Following the arrival of the Forest Wagtails, Yellow-rumped, Asian Brown and Asian Paradise Flycatchers last month, we had another thirteen passerine species arriving this month. Starting on the 4th with an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis, picked up at Mandai Mudflats by Martin Kennewell with Lim Kim Keang, David Li and Andy Dinesh during the Fall Migration Bird Census and a Tiger Shrike, Lanius tigrinus, at the Japanese Gardens on the 6th (Timothy Chua). An Eastern Crown, Phylloscopus coronatus, and an Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus borealis, at the Rifle Range Link were reported by Francis Yap on 7th and a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, at Kranji Marshes by George Presanis on 8th.
The most interesting arrival of the month was a White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, photographed by Richard White at the flooded fields besides the Marina Barrage on the 19th. This is more than a month earlier than the previous arrival date of 21st October.
A female non breeding leucopsis White Wagtail photographed by Richard White near Marina Barrage on 19th is more than a month earlier than the previous extreme date.
A sub-adult Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, photographed at Bidadari on 10th by Marcel Finlay, signalled the return of the migrant to this soon to be developed site. Francis Yap at his favourite Jelutong Tower photographed a passing Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, and a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, on the 23rd.
Pacific Swift photographed migrating over Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap.
David Tan retrieved a dead Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, from River Valley High on 23rd. This is the second Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher to hit the school in two years. He reported that a weakened Cinnamon Bittern, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, was picked up by ACRES from Hougang on 28th. This is most probably a migrant.
On 24th Lim Kim Chuah shared a photo of another casualty from his office at Jurong Island. This time it was an uncommon and hard to see Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Locustella certhiola, found dead by his colleague Nisha Begum. Unfortunately we will be seeing more migrants crashing into buildings during this period as they migrate at night.
The dead Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler showing the streaked upper parts. Photo: Lim Kim Chuah
Rounding off this month’s arrivals were the returning Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Merops phillippinus, reported at Serangoon Tidal Gates 0n 28th by Lim Kim Seng, a Squared-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, from Tuas South on 29th by Robin Tan and a Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 30th by Lim Kim Chuah. (A earlier Squared-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo was reported at MacRitchie Trail on 23rd by Marcel Finlay, but its status is not clear as we also have a resident population there).
You can just make out the buffy crowned stripe of this Eastern Crowned Warbler, but the yellow undertail is very obvious. Taken at Terangtan Trail on 21st by Laurence Eu.
Other migrants of note were another Eastern Crowned Warbler at Terangtan Trail on 21st (Laurence Eu) and three Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Ficedula zanthopygia, at Gardens by the Bay on 21st (Dawn Birding). This is a new record for GBTB. Still at the Gardens, two adult Rosy and Brahminy Starlings created much excitement during the month. Both birds were either released or escapees.
We had only one non-breeding visitor, a Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, photographed by Zacc at Dillenia Hut inside our Central Forest. A Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, was reported at Kranji Marshes on 13th by Joseph Tan K. B. This flycatcher has its status revised from a non-breeding visitor to a winter visitor in our 2015 Checklist based on the recent arrival dates. It is listed as a resident and a migrant in Malaysia.
Brown-streaked Flycatcher, a Winter Visitor, at Kranji Marshes on 13th. Photo: Joseph Tan Kok Beng.
We added five newly arrived shorebirds and one tern this month. A non-breeding Grey-tailed Tattler, Tringa brevipes, was photographed at SBWR on the 1st ( Zacc HD). It stayed for a few days, long enough for most of us to tick it. Another Grey-tailed Tattler photographed at Seletar Dam on 7th by Lawrence Cher may be the same bird.
Grey-tailed Tattler dropping in to SBWR on 1st Sept. Photo: Zacc HD.
An adult Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, was counted at Mandai Mudflats by David Li and Lim Kim Keang during the Fall Migration Bird Census on the 4th. Two days later Frankie Cheong reported two more Red-necked Stints at Pulau Tekong. Both were in non-breeding plumage. Another was sighted at the Marina Barrage on the 16th morning by Lim Kim Keang but it did not stay. We found out later from TT Koh that he photographed a Red-necked Stint in transition plumage at Seletar Dam on 23rd August. His record marked the first arrival of this stint.
TT Koh shot this Red-necked Stint (right) in a transition plumage from breeding to non breeding at Seletar Dam on 23rd August, making it the first arrival for the season.
Red-necked Stint (left) at Marina Barrage on the 16th. Photo: Lim Kim Keang
The five globally threatened Bar-tailed Godwits, Limosa lapponica, flying past Seletar Dam on 11th ( Lawrence Cher) and the two Broad-billed Sandpipers, Limicola falcinellus, at the Marina Barrage on 15th (Lim Kim Seng) made a one day appearance and could be on passage.
Bar-tailed Godwits flying across the Seletar Dam. Their threat status had been uplisted by Birdlife in the latest IUCN Red List update due to the reclamation of their refueling site at Yellow Sea mudflats
But the single Swinhoe’s Plover, Charadrius dealbatus, a distinct sub species of the Kentish Plover, sighted by Robin Tan at the Marina Barrage on the 19th was joined by another on the 23rd. Acceptance of this species to our checklist is pending.
The Swinhoe’s Plover was first seen on the 19th at the Marina Barrage. Photo: Robin Tan
A single Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, was reported at the Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell on the 3rd. This was 6 days earlier than the earliest arrival date of 9th September. Richard White also reported three Whiskered Terns flying near the Marina Barrage on the 19th.
The numbers of Curlew Sandpipers, Calidris ferruginea, arriving here have declined drastically over the years. Only one was photographed at P. Tekong by Frankie Cheong on 21st and another two at SBWR reported by David Li on 26th.
A single Curlew Sandpiper photographed at Pulau Tekong by Frankie Cheong.
Long-toed Stints, Calidris subminuta, and Wood Sandpipers, Tringa glareola, were still around at Kranji on 10th (Alfred Chia and Lim Kim Keang). Both these waders were also seen at Pulau Tekong at a fresh water patch on 21st by Frankie Cheong together with two juvenile Ruddy Turnstones, Arenaria interpres.
Uncommon and notable residents for the month came from Bukit Kalang Service Reservoir in the Central Catchment where Keita Sin photographed a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, flying overhead on the 23rd, a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, was spotted at the West Coast Park Marshes on 12th (Kristel Yeong). Kieta Sin recounted that he had seen this heron there on 15 September 2015.
Others include a juvenile Crested Goshawk, Accipter trivirgatus, at GBTB on 14th (Danny Khoo), a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, at Terangtan Trail on 21st (Laurence Eu), a hard to find House Swift, Apus nipalensis, over at Punggol Barat on 27th (Joseph Tan KB) and an adult Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, photographed at SBWR by Zacc on 27th.
- List of first arrivals for the Season recorded in September.
||Whiskered Tern x 2
||New arrival date.
||David Li & Lim KK
||Red-necked Stint* (Adult)
||David Li & lim KK
||Rifle Range Link
||Rifle Range Link
||Bar-tailed Godwit x 5
||Broad-billed Sandpiper x2
||Lim Kim Seng
||New arrival date
||River Valley High
||Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler
||Reported by Lim Kim Chuah
||Lim Kim Seng
||Lim Kim Chuah
*TT Koh later reported that he photographed a Red-necked Stint at Seletar Dam on 23rd
August. This marked the first arrival for this shorebird for the season.
Legend: SBWR-Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. BTNR- Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. FMBC Fall
Migration Bird Census 2016. GBTB-Gardens by the Bay.
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.
A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan. 1993
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 Richard White, Francis Yap, Lim Kim Chuah, Laurence Eu, Joseph Tan Kok Beng, Mohamad Zahidi, TT Koh, Lim Kim Keang, Lawrence Cher, Robin Tan and Frankie Cheong, for the use of their photos.