Singapore Bird Report – February 2019

February continues to dazzle with exciting migratory species, such as the elusive Slaty-legged Crake at Admiralty,  rare Sakhalin Leaf Warbler & Green-backed Flycatcher; rare resident race Ruddy Kingfisher at SBWR, as well as unusual sightings of familiar residents in new places. Chinese New Year treats include the Crakes and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo at Lorong Halus Wetland.

Slaty-legged Crake, 070219, Admiralty Park, Bee Choo Ng-Strange

Slaty-legged Crake at Admiralty Park on 7 February 2019, by Bee Choo Ng-Strange.

Slaty-legged Crake at Admiralty Park

The Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides is rare winter visitor and passage migrant that is elusive and seldom encountered. Although listed as being of least concern (BirdLife, 2016), the species is said to be in decline. A rather large crake measuring about 25cm in length, the species is said to breed across South Asia to the Philippines, and certain populations is known to migrate within the region.

The most recent report concerned one that was photographed in a basement carpark at Haig Road in December 2018, as well as a hitherto unreported sighting at Admiralty Park on 3 December 2018 by Luke Milo Teo, who had been unsure of the species of crake he had photographed until the postings of the Haig Road bird. These were preceded by one found dead at Sentosa in December 2016, and a record on Jurong Island in January 2015. Thus, a sighting on 7 February 2019 at Admiralty Park by veteran birder Morten Strange, and his wife Bee Choo, was therefore greeted with much enthusiasm.

The crake was also seen on 8 February 2019 by Keita Sin. The last confirmed sighting of the crake was on 9 February 2019, reported by Khoo MeiLin, who noted that the crake, along with several White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus, frequented an evaporating pool during twilight hours to bathe before returning to the thick undergrowth within the vicinity.

Geoff 1

Photograph of one of several White-breasted Waterhen in the pond frequented by the crake at Admiralty Park at 7pm on 12 February 2019, illustrating the less-than-ideal state of the pond; taken by Geoff Lim.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

Sightings within the CCNR were confined to the initial days of February. On 2 February 2019, an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca (black-backed subspecies), Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans and an unidentified Hawk Cuckoo were spotted around the vicinity of Dillenia Hut by Thio Hui Bing. Another Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (black-backed subspecies) was spotted on 6 February 2019, as was a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae by Raghav Narayanswamy. The same day also yielded a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park for Geoff Lim.

GBFC, Feb 19, Rifle Link, Fryap

This Green-backed Flycatcher was spotted sometime in February 2019 along Rifle Range Link, by Francis Yap.

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

On 8 February 2019, a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans was spotted at SBG’s Learning Forest by Karyne Wee. On 17 February 2019, two White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata were spotted feeding in the Bambusetum by visiting Dutch ecologist, Tessa van Vreeswijk and Geoff Lim.

CB Drongo, 080219, SBG, Karyne Wee

A Crow-billed Drongo spotted inside the Learning Forest by Karyne Wee on 8 February 2019.

Geoff 2

A White-rumped Munia at the Bambusetum on 17 February 2019. Photo by Geoff Lim

Northern Singapore

Prior to the Chinese New Year season, Lorong Halus was a hotbed of activity due to the continued appearance of two rallids and a charismatic cuckoo. A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus on 2 February 2019 was reported by Lee Yue Teng, while a Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca was seen on the same day by Kok M Lee. Also spotted and posted on social media was the elusive Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla. The crake had been sighted in end December 2018 and continued to be seen in the reedbeds at the Lorong Halus Wetland during the Chinese New Year holidays.

CWC, 020219, Halus, Lee Yue Teng

A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo photographed at Lorong Halus on 2 February 2019 by Lee Yue Teng.

RB Crake, GEral KC Lim

A Ruddy-breasted Crake at Lorong Halus on 3 February 2019. Photo taken by Gerald KC Lim.

Visitors to Baker Street on 3 February 2019 noted the presence of two species of skulking bittern around the pond’s perimeter. A Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis was spotted by See Toh Yew Wai, while a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was seen by Pan Denan. The pond also attracted a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, which was seen on 21 February 2019 by Khoo Mei Lin.

BFO, 210219, Baker St, Khoo MeiLin

A Buffy Fish Owl was spotted at Baker Street on 21 February 2019; photo by Khoo MeiLin

Apart from the Slaty-legged Crake reported on 7 February 2019 by Morten Strange, other species reported in the north included a spectacular roosting by about 600-700 Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus at Yishun Ring Road reported by Alfred Chia, a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula xanthopygia at Admiralty Park on 11 February 2019 by Alan Owyong, two Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax at Serangoon Reservor on 13 February 2019 by Wong Keng, and a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida provided some relief to students when it flew in and out of a classroom at Anderson Secondary School on 15 February 2019, reported by Mohd Nasir Sani.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pulau Ubin in February 2019 reported the presence of a Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus at Chek Jawa on 3 February 2019 (Adrian Silas Tay), as well as four Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus on 8 February 2019 by Teo Kah Ming, Joseph Lai and Joseph Lin. A Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus was spotted at Pasir Ris Park on 12 Feb 2019 by Alvin Seng, while a Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni was seen on Coney Island on 28 February 2019.

Southern Singapore

A Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis found its way into an apartment at Geylang Lorong 29 on 12 February 2019 and injured itself during the process; the bird was reported by Kelvin Goh. A similar bittern was seen on 17 January 2019 at the Marine Parade Polyclinic and reported in last month’s report. A Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax turned up at Satay-by-the-Bay on 20 February 2019 and was reported by Sim Chip Chye. On the same day, a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans was spotted on Sentosa by Alfred Chia. The island yielded an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina at Imbiah Falls on 28 February 2019 when Lim Kim Seng and David Mostardi visited the site.

Western Singapore

Western Singapore continued to provide an astonishing number of reports, given that many local Important Bird Areas are clustered in this part of the island nation.

The area around Kranj Marsh continues to support a wide variety of species. The marshes themselves hosted a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea, which was spotted on 3 February 2019 by Veronica Foo; while a Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis was encountered at Turut Track on 22 February 2019.

The nearby canal at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 supported a variety of species; a Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura on 2 February 2019 by Benson Brighton, a Greater Painted Snipe Rostatula benghalensis on 3 February 2019 by Lim Kim Seng, an Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis, two Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, three White Wagtail Motacilla alba ocularis, four Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, and five Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius  on 5 February 2019 by Yong Ding Li, Koji Ichiyama & Geoff Lim, as well as a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea on 6 February 2019 by Art Toh. Two adult and two juvenile Common Moorhen were spotted by Khoo Mei Lin on 6 February 2019 also.

Watercock, Art Toh

A Watercock spotted at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 on 6 February 2019 by Art Toh.

Geoff 3

The environs of the Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 drain at low tide on 5 February 2019, visited by a Common Moorhen, a White-breasted Waterhen and a Little Egret, photo by Geoff Lim

GEoff 4

White Wagtail at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 on 5 February 2019, spotted by Yong Ding Li, Koji Ichiyama and Geoff Lim

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) continued to surprise birders. On 4 February 2019, a rare resident race Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda minor with a strong purplish gloss to its back was photographed by Siew Mun. Several days later on 7 February 2019, seven Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus were seen by Low Choon How, the highest number to date. An Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was seen on 11 February 2019 by Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo.

Ruddy KF, 040219, SBWR, Siew Mun

The Ruddy Kingfisher at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Photo taken by Siew Mun on 4 February 2019.

Farther afield in the west, we received news of a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka along the railway track near Bukit Timah Drive by Richard White, who also noted the phenomenal congregation of about 660 Blue-throated Bee-eaters Merops viridis at Eng Kong Place on 9 February 2019.

Holland Drive yielded a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo on 4 February 2019 by Art Toh, a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus on 5 February 2019 by Arasu Sivaraman and Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo on 25 February 2019 by Cedric Tan, an apparent first for the location.

Common Buzzard, 050219, Holland Dr, Art Toh

A Common Buzzard at Holland Drive on 4 February 2019 as photographed by Art Toh.

SWO, 260219, Holland Dr, Khoo MeiLin

Two Spotted Wood Owl at Holland Drive photographed on 26 February 2019 by Khoo MeiLin.

A fishing Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus at Pandan River attracted a steady following of bird photographers and birders alike, resulting in reports of a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis and a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus on 21 February 2019 by Alan Owyong.

The West Coast Park complex yielded three Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea on 21 February 2019 at the Pasir Panjang Canal by Alan Voo, as well as a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor on 27 February 2019 by Steven Wong.

Abbreviations:
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
SBTB: Satay by the Bay

This report is based on records compiled by Alan OwYong, written by Geoff Lim, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. The records are 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 Bee Choo Ng-Strange, Khoo MeiLin, Francis Yap, Karyne Wee, Lee Yue Teng, Gerald KC Lim, Art Toh, Siew Mun and Geoff Lim for the use of their photos. 

References
BirdLife International (2016). Rallina eurizonoidesThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22692317A93347854. Downloaded on 27 March 2019.

List of Birds seen in February 2019

Family Species Date Location
Ciconiidae

 

Lesser Adjutant 8-Feb Pulau Ubin
Lesser Adjutant 7-Feb SBWR
Ardeidae

 

Cinnamon Bittern 3-Feb Baker Street
Cinnamon Bittern 21-Feb Pandan Canal
Black Bittern 3-Feb Baker Street
Black Bittern 12-Feb Geylang Lor 29
Black Bittern 21-Feb Pandan Canal
Black-crowned Night-heron 20-Feb SBTB
Black-crowned Night-heron 13-Feb Serangoon Reservoir
Anhingidae Oriental Darter 11-Feb SBWR
Accipitridae

 

Jerdon’s Baza 28-Feb Coney Island
Grey-headed Fish-eagle 8-Feb Pandan Canal
Common Buzzard 4-Feb Holland Drive
Rallidae

 

Slaty-legged Crake 7-Feb Admiralty Park
Ruddy-breasted Crake 2-Feb Lor Halus
Watercock 3-Feb Kranji Marsh
Watercock 6-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Common Moorhen 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Common Moorhen 6-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Charadriidae Little Ringed Plover 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 3-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Scolopacidae

 

Pin-tailed Snipe 2-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Wood Sandpiper 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Broad-billed Sandpiper 3-Feb Pulau Ubin
Cuculidae

 

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 2-Feb Lor Halus
Banded Bay Cuckoo 12-Feb Pasir Ris Park
Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo 27-Feb West Coast Park
Hawk Cuckoo 2-Feb CCNR
Strigidae

 

Buffy Fish Owl 21-Feb Baker Street
Spotted Wood Owl 25-Feb Holland Drive
Caprimulgidae

 

Grey Nightjar 4-Feb Bukit Timah  Drive
Savanna Nightjar 22-Feb Turut Track
Alcedinidae

 

Ruddy Kingfisher 4-Feb SBWR
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 2-Feb CCNR
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 6-Feb CCNR
Meropidae

 

Blue-tailed Bee-eater 5-Feb Yishun Ring Road
Blue-throated Bee-eater 9-Feb Eng Khong Place
Falconidae Peregrine Falcon 5-Feb Holland Drive
Pittidae Hooded Pitta 15-Feb Anderson Sec School
Dicruridae

 

Crow-billed Drongo 2-Feb CCNR
Crow-billed Drongo 14-Feb Singapore Botanic Gardens
Crow-billed Drongo 20-Feb Sentosa
Phylloscopidae Sakhalin Warbler 6-Feb CCNR
Turdidae Orange-headed Thrush 28-Feb Sentosa
Muscicapidae

 

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 11-Feb Admiralty Park
Green-backed Flycatcher 6-Feb CCNR
Motacillidae

 

Eastern Yellow Wagtail 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Grey Wagtail 21-Feb Pasir Panjang Canal
White Wagtail 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia 17-Feb Singapore Botanic Gardens

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