Summary for migrant species:
October 2020 was exceptional with 15 migrant raptors species recorded. In contrast, 11 species were recorded in the month of October in the last two years. Thanks much to ardent raptor fans spending time at Henderson Waves and elsewhere. A total of 1768 migrant raptors were recorded, more than twice the number for October 2019, with another 10 unidentified raptors and 393 unidentified accipiters, many of which were probably migrants.
The most remarkable record for October 2020 was the Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo at Henderson Waves on 23 Oct 2020, reported by Zacc HD, Oliver Tan, Ginny Cheang, Veronica Foo and many others. It was our second record and the only one photographed, a great rarity indeed.
A few other rarities were also recorded. These included two Greater Spotted Eagles Clanga clanga: a distant juvenile photographed at St John’s Island on the 29th, and another closer juvenile at Telok Blangah Hill Park the next day (30th). Two Black Kites Milvus migrans (lineatus) were photographed, a juvenile at Pinnacle@Duxton on the 19th by Angie Cheong, and another juvenile at Taman Jurong on the 30th by Alok Mishra.
One sub-adult Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle Lophotriorchis kienerii was photographed at Bukit Timah summit on the 23rd by Martin Kennewell and again, two days later, on the 25th, at Dairy Farm Nature Park, by Krishna Gr. A juvenile Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos was photographed at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on the 29th, by Choong YT and Alfred Chia’s relative.
Both the Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus were recorded at Henderson waves, one on the 24th and the other on the 29th, in both instances by many observers. Four Eastern Marsh Harriers Circus spilonotus were recorded on passage: an immature male at Henderson Waves on the 17th, a juvenile at Henderson Waves on the 21st, a male at Kranji Marsh on the 25th, and another juvenile at Henderson Waves on the 31st.
The four pale morph Common Buzzards Buteo buteo were recorded over a period of just three consecutive days: one on the 29th, one on the 30th and two on the 31st, all at Henderson Waves. The individual recorded at Skyville @Dawson on the 31st could also have passed over Henderson Waves. (Note: the various subspecies are ‘lumped’ as Buteo buteo in the NSS bird checklist).
Up to eight Western Ospreys Pandion haliatus were recorded, one each at Chek Jawa, Seletar Country Club and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and the rest at Henderson Waves and nearby Dawson. Eleven migrant Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were reported – from Bukit Batok transimission towers, Tuas South, Henderson Waves, Dairy Farm, Sembawang Park, Lazarus Island, and adults on the roof top of apartment blocks at Bedok South, Jurong East and Taman Jurong.
It was a good month for the uncommon Grey-faced Buzzards Butastur indicus with a record number of 31 birds – singles at Jelutong Tower on the 23rd, Henderson Waves on the 25th & 29th, Lazarus Island on the 29th, and Pasir Ris Park on the 30th; plus 22 at Henderson Waves on the 30th (the highest number in a single day for the species), and another four on the 31st at the same site.
The most numerous migrant raptors were the 716 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus, including 103 birds at Henderson Waves on the 30th, 76 at Kusu Island on the 13th, and 70 at Tuas South on the 22nd.
They were followed by an exceptionally high 587 for the Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, the highest single month count for the species. This included 104 birds at Kusu Island on the 13th, the highest single day count for the species. A mixed kettle of 29 sparrowhawks at Kusu Island included 25 Japanese Sparrowhawks, gaining height before crossing the sea towards the Riau Islands, Indonesia.
248 Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes were recorded, including 114 birds on the 30th and 122 birds on the 31st, both at Henderson Waves. Lastly, 144 Chinese Sparrowhawks Accipiter soloensis were recorded, another highest number in a month; of these, 36 were recorded at Henderson Waves on the 30th.
Highlights for sedentary species:
Four Oriental Honey Buzzards of the torquatus subspecies were recorded: a tweeddale morph at Henderson Waves on the 13th, and the same individual at Bedok South on the 23rd; a male at Pasir Ris Park on the 15th; another male at Telok Blangah Hill Park and Henderson Waves from the 21st to 25th; and a juvenile at Pasir Ris Park from the 21st to 24th. Two Peregrine Falcons of the resident ernesti subspecies were recorded: one at Ulu Pandan on the 4th and another in the Central Business District on the 16th.
The other resident raptors recorded included ten Black-winged Kites; ten Grey-headed Fish Eagles; 11 Crested Goshawks, 11 Changeable Hawk-Eagles; and the common Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle. There was also a record of the infrequently encountered Eastern Barn Owl, a nocturnal bird of prey, at Pasir Ris Seashell Park on the 23rd.
Breeding-related activities were recorded for four resident species. An adult White-bellied Sea Eagle was seen on its nest on Pulau Ubin on the 6th. For the Brahminy Kite, an adult flew into its nest at Seletar on the 18th; one adult each, at West Coast Park on the 19th, and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 29th, was flying with a stick in its beak, probably for nestbuilding. A pair of Black-winged Kites at Seletar was observed to have mated on the 3rd, 7th, 10th and 13th; and another pair at Neo Tiew mated on the 11th.
As for the Crested Goshawks, an adult was flying with a stick at West Coast Park on the 19th & 22nd, and the pair mated on the 30th, but the nest was subsequently abandoned; at Pasir Ris Park, an adult was sitting on the nest on the 22nd, with its mate perched on an adjacent tree, this pair had to regularly defend their nest from the oriental pied hornbills that roam the park; and the pair at Bukit Chandu had two chicks in their nest on the 30th.
Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Zacc HD and Derrick Wong for the use of their photos.
For a pdf version with more details please click Singapore Raptor Report – October 2020