by Geoff Lim & Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)
July 2019 was an amazing month, with the first record of the Pied Stilt, not just occurring, but also breeding, in Singapore; and the first breeding record of the rare Black-winged Stilt, so far only known as a visitor. The month also closed with the complete loss of a brood of 11 ducklings of a pair of Lesser Whistling Ducks.
First record of Pied Stilt in Singapore.
In July 2019, Frankie Cheong reported the first record of the Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus in Singapore, on the new reclaimed land around Pulau Tekong. It was on 17 July 2019 that he saw an adult Pied Stilt and four juveniles that appeared to associate with the adult. The four juvenile stilts were seen again on 23 July 2019.
First breeding record of Pied Stilt in Singapore.
Just three days later, on 20 July 2019, he found that a pair of Pied Stilts were nesting! The nest contained one egg on 20 July 2019, and by 23 July 2019, the nest yielded four eggs. On 27 July 2019, the Pied Stilts were still sitting on their eggs.
The rare Black-winged Stilts
A rare Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus was also seen in the same vicinity on 17 July 2019, and again on 23 July 2019, fighting with the Pied Stilt.
First breeding record of Black-winged Stilt in Singapore.
On 25 July 2019, Frankie stumbled on yet another nest with four eggs. This time, it belonged to a pair of Black-winged Stilts, which was unexpected as these birds have so far been known as rare migrants. By 27 July 2019, one chick was visible and tended to by its parents, while the nest only had one egg visible. The two other eggs had disappeared. By 29 July 2019, the Black-winged Stilt’s nest was empty, while two chicks were seen nearby, in the presence of two adult birds.
The Black-winged Stilt is widely distributed and is found from France and Iberia S to sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, and E to C Asia and NC China, Indian Subcontinent (including Sri Lanka), Indochina and Taiwan; winters S to Africa (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019), while the Pied Stilt, also known as the White-headed Stilt, occurs in Sumatra and Java, E to New Guinea, and S to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand; winters N to Philippines, Greater Sundas and Sulawesi, and as far as Sri Lanka (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019). Historically, the Black-winged Stilt is listed as the only species of stilt found in the Malay Peninsula (Wells, 1999:273-274).
Hitherto, the Black-winged Stilt has been listed as a rare migrant to Singapore. The last three sightings were at the main hide at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in November 2011, Punggol Barat in December 2012 and Kranji Marsh in November 2015. Hence, Frankie’s breeding records presents new knowledge on the status of the bird in Singapore.
The Pied Stilt had previously been considered a sub-species of the Black-winged Stilt (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019) and is notably a largely Indonesian/Australasian species. In recent years, it has more frequently been accorded full species status (Sonobe & Usui, 1993; Robson, 2005). There are no previous records of the Pied Stilt in Singapore, much less a breeding record, therefore Frankie’s sightings constitute the first records of the Pied Stilt in Singapore.
Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) & Fringes
While resident species continued to hold sway, early migratory species have begun to reach our shores. In the heart of the CCNR, observers reported regular forest residents such as the Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus on 10 July 2019 (Francis Yap), Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps on 13 July 2019 at Jelutong Tower (Joseph Lim), the Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera on 23 July 2019 (Martin Kennewell), Short-tailed Babbler Malacocincla malaccensis on 23 July 2019 (Martin Kennewell – 2 heard) and on 25 July 2019 (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan – 1 bird seen on trail to Jelutong Tower), and Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati (Evelyn Lee – female at Jelutong Tower). A migratory Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni was reported as being seen on 22 July 2019 by Raghav N.
CCNR fringe parks also received a fair amount of attention. Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) hosted a conference of Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana between 1 and 4 July 2019 (Peter Lim), beginning with 11 individuals on 1 Jul 2019, to 7 birds and eventually 4 birds by 4 July 2019. The Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus was spotted on 27 July 2019 (Yeong Wai Kai) and a female Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra was seen on 31 July 2019 (Roberta Cheok). Along the Rail Corridor, a Tanimbar Corella Cacatua goffiniana was spotted on 5 July 2019 (Lim Sheen Taw).
Further away at the Singapore Quarry, a foraging Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus was spotted on 3 July 2019 (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan), a pair of Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus and its juvenile were variously spotted on 16 July 2019, from 21 to 25 July 2019 by Art Toh and friends, and heard on 28 July 2019 by Yong Ding Li and Geoff Lim; while a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was spotted on 30 July 2019 by Francis Yap. Observers also noted the presence of the Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata at Hindhede Park on 4 and 26 July 2019 (Terence Tan and Joseph Lim).
A Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax was spotted at Upper Peirce Reservoir on 24 July 2019 by Morten Strange and Bee Choo.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Two Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata were seen on 2 July 2019 by Mike Smith, while the White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata was spotted on 13 July 2019.
A White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster was seen at Potong Pasir Park Connector on 5 July 2019 by Paul Tan, while three Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela were seen at Goldhill Avenue on 6 July 2019 by Soon Yi Pak
The Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis was spotted at the Lorong Halus Wetland by Dean Tan and Siew Mun on 5 and 17 July 2019. Towards the end of July, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia were spotted at Yishun Dam on 28 July 2019 (Art Toh), as were up to four Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus on 31 Jul 2019 (Khoo Mei Lin), together with Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii, on 28 July 2019 (Art Toh) and 31 July 2019 (Khoo Mei Lin).
Singapore’s eastern flanks contain habitats that yielded surprises. Pulau Ubin delivered spectacular species, such as a rare Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos discovered during a joint NParks-NSS Ubin survey on 7 July 2019, a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela on 2 July 2019 by Feroz Ghazali, while the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus put up two appearances on 14 and 21 July 2019 at Chek Jawa for Francis Yap. There were also shorebirds lingering farther away – three Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus and two Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos spotted on 18 July 2019 by Feroz Ghazali, and Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and more Whimbrel on 21 July 2019 by Francis Yap.
Pasir Ris Park continued to support Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea (14 July 2019; Steven Cheong), the adult and juvenile Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo (28 July 2019; Jimmy Ng), the one-eyed Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu (28 July 2019; Jimmy Ng), and the juvenile Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting with a deformed foot (31 July 2019; Dean Tan). Nearby at the Sungei Tampines Canal East, Little Tern Sternula albifrons had been seen earlier on 1 July 2019 foraging above the waters by Alvin Seng.
Changi Business Park continued to be a stronghold for the Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea, which was reported on 14 July 2019 (T. Ramesh) drinking water in the canal, and on 19 July 2019 at a more conventional location. Also spotted was an early arriving Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, seen on 17 July 2019 by T. Ramesh.
Gardens by the Bay gave nature lovers much grief and anxiety when the ducklings belonging to a pair of Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica were systematically decimated through the course of the month. (From 11 ducklings on 27 June 2019), by 1 July 2019, there were seven ducklings, as counted by Isabelle Lee and other birders. Staff from the Gardens took pains to build a floating platform for the birds to provide a safe haven from suspected underwater predators. Despite everyone’s best effort, the family was eventually reduced to four survivors by 22 July 2019 (Ronnie Koh), as individuals were picked off by predatory fish lurking beneath the murky waters under the lotus pads. On 24 July 2019, the family decided to move to the ponds at Gardens by the Bay East, and by 25 July 2019, the family was down to a single duckling (Mary Yeo). Then, on 26 July 2019, there were no more ducklings (Jeremiah Loei).
Barely a kilometre away, another family of birds captured the attention of photographers and birders. A pair of Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles made a nest out of a scrape on the ground next to a construction site at Marina Bay East. Four eggs were reported on 16 July 2019, which eventually hatched by 19 July 2019. The chicks were rescued by construction workers when they could not surmount the kerb when their parents moved to the golf course across the construction site.
Further away, White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata were reported at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 19 July 2019 by John Marriott, who also reported Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea at Sentosa on 23 July 2019.
The Kranji Marshes and surrounding habitat comprising Turut Track and Neo Tiew Harvest Lane received reports of migrants and residents alike. Two Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus were reportedly inspecting a hole at Turut Track on 3 July 2019 by Steven Wong, who also reported the sighting of a Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus in the vicinity on the same day. A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was reportedly seen on 7 July 2019 at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane by William Legge, who noted that “a small bittern uniformly salmon cinnamon coloured flew away from us”. Two Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus were spotted on 17 July 2019 within Kranji Marshes by Vincent Chin, while a juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii was seen on 28 and 29 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai; the young cuckoo was being fed by a Common Iora Aegithina tiphia on 28 July 2019. An adult Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata was also seen regurgitating food for three young birds on 30 July 2019 at Kranji Marsh by Yeo Seng Beng. Migratory Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius were reported to have arrived at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 28 July 2019 by Art Toh.
Shorebirds were also reported at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. As early as 7 July 2019, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus were seen huddling together at the main pond by William Legge. Other shorebirds reported were a lone Common Redshank Tringa totanus on 14 July 2019 (Adrian Silas Tay), and Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva on 23 July 2019 (YK Han). The Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus were also spotted on 7 July 2019 by YK Han, 14 July 2019 perched on a tree at Platform 2 by Adrian Silas Tay and two overflying birds on 20 July 2019 by Ng Wei Khim & Ng Wee Hao.
Two adults and a juvenile Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu were reported at the newly opened Jurong Lake Garden on 21 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai and seen again on 27 July 2019 by Ang Siew Siew, while the White-headed Munia Lonchura striata was also spotted on 23 July 2019 by Vincent Chin. The munia species was also seen along the Ulu Pandan Park Connector Network on 18 July 2019 by Brenda Chua LH, while further afield, a Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra was spotted at the West Coast Park on 22 July 2019 by John Marriott.
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
This report is written by Geoff Lim and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird make up this report. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified.
Many thanks to Frankie Cheong, Francis Yap, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, Yeong Wai Kai, Lim Sheen Taw, Herman Phua, Morten and Bee Choo Strange, Mike Smith, Art Toh, Jimmy Ng, Isabelle Lee, and Norhafianni A. Majid for allowing us to use their photographs.
Pierce, R.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53759 on 26 August 2019).
Robson, C. (2005). Birds of South-east Asia. New Holland Publisher: UK.
Sonobe, K. & Usui, S. (1993). A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan: Tokyo.
Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Academic Press: London.
LIST OF BIRDS REPORTED IN JUNE 2019
|Family||Species name||Scientific Name||Date|
|Anatidae||Lesser Whistling Duck||Dendrocygna javanica||1 Jul 2019|
|Anatidae||Lesser Whistling Duck||Dendrocygna javanica||22 Jul 2019|
|Podicipedidae||Little Grebe||Tachybaptus ruficollis||5 Jul 2019|
|Podicipedidae||Little Grebe||Tachybaptus ruficollis||17 Jul 2019|
|Ciconiidae||Lesser Adjutant||Leptoptilos javanicus||7 Jul 2019|
|Ciconiidae||Lesser Adjutant||Leptoptilos javanicus||14 Jul 2019|
|Ciconiidae||Lesser Adjutant||Leptoptilos javanicus||20 Jul 2019|
|Ardeidae||Cinnamon Bittern||Ixobrychus cinnamomeus||7 Jul 2019|
|Ardeidae||Pacific Reef Heron||Egretta sacra||22 Jul 2019|
|Accipitridae||Crested Serpent Eagle||Spilornis cheela||2 Jul 2019|
|Accipitridae||Crested Serpent Eagle||Spilornis cheela||6 Jul 2019|
|Accipitridae||Changeable Hawk-Eagle||Nisaetus cirrhatus||3 Jul 2019|
|Accipitridae||Brahminy Kite||Haliastur indus||3 Jul 2019|
|Accipitridae||White-bellied Sea Eagle||Haliaeetus leucogaster||5 Jul 2019|
|Rallidae||Red-legged Crake||Rallina fasciata||2 Jul 2019|
|Recurvirostridae||Black-winged Stilt||Himantopus himantopus||17 Jul 2019|
|Recurvirostridae||Pied Stilt||Himantopus leucocephalus||17 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Red-wattled Lapwing||Vanellus indicus||3 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Masked Lapwing||Vanellus miles||16 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Masked Lapwing||Vanellus miles||19 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Masked Lapwing||Vanellus miles||19 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Pacific Golden Plover||Pluvialis fulva||23 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Grey Plover||Pluvialis squatarola||21 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Little Ringed Plover||Charadrius dubius||28 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Malaysian Plover||Charadrius peronii||28 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Malaysian Plover||Charadrius peronii||31 Jul 2019|
|Charadriidae||Lesser Sand Plover||Charadrius mongolus||31 Jul 2019|
|Scolopacidae||Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus||7 Jul 2019|
|Scolopacidae||Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus||18 Jul 2019|
|Scolopacidae||Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus||21 Jul 2019|
|Scolopacidae||Common Redshank||Tringa totanus||14 Jul 2019|
|Scolopacidae||Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia||21 Jul 2019|
|Scolopacidae||Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia||28 Jul 2019|
|Scolopacidae||Wood Sandpiper||Tringa glareola||28 Jul 2019|
|Scolopacidae||Common Sandpiper||Actitis hypoleucos||18 Jul 2019|
|Laridae||Little Tern||Sternula albifrons||1 Jul 2019|
|Columbidae||Thick-billed Green Pigeon||Treron curvirostra||31 Jul 2019|
|Columbidae||Green Imperial Pigeon||Ducula aenea||14 Jul 2019|
|Columbidae||Green Imperial Pigeon||Ducula aenea||19 Jul 2019|
|Cuculidae||Chestnut-bellied Malkoha||Phaenicophaeus sumatranus||27 Jul 2019|
|Cuculidae||Violet Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus||10 Jul 2019|
|Cuculidae||Violet Cuckoo||Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus||30 Jul 2019|
|Cuculidae||Banded Bay Cuckoo||Cacomantis sonneratii||28 Jul 2019|
|Cuculidae||Banded Bay Cuckoo||Cacomantis sonneratii||29 Jul 2019|
|Cuculidae||Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo||Hierococcyx fugax||24 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Barred Eagle-Owl||Bubo sumatranus||16 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Barred Eagle-Owl||Bubo sumatranus||18 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Barred Eagle-Owl||Bubo sumatranus||30 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Buffy Fish Owl||Ketupa ketupu||21 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Buffy Fish Owl||Ketupa ketupu||27 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Buffy Fish Owl||Ketupa ketupu||28 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Spotted Wood Owl||Strix seloputo||28 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Brown Hawk-Owl||Ninox scutulata||4 Jul 2019|
|Strigidae||Brown Hawk-Owl||Ninox scutulata||26 Jul 2019|
|Alcedinidae||Blue-eared Kingfisher||Alcedo meninting||31 Jul 2019|
|Cacatuidae||Tanimbar Corella||Cacatua goffiniana||5 Jul 2019|
|Cacatuidae||Yellow-crested Cockatoo||Cacatua sulphurea||14 Jul 2019|
|Cacatuidae||Yellow-crested Cockatoo||Cacatua sulphurea||23 Jul 2019|
|Eurylaimidae||Black-and-Red Broadbill||Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos||7 Jul 2019|
|Tephrodornithidae||Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike||Hemipus hirundinaceus||14 Jul 2019|
|Tephrodornithidae||Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike||Hemipus hirundinaceus||21 Jul 2019|
|Pycnonotidae||Straw-headed Bulbul||Pycnonotus zeylanicus||17 Jul 2019|
|Pycnonotidae||Black-headed Bulbul||Pycnonotus atriceps||13 Jul 2019|
|Timaliidae||Chestnut-winged Babbler||Stachyris erythroptera||23 Jul 2019|
|Pellorneidae||Short-tailed Babbler||Malacocincla malaccensis||23 Jul 2019|
|Pellorneidae||Short-tailed Babbler||Malacocincla malaccensis||25 Jul 2019|
|Muscicapidae||Brown-streaked Flycatcher||Muscicapa williamsoni||22 Jul 2019|
|Chloropseidae||Greater Green Leafbird||Chloropsis sonnerati||27 Jul 2019|
|Nectariniidae||Van Hasselt’s Sunbird||Leptocoma brasiliana||1 Jul 2019|
|Estrildidae||White-rumped Munia||Lonchura striata||13 Jul 2019|
|Estrildidae||White-rumped Munia||Lonchura striata||19 Jul 2019|
|Estrildidae||Scaly-breasted Munia||Lonchura punctulata||30 Jul 2019|
|Estrildidae||White-headed Munia||Lonchura maja||18 Jul 2019|
|Estrildidae||White-headed Munia||Lonchura maja||23 Jul 2019|
|Motacillidae||Grey Wagtail||Motacilla cinerea||17 Jul 2019|