December 2020 heralded two amazing records of migrants. The first was the appearance of five Gadwalls Mareca strepera after 31 years! This being the second time that the Gadwall was recorded in Singapore, the ducks were seen at SBWR Hide 1D on 4 Dec 2020 afternoon by Daniel Loh, who graciously shared his sighting with Pary Sivaraman, who kindly spread the news. The other amazing record was that of a Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula also only the second record of the species in Singapore, after a break of 21 years, photographed at the pond at Marsiling Park on 12 Dec 2020 by Derrick Wong.
Next up was the 4th record of the Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina at the Healing Garden section of the Botanic Gardens on 2 Dec 2020 by Vincent Lee. Notably, this was the first male of the species to be recorded in Singapore and it was present at the Healing Garden from 2 to 6 Dec 2020, seen and photographed by many birders. The Healing Garden also hosted a juvenile Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea on 2 Dec 2020, recorded by many birders including Albert Low.
The rare Grey-headed Lapwing Vallenus cinereus at Marina East Drive, recorded on the last day of November 2020, was present on various days through December, seen and photographed by many birders, such as Tay Kian Guan on 1 Dec 2020 and John Marriott on 31 Dec 2020.
Another rarity, the Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus was found hiding in the flooded vegetation at the grassland along Marina East Drive on the evening of 4 Dec 2020 by Khoo Meilin, Esther Ong and Kwok Tuck Loong. The Jacana was present for the next two days from 5-6 Dec 2020.
At the partly flooded grassland along Marina East Drive, an Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia caught a mouse/rat on 5 Dec 2020, photographed by Zacc HD; a Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis with 3 chicks were seen on 6 Dec 2020 by Soumen M; a Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica family with 9 ducklings were recorded on 26 Dec 2020 by Herman Phua; a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea on 31 Dec 2020 by Gabriel Koh; a Baillon’s Crake Zapornia pusilla on 20 Dec 2020 by Kwok Tuck Loong, Esther Ong & Khoo MeiLin, present till 30 Dec 2020. Another Baillon’s Crake was recorded at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane (NTHL) on 26 Dec 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy and on 27 Dec 2020 by Tan Kok Hui.
Other birds recorded at NTHL included a Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus on 6 Dec 2020 by Mike Hooper; and the single Sand Martin Riparia riparia noted in November 2020 was still around on 1, 5 and 6 Dec 2020 (Krishna G, Yip Jen Wei and Jeff Tan respectively), and was joined by another individual from 24 to 27 Dec 2020 on 24, 25 and 27 Dec 2020 as noted by Francis Yap, Benjamin Naden and Rob Arnold respectively. At the nearby Kranji Marsh, 8 Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus were recorded on 31 Dec 2020 by Martti Siponen.
At Dairy Farm Nature Park, a juvenile Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus was photographed on 2 Dec 2020 by Dennis; an adult male Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica photographed on 8 Dec 2020 by Joy Kutty, and present till 11 Dec 2020; a male Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula Mugimakion 9 Dec 2020 by Wong Chung Cheong; a Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax on 29 Dec 2020 by Oliver Tan. There was also a juvenile Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis of the migrant diffusus subspecies on 31 Dec 2020, photographed by Tan Hong Kim. The diffusus Black-naped Oriole is a known winter visitor, but in the field, little attention has been paid to subspecies of this otherwise common bird which has a large resident population.
At Pasir Ris Park, a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis was recorded behind the toilet of car park B on 13 Dec 2020 by Nasir M; a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor on 13 Dec 2020 by Valli Nalla; a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus in the mangroves on 17 Dec 2020 by Oliver Tan; and the Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhynca on 30 Dec 2020 by William Chong
At Changi Business Park, an Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus was recorded on 8 Dec 2020 by James Wong; a Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparveroides on 17 Dec 2020 by Felix Wong; and an adult male Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana on 26 Dec 2020 by Lee Yin Mun.
The Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was recorded at Changi Business Park on 11 Dec 2020 by Tan Gim Cheong, at Dover Rise on 31 Dec 2020 by Jonathan Lin, and at Sentosa Skywalk on 31 Dec 2020 by Wilson Chua.
At Jurong Lake Gardens, a Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu was recorded on 4 Dec 2020 by Kok M Lee; a Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus on 6 Dec 2020 by Tay Kian Guan; and a Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis apparently carrying food, on 31 Dec 2020 by John Paul Briones.
Elsewhere, a rare Chestnut-cheeked Starling Agropsar philippensis was picked out from a flock of Daurian Starlings Agropsar sturninus at The Grandstand on 4 Dec 2020 by Alan OwYong and photographed by Alfred Chia; a Slaty-breasted Rail Lewinia striata apparently was nesting in the vicinity of The Grandstand, returning to the same patch of grass where chicks could be heard on 4 Dec 2020 by Tan Gim Cheong; 150 Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea were reported by Krishna G. at the Yishun Street 11 roost on 7 Dec 2020; an injured Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka at Raffles Place MRT on 9 Dec 2020 was reported by Ashley Ng; a tired Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida at Bukit Merah on 11 Dec 2020 was reported by Grace Ho; a Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana at West Coast Park on 11 Dec 2020 was reported by Dave Koh; the Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata was still at Holland Plain on 21 Dec 2020, by Andy Chew.
This report is compiled by Tan Gim Cheong, assisted by Geoff Lim. 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 Derrick Wong, Norhafiani A. Majid, Herman Phua, Tan Hong Kim, Alan OwYong and Alfred Chia for allowing us to use their photographs