Monthly Archives: July 2018

Brood Parasite: Golden-bellied Gerygones hosting a Little Bronze Cuckoo.

Brood Parasite: Golden-bellied Gerygones hosting a Little Bronze Cuckoo.

By Lee Kai Chong.

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The Golden-bellied Gerygone, the smallest bird in Singapore, has known to nest in urban parks here. I did not see the nesting but I spotted a pair feeding a juvenile Little Bronze Cuckoo on the 23 July 2018 at our HDB neighbourhood park at Jurong West. I find this interesting that this is taking place right in the busy heartland park.

Both foster parents took turns to feed the juvenile cuckoo. Their favourite tree was the Mango tree because of the many tiny insects present. They had to do many rounds of feeding as the insects were too puny for such a large bird, stopping only for 5-10 minutes for the cuckoo to digest the food. Feeding started at the first light and continued throughout the day. I last saw them feed on the 27 July.


Many park goers were aware of the sound and sight of Little Bronze Cuckoo being fed by Golden-bellied Gerygone but don’t know what was going on. It may be because of their relatively small size, non stop movement during feeding under the canopy. When I showed them the photos, they were very surprised to see a such large young bird being fed by a smaller bird of a different species. I told them that this is ” Brood Parasite” an unusual breeding behaviour in our natural world. I am glad to show a bit of nature at our neighbourhood park to the residents there.


Singapore Bird Report – June 2018

Residents take centre stage while three species of straggling migrants continue to be reported. The key sightings for June are the arrival of the Austral migrant, the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, escaping the southern winter, and a nigrescens subspecies of the Ashy Drongo.


A Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo photographed by Carmen Hui at Satay by the Bay on 26 May 2018.

The most prominent Austral migrant to land on our shores in June is the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis. The first sighting of the cuckoo making landfall in Singapore was made by Carmen Hui last month, on 26 May 2018 at 1:29pm at Satay by the Bay, after she saw Martin Kennewell’s post of an adult and juvenile on 2 June 2018 from Punggol, and realised that her catch, which was photographed, was not a Little Bronze Cuckoo. Carmen’s report had preceded Martin Kennewell’s observation that the cuckoo had appeared in Bali and Java on 27 May 2018.

Reports of the cuckoo continued to stream through social media from 6 June 2018 onwards, largely coming from around the Punggol Promenade Nature Park, with additional reports of up to five birds at Halus on 10 June 2018 and the cuckoos were last seen on 19 June 2018.


A Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, photographed at the Punggol Waterfront with its prey, showing a distinctive eyestripe and partly rufous-coloured outer tail feathers, which distinguishes it from the resident Little Bronze Cuckoo. Taken by Terence Tan on 6 June 2018.

While photographing the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, several birdwatchers and photographers spotted an Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus nigriscens, the resident race of the species from Peninsular Malaysia and Southern Thailand, at Punggol on 6 June 2018.

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The Ashy Drongo nigriscens subspecies photographed at Punggol on 6 June 2018 by Tuck Loong.

In his blog post, Alan Owyong quoted Malaysian birder, Tou Jing Yi’s comments about the bird’s key distinguishing characteristics (from the Black Drongo) – “lack of white spot on base of bill, long forked tail, very slender base on tail, non-glossy plumage that is not jet black but somehow greyish, these were all signs of an Ashy Drongo, the resident subspecies for the region, primarily resides mangrove areas in Peninsular Malaysia.” As noted by Alan, the last record of a nigrescens was at West Coast Park on 17 January 2004 (SINAV 18.1). Hence, this sighting represents a new date for this non-breeding visitor to Singapore.

Asian Palm Swift at Bishan, Adrian Silas Tay

A family of Asian Palm Swifts at their nest at Bishan, by Adrian Silas Tay

Successful breeding was reported for a number of residents. Adrian Silas Tay reported the nesting of the Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis at Bishan, with the first chick fledging on 3 June 2018 and the second fledging on 5 Jun 2018. At Jurong Eco Garden (JEG) on 10 June 2018, Doreen Ang saw Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus juveniles accompanied by adults; she also noted an immature Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus flying around with an adult.

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A juvenile Drongo Cuckoo, wings partly drooped, begging its Pin-striped Tit-babbler foster parents to feed it. Photographed at Upper Peirce on 30 June 2018 by Francis Yap.

On 15 June 2018, Khoo Meilin reported a Malaysian Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica nest containing two young chicks, at JEG. On 28 June 2018, Khoo Meilin photographed a pair of Collared Kingfishers Todiramphus chloris found feeding their fledged, but dependent, albino chick at East Coast Park. On 30 June 2018, Francis Yap photographed a juvenile Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris  being fed by a Pin-striped Tit-Babbler Macronous gularis  at Upper Peirce.


A Blue-winged Pitta photographed on Pulau Ubin on 24 June 2018 by Lim Kim Chuah.

June yielded two separate reports of the Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis, several were seen and heard on Pulau Ubin during the NParks-NSS Ubin Survey on 3 June 2018, while another was spotted by Tan Kok Hui at Kranji Marsh on 30 June 2018.

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Barn Owl at Punggol photographed on 8 June 2018 by Terence Tan.

Other notable sightings include 25 Tanimbar Corella Cacatua goffiniana were spotted roosting near an Esso station along Dunearn Road on 4 June 2018 by Richard Saunders, a Barn Owl Tyto alba was spotted along Punggol Promenade Nature Park on 9 June 2018 by a jogger who alerted birders looking for the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoos along our north-eastern shore, a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata at Lorong Halus by Lee Chin Pong on 23 June 2018, a House Swift Apus nipalensis at Changi Business Park on 26 June 2018 by  T. Ramesh, a Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 28 June 2018 by Mark Campbell, and two Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti were spotted by birdwatchers at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 30 June 2018.


White-rumped Munia at Lorong Halus spotted on 23 June 2018 with some Scaly-breasted Munias by Lee Chin Pong.

Observers visiting the central catchment forest yielded a good number of residents. The  Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji was observed by Alan Owyong on 1 June 2018 at Hindhede (2 birds), and by Marcel Finlay at MacRitchie Park on 22 June 2018; two Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra by Kozi Ichiyama on 16 June at CCNR;  15 House Swift and 5 Plume-toed Swiftlet Collocalia affinis by Lim Kim Chuah on 22 June 2018 along the Rail Corridor near Hindhede. Also spotted were a Greater Coucal  Centropus sinensis by Tay Kian Guan on 24 June 2018 at Singapore Quarry; a Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting by Luke Milo Teo on 25 June 2018 at Windsor Park; a Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii by Steven Cheong at Dairy Fairm Nature Park on 25 June 2018; and Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex from Jelutong Tower – one bird spotted by Deborah Friets on 26 June 2018, and two by Francis Yap on 27 June 2018. Also spotted from the tower were Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps, with one on 22 June 2018, and two on 27 June 2018, and four Blue-rumped Parrot Psittinus cyanurus on 27 June 2018 by Francis Yap.


A Black-headed Bulbul in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Photographed on 22 June 2018 by Francis Yap.

In the meantime, a small number of overstaying northern migrants were reported. On 2 June 2018, Ruci Ong reported sighting an Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris at Braddell Road. This represents a new late date by a full month from previous records. On 15 June 2018, a late staying White Wagtail Motacilla alba was spotted by T. Ramesh at Changi Business Park, while an Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia was seen by Fadzrun Adnan at Kranji Marsh on 24 June 2018.  

BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong, based on 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 Carmen Hui, Tuck Loong, Adrian Silas Tay, Francis Yap, Terence Tan,  Lee Chin Pong and Lim Kim Chuah for the the use of their photos. 

 List of Bird Sightings in report

Family Species Date
Ardeidae Black-crowned Night-heron 28-Jun
Intermediate Egret 24-Jun
Accipitridae Brahminy Kite 10-Jun
Columbidae Thick-billed Pigeon 16-Jun
Cuculidae Greater Coucal 24-Jun
Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo 2-Jun
Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo 6-Jun
Little Bronze Cuckoo 1-Jun
Banded Bay Cuckoo 22-Jun
Plantive Cuckoo 5-Jun
Drongo Cuckoo 30-Jun
Tytonidae Barn Owl 9-Jun
Strigidae Sunda Scops Owl 1-Jun
Sunda Scops Owl 22-Jun
Apodidae House Swift 22-Jun
House Swift 26-Jun
Plume-toed Swiftlet 22-Jun
Asian Palm Swift 3-Jun & 5-Jun
Alcedinidae Blue-eared Kingfisher 25-Jun
Megalaimidae Red-crowned Barbet 25-Jun
Cacatuidae Tanimbar Corella 4-Jun
Psittacidae Blue-rumped Parrot 27-Jun
Pittidae Blue-winged Pitta 3-Jun
Blue-winged Pitta 30-Jun
Rhipiduridae Malaysian Pied Fantail 15-Jun
Pycnonotidae Black-headed Bulbul 22-Jun
Black-headed Bulbul 27-Jun
Cream-vented Bulbul 26-Jun
Pellorneidae Abbott’s Babbler 30-Jun
Zosteropidae Oriental White-eye 10-Jun


Asian Brown Flycatcher 2-Jun
Motacillidae White Wagtail 15-Jun
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia 23-Jun


Feeding “Fluffy” the Juvenile Albino Collared Kingfisher.

Feeding “Fluffy” the Juvenile Albino Collared Kingfisher.

The rare juvenile albino Collared Kingfisher Todirhamphus chloris, at the East Coast Park was affectionately nicknamed “Fluffy” by Tuck Loong for its all white fluffed up plumage. It had become the darling and center of attention of the birding community here since its discovery by a group of otter watchers on 28 June. There were some drama early this month too. Micky Lim recounted how an overprotective lady wanted to keep the distressed kingfisher and how ACRES were called in to “rescue” it from the waters of the canal.

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Praying Mantis “praying” for its life. An excellent moment capture by Lim Swee Kin.

With so many “food-in-mouth” photos on social media, Art Toh saw a great opportunity to compile and study the different types of prey that the parents brought back to feed the chick. Clarinda Yap’s all action BIF with FIM ( beetle larvae) cover photo summed up this story best. Many of the love, bonding and tender moments between the parents and their fledgling were captured in the photographs.  This study is a great example of citizen science at work, sharing collective knowledge of our avian world.

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This Sun Skink made a fulfilling meal for “Fluffy”. Photo: Michael Thura

Both the parents were resourceful hunters. It seemed that everything is on the menu. They brought back no less than a dozen different types of food for the fledgling. Some were a little surprising like the swimmer crab and a centipede. Others were weird looking insects, larvae and beetles. There were photos of a long thin “snake’, caterpillars, dragonflies, a skink and a few praying mantises. Many cannot be identified.

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A nice juicy beetle caught floating in mid air by James Gan. Despite all the colorful diet this juvenile was not able to produce any color in its plumage.

Normal fledglings should be able to forage on its own by now. But due to its poor eyesight and weak flight, it was not able to do so. The parents had to do all the hunting. We don’t know when or if “Fluffy” will be able to survive on its own. Just hope that the parents will not abandon it and continue with the feeding until it is able to fend for itself.

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A tender moment of the parent bringing back a caterpillar for “Fluffy” captured by Tony Chua. 

All these photos tell a story but more importantly they expanded our knowledge of the diet of the Collared Kingfisher chick. Unfortunately we were not able to feature all the food here but we hope you can add it your photos of the food not covered here in the comments.

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An early photos taken by Terence Tan on 28 June showing “Fluffy” with what looks like a grasshopper.

Kelvin Ng 5.7

Its favourite seemed to be the Praying Mantis. Kelvin Ng’s well taken shot with the parent proudly showing off its catch.

Darren Leow 1.7

The parent tossing up a half eaten Blue Swimmer Crab was dramatically captured by Darren Leow at the perfect moment.

Tan Chee Huat 3.7

Tan Chee Huat’s clear and open shot of the parent with what looks like a centipede, a stable prey for the  Long-tailed Shrike chicks.

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The love of the parent scarifying a juicy beetle larvae for its chick well captured in this photo by Khong Yew

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“Fluffy” stretching out to pick up a cicada from its parent. Photo by Dave Koh.

Many thanks to Clarinda Yap, Lim Swee Kin, Michael Thura, James Gan, Tony Chua, Terence Tan, Kelvin Ng, Darren Leow, Tan Chee Huat, Dave Koh and Khong Yew for the use of their photographs.

Thanks also to Lena Chow for helping to identify some of the insects and prey and Art Toh for his suggestion to document this.  Please leave a comment if you know any of the unidentified food that were brought in.

Complied by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong.



Singapore Raptor Report, Late Spring Migration, April-June 2018


Oriental Honey Buzzard with what appears to be ‘landing lights’ at the shoulders! Goldhill Avenue, 6 April, 2018, by Zacc HD.


Six migrant raptor species were recorded in the April to June period, a 50% increase compared to the previous year. The ‘additional’ species were the Black Kite and Black Baza. The other four species are regulars during this period – the Osprey, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Japanese Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon.

A juvenile Black Kite Milvus migrans, a scarce visitor, was photographed at Choa Chu Kang christian cemetery on the 12th, scavenging on leftover food together with more than 20 Brahminy Kites; the kite was there for five days, from the 12-16 April. A single Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes was recorded at Pulau Ubin on 3 April.

Of the 22 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus recorded, one was of the torquatus race and at least 13 were of the orientalis race. Of the orientalis race, all were juveniles or second calendar year birds – six of these young birds were recorded in April, 4 in May and 3 in June. Interestingly, Zacc HD photographed an individual, at Goldhill Avenue in April, that showed features that looked like ‘landing lights’ (white patches) at the shoulders, which could lead the uninitiated to think that they had seen a Booted Eagle. The single torquatus was recorded only on one day, on 6 May at Bukit Timah near the hill top.

Records of the Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis spanned from 1-20 April. Eight were seen at Jelutong Tower on the 1st, flying north; up to three were on Pulau Ubin, with the rest being singles at Dairy Farm Nature Park, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR), Kranji Marshes, Choa Chu Kang, and the last one at Jelutong Tower on the 20th.

Five Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded, one at Kranji Marshes-SBWR area in April, one each at Pulau Ubin and Bishan Park in April, and one each at Neptune Court and Goldhill Avenue in May. A single Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus was recorded at the Kranji Marshes-SBWR area from April to June, and another at Seletar in April and May.

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Changeable Hawk Eagle, a young pale morph male still in immature plumage, judged to be a second year bird, that paired with a dark morph female to raise a chick at Kranji Marshes, in flight after delivering food to the nest, 20 April 2018, by Tan Gim Cheong

Sedentary Raptors

One Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was present at Goldhill Avenue area in April and May, with the exception of 9 April when two birds were seen. In addition, one individual was recorded at SBWR on 6 June.

For the Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus, there were 2 records each in April and May, and one in June. Next, for the Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, there were 2 at Springleaf Nature Park and one at Seletar Camp in April, and one each at SBWR and Singapore Quarry in June.

One Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus was recorded at Kranji Marshes in April and May, and another at Yio Chu Kang in May.  The common Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus was recorded in all 3 months and a maximum of 24 were recorded at Choa Chu Kang Christian cemetery in April, feeding on food scraps. 

Breeding Records

Three nestings of the White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster were observed during this period, one at Bukit Merah/SGH with at least one fledgling in early May, another at West Coast Park with at least one fledgling in early June and the best known one at Fort Canning with two chicks fledging in June.

A nest of the  Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus, with one dark morph adult and a young chick covered in white down on an Albizia tree at Kranji Marshes, was first reported on 3 April. During observations in April and May, the dark morph adult was usually present with the chick. The male, a pale morph and smaller in size compared to the dark morph, was observed to deliver food on the morning of 20 April and 19 May, leaving soon after on both occasions, leaving the female to feed the prey to the chick. Interestingly, the male was still in typical immature plumage with little streaking on breast and judged to be a second calendar year individual.

Nocturnal Raptors

A Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji flew into an apartment at Hougang Central on the night of 3 May surprising Janani Srinivasan, and the bird was guided out safely. On 24 May, Peter Ding had the good luck of encountering a Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus near Singapore Quarry and managed to photograph it. An Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula was found at a Sims Drive condominium on 2 April, and another roosting in a stand of trees by the seaside along a path at Punggol end on 9 Jun, during the day. An unfortunate Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo was found dead on 28 April at Bartley.

Breeding Records of Nocturnal Raptors

The Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu fledgling at SBWR was seen on 3 April and 20 May. A Spotted Wood Owl chick, partially covered in white downy feathers, fell to the ground at Pasir Ris Park on 5 April and was placed back onto the tree by rescuers (it had previously fallen on 23 March and similarly rescued). The same chick had reportedly fledged on 21 April but was found on the ground, unable to clamber up the trees, and was again placed back onto the tree. By 25 April the young owl appeared to have truly fledged. A family of Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji, with a fledgling, was present at Pasir Ris Park (PRP) on several days in May, roosting in a dense stand of small trees.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report, Late Spring Migration, Apr-Jun 2018, v2

Many thanks to everyone for sending in / sharing their records and to Zacc HD for the use of his photo.

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

The discovery of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus at Sentosa by Tuck Loong and Esther Ong on 23 December had to be one of the birding highlights of the year. Another was the sighting of a female Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina that stopped over for 3 days at Dairy Farm NP on 28 November by Veronica Foo and Marcel Finlay. Two sightings of the vagrant White-throated Needletails Hirundapus caudacutus over the Henderson Wave on 19 and 31 Oct by Keita Sin and one over Jelutong Tower on 25 Oct by Francis Yap ( Cover photo). The cuckoo and flycatcher were only our second records for these species, while the needletails were our second, third and fourth records.


Asian Emerald Cuckoo feeding on Tussock Moth caterpillars at Sentosa was                      only our second record.

Other rare visitors include the Asian House Martins Delichon dasypus, seen thrice, 11 March at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell, 19 October at Henderson Wave by Keita Sin and 24 November over Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap. Two Yellow-browed Warblers Phylloscopus inornatus, one at the Bukit Timah Hill summit on 18 January by Francis Yap and the other at Sentosa on 24 November by Lim Kim Chuah. A Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica was photographed by Khong Yew at Dairy Farm on 25 November and a Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus on 3 January at Pulau Ubin’s Butterfly Hill by Keita Sin. A ‘summer visitor’, the Austral Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis duly arrived on 27 May at Seletar end when Francis Yap went to look for them.

Dean Tan

Siberian Thrush from Dairy Farm. Photo: Dean Tan

A good number of rare and endangered flycatchers were sighted during the year. The globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus was recorded at Jurong Island and even Sungei Buloh WR and its usual haunt Bidadari between 30 September and 7 November. The non-breeding Brown-streaked Flycatchers Muscicapa williamsoni came over between August 13-26 and were spotted at Pasir Ris Park, Jelutong Tower and Portsdown Road.

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Brown-streaked Flycatcher, a non-breeding visitor comes over usually in July and August. Photo: Francis Yap.

Laurence Eu gave us an early arriving Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae when he photographed one at Dempsey Hill on 7 September, 10 days ahead of the previous extreme date. There were five more sightings of this flycatcher all at the Central Catchment Forest up to 6 April. Low Choon How had a new late departure date for the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata on 3 April at Simei. Other sightings of this flycatcher was at Belayer Creek on 24 October by Laurence Eu and a female bird at Bidadari on 12 and 18 November. Rounding up was the Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis, a recent split from the Blue and White. A first-winter bird was photographed by Khong Yew at Dairy Farm NP on 21 November, with Dave Bakewell providing the identification.

Zappey's Khong Yew

A first winter male Zappey’s Flycatcher from Dairy Farm NP. Photo: Khong Yew.

Other notable visitors for the year were the Black-capped Kingfishers Halcyon pileata, a photographers’ favourite, recorded at Kranji Marshes, Marina Barrage, Neo Tiew Lane 3 and West Coast Park between 20 October and 21 December; and Grey Nightjars Caprimulgus jotaka on 3 November at Satay by the Bay (Christina See), and one at Bukit Batok on 2 December by Lena Chow. Both were new for the sites. They were also recorded at Bidadari, Chinese Gardens, Rifle Range Link, One-north and AMK Park.


A low roosting Grey Nightjar at the Chinese Gardens by Looi-Ang Soh Hoon. The species was seen at six other places. 

A dead Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida found at Toa Payoh on 20 November was the first for the season. Over at Seletar end, Goh Cheng Teng reported the Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus on 25 November. The confiding Lanceolated Warblers Locustella lanceolata were present at Seletar end on 10 March and Tuas South on 29 Oct as per entries in ebirds by Martin Kennewell and James Lambo respectively.

Complied from the monthly Bird Reports for 2017 by Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong. Reference: Lim Kim Seng, The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009. Many thanks to Alan OwYong, Dean Tan, Francis Yap, Khong Yew and Looi-Ang Soh Hoon for the use of their photos.