Singapore Bird Report-December 2017
The birding community could not ask for a better ending for the year. A national first (pending review by Record’s Committee), a second record after 11 years and several rare winter visitors gave many of us our year end lifers.
First photo of the “Booted Warbler” taken on 4th by Muhd Fadhil of NParks.
Martin Kennewell was quick to alert us on an odd looking tree warbler at Kranji Marshes on 9th. After much consultation with overseas friends, the consensus is a Booted Warbler Iduna caligata, a long way from its wintering grounds in India and Sri Lanka. Muhd. Fadhil, an Nparks staff first photographed it on 4th. It is still there during the first week of January. Our thanks to Martin and Fadhil.
The photo that started the frenzy. Esther Ong’s photo of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo taken on 23rd December.
While looking for the Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus, at Sentosa’s Siloso Park on 23th, Tuck Loong, Esther Ong and friends spotted a female Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus, feeding on the caterpillars on a bare Ficus superba there. Our first record for this non-breeding visitor was on 31 May 2006 at Seletar Reservoir Park. Incredibly a second female was reported six days later at the same tree feeding together. It stayed until 3rd January when all the caterpillars were gone, long enough for all of us to add a national tick to our list. A rare Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was also spotted there on 23rd (Lim Kim Chuah & Seng Beng) and along the Skywalk in following days.
The rare Yellow-browed Warbler spent a week wintering along the Skywalk at Sentosa, giving many photographers a great chance to shoot this at eye level. Photo: Low Choon How.
The month started with a rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia returning to the same tree at DFNP on 1st. Another, a grey morph also returned on the 9th (Luke Milo Teo). Earlier in the year, on 10th Jan 2017, both of them were seen on the same tree there, a case of site fidelity assuming they were the same owls. Lena Chow got a first for Bukit Batok with a sighting of a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka, there on 1st. Another Grey Nightjar was back at Bidadari on 17th (Tan Kok Hui). At least 5 Eastern-crowned Warblers Phylloscopus coronatus, were counted at Upper Peirce Reservoir on 14th by Veronica Foo. An uncommon Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus, was videoed at PRP on 20th by Marc Ng.
Portrait of a rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl taken at DFNP by Luke Milo Teo.
Several rare flycatchers were still stopping over this month. Two Ferruginous Flycatchers Muscicapa ferruginea at DFNP on 1st (Oliver Tan), with another on 28th at RRL (Goh Cheng Teng and Lester Tan), our third of the season, a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata at Lower Peirce Reservoir on 5th (Basil Chia), a dead Blue and White/ Zappey’s from SGH on 13th (David Tan) and another 1st winter Blue and White Cyanoptila cyanomelana, male at Siloso on 30th (Tan Kok Hui and Co), the rare Green-backed Ficedula elisae, at CCNR on 5th (David Gibson) and a female at RRL on 23th (Alan OwYong and Lim Kim Keang), ending with a Mugimaki Ficedula mugimaki, at Siloso on 27th by Martin Kennewell.
The rare Green-backed Flycatcher resting at the Central Catchment Forest. Photo by Alan OwYong taken at Rifle Range Link.
The cuckoos made a great showing this month in part due to the caterpillars on the bare ficus at Sentosa. Spotted there were 2 Chestnut-winged Cuckoos Clamator coromandus, one adult and one juvenile Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus, one juvenile and one adult Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides, a Malaysian Hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax and a Hodgson’s Hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor. A Hodgon’s was also photographed at Bishan Park on 8th by Terence Tan, a Malaysian Hawk-cuckoo at Healing Gardens on 14th by Laurence Eu, a dead Indian Cuckoo at NUS on 29th found by Yong Ding Li and a wintering Chestnut-winged Cuckoo at the SBG.
Mark Itol’s eye level shot of the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo wintering at the SBG.
Migrant thrushes, a favourite with the birders and photographers, showed up at Hindhede NP with the rare Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica on 5th (Oliver Tan), an Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus, at Bukit Brown on 14th (Marcel Finlay) and the Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina returning to the SBG on 26th (Goh Cheng Teng and Lester Tan).
Siew Mun’s Baillon’s Crake taken at Satay by the Bay, a first for the gardens.
The visiting waterbirds reported this month include a Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis at Hampstead Gardens (Veronica Foo) and SBTB (Heather Gossels) both on 8th, Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus at SBG on 9th (Martin Kennewell and Richard Carden), a Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus, photographed flying over Changi Coastal Road by Goh Cheng Teng also on the 9th, a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla, at the SBTB on 17th (Siew Mun), 2 Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea on 18th, one at Japanese Gardens (Philip Toh) and the other found injured at Pasir Laba Camp by Daniel Ng. One of the largest flock of Oriental Pratincoles Glareola maldivarum, over 200 was seen flying over Turuk Track on 17th by Yong Ding Li.
Is this the first photograph of a Malayan Night Heron in flight taken in Singapore?. Photo: Goh Cheng Teng.
The uncommon Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata, was reported at Neo Tiew Lane 3 on 17th by Francis Yap and another back wintering at WCP on 21st. On the same day a dead Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca was found dead along Allenbrooke Road at Sentosa by Wahidah Dayanara.
A much sought-after and very skittish Black-capped Kingfisher well hidden at Neo Tiew Lane 3. Photo: Francis Yap.
Notable shorebirds for the month include 2 globally threatened Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris, at Chek Jawa on 6th (Lim Kim Keang) and Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta, at Tekong on 23rd (Frankie Cheong).
Resident species of interest include Plume-toed Swiftets Collocalia affinis and Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis, at SBG on 5th by See Toh Yew Wai and 8th by Zacc respectively, a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax at Eco Lake on 9th by Martin Kennewell, Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis at Telok Blangah Walkway on 12th by James Tann and a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata, below KRP canopy walk on 15th by Marc Ng. Its wild status is in question.
Not an easy swift to see over our skies. an Asian Palm Swift shot over Eco Lake by Mohamad Zahidi (Zacc HD).
An uncommon Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was spotted at SBTB by Tan Eng Boo on 19th. On the same day, Lim Kim Seng came across the long introduced Chinese Hwamei at Sentosa. It went missing for a large part of the year. The Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster at Pekan Quarry at Pulau Ubin picked out by Deborah Friets on 26th ends this report. Happy New Year and Good Birding 2018!
PS. A late record from Thio Hui Bing of another Oriental Darter seen at the Singapore Quarry on the 26 Dec suggested that there were two birds here. It is also the first for that location.
Location Abbreviations: DFNP Dairy Farm Nature Park, PRP Pasir Ris Park, NUS National University of Singapore, SBTB Satay by The Bay, WCP West Coast Park, KRP Kent Ridge Park and RRL Rifle Range Link.
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 Muhd Fadhil, Esther Ong, Low Choon How, Luke Milo Teo, Alan OwYong, Mark Itol, Siew Mun, Goh Cheng Teng, Francis Yap and Mohamad Zahidi for the the use of their photos. Please notify firstname.lastname@example.org if you find errors in these records.