Monthly Archives: August 2017

Pulau Ubin Commonest Birds Quest 2017

Pesta Ubin 2017

Pulau Ubin Commonest Birds Quest (CBQ) 2017

By Lim Kim Keang

 

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CBQ Co-ordinator Lim Kim Keang welcoming and briefing participants on the survey methods at Pulau Ubin. Photo: Yap Wee Jin.

INTRODUCTION

On 11 June 2017, the Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group conducted the second survey to find out which were the commonest bird species on Pulau Ubin. This survey was organized in conjunction with Pesta Ubin which covered a 3-month period from May to July 2017.

METHOD

A total of 10 teams consisting of 10 leaders and 28 participants took part in this year’s CBQ. Areas in the west, central and eastern part of Pulau Ubin were covered. The routes included those in 2016 with additional routes to cover as much of the island as possible within the allocated time from 8.00 to 10.30 am. The good weather helped and all the teams completed their designated route in the allocated time.

The same MacKinnon bird listing method used in 2016 was again used this year. This method involved recording each new species of birds (seen or heard) until a pre-defined number of species is reached. Once this pre-defined number is reached, a new list is started. Any one species will only be recorded once in the first list but may be recorded again in subsequent lists. For our purpose, we continued to use a list of 10 species before starting on a new list.

The relative abundance of each species is calculated by dividing the number of contacts by the total number of contacts by all teams. A contact is defined as a list of 10 birds. For example, the number of contacts for Common Iora was 31. There was a total of 54.4 contacts by all team. The relative abundance of Common Iora is calculated by dividing 31 by 54.4 which equals 0.57. A bird which is more common will have a higher relative abundance index than one which is less common.

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Lee Ee Ling going through the transacts with members before the start of the survey. Photo: Yap Wee Jin.

RESULTS & DISCUSSION

Table 1 shows the top 20 commonest birds based on the relative abundance indices.

Table 1: Top 20 species of Birds of the Pesta Ubin 2017 Commonest Bird Quest

Top 20 species of Birds of the Pesta Ubin 2017 Commonest Bird Quest
Rank Common Name Total Contacts Rel. Abund. Index Rank Common Name Total Contacts Rel. Abund Index
1 Common Iora 31 0.57 11 Brown-throated Sunbird 16 0.29
2 White-rumped  Shama 31 0.57 12 Asian Glossy Starling 16 0.29
3 Swiftlets 31 0.57 13 Dark Necked Tailorbird 16 0.29
4 Yellow-vented Bulbul 28 0.51 14 Crimson Sunbird 15 0.28
5 Straw-headed Bulbul 28 0.51 15 Oriental Magpie Robin 15 0.28
6 Olive-winged Bulbul 27 0.50 16 Common Tailorbird 15 0.28
7 Collared Kingfisher 18 0.33 17 Red Jungle Fowl 14 0.26
8 Javan Myna 18 0.33 18 Van Hasselt’s  Sunbird 12 0.22
9 Olive-backed Sunbird 18 0.33 19 Oriental Pied Hornbill 11 0.20
10 Pink-necked Green Pigeon 17 0.31 20 House Crow 10 0.18
21 Common Emerald Dove 10 0.18

The survey by the 10 teams produced a total of 54.4 lists. The relative abundance index of the birds detected ranged from 0.02 to 0.57. A total of 60 species were recorded during the CBQ. The most abundant species are Common Iora, White-rumped Shama and swiftlets (not identifiable to species). These three species registered the highest relative abundance index of 0.57 and were recorded in 100, 90 and 80 percent of the surveyed sites respectively. Both the iora and shama are very vocal at this time of the year and are easier to detect. This could be a contributing factor for their high score. Swiftlets are likely to be Germain’s or Black-nested Swiftlet but could also be hybrid species from the swiftlet farms in Johor. As noted in CBQ 2016, other censuses conducted by the Bird Group have consistently found the Yellow-vented Bulbul to be a very common bird in most parts of Singapore.

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The Common Iora is one of the three most common bird counted in 2017 with 31 contacts.

Last year’s most common bird the Olive-winged Bulbul is sixth this year. The Yellow-vented and Straw-headed Bulbuls are fourth and fifth respectively on the CBQ 2017 list. The habitat on Pulau Ubin which consists of a mosaic of orchards, old rubber plantations and secondary forest are good for omnivorous birds like bulbuls.

A significant observation in the CBQ 2016 survey was the relative abundance of both the Straw-headed Bulbul and White-rumped Shama. Both species continued to do very well on Pulau Ubin but it is critical that the authorities and the public remain vigilant against potential poaching here and in other parts of Singapore.

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The White-rumped Shama continues to do well in Ubin with 31 contacts during the survey. The count maybe due to it being very vocal at this time of the year.

As also noted in 2016 it is inevitable that biases exist for all rapid survey and census. The most obvious bias is that this is a rapid one day count lasting only 2 to 2.5 hours. Experience of participants is also a contributing factor with the more experienced participants recording more birds heard or sighted. This survey is conducted at a time where some species may be more vocal than others and most if not all migrants are absent. Another issue involves the detection bias towards species that are more vocal or active at the edges of habitats as the selected routes were along existing roads, trails or boardwalks. But in general, this survey does provide a fairly good picture of the type of common resident birds that you can expect to see on a bird walk on the island in the middle of the year.

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Rounding up the top three are the Swiftlets also with 31 contacts.

Table 2 :  Summary of contacts(heard/sighted) and species of birds surveyed during the CBQ 2017

Summary of Routes – Contacts and Species  CBQ 2017
Route Route 1 Route 2 Route 3 Route 4 Route 5 Route 6 Route 7 Route 8 Route 9 Route 10 Total
Total in

Top 20

19 20 14 21 11 17 10 18 15 17 21
Total Contacts

(heard/sighted)

99 60 36 90 26 72 15 55 30 61 544
Total Species

(heard/sighted)

34 34 22 38 16 29 13 31 20 29 60
Nbr of Lists 9.9 6.0 3.6 9.0 2.6 7.2 1.5 5.5 3.0 6.1 54.4
Zone W W C C C E E E E E All
LegendRoute 1:  Ketam Mountain Bike Trail to Pekan Quarry

Route 2: Bubut Hut to Pipit Hut

Route 3: Noordin Campsite to Jalan Batu Ubin

Route 4: Pekan Quary Loop

Route 5: Sensory Trail to Jalan Ubin Loop

Route 6: Murai Hut to Mamam Campsite Loop

Route 7: Pekaka Hut via Jalan Durian to Murai Hut

Route 8: Chek Jawa to Kelichap Hut

Route 9: Punai Hut to Beberek Hut

Route 10: Beberek Hut to Belatok Hut

COMMENTS

We are glad that there was a six-fold increase in participation. The Pesta Ubin Commonest Birds Quest continued to provide the opportunity to the public to participate in a citizen science project. The data collected over an extended duration could be used to monitor changes to the avifauna of Pulau Ubin and ultimately the state of the environment here. A common bird today may become very rare or even become extinct tomorrow if its habitat is altered irreversibly or destroyed.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We would like to thank the leaders, participants and organizers of Pesta Ubin 2017 especially NParks and Ria Tan . The Pesta Ubin CBQ 2017 participants were: Akskay Gupta, Alfred Chia, Alice Fan, Atsuko Kawasaki, Bey Swee Hua, Bjorg Haakenson, Bong Yuna, Derek, Doreen Ang, Ee Family – Agnes Low, Terence, Maximus, Marianne & Madeleine Ee, Francis Chia Tee Heng, Ginny Cheang Fong Yin, Jimmy Lee, Lee Ee Ling, Lim Kim Keang, Monika, Ng Chay Tuan, Ou Jianwen, Peng Ah Huay, Roland Lim, See Swee Leng, Thio Hui Bing, Tok Sock Ling, Tzung-Mei Jang, Willie Foo, Wilson Leung, Yap Wee Jin, Yong Yik Shih and Zheng Rubin.

REFERENCE

MacKinnon J. (1993), A field guide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali. Oxford University Press.

 

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Pulau Ubin Nocturnal Bird Survey Report

Nocturnal Bird Survey Report at Pulau Ubin by Sandra Chia.

The nocturnal fauna of Singapore has long held the fascination of many nature-enthusiasts. From the inquisitive stare of the Buffy Fish Owl to the wide-eyed Sunda Scops Owl, nocturnal birds have been seen throughout the island, and garnered the attention of many. Several of us have seen owls on Pulau Ubin before, but how many are there exactly? And where?

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One of Ubin’s the Buffy Fish Owls. Photo: Sandra Chia.

To get a better understanding of the diversity and numbers of nocturnal birds present on Pulau Ubin, the Bird Group in collaboration with Nparks conducted its first ever Ubin night survey. On 22 July, while hordes of people were headed home after a long day at the beach, a group of us were headed towards Changi Point Ferry Terminal for a very different reason. Boarding a bumboat, 11 of us set off into the sunset for Pulau Ubin. Headed by an experienced leader, the group was further split into three teams of three to four surveyors each. Three survey routes were established, covering the east, west and central portions of Ubin.

Upon reaching the starting point of each survey route, the group embarked on a slow walk back to the kampong centre, that took about 2 hours. Whenever a nocturnal bird was encountered or heard, the species and coordinates of the encounter were jotted down and compiled into a datasheet thereafter. When nocturnal mammals were encountered, the species and location of the encounter were likewise noted down, on a separate datasheet.

In total, 16 individual birds were seen or heard. The most numerous were the Large-tailed Nightjar and Sunda Scops Owl, of which 6 individuals of each species were encountered throughout the survey. The Buffy Fish Owl and Black-crowned Night Heron were encountered once each, while the Savanna Nightjar was encountered twice. To our delight, Greater Mousedeer were seen by all three groups and one group even saw a herd of wild boar with 3 adults and 13 piglets!

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There is probably a much wider diversity and greater number of nocturnal birds on Ubin, based on historical sightings as well as the fact that there are many parts of Ubin our routes did not cover. For example, all species of owl known in Singapore are recorded on Ubin except for the Short-eared Owl. We hope to continue to conduct more nocturnal census and hopefully uncover more nocturnal birds on Ubin.

The Bird Group is grateful to all the survey leaders for leading the surveys and to all participants who assisted. The survey leaders included Lim Kim Keang, Willie Foo and Alfred Chia and participants included Sandra Chia, Emmanuel Goh, Dillen Ng, Lim Hong Yao and Tan Julin. We would also like to thank Robert Teo, Grace Ang, Joseph Lin and Jacky Soh from NParks for supporting our work.

Mobbing of a Collared Owlet at Fraser’s Hill

By Connie Khoo.

The Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei, is a small owl of montane forests of Malaya. Birders to Fraser’s Hill will be familiar with its toot-toot-toot call in the day time. I was birding there with Laurence Eu, a birder friend from Singapore last week when we came across a cacophony of excited bird calls by the roadside. It was early evening. We thought that it was a mini bird wave. But the tones of the calls were different. They sounded like more like alarm and distress calls.

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Streaked Spiderhunter is the most aggressive of the lot. Photo: Laurence Eu

When we got out of our car, we found a Collared Owlet perched on a small branch. A flock of smaller birds were mobbing it. A group of six Silver-eared Mesias took turns to harass it with pair of Black-throated Sunbirds. Five munias joined in. In the failing light I cannot make out if they were White-rumped or White-bellied as both species occur there.

But it was the pair of Streaked Spiderhunters that actually attacked the owlet, coming close to peck at it. The owlet tolerated the harassment for a while but moved to other perches when the “attacks’ continued. It eventually flew off after withstanding 30 minutes of this and peace resumed.

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Silver-eared Mesias were the most numerous, six were taking turns in the mobbing. 

Why do these different species gang up to attack the owlet? Could it be that they see it as a common “enemy’, a known predator of their nestings? We see this mobbing behaviour with the Oriental Whip Snake as well,

Apart from watching such a drama, we had a bonus of also seeing a rare White-browed Shrike-babbler that was attracted to the commotion and joined in the collective mobbing. This was certainly one of the highlights of the trip.

Contributed by Connie Khoo with edits by Alan OwYong.

Ref: Craig Robson. A field Guide to Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd 2000.

 

Singapore Bird Report – July 2017

We have several very early migrant sightings this month. Is it due to global warming? Maybe the birds are more sensitive to the changes than us.

Wood Sandpipers Goh Cheng Teng

Composite photo of a Wood Sandpiper flying over Jurong West by Goh Cheng Teng. First migrant shorebird to arrive this season.

A Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus was photographed by Francis Yap with Keita Sin at Jelutong Tower on 19th, two weeks earlier than the previous early date. Keita Sin did better when he came across a Pacific Swift Apus pacificus flying across Punggol Barat on 22nd, more than a month from the last early date of 3rd Sept. On 16th, Goh Cheng Teng photographed a Wood Sandpipers Tringa glareola flying over Jurong West. This is 2 days ahead of the previous early arrival date. Four days later Alan OwYong flushed another Wood Sandpiper from a wet patch at Bulim grasslands. On the same day and place, Ben Choo photographed a female leucopsis White Wagtail Motacilla alba at the canal there. The jury is out if this is over summering or early arrival as the previous early arrival date is 9th September 2016 (Richard White, Marina Barrage).

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Ben Choo’s shot of a female White Wagtail in breeding plumage at a canal at Bulim raise the question of its arrival or over-summering status.

The sighting of the Wood Sandpiper prompted Francis Yap to stake out Seletar Dam and he was rewarded with shots of Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and Little Egrets Egretta garzetta there on 24th. A day later, three Common Redshanks Tringa totanus were reported by Robin Tan and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos by Lim Kim Seng, both at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

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The first passerine migrant spotted by Thio Hb at the Kampong Java Park on 20th. Photo: Thio Hb.

On 26th Francis returned to Seletar Dam and notched up two more new arrivals. Three Lesser Sand Plovers Charadrius mongolus and a Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, normally the harbinger of the start of the migrant season. But it was beaten by an Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris photographed by Thio Hb at Kampong Java Park on 20th. Our previous early arrival date for this flycatcher was 9th August. Fadzrun A. shot a flock of 46 Lesser Sand Plovers at Kranji Dam on 31st. The migrating shorebirds have arrived!

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First Lesser Sand Plovers of the season from Seletar Dam captured by Francis Yap

We ended the month with a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea crashing into the Beach Villas at Resort World Sentosa on 31st. Tan Kok Yeang was kind enough to send us the photo. The injured bird was handed over to Nparks. This is a new addition to Sentosa but we had record of this migrant arriving as early as 8th of July. We can expect a busy month ahead as more migrants will be making landfall at various parts of the island.

 

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The injured Watercock that crashed into the Beach Villas at Sentosa. Photo: Tan Kok Yeang.

Our residents put up a good show as well. The most unexpected sighting was a rare Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea turning up at Marina East on 30th, a first for the south.  We had very few mainland records as this is a mangrove island dweller. We had to thank Mike Hooper for this record.  Koh Liang Heng followed up the next day and found it at the same place. The Mangrove Pittas Pitta megrahyncha were reported at Pulau Ubin and Pasir Ris Park on 8th and 17th respectively ( Willie Foo and Lim Kim Keang). The Blue-winged Pittas Pitta moluccensis were heard calling at the Bulim Forest by Wing Chong and James Tann and at Choa Chu Kang Cemeteries by Martin Kennewell both during the Mid Year Bird Census on 8th. They may be nesting but no nests were found so far.

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The rare Mangrove Whistler photographed at Marina East by Mike Hooper on 30th. 

An Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris was seen at Gardens by the Bay by Veronica Foo on 27th, a surprising first for GBTB. From one Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica to ten at the Lorong Halus ponds on 17th was the welcome news from Lim Kim Keang. We continue to receive records of House Swifts Apus nipalensis over the months. Three birds were seen at the East Coast Parkway near Fort Road by Lim Kim Chuah on 14th. Signs that this species maybe making a comeback.

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The juvenile Greater Green Leafbird at Dairy Farm is a good indication of the successful breeding of this uncommon species.

The other good news were sightings of juveniles of some of the uncommon species, confirming their breeding success. A Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati juvenile was photographed feeding on a White Mulberry Tree at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 15th. We do not have any breeding records for this leafbird and this is only the second record of a juvenile.

A young male Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was seen being chased by an female Sunbird at Jurong Eco Garden on 18th. Lim Kim Keang also reported seeing the same there a few weeks earlier. Over at the Lorong Halus ponds, a pair of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis were seen feeding a juvenile on 25th. All the three above records came from Alan OwYong. The last young bird reported was a Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 31st by Seng Alvin, a first for the park.?

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This young Violet Cuckoo was being chased around Jurong Eco Garden by a female Sunbird.

Finally two non-breeding visitors were reported this month. A Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was seen perched at Science Park 2 on 13th by Francis Yap and a pair of Black Hornbills Anthracoceros malayanus at Sentosa flying towards Siloso on 30th seen by Colin Richardson, a visiting birder (posted in ebird, reported by Martin Kennewell). This hornbill was recently added to the checklist based on the records from Pulau Ubin, where one was seen by Adrian Silas Tay on 22nd.

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, individual reports and extracts from ebird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Goh Cheng Teng, Ben Choo, Thio Hb, Francis Yap, Tan Kok Yeang and Alan OwYong for the the use of their photos. Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you find errors in these records.