Monthly Archives: October 2020

Singapore Bird Report – July 2020

Geoff Lim, Isabelle Lee.
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

Brown-streaked FC, 210720, DFNP, Art Toh, FB BS, crop

A Brown-streaked Flycatcher along Old Thomson Road on 21 July 2020 photographed by Art Toh

Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Fringe Parks

Visitors to Hindhede Park noted the presence of one Brown Hawk-Owl, Ninox scutulata, on 5 July 2020 (Darren Leow) and 24 July 2020 (Martin Kennewell); while a Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, was spotted in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 24 July 2020 by Lim Kim Chuah.

At the nearby Dairy Farm Nature Park, a pair of Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, were seen on 1 July 2020 by Oliver Tan. A Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, was seen on 14 July 2020 by Desmond Yap, while a Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, and a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, were spotted on 15 July 2020 by Wang Wee Woan. A few days later, a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, possibly first-for-the-season, was reported on 21 July 2020 by Martin Kennewell. A globally endangered Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, (male) was reported on 25 July 2020 by Habeeb Rahman.

GG Leafbrd, 310720, Old Upp Thomson Rd, Herman Phua, crop

A female Greater Green Leafbird along Old Thomson Road on 31 July 2020 photographed by Herman Phua

Over at Thomson, a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, Leptocoma brasiliana, was reported at Windsor Nature Park on 23 July 2020 by Josh Spiler, while a Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, was seen on 31 July 2020, along Old Thomson Road by Herman Phua, as was a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on the same day at Thomson Nature Park by Lester Tan.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, was seen within the garden grounds on 11 July 2020 by Ros Qian.

Common Ioral feeding Banded bay Cuckoo, 140720, NTHL, Joseph Lim, crop

Banded Bay Cuckoo chick with Common Iora host (left) at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on 14 July 2020, by Joseph Lim

Central Singapore

A pair of Vinous-breasted Starlings, Acridotheres burmannicus, were nesting at Ang Mo Kio Street 53, 3 July 2020, by Adrian Silas Tay. Visitors to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park spotted a Scaly-breasted Munia, Lonchura punctulata, feeding three young birds on 3 July 2020, by Chen Boon Chong; a Grey-headed Fish-Eagle, Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, on 11 July 2020 (Desmond Yap); and a White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, on 12 July 2020 (Herman Phua).

Northern Singapore

Observers at Baker street noted the presence of a nesting Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, on 1 July 2020 (Harry Geno-Oehlers). Photographers also reported Pin-tailed Whydah, Vidua macroura, along Seletar North Link on 1 July 2020 (Andy Lee), and Coney Island on 18 July 2020 (Oliver Tan).

Pied Fantial feeding RB Cuckoo, 180720, NTHL, Norhafiani A Majid

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo chick with Malaysian Pied Fantail host (left) at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on 18 July 2020, by Norhafiani A. Majid.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pulau Ubin reported sightings of a Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, and a Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps, on 5 July 2020 (Martin Kennewell), while a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, and six Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, were spotted on 12 July 2020 by Adrian Silas Tay.

Over at Pasir Ris Park and vicinity, visitors spotted a Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, on 26 July 2020 (Derek Wong KM), four Monk Parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus, on 28 July 2020 (Evelyn Lee) and three Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, on 31 July 2020 (Ra Kay).

At Changi Business Park, one Rufous Woodpecker, Micropternus brachyurus, was seen on 30 July 2020 by Herman Phua.

Southern Singapore

Several observers spotted a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 16 July 2020 at Marina Barrage (Herman Phua), a Chestnut Munia, Lonchura atricapilla, on 24 July 2020 (Wong Siew Mun), and a Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Estrilda rhodopyga, on 31 July 2020 at Gardens-by-the-Bay (Mike Hooper).

LA, Herman , crop more

Two Lesser Adjutants photographed at SBWR on 28 July 2020 by Herman Phua

Western Singapore

The Lim Chu Kang area continued to support a good variety of residents. Visitors to Neo Tiew Harvest Link spotted a Chestnut Munia, Lonchura atricapilla, and a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, hosted by Malaysian Pied Fantail, Rhidipura javanicus, on 16 July 2020 (Desmond Yap); as well as a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, on 19 July 2020 hosted by Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, (Herman Phua).

A Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, was seen at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 and three Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, were spotted at SBWR on 28 July 2020 (Herman Phua) while a Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus, was reported on 29 July 2020 from Kranji Marsh (Khoo Mei Lin). Over at Jurong Lake Gardens, a Javan Munia, Lonchura leucogastroides, was spotted on 2 July 2020 by Wong Siew Mun.

This report is compiled/written by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee, 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, Herman Phua, Norhafiani A Majid, and Joseph Lim for allowing us to use their photographs.

Singapore Bird Report – April to June 2020

Geoff Lim & Isabelle Lee.
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

This report covers the period from 1-6 April, and 19-30 June. The intervening period was subject to COVID-19 “circuit breaker” measures.

TB Pigeon, 190620, DFNP, Herman Phua

Thick-billed Green Pigeon photographed at DFNP on 19 Jun 2020 by Herman Phua

APRIL 2020

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Visitors to Hindhede Park reported a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 1 April 2020 (Oliver Tan), as well as the regular Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, and Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 3 April 2020 (Martin Kennewell).

Sightings at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, a CCNR fringe park, yielded a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, on 2 April 2020, and a Brown Hawk-Owl, Ninox scutulata, on 5 April 2020, by Marcel Finlay. A Tiger Shrike, Lanius tigrinus, was recorded on 5 April 2020 at the nearby Singapore Quarry, by Art Toh.

Central Singapore

A Javan Pond Heron, Ardeola speciosa, and Chinese Pond Heron, Ardeola bacchus, were reported at Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park on 3 April 2020 by Billy Goh.

Northern Singapore

The Lorong Halus Wetland continued to support a motley of resident and migratory species. For instance, a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, was spotted on 3 April 2020 by Mike Hooper, who also saw a Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, on 5 April 2020.  On 6 April 2020, a Common Snipe, Gallinago gallinago, was spotted by Peter Bijlmakers, who noted that the bird had a light trailing edge to its wings. Off the coastline further from Halus, one distant White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus, was spotted on 4 April 2020 by Martin Kennewell, who also reported seeing two distant Roseate Tern, Sterna dougallii.

Eastern Singapore

Just prior to the start of the circuit breaker, four Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes, were reported on 5 April 2020 by Eyzat Amer at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin, while Changi Point Coastal Walk yielded forty Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana, and four Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres, on the same day, by Oliver Tan. The woods near Changi Business Park continued to support migratory species and a total of seven snipes, likely Pin-tailed Snipe, Gallinago stenura, were counted on 6 April 2020 by T. Ramesh.

Southern Singapore

A Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, was spotted atKent Ridge Park on 4 April 2020 by John Marriott.

Western Singapore

The Kranji-Neo Tiew-Lim Chu Kang area yielded several sightings. These include a pair of Red Turtle Dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica, on 4 April 2020 at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 by Raghav Narayanswamy, as well as one Western Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, three Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus, three Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, four Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, two Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, and a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Locustella certhiola.

At the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Martti Siponen noted the presence of 33 Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, on 5 April 2020. Farther away, residents and visitors to King Albert Park reported a perched and calling Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, on 1 April 2020 (Peter Bijlmakers).

Walkers and runners also reported bird sightings around the Holland-Ulu Pandan area. On 4 April 2020, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, and an Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus, were spotted at the Ulu Pandan Park Connector by Russell Boyman. Other westerly sightings include one Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, at Dover Road on 3 April 2020 by Martin Kennewell.

MAY 2020
– no bird report as the whole month was under COVID-19 “circuit breaker” measures

JUNE 2020

Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Fringe Parks

Dairy Farm Nature Park yielded good forest species, including a Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis and a Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, on 19 June 2020 by Herman Phua, as well as Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, on 25 June 2020 by Siew Mun.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Of the various resident garden birds seen, several Long-tailed Parakeet, Psittacula longicauda, including juveniles, were spotted on 27 June 2020 by Wong Chung Cheong.

Central Singapore

At Ang Mo Kio, a pair of Red-wattled Lapwing, Vanellus indicus, were spotted from 25 June 2020 onwards by Adrian Silas Tay. Much to the surprise of everyone, a pair of Vinous-breasted Starling, Acridotheres burmannicus, along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 was reported on 30 June 2020 by Lee Chin Pong, Lum Lai Har, Art Toh and Khoo Mei Ling. 

VB Starling, 300620, AMK, Tuck Loong

A pair of Vinous-breasted Starlings at Ang Mo Kio photographed on 30 June 2020 by Kwok Tuck Loong

Northern Singapore

The area around Seletar Airport yielded various sightings. Observers reported a nesting Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, on 20 June 2020 (Ko Eng Wee) at Baker Street, while there were sightings of an Eastern Cattle Egret, Bubulcus coromandus, which was spotted on 20 June 2020 at Picadilly (Zahidi Hamid), as was a Black-rumped Waxbill, Estrilda troglodytes on 26 June 2020 (Norman Wu). Further north, adult Pin-tailed Whydah, Vidua macroura, were seen performing courtship displays along Seletar North on and around 22 June 2020 (Ko Eng Wee).

Sightings of a pair of Cotton Pygmy Goose, Nettapus coromandelianus, was reported on 27 June 2020 at Lower Seletar Reservoir Park by Lim Kim Chuah, and on 28 June 2020 by Martin Kennewell. The next day, a Western Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, was reported on 29 June 2020 by Wang Wee Woan.

Osprey, 290620, Lower Seletar, Wang Wee Woan, crop

Two other noteworthy sightings in the north include one of the last known bastions of the Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, with one bird spotted on 19 June 2020 at the Halus Wetland by Ko Eng Wee, while a family of Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu, was reported on and around 29 June 2020 at Yishun Ave 6, by  Lee Chin Pong.

Eastern Singapore

Herman Phua spotted a family of Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, on 21 June 2020 at Pasir Ris Park, and one of the birds was a juvenile. Several Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, were also reported on 29 June 2020 from around the same park.

Southern Singapore

We received reports of two Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita, on 20 June 2020 on Sentosa by John Marriott, as well as several Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, on 26 June 2020 at Gardens-by-the-Bay by Ko Eng Wee.

Western Singapore

Observers around the Jurong Lake Gardens area reported a pair of Asian Pied Starling, Gracupia contra, on 20 June 2020 in the garden grounds (Mike Hooper); some Zitting Cisticola, Cisticola juncidis, spotted on 27 June 2020 by Siew Mun, and thought to be nesting; as well as a Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus, on 28 June 2020 (Alok Mishra).

Over at the Kranji Marsh complex, a Cinnamon Bittern, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, was seen calling within the Kranji Marshes on 22 June 2020, by Wong Chung Cheong, while a Common Iora was found feeding a young Banded Bay Cuckoo on 27 June 2020 by Chen Boon Chong. A single Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, was spotted on 28 June 2020 at Neo Tiew Harvest Link by Fadzrun A.

Further away at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, was seen on 24 June 2020 feeding on a needlefish, by Siew Mun, while four Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, were seen on 26 June 2020 – 1 subadult, & 3 adults were courting and chasing each other (birder with handle “Whatnow Spence”). On 29 June 2020, a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster, was seen by Kok M Lee.

This report is compiled/written by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee, 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 Herman Phua, Kwok Tuck Loong, and Wang Wee Woan for allowing us to use their photographs.

The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 2.

The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 2.

A Personal Observation by Pary Sivaraman

In my previous article ‘The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 1’, I had described an ‘accidental site’ comprising muddy parts, marsh-like and water-logged areas that attracted migrant birds and local birds.  In the second part of my write up, I will highlight how some of our resident birds have managed to breed in this accidental site, signaling the ultimate success of such a place. Most of the observations on the breeding of these birds were taken exclusively from outside the fence near one of the lamp posts. Not unexpectedly, it was impossible to photograph the chicks.

The White-breasted Waterhen is a relatively common bird seen at many locations in Singapore. It was one of the first birds seen here to have chicks. The chicks were rather small when first seen and did not venture beyond a specific area located to the left of the Farmland. A pair of Cinnamon Bitterns were also sometimes seen perched on the low-lying shrubs in the deeper parts of the Farmland. Subsequently I would see one of them intermittently fly in to catch what was possibly insects and fly off. With careful observations I tracked it to another Farmland. It would go regularly to the same location with food in its mouth leading me to believe there could be a nest there.  I did not attempt to search for the nest in the other Farmland as it would highly likely have disturbed the nesting. Anyway, it was in another Farmland. The Slaty-breasted Rails with three juveniles have been seen to walk regularly in this Farmland. They would also walk outside the Farmland. Since I did not see the chicks in this Farmland, I cannot be certain whether they had bred here though it is possible since they appeared comfortable walking around.

Chestnut Munia (Black-headed Munia), Scaly-breasted Munia, Common Waxbill and Golden-backed Weavers have been busily seen bringing nesting materials. The nests cannot be seen but I have seen fledglings of the Chestnut Munia and Scaly-breasted Munia. I did not pay too much attention to the other two birds and thus may have missed the fledglings. The Red-wattled Lapwings would fly in an extremely aggressive manner above this Farmland when disturbed. Its chicks were seen in the Farmland behind this plot of land.

Lesser-whistling ducks have been seen regularly visiting this plot of land. The maximum number of Lesser-whistling ducks I had seen at one time was twenty-eight (28) as they flew away from the Farmland.  They would fly in, wade in the water-logged areas or stand at various places (Photos 1 to 3).

Photo 1. Lesser-whistling ducks flying into the Farmland.

Photo 2. Lesser-whistling ducks wading in the water-logged areas.

Photo 3. Lesser-whistling ducks standing at one part of the Farmland.

The area shown by Photo 3 may be especially important as I have seen one pair of Lesser-whistling ducks spend a considerable portion of their time there. It was in the water-logged area near this site, I first noticed the seven (7) ducklings wading with its parents.

Photo 4. Showing the areas where the adults would be seen wading with the chicks.

The Lesser-whistling ducks and ducklings would be seen intermittently wading in the areas marked by the three red arrows. They would usually move in the direction of the blue arrows and reverse back. Whilst I could see the chicks with my binoculars partially hidden by the vegetation, it was not possible for me to get any photos standing outside the fence. The other angle that allowed observation from outside the fence in the past unfortunately was blocked by significant overgrowth of vegetation (hatched purple) and prevented any clear line of sight.

The Common Moorhen has also been seen at various parts of the Farmland. They would either wade in the water-logged areas or stand at a few chosen spots on the solid ground (Photos 5 & 6).

Photo 5. Common Moorhen wading in the water-logged areas.

Photo 6. Common Moorhen standing at one of its usual sites.

The maximum number of adult Common Moorhens I had seen in this Farmland was four (4). I was unable to capture all four in a single frame (Photo 7).

Photo 7. Three Common Moorhens. The fourth one was hidden to the left of this photo.

Photo 7 is interesting as this was the same area where I had seen the pair of Lesser-Whistling ducks spend a considerable portion of the time. Similarly, a pair of the Common Moorhens would spend time here and move to the water-logged area (Photo 8).

Photo 8. Pair of Common Moorhens would be seen regularly at this location.

Two chicks were subsequently seen wading in the water-logged areas with the parents in this location. The chicks were much smaller than the adult and appeared almost completely black, except for the beak which looked possibly tan/pinkish. Despite all my attempts I could not get a single photo standing outside the Farmland. I was terribly disappointed in not being able to get any photos but was still happy to have seen the chicks of the Common Moorhen!

The movement of the Common Moorhen with its chicks was more restricted and usually would be restricted to the leftmost red arrow of Photo 4. I was somewhat puzzled as to whether the Lesser-whistling ducks and the Common Moorhens would get along. I had seen them on multiple occasions sharing the same area (Photo 9) in close proximity.

Photo 9. Lesser-whistling duck and Common Moorhen in proximity.

The final bird that had bred here would be the White-browed Crake. I did not see the chicks but saw the juvenile White-browed Crakes moving within the reeds. They had brownish heads. They would never venture out into the open and I do not have any decent photos of them. Unlike the Lesser-whistling ducks and the Common Moorhens, they preferred a slighly different location that included marsh-like and water logged areas (Photo 10). The head can usually be seen near the purple circled area and they would move within the area marked in blue.

Photo 10. Showing where the juvenile White-browed crakes would be seen.

From July to August 2020, the workers had started more intensive work around the Farmland to clear vegetation, move the bags of sand/fertilizer, etc. With permission from the Farmland supervisiors, I managed to enter and attempted to look for the Common Moorhens. They were not found making me suspect they had left the location due to the regular and significant human activity especially at the place where they were seen to be resting most of the time. Prior to this, the workers did walk around intermittently without doing any clearing of vegetation and I suspect the Common Moorhens remained at the site as they were not threatened.

The Lesser Whistling ducks still continue to come to the Farmland but in lesser numbers and would wade and rest at different locations. The White-browed Crakes can still be found in the Farmland as its usual movement area has not been affected by human activity.

At the start of September 2020,  I was fortunate to witness two chicks of the White-browed Crake with its parents. In the ensuing days only one of the chicks was regularly seen, making me suspect that one of the chicks might have either died or fallen prey. Since my entry into the Farmland was not restricted, I was able to obtain photos of the slightly grown-up chick of the White-browed Crake and subsequently the Juvenile White-browed Crake (Photos 11 & 12). Many other birders have also been successful in capturing precious images of this bird.

Photo 11. White-browed chick with its parent

Photo 12. Juvenile White-browed chick

This accidental site in the Farmland consisting of muddy parts, marsh-like and water-logged areas has attracted both migrant birds and local birds. Recently, the Pallas-grasshopper Warbler and Oriental Reed Warbler have been spotted here. The site has also supported breeding of some of the most uncommon birds we have in Singapore.

In my opinion, this site has been successful as a habitat for both migratory and uncommon local birds. The muddy areas provided a resting and feeding spot for birds like the Long-toed stint and Little-ringed plover. The water-logged areas had relatively shallow portions and even the deeper portions were possibly at most only 0.5 meters. This allowed birds like the White-browed Crakes walk in the shallow areas and Asian Openbills in the deeper areas to forage for food. The interspersed vegetation with reeds provided cover from predators and yet allowed the birds to move freely and forage for food. Excessive human activity like clearing of vegetation would be a threat to these birds as exemplified by the disappearance of the Common Moorhens from this Farmland. Finally, my wish would be such a similar site would be reproduced in a nearby vicinity and it would allow birders like me to watch, photograph and enjoy birdlife.

Singapore Raptor Report – Early Autumn Migration, July-September 2020 

PF, ernesti, 260920, Marina East Drive, Fryap, crop

ernesti Peregrine Falcon, note the dark ‘helmet’ and dense barring on underparts, Marina East Drive, 26 September 2020, by Francis Yap

A total of 67 observations were made for the Oriental Honey Buzzards, the highest numbers ever during the July to September period : 17 in July, 15 in August and 35 in September. Notably, all the honey buzzards photographed were sub-adults, right up to end September, suggesting that all the honey buzzards were over-summering birds. Over the 3-month period, moult of the primaries (feathers) progressed steadily and symmetrically on the wings, for the birds photographed. In July, the honey buzzards had 4-5 new primaries; in August, they had 5-6 new primaries; and in September they had 6-7 new primaries. While the moult in primaries was consistent between individuals, the moult for secondaries and tail feathers varied.

OHB,-190720,-PRP,-Ko-Engwee,-label

An over-summering sub-adult male OHB on 19 July 2020 showing symmetrical moult of the primaries on both wings, 4 new primaries (P1-P4), P5 missing, and old P6-P10, at Pasir Ris Park, by Ko Engwee

OHB,-080820,-Holland-Plain,-Angie-Cheong,-label,-date

An over-summering sub-adult male OHB on 8 August 2020 showing symmetrical moult of the primaries on both wings, 5 new primaries (P1-P5), P6 partly grown & obscured, and old P7-P10, at Holland Plain, by Angie Cheong

OHB,-270920,-PRP,-Saravanan,-label,-date

An over-summering sub-adult female OHB on 27 September 2020 showing symmetrical moult of the primaries on both wings, 6 new primaries (P1-P6), new P7 partly regrown, P8 missing, and old P9-P10, at Pasir Ris Park, by Saravanan Krishnamurthy.

Three torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards were recorded – one photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 11 July by Chung Wah; one photographed at Changi in August by Wang HM; and a tweeddale morph photographed at Jurong Lake Gardens on 5 September by Chan Kumchun.

OHB, posted 050920, JLG, Chan Kumchun

A torquatus tweeddale morph Oriental Honey Buzzard, Jurong Lake Gardens, 5 September 2020, by Chan Kumchun

A total of 20 Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded in September, with the first arrival on 18 September. The only record for the Chinese Sparrowhawk was a male at Jelutong Tower on 30 September.

Three Western Ospreys were recorded, one at Seletar Reservoir area, another at Sungei Buloh – Neo Tiew area and the last one at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin.

Three Peregrine Falcons were recorded – a probable ernesti at Pulau Ubin on 5 July, far and high up a pylon tower, by Martin Kennewell; an adult ernesti feeding on a bird at Jurong Lake Gardens on 12 September, by Kok M Lee; and an adult male ernesti at Marina East Drive on 26 September by Francis Yap, the East Coast Park sighting by Mike Hooper on the same day may be of the same individual.

For the resident raptors, seven diurnal species were recorded. Apart from the usual ones, there were records of the rare Crested Serpent Eagle at Pulau Ubin on 5 & 12 July; Pasir Ris Park on 17 September; Malcolm Park on 23 September; and Kent Ridge Park on 30 September.

CGH, 260920, PRP, Derrick Wong 2

Crested Goshawk caught a lizard, Pasir Ris Park, 26 September 2020, by Derrick Wong

There were nesting-related records for 3 species of diurnal raptors. A pair of Black-winged Kites were nest-building on 16 August, with mating observed on 12 September, at Seletar. At Neo Tiew side, another pair of Black-winged Kites were observed mating on 29 August. For the White-bellied Sea Eagle, 2 fledglings were out of the nest at Fort Canning on 11 July; another 2 fledglings at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve were in and around the nest on 26 July, and the adults were observed mating on 19 September; at Kent Ridge Park, 1 adult was flying with a branch on 24 September, presumably to build a nest.

At Pasir Ris Park in September, a pair of Crested Goshawks were re-using their old nest (their nesting attempt in March appear to have failed), while another at West Coast Park was carrying a stick on 12 September, presumably for nest-building. The prey items of the Pasir Ris Crested Goshawks included Changeable Lizards, Javan Mynas, feral junglefowl chicks, rats, and on 25 September, a young water monitor lizard.

For nocturnal raptors, a pair of Buffy Fish Owls at Pasir Ris Park were observed mating on 9 September; another 2 Buffy Fish Owls were found together at Changi Business Park; while an Eastern Barn Owl made a 1-day show at Elias Road on 27 September.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report, Early Autumn Migration, Jul-Sep 2020

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone for their records and to Francis Yap, Ko Engwee, Angie Cheong, Saravanan Krishnamurthy, Chan Kumchun, and Derrick Wong for the use of their photos.

The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 1.

The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 1.

A Personal Observation by Pary Sivaraman

Many of the birders and bird photographers were sad that the vacant land next to Kranji Marshes was tendered out for farming. During the preparation stage, the land was left to fallow. We can only scan for the birds from the outside or on top of the tower. Already many of the freshwater waders were seen wintering there.

Aquatic plants like mimosas, reeds, sages and grasses began to colonize the open land. After the plots were sold, fences and boarding were erected and clearing of the land started. We were able to drive in, bird and photograph the many grassland species and migrants foraging at some of the open plots.

My focus was one of the plots that was fenced around by low plastic sheets and netting. The farm had significant work done with areas dug out that resulted in the collection of rainwater and other parts were used for growing vegetable. With time some of the water filled areas became covered with various types of vegetation including reeds. Interestingly some areas looked like a marshland and other parts were mud covered areas. With time and rain, it offered three types of ‘habitats’: muddy areas, marsh-like areas and even a pond all rolled into one location!

Photo 1. Shows a wide-angle view from the lamp post
Photo 2. Shows a closer view of the right side with reeds, water collection etc.

During the migratory season, birds like the Common Kingfisher, Oriental Pratincoles, Wood Sandpipers, Long-toed Stints, Little-ringed Plovers and Snipes (both Common & Pintail) were seen at this location (Photos 3 to 7). I have not included photos of Wagtails (Eastern Yellow & Grey) that have also been seen here nor the Barn Swallows that would rest at various locations and fly low to catch insects in flight above the water covered marsh-like areas.

The migratory birds that were seen from outside the farm near the lamppost would come regularly and land on the mud-covered areas to rest, forage for food, etc. I have seen as many as 16 Wood Sandpipers, 7 Little-ringed Plovers, 4 Long-toed Stints, 3 Snipes and 2 Oriental Pratincoles at any one time, though not all these birds would come together at the same time! Some of these observations have been shared previously on eBird.

Photo 3. Common Kingfisher with food it captured from the pond.
Photo 4. Wood Sandpiper (left) with Long-toed Stint (right).
Photo 5. Long-toed Stint (left) with Little-ringed Plover (right)
Photo 6. Oriental Pratincole with Little-ringed Plover.
Photo 7. Snipe species.

Whilst not a migratory bird, the Asian-Pied Starling (Photo 8) has been seen here several times and on one occasion even a pair was seen. The origin of this bird is usually believed to be an ‘escapee’ with some speculating that its may have flown over from Johor Malaysia.

Photo 8. Asian Pied Starling.

The site would also be visited by our common birds like the Mynahs (Common & Javan Mynahs), Munias (Black-headed, White-headed & Scaly breasted), Waxbills, Weavers (Baya & Golden-backed), Yellow-vented Bulbul, etc. Since these birds can be found in various parts of Kranji, I did not consider them to be especially interesting.

Moving to the marsh-like & pond area it was common to see Little Egrets and Intermediate Egrets foraging for food. The Asian Openbill would come in significant numbers to forage for food in the water-logged area that were like a pond (Photos 9 & 10).

Photo 9. Intermeditate Egret with food in its mouth that it had captured from the “pond”.
Photo 10. Asian Openbill with food in its mouth. Some areas must be relatively deep!

The story fortunately did not end there. It was not uncommon to see the Lesser Whistling Ducks fly, wade in the ponds, hide in the reeds or stand by the solid ground. Apart from these, the Common Moorhens would wade in the pond-like area and similarly one would see White-browed Crakes foraging for food (Photos 11 to 13). Both the Common Moorhen and White-browed Crakes are extremely difficult to see in Singapore except at certain locations.

Photo 11. Lesser Whistling Ducks flying in.
Photo 12. Common Moorhen moving in the water-logged area.
Photo 13. A pair of White-browed Crakes foraging for food.

This ‘accidental site’ comprising of marsh-like areas, muddy parts and water-logged areas that look like a pond has continued to attract migrant birds and local birds. I have intentionally only used those photographs that are below par in this write up as my interest was to document the birdlife there.

In fact, I have met many other birders who called this the ‘real Kranji Marsh’. On reflection, I would agree with them.

I hope this write up would create an awareness and support for natural “accidental” places like this for migratory birds in our land scarce island.

In the second part of my write up I will highlight how certain birds have managed to breed in this accidental site signaling the ultimate success of such a place.

Note: The observations and photos were taken exclusively from outside the fence near one of the lamp posts. If you intend to bird in private land parcels, do seek permission when possible and respect the rights of the property.