Monthly Archives: November 2020

Singapore Raptor Report – October 2020


Greater Spotted Eagle, juvenile, at Telok Blangah Hill Park, 30 Oct 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

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.


Eurasian Hobby, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 23 Oct 2020, by Zacc HD

Eurasian Hobby, 231020, HW, Zacc HD, 1020h, same

Eurasian Hobby, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 23 Oct 2020, by Zacc HD

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.


Eastern Marsh Harrier, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 21 Oct 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

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.

Peregrine, 221020, Bedok South, Derrick Wong

Peregrine Falcon, adult, at Bedok South, 22 Oct 2020, by Derrick Wong

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.


Grey-faced Buzzard, adult, at Lazarus Island, 29 Oct 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

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.

OHB torquatus, 211020, HW, TGC

Oriental Honey Buzzard, torquatus male, note the male tail pattern and yellow eyes (red eyes for male orientalis), at Telok Blangah Hill Park, 21 Oct 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

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.

Table 1

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

Singapore Bird Report – Aug 2020

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

August saw the influx of migratory shorebirds, as well as courtship dances by Great-billed Herons and the appearance of a Pied Bushchat.

Pied Bushchat, Geoff Lim

On 6 August 2020, a Pied Bushchat, Saxicola caprata, was reported at Holland Green by Kwok Tuck Loong. The news brought a steady trickle of birders and photographers to look at the diminutive jet black bird with trimmings of white along its wing coverts.

The species is conspicuous by its absence in literature such as Wells (2009) on Malaysian birds, as well as global perspectives by Collar and Christie (2020), who noted that birds in the west of the species range are largely migratory. On the Indus plain, Pakistan, birds make local migrations and summer migration into warm dry mountain areas beginning in March and departing in September, Cold weather migration begins in September into NW India, while birds in Myanmar exhibit elevational migration, wintering in plains and breeding in hills. Applying Occam’s razor on the bird’s appearance outside the migratory season and lack of records in previous decades, it is therefore possible that the bird is an escapee.

This highlights the plight of Asian songbirds, as many species are trapped, shipped in unsavoury conditions and sold as pets.  In recent times, Eaton et al (2017) noted that small numbers of Pied Bushchats were sold in local bird shops. We are fortunate to have strict wildlife protection laws that protect our wild birds and urge readers to be alive to the possibility of poachers taking an active interest in our wild songbirds.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Visitors to fringe parks around the CCNR reported a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 09 August 2020 at Old Upper Thomson (Lee Chin Pong), two Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, on 18 August 2020 (Oliver Tan) and an Asian Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica on 21 August 2020 (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan) Dairy Farm Nature Park, as well as a Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, on 27 August 2020, at a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, and Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis, on 28 August 2020 at Singapore Quarry (Ho Siew Mun).

BBC, Siew Mun

Banded Bay Cuckoo at Singapore Quarry, taken on 28 Aug 2020 by Ho Siew Mun

Central Singapore

A White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, was reported on 11 August 2020 at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park by Jimmy Lim. An Asian Openbill, Anastomus oscitans, was photographed at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 18 August 2020 by Steven Cheong.

Northern Singapore

The Halus wetland area yielded a single Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, on 8 August 2020 (Lim Kim Chuah), and two Black-throated Laughingthrush, Garrulax chinensis, an escapee species, on 12 August 2020 (Peter Bijlmakers). At the grassy fields around Piccadilly, Seletar, two King Quail, Excalfactoria chinensis,were spotted on 22 August 2020 by Oliver Tan.

LSP, Meilin Khoo

Lesser Sand Plovers at Yishun Dam, taken on 9 Aug 2020 by Khoo Meilin

Observers at the Yishun Dam noted the return of the Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, on 9 and 11 August 2020 (Khoo Meilin and Desmond Yap, respectively). The Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, was subsequently noted on 21 August 2020.

At Woodlands Waterfront Park, Loh Wei photographed a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni,  on 16 August 2020.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pasir Ris Park reported seeing a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, on 6 Aug 2020 (Terence Tan), a fledgling Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus being fed by it host, an Ashy Tailorbird, Orthotomus ruficeps, on 10 August 2020 by Jonathan Kuahand the young Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus again on30 August 2020 (Ho Siew Mun). Further afield, a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, was reported on 27 August 2020 from Changi Business Park by Herman Phua.

Southern Singapore

Reports from the Gardens- and Satay-by-the-Bay park complex during the period included Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, on 15 August 2020, a female Laced Woodpecker, Picus vittatus, on 19 August 2020 at SBB, and a Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, on 22 August 2020 (Ho Siew Mun).

The Bay area, comprising the waters off Marina Bay East and Marina Barrage, also attracted species such as a white morph Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 22 August 2020 (Norman Wu), Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, on 23 August 2020 and a Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, on 24 August 2020 (both by Ho Siew Mun). A breeding attempt by a pair of Malaysian Plovers, Charadrius peronii, at Marina East failed as it seemed that heavy rain might have washed the egg down the rocky slope, damaging it (Lo Wai Mun, 13 August 2020).  

Further away at East Coast Park, a Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, was reported on 26 August 2020 by Mike Hooper.

Western Singapore

The focal species at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) were several displaying Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana; about 3-4 birds were seen from Platform 2 on 9 August 2020 (Geoff Lim), and 5-6 on 23 August 2020 (Geoff Lim & Yong Ding Li) and 24 August 2020 (Terence Tan). Also spotted on those days were Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus; 3 were seen 23 August 2020 (Geoff Lim & Yong Ding Li) and six were counted on 24 August 2020 (Joseph Lim).

GBH, Geoff Lim

Two Great-billed Herons at SBWR, taken on 9 Aug 2020 by Geoff Lim

Also seen was a solitary Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea, on 23 August 2020 by YK Han, and the resident Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, on 30 and 31 August 2020 by Herman Phua and Ho Siew Mun.

CPS, Herman Phua

At Jurong Eco Garden, a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was seen on 1 August 2020 by Andy Lee, and a fledgling Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 19 August 2020 by Avadi L Parimalam. Asian Openbills were present at Neo Tiew area for much of the month, and the highest number was 53 birds on 10 August by Martti Siponen. On Jurong Island, two House Sparrow, Passer domesticus, were seen on 4 August 2020 by Lim Kim Chuah.

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 Ho Siew Mun, Khoo Meilin, Herman Phua and Geoff Lim for allowing us to use their photographs.


Collar, N. and D. A. Christie (2020). Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Eaton, J. A., Leupen, B. T. C., and Krishnasamy, K. (2017). Songsters of Singapore. An

Overview of the Bird Species in Singapore Pet Shops. TRAFFIC: Petaling Jaya. Accessed from

Wells, D. R. (2009), The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Volume 2. London: Christopher Helm.

13th Singapore Raptor Watch Report – 7 Nov 2020


Oriental Honey Buzzard – 5 individuals were recorded despite the poor weather

This is probably going to be the shortest report for raptor watch. 7 November 2020 was a washout day with lots of rain, interspersed with periods of gloomy overcast weather, cutting short the count. For the migrants, only 5 Oriental Honey Buzzards and 4 Japanese Sparrowhawks were out and about.

  • Tuas South                   : no raptors
  • Jurong Lake Gardens     : 1 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 1 Crested Goshawk, 1 Brahminy Kite
  • Kent Ridge Park            : no raptors
  • Telok Blangah Hill Park   : 1 Oriental Honey Buzzard
  • Mount Faber                 : 1 Japanese Sparrowhawk, 1 White-bellied Sea Eagle
  • St John’s Island             : 3 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 3 White-bellied Sea Eagle,
      3 Brahminy Kite, 1 un-identified accipiter
  • Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin     : 3 Japanese Sparrowhawk, 4 White-bellied Sea Eagle,
      1 Brahminy Kite, 1 Changeable Hawk Eagle

Thanks to everyone, including NParks staff, for their time and effort despite the weather.

counters, 071120


Pdf version here13th Singapore Raptor Watch – 2020