Singapore Bird Report – September 2018

A rare, globally threatened Chinese Egret, and a Grey-headed Fish Eagle preying on a Cinnamon Bittern capped this month’s sightings. A steady stream of migratory birds continue to reach Singapore as the northern hemisphere cools with the onset of autumn. Migratory passerines like flycatchers, Tiger Shrike and the ubiquitous Arctic Warbler begin to be seen on our shores. Resident species continue to be observed, notably the presence of an Oriental Darter at the Singapore Quarry.

Oriental Darter

On 2 Sep 2018, Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy observed an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster at Singapore Quarry. The next day, Diana Jackson saw the shape of a Darter flying over Rail Mall. These reports rippled across the birding community and drew many to the vicinity for photo opportunities. The bird continued to be seen through September, fishing, swimming and flying at the farther reaches of the quarry. There were also several anxious moments as onlookers sometimes wondered if Grey-headed Fish Eagles perched nearby had any nefarious designs on the more ungainly bird. The bird continued to be seen and photographed on 29 Sep 2018.

1, Oriental Darter, Lee Van Hien

The Oriental Darter at the Singapore Quarry with its piscine prey. With its body submerged and only its sinuous head and neck visible, this species is also called the Snakebird. Photo by Lee Van Hien taken on 8 Sep 2018.

2, Oriental Darter, Siew Mun

The Oriental Darter taking flight at the Singapore Quarry on 8 Sep 2018. Photo taken by Siew Mun.

3, Oriental Darter, Zhang Licong, 080918

The distinct silhouette of the Oriental Darter flying over the Singapore Quarry on 9 Sep 2018. Photographed by Zhang Licong.

Chinese Egret

As a fitting tribute to the 25th anniversary of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a rare and globally threatened Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes make an appearance at the reserve on 13 Sep 2018, YT Choong and Deborah Friets were the lucky ones to bump into the elegant egret, and managed to obtain some images which were then identified by Dave Bakewell.

Two Featured Flycatchers

The male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia, also called the Korean Flycatcher, is a visually delightful bird with its contrasting colours of black, yellow and white wing patch. Females and juveniles have somewhat distinct wingbars and a rather distinct yellow rump that separates them from Common Ioras. The species breeds across eastern Mongolia, the Russian Far East,  and China from Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Sichuan to the Changjiang valley and is known to winter regularly in peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Java (Wells, 2007:533). It is currently deemed to be of Least Concern by IUCN due to its extensive range range and stable population.

This flycatcher is known to be active at dusk, and hunts mostly at crown-level, much to the chagrin of those who wish to photograph the species, though birds were known to venture down to scrub or in areas overlooking an open space from which birds would perch and aerial-sally for flying insect prey (Wells, 2007:534).

A male was spotted in Bidadari on 2 Sep 2018 by Goh Cheng Teng, followed a female spotted by Ramesh T on 4 Sep 2018, a male and female on 10 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and a male and female on 15 Sep 2018 by Terence Tan. One bird was also spotted at Hort Park on 12 Sep 2018 by Tay Kian Guan, while a female was spotted on 28 Sep 2018 at Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) by Terence Tan, and another female was seen on 29 Sep 2018 at Kranji Marsh by Geoff Lim.

4, Yellow-rumped FC, Terence, Tan

A male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at Bidadari on 15 Sep 2018 by Terence Tan.

5, Yellow-rumped FC, Terence Tan, female

The yellow rump of a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher shows up distinctly in this photo by Terence Tan, taken at Bidadari on 15 Sep 2018.

6, Yellow-rumped FC, Geoff Lim, female

A distant photo of a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher showing the distinctive yellow rump and wing bars in this photo Geoff Lim, taken at Kranji Marsh on 23 Sep 2018.

The less photogenic Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni is sometimes considered a sub-species of the Asian Brown Flycatcher superspecies (Wells 2007:578). A sighting on 7 Sep 2018 at Bidadari by Martin Kennewell represented the first of the season this year, while a second sighting was made on 14 Sep 2018 at Singapore Quarry by Wiliam Mahoney.

7, BSFC,-crop

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

Migratory species encountered within CCNR during September include an Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus on 12 Sep 2018 at Upper Peirce Reservoir by Veronica Foo, the aforementioned Brown-streaked Flycatcher at the Singapore Quarry and a Pacific Swift Apus pacificus at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 14 Sep 2018 by William Mahoney and John Ascher, Daurian Starling Agrospar sturninus on 15 Sep 2018 at Venus Loop by Sandra Chia and a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 25 Sep 2018 by Diana Jackson.

Resident species sighted in this region include the Oriental Darter featured earlier on 2 & 3 Sep 2018 at the vicinity of the Singapore Quarry, a young male Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra on 11 Sep 2018 at Singapore Quarry by Alan Owyong, a Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera on 29 Sep 2018 at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, a Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex at Lower Peirce Reservoir by Art Toh and Peach Won,  up to three Asian Fairy Bluebird Irena puella and a pair of Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata at Hindhede Park by Geoff Lim on 30 Sep 2018.

8, AFBB

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

SBG yielded one record of a migrating Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis on 22 Sep 2018 by Stuart Campbell, and the resident Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus on 15 Sep 2018 by Geoff Lim and Kozi Ichiyama.

9, GHFE

Grey-headed Fish-eagle at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 15 Sep 2018. Photo by Geoff Lim

Central Singapore

The parks and gardens of Central Singapore hosted migratory species such as the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher on 2, 4 & 10 Sep 2018 as mentioned above. Bidadari held Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus on  3 & 9 Sep 2018 by Oliver Tan and Feroz, respectively; an Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris on 7 Sep 2018 by Khoo MeiLin; the aforementioned Brown-streaked Flycatcher on 7 Sep 2018; an Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis on 10 Sep 2018 by Steven Cheong; and a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica on 11 Sep 2018 by Terence Tan.

10, Arctic Warbler

An active Arctic Warbler photographed by Herman Phua at Bidadari on 9 Sep 2018.

11, Tiger Shrike

Resident species spotted include about 20 House Swifts Apus nipalensis wheeling above Ngee Ann City at Orchard Road on 11 Sep 2018 by Geoff Lim

Northern Singapore

A Forest Wagtail Dendroanthus indicus was seen on 2 Sep 2018 at Yishun St 11 by Oliver Tan, while Tay Kian Guan and Ramesh T spotted a Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida at Lorong Halus on 19 and 30 Sep 2018.

12, Whiskered Tern, Tay Kian Guan

Eastern Singapore

The September Ubin survey on 16 Sep 2018 yielded four species of owl – the Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji, the Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus, the Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, and the Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo.

An Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei was also spotted on Pulau Ubin on 16 Sep 2018 by Feroz and Francis Kayano Chia. Farther east, Frankie Cheong spotted a Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii and Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus on Pulau Tekong on 17 Sep 2018, while a Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis was spotted at Tampines on 19 Sep 2018 by Lawrence Cher, representing a first for the season.

Southern Singapore

Migratory species seen in southern Singapore include the previously mentioned Yellow-rumped Flycatcher spotted by Tay Kian Guan at Kent Ridge Park on 12 Sep 2018.  Also seen were a Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus at Hort Park on 13 Sep 2018, by Art Toh, and a juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica was seen at Telok Blangah on 26 Sep 2018 by Art Toh.

13, DSFC, Art Toh, crop

A Dark-sided Flycatcher seen at Telok Blangah on 26 Sep 2018 by Art Toh. The streaked breast is a distinctive feature of the juvenile this species.

A resident Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus was reported to be nesting at Wessex Estate on 2 Sep 2018 by Isabellle Desjeux and two eggs were observed, while a Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis  was seen at Kent Ridge Park on 12 Sep 2018 by Tay Kian Guan.

Western Singapore

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) yielded an Eastern-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus on 1 Sep 2018 by Russell Boyman, a first-for-the-season Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia on 2 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, Great Egrets Egretta alba – one sighted on 3 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and four on 4 Sep 2018 by Veronica Foo, Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis on 15,  17 and 30 Sep 2018 (Pary Sivaraman, Deborah Friets & Martin Kennewell, respectively), and the uncommon Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea on 17 Sep 2018 (Deborah Friets). A Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans was subsequently seen on 19 Sep 2018 by Lim Hong Yao.

The only note-worthy resident at SBWR was a juvenile Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus, fed by its host, an Ashy Tailorbird Orthotomus ruficeps, on 18 Sep 2018, spotted by John Marriott.

The area bound by Kranji Marshes, Neo Tiew and Lim Chu Kang also yielded a substantial number of sightings. Kranji Dam yielded a Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida on 9 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell), while Kranji  Marshes yielded a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea on 2 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell), 38-50 Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia in the adjacent field on 8 Sep 2018 (Veronica Foo), a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis on 23 Sep 2018 (Geoff Lim & Kozi Ichiyama) and Pallas’ Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola on 22 , 23, 25 and 28 Sep 2018 by Fadzrun A. (2 birds), Geoff Lim (1 bird), Martin Kennewell, and Geoff Lim & Kozi Ichiyama (1 bird), respectively.

Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course supported species such as the Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis and Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta, sighted on 15 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and nineteen Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on 19 Sep 2018 by Lim Kim Keang & Veronica Foo. Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 yielded another Little Ringed Plover on 2 Sep 2018 (Kozi Ichiyama and Geoff Lim), Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus on 12 Sep 2018 (Luke Milo Teo), Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea on 15 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell) and Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis on 26 Sep 2018 (Dillen Ng).  

14, Little Ringed Plover

A Little Ringed Plover photographed at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 on 2 Sep 2018 by Geoff Lim.

Other species seen in the west include a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus taken by a Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus at Pandan Canal on 13 Sep 2018 (Chan Yoke Meng & Melinda Chan); and on 15 Sep 2018, two House Swift Apus nipalensis at West Coast Drive (Tay Kian Guan) and a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at Chinese Garden (Dani M Queddeng).

========================================

Pelagic Trips along Straits of Singapore

Lim Kim Keang, Alan OwYong and participants of the NSS pelagic trip along the multi-national straits between Singapore and Batam on 22 Sep 2018 hit the peak of the migration of the Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis with 532 birds counted; they also spotted eight Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus, 136 Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus, 18 Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii, 25 Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis, a juvenile Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida, a juvenile Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel, and a single Pacific Swift Apus pacificus. Another private pelagic trip on 30 Sep 2018 along the same Straits yielded a Common Tern Sterna hirundo (Tan Kok Hui et al). Note that these sightings might not be in Singapore waters.

15, Frigatebird 220918

Lesser Frigatebird at the Straits of Singapore on 22 Sep 2018. Photo by Mahesh Krishnan

Abbreviations:
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 Lee Van Hien, Siew Mun, Zhang Licong, Terence Tan, Feroz, Martin Kennewell, Art Toh, Herman Phua, Tay Kian Guan, Mahesh Krishnan  and Geoff Lim for the use of their photos. 

References: 

Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of Thai-Malay Peninsula. Vol. 1. Non-passerines. London: Academic Press.

List of Bird Sightings in report

Family Species Date
Ardeidae

 

Cinnamon Bittern 13-Sep
Chinese Pond Heron 12-Sep
Great Egret 4-Sep
Great Egret 3-Sep
Intermediate Egret 1-Sep
Intermediate Egret 8-Sep
Chinese Egret 13-Sep
Anhingidae Oriental Darter 2-Sep
Oriental Darter 3-Sep
Accipitridae

 

 

Chinese Sparrowhawk 19-Sep
Japanese Sparrowhawk 22-Sep
Grey-headed Fish-eagle 15-Sep
Rallidae Watercock 2-Sep
Charadriidae Little Ringed Plover 2-Sep
Little Ringed Plover 19-Sep
Greater Sand Plover 17-Sep
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 26-Sep
Scolopacidae

 

 

 

 

 

Marsh Sandpiper 15-Sep
Marsh Sandpiper 17-Sep
Marsh Sandpiper 30-Sep
Terek Sandpiper 17-Sep
Long-toed Stint 15-Sep
Curlew Sandpiper 17-Sep
Laridae

 

Whiskered Tern 9-Sep
Whiskered Tern 19-Sep
Whiskered Tern 30-Sep
Columbidae Thick-billed Pigeon 17-Sep
Cuculidae

 

Greater Coucal 12-Sep
Plantive Cuckoo 18-Sep
Strigidae

 

 

 

Sunda Scops Owl 16-Sep
Barred Eagle Owl 16-Sep
Buffy Fish Owl 16-Sep
Spotted Wood Owl 16-Sep
Brown Hawk Owl 30-Sep
Caprimulgidae Large-tailed Nightjar 2-Sep
Apodidae

 

 

 

 

Pacific Swift 9-Sep
Pacific Swift 13-Sep
House Swift 11-Sep
House Swift 15-Sep
Alcedinidae Common Kingfisher 15-Sep
Pittidae Blue-winged Pitta 20-Sep
Laniidae

 

 

Tiger Shrike 3-Sep
Tiger Shrike 9-Sep
Tiger Shrike 13-Sep
Dicruridae Crow-billed Drongo 19-Sep
Monarchidae

 

Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher 23-Sep
Amur Paradise Flycatcher 16-Sep
Pycnonotidae Cream-vented Bulbul 30-Sep
Phylloscopidae

 

 

Arctic Warbler 10-Sep
Eastern Crowned Warbler 1-Sep
Eastern Crowned Warbler 12-Sep
Locustellidae Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 22-Sep
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 23-Sep
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 25-Sep
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 28-Sep
Timaliidae Chestnut-winged Babbler 29-Sep
Irenidae Asian Fairy Bluebird 30-Sep
Sturnidae Daurian Starling 15-Sep
Muscicapidae

 

Dark-sided Flycatcher 11-Sep
Dark-sided Flycatcher 25-Sep
Dark-sided Flycatcher 26-Sep
Asian Brown Flycatcher 7-Sep
Brown-streaked Flycatcher 7-Sep
Brown-streaked Flycatcher 14-Sep
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 2-Sep
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 4-Sep
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 10-Sep
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 12-Sep
Estrildidae Java Sparrow 29-Sep
Motacillidae Forest Wagtail 2-Sep
Eastern Yellow Wagtail 15-Sep
Grey Wagtail 15-Sep

 

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1 thought on “Singapore Bird Report – September 2018

  1. KC Lim

    Geoff, Gim Cheong, Alan:

    Great stuff and nice reading. Thanks for keeping it going. I know it ain’t easy.

    Regards, Kim Chuah

    >

    Like

    Reply

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