Author Archives: Alan OwYong

About Alan OwYong

Retiree birder and photographer.

Return of the King.

Return of the King

Lim Kim Seng

Every once in a long while, we get really lucky in life. For birders and bird photographers alike, it would be encountering a species that nobody has seen before. It sounds impossible in urban Singapore but it actually happened.

On 2nd May 2018, Ted Lee found it even if he did not realise the importance of his sighting. He posted his photo of a Great Slaty Woodpecker (GSW) on Facebook and every Singapore birder and bird photographer was stunned! It was a bird that had been thought lost to our forests, a bird so scarce that nobody had seen it before in Singapore. Alan Owyong calls this the sighting of the decade. Yes, it was really spectacular in the sense that this really was a totally unexpected, out of the blue sighting.

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2018 has been an exceptional year so far for rarities with a string of super rarities turning up – Band-bellied Crake, Booted Warbler, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, and now this. The GSW takes the cake because it was supposed to be extirpated. Our rainforests have been well surveyed and nobody had even come close to a sighting of this legendary behemoth of a bird. It is also noteworthy as the largest living woodpecker species in the world since two larger species, Imperial and Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, both from the New World, are supposed to be extinct or on the verge of extinction.  It measures up to 50 cm in length from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail and weighs a maximum of about half a kilogram. The GSW is an awesome bird especially when seen close up.  It has a big head, big eyes, a narrow neck, a very long chisel-like bill and a stiff, long tail. Overall, it is clothed in dark grey with just a bit of buff on its throat. Males differ from females in having a broad, bright orange malar stripe.

The GSW has a wide global range being found in the Indian Subcontinent south of the Himalayas and southern China south to Southeast Asia as well as the islands of Borneo, Java and Sumatra. It occurs in deciduous and evergreen forests usually below 600 m but can range as high as 2000 m in some parts of its range. Due to its preference for old trees, it is most regular in old growth forest but has also been seen in plantations, mangroves and swampy forests. As such, it is rated as globally vulnerable by IUCN due to the large scale loss of old growth forests in the region in recent years.

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In Singapore, the GSW has not been seen since 1950. There were unconfirmed sightings in the 1970s but none since. There are however specimens in the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum including an individual collected in Woodlands in 1904, so it was originally here.

After the report by Ted Lee on 2nd May, I had expected to see birders and bird photographers climbing up the 163-m Bukit Timah to seek the GSW the very next day, on 3rd May. I happened to be leading a group of students on a field trip there and spent some time looking for it near the summit. No luck for me and everyone else who tried that day! To add to my misery, I injured my right knee while descending the hill.

On 4th May, more people tried but most were disappointed as they missed the bird except for Dominic Ng who got there around dawn and managed a photograph of the GSW. I was down at nearby Dairy Farm Nature Park where the most interesting bird was a pair of Greater Green Leafbirds. The pain in my right knee grew and I had to go for acupuncture to relieve it.

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On 5th May, which was a Saturday, I was taking a break from birding and relaxing at home but any hope of peace was shattered very early on. My mobile phone kept beeping as whatsapp messages started from 7.00 am. The GSW was back and in view! My phone was still beeping three hours later. GSW still here, reported Kenneth Kee. I had some errands to do and only managed to get to Bukit Timah around noon. I bumped into Felix Wong as he was driving out, the smile on his face sufficient to tell me that he had seen the bird. The climb from the foot was very steep and I was careful not to push too hard, mindful of my knee injury. Sweat was pouring down my back as I huffed and puffed up the hill, each step seemingly harder than the last. Thankfully, I met Toh Yuet Hsin who was also keen to see the bird and we managed to reach the spot where the bird was last seen in good time.

Amongst the half a dozen people there toting binoculars and cameras was Low Bing Wen. He told me that we had missed the GSW by about 10 minutes and that it was probably still around. I scanned every branch carefully but couldn’t see anything. At 12.40 pm, some relief. The GSW called but despite anxious minutes passing by, we could not see it. The minutes ticked by. Nothing! A Chestnut-bellied Malkoha was a welcome distraction until someone shouted, “Woodpecker!” at 1.14 pm. I moved as fast as my injured legs could carry me and stood behind the group of people staring up a thick Shorea curtisi tree. A panicky few seconds passed before I laid my eyes on this giant woodpecker. It was about 15 metres up the tree, perched on a small branch and hammering away, searching for grubs. Elation was replaced by the frantic rummaging of my camera bag and I squeezed off shot after shot.

More people were coming up the hill and they soon showed happy faces as each had their own communion with their holy grail.

At 1.48 pm, we had the GSW in view for over half an hour, an eternity for a rarity, and I was satisfied at last. I had squeezed off 99 still frames, taken two short videos and also made a 30-second recording of its whinnying call. Job done, I descended the hill even as more people seeking this bird huffed and puffed their way up the hill. I heard that the bird was present most of that day and probably over 100 people had seen this mega rarity by then. This was a really special moment in Singapore birding, the return of the king of woodpeckers, and easily the ornithological event of the decade!

All photos by Lim Kim Seng.

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Tree Hole Nest for rent at Pasir Ris Park.

Tree Hole Nest for rent at Pasir Ris Park.

By Seng Alvin.

On 16 January 2018, I was on my routine morning birding walk along the mangroves at my back yard Pasir Ris Park, when I heard pecking coming from the tree nearby. It was a pair of Laced Woodpeckers excavating a hole on the tree trunk for their love nest. I was happy to see this as the last nesting here was in March 2015. For the next few days, the mummy woodpecker spent many hours hard at work at the nest hole.

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On 23 January, when I went to check in the progress, I was surprised to find that a Red-breasted Parakeet at the nest hole. There were no signs of the woodpeckers. Parakeets also used tree cavities for their nests. Since they cannot excavate tree holes, the next best thing to do is to take over existing holes.

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Fortunately or unfortunately, this tree hole was too small for the parakeet and they could not use it. But this did not stop the parakeets from coming back during the next few days to check on the tree hole. The Laced Woodpeckers were nowhere to be seen. It may be that the parakeets were too aggressive for the woodpeckers and they prefer not to pick a fight with them.

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Both the parakeets and woodpeckers went missing for a while, until 26 February when the parakeet came back again to check if the hole got any bigger. It was still too small for it and it finally gave up. A little later that day I was happy to see the male Laced Woodpecker back at the hole. Will they now decide to use the hole to nest this time?

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March and April came and went, but the both species seemed to abandon this tree hole. Did the woodpeckers find better location somewhere? Was there something they don’t like about this particular tree hole?

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My conclusion is that this is one of the mysteries of nature and we just have to accept it.

 

 

 

The Return of the Indian Pond Heron to Bidadari?

The return of the Indian Pond Heron to Bidadari?

We have our 4th record of this vagrant and maybe now a rare winter visitor to Bidadari early this April when TT Koh showed me his photo of a summer Indian Pond Heron, Ardeola grayii, he shot on the 4th. He was not sure of its id and did not send out the alert. It was a post by Phua Joo Yang on 25th in Singapore Birders that got us down to look for it at Bidadari the next day.

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TT Koh’s shot of the Indian Pond Heron at Bidadari on 4 April 2018

Coincidently, Terence Tan posted a non-breeding lighter plumage of another Pond Heron from Bishan Park on 23rd, which Martin Kennewell and Dave Bakewell commented that it was a good candidate for an Indian. Unfortunately this particular Pond Heron could not be found since.

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Terence Tan’s photo of an “unriped” Pond Heron at Bishan Park on 23 April 2018.

The question now is whether this is the same Indian Pond Heron that visited Bidadari in the past two years. On 11 April 2015 Joseph Tan shot one at Bidadari. He did not expect it to be an Indian and did not post it. Good thing that Er Bong Siong did six days later on Bird Sightings. Its admin Francis Yap was quick to realised what he was looking at and alerted its members. All of us got our lifers when we rushed down to tick it in the next two days.

Indian Pond Heron

Taken on 26 April 2018 when it was flying from tree to tree.

This record was enough to move the first record of a summer Indian Pond Heron seen on 20 March 1994 at Senoko by Lim Kim Seng and Lim Kim Chuah from Category D to A. This now constitutes the first national record for this Pond Heron. Cat D are for species which are wild but the possibility of an escapee or released bird cannot be satisfactorily excluded. Myanmar is the nearest range for this Pond Heron and the first record for this Pond Heron for Malaysia was on 12 April 1999 at Penaga district, Penang (SuaraEng 1999). So the exercise of prudence to leave it in Cat D in 1994 was the right call.

To establish its status further, another Indian Pond Heron was sighted at Bidadari again by See Swee Leng on 9 March 2016 and Keita Sin on 6 April 2016. This one wintered there until 19 April 2016. But it may be have flown to Farmway 3 as Lim Kim Keang reported one there on 8 May 2016, making this it latest departure date.

Indian Pond Heron

Shot from the roadside on our way back to the carpark as it flew down to the slope inside the parlour to feed.

From the arrival dates of this Pond Heron to Bidadari, the probability of it being the same bird is high. We can only be sure if we are able to tag this heron which will not be an easy task. In the meantime, let’s enjoy its presence here and try to give it room to forage and feed before it makes it way back. With our long telephoto lenses, there is no need to go close to take that spectacular shot.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore). Thanks to TT Koh, Terence Tan and Alan OwYong for the use of their photos. 

 

8th Annual Parrot Count 2018

8th Annual Parrot Count 2018

Authors: Albert Low and Alan OwYong

Introduction

The World Parrot Count was initiated eight years ago by Michael Braun and Roelant Jonker from the parrot researchers’ group of the International Ornithological Union (IOU). A key objective of the study was to document the status and abundance of feral and non-native parrots in urban environments globally where populations are established. Being part of this study provides an excellent opportunity for us to also monitor native parrot abundance and diversity in Singapore beyond our nature reserves. Given that some species such as the non-native Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) have increased in abundance across Singapore, it is also timely to identify areas where these species are concentrated and their roost sites.

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Results and Conclusions

Coordinated annually by the Bird Group since 2011, this year’s Parrot Count took place on 24 February 2018. 11 sites across mainland Singapore were counted this year. This year’s total of 1,770 parrots of 9 species was much lower than the 2,621 parrots of 9 species recorded last year.

This year, the site with the highest species richness was Bukit Brown Cemetery with a total of six species of parrot recorded including an escapee Red Lory (Eos bornea). The Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda) was the most numerous parrot recorded during the count, with a total of 899 individuals seen, making up 50.8% of all parrots recorded during the count. However, this was a significant decrease from 2017’s total of 1,521 individuals, the 1,837 individuals in 2016 and the high count of 2,059 observed in 2015. 738 Red-breasted Parakeets were also recorded, making up the bulk (41.7%) of the remaining parrots recorded. Other species recorded include small numbers of Tanimbar Corellas (Cacatua goffiniana), Coconut Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus), Rose-ringed Parakeets (Psittacula krameri), Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots (Loriculus galgulus) and Yellow-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua sulphurea).

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During the census, parrot numbers peaked between 7 pm and 7.30 pm where 965 parrots were counted.  The largest parakeet flocks mainly arrive at last light, with counters at many sites managing to observe the noisy spectacle of flocks of parakeets returning to their roosting trees just before complete darkness.

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Of particular interest is the significant decline in the total number of Long-tailed Parakeets recorded during this year’s count. Despite similar weather conditions to last year and no visible changes to existing counting sites, the large flocks of Long-tailed Parakeets that stage and roost around Yishun appear to have disappeared from the area. While this is undoubtedly a cause for concern, equally unusual was the unexpected appearance of large numbers of Long-tailed Parakeets at counting sites in western Singapore. Counters at Clementi and Jurong West, roosting sites that traditionally supported only Red-breasted Parakeets, reported more than a hundred (in the case of Jurong West 462!) Long-tailed Parakeets roosting alongside their Red-breasted counterparts (Table 1).

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This is the first time in the count’s eight year history that large flocks of both parakeet species have been recorded roosting together at certain urban roost sites, seemingly disproving the hypothesis that urban parakeet roosts in Singapore were segregated by species. It is unclear whether the decline in Long-tailed Parakeet numbers around Yishun and their appearance at previously unused roosting sites in Western Singapore are linked. However, it shows that the roosting behaviour of Singapore’s urban-adapted parakeets are potentially very fluid in a constantly changing urban landscape. As such, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that Yishun’s parakeet flocks may also have shifted to new staging and roosting sites, potentially in adjacent areas such as Sembawang. It is hoped that birdwatchers will continue to report parakeet roosts within their neighbourhoods, so that a more complete picture of Singapore’s urban parakeet population can be obtained and unusual observations in roosting ecology documented through regular surveys such as this count.

Acknowledgements

On behalf of the Bird Group, we would like to thank the following for their willingness to carry out parrot monitoring on a weekend evening – Site Leaders: Anuj Jain, Yong Ding Li, Winston Chong, Lim Kim Keang, Lee Ee Ling, Jane Rogers, Nessie Khoo, Marcel Finlay, Ng Bee Choo, Morten Strange, Angus Lamont, and Richard White. Assisting Counters: Florence Ipert, Ernest Lee, Hui Choo, Alex Lim, Joyce Ang, Heather Pong, Kelly Ng, Yen Ting, Carmen Choong, Yanna Graham, Lee Whye Guan, and Tang Zhe. Finally we also thank Roelant and Michael for inviting us to be part of this study.

Common Goldenback Mating at SBWR

Common Goldenback mating at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve. By Rob Arnold.

 

Unfortunately I was travelling outside Singapore when the Indian Paradise Flycatcher was spotted and identified, and missed all the excitement. By the time I returned, most people had seen it, and visiting Sungei Buloh there were many fewer eyes looking for it; most people were seeking the Buffy Fish Owls. On my third unsuccessful morning wandering around the entry and car park, I noticed a pair of Common Goldenbacks in a tree at the far end of the car park. They were in a flowering tree and flew off as I approached.

 

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The female Goldenback took up an erect position and waited for the male.

 

I worked my way back towards the entry, and heard a Plaintive Cuckoo loud and close. I tried to whistle it in, and amazingly it flew into a small tree and I was congratulating myself on my bird imitations. Must be rubbing off from spending time with Kim Chuah sifu. The bird flew off and I reviewed the pictures: something wrong here, it had a clear eye-ring and peachy buff up to the chin…a Rusty-Breasted. Oh well, good bird. Maybe not such good imitation.

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The male was busy looking for grubs and did not seem to notice its mate waiting above.

I looked up and saw the female Goldenback climbing the big tree just opposite the Assembly Point. She got to a large branch and started prospecting along it. Then the male flew up to the same branch. Immediately she assumed an erect position on the top of the branch, which I suppose was at least anticipatory and at most invitational. He didn’t notice she had done this and went on prospecting – to be fair, he was underneath the branch and could not see her.

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Once he noticed her erect position, the male moved along the look at her inquisitively.

As you can see, she maintained her erect position. Then he came to the top of the branch and noticed her, moved along and looked at her inquisitively, then hopped on. All this time she maintained the same position. Then he hopped off and she went off prospecting again. Seems clear from this that she instigated the mating – he did nothing and in fact did not notice until he was just along the branch from her, while she did not move from the time she assumed her position until they were done mating. Possibly of interest to others.

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Success at last!

In the meantime, still looking for the Indian Paradise Flycatcher….

A Brief Encounter with Buffy.

Our brief encounter with the Buffy Fish Owls at Singapore Botanic Gardens.  
by Henrietta Woo.

Observers: Goh Pei Shuan, Henrietta Woo, Ong Ruici

Date: 21 Mar 2018

Time: From 1918 hours till nightfall

Location: NParks HQ, Singapore Botanic Gardens

Pei Shuan and I had just left the office and were making our way to the Evolution Garden when two large-sized birds abruptly landed in the tree above us while calling. We thought it might be the Red Jungle Fowls, but turning the corner, the birds revealed themselves to be Buffy Fish Owls. Both continued to vocalise, one more so frequently than the other, uttering a relatively soft “yiiii” (like a squeaky chair, for lack of a better description) each time. The other owl answered sporadically with a louder and harsher “yiooorhhh”. I am guessing that the former is a subadult; the plumage differences seem rather minute, however. Both kept close to each other.

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While this was happening, Ruici who was at Botany Centre observing the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher immediately rushed over and joined me about 5 minutes after Pei Shuan left. At this time, the owls had become more active, flying across the path to another tree and calling more frequently. The pair thereafter flew across the carpark, to the trees directly in front of the HQ, where we observed was a third owl. Soon after, two of the owls flew across the carpark one after the other back to the Evolution Garden. One of them was carrying a small branch/large twig from the Araucaria tree it had been perching in. The two owls in the Evolution Garden started to vocalise, seemingly coaxing the third individual (subadult?) to join them.

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I had my camera (thankfully!) with me, and managed to squeeze off a few shots before night fell. We also were able to take a few recordings of the owls vocalising and will eventually upload onto xeno-canto. This brief encounter with these Buffy Fish Owls while unexpected was most exhilarating! 

***

31st Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race 2018.

31st Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race 2018

The 31st Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race took place over the weekend of 31 March to 1 April 2018. It was flagged off at 1pm on Saturday and ended at 12pm on Sunday.

After a two-year absence (we last participated in the 28th Fraser’s Hill Bird Race in 2015 where we came in tops with 75 species then), my “Piculets” team-mates, Kim Keang and Ju Lin suggested we take part again this year. My wife, Bee Lan, came along as a supporting cast.

We left on 29 March and flew AirAsia into Kuala Lumpur International Airport where we picked up our rental car from Galaxy Cars – a quite new 2-litre Toyota Innova. After a good lunch break at Kuala Kubu Baru, we arrived at Silverpark in Fraser’s Hill at about 2pm. This was our Airbnb accommodation for the duration of our stay until Sunday – a clean and nicely furnished 3-bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen and a balcony that overlooked a valley.

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Over the remainder of the afternoon and the whole of Friday, we did our recce and birded the hill station, explored Hemmant Trail and parts of Bishop’s Trail, spending about an hour here observing a nesting Long-tailed Broadbill, which was still bringing in nesting material to her almost-completed nest that hung from the end of a spiky rattan vine. In close attendance were also a pair of the diminutive Little Pied Flycatchers bringing their own nesting material into the broadbill’s nest! This however will be the subject of another write-up that I will be writing in due course.

After a short opening ceremony on Saturday, the 54 teams from three categories, namely Student, Novice and Advanced, were flagged off. This year’s race came with a cardinal change in the rules – no form of motorised vehicles were allowed. Each team will have to bird from Point A to Point B on foot! If you are familiar with this hill station, this essentially means that planning is of utmost importance. Many places will have to be missed due to their distance from Fraser’s Hill. It will not be practical to bird at the bottom part of the Gap Road or the “New Road”. Walking the entire loop of Telecom Loop may not be advisable while walking all the way to Jeriau Waterfall may not be a good option either. Time is of the essence and returns are important for the effort that is to be expended.

The Piculets took the decision after the flag-off to walk Hemmant Trail in its entirety from its trail-head near the mosque. This was a good decision as we emerged at the other end of the trail near Lady Maxwell Road with 10 species. Lady Maxwell Road itself was also birdy and we came off with another six species within 15 minutes.

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Orange-bellied Leafbird

Our plan was to head towards the “New Road” quickly and start birding downwards to as far as time and light allowed. The “New Road” is lower in elevation and a different set of birds can be expected. We turned in a respectable 27 species from here. Some special birds that were seen along this road but not easily found up in Fraser’s Hill were Blue-eared and Brown Barbets, Blue-winged and Lesser Green Leafbirds, Little and Grey-breasted Spiderhunters, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, White-bellied Erpornis, White-rumped Shama, Sultan Tit, Black-and-yellow and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Asian Fairy Bluebird and Grey-throated Babbler. Migrants like Mugimaki and Asian Brown Flycatchers as well as Yellow-browed Warbler were also encountered. By the time we reached Silver Park, it was already 7.15pm and dark. Our Day One score of 61 species was good and although tired, we were satisfied.

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Green Magpie

Day Two plan was to visit Hemmant Trail at first light to try to see the Lesser Shortwing and Orange-headed Thrush. Both were seen by Kim Keang when he visited on Saturday morning before the race proper. We reached the trail-head at Lady Maxwell Road but it was still dark and impractical to set foot on the trail. We rested opposite the trail-head and suddenly Ju Lin spotted the Orange-headed Thrush hopping just behind Kim Keang! This was Day Two first bird at 7.02am.

When the light was better, we went into the trail. Alas, the shortwing was not around and we left Hemmant Trail empty-handed.

After agreeing among ourselves that the possibility of seeing new species up at Fraser’s Hill was limited, we decided again to visit the “New Road”. In front of the Tamil school, just before the start of the road, we’d have our Yellow-vented Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Red-rumped Swallow and White-rumped Munia too. We walked downwards for about 1.5km and returned with seven species including the Red-headed Trogon, Buff-necked and Maroon Woodpeckers, Black-thighed Falconet, Drongo Cuckoo, Streaked Wren Babbler and a Large Hawk Cuckoo being chased by a Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo.

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Going down the “New Road”

Last ditch effort on reaching the top had us walking towards the Town Centre, where the race will end. The golf course in front of the Paddock gave us scoped views of Paddyfield Pipit while Barn Swallow and Brown Shrike also put in a late display for us. With some time left, we visited Singapore House, hoping to find the Blue Whistling Thrush. It was not around. We also heard a forktail along the stream but it refused to show itself. All was not lost however as finally, a Blue Nuthatch decided to show itself at 11.02am, followed by an easy Lesser Shortwing which decided to be very confiding by appearing very close to the road. This last species of the race, and our 81st species, made up for the missing shortwing we tried that same morning at Hemmant Trail. It needs to be put on record too that another Streaked Wren Babbler (we had that bird earlier) decided that it needs to be seen too by standing on an exposed branch and started singing for a full 3 to 4 minutes, taunting the three of us who were camera-less!

The Piculets were crowned champions in the Advanced Category when the results were announced. It would be nice to include the number of species seen by the winning teams in the announcement.

 

It was a short but fun few days of birding for all of us in Fraser’s Hill. Because of the new ruling, there was much, much walking done. Thoroughly good exercise and if the “Health” apps is a reliable apps that can be relied on, we walked a staggering 47,540 steps over the two race days. This is equivalent to about 36 kilometres of walking!

Thanks and appreciation are in order to the organisers, Pahang Tourism, Malaysian Nature Society, Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation and all who were involved for all the hospitality, care and friendship.

Till the next race!

Alfred Chia

4 April 2018

31st Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race 2018 – Team Piculets

# Species                              Location         Remarks
1 Pacific Swallow               Town Centre 31-Mar
2 White-bellied (Glossy) Swiftlet
3 Large-billed Crow           Golf Course
4 Long-tailed Sibia
5 House Swift
6 Little Cuckoo Dove
7 Oriental Magpie Robin
8 Silver-eared Mesia
9 Common Tailorbird      Town Centre
10 Mountain Fulvetta      Golf Course
11 Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo
12 Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush
13 Large Niltava
14 Mountain Bulbul        Hemmant Trail
15 Buff-bellied Flowerpecker
16 Fire-tufted Barbet
17 Blyth’s Shrike-babbler
18 Golden Babbler
19 Streaked Spiderhunter
20 Rufous-browed Flycatcher
21 Blue-winged Minla
22 Black-throated Sunbird
23 Little Pied Flycatcher
24 Black-browed Barbet Bishop’s Trail
25 Orange-bellied Leafbird
26 Greater Yellownape Lady Maxwell Road
27 Long-tailed Broadbill
28 Buff-breasted Babbler
29 Green Magpie
30 Mountain Tailorbird
31 White-throated Fantail
32 Black-crested Bulbul      Road leading to New Road
33 Yellow-vented Bulbul
34 Verditer Flycatcher        New Road
35 Blue-winged Leafbird
36 Blue-eared Barbet
37 Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
38 Grey-chinned Minivet
39 Asian Brown Flycatcher
40 Mountain Imperial Pigeon
41 Little Spiderhunter
42 White-bellied Erpornis
43 Yellow-bellied Warbler
44 White-rumped Shama
45 Sultan Tit
46 Everett’s White-eye
47 Mugimaki Flycatcher
48 Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
49 Lesser Green Leafbird
50 Black-and-yellow Broadbill
51 Asian Fairy Bluebird
52 Oriental Honey Buzzard
53 Brown Barbet
54 Pin-striped Tit-babbler
55 Dark-necked Tailorbird
56 Grey-breasted Spiderhunter
57 Grey-throated Babbler
58 Ochraceous Bulbul
59 Silver-breasted Broadbill
60 Yellow-browed Warbler
61 Yellow-bellied Prinia            In front of Tamil School
62 Orange-headed Thrush       Lady Maxwell Road 1-Apr
63 Black-and-crimson Oriole   Road to Glen Bungalow
64 Black-eared Shrike-babbler
65 Lesser Yellownape
66 Stripe-throated Bulbul        Glen Bungalow
67 Red-headed Trogon             New Road
68 Buff-necked Woodpecker
69 Maroon Woodpecker
70 Black-thighed Falconet
71 Asian Drongo Cuckoo
72 Streaked Wren Babbler
73 Large Hawk Cuckoo
74 Red-rumped Swallow        In front of Tamil School
75 White-rumped Munia
76 Malaysian Cuckooshrike Road to Glen Bungalow
77 Barn Swallow Golf Course
78 Paddyfield Pipit
79 Brown Shrike
80 Blue Nuthatch                  Road to Singapore House
81 Lesser Shortwing

Birds are recorded in order of seen sequence

 

A Morning Birding at Bulim Grasslands.

By Doreen Ang.
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Birding at the Bulim Grasslands with Peng Ah Huay, Ian and Freda Rickwood. Photo: Michael Toh.
Large open grasslands are a premium in Singapore, especially those that are left wild and untouched. They are refuge for many of our grassland species like the Zitting Cisticolas and Paddyfield Pipits. Often during the raining season they are waterlogged, creating a haven for bitterns, crakes and snipes. One such grassland is by Bulim Avenue where both our resident Painted Snipes and the migratory Common and Swinhoe’s snipes have been seen.
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First winter Red-throated Pipit turned out to be our bird of the day. Photo: Michael Toh.
So on Sun, 25.3.2018, Ian & Freda Rickword, Peng Ah Huay, Tan Sock Ling, Michael Toh and I decided to venture to Bulim grasslands to do some sniping. We spent slightly more than 2 hours in the morning.  The grounds were wet as it had rained the night before.  We saw about 6-7 Red-wattled Lapwings, 1 Common Sandpiper, some Intermediate Egrets and many Pipits.  But zilch snipes! What a let down!
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Intermediate Egret coming in to land. Photo: Michael Toh.
In one particular flock, there were about 13 pipits on the ground.  One seen through the bins looked a bit darker and ‘fatter’.  I cannot confirm if Michael’s photo was taken from this flock but his photo does show a Red-throated Pipit (a first winter as Kim Keang and you indicated). At least this sighting save our morning birding.
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Good to see the Red-wattled Lapwings back foraging at the grasslands. Photo: Michael Toh.
We don’t know how long before the whole area will be developed. Already a bus depot has taken a good piece of land next to the PIE. Several buildings are under construction, parts of the grasslands are fenced off and other parts are cleared with a concrete road running through it. Best is to enjoy it while it is there, before such habitats become just a memory.
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No Black Kite, our resident Brahminy will do. Photo: Michael Toh.
Many thanks to Michael Toh for the use of his photos.

Birding at Simei-Changi Business Park

Birding at Simei- Changi Business Park

By T. Ramesh

I have been walking around Simei-Changi Business Park estate for the  past three years . Ever since I started birding in Jan 2017,  I combined my morning 5 km walk with birding (with bino and a zoom camera) which yielded interesting sightings of various species of birds.

I have recorded 65 species so far in this area . Many are residents and some are uncommon or rare visitors during migratory season.  Below is the list in random order.

1.     Black-naped Oriole
2.     Eurasian Tree Sparrow
3.     Common Goldenback
4.     Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker
5.     Red-breasted Parakeet
6.     Rose-ringed Parakeet
7.     Blue crowned Hanging Parrot
8.     Common Kingfisher
9.     White-throated Kingfisher
10.  Collared Kingfisher
11.  Yellow Bittern
12.  Grey Heron
13.  Striated Heron
14.  Cinnamon Bittern
15.  Black-crowned Night heron
16.  Blue-throated Bee-eater
17.  Blue-tailed Bee-eater
18.  White-breasted Waterhen
19.  Spotted Dove
20.  Zebra Dove
21.  Pink-necked Pigeon
22.  Green Imperial Pigeon
23.  Red Turtle Dove
24.  Oriental Pied Hornbill
25.  Red-whiskered Bulbul
26.  Little Egret
27.  Common Iora
28.  White-headed Munia
29.  Scaly-breasted Munia
30.  Brown Shrike
31.  Long-tailed Shrike
32.  Tiger shrike
33.  Pied Triller
34.  Oriental Dollarbird
35.  Oriental Magpie Robin
36.  Asian Glossy Starling
37.  Asian Koel
38.  Lesser Coucal
39.  Grey Wagtail                                                                                                                            40.  Paddyfield Pipit
41.  Malayan Pied Fantail
42.  Pacific Swallow
43.  Asian Brown Flycatcher
44.  Dark-sided Flycatcher
45.  Large-tailed Nightjar
46.  White-bellied Sea-eagle
47.  Ashy Tailorbird
48.  Common Tailorbird
49.  Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
50.  Large-billed Crow
51.  Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
52.  Oriental White-eye
53.  Slaty-breasted Rail
54.  Arctic Warbler
55.  Oriental Reed Warbler
56.  Chinese Pond Heron
57.  Crow-billed Drongo
58.  Ashy Minivet
59.  Snipe Spp.
60.  Oriental Honey Buzzard
61.  Brahminy Kite
62.  Changeable Hawk Eagle
63.  Black Baza
64.  Jerdon’s Baza                                                                                                                                 65. Pacific Golden Plover.

Map of the birding spots in Simei- Changi Business Park.Map

If you are driving,  you can park your car next to CBP bus terminal down slope going into the canal path ( marked in red here) .

Photos of birds of Simei – Changi Business Park

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Green Imperial Pigeon

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Jerdon’s Baza

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Five Black Bazas in a tree

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Snipe Spp

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Juvenile Cinnamon Bittern

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Dark-sided Flycatcher

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White headed Munia

The best time for birding in this area is 7-9 am . (except Green Imperial Pigeon which comes around  around 10-11 a.m.)

Changi Business Park with many open fields have large number of  equatorial spitting cobras  and I spotted three spitting cobras within a span of 8 minutes walk in different locations!  I definitely need to get Phua Chu Kang boots J ( yellow safety boots ) and  eye protection if I decide to  I go into the fields.

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Equatorial Spitting Cobra

If you are interested in watching metal birds landing, this is an ideal place as well, as flights land every few minutes.  This poses danger to birds and below photo is a carcass of a bird ( grey heron?) may be  due to collision with a plane.

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Collision with an aircraft?

Look forward to seeing more birders in this area before this area develops into a complete concrete jungle.  Remember to cover the canal behind Changi Bus terminal where Jerdon Baza, Black Baza , Grey Wagtail, Juvenile Cinnamon bittern &  Juvenile night heron  were sighted.

Happy birding !

More Insect Prey for Malkoha Chick

By Gerald KC Lim.

After reviewing the many photographs I took of the parents bringing back food for the chick at the Jurong Eco Gardens, I found that a few were not mentioned in the earlier post. I also had a high number of Praying Mantis which was noted to be their favourite prey.  I would like to share some of the others, a leafhopper and two locusts in this follow up article. These photos were taken between 6th and 13th of March 2018.

Gerald Lim

A leafhopper.

Locus Gerald Lim

A Locust.

Caterpillar Gerald Lim

Caterpillar, not sure if it is an Atlas Moth Cat.

Leaf Hopper Gerald Lim

Another locust/grasshopper.

Praying Mantis Gerald Lim

Praying Mantis, its favourite prey.