2017 Year in Review – Residents and Non-breeding Visitors.

2017 Year in Review- Part 3. Residents and Non-breeding Visitors.

We had several important breeding records for 2017 but the most significant was the first documented record of the successful nesting of the Red-legged Crakes Rallina fasciata at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 3rd November by Mike Smith. Prior to this, all we had were sightings of juveniles being fed by their parents.

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Mike Smith’s timely photo of the hatching of the first Red-legged Crake chick at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The other notable breeding record was the sighting of a pair of Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana sitting on a nest inside a row of Mangroves at Pulau Ubin near Chek Java on 2nd January by Daniel Ong. This was our first breeding record from the north of Singapore. On 30th August, Chua Yen Kheng of Sungei Buloh proudly announced the sightings of a pair of chicks with the adult Black-backed Swamphens Porphyrio indicus at Kranji Marshes, a first since its opening and an indication of the success of the enhancement of the Marshes.

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Pair of Black-backed Swamphens with youngs at Kranji Marshes. Photo: Bari Mohamed and NParks.

A juvenile Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was photographed at Pulau Ubin by Serin Subaraj on 18th September during an NParks survey. The adults were heard calling (Jonathan Tan of NParks). Breeding evidence of this rare owl at Ubin?

Serin Subaraj

Juvenile Barred Eagle Owl photographed by Serin Subaraj at Pulau Ubin.

The nesting of the introduced Monk Parakeets Myiopsitta monachus at Pasir Ris Park was however a little worrying as these aggressive parakeets may impact negatively on our native parrots. (Lim Kim Keang on 24th February)

Staying in Ubin, David Tan retrieved the carcass of a Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos on 24 August, after it crashed into a building at the Outward Bound School there. This was our third record. A female Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus was reported at Ubin on 21st September by Alan OwYong with another sighting by Martin Kennewell at Sentosa, sex unknown.

Black Hornbill Rob Arnold

The female Black Hornbill was one of the latest addition to the Checklist. Taken at Ubin by Rob Arnold.

The nationally threatened Mangrove Blue Flycatcher Cyornis rufigastra was heard calling at the eastern end of the island by Lim Kim Keang and Low Choon How on 1st September. Sharinder Singh also reported seeing one across Lorong Halus on 13th May. Another rare resident seen at Pulau Ubin was the Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea, once on 1st April by Lim Kim Keang and again on 16th September by James Tann. Mike Hooper reported seeing another at Marina East on 30th July. This is the only Whistler here.

James Tann MW

A rare photo of the Mangrove Whistler taken at P. Ubin by James Tann in September

The Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was reported at the Pekan Quarry on 22nd March, 4th June and 26th December. The surprise find by Thio Hui Bing at the Singapore Quarry on the same day 26th December could mean that there could be two darters around?  Seetoh Yew Wai and friends reported a skittish Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda at the southern mangrove area on 23rd September. Could this be our resident minor sub species extending its territory from Pulau Tekong? Rounding up at Ubin, a total of 68 Straw-headed Bulbuls Pycnonotus zeylanicus were recorded during a census on 4th June coordinated by Yong Ding Li. Pulau Ubin is the most important site for this globally threatened species.

SHB Ted Ng

Pulau Ubin is the most important site for this globally threatened species. Photo like this by Ted Ng will be difficult to get elsewhere.

Over at the resort island of Sentosa, Lim Kim Seng had our only record of the rare introduced Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea for the year on 30th September. He also reported a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata there on 18th September. Two other records of the White-rumped Munias came from Chinese Gardens on 3rd Aug and Kent Ridge Park Forest Walk on 16th December. Their status and origin are not too clear as recent escapees cannot be fully ruled out.

Francis Yap had the only record of the rare Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon from our Central Forest for the year with a sighting at Jelutong Tower on 17th May.

Lesser Green Leafbird FYap

This is the only record and photo of the nationally threatened Lesser Green Leafbird taken by Francis Yap this year inside our Central Forest.

But the secretive King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis was more cooperative with multiple sightings from Kranji Marshes on 10th February, 5th November and Seletar end on 20th February all by Martin Kennewell.

The large Lesser Adjutants Leptoptilos javanicus had been making rounds over the Kranji Marshes and Sungei Buloh areas during the last quarter of the year. Again Martin Kennewell and Con Foley were there to record the sightings on 30th September, 8th October where four birds were seen, and 4th December.

The forest loving Blue-eared Kingfishers Alcedo meninting continued with their location expansion with records coming in from Hindhede, Bukit Batok and Dairy Farm Nature Parks between 15th May and 24th June. Good news for our nationally threatened kingfisher.

BEKF Gerals Chua

Gerals Chua’s photo of the spreading Blue-eared Kingfisher with its catch at Kranji Marshes.

This final part concludes the Bird Review for 2017. We want to thank all of you for your timely posts in the various facebook groups, e-forum and alerts. Let us look forward to another impressive year ahead with more lifers for all.

Compiled 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 Mike Smith, Bari Mohamed/NParks, Serin Subaraj, Rob Arnold, James Tann, Ted Ng, Francis Yap and Gerals Chua for the use of their photos. 

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