Monthly Archives: January 2017

Year of the Red Jungle Rooster

Contributed by Seng Alvin.

As we will be welcoming the Year of the Rooster in a few days time, there is no better time to write something about our Red Jungle Fowl, Galus galus, without which we will not have our Hainanese  Chicken Rice.

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They are now seen all over the island from parks and gardens to our housing estates. But they were not recorded by our earlier authors up to the late 70s. The first record was from Pulau Ubin in 1985/86 from observations  by Lim Kim Keang, other birders and residents. This population, likely from Johor, had since established itself. Pulau Ubin is still considered the stronghold for this species. The first mainland record were two females seen at Poyan on 29 January 1998. (SINAV 12.1).

The spread of this species together with introduced stock and escapees to the rest of the island have resulted in hybrid birds roaming all over our parks and gardens. The danger will be a dilution of the original species in Ubin if it has not happened yet. Another concern is the spread of bird flu if it surfaces in Singapore again.

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Pasir Ris Park has a few families of the Red Jungle Fowls, with 30-40 birds, thriving in this mangrove parkland. The most recent was this hybrid family where the mother was a domestic hen with a complete white plumage. The father seems to be a Red Jungle Fowl. Why did it choose to mate with a domestic hen instead one of the wilder birds around?

It was seen hanging around at a distant to the mother and her seven chicks but did not feed with them. This strange behavior may be of rejection by the hen and the reluctance of the father to abandon the family or normal for the mother bird to bring up the chicks alone. What do you think? Interestingly the chicks are both white and brown taking the genes from each parent. I will monitor this family and seen how the chicks will turn out when they become adults.

Gong Xi Fa Cai to all.

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

Singapore Raptor Report – December 2016

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Eastern Imperial Eagle, juvenile, Pulau Ubin, 28 Dec 2016, by Robin Tan

Summary for migrant species:

An uncommon Grey-faced Buzzard (adult) photographed by Thio Hui Bing on the 1st on Pulau Ubin after rain was a good start for the month. The next day, on the 2nd, two rare raptors showed up: a grey morph Oriental Scops Owl photographed by Gavan Leong in the daytime, also on Pulau Ubin and a juvenile Black Kite photographed by Francis Yap at Jelutong Tower.

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Grey-faced Buzzard, Pulau Ubin, 1 Dec 2016, by Thio Hui Bing

Not to be outdone, a very rare Amur Falcon was photographed by Yip Peng Sun at Yishun Dam on the morning of the 16th – this being the second record for Singapore since the first occurrence on 21 Nov 2007.

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Amur Falcon, Yishun Dam, 16 Dec 2016, by Yip Peng Sun

The streak of rarities culminated with a juvenile Imperial Eagle, again on Pulau Ubin. The last record being on 18 Nov 2001, 15 years ago. First photographed on the 19th, the Imperial Eagle was relocated on the 27th at the same spot and appeared there everyday till the 31st, giving birders here a great opportunity to see this rarity. A juvenile Imperial Eagle photographed on the 24th at the eastern part of Singapore main island was most likely the same individual. As is the case with migrant eagles, this individual was occasionally mobbed by resident House Crows and Brahminy Kites.

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Eastern Imperial Eagle, juvenile, Pulau Ubin, 28 Dec 2016, by Frankie Cheong

A dark morph Booted Eagle was still wintering at Pulau Punggol Barat and the nearby areas, being recorded on the 3rd, 10th, 17th and 26th. Two Ospreys were recorded around the usual areas near the northern coast of Singapore. For the Accipiters, six Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, but none for the Chinese Sparrowhawk. Five Peregrine Falcons (3 juveniles, 1 adult, 1 un-aged) were recorded around the island, quite a good number for this uncommon species.

A total of 36 Black Bazas were recorded on the northern areas from Sungei Buloh to Pasir Ris, the largest flock being 15-strong at Punggol Barat. For the Oriental Honey Buzzard, 45 were recorded, the largest flock comprised 11 birds at Sungei Buloh on the 3rd, probably on migration. On the 15th, there was a sight report of a juvenile Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, which cannot be verified due to the possibility of confusion with other similar-looking species.

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White-bellied Sea Eagle, immature, Pulau Ubin, 27 Dec 2016, by Tan Gim Cheong

Highlights for sedentary species:

By the 22nd, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle chick on the nest at Little Guilin had fledged – another successful nesting for the species at the same locality. Other records of this fish eagle came from Kranji Marshes (on 10th & 26th) and Pulau Ubin (on 15th & 29th).

The Crested Goshawk was recorded from the Botanic Gardens (adult on 3rd & 13th), West Coast Park (juvenile on 7th & 20th) and Sengkang Floating Wetlands (juvenile on 17th).  There were 2 torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzzards; the adult tweeddale morph recorded at Pasir Ris Park the previous month was still around on the 10th, 17th and 21st, while a juvenile tweeddale morph first recorded last month at Ang Mo Kio was photographed at the nearby Bishan Park on the 24th and 25th.

For the Changeable Hawk-Eagle, it was notable that nesting was observed at Mount Faber on the 20th. The White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, and Black-winged Kite completed the roundup for the month.

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Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Robin Tan, Yip Peng Sun, Thio Hui Bing and Frankie Cheong for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click singapore-raptor-report-dec16

 

 

Singapore Bird Report-December 2016

 

We cannot asked for a more exciting end to the year than having a rare montane species turning up at our forest. A Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia was spotted by Lim Kim Seng feeding on the figs next to NParks office at Pulau Ubin on new year’s eve. Being long distance flyers Ubin is probably within its range from the Central Highlands of Malaysia. Kim Seng was there to look for the Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus. The Mountain Imperial Pigeon is only our third record, the second for Ubin (previous sighting on 11.11.2012).

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Mountain Imperial Pigeon – A year end lifer for many birders here. Photo: Lee Tiah Khee.

Kim Seng had earlier reported an Aquila eagle being mobbed by our White-bellied Sea-eagles Haliaeetus leucogaster and House Crows Corvus splendens at the rocky Pulau Seduku on the 19th. It turned out to be a juvenile Asian Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, last recorded at Tanah Merah on 18.11.2001, 15 years back. These two rare sightings caused a stampede of birders and photographers to Ubin hoping to tick off their lifers. Most were successful. Staying at Ubin, a first of the season Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus was photographed by Keita Sin at Butterfly Hill on 28th.

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A rare Himalayan Cuckoo, formerly known as Oriental Cuckoo, first for the season.                   Photographed by Keita Sin at Butterfly Hill Ubin.

Earlier in the month on the 2nd, Gavan Leong stumbled on an Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia in broad daylight near Pekan Quarry, another first for the season.

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Gavan Leong was fortunate to find this rare Oriental Scops Owl near Pekan Quarry.

At the same quarry, Atish Banerjee spotted the on-off Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster  on the 5th. It was seen again on the 10th by Francis Yap who went over to check on the Mangrove Pittas Pitta megarhyncha. He found a few individuals at their usual haunt. On the same day, Millie Cher spied a shy Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata wintering at the nearby mangroves. A Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus was seen flying over Ketam Quarry on the 20th by Birding Dawn. It must have come over from Danga Bay further west of Ubin. This is the most easterly record for this threatened species. Just showed how rich and attractive Pulau Ubin is for these rare species. The decision to keep as much of the island as it is cannot be more timely.

Not to be outdone, SBWR came up with a male non-breeding Ruff Philomachus pugnax photographed by Robin Tan on 2nd. Our last records were in 2001 at Tanah Merah.

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After a long absence of 15 years, this Ruff was photographed at SBWR by Robin Tan 

Another Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus, this time an adult, was also photographed at SBWR on 20th by Tan Chee Keon. It later flew over to Kranji Marshes and stayed for a few days (Lim Kim Chuah 25th).

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An adult Grey-headed Lapwing photographed at SBWR by Tan Chee Keon.                                         This is the second record for the year. 

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This rare winter visitor Slaty-legged Crake had an unfortunate ending at Sentosa. Photo credit: SDC and Tan Kok Yeang.

Other rarities include a dead Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides that crashed into the fence at Pulau Selegu, now part of Sentosa, on the 5th. Tan Kok Yeang forwarded a photo of the dead crake taken by his staff.

A Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanophus at Tuas South on 9th was reported by Low Choon How, a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka at Bidadari on 10th (Lim Kim Keang), Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus at Kranji Marshes on 10th identified from a photo by Veronica Foo. This is the type of waterbirds that NParks hopes to attract back to the Marshes and this sighting is an indication that it is succeeding.

An Amur Falcon Falco amurensis on 16th at Seletar by Yip Peng Sun was an unexpected sighting, being only the second record for Singapore. Other interesting winter visitors reported include a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor at Upper Pierce Reservoir on 2nd (Veroica Foo), Orange-headed Thrush Geokichia citrina, a first for the season, below Jelutong Tower on 3rd (Lim Kim Seng), another Orange-headed Thrush at BTNR Tabun Loop on 9th (Lim Kim Keang), an Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis at Jurong Eco Garden on 3rd (Veronica Foo), up to four White Wagtails Motacilla alba at Marina Barrage on 4th (Alan OwYong), an Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus (leucogenis) race at Bidadari on the 8th (Xu Weiting), 4 Chinese Egrets Egretta eulophotes at Tekong on 10th (Frankie Cheong) and a Blue and White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana at Dairy Farm seen from Hill View Station on 12th by George Presanis. More than 200 Blue-tailed Bee-eaters Merops philippinus were seen roosting at the Nassim area on 11th by Richard White.

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The obliging Hooded Pitta at the Ginger Garden was the darling of many photographers               early in the month. Photo: Diamondo Sutjipto.

Hooded Pittas Pitta sordida made a strong showing at the Botanic Gardens this season starting with Lee Chuin Ming and James Tann’s sighting on the 7th. Three days later Atish Banerjee saw one at Symphony Lake and another at the Rain Forest while Richard White also reported another at the Dell. Richard confirmed that there were at least 3 Hooded Pittas and one Blue-wigned Pitta Pitta moluccensis at the gardens on the 12th. On the same day Daniel Ong reported another Blue-winged Pitta  at Tampines.

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Watercock found dead at Changi Business Park.   Photo: Mick Price.

Bird crashes were coming in fast and furious for the month. Three Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea, first at Riverdale alive on 1st, second at Changi Business Park on 2nd – dead (Mick Price) and the last at Hougang, which survived, on 8th.

Two dead Red-legged Crakes Rallina fasciata both at Ubin, first on 2nd and the other on 3rd. Two Blue-winged Pittas, at UWC SEA Tampines on 2nd and another at NUS Ridge View Residences on 3rd. An adult Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, probably a migrant at Sentosa Beach Station 0n 2nd (Sarah Chin).  A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka flew into a house at Changi but recovered and flew off on its own. A first winter male Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki found dead at Nepal Park and a dead Hooded Pitta at Kent View both on the 8th. A Thick-billed Pigeon Treton curvirostra crashed into an apartment at One-North on 9th (Alan OwYong). Fortunately it recovered the next day and was released. (All crash records from David Tan unless stated). (Received a late note from Joe Lim that a Hooded Pitta was found at Hospital Drive a little concussed. It was later released in the nearby forest.)

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This sub-adult male Thick-billed Pigeon survived the crash at One-North. Alan OwYong

Interesting resident sightings came from the Botanic Gardens as well. Richard White reported a Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis, a forest species there on 7th. It may have been pushed out of Bukit Brown where a new highway is being built. There were old records of this coucal at the gardens in the 90s. A confused Western Barn Owl Tyto alba was taking refuge at Temasek Poly on the 8th, much to the amusement of the students there (Wong Chung Cheong). A rare Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea was photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 11th by Alfred Chia. A small group frequented the Loyang area on a regular basis.

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Up to 8 House Swifts Apus nipalensis were seen flying over the Eco Lake at SBG by Keita Sin on 21st. A very good record as we normally get single bird sightings here and there. Signs of recovery for this species? An Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis was seen among them according to Keita. They used to nest at the Palm Valley nearby up to the 80s. A limping Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana flew onto the Marina Barrage on the 26th, a first for this location. Also first for the area were 4 Red-wattled Lapwings Vanellus indicus and a Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis seen on the open grassland there. This seafront is getting its fair share of uncommon species and waders.

Green Imperial Pigeon photographed at Pasir Ris Park by Alfred Chia.

Two early nesting records were from a male Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris seen regurgitating figs to feed the entombed female at SBG by Yang Pah Liang and a pair of Red-crowned Barbets Megalaima rafflesii at CCNR (Lim Kim Seng).

Legend: SBWR-Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. CCNR-Central Catchment Nature Reserve. SBG-Singapore Botanic Gardens. UWC-United World College. NUS-National University of Singapore.

References:

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 Lee Tiah Khee, Keita Sin, Gavan Leong, Robin Tan, Tan Chee Keon, Tan Kok Yeang, Diamondo Sutjipto, Mick Price, Alan OwYong and Alfred Chia for the use of their photos. If you have any earlier records than those reported here and found some errors, please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com. 

 

First observation of Necrophilia (sex with the dead) in the Red Turtle Dove

Early in January 2016, while driving along Lim Chu Kang Lane 1, I stopped the car to photograph a male Red Turtle Dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica, that was flushed by traffic up a lamp post.

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A male Red Turtle Dove on a lamp post

Moments later, the dove flew down to the road and started to puff itself up around a brownish clump lying motionless on the road.

Looking through my binoculars, i realised that it was displaying to a dead female Red Turtle Dove! I’ve never seen a live bird displaying to a dead one – interesting indeed.

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Male Red Turtle Dove displaying to a dead female

 

After a while, the male started to climb on top of the dead female.

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The male climbing on top of the dead female. (note the position of the female’s tail).

Then the male sat on the female and copulated, or attempted to copulate with the dead female, shifting her tail right-left-right a few times!

 

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The male on the female (note the female’s tail is shifted to the right).

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The male continues to copulate, or attempted to copulate with the dead female (note the female’s tail has shifted back).

 

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The male still copulating or attempting to copulate with the dead female (note the female’s tail is shifted to the right).

The female is probably a roadkill, which is not uncommon on rural roads such as this one.

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The fresh body of a female Red Turtle Dove on the road.

 

A quick search on the internet revealed that necrophilia has been reported in some species of birds, but not the Red Turtle Dove. This incident could be the first instance of necrophilia observed for the Red Turtle Dove.

Nature surprises in unexpected manners!