Monthly Archives: November 2021

Singapore Bird Report – September 2021

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

Reports of migratory birds continue to surface in social media and eBird, including the surprise find of a rare Red Knot at Yishun Dam, and elsewhere, the Oriental Plover, and Red-necked Phalarope.

Red Knot, 060921, Yishun Dam, Vincent Yip

Red Knot with Lesser Sand Plover at Yishun Dam taken on 6 September 2021 by Vincent Yip.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) & vicinity

An Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, was spotted at Singapore Quarry on 12 Sep 2021 by Lua Wai Heng, while two Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis, were seen by Robin Arnold on 18 Sep 2021 at Jelutong Tower. Blue-rumped Parrots, Psittinus cyanurus, were also seen within the confines of Windsor Nature Park on 29 Sep 2021 by Lee Yue Teng. At Dairy Farm Nature Park on 30 Sep 2021, Gan Lee Hsia photographed a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica, and Vincent Yip photographed a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Notable sightings from this UNESCO heritage park comprised an Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone incei, (Andy Lee) and a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, (BP Chua) on 11 Sep 2021, a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, on 17 Sep 2021 (Oliver Tan) and seven Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, on 28 Sep 2021 (Colin Lee) at the NUS Faculty of Law drop-off point.

Northern Singapore

A surprise visit by a solitary Red Knot, Calidris canutus, on 6 Sep 2021 at Yishun Dam (Vincent Yip) had many scrambling to see this rarity, while a Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica, visited the waters on 10 Sep 2021 (Chen Boon Chong). The mudflats also welcomed a Greater Sand Plover, Charadrius leschenaultii, which was reported on 14 Sep 2021 (Sylvester Goh).

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, 040921, SBWR, Joseph Lim

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird at SBWR on 4 September 2021, by Joseph Lim.

Visitors to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve spotted a Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Chalcoparia singalensis, on 4 and 5 Sep 2021 (Joseph Lim and Norhafiani A Majid, respectively), a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 15 Sep 2021 (Kwok Siew Mun), a pair of Marsh Sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis, on 19 Sep 2021 (Darren Leow), two Broad-billed Sandpiper Calidris falcinellus, on 24 Sep 2021 (Pary Sivaraman), and a Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, on 29 Sep 2021 (BP Chua). There were also 2 Lesser Adjutants, Leptotilus javanicus, on 3 Sep 2021, by Veronica Foo.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pasir Ris Park were treated to the sight of a Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, on 1 Sep 21 (Ko Eng Wee), three Black-throated Laughingthrush, Pterorhinus chinensis, on 19 Sep 2021 (Frank Chen) and a Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, on 20 Sep 2021 (Philip Chua). On an offshore area in the northeast undergoing land reclamation, a Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris was recorded on 10 Sep 2021 by Frankie Cheong.

Southern Singapore

GRTS, chick, Sep 2021, Geoff Lim

Grey-rumped Treeswift chick taken on 17 September 2021 by Geoff Lim.

A number of Grey-rumped Treeswift, Hemiprocne longipennis, were reported on and around 16 Sep 2021 (Lee Chin Pong) at Margaret Drive, including a nest bearing a chick, which subsequently fledged on 22 Sep 2021. At Pinnacle@Duxton, a Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (philippensis subspecies) was photographed on 16 Sep 2021 by Angie Cheong.

Blue Rock Thrush, 160921, Pinnacle at Duxton, Angie Cheong, philippensis she says, crop

Blue Rock Thrush, Pinnacle@Duxton, on 16 September 2021 by Angie Cheong.

Western Singapore

Migratory woodland species reported at Jurong Lake Gardens included one Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, seen on 13 Sep 2021 by Andy Lee, and one Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Black-backed) Ceyx erithaca photographed by 29 Sep 2021 by Gan Lee Hsia.

At Tuas South, two Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, were photographed on 3 Sep 2021 by Mike Hooper, and an Oriental Plover, Charadrius veredus, photographed on 20 Sep 2021 by Pary Sivaraman. At nearby Tuas South Boulevard, Max Khoo spotted an Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, on 25 Sep 2021.

A Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, was seen on 15 Sep 2021 at Nanyang Technological University by Frank Chen, and one Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, was found dead (likely collided into a building) at National University of Singapore on 30 Sep 2021 by Li Daiqing.

Straits of Singapore

Three pelagic trips were undertaken this month. On 21 Sep 2021, there were 11 sightings of the Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus, two Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus, and nine Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii (Con Foley). On 25 Sep 2021, two Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana, (Oliver Tan) and a number of Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel, Oceanodroma monorhis, (Krishna Gopagondanahalli) were spotted along the Singapore Straits and off Kusu Island, respectively, while those on 26 Sep 2021 saw one Lesser Crested Tern, Thalasseus bengalensis, thirteen Aleutian Tern, Onychoprion aleuticus, eleven Bridled Tern, Onychoprion anaethetus, and five Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, (Adrian Silas Tay).

Lau Jia Sheng spent four weekends in September on Kusu Island watching seabirds and reported 6 Red-necked Phalaropes Phalaropus lobatus on 4 Sep 2021. He had amazing counts of the Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel, Hydrobates monorhis, starting with 39 petrels on 4 Sep 2021, to 203 petrels on 11 Sep 2021, peaking at 800 petrels on 18 Sep 2021, followed by 418 petrels on 25 Sep 2021.

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 Vincent Yip, Joseph Lim, Geoff Lim and Angie Cheong for allowing us to use their photographs.

The different stages of our three resident Heron species at Pasir Ris Park.

By Seng Alvin.

We are blessed to have three resident heron species living and breeding at Pasir Ris Park, mainly due to the mangroves along Sungei Tampines, the tall trees lining Sungei Api Api and the abundant fishes around the rivers and sea coast. This is my backyard and I have been photographing these herons in varies stages of their life for a few years now.

This is a collection of some of my photos showing their different plumages from juvenile to adult and breeding.

The Striated Heron is the most common of the three and can be found waiting for passing fishes along the sides of the canal or perch at the lower branches of the mangroves. The brown upper and underparts of a juvenile ( top left) turning into pale grey ( top right) as it gets older. The plumage of the adult (bottom left) is all grey for both sexes. Its legs and facial skin turn reddish pink for breeding males ( bottom right).

The Black-crowned Night Herons are nationally threatened due to diminishing suitable habitat and they are fussy breeders. The fact they they are breeding here for over two decades underline the importance and fragility of the riverine and mangrove forests of the park. The juvenile ( bottom left) has orangey-yellow eyes, brown upperparts with white spots and streaks. The sub-adult ( top right) has no spots and the brown plumage has turned to pale gray. Eyes are darker. Adults ( top left) of both sexes has dark grey crown, mantle and back, yellow legs and two or more plumes. During breeding its legs turned orange ( bottom right).

Grey Herons are the most visible waterbird at the park foraging on the mud flats at low tides or perch high up on the tall trees around the park. They build communal large nests on trees by the river for easy access to the Tilapias there. The juveniles ( top right) has an overall blackish plumage and legs. Non-breeding adult males and females ( left top and bottom) share the same greyish plumage. The male adults ( bottom right) acquire pinkish red legs and facial skin during breeding.

I hope that these images help with identifying the varies ages of these herons.

Reference: A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia 1993 Wild Bird Society of Japan

Singapore Raptor Report – October 2021


Japanese Sparrowhawk, a rather lightly marked and pale-looking juvenile, at Telok Blangah Hill Park, 23 Oct 2021, by Chen Boon Chong

Summary for migrant species:

Raptor migration got off to a gradual start in October 2021, with 753 migrant raptors of 7 species recorded (in contrast, more than 15 migrant raptors species recorded in October last year, but that was exceptional). There were another 18 unidentified raptors and 112 unidentified accipiters, many of which were probably migrants.

Only one Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus was recorded, a juvenile at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR). Eight Grey-faced Buzzards Butastur indicus were recorded, the first was at Henderson Waves on the 23rd, followed by singles at Bukit Timah Hill on the 25th and 27th, Henderson Waves again on 27th, SBWR on 31st, and three at Henderson Waves on 31st. 

The most numerous migrant raptor was the Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus, with 426 recorded. They were just about everywhere, and the highest number recorded in a day was 45, at Henderson Waves on the 23rd.

Jap, 191021, Kusu, TGC

Japanese Sparrowhawk, a more heavily marked juvenile, at Kusu Island, 19 Oct 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

They were followed by the Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, for which 171 were recorded. The highest number in a day was 20, at Henderson Waves on the 30th. 132 Chinese Sparrowhawks Accipiter soloensis were recorded, of these, a flock of 28 was recorded at Mount Faber on the 15th.

Ten migrant Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were reported. Notably, site faithfuls returned to Bedok South and Geylang East. The rest were probably on passage. Lastly, four Western Ospreys Pandion haliatus were recorded.

Highlights for sedentary species:

There were five records for the locally scarce Crested Serpent Eagle, one at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 8th, one at Goldhill Avenue on the 14th, one at Ubin and one at  Kranji Marsh on the 30th, and another at the southern ridges on the 8th, 21st and 25th.

An adult Peregrine Falcon of the resident ernesti subspecies was recorded in the south – from the southern ridges to Tanjong Pagar, throughout the month.

The other resident raptors recorded included five Black-winged Kites; eight Grey-headed Fish Eagles; 11 Crested Goshawks, 18 Changeable Hawk-Eagles; and the common Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

BFO n chick, posted 291021, SBWR, Wong Sangmen

Buffy Fish Owl with its chick, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, 29 Oct 2021, by Wong Sangmen

Breeding-related activities were recorded for three resident species. An adult White-bellied Sea Eagle was seen flying over Dover Forest carrying a large stick, probably for nest-building. At Telok Blangah Hill Park on the 26th, a pair of Crested Goshawks shared a meal before mating; and at Pasir Ris Park, a pair mated on the 28th. At Choa Chu Kang Park on the 27th, a pair of Changeable Hawk-Eagles were nest-building.

A Brahminy Kite caught a swamp eel from a waterlogged field at Seletar Aerospace Park on the 13th, while a Changeable Hawk-Eagle preyed on a junglefowl chick at Pasir Ris Park on the 3rd. For the nocturnal Buffy Fish Owl, three nestings were recorded this month, with a single chick each at Dover Forest, SBWR, and Pasir Ris Park.

table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Chen Boon Chong and Wong Sangmen for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – October 2021

14th Singapore Raptor Watch Report (2021)

Autumn 2021 Migration – 6 Nov 2021


Oriental Honey Buzzard, adult male, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 6 Nov 2021, by Jacky Soh

The 14th Singapore raptor watch was held on Saturday, 6 November 2021. The weather held up, mostly. While a few sites experienced some rain, other sites were spared. Apart from the usual six sites, three more were added to make a total of nine sites. The numbers counted at each site varied from a high of 120 to a low of 13 birds. A total of 553 raptors were counted, including 420 raptors representing 9 migrant species and 100 raptors of 7 resident species. A further 33 raptors could not be identified to species level.


Our usual sites are Tuas South, Jurong Lake Garden, Kent Ridge Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, Lorong Halus Wetlands, and Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin – thanks to all the site leaders for their faithful support! The new sites are Little Guilin, Henderson Waves, and St. John’s Island. Due to the proximity of Henderson Waves to Telok Blangah Hill Park, a fair amount of duplication is expected, but there were some differences in the numbers and species detected.


Figure 1 : 2021 Raptor Watch Sites. (source of basemap –

The highest number of raptors recorded was at Henderson Waves (120 birds), followed by Tuas South (111 birds), Telok Blangah Hill Park (98 birds), and St John’s Island (83 birds).


Figure 2 : Total count by Site

The figure below provides a snapshot of the number of raptors according to the three categories – migrant, un-identified & resident raptors, at the 9 sites. Tuas South Link 3 had the most number of migrant raptors (106), followed by Henderson Waves (101), Telok Blangah Hill Park (75), and St. John’s Island (60).


Figure 6 : Raptor Sub-totals by Category by Site

The greatest diversity of migrant raptors was at Henderson Waves with seven species, followed by Telok Blangah Hill Park and St. John’s Island with five species, and Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin with 4 species.


Figure 3 : Species Richness by Site

Numbers for migrant raptors started to pick up from 10am, and experienced a spike between 12pm to 1pm (200 migrant raptors).


Figure 3 : Raptor numbers by 1-hour time periods (migrant raptors only)

PF, TGC crop

Peregrine Falcon, juvenile, at Tuas South Link 3, 6 Nov 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong.

The Oriental Honey Buzzard was the only species present at all the sites and was the most numerous with 226 birds counted. The largest number of OHB was at Tuas South (77 birds). There were 106 Japanese Sparrowhawks across seven sites, with 27 birds at Tuas South, 26 at Telok Blangah Hill Park, and 25 at Henderson Waves.

A total of 62 Black Bazas were recorded at three sites, the bulk (35 birds) was at St John’s Island. The 12 Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded at four sites, and five Peregrine Falcons at four sites. The scarcer Eastern Marsh Harrier was recorded singly at Lorong Halus Wetlands and Henderson Waves. The only Western Osprey was recorded at Ubin.

St. John’s Island was the only site where the Grey-faced Buzzard was recorded (2 birds). The single Common Buzzard was recorded at Henderson Waves.


For the resident species, the total count was 100 raptors of 7 species. The Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle were recorded at all nine sites. The Changeable Hawk-Eagle was recorded at eight sites. At the other end of the spectrum, the Black-winged Kite was only recorded at one site – Tuas South Link 3.

The count for the resident raptors comprised 42 Brahminy Kites, 23 White-bellied Sea Eagles, 21 Changeable Hawk Eagles, 6 Grey-headed Fish Eagles, 4 Crested Serpent Eagles, 3 Crested Goshawks, and 1 Black-winged Kite.


Figure 5 : Resident Raptors Counted

A complete breakdown of the species counted at each site is shown in the table below:


Thanks to all the 22 people – site leaders, NParks staff, volunteers, for spending their Saturday out in the open to count raptors:


Please click here for the pdf version 14th Singapore Raptor Watch – 2021, v2

The Role of the NSS Bird Group Records Committee in the Documentation and Conservation of Wild Birds in Singapore

By Lim Kim Seng. Chair Bird Group Records Committee.

With the many recent new bird arrivals in Singapore the inevitable question of the origins of these new species, specifically if they are wild, released or escapees comes up. Many would like to know who evaluate their status and how is it done?

The quick answer is the Bird Records Committee of the country and in Singapore it is the Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee, or NSSBGRC, that had been doing this for the past three decades, with regular meetings several times a year.

The groundwork laid by then Malayan Nature Society Singapore Bird Group in the late 1970s and early 1980s by various pioneers such as Ng Soon Chye, Hugh Buck and Clive Briffett led to Chris Hails being appointed as the recorder for Singapore and the first bird checklist for the country being published in 1984. Chris left Singapore in 1988 and kick-started the formation of Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee (or NSSBGRC) in 1988 whose members included Clive Briffett, Lim Kim Keang, Lim Kim Seng and R. Subaraj. The current head is Lim Kim Seng who has over 40 years of birding experience in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The committee also includes Benjamin Lee from National Parks Board, Yong Ding Li from Birdlife International, Tan Kok Hui, current and past Bird Group Chairs, Tan Gim Cheong and Lim Kim Keang.

The task of NSSBGRC is not just to evaluate and verify new and rare records and submissions but more importantly to determine its status and assign a category to them. To do this, the RC consults with an advisory panel of global bird experts including Dr Nigel Collar, Dave Bakewell, Dr Phil Round, Dr David Wells, Dr Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua, Mike Chong, Peter Kennerley and Uthai Treesucon.

Another aspect of the work of the NSSBGRC is to keep tap of the status and taxonomic changes of the birds in Singapore. These changes include its abundance and status, i.e. abundant, common, uncommon or rare and status, i.e. resident breeder, winter visitor, passage migrant, non-breeding visitor or vagrant. The NSSBGRC also evaluates its breeding or non-breeding status based on available evidence.

The NSSBGRC also assigns a national threat status to every affected species and lists its IUCN global threat status. All this was made possible with the extensive and invaluable data from more than three decades of bird censuses, counts, surveys and studies conducted by the Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group with the help of fellow birdwatchers and in collaboration with government agencies such as the National Parks Board.

All these classifications proved to be extremely useful for assessing the biodiversity importance of a nature site for conservation in Singapore, e.g. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the Rail Corridor, and listings on nationally threatened birds in the Singapore Red Data Book. 

Besides publishing and updating the rarities list, the NSSBGRC also publish a fully up-to-date annotated checklist at regular intervals. It has published updated checklists in 1991, 1999, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 beginning with 284 species up to the current 407 species. The NSSBGRC also published a complete avifauna of Singapore in 2009 that captured its work in evaluation and documentation of wild birds as well as those of the early collectors since the 1800s.

The role of the NSSBGRC will always be to inform birdwatchers, observers and agencies of the latest updates by publishing an accurate and up-to-date national bird checklist, adopting the best practices in reviewing records of rarities and new species, and sharing them on suitable online platforms.

The NSSBGRC seeks experienced birders with in-depth knowledge of local and regional birds to carry on the work which must be transparent and democratic. It will continue to look to field experts, taxonomists, academics and ornithologists from across the globe for their advice. We wish to thank past and present members for their contributions in helping the committee to carry out this important work.

We hope that all birdwatchers in Singapore recognise the importance of their records and share them for the benefit of everyone, to obtain an accurate picture of the avifauna of Singapore with the ultimate objective of conserving our wild bird populations and its habitat.