Monthly Archives: October 2019

Singapore Bird Report – September 2019

by Geoff Lim & Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

September 2019 marked the appearance of rarities such as the Glossy Ibis, Black-naped Monarch, Blue Rock Thrush, and Japanese Paradise Flycatcher; as well as the first arrivals of many migrants.

Glossy Ibis Sighting

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Photo-montage of the Glossy Ibis at Kranji Dam on 29 September 2019 by Goh Cheng Teng

The Glossy Ibis, Plegadis falcinellus, is a widely distributed species that is found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Central and North America. However, it is a very rare vagrant in Singapore. The sighting on 28 and 29 September 2019 by Raghav and Goh Cheng Teng, respectively, was our fifth sighting to date. Prior sightings were at Lorong Halus in 12-16 June 1984, Sungei Buloh in May 1989, Sime Road in October 1992, and November 2007. Wells (1999: 107) noted that the species is a vagrant in Peninsular Malaysia and highlighted that the sightings in 1984 and 1989 may have been wild sightings; captive birds were ruled out since the sightings comprised of adults and juveniles. Traded birds tended to be of a uniform age, since birds would be taken as fledglings.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) & Fringes

Possibly first for the season, a Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, was spotted in flight on 2 September 2019 at Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap. Another was spotted within CCNR on 6 September 2019 by Dillen Ng; who also spotted an Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus borealis, on the same day.  Also on 6 September 2019, an Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus, was spotted at Jelutong by Francis Yap. On 10 September 2019, a Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, was seen skulking about within the CCNR by Timothy Chua Jia Yao.

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Chestnut-bellied Malkoha spotted from Jelutong Tower on 13 September 2019 by Alan Owyong

Jelutong proved to be a good location to observe other species, which included a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 13 September 2019 (Alan Owyong), and five Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus, perched on a tree in the rain on 14 September 2019 (Tan Kok Hui). It was also from this vantage point on 27 September 2019 that two Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis, three Crested Honey Buzzard, a Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis and an Oriental Pratincole, Glareola maldivarum, were seen flying over CCNR by Francis Yap and Richard White.

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Oriental Pratincole over Jelutong Tower on 27 September 2019 by Francis Yap

The Venus-Windsor-Lower Peirce corridor yielded the second Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus, of the season on 2 September 2019 (Venus Loop, Ho Siew Mun). A White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, a species vulnerable to poaching, was spotted on 4 September 2019 (Lower Peirce, Mei Hwang) while a Common Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica, was seen on 5 September 2019 (Venus Loop, Terence Tan), and a Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, on 9 September 2019 (Windsor Park, Lim Sheen Taw). Further away, a torquatus race tweeddale morph Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus, was spotted on 10 September 2019 at Upper Seletar Reservoir (Deborah Friets).

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Barred Eagle Owl at Singapore Quarry on 27 September 2019 at Art Toh

Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) and Singapore Quarry continues to be a high yield CCNR-fringe location.  An Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus, was seen on 2 September 2019 (Choong YT), as was a first-for-the-season Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa daurica, on 5 September 2019 (Ho Siew Mun), a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, also on 5 September 2019 (Peter Lim), a Common Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica, on 7 September 2019 (Pary Sivaraman), a Sunda Scops Owl, Otus lempiji, on 10 September 2019 (Norhafiani A Majid), a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 11 September 2019 (Kok M Lee), and a Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, on 12 September 2019 (James Quek). Fans of the Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, were not disappointed. The owls appeared on 8 September 2019 (female; Martin Kennewell), 10 September 2019 (Leong Kai Kee & Low Chong Yang) and 27 September 2019 at 7:08pm (one bird; Art Toh).

Just outside DFNP, a Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus, was spotted in a canal by the Dairy Farm condominium on 2 September 2019 (Michael Phua), while at the nearby Bukit Batok Nature Park (BBNP), a Crimson Sunbird, Aethopyga siparaja, was reported on 7 September 2019 by Wing Chong.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

On  10 September 2019, a Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, was spotted near the Gardens by Brian Powell, while on 12 September 2019, a Grey-rumped Treeswift, Hemiprocne longipennis, was spotted at the gardens’ Eco Lake by Timothy Chua.

Central Singapore

Despite its much reduced size, Bidadari continued to support migrating birds. Birders visiting the grounds on 5 September 2019 were rewarded with sightings of a Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus (T. Ramesh) and a first of the season Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia (Herman Phua). Also spotted at the former cemetery were an Oriental Pied Hornbill, Anthracoceros albirostris (9 September 2019; Tracy Thu Trang Doan), a male adult Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu (10 September 2019; Tracy Thu Trang Doan with Ellen Tan; and 13 September 2019, T. Ramesh), a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni (10 September 2019; Krishna Gopagondanahalli), Daurian Starling, Agropsar sturninus (12 September 2019; Ramesh T.), Tiger Shrike, Lanius tigrinus (13 September 2019, T Ramesh), Crow-billed Drongo, Dicrurus annectans (27 September 2019; Pary Sivaraman), Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica (28 September 2019, Alfred Chia; 29 September 2019, Angie Cheong), the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus (29 September 2019, Yang Chee Meng) and Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus (30 September 2019, Joseph Lim).

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Jambu Fruit Dove at Bidadari on 13 September 2019 by T. Ramesh

A Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, was spotted on 6 September 2019 at Malcolm Road, while a Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, was found dazed and resting at a basketball court at Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 by Sandra Chia, who took care of the bird and released it the next morning.

Northern Singapore

A Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, was spotted on 8 September 2019 on Coney Island (Kerry Pereira), while a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, was spotted on 23 September 2019 at Marsiling Park by Benny Ng.

Eastern Singapore

Pulau Ubin hosted several interesting species of birds, including a Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, seen on 1 September 2019 among a flock of Lesser Sand Plover by Adrian Silas Tay. Four were seen the next day, on 2 September 2019, during an NParks survey, and photographed by See Toh Yew Wai. About a week later, a female Black-naped Monarch, Hypothymis azurea, was spotted on 7 September 2019 by Jason Lee, while a calling and thermalling Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, on 8 September 2019 caught the attention of Adrian Silas Tay. Further afield, a first-of-the-season Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, arrived on Pulau Tekong on 14 September 2019 and was spotted by Frankie Cheong.

Back on the mainland, an Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus, was spotted on 11 September 2019 at Pasir Ris Park by Feroz Ghazali, while a juvenile Laced Woodpecker, Picus vittatus, was seen on 28 September 2019 at Tampines Eco-Green by Ken Joree Tan.  Farther east, a  Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea, was spotted on 7 September 2019 at  Changi Business Park by T Ramesh, while a juvenile Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis, was seen on 24 September 2019 by  YT Choong.

Southern Singapore

A Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, became the first record for the species for this year’s winter migration when it was spotted on 11 September 2019 along the Southern Ridges by Tay Kian Guan.

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Blue-eared Kingfisher at Gardens by the Bay on 29 September 2019 by Lim Sheen Taw

The Gardens and Satay by the Bay parks proved to be a fruitful location in September. A  Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, was seen on 12 September 2019 by Veronica Foo and on 30 September 2019 by Lim Sheen Taw; while Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, was seen on 24 September 2019 at Satay by the Bay by Annette Russell. The next two days had reports of Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone incei (Caszlyn Wong and Sim Chip Chye, 25 September 2019; first for the season) and Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone affinis, (26 September 2019, Cheong Khan Hoong & Sim Chip Chye) at Satay by the Bay. Other species include four juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, on 27 September 2019, at Satay by the Bay (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan); Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa latirostris, on 28 September 2019 (Raymond Bong); a  Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 29 September 2019, (Lim Sheen Taw); and a  Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, on 30 September 2019 (Lim Sheen Taw).

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Blue Rock Thrush at Pinnacle@Duxton on 25 September 2019 by David Fur

On 20 September 2019, sightings of a Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, at Duxton Pinnacle by  Dillen Ng and others drew many to the block to see and photograph it; of these, Jojo Kuah spotted a total of two birds, of which one was a young male. Visiting Pinnacle on 26 September 2019 yielded a first for the season Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, by Adrian Silas Tay. Two days later, on 28 September 2019, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, was found along Marine Parade Road, by Jay Yip. Separately, on 23 September 2019, an Eurasian Magpie, Pica pica, the origin of which is unclear (possibly an escapee), was spotted at Sakra Road, Jurong Island, by Tan Boon Chong. Also, two Gull-billed Terns, Gelochelidon nilotica, were photographed near Sentosa on 21 September 2019, reported by Adrian Silas Tay.

Western Singapore

Jurong Lake Garden proved to be a good habitat for birds. These included:

  • White-headed Munia, Lonchura maja (7 September 2019; Norhafiani A Majid);
  • Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus, (10 September 2019; Alok Mishra);
  • Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, (29 September 2019; Norhafiani A Majid);
  • Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, (28 September 2019; Norhafiani A Majid);
  • Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone incei, (29 September 2019; Norhafiani A Majid);
  • Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone atrocaudata, a possible first-for-the-season (27 September 2019 Tay Kian Guan; 29 September 2019 Norhafiani A Majid);
  • Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, (28 September 2019; Norhafiani A Majid),
  • Tiger Shrike, Lanius tigrinus,on 30 September 2019 (Kok M Lee).
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Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at Jurong Lake Garden on 28 September 2019 by Norhafiani A Majid

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Wood Sandpiper at Jurong Lake Garden on 29 September 2019 by Norhafiani A Majid

Between 22 and 28 September 2019, up to four Cuthroat Finch Amadina fasciata, an introduced species, were also spotted within the garden’s grounds (Geri Lim and Jimmy Lim, respectively).

Further away at Jurong Lake, Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, were spotted on 26 September 2019 by Tay Boon Kiat, while a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, was seen on 28 September 2019 by Norhafiani A Majid.

Jurong Eco-Garden continued to support bird life despite the reduction of surrounding woodland. On 11 September 2019, a Tiger Shrike, Lanius tigrinus, was spotted by Terence Tan, while a single juvenile Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, was observed to have successfully fledged between 17 and 19 September 2019 (Kwok Tuck Loong, Alan Owyong and Joseph Lim). On 30 September 2019, a Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus (confusus subspecies) was spotted by Joseph lim on the garden’s grounds.

Apart from the excitement over the Glossy Ibis at Kranji Dam, Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, were spotted along the dam on 8 and 14 September 2019 by Martin Kennewell; a single bird on the 8th was a moulting adult with remnants of its dark belly and dark eye stripe, while two birds were seen on the 14th. White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus, were also observed within the reservoir on 30 September 2019 by Adrian Silas Tay.

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Whiskered Tern at Kranji on 30 September 2019, photographed by See Toh Yew Wai

Over at Kranji Marsh, a Straw-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus zeylanicus was spotted on 5 September 2019 by Feroz Ghazali; while five to six Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, were spotted perched at the metal railings of the PUB facility along the waters of Kranji Reservoir on 13 September 2019 by Oliver Tan. The resident Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Nisaetus cirrhatus, was also spotted on 28 September 2019 by Wing Cheong; while about two weeks prior to this sighting a dark-morph bird was seen on 10 September 2019 along Neo Tiew Harvest Lane by Steven Cheong predating on what appeared to be a rallid bird. Further away at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, two adults and possibly one juvenile Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, were spotted by Sandra Chia.

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Changeable Hawk-Eagle with rallid prey on 10 September 2019 at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane by Steven Cheong.

Over at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, we received reports of arriving waders through social media. On 3 September 2019, 37 Common Redshank, Tringa totanus, were spotted by Martin Kennewell, many were flagged but were too far to be deciphered. On the same day, a single Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, was also seen by Martin. After making its arduous journey from the Arctic Circle, an Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus borealis, found its way into the grounds of the reserve on 18 September 2019, making the sighting by Timothy Chua the first-of-the-season. On 20 September 2019, a Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea, was spotted by David Li, while on 22 September 2019, a first-of-the-season Broad-billed Sandpiper, Limicola falcinellus, was spotted by Andy Dinesh and T. Ramesh. On 24 September 2019, a Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, which is not commonly seen in the reserve, was spotted by Terence Tan.

The windswept Tuas yielded a Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, on 22 September 2019 at Tuas Checkpoint (Fadzrun Adnan), a first-of-the-season Chestnut-winged cuckoo, Clamator coromandus and a first-of-the-season Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, on 26 September 2019 (Alfred Chia).

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Grey-headed Fish-eagle at Pandan River on 26 September 2019 by Francis Yap

Other birds spotted in the western reaches of the island city include a first-of-the-season Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, on 13 September 2019 (Lim Kim Seng), a “huge flock” of Daurian Starling, Agropsar sturninus, at Pandan Reservoir on 27 September 2019 (Evelyn Lee), and the regular family of  Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, along Pandan River on 26 September 2019 (Francis Yap).

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Pelagic Sightings

On 28 September 2019, the NSS Bird Group conducted a pelagic survey along the Straits of Singapore.  Key highlights included a total of 112 Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel, Oceanodroma monorhis, a far cry from the previous record of 532 birds in September 2018, as well as the fourteen Red-necked Phalaropes, Phalaropus lobatus. Note that pelagic sightings might not be in Singapore waters.

Red-necked Phalarope Sighting

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Eleven of the fourteen Red-necked Phalaropes spotted in the Singapore Strait north of Batam on 28 September 2019. Photo by Alan Owyong.

A total of fourteen juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes, Phalaropus lobatus, were spotted on the seas north of Batam (Indonesia), the first sighting of multiple phalaropes in a flock. Three previous sightings were of single birds, two on land and one at sea.

Red-necked Phalaropes are small waders that forage by picking from the surface of the waters while swimming, often spinning about when pursuing active prey (Wells, 1999:264-265). Known as vagrants during passage seasons, the birds have so far been seen mostly in marine habitats, although one report from Singapore occurred in the flooded reclaimed land in Tuas in November 1994.

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Close-up of the Red-necked Phalaropes spotted on 28 September 2019, showing the prominent white wing bar. Photo by Alan Owyong.

A total of fifteen adult and one juvenile Aleutian Terns, Sterna aleutica, were spotted, as were 55 Bridled Terns, Sterna anaethetus, with two flocks  of 18 and 7 flying eastwards in the direction of Horsburgh Lighthouse. Two adult and two juvenile Common Terns, Sterna hirundo,  were resting on flotsam, while 24 Swift Terns, Thalasseus bergii, (formerly Great Crested) and 10 Lesser Crested Terns, Thalasseus bengalensis, with four being unidentified, were seen. A total of six Little Terns, Sterna albifrons, were also seen and these may be winter visitors.

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Adult Aleutian Tern in breeding plumage spotted on 28 September 2019. Photo by Alan Owyong.

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Adult Bridled Tern spotted on 28 September 2019. Photo by Wilson Leung.

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Adult Common Tern in breeding plumage seen on 28 September 2019. Photo by Alan Owyong

Other birds seen include a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, on Sister’s Island, 5 Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica, flying south, an Intermediate Egret, Egretta intermedia, and a soaring Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis.

References:

Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. London: Academic Press.

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 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 Art Toh, David Fur, Francis Yap, Lim Sheen Taw, T. Ramesh, Goh Cheng Teng, Steven Cheong, See Toh Yew Wai, Alan Owyong and Norhafiani A. Majid for allowing us to use their photographs.

 

2019 ANNUAL BIRD CENSUS REPORT

By Lim Kim Chuah

Asian Openbill by Geoff Lim crop

Asian Openbill at SBWR, 24 March 2019, by Geoff Lim

The 2019 Annual Bird Census (ABC) was conducted on 24 March. Weather was generally fine at all the 17 sites covered. Another three sites on Ubin which were counted on 10 March as part of the Comprehensive Ubin Survey Monthly Survey were also added. This brings the number of sites counted to 20. The three sites counted on Ubin represented the sites which were traditionally counted during the ABC.

A total of 5,575 birds was counted, a 66% increase (2,207) compared to 2018. The number of species counted was 143 species, an increase compared to 137 species in 2018. The increases in both numbers and species counted in 2019 compared to 2018 could be due to the increase in the number of sites counted, 20 versus 17.

Some highlights from this year’s census include:

  • Asian Openbill – 1 at Buloh Route 1
  • Ashy Drongo – 1 at Telok Blangah
  • Black Bittern – 1 each at Bishan Park and Dairy Farm Nature Park
  • Black-browed Reed-Warbler – 1 at Kranji Marsh
  • Blue-rumped Parrot – 4 at Bukit Batok West (Sadly, this is likely to be the last year that this site will be covered as the place is currently being developed into the Tengah New Town)
  • Blue-winged Pitta – 1 at Lower Pierce and at Bukit Batok West and 3 at Poyan
  • Chestnut-bellied Malkoha – 1 at Poyan
  • Chestnut-winged Cuckoo – 1 at Halus
  • Cinnamon Bittern – 1 at Buloh Route 2 and 1 at Kranji Marsh
  • Crested Serpent Eagle – 1 at Malcolm Park
  • Dark-sided Flycatcher – 1 at Lower Pierce Reservoir
  • Great-billed Heron – 2 at Buloh Route 1, 1 at Buloh 2, 1 at Lower Seletar, 2 at Ubin East
  • Green Imperial Pigeon – 1 at Pasir Ris Park
  • Large Hawk Cuckoo – 1 at Pasir Ris Park
  • Lesser Adjutant – 2 at Buloh Route 1 and 1 at Kranji Marsh
  • Lesser Whistling Duck – 11 at Buloh Route 2
  • Little Grebe – 2 at Lorong Halus and 1 at Ubin East
  • Oriental Pratincole – 2 at Ubin West
  • Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler – 1 at Kranji Marsh
  • Straw-headed Bulbul – 46 counted at 8 locations with most of them from Ubin
  • Violet Cuckoo – 2 at Poyan
  • Watercock – 1 at Kranji Marsh

Despite the increase in number of birds counted this year compared to 2018, the total is still below the last 10 years’ average of 7,356. This could be attributed to the lesser number of sites counted due largely to the lack of manpower which meant some key sites like Sungei Mandai had to be left out in 2019.

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Chart below shows the total number of birds and species counted from 2010-19:

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Chinese Garden turned out to be the site with the highest number of birds counted (432). And Kranji Marsh remained the site with the highest number of species counted (73).

Chart below shows the number of birds counted at each site:

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Chart below shows the number of species counted at each site:

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And again, it was not surprising that our ubiquitous Javan Myna is the most numerous birds counted, reclaiming its position from the Asian Glossy Starling which it relinquished to in 2018.

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NSS Bird Group would like to thank the following volunteers for participating and helping with the census. Without their support, we would not have been able to continue to monitor the state of the birdlife here in Singapore all these years.

Lee Ee Ling, KP Teh, Alfred Chia, Veronica Foo, Wing Chong, John Spencer, Keita Sin, Danny Lau, Nessie Khoo, Alvin Seng, Terry and Jane Heppell, Francis Chia, Betty Shaw, Steven Shields, Alan Owyong, Con Foley, Yan Jiejun, Tan Kok Hui, Eunice Kong, Lee Bee Yong, Milton Tan, Beh Swee Hua, John Marriott, Woo Lai Choo, Cheng Li Ai, Pary Sivaraman, Arasu Sivaraman, Gahyatree Arasu, Lena Chow, Kong Lai Peng, Anandaraman Sivakumar, Patricia Lorenz, Jean-Marc Chavatte, Yong Jun Zer, Lim Jia Xuan and Lim Li Fang.

Singapore Bird Report – August 2019

by Geoff Lim & Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

Two non-descript little brown birds (known by birders worldwide as “little brown jobs”) dominated everyone’s attention during the first portion of August 2019. Also reported were the arrival of our familiar migrants, such as the plovers, sandpipers and Common Kingfisher, across the island.  

A visiting Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni turned up in an urban park located within Choa Chu Kang on 9 August 2019 (Lim Joseph) and was present until 16 August 2019. The bird was distinguished from other flycatchers by a distinct pattern of its  wing coverts and tertials. Sometimes considered a race of the Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa daurica, this species is known to breed in SE Myanmar, S Thailand to NW Malaysia. Non-breeding birds have been reported at Singapore, Sumatra and W Borneo (Clement & Bonan, 2019).

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Brown-streaked Flycatcher at Choa Chu Kang taken on 10 August 2019 by Khoo Mei Lin

When the excitement over this little brown job dissipated somewhat, the news of a Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea at Jurong Eco-Garden electrified the community of local birders and photographers alike. Discovered on 19 August 2019 by Andrew Wood, who reached out through Instagram, for the identify of the bird, it continued to be seen until 26 August 2019 (Feroz Ghazali). Mangrove Whistlers previously recorded on mainland Singapore were mainly confined to the east in places such as Pulau Ubin and Pasir Ris Park. We can only speculate whether this brief western sighting was of a bird fleeing development in southern Johor or part of a small resident population lurking in the west.

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Mangrove Whistler at Jurong Eco-Garden on 19 August 2019 by Andrew Wood.

The Mangrove Whistler is more likely to be seen at Pulau Hantu Besar, a short boat ride from the mainland. It is also found at Pulau Tekong. Historically, there are even records from Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) & Fringes

On 2 August 2019, a Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus perched in a tree along the Treetop Walk surprised Naomi Kim, who reported the sighting. Seven days later on 9 August 2019, a Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera was heard within the CCNR boundaries by Martin Kennewell.  A House Swift Apus nipalensis was subsequently spotted within the reserve on 23 August 2019 by Oliver Tan.

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One of the Singapore Quarry Barred Eagle-Owls taken on 21 August 2019 by Francis Yap.

From the Singapore Quarry came a report of a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, on 1 August 2019 (Herman Phua). The quarry’s family of two adult and one juvenile Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus received a strong following and were variously reported to have appeared on 1 August (Wee Boon), 7 August (Norhafiani A. Majid), 9 August (Liz How – male & juvenile), 12 August (Low Choon How), 19 August (John Marriott), 21 August (Francis Yap), 24 August (Art Toh) and 26 August (Raymond Poon).

Further afield at Bukit Batok Nature Park (BBNP), an adult Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra was reported to be feeding two juveniles on 15 August 2019 by Sim Chip Chye, who also reported that he encountered two juveniles the day before (14 August 2019). Also spotted within the Park was a Common Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica on 25 August 2019 by Lim Sheen Taw; Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana on 26 August 2019 by Terence Tan; and three Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus on 30 Aug 19 by Dave Koh and Sim Chip Chye.

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Two juvenile Little Spiderhunters begging an adult at BBNP on 15 August 2019 by Sim Chip Chye

A fruiting tree at Wallace Centre, Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) during the final week of August attracted several forest and urban species, including Lineated Barbet Megalaima lineata on 27 August 2019 by Alan Owyong; bulbuls (Asian Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus brunneus and Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier on 27 August 2019 by Alan Owyong); pigeons (Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans on 27 August 2019 by Alan Owyong, and Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra on 27th by Alan Owyong, 28th (one male and one female – by Kok M Lee and Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan) and 31st by Yang Chee Meng). Also spotted were Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella and Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis on 27 August 2019 by Alan Owyong.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis was spotted at the Eco Pond on 23 August by Khoo Meilin. A juvenile Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, was spotted at the Learning Forest on 25 August 2019 by Art Toh, while on the same day a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis, was seen at the Eco Pond by Guo Hui.

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Grey-headed Fish-eagle at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 25 August 2019 by Art Toh

Northern Singapore

Visitors to the Seletar Dam noted the presence of the Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii, on 4 August 2019 (Oliver Tan, one immature bird), on 17 August 2019 (Ramesh T) and on 18 August 2019 (Martin Kennewell). A white morph Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra, was also seen on 29 August 2019 (Pary Sivaraman).

Also seen during the month were migratory shorebirds, including a Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, on 18 August 2019 (Martin Kennewell), three Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, on 24 August 2019 (Khoo Mei Lin) and a Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus, on 28 August 2019 (Steven Cheong). Farther afield, a total of 74 Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, were counted on 31 August 2019 by Zahidi Hamid.

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Part of the group of 74 Pacific Golden Plover counted at Seletar on 31 August 2019 by Zahidi Hamid.

 

Apart from the resident Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis at Lorong Halus Wetland, of which one was seen on 22 August 2019 (Leong Wai Kai), one low flying Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula was spotted ten days prior, on 12 August 19, by Choong YT.

Eastern Singapore

The birds reported from Pasir Ris Park include a Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea seen on 21 August 2019 (Lo Chun Fai); a pair of Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus on 23 August 2019 (Feroz Ghazali); one Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus a Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji, the family of three Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo, a pair of Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis, and a female Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus, by James Tann, as well as a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis by Lo Chun Fai on 25 August 2019.

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One of the two Rufous Woodpeckers spotted at PRP on 23 August 2019 by Feroz Ghazali.

Further away at the Tampines Eco-Green, a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis was seen on 18 August 2019 (Khoo Mei Lin) as was a single Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis on 28 August 2019 (Alvin Seng); while four Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea were spotted on 10 August 2019 at Changi Business Park by Ramesh T.

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Savanna Nightjar at Tampines Eco-Green on 28 August 2019 by Alvin Seng.

 

On 3 August 2019, the following waders were seen feeding, by Danny Lau, on a sandbar at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin:

  • Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (5)
  • Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus (2)
  • Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus (1)

The next day, 4 August 2019, a team comprising Martin Kennewell, Adrian Silas Tay & Francis Yap saw the following at Chek Jawa during the low tide:

  • Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (9 birds)
  • Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, (8 birds)
  • Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus (1 bird)
  • Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis (3 birds)

Frankie Cheong, our harbinger of excitement from Pulau Tekong, reported an Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia and a Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on 1 August 2019 from the island.

Southern Singapore

The Gardens by the Bay, Satay by the Bay and nearby environs received reports of a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus on 10 August at the Gardens by Evelyn Lee, and a Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus on 25 and 26 August 2019 at Satay by the Bay by Siew Mun and Sim Chip Chye, respectively.

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Crested Goshawk spotted at Satay by the Bay on 25 August 2019 by Siew Mun.

 

Farther afield, a pair of Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii were seen at Marina Barrage on 2 and 7 August 2019 by T. Ramesh and several photographers, who posted their sightings on social media. On 26 August 2019, a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita was spotted on Sentosa island by John Marriot.

Western Singapore

The Kranji-Lim Chu Kang-Turut corridor had reports of Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius as early as 9 August 2019 at the Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course, Neo Tiew Harvest Lane and Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3  (Adrian Silas Tay), while other birds were spotted on 11 August (Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 – Mike Hooper), 15 August 2019 (Neo Tiew Harvest Lane – Francis Yap), 12 August 2019 (Kranji Marsh – Peter Carr) and 17 August 2019 (Kranji Marsh  – Martin Kennewell). Also spotted were the Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta on 11 August 2019 on a sandbar at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 by Mike Hooper and the Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva on 21 August 2019 at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane (Kok M Lee). Some Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus were seen at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 on 11 August 2019 by Mike Hooper and on 12 August 2019 by Tay Kian Guan. Also seen were a Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu on 20 August 2019 at Kranji Marsh by Steven Kurniawidjaja, who spotted its unmistakable emerald green plumage and pink face as it associated with Pink-necked Pigeon Treron vernans; a House Swift Apus nipalensis on 24 August 2019 at the marsh by Tan Kok Hui, and a dark morphed Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus feeding on its prey on 24 August 2019 at Turut Track by Koh Tse Hsien.

Over at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR), Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus were seen on 12 August 2019 by YK Han and on 17 August 2019 by Martin Kennewell, while a Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus was seen on 20 August 2019 by Steven Kurniawidjaja.

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An adult Zitting Cisticolas with two fledged chicks at Jurong Lake Gardens on 24 August 2019. Photo by Norhafiani A. Majid.

The Jurong Lake Garden yielded two pairs of nesting Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis sometime around 26 August 2019 (Norhafiani A. Majid) while a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus was being fed by a Golden-bellied Gerygone at Jurong West on 1 August 2019, seen by Gan Lee Hsia. The Pandan River yielded a Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus on 20 August 2019 (Sim Chip Chye) and a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis on 23 August 2019 (Goh Zao Fa).  A dark morph Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra was seen at West Coast Park on 20 August 2019 by Steven Wong while House Swift Apus nipalensis continued to be reported at West Coast Drive on 24 August 2019 by Tay Kian Guan, who also reported seeing a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupo in the canal just off Ghim Moh on 26 August 2019.

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 Khoo Mei Lin, Alvin Seng, Andrew Wood, Art Toh, Francis Yap, Zacc HD, Feroz Ghazali. Sim Chip Chye, Siew Mun, and Norhafiani A. Majid for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCE

Clement, P. & Bonan, A. (2019). Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica). 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/59025 on 30 September 2019).

LIST OF BIRDS REPORTED IN AUGUST 2019

Family Species Name Scientific Name Date
Podicipedidae Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 22-Aug-19
Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 20-Aug-19
Ardeidae

 

Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 1-Aug-19
Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra 29-Aug-19
Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra 20-Aug-19
Accipitridae

 

Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus 20-Aug-19
Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus 27-Aug-19
Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus 24-Aug-19
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus 25-Aug-19
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus 25-Aug-19
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus 26-Aug-19
Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus 25-Aug-19
Rallidae

 

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 11-Aug-19
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 12-Aug-19
Charadriidae

 

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 24-Aug-19
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 31 Aug 19
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 21-Aug-19
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 3-Aug-19
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 4-Aug-19
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 1-Aug-19
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 9-Aug-19
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 9-Aug-19
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 9-Aug-19
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 11-Aug-19
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 12-Aug-19
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 15-Aug-19
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 17-Aug-19
Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 4-Aug-19
Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 17-Aug-19
Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 18-Aug-19
Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 2-Aug-19
Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 7-Aug-19
Scolopacidae

 

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 3-Aug-19
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 4-Aug-19
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 18-Aug-19
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 12-Aug-19
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 17-Aug-19
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus 3-Aug-19
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus 4-Aug-19
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus 28-Aug-19
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis 4-Aug-19
Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta 11-Aug-19
Columbidae

 

Common Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica 25-Aug-19
Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans 27-Aug-19
Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra 27-Aug-19
Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra 28-Aug-19
Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra 28-Aug-19
Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra 31 Aug 19
Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu 20-Aug-19
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 10-Aug-19
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 21-Aug-19
Cuculidae

 

Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus 1-Aug-19
Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus 30 Aug 19
Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus 1-Aug-19
Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus 10-Aug-19
Tytonidae Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula 12-Aug-19
Strigidae

 

Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji 25-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 1-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 2-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 7-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 9-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 12-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 19-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 21-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 24-Aug-19
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 26-Aug-19
Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 26-Aug-19
Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo 25-Aug-19
Caprimulgidae Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis 28-Aug-19
Apodidae

 

House Swift Apus nipalensis 23-Aug-19
House Swift Apus nipalensis 24-Aug-19
House Swift Apus nipalensis 24-Aug-19
House Swift Apus nipalensis 24-Aug-19
Alcedinidae

 

Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis 25-Aug-19
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 4-Aug-19
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 18-Aug-19
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 25-Aug-19
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 25-Aug-19
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 23-Aug-19
Megalaimidae Lineated Barbet Megalaima lineata 27-Aug-19
Picidae

 

Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus 25-Aug-19
Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus 23-Aug-19
Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus 29-Aug-19
Cacatuidae Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita 26-Aug-19
Pachycephalidae

 

Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea 18-Aug-19
Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea 24-Aug-19
Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea 25-Aug-19
Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea 26-Aug-19
Pycnonotidae

 

Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier 27-Aug-19
Asian Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus brunneus 27-Aug-19
Cisticolidae Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis 26-Aug-19
Timaliidae Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera 9-Aug-19
Irenidae Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella 27-Aug-19
Sturnidae Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis 27-Aug-19
Muscicapidae

 

Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni 10-Aug-19
Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni 11-Aug-19
Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni 12-Aug-19
Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni 16-Aug-19
Nectariniidae

 

Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana 26-Aug-19
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra 14-Aug-19
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra 15-Aug-19

NSS Pelagic Survey-September 2019.

We could not have asked for a better day to do the autumn pelagic on Saturday 28 September 2019. The sea was calm, with a light breeze blowing. The sun was shining through as the month-long haze seemed to have dissipated, in part due to the change in direction of the monsoon winds.

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Our first bird of the day, a crested tern flying over. We were blessed with good weather and calm seas today.

On the boat was also Audrey Tan, Environment Correspondent at the Straits Times, and her photo journalist Lim Yaohui. They had joined us on this trip to learn more about the research which the Nature Society (Singapore) and the National Parks Board are conducting to survey and study the seabirds which use the Strait of Singapore on their annual autumn and spring migrations.

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The happy NSS survey team at the end of the trip at Sentosa Cove. 

Three hours into the boat trip and we were cruising north of Batam Island when we saw a small flock of dark-shaped birds floating on the waters just ahead of us. They looked like the storm petrels which we had been seeing flying in small flocks westwards on their way to the Indian Ocean earlier. In total, we would have seen 118 of these Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels, Oceanodroma monorhis, when we finished the trip that day. This was a far cry from the 532 which we had on a similar pelagic last September.

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Part of a flock of 11 Red-necked Phalaropes we found floating on the waves. Photo: Lim Kim Keang.

The dark-shaped birds flew up as we got nearer, their white underwings and bodies gleaming in the bright sun. Kim Keang, our leader for the trip, shouted “Phalarope!” but it was lost to those on board!

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We got very close to these three Red-necked Phalaropes as they were busy feeding on the small marine crustaceans among the sea grasses. Photo: Lim Kim Keang. Their habit of swimming around in small circles helps to pool the food to the center for easy pickings.

Floating further on the water were 11 Red-necked Phalaropes, Phalaropus lobatus, while another 3 were much closer, allowing all on board to have good close-up views. As they were feeding and flying around the boat, there were ample opportunities to photograph them. This was the first sighting of multiple phalaropes in a flock as the previous three sightings were of single birds. Interestingly all were juveniles.

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The Red-necked Phalarope foraging among a sea of floating sea grasses out in the Straits. Photo: Shruti.

Terns also put up a good show. There were 55 Bridled Terns, Sterna anaethetus, with two flocks  of 18 and 7 flying eastwards in the direction of Horsburgh Lighthouse.

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A breeding Bridled Tern resting on a plank by Wilson Leung. The head pattern is similiar to the Aleutian but the dark plumage of the Bridled Tern is a good identification feature for this tern.

Aleutian Terns, Sterna aleutica, that migrated all the way from Alaska was a species which we hope we could show to the members on board. They did not disappoint. 15 adults, 8 of them still in their breeding plumage and a juvenile were present.

Aleutian

An Aleutian Tern in breeding plumage. They are often seen resting on flotsams. Presence of a small wintering population recorded at the Karimun Islands in 1998.

Aleutian NB

Aleutian Tern in non-breeding plumage showing the dark trailing edge of the secondaries, a good identification feature for this tern.

Also seen were 4 Common Terns, Sterna hirundo, comprising two adults and two juveniles. These uncommon terns (despite their name) were resting on flotsam and all were happy to manage close-up shots of them.

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One of the four Common Terns we saw during the trip. This one is in breeding plumage.

As the Crested Terns were in flight and at a distance, it took a while before they were separated and counted. There were 24 Swift Terns, Thalasseus bergii, (formerly Great Crested) and 10 Lesser Crested Terns, Thalasseus bengalensis, with four being unidentified. 6 Little Terns, Sterna albifrons, were also seen on the trip and these may be winter visitors.

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A hazy looking Swift Tern. It is a large tern that can be found flying along the Straits of Johor. Photo: Alan OwYong.

Other birds seen on the trip include a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, on Sister’s Island, 5 Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica, flying south, an Intermediate Egret, Egretta intermedia, and a soaring Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis.

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A Bridled Tern flying in the same direction of the tanker towards Horsburgh Lighthouse, where seven specimens were collected in October 1921, our first record of this tern.

A big thank you to Alfred Chia for making all the arrangements for this trip and to everyone for helping out with the count.

Many thanks to Lim Kim Keang, Alan OwYong, Shruti and Wilson Leung for the use of their photos.

Reference: A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan.          Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009.