Monthly Archives: December 2020

Singapore Raptor Report – November 2020

RBE, 251120, Jln Asas, TGC

Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, adult, on 25 Nov 2020, at Jalan Asas, by Tan Gim Cheong

Summary for migrant species:

It’s another amazing November, and the arrival of four species boosted the number of migrant raptors to 18 species. The 1st of the month start well with a Northern Boobook photographed at Tuas Bay Lane by Ken Ng, and the first Jerdon’s Baza of the season photographed at Jurong Lake Gardens by Dennis Lim.

Northern Boobook, 011120, Tuas South (Bay Lane), Ken Ng

Northern Boobook, 1 Nov 2020, Tuas Bay Lane, by Ken Ng

The one and only Booted Eagle, a dark morph, was photographed by Zacc HD and others at Henderson Waves on the 10th. The first Besra for the season was photographed at Henderson Waves on the 8th, followed by another two the next day – one at Henderson Waves and another at Mandai Track 15.

Besra, 081120, HW, AST, 0917. crop

Besra, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 8 Nov 2020, by Adrian Silas Tay

Only two Black Kites were recorded, one photographed by Richard White at Bukit Timah hilltop on the 1st, and another photographed by Ang HouBoon at Pasir Ris Park on the 3rd. There were also only two records of the Common Kestrel, one at Henderson Waves photographed by Ash Foo and others on the 9th, and another at Tuas South photographed by Martti Siponen on the 14th.

JB, 241120, CBP, Wang Sangmen

Jerdon’s Baza, Changi Business Park, 24 Nov 2020, by Wong Sangmen

Kestrel, 141120, Tuas View Crescent, Martti Siponen

Common Kestrel, Tuas View Crescent, 14 Nov 2020,  by Martti Siponen

Unlike the previous two species which were one-day birds, the two Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagles were detected on many days. The adult was first recorded at Bukit Timah hill top on the 20th, and at Jalan Asas on the 25th, when the juvenile flew in to join it at its perch. However, the adult did not seem to appreciate the company and took off shortly. The juvenile was first recorded at the Botanic Gardens on the 1st, but subsequently stayed at the Jalan Asas – Bukit Timah area between the 6th to the 29th.

RBE, 011120, SBG learning forest, Derrick Wong, same

Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, juvenile, Botanic Gardens, 1 Nov 2020, by Derrick Wong

Next, we have three species with three records each. The Grey-faced Buzzard was recorded at Henderson Waves on the 1st, an adult at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on the 16th and another adult at Jelutong Tower on the 18th. The Pied Harriers were all juveniles, one each at Choa Chu Kang Christian Cemetery and Henderson Waves on the 8th, and one at Jelutong Tower on the 20th.

Pied Harrier, 081120, CCK christain cemetery, Choong YT

Pied Harrier, juvenile, Choa Chu Kang christian cemetery, 8 Nov 2020, by Choong YT

A juvenile Eastern Marsh Harrier was recorded at Pasir Ris Park on the 5th, a female at Jurong Eco Garden on the 8th, and an interesting looking juvenile at Pasir Ris Park on the 9th, for which most of the field marks seen in the photos point to Eastern Marsh Harrier, with a small possibility of it being an Eastern x Western hybrid, but definitely not a Western.

EMH, 051120, Pasir Ris, Tan Eng Boo, same, crop

Eastern Marsh Harrier, juvenile, showing the long unfeathered tarsus of harriers, Pasir Ris Park, 5 Nov 2020, by Tan Eng Boo

Five Greater Spotted Eagles were recorded, one at Henderson Waves on the 1st, a juvenile at Venus Loop on the 9th, two juveniles at the southern ridges on the 10th, and another juvenile at Jelutong Tower on the 13th. For the Common Buzzard, there were also five records, three at Dawson – Henderson Waves area on the 8th, one at the southern ridges on the 14th, and another at Henderson Waves on the 15th.

CB, 141120, HW, STYW

Common Buzzard, juvenile, at Henderson Waves, 14 Nov 2020, by SeeToh Yew Wai

Seven Western Ospreys were recorded, from the northern coast including Pulau Ubin, to Hindhede to Henderson Waves. Of the twelve Peregrine Falcons recorded, a few were at Henderson Waves, and a juvenile of the calidus subspecies at Kranji Marsh on the 30th. Eighteen Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded, including five at Coney Island on the 21st, a few at Henderson Waves, up to three at Changi Business Park canal from the 14th onwards, and two on Pulau Ubin.

CSH, 141120, Coney, Ngo Lih Yee, same

Chinese Sparrowhawk, male, Coney Island, 14 Nov 2020, by Ngo Lih Yee

Seventy two Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them over Henderson Waves, while an adult female, possibly the same individual, returned again to Ang Mo Kio on the 15th. Two hundred and fifty three Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them at the southern ridges, with 34 birds over Kent Ridge Park on the 14th.

JSH, 131120, TBHP, TGC

Japanese Sparrowhawk, Telok Blangah Hill Park, 13 Nov 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

We had 485 Black Bazas this month, with 113 birds over Henderson Waves on the 1st. We recorded 1213 Oriental Honey Buzzards, with a day high of 240 birds over Henderson Waves on the 9th, and 210 birds passing Skyville @ Dawson on the 11th. Interestingly, one adult male over Henderson Waves on the 20th had falconry jesses on both tarsus.

BB, 141120, PRP, CY Tan

Black Baza, Pasir Ris Park, 14 Nov 2020, by Tan Chuan Yean

OHB w jesses, 201120, HW, Zacc HD, crop

Oriental Honey Buzzard with falconry jesses on both tarsus, Henderson Waves, 20 Nov 2020, by Zacc HD

Highlights for sedentary species:

GHFE, 061120, Hindhede, CY Tan, same 8

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, juvenile, at Hindhede Quarry, 6 Nov 2020, by Tan Chuan Yean

There were six Crested Serpent Eagles, one at Mount Faber on the 5th, one at Jurong West on the 11th, one at the Botanic Gardens – Goldhill Avenue area, one on Pulau Ubin, and two at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 on the 21st. For the torquatus subspecies of the Oriental Honey Buzzard, there were three individuals, a juvenile at Pasir Ris on the 5th, 14th, 16th, and 30th; an adult male at Pasir Ris on the 8th and 11th; and another adult male at the Botanic Gardens on the 14th, 16th and 19th.

CSE, 261120, Ubin, Tay Kian Guan

Crested Serpent Eagle, Pulau Ubin, 26 Nov 2020, by Tay Kian Guan

Breeding-related activities were observed for four resident species. An adult Brahminy Kite was feeding two chicks on its nest at Seletar on the 3rd, and by the 28th, the chicks were on and around the nest, ready to fledge. There were two fledgling Crested Goshawks on and around the nest at Pasir Panjang on the 8th.

Brahminy chick, 201120, Seletar Aerospace Dr, Michael Phua on BS

Brahminy Kite, one of two chicks on the nest at Seletar, 20 Nov 2020, by Michael Phua

Two adult White-bellied Sea Eagles at Potong Pasir mated on the 18th, and the pair at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve were adding sticks to their nest on the 28th and 30th, another one at Jalan Asas was seen flying with a branch on the 29th.

WBSE, 291120, Jln Asas, Philip Ng

White-bellied Sea Eagle, Jalan Asas, 29 Nov 2020, by Philip Ng

At Hampstead Wetlands, the regular Grey-headed Fish Eagle pair was observed mating on the 20th, and the Buffy fish Owls mated on the 26th and 27th. A pair of Black-winged Kites at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane mated on the 28th and 30th. Mating was also observed for the pair of Crested Goshawks at Pasir Ris Park.

BFO, 261120, Hampstead, Lee Hew-Son

Buffy Fish Owls, mating, at Seletar, 27 Nov 2020, by Lee Hew-Son

BWK, 301120, NTHL, Desmond Yap

Black-winged Kites, mating, Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, 30 Nov 2020, by Desmond Yap

On the 11th, two Crested Goshawks at West Coast Park were on the ground, talons locked. They eventually separated and flew off separately. For the Changeable Hawk-Eagle, a mixture of pale morphs, dark morphs and juveniles were recorded.

Table 1

BTNR – Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
DFNP – Dairy Farm Nature Park
KM – Kranji Marsh
KRP – Kent Ridge Park
NTHL – Neo Tiew Harvest Lane
PRP – Pasir Ris Park
SBWR – Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Ken Ng, Wong Sangmen, Tan Chuan Yean, Zacc HD, Tan Eng Boo, Choong YT, Ngo Lih Yee, Adrian Silas Tay, See Toh Yew Wai, Derrick Wong, Desmond Yap, Michael Phua, Philip Ng,  Tay Kian Guan, and Lee Hew-Son for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details please click Singapore Raptor Report – Nov 2020

Allopreening of a pair of Common Ioras.

Allopreening of a Common Iora pair at NTHL Singapore.

By Joseph Lim

This bird report wishes to record observations on the allopreening of a Common Iora pair at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane this October.

In birds, allopreening is a conspicuous feature of interactions between breeding partners and has been hypothesized to play a role in strengthening and maintaining pair bonds within and across breeding attempts. Usually, one bird nibbled the other’s head and face feathers with its bill, and the bird being preened usually lowered its head and moves its head to facilitate preening in whatever area that is being preened.

On a morning of 31 October this year, I was checking on the Pallas Grasshopper Warblers at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane when I noticed a pair of Common Iora Aegithina tiphia, preening each other. The male and the female Common Ioras started off by picking a firm perch before getting ready for allopreening. They picked a good spot with the morning sun shining directly on their body, most likely for the purpose of sunning.

Both the male and the female performed self-preening first before continuing with allopreening (See Plate 1). The female then moved on to initiate preening on the male by using the beak to nib on the chest features in a gentle manner. It then continued to preen on the male while the male also nibbed itself concurrently on the neck area (See Plate 2). The male then reciprocated by preening on the female on the mid chest area (See Plate 3). Subsequently, the female then continued to preen on the male on the throat area.

The whole process lasted for about 6-7 minutes. After the preening process, the couple perched for about a minute before flying off together.

These are some key notes of the observations :

  • The female preened more thoroughly and intensively on the male. The male preened on its partner only once and briefly as compared to the female.
  • The male was very cooperative and moved its body, mainly the head and neck to facilitate preening in whatever area that is being preened.
  • Both seemed relaxed and was quiet during the process. They also seemed unconcerned of the observer’s presence standing approximately 5 metres away.

Plate 1- Female (left) with male (right) performing self-preening before proceeding with allopreening.

Plate 2- Female (left) continued to preen on the male (right) while the male also nibbed itself concurrently on the neck area.

Plate 3- The male (right)then reciprocated by preening on the female (left) on the mid chest area.


  1. ‘Allopreening in birds is associated with parental cooperation over offspring care and stable pair bonds across years’, Behavioral Ecology, Volume 28, Issue 4, July-August 2017, Pages 1142–1148,
  2. ‘A bird Preen it’s feathers’ ,’Through the Lens’, Fujingaho Magazine, November, 2019 . Source :

36th Singapore Bird Race (2020) – Arbitrator’s Report


The 36th Singapore Bird Race, held from 5-6 December 2020, attracted nearly 250 participants – a record number. They formed 79 teams, and competed in six categories including three new categories – Novice, Family and Youth. To ensure the safety of participants due to COVID-19, team size was limited to four members and all reporting of bird observations were done remotely via eBird.

CategoryNumber of Teams

In line with the aim to raise the profile of nationally threatened bird species in Singapore, these species were accorded more points, and the winning team would be the one that scored the most points, rather than the most number of species. This led to interesting results.

Marathon Category – Top 3 Teams

The Weekend Birders (Adrian Silas Tay, Axl Tay & Jerold Tan) scored an amazing 165 points with 123 species to clinch the top position, successfully defending their title. It was a close fight for the second and third positions with the difference of just 1 point and 1 species. Batman and Robins (Low Bing Wen, Benjamin Lee & Dillen Ng) scored 150 points to edge into second place despite seeing 1 species less than the next team. The 3Dads (Fadzrun Adnan, Muhd Fitri & Eyzat Affandi) were hot on their heels scoring 149 points with 115 species, garnering third place. Superb work by the marathoners.

Sprint Category – Top 3 Teams

The Flycatchers (Bryan Lim, Kenneth Er, Adrian Loo & Max Khoo) scored an impressive 101 points, recording 71 species, to claim the top position. They must have strategized wisely to see more of the nationally threatened species which propelled their score beyond the other teams. Three Men and a Baby (Alfred Chia, Desmond Lee, Yeo Seng Beng, Sandra Chia) came in second with 89 points and they actually saw the most number of species in this category – 73 species. The Pratincoles (Veronica Foo, Henrietta Woo & Jan Tan) beat the next team to come in third with a score of 79 and 61 species, despite recording 4 species less than them. Awesome work.

Photography Category – Top 3 Teams

Team Fly Away Liao (Goh Cheng Teng & Lester Tan) topped the Photography category with a score of 80 points, having photographed 60 species, successfully defending their title. Team Staraptor (Tay Sia Ping, Esther Ong & Kwok Tuck Loong) came in 2nd with a score of 63 points and 51 species. Close behind them were the Eurasian Birders (Evan Landy, Jackie Yeo & Wilson Leung Wei Kee) with 60 points and 42 species, two points more than the next team which had two more species, another good fight! Fantastic work.

Novice Category – Top 3 Teams

Team Public Transport (Yip Jen Wei, Zachary Chong & Chen Hui Lin) scored a cool 84 points with 68 species recorded, to come in first. It was a close fight for the next two places with just one point difference between the teams. Duck Vaders (Siti Nur Nadirah Asmadi, Norlinda Ishnin & Edzra Iskandar) took the second place with a score of 62 points and 52 species. Team Fledglings (Darren Leow, Chang Chee Pey, Owen Chang & Elke Wong) were right behind with 61 points and 47 species. Well done.

Family Category – Top 3 Teams

SSKY Birders (Senthil Kumar Damodaran & Krissh Danvantan Senthil Kumar) came in first with 78 points and 56 species. Falcon (Wong Chung Cheong, Edwina Seah & Kimberly Wong) took the second place with a score of 54 points and 40 species. Bird-smith (Kevin Lim & Samuel Lim) was next in line with 44 points and 30 species, overcoming the odds over the next team which saw 5 more species but scored less. Great work.

Youth Category – Top 3 Teams

The 3 Birdiots (Yap Bao Shen, Chong Xiu Yi & Karyn Tania Lee) scored 87 points with 73 species recorded, coming in tops. HC Hornbills (Jeff Tan, Lucas Tan, Lu Kiat & Yuen Yuan) came in second with a score of 74 points and 62 species. Team sc fly! (v2.0) (B K Preethi, Wathiqah Kassim & Sng Yi Xin) was third with 30 points and 26 species. Nice work.

Race Highlights

A total of 182 species were recorded during the bird race, including 25 nationally threatened species. Three out of the four 5-point birds were recorded during the race. They are the Greater Green Leafbird at Dairy Farm Nature Park and Upper Seletar; the Blue-rumped Parrot at Dairy Farm Nature Park, seen only by one team – The Distracted Novices, who were not that distracted after all; and the Straw-headed Bulbul, seen by several teams.


The Blue-rumped Parrot, featured in this year’s logo, was one of the 5-point birds recorded during the bird race. Photo by Tan Gim Cheong

The rarest species recorded must have been the male Narcissus Flycatcher at the Botanic Gardens. There are less than a handful of records for this species and this is the first male Narcissus Flycatcher ever known to visit Singapore. Other scarce migrants recorded included the Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Grey-headed Lapwing at Marina East, Grey Nightjar at Bukit Batok Nature Park, Sand Martin at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, and the Siberian and Eye-browed Thrushes at Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Narcissus Flycatcher

The male Narcissus Flycatcher recorded the Botanic Gardens during the bird race. Photo by Adrian Silas Tay.

Other notable species recorded during the race included the Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Oriental Darter and Van Hasselt’s Sunbird on Pulau Ubin; Jambu Fruit-Dove at Jurong Lake Gardens; Lesser Adjutant at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve; and Green Imperial Pigeon at Pasir Ris Park.

Tan Gim Cheong
Chief Arbitrator, 36th Singapore Bird Race

Bird Race Results


PositionMarathon CategoryScorespecies
1Weekend Birders165123
2Batman and Robins150114
3The 3Dads149115
4The Nutcrackers9771
5The Permanently Exhausted Pigeons3426
PositionSprint CategoryScorespecies
1The Flycatchers10171
2Three men and a baby8973
4SBWR Team7765
7Jiak Hong Birders6650
8Charlie’s Angels6149
11The Distracted Novices5640
12Bird Discovery5240
13Wild Bird Chase4939
14ASE Easties4939
15Old World Flycatchers4632
16Run Birby Run4135
17Forest Feathers1816
18We Fly Kite
PositionPhotographer CategoryScorespecies
1Fly Away Liao8060
2Team Staraptor6351
3Eurasian Birders6042
4Team Plovers5844
5Lord of the wings5242
6NPSS 45143
7The Trio4834
8Uwu birb3632
10F4 JJ2824
11F4 VJ2521
13Birds of a Feather1010
15NPSS 1
PositionNovice CategoryScorespecies
1Team Public Transport8468
2Duck Vaders6252
3Team Fledglings6147
5Big Bird5242
6Dinosaur Hunters5042
7Green-Horned Watchers4337
8Flying comrades4234
9Shen Me Niao?3224
10Bishan Park3226
11Elephant Turtle3121
14Eagles,take flight!2921
16Buchanan Birdwatchers2117
17Walk Hey!1715
18Team St Mary1311
PositionFamily CategoryScorespecies
1SSKY Birders7856
4The Eurasian Twin Sparrows4335
7Kao Kakao2717
8Marine Paraders2624
10Sungei Duo1612
11Team Birdee119
12Apex Predator108
13Happy Family88
PositionYouth CategoryScorespecies
13 Birdiots8773
2HC Hornbills7462
3Sc fly! (v2.0)3026