Monthly Archives: December 2017

Singapore Raptor Report – November 2017

Besra, 181117, posted 051217, Telok Blangah, Les Sail

Besra, juvenile, at Telok Blangah Hill on 18 Nov 2017, by Leslie Fung.

Summary for migrant species:

November 2017 turned out to be the best month ever for migrant raptor diversity, with 18 migrant species recorded! This is in huge contrast to last month, which was noted to be “the least remarkable October on record, with only 6 migrant species recorded”! The raptors seem to be making it up for a lacklustre October.

An incredible number of ‘megas’ (birding speak for very rare birds) were recorded, complete with photographic evidence. On 18 November, Leslie Fung and Diana Jackson photographed an accipiter which looked superficially like a Japanese Sparrowhawk in flight, but was in fact a juvenile Besra, one of the ‘megas’, and one which is amongst the most difficult to identify. A report of a Besra on the 10th turned out to be a Japanese Sparrowhawk, underscoring the difficulties in identification.

26 November must surely be a magical day for a few photographers who were richly rewarded for their efforts out in the field. Francis Yap’s vigil at Henderson Waves paid off handsomely with a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, another mega, and only the third occurrence of this species in Singapore. At the eastern end of Singapore, on the new Tanah Merah Coast Road, Adrian Silas Tay, Goh Cheng Teng, et al, made special efforts to get to this stretch of road where kerbside parking is not allowed and managed to photograph an Amur Falcon! Another mega, and also the third occurrence of the species in Singapore.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 261117, Henderson Wave, Francis Yap, 1004h
Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 26 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Francis Yap

On 8 November, Terence Tan chanced upon a Northern Boobook in daylight at Satay by the Bay and obtained a beautiful set of images of this rarely encountered nocturnal bird of prey.

Northern Boobook, 081117, SBTB, Terence Tan 3

Northern Boobook, 8 Nov 2017, Satay by the Bay, by Terence Tan

Just as the month came to a close, Khoo MeiLin and Tsang Kwok Choong found a rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl roosting at Dairy Farm Nature Park in the daytime. This particular individual might have been the same one found in January this year, returning to the same tree in Singapore after breeding in the northern latitudes!

OSO, 301117, DFNP, KC Tsang

Oriental Scops Owl, rufous morph, 30 Nov 2017, Dairy Farm Nature Park, by KC Tsang

On the 11th, a juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle, a rarity, flew by Henderson Waves, giving cheer to a bunch of birders who must have temporarily forgotten about being roasted under the sun!

GSE, 111117, Henderson Waves, Adrian Silas Tay

Greater Spotted Eagle, juvenile, 11 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Adrian Silas Tay

The rare Pied Harrier was photographed at Henderson Waves by Francis Yap on the 15th (a juvenile), recorded at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell on the 18th (immature) and at Pulau Semaukau by Saket Sarupria on the 28th (adult male).

Pied Harrier, 151117 1305h, TBHP CP2, Fryap

Pied Harrier, juvenile, 15 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Francis Yap

On the 13th, a dark morph Booted Eagle was spotted at Henderson Waves during the hottest part of the day, flying southeast initially and then turning northeast, perhaps deciding that it was not going to cross the seas to the south.

Booted Eagle, 131117, HW, TGC

Booted Eagle, dark morph, 13 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Tan Gim Cheong

The Jerdon’s Baza, a good bird for many birders, was recorded on three dates, singles on 12th and 14th at Henderson Waves, both in the afternoon, and the third one at Pasir Ris on the 25th.

Jerdon Baza, 251117, PRP CP B, Jeremy Ong

Jerdon’s Baza, at Pasir Ris Park on 25 Nov 2017, by Jeremy Ong.

The rather uncommon Grey-faced Buzzard was recorded at Henderson Waves on 2nd, 5th, 11th and 19th, all singly except for 2 birds on the 5th, and another 2 recorded at Sisters Island / St John’s Island area on the 4th.

Grey-faced Buzzard, 041117, St John Island, Adrian Silas Tay

Grey-faced Buzzard, 4 Nov 2017, near St John’s Island, by Adrian Silas Tay

The uncommon Common Buzzard was photographed on the 2nd, 19th and 25th, all being singles in flight at Henderson Waves.

Common Buzzard, 251117, HW, STYW

Common Buzzard, 25 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by See Toh Yew Wai

Another uncommon raptor despite its name, the Common Kestrel was photographed at the new Tanah Merah Coast Road on the 26th.

Common Kestrel, 261117, new Changi Coast Rd, Goh Cheng Teng
Common Kestrel, 26 Nov 2017, Tanah Merah Coast Road, by Goh Cheng Teng

Twenty two Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them over Henderson Waves, while one adult female seemed to be wintering at Ang Mo Kio. Five Peregrine Falcons and four Western Ospreys were also recorded.

BB w prey, 231117, PRP, Heather Goessel 2

Black Baza, feeding on a grasshopper, 23 Nov 2017, Pasir Ris Park, by Heather Goessel

Finally, we come to the most abundant migrant raptors. 129 Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them at Henderson Waves, this season’s hotspot. The Black Bazas showed quite a bit, from zero birds last month to 375 birds this month, with a day high of 127 birds on the 12th at Henderson Waves. Heather Goessel had a lucky encounter with one feeding on what appeared to be a grasshopper, at Pasir Ris Park. The Oriental Honey Buzzard is tops again with 531 birds, including a flock of 74 at Henderson Waves and a flock of 61 at Tuas, both on the 11th.

OHB, 151117, HW, Fryap

Oriental Honey Buzzard, juvenile, 15 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Francis Yap

Highlights for sedentary species:

The locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle was recorded three times at the Kent Ridge / Henderson Waves area with a max of 2 birds, plus another one at Pulau Tekong on 23rd morning. For the uncommon Crested Goshawk, 3 juveniles were recorded, one at the Southern Ridges, one at MacRitchie and one at Pasir Ris; among the 5 adults, a pair was observed mating at the Botanic Gardens on the 18th.

All five records of the torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards at three localities were of the tweeddale form, with at least one female at Satay by the Bay and one male at Pasir Ris Park, the last locality being the Jelutong Tower. A Grey-headed Fish Eagle was recorded at Sentosa on the 16th, the other 6 were found at its usual haunts – Kranji, Little Guilin, Botanic Gardens and in flight over Henderson Waves.

A juvenile dark morph Changeable Hawk Eagle was seen calling, seemingly for the adult dark morph nearby, at Jalan Kayu on the 16th, indicating that the young hawk-eagle had recently fledged. Unfortunately, a juvenile pale morph did not make it, as its fresh carcass was found at Clarke Quay on 25th morning, apparently a victim of collision with a building or window. The other resident raptors recorded included the Black-winged Kite, Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

There are also additional records for October 2017, please refer to the PDF below.

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Leslie Fung, Jeremy Ong, Heather Goessel, Francis Yap, Adrian Silas Tay, See Toh Yew Wai, Goh Cheng Teng, Tsang Kwok Choong, and Terence Tan for the use of their photos.

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

For a pdf version of the report with detailed lists (including additional records for October 2017), please click here Singapore Raptor Report – November 2017

 

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Invasion of Cuckoos at Sentosa

By Thio Hui Bing.

On 24th December 2017, I went down to Sentosa to see for myself this interesting phenomenon, after friends shared that a particular tree was attracting several species of migrant cuckoos that are usually hard to see. The reason for the attraction was the outbreak of Tussock Moth caterpillars, a favorite food of the cuckoos. The fig tree, Ficus Superba was bare as it had just shed its leaves. The caterpillars were feeding on the new young shoots. It also exposed the nest of resident Crested Goshawks. I am amazed and wonder how the birds know that there is plenty of food here. Is it by experience, by chance while en-route during its migration, by sight or by scent?

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The bare Ficus Superba sheds its leaves regularly. The new young shoots is less toxic for the caterpillars.

Many other birders also specially came to see this interesting gathering of cuckoos. It was a cloudy day even until noon. We managed to see the Large Hawk_Cuckoos, Indian Cuckoos and an Asian Emerald Cuckoo, a very rare non breeding visitor. This will be only our second sighting, the first record was in 2006 (Lim Kim Seng, Avifauna of Singapore).

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The Tussock moth caterpillars are the reasons why so much cuckoo species are seen here.

Based on my observations that morning, the Large Hawk-Cuckoo and Indian Cuckoo were able to ‘live’ peacefully with the Crested Goshawks but stayed at a distance to the left and right of the tree. We waited for an hour or so, while the elusive escapee Chinese Hwamei kept us entertained with it’s melodious song until a small size bird flew in. We looked among the branches and finally saw the Asian Emerald Cuckoo. And boy,  are we excited! Though the bird was high up and mostly blocked by twigs and branches, camera shutters started to click non stop. The cuckoo was seen feeding on the caterpillars, hopped around a little but eventually stay perched for some time.

Javan Mynas and Black-naped Orioles were also observed flying to this tree on and off. The orioles does not seem to be afraid of the goshawks often coming close to them.

The goshawks were not happy with the presence of the other birds on the tree. They would scoop down and chase the cuckoos and other birds away, especially the Large-hawk Cuckoos. Many of the birders left happy with a rare Singapore “tick”.

The second half of the morning was spent waiting for the cuckoos to come back now that the goshawks were away.  The Large Hawk-Cuckoo was the first to come back followed by the Indian Cuckoo. Only the Large Hawk-Cuckoo were seen feeding on the caterpillars.

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An adult and a juvenile Large Hawk-Cuckoo were among the cuckoos that were enjoying the caterpillar feast at the Ficus Superba.

A group of birders were trying to find the Chinese Hwamei in the thick undergrowth when they spotted the Asian Emerald Cuckoo on a nearby tree. Shutters started clicking once again.

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A most unexpected appearance of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo, last seen in 2006, was a most welcome X’mas present for both birders and photographers here.

The cuckoo stayed there for a few minutes before being distracted by a high pitch call, most probably by the Crested Goshawk.  It then flew off to an higher tree branch. This ended my observation of cuckoos for the day. Sadly both the Chestnut-winged and Malaysian Hawk Cuckoos, that were seen yesterday,  did not showed up this morning.

(All photos by Thio Hui Bing)

Reference: Yong Ding Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing.

 

The varied diet of the Brown-throated Sunbird.

Contributed by Seng Alvin.

The Brown-throated Sunbird, Anthreptes malacensis, is the largest sunbird among the six species in Singapore. I have been observing these beautiful birds for many years. They have been a joy to photograph and I never get tired of shooting them.

Looking back at my old photos, I realised that they feed on a variety of food and not just on nectar alone although this is their main source of energy.  This made them a generalist which may account for their presence in parks, gardens and disturbed woodlands.  This is a compilation of the photos I took over the years showing them taking fruit, seeds, caterpillars and nectar from a wide range of flowers. I hope that this will encourage others to document the feeding habits of these beautiful sunbirds so that we can learn more about them.

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Female taking nectar from a Red Button Ginger / Scarlet Spiral Flag flower. It uses its tubular long tongue to get to the nectar at the base of the flower and “sipped” it up by capillary action. 

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The nectar is at the base of the Hibiscus flower and the Brown-throated Sunbird  had to use its sharp bill to pierce the bottom of the flower to get to the nectar.

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The male seen here picking up a fruit from the Simpoh Ayer flower before swallowing it. These seeds are also favorites of bulbuls and other furgivorous birds.

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The Red Tree-vine or Leea Rubra are normally visited by bees and butterflies as their flowers are small. This male Brown-throated Sunbird must be attracted to the color or for a change of taste.

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Hanging on a thin twig just to get to the sweetest flower of the Earleaf Acacia is not a problem for this juvenile female. 

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Sunbirds unlike the humming birds do not hover to feed. They can save precious energy by clinking on to the flower of the Gelam Tree/ Tee Tree to feed.

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This male is out looking for protein for its youngs. This juicy caterpillar is just it needs. 


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The Saraca tree at Bukit Batok NP is a magnet for the Crimson, Van Hasselt’s and of course our Brown-throated. 

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The Fire Bush / Scarlet Bush is an introduced ornamental plant to our gardens, but it seem that the bill of the Brown-throated Sunbird is perfectly suited to get to the nectar inside.

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The red flower of the Teruntum Merah proves irresistible to this male sunbird.

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The dwarf Banana is planted to add color to a garden and its small flowers must have enough nectar to bring this female to it. It will also help to pollinate the flower.

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I am still trying to find out the name of this tree where this female managed to get to its seeds.

I would like to thank Ivan Kwan for helping me to ID all the trees/flowers/fruits in this album. A good start for me to learn the names of our plants and flowers that are great sources of food for our birds.

Singapore Bird Report-November 2017

 

Goh Cheng Teng 2

Only our second record, the female Narcissus Flycatcher taken at Dairy Farm NP on 29th by Goh Cheng Teng showing the mottled breast and the brownish upper-tailed coverts.

The star bird of the month was the Narcissus Flycatcher, Ficedula narcissina, a female, photographed on 28th at DFNP by Marcel Finlay and Veronica Foo. It stayed over for the next 2 days long enough for some great photos to confirm its ID. This will be our second record once the Records Committee completes its review. A second record for Sentosa was a female Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius, photographed by Jan Tan at Resorts World Sentosa on 2nd.

Terence Tan 4Another first for Gardens by the Bay when this rare Northern Boobook made an overnight stop over there on 8th. Photo: Terence Tan.

Other rarities for the month include a Northern Boobook, Ninox japonica, that stopped over at Satay by the Bay (SBTB) on 8th. Terence Tan was there to capture its one day stay. A very rare passage migrant, an Asian House Martin, Delichon dasypus, was very well captured by Francis Yap with Fadzrun Adnan from the Jelutong Tower on 24th.

francis yap 2

A composite flight shot of the Asian House Martin, a very rare passage migrant flying over Jelutong Tower well captured by Francis Yap 

Sadly pittas continued to collide into our buildings this month starting with a first for the season Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida on the 20th. Lee Tiah Khee found the carcass at Toa Payoh. Another was found dead on 23rd by David Tan at Raffles Institution. Mabel a resident at Novena found an injured Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis, on 22nd. It survived. But not the one that Michael Leong found at Parry Road on 23rd. Lim Kim Chuah had a dead Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus, at his office on Jurong island on 7th. We can ill afford the loss of this globally threatened species. David Tan picked up a dead Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis, after it crashed into North Vista Primary School. A Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax, crashed into a service apartment at Wilkie Road on 2nd (Yvonne Tan). Even our resident was not spared. A dead Changeable Hawk Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus, was picked up at Clark Quay by Asri Hasri on 25th after it crashed into one of the high rise buildings there.

Grey NJ Christina See

Eye-level shot of the Grey Nightjar, a rare winter visitor at the Satay by the Bay by Christina See.  This is the first record for this location. 

Many of the rare winter visitors were recorded in different parts of the island during the month. The best way is to list them by species for easy reference.

  1. Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica : Kent Ridge Park on 1st by Mogany Thanagavelu, Admiralty Park on 2nd by Luke Milo Teo, PRP on 7th by Zhang Licong and Bidadari on 11th by Richard White.
  2. Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka : SBTB on 3rd by Christina See, AMK Park on 12th by Tey Boon Sim and Bidadari on 20th by Khong Yew. Most number recorded in a single month.
  3. Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea : Bidadari on 3rd by Frankie Lim and a juvenile at at Healing Gardens at SBG on 23rd by Laurence Eu. Richard White reported one at BTNR on 11th and another at RRL on 23rd.  
  4. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca : Lentor Ave on 6th by Katherine Yeo after colliding with a building, another at Sentosa found dead by David Tan  and one found dead at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music on 11th by Shawn Ingkiriwang (picked up by David Tan).
  5. Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata : Lower Peirce Boardwalk on 3rd by Basil Chia, a juvenile at Bidadari on 12th by Pary Sivaraman (identified by Dave Bakewell) and a third from Tuas South on 17th by Alfred Ng. 

 

Pary Sivaraman 2

A juvenile Japanese Paradise Flycatcher at Bidadari by Pary Sivaraman on 12th November. We may have overlook this plumage before. It stayed until 18th.

  1. White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis : All were reported around Seletar Crescent area. Francis Yap on 19th and Alfred Chia on 22nd with three birds.
  2. Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus: 5-6 birds over Jelutong Tower on 24th by Francis Yap and another at DFNP on the same day. Goh Cheng Teng had a flock of 20 birds circling over the northern part of Changi Coastal Road. The last for the month was at RRL on 29th by Stuart Birding.
  3. Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus : Bidadari on 3rd by Sam Ng and another at SBG on 25th by Gautham Krishnan.
  4. Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus : Bidadari on 2nd by Looi Ang Soh Hoon, Chinese Gardens on 3rd by Ben Choo and a dead bird at Pasir Ris on 26th by Lim Kim Chuah.
  5. Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus : Pulau Ubin on 4th by Yong Ding Li and Nigel Collar, and at SBTB on 5th by Kozi Ichiyama.
  6. Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor : Pulau Ubin on 4th (Yong Ding Li and Nigel Collar) and Pasir Ris Park on 25th by a friend of Deborah Friets.

Some of the single sightings of rare migrants reported for the month include a lugens White Wagtail Moticilla alba, at Sembawang on 6th (Fadzrun Adnan), Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina, at SBG on 7th by Lim Kim Chuah, a juvenile Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis, at Yishun on 8th by Khoo Meilin, Crow-billed Drongo, Dicrurus annectans, on 11th and a Siberian Blue Robin, Larvivora cyane, on 14th both at BTNR by Richard White, Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus, perched on the fence of Seletar Airport on 19th by Goh Cheng Teng, Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata at Kranji Marshes on 19th by See Wei An during a NSS Bird Group Walk and a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola, at Sengkang Wetlands on 21st by Francis Yap.

francis yap 5

Had to be the most open and clear shot of this sulker, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, taken at the Sengkang Wetlands by Francis Yap.

The Eastern Crowned Warblers Phylloscopus coronatus, were still coming through. Thio Hui Bing reported one at Windsor Park on 22nd. Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki (Stuart Birding) and Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis, (Marcel Finlay) were still visiting Bidadari on 20th. A Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus, was expertly picked up by Adrian Silas Tay on 25th at the Seletar end.

Zappey's Khong Yew

Zappey’s Flycatcher identified by the blue patch on the breast, taken at Dairy Farm NP by Khong Yew.

The rush to Dairy Farm Nature Park was sparked off by Zhang Licong’s alert of a 1st winter male Blue and White/Zappey’s Flycatcher on 24th. This was followed by a 1st winter Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis two days later. Dave Bakewell pointed to the small blue patch on its breast. An Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus, together with a rarer Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica, a passage migrant were seen feeding on the fig tree behind the Wallace Center on 24th and 25th respectively. Both male and female Mugimaki Flycatchers Ficedula mugimaki, and a Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu, (Kozi Ichiyama) were also seen feeding there on 26th. Veronica Foo had the only adult Blue and White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana there on the 28th.

Dean Tan

The rarer Siberian Thrush making a short stop over at Dairy Farm NP. Photo by Dean Tan. 

In the air, more interesting migrants were seen passing through. Flocks of 20 Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica, on 1st (Alan OwYong), a Needletail spp on 6th (Frankie Cheong), both over Henderson Wave at Telok Blangah Hill. Keita Sin reported one of the largest flock of 70 Oriental Pratincoles Glareola maldivarum, flying over Kent Ridge Park on 15th.

As for our residents, Yong Ding Li showed Nigel Collar the Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha, at Pulau Ubin on 4th. A King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis, was reported by Martin Kennewell at Kranji Marshes on 5th. He also had a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, there on 12th, two very good finds for Kranji Marshes. Green Imperial Pigeons Ducula aenea,  were still foraging at Changi South, with reports from Tan Eng Boo on 21st and James Tann on 22nd. A not so common sight nowadays was a flock of hundreds of White-headed Munias Lonchura maja, seen flying at the Tuas Grasslands on 5th by Low Choon How. They used to be very common there in the 90s but most of the open grasslands have been developed.

The only shorebird of note to report is a Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, seen flying to Chek Java on 30th by Tay Kian Guan. As for the raptors, we had an Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus and Amur Falcon Falco amurensis, two very rare vagrants during the last week of the month. These and other raptors will be in the full Raptor Report coming out soon.

Location abbreviations: SBG Singapore Botanic Gardens, DFNP Dairy Farm Nature Park, RRL Rifle Range Link, SBTB Satay by the Bay, AMK Ang Mo Kio and BTNR Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

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, Terence Tan, Francis Yap, Christina See, Pary Sivaraman, Khong Yew and Dean Tan for the the use of their photos. Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you find errors in these records.

Birdwatching at Kranji Marshes 29 October 2017.

By  Yew Yee Siang.

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Over the weekend, I finally managed to visit the core conservation area of the Kranji Marshes with the Nature Society. The morning was spent in relative tranquility, away from the bustle and stress of the city (which can still be seen in the distance). As a complete birdwatching beginner with no prior knowledge, I am extremely thankful to the avid birdwatchers from the Nature Society who shared their wealth of knowledge with me, pointing out the different birds we saw and other relevant tidbits of information. Within the small area of the Kranji Marshes (56.8-hectares), we counted 39 species of birds (37 seen and 2 heard) and spotted the migratory black-capped kingfisher in action. 20 odd ducks flew in formation, with the beauty and grace comparable to modern aerial displays. It was delightful to know that Singapore still has such rich natural biodiversity, even playing host to many migratory species. The harmony of nature and her natural inhabitants at the Kranji Marshes really struck me hard. It makes one wonder about the implications we humans have on the natural environment (even more so in development driven Singapore) and how we can possibly reconcile. We have touched on in school some of the challenges of nature conservation in Singapore; with examples such as the marina south duck ponds. Whilst we can always strive to do better, I was heartened to see this little piece of land being set aside in the outskirts of Singapore (for how long we do not know) for the protection and conservation of marsh birds. I left the Kranji marshes reminded that in the concrete jungle we live in, the human spirit needs places where nature has not been (or at least relatively) rearranged by the hand of man.  (Above article and Kranji Marsh photo were contributed by Yew Yee Siang, back row, in dark blue t-shirt)

Other photos taken during the morning walk are shown below:

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Sighted : Black-Capped Kingfisher, a regular visitor to KM. 

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A flock of Lesser Whistling Ducks flying in the morning

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Sighted: Snipe (centre) and Wood Sandpipers

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Little Egret in flight.

A special thank you to Yew Yee Siang who wrote and contributed to the main article.

All bird photographs were well taken and contributed by Mahesh Krishnan (front row, centre).

10th Singapore Raptor Watch Report

Autumn 2017 Migration – 5 Nov 2017
compiled by TAN Gim Cheong
CSH, Puaka, Jacky Soh, crop

Chinese Sparrowhawk, juvenile, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 5 Nov 2017, by Jacky Soh

The 10th Singapore raptor watch was held on Sunday, 5 November 2017 and involved 65 participants. Apart from a bit of drizzle at the start of the day, the weather was fine. There were 8 raptor watch sites and the numbers counted at each site varied from a high of 289 to a low of 21 birds. A total of 781 raptors were counted, including 567 raptors representing 7 migrant species and 113 raptors of 7 resident species. A further 101 raptors could not be identified to species level.

Summary:
Number of raptors – 781
– 567 migrant raptors.
– 113 resident raptors.
– 101 un-identified raptors.

 Number of species – 14
 – 7 migrant species.
– 7 resident species.

Fiigure 1

Seven of the sites were the same ones as previous years, thanks to all the site leaders for their faithful support!  The minor changes were the shift of the Tuas site slightly north to Tuas South Avenue 12 due to construction works at Tuas South Avenue 16, and the addition of Marina Barrage.

Fiigure 2

After a slow start in the morning, with less than 20 birds each in the first three 1-hour periods (probably due to the drizzle), the numbers of migrant raptors surged to 224 birds in the 12pm-1pm period, then dropping gradually, to 146 birds in the next hour, 80 in the following hour and 60 in the last hour of the count.

Fiigure 3

The Black Baza reclaimed the top spot, a position it last held in 2009, with 252 birds counted. The largest number of Black Bazas were at Kent Ridge Park (148 birds), Telok Blangah Hill Park (36 birds) and Pulau Ubin (28 birds). The largest groups were a flock of 61 birds at 12:29pm and another flock of 60 between 1pm-2pm, both at Kent Ridge Park.  As for the Oriental Honey Buzzard (OHB), after 7 years as the most numerous migrant raptor during our Raptor Watch, it dropped to second place with 166 birds counted. The largest number of OHBs were at Kent Ridge Park (57 birds), Japanese Garden (45 birds) and Telok Blangah Hill Park (32 birds).

BB, Puaka, Jacky Soh, crop

Black Baza, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 5 Nov 2017, by Jacky Soh

The Japanese Sparrowhawks come out in force, with 126 birds, almost double its previous high of 67 birds in 2014. The main bulk of the Japanese Sparrowhawks (65 birds) were counted at, coincidentally, the Japanese Garden! There were 18 Chinese Sparrowhawks, and most of them (14 birds) were recorded at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin. Only two Western Ospreys were recorded – one at Japanese Garden and the other at Puaka Hilll, Pulau Ubin. For the uncommon Common Buzzard, two were recorded at Lorong Halus Wetlands between 12pm-1pm. A single Peregrine Falcon was recorded at Kent Ridge Park at 3:10pm.

JSH, Puaka, Jacky Soh, crop

Japanese Sparrowhawk, juvenile, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 5 Nov 2017, by Jacky Soh

Fiigure 4

For the resident species, the total count was 113 birds of 7 species, one more species than the year before – the addition being the Crested Serpent Eagle. The count for the resident raptors comprised 53 Brahminy Kites, 33 White-bellied Sea Eagles, 16 Changeable Hawk Eagles, 5 Grey-headed Fish Eagles, 4 Crested Goshawks, 1 Black-winged Kite and 1 Crested Serpent Eagle.

Fiigure 5

The figure below provides a snapshot of the number of raptors according to the three categories – migrant, un-identified & resident raptors, at the 8 sites. A larger proportion of the migrant raptors were detected in the southwest stretch from the Japanese Garden to Kent Ridge Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park, with a peak of 229 migrant raptors at Kent Ridge. The highest number of un-identified raptors, also at Kent Ridge, were probably migrants flying too high for positive identification. Rather surprising was the low numbers at Tuas. Could the birds have avoided that area due to the ongoing constructions works?

Fiigure 6

A complete breakdown of the species counted at each site is shown in the table below:

Fiigure 7

Thanks to all the 65 wonderful birders, both leaders and participants, which included National Parks Board staff, for spending their Sunday out in the open to count raptors. The following fantastic people led or assisted in the raptor count:

Fig names

KRP afternoon shift, Ee Ling

The ‘afternoon shift’ of raptor watchers/counters at Kent Ridge Park, by Lee Ee Ling

Thanks to Jacky Soh and Lee Ee Ling for the use of their photos.

Please click here for a pdf version 10th Singapore Raptor Watch – 2017