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.
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.
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!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
The uncommon Common Buzzard was photographed on the 2nd, 19th and 25th, all being singles in flight at Henderson Waves.
Another uncommon raptor despite its name, the Common Kestrel was photographed at the new Tanah Merah Coast Road on the 26th.
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.
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.
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