when there’s a tree fruiting at Hindhede, you’re bound to catch sight of it, and good views are the standard here.

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The Blue-winged Leafbirds making their appearance at Hindhede NP.

We all hear about fruiting trees at Dairy Farm, Bukit Timah, and Upper Seletar. But again, there’s a surprise coming from the Hindhede camp. With a pair of Jambu Fruit Doves, Cream-vented, Olive-winged, Red-eyed, and Black-crested Bulbuls, and at least two Blue-winged Leafbirds, you can’t go wrong with a quick visit.

Singapore is known across Southeast Asia as one of the best places for the globally-vulnerable Straw-headed Bulbul. After all, Noah Strycker came specifically here for it in his 2015 World Big Year at a point when he had already seen 90% of Singapore’s checklist outside of Singapore. But out of all the places I have seen this bird, Hindhede really stands out. It is nearly always around, calling, and offering great views.

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The fruiting trees attracted this uncommon introduced Black-crested Bulbul 

Even birds that are traditionally seen around or past dusk, like owls, show up early here. Often, I don’t even need a flashlight for a decent photo, and the views, again, are guaranteed to be fantastic. Where else can you get to see three species of owls making their appearance almost daily. Other noteworthy sightings include the Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, which was fairly active in the month of June, during which it was presumably breeding, and a pair of Van Hasselt’s Sunbirds. And all this was just in the last three months!

I cannot wait to see what the migratory season will bring, now that the breeding season is coming to a close and the trees are no longer fruiting. Will the thrushes stop over? I am sure the Asian Brown and Mugimaki Flycatchers will pass by. What about the visiting cuckoos?

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The Survivors of Pasir Ris Park.

Contributed by Seng Alvin. Photos Credit: Seng Alvin.

Pasir Ris Park at the north-eastern end of Singapore with its riverine mangroves and wooded parklands  has long been a favourite place to bringing up babies, baby birds to be exact. Malaysian Pied Fantails, resident cuckoos, sunbirds and of course the star of Pasir Ris, the Spotted Wood Owls are some of the species that breed at the park. Raiding parties of Oriental Pied Hornbills from across Pulau Ubin made foraging sweeps now and then for nesting chicks to feed their young during the breeding season.

BFO Seng AlvinLong time rehab resident at PRP, our darling Buffy Fish Owl.

But the park may be  turning into an infirmary and home for injured birds. Long time resident “one-eye Jack” our darling Buffy Fish Owl have been rehabilitating  in the mangroves for some time now.

Pacific Swallow Senf AlvinSo is this Pacific Swallow with a skin injection around the eyes. It has been around since the middle of last year.

OWB 2 Seg Alvin

30th April. First photo of the one-legged Olive-winged Bulbul inside the Mangroves at PRP.

Early this year, on 30th April, I photographed an Olive-winged Bulbul, Pycnonoyus plumosus, inside the mangrove area but did not think much about the photo. Then a month later I came across another Olive-winged Bulbul at the mangroves and realised that it also had only one leg. Digging out the photo of the bulbul I shot in April, I realised that it was the same bulbul. Was it crippled at birth or did it suffered some mishap later on? I have no way to know but was happy to see that it was surviving.

OWB 3 Seng Alvin29th May, second shot of this bulbul inside the mangroves.

I was out on the evening of August 2nd at the bridge waiting for the Stock-billed Kingfisher to start fishing for dinner. A bulbul distracted me and I fired a few shots ( with the wrong settings). Later as I was about to delete it I found something strange with it. Just to make sure I was not seeing things, I posted it on Bird Sightings FB Group and asked if anyone sees any thing different with this bulbul. Keen eyed Benny Lim responsed that it was one legged!

OWB Seng Alvin

August 2nd shot near to the bridge while waiting for the Stork-billed Kingfisher. Can you see the missing leg?

Bingo, I now have a third photo of the same bulbul, which means that it has survived almost four months now. Wang Heng Mount proclaimed it as a winner and survivor. This guy is a mighty said Millie Cher and Jeffrey Long called it “a fighter”.

To me it is all the above and we should all be inspired by these survivors at Paris Ris and wish them a long and happy time at the park.

 

Singapore Bird Report-July 2016

All the excitement came during the last 10 days of July. On the 19th, a few days after its extreme date, Laurence Eu photographed a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, a rare non breeding visitor, at Lower Pierce Boardwalk.

BFC Laurence EuBrown-streaked Flycatcher, a rare non breeding visitor at Lower Pierce. Photo: Laurence Eu.

The record that we were waiting for came on the 26th when Lim Kim Seng spotted three Lesser Sand Plovers, Charadrius mongolus, at the Lower Seletar Dam. On the same day Danny Khoo photographed a Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, at the Marina Barrage. Three days later, Frankie Cheong reported three Whimbrels, Numenius phaeopus and 30-40 Lesser Sand Ploversat the southern part of Pulau Tekong. On 30th Francis Yap brought news of the arrival of our first passerine migrant, the Barn Swallows, Hirundo rustica, at Punggol Barat and two Common Greenshanks, Tringa nebularia, at Seletar Dam. This heralded the return of the wintering shorebirds to Singapore. Bring out your scopes, the migration season is going its way. Last year the first waders arrived on the 1st August. Another sign of climate change?

Mangrove Whistler Seng AlvinA rare appearance of the Mangrove Whistler at Pasir Ris Mangroves captured by Seng Alvin.

But the bird of the month had to be the sudden one day appearance of the rare resident Mangrove Whistler, Pachycephala cinerea, at Pasir Ris Mangroves on 29th (Eric Bronson & Seng Alvin). Most of our past records were from Tekong and Southern Islands. The last mainland record was at Changi Cove in 2014.

King Quail Family Millie Cher

The proud King Quail parents showing off their family of five chicks over at Punggol Barat. Photo: Millie Cher.

As expected during the tail end of the breeding season, records of fledglings came in from all over the island. The most welcomed was a family of rarely seen King Quails, Excalfactoria chinensis with five chicks over at Punggol Barat. Joseph Tan Kok Beng reported the fledgling of two Crested Goshawk chicks, Accipiter trivirgatus, at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 3rd and 6th. This is the second family of Crested Goshawks to have successfully raise a family there in the same season. Over at Burgundy Drive, Doreen Ang reported two juvenile Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots, Loriculus galgulus, seen with two adults feasting on her neighbour’s mango tree on the 7th. On the same day, she also reported a juvenile Thick-billed Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, at Lorong Sesuai. Good to know that some of our uncommon residents are doing well.

BCHP Doreen AngTwo juvenile Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots feasting on the mango with their parent. Photo: Michael Toh.

Over at Pulau Ubin, Yap Wee Jin reported the fledgling of the White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus on 9th. Lim Kim Keang reported the  nesting of the Olive-winged Bulbul, Pycnonotus plumosus, on 14th and three dependent Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, juveniles on 28th.

SWO Ria TanBoth parents with the newly fledged Spotted Wood Owls at Woodlands. Photo: Ria Tan

A second record of a successful nesting of the Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, this season came from the Woodlands area with Ria Tan’s posting on 26th. One fledgling was seen with both parents. Like the earlier nesting at Cashew they were also using the Bird Nest Fern as nest. On 26th Laurence Eu photographed a Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostris, looking after a juvenile at Dairy Farm Nature Park. We are have not documented an active nesting of this forest species yet.

Sunda Scops Owls

Parent with two juvenile Sunda Scops Owls at Lower Pierce. Photo: Alan OwYong

Following the sighting of the Sunda Scops Owl, Otus lempiji, at Lower Pierce last month by Vincent Lao, we found two juveniles with a parent there on the 5th (Alan OwYong). Two days later Johnny Chew came across three Sunda Scops Owls at Telok Blangah Hill. Lim Kim Keang photographed an adult with a juvenile at Mandai Track 7 while Subha and son Raghav reported one adult together with a Brown Hawk Owl, Ninox scutulata, at Hindhede Nature Park, on the 16th. This has to be the largest number of breeding Sunda Scops Owls in a month.

Square-tailed Drongo FYapThe drama of a Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo being chased by a Olive-winged Bulbul over the Central Forest captured by Francis Yap. This bulbul may have caught the cuckoo red-handed trying to replace its eggs.

Other notable sightings include an Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Dicaeum trigonostigma, at Burgundy Drive near Bukit Batok NP, on 4th (Doreen Ang), a resident Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, being chased by a Olive-winged Bulbul was superbly captured by Francis Yap from the Jelutong Tower, a male Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, a first for Sentosa on 8th (James Tann). We have yet to determine the status of this individual. Mark Nelson Valino photographed a Black-crowned Night-Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital pond on the 16th. Edwin Choy recalled seeing four adults and two juveniles there. Daniel Ong confirmed that they were there since the beginning of the year. Lets hope these choosy herons will make this place their permanent home as their numbers have not increased much over the years.

GG Leafbird James TannFirst record for Sentosa, a male Greater Green Leafbird may be an escapee. Photo: James Tann

We had two mainland records of the White-rumped Shama, the first at the Durian Trail on the 15th by Kerry Pereira and a calling bird at Upper Pierce Reservoir on the 23rd (Reuben Braddock).

Lim Kim Seng reported a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonnerati, and another Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo at the Central Catchment Forest on the 17th. This is our resident race that is quite vocal around this time of the year. A few uncommon Glossy Swiftlets, Collocalia esculenta, were seen flying over the Hindhede Quarry on the 19th by Alan OwYong. Zacc photographed a lone Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, at the Seletar Dam on the 23rd. As far as we know this is the first record for the area, indicating the spreading of this uncommon resident coastal heron. 

Reference:

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. 

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected 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 Laurence Eu, Seng Alvin, Millie Cher, Michael Toh, Ria Tan, Alan OwYong, Francis Yap and James Tann, for the use of their photos.