Author Archives: Alan OwYong

About Alan OwYong

Retiree birder and photographer.

Wood Sandpiper feeding behaviour

Wood Sandpiper feeding behaviour.
T. Ramesh.
T Ramesh
Wood sandpipers ( Tringa Glareola) are uncommon migrants to Singapore . When they migrate they prefer to be at shallow freshwater wetland. They feed on aquatic insects, worms, spiders, shellfish, small fish.
On 23- Sep-2018, I spotted a lonely wood sandpiper along the construction site at Kranji Sanctuary Golf course .  It caught a small fish and kept poking at it while bobbing its tail continuously. I noticed the bobbing was intense when its head was down ( See video link below). In between, it washed its prey at the puddle of water few times. Once prey was swallowed , it drank water from the puddle  as if to gulp it down the throat .
Probably it was it’s first meal of the day Satisfied with its breakfast the Wood Sandpiper walked off daintily.
Advertisements

Pollination disrupted by Rose- Ringed Parakeets.

Pollination disrupted by Rose-ringed Parakeets. 

By T.Ramesh

I recently observed and video recorded the feeding behavior of Rose-ringed parakeet at Changi Business Park canal.  Rose-ringed Parakeets also known as Ring-necked Parakeet is an uncommon introduced resident .  Their diet generally includes fruits, berries, vegetables, buds, nuts, and seeds.  A  female Rose-ringed Parakeet flew and perched on to a Tabebua rosea with white Trumpet flowers.  It nicely plucked one  flower , sucked its nectar from the bottom  and dropped the flower . It continued this process of plucking &  sucking nectar from seven  such flowers .  I was curious to understand more about this behavior and researched online.

7bcb79aa-31dc-41bd-aacf-fd22497cef56

Parakeets feed on nectar  only if other food listed above is in short supply .  Some plants in Amazon & Tasmania do attract certain  parakeets & parrots ( Golden winged Parakeets in Amazon & Swift Parrots in Australia) to feed on its nectar and rely on them for pollination. These birds have both physical and behavioural  adaptation for nectar feeding and tend not to destroy the flowers.  They provide pollination services through their  pollen-laden beaks.

However, in case of Rose-ringed parakeets , I noticed they do not have adaption for nectar feeding and hence simply pluck and suck the nectar from the flowers and while doing so disrupting  food & the process  of other pollinators.

Reference Parrots: The animal answer guide by Matt Cameron.

Thanks to Angie Ng for the tree identification,

Asian Koel Raids Pied Triller’s Nest.

Pied Triller’s nest raided by an Asian Koel.

I chanced upon the nest of a pair of Pied Trillers Lalage nigra on an Ordeal Tree Erythrophleum suavolens along one-north Crescent during my evening walk early this August . It was a cup shaped nest about 10 cm in diameter stuck between the fork of two thin branches near the canopy. The two chicks must have hatched a few days ago. Both parents were busy bringing back insects and caterpillars to the chicks.

1-P8054036

1-P8074068-001

I went there to check on their progress two days later and witnessed a heartbreaking incident. A male Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea flew in and went straight to the nest. It must have been watching this nesting for some time.

1-P7314083

The Koel attacked and pecked at the chick which clung on to the nest. As the Koel pulled the chick out, the nest was came off the branch too. The Koel then shook the chick violently by its neck several times until it went limped. It dropped the chick and the nest to the ground instead of eating it. I think it was trying to take over the nest by getting rid of the chicks but destroyed the nest while doing so.

1-P7314094

The parents came back after the attack and was totally confused to find the nest gone and the chicks nowhere in sight.  They went up and down the branches frantically searching for the chicks for some time, gave up and flew away.

1-P7314135

The first chick had no chance. It was dead before it hit the ground.

1-P7314110-001

But surprisingly the other chick survived the attack and fall with a few ruffled feathers.

1-P7314141

I picked up the nest and wedged it by the trunk of the tree a few meters above the ground and left the chick there. At least it will be safe from feral predators. I stayed around for a while but the parents did not show up. Next morning I found it back on the ground. It must have fallen out of the nest during the night.

1-P7314157

I decided to tied the nest on a low twig near the ground and put the chick back in. By now the chick had not been fed for more than 24 hours. It was chirping and calling for its parents. Luckily the parents heard the calls this time round and came back. I experienced the most wonderful moment when the daddy found the chick. They were so happy being reunited!

1-P8014186

I was also happy to see the parents resumed feeding the chick.

one-north Park

The mummy was more concerned and hang around to make sure junior was safe. She did not want to lose another chick again.

1-P8014158

The chick was strong enough to climb up the tree with the help of some flapping. It seemed to know that it had a better chance of surviving if it moved up to the safety of the dense foliage above.

1-P8014268

Next morning I found the chick resting at the mid storey of the Tembusu and the parents still feeding it. Now I was sure that this chick would survive.

1-P80242961-P8024280-001

 

PS. The Asian Koel is an invader species to Singapore. There were no previous records of its destructive behaviour. In fact they were attributed for helping to control the crow’s population here by parasitizing their nesting. This may be the first time such an aggressive behaviour has been recorded. I would like to hear if there were other such attacks seen here or elsewhere.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore). 

 

 

 

Black-crowned Night Herons – Stages of Growth.

Black-crowned Night Herons – Stages of Growth by Seng Alvin.

Black-crowned Night Herons, Nycticorax nycticorax, as the name suggests are nocturnal birds. They rest in the day and hunt at dusk. As such they do not need bright plumages like other birds. Both sexes have the same grey and white plumage. None of the guidebooks and images in Oriental Bird Club have captioned the sexes and separate them.

I was lucky that a small colony of these herons took up residence at the mangroves at my backyard, Pasir Ris Park and nested. This allows me to photograph them at various stages of growth.

These are my observations and humble assumptions:

38656446_1805703532841769_1446507254005104640_n

Juvenile birds have dull grey-brown plumage on their heads, wings, and backs, with numerous pale spots. Their underparts are paler and streaked with brown. The juvenile birds have orange eyes and duller yellowish-green legs (above). However, the eyes will begin to change to red before it grows into sub-adult stage ( below)

38668180_1805703782841744_4533752325012979712_n

From the sub-adult stage onward, I noticed that there were differences in the color of the bills.

38674325_1805703962841726_3726258809342001152_n

This is a sub-adult based on the duller greys and whites. It has a black upper mandible and a pale yellow lower mandible. Could this be a feature of a female?

38757653_1805703662841756_332456204154437632_n

This is another sub-adult but it has an all black bill. Could this be a male bird?

38541392_1805703606175095_8865171669879095296_n

I found the same difference in bill color for the adults too. This one has a bi-colored bill.

38683616_1805703512841771_8947054925024591872_n

And this adult has a totally black bill. Is this a male bird? My next project is to try to find out if and when do the color of the lower mandible change from greenish-yellow to black for both sexes or only the males.

38734781_1805703489508440_6356825891871391744_n

During the breeding season, only the male Night Heron’s legs turns from greenish-yellow to pinky-orange (above). Their bills are all black.  It this part of color change during breeding or a feature to separate the sexes?  Your views and comments are most welcome.

 

2017 Year in Review – Residents and Non-breeding Visitors.

2017 Year in Review- Part 3. Residents and Non-breeding Visitors.

We had several important breeding records for 2017 but the most significant was the first documented record of the successful nesting of the Red-legged Crakes Rallina fasciata at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 3rd November by Mike Smith. Prior to this, all we had were sightings of juveniles being fed by their parents.

23415192_1723817844329938_6774436093789093053_o

Mike Smith’s timely photo of the hatching of the first Red-legged Crake chick at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The other notable breeding record was the sighting of a pair of Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana sitting on a nest inside a row of Mangroves at Pulau Ubin near Chek Java on 2nd January by Daniel Ong. This was our first breeding record from the north of Singapore. On 30th August, Chua Yen Kheng of Sungei Buloh proudly announced the sightings of a pair of chicks with the adult Black-backed Swamphens Porphyrio indicus at Kranji Marshes, a first since its opening and an indication of the success of the enhancement of the Marshes.

21106339_1541971002509037_33556282035135329_n

Pair of Black-backed Swamphens with youngs at Kranji Marshes. Photo: Bari Mohamed and NParks.

A juvenile Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was photographed at Pulau Ubin by Serin Subaraj on 18th September during an NParks survey. The adults were heard calling (Jonathan Tan of NParks). Breeding evidence of this rare owl at Ubin?

Serin Subaraj

Juvenile Barred Eagle Owl photographed by Serin Subaraj at Pulau Ubin.

The nesting of the introduced Monk Parakeets Myiopsitta monachus at Pasir Ris Park was however a little worrying as these aggressive parakeets may impact negatively on our native parrots. (Lim Kim Keang on 24th February)

Staying in Ubin, David Tan retrieved the carcass of a Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos on 24 August, after it crashed into a building at the Outward Bound School there. This was our third record. A female Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus was reported at Ubin on 21st September by Alan OwYong with another sighting by Martin Kennewell at Sentosa, sex unknown.

Black Hornbill Rob Arnold

The female Black Hornbill was one of the latest addition to the Checklist. Taken at Ubin by Rob Arnold.

The nationally threatened Mangrove Blue Flycatcher Cyornis rufigastra was heard calling at the eastern end of the island by Lim Kim Keang and Low Choon How on 1st September. Sharinder Singh also reported seeing one across Lorong Halus on 13th May. Another rare resident seen at Pulau Ubin was the Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea, once on 1st April by Lim Kim Keang and again on 16th September by James Tann. Mike Hooper reported seeing another at Marina East on 30th July. This is the only Whistler here.

James Tann MW

A rare photo of the Mangrove Whistler taken at P. Ubin by James Tann in September

The Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was reported at the Pekan Quarry on 22nd March, 4th June and 26th December. The surprise find by Thio Hui Bing at the Singapore Quarry on the same day 26th December could mean that there could be two darters around?  Seetoh Yew Wai and friends reported a skittish Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda at the southern mangrove area on 23rd September. Could this be our resident minor sub species extending its territory from Pulau Tekong? Rounding up at Ubin, a total of 68 Straw-headed Bulbuls Pycnonotus zeylanicus were recorded during a census on 4th June coordinated by Yong Ding Li. Pulau Ubin is the most important site for this globally threatened species.

SHB Ted Ng

Pulau Ubin is the most important site for this globally threatened species. Photo like this by Ted Ng will be difficult to get elsewhere.

Over at the resort island of Sentosa, Lim Kim Seng had our only record of the rare introduced Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea for the year on 30th September. He also reported a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata there on 18th September. Two other records of the White-rumped Munias came from Chinese Gardens on 3rd Aug and Kent Ridge Park Forest Walk on 16th December. Their status and origin are not too clear as recent escapees cannot be fully ruled out.

Francis Yap had the only record of the rare Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon from our Central Forest for the year with a sighting at Jelutong Tower on 17th May.

Lesser Green Leafbird FYap

This is the only record and photo of the nationally threatened Lesser Green Leafbird taken by Francis Yap this year inside our Central Forest.

But the secretive King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis was more cooperative with multiple sightings from Kranji Marshes on 10th February, 5th November and Seletar end on 20th February all by Martin Kennewell.

The large Lesser Adjutants Leptoptilos javanicus had been making rounds over the Kranji Marshes and Sungei Buloh areas during the last quarter of the year. Again Martin Kennewell and Con Foley were there to record the sightings on 30th September, 8th October where four birds were seen, and 4th December.

The forest loving Blue-eared Kingfishers Alcedo meninting continued with their location expansion with records coming in from Hindhede, Bukit Batok and Dairy Farm Nature Parks between 15th May and 24th June. Good news for our nationally threatened kingfisher.

BEKF Gerals Chua

Gerals Chua’s photo of the spreading Blue-eared Kingfisher with its catch at Kranji Marshes.

This final part concludes the Bird Review for 2017. We want to thank all of you for your timely posts in the various facebook groups, e-forum and alerts. Let us look forward to another impressive year ahead with more lifers for all.

Compiled from the monthly Bird Reports for 2017 by Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong. Reference: Lim Kim Seng, The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009. Many thanks to Mike Smith, Bari Mohamed/NParks, Serin Subaraj, Rob Arnold, James Tann, Ted Ng, Francis Yap and Gerals Chua for the use of their photos. 

Nesting of Long-tailed Parakeets in Singapore – A 11 weeks Monitoring Report

11 Weeks Monitoring of the nesting Long-Tailed Parakeets in Singapore – by Mike Smith

Introduction

The Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda is a social bird found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sumatra, Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. It is globally near threatened.

In Singapore it a common parakeet, easily recognised by its long tail and loud screeching but have been photographed on numerous occasions but little was known of their nesting behaviour. This is the first full documentation of its successful nesting in Singapore.

A nest is spotted.

48rainbow_gum

I heard from a friend that Liu Zhongren had discovered a Long-tailed Parakeet nest. It was off the beaten track in Hort Park and I decided to take a look. In the 11 weeks, I had visited the area on 29 days and spent over 90 hours monitoring and observing its nesting behaviour. This has increased the knowledge base of how a male parakeet and at least four females raise a healthy fledgling.

Information from Liu Zhongren and a photo on the internet from ebird.org suggest that a male and female parakeet cleaned up a lineated barbet nest hole 6 metres from the ground in a Rainbow Gum tree (left) and took it over during the last week of April 2018. After the first week of May the male disappeared and females incubated the nest.

Nest monitoring starts

My first visit was on 8th May 2018.  I was lucky to see a female because as I soon discovered, when she sits on the eggs she rarely makes an appearance and never left the nest during my normal viewing hours of 10 am – 4 pm. It just poked her head out of the nest a few times for a few minutes and occasionally hung out upside down. Not a sound was heard; complete silence! No male parakeet was observed during the first month!

15wings

Parakeets like to hang around with me but they do it upside down. My photographs showed that more than one female was doing the incubation. My records show at least four over the 11 weeks! Communal breeding my “go to” expert explained! Apparently it’s not uncommon in the birding world.

40male_fern

On 25th May at 8.30 am a female hanging upside down outside the nest suddenly gave a soft screech and from that position flew rapidly from the nest to feed in the forest, 0.5 km away. A different female returned after 10 minutes. This was repeated 10 minutes later. Then nothing else happened so I left at 10 am.

Monitoring the nest was rather boring as there were long periods of inactivity and apart from park staff I was usually on my own under a harsh sun and humid conditions. However, I did get to practice trying to capture female parakeets in flight but opportunities were few and far between. Most of the action took place between 7 and 9 am and 5 to 7 pm. After landing at the nest the female parakeet would disappear inside within a couple of seconds.

14flight

The National Parks Board made both me and the mummy parakeet in the nest nervous when they started boring into the tree to check it was “safe”. The bird flew off in anger, I watched in frustration but all was all well 30 minutes later and the female returned.

Even more disturbing was a Lineated Barbet coming back to inspect its former nest hole. I feared there would be a turf war but I guess the parakeet signed a lease and stayed put.

A change in behaviour.

Initial flights I witnessed were only for a few minutes, I assumed this was because the eggs were being incubated. After feeding the female would rest and watch the nest from a tall trumpet tree some 50 metres away, for a few minutes before giving a small screech and heading into the nest.

20female_trumpet_tree

On 13th June I noticed a change in behaviour, the absence of the female was getting longer, up to an hour and a week later up to 3 hours. For the first time the male appeared on the trumpet tree and fed the female by regurgitating food. The female then flew to the nest and the male back to the forest. Clearly there were chick(s) deep in the nest hole. Flights increased in number with an extra flight during the 10 am – 4 pm period.

22feeding

Occasionally the male would feed the female on a different tree a few hundred metres away. The female sometimes went to a nearby rain tree to feed and sharpen her claws.

The Baby Appears!!

My first sight of a chick was not until 8th July. Even then it was impossible to get a good photo. I think I saw two dark, scrawny, ugly babies but the photo isn’t very clear but for sure only one hatched. My first clear sight of one chick, which had grown significantly and was now a colourful bird was on 17th July.

27baby2

Watching the nest was now much more interesting. The baby was growing fast and there were regular photo opportunities. The female stayed away from the nest for longer periods and would watch from the trumpet tree for up to an hour. The baby appeared at the hole entrance regularly.

8exit_nest

Another behavioural change – Females spend more time close to but not in the nest.

On 19th July the females spent time on the nest tree but not in the hole which was presumably now a tight fit for two birds.

29hang_baby

The Male Returns to the Nest Vicinity.

On 20th July at 9 am the male bird posed much closer to the nest on nearby trees. Suddenly the baby stretched its neck out of the hole and started screeching at the top of its voice, both the male and female flew near to it (the first time I had seen the male anywhere near the nest). The male fed the female before flying off, the female flew into the nest and fed the baby out of sight.

Fledgling.

At 8.00 am on July 21st the young baby stretched its neck out of the nest and at 8.10 am a female parakeet landed on top of the trumpet tree some 50 metres away. 30 minutes later with a loud screech the male joined the female but did not feed her. At 8.50 am the female flew to the nest.  At 8.55 there was a terrific amount of screeching from the male on the distant tree and the female at the nest. Without warning the female flew towards the male and the baby followed. The male took off and all three headed for the jungle.

31baby_head

The finale happened so quickly I only got a blurred picture of the male and female with the fledgling flying below them to Kent Ridge Park. I wondered if the chick would return to the nest but it did not and presumably is being looked after communally at Kent Ridge Park. The female did return to the nest and stayed in it overnight before flying off next morning. The male and female returned to the trumpet tree the next day (I speculate that they cleaned up the nest or were checking that the fledgling didn’t try and return) but not thereafter.

43fly-away

It was rather disappointing that the chick didn’t pose outside the nest or put or feed at the entrance (unless it did so in the dark) but at least it successfully left the nest aged at an estimated 7 weeks. From these observations I learned a significant amount about the nesting of the Long-tailed Parakeets.

Observations and My Conclusions:

Nest Prepared: Last week of April by male and female

Eggs Laid: Ist week of May after which the male left the nest area. Incubated by 4 females (male not involved)

Egg(s) Hatch: End of May (approx 3-3.5 weeks)

Feeding of Baby: Is done by females deep in the nest hole.

Baby: Chick does not appear regularly at nest entrance in daylight until it is 6 weeks old.

Fledge: I chick fledged on 21st July (approx 7 weeks old)

Male does not go inside nest once eggs have been laid

Male feeds in Kent Ridge Park and trees above Hort Park. Females feed on their own food plus get additional food from the male, by regurgitation, on a lookout tree away from the nest.

Brood Parasite: Golden-bellied Gerygones hosting a Little Bronze Cuckoo.

Brood Parasite: Golden-bellied Gerygones hosting a Little Bronze Cuckoo.

By Lee Kai Chong.

4A19F62673794C09B150B35C6813557F (1)

The Golden-bellied Gerygone, the smallest bird in Singapore, has known to nest in urban parks here. I did not see the nesting but I spotted a pair feeding a juvenile Little Bronze Cuckoo on the 23 July 2018 at our HDB neighbourhood park at Jurong West. I find this interesting that this is taking place right in the busy heartland park.

Both foster parents took turns to feed the juvenile cuckoo. Their favourite tree was the Mango tree because of the many tiny insects present. They had to do many rounds of feeding as the insects were too puny for such a large bird, stopping only for 5-10 minutes for the cuckoo to digest the food. Feeding started at the first light and continued throughout the day. I last saw them feed on the 27 July.

FFF6558DB4BC4794B245465B32A7C48B

Many park goers were aware of the sound and sight of Little Bronze Cuckoo being fed by Golden-bellied Gerygone but don’t know what was going on. It may be because of their relatively small size, non stop movement during feeding under the canopy. When I showed them the photos, they were very surprised to see a such large young bird being fed by a smaller bird of a different species. I told them that this is ” Brood Parasite” an unusual breeding behaviour in our natural world. I am glad to show a bit of nature at our neighbourhood park to the residents there.

 

Feeding “Fluffy” the Juvenile Albino Collared Kingfisher.

Feeding “Fluffy” the Juvenile Albino Collared Kingfisher.

The rare juvenile albino Collared Kingfisher Todirhamphus chloris, at the East Coast Park was affectionately nicknamed “Fluffy” by Tuck Loong for its all white fluffed up plumage. It had become the darling and center of attention of the birding community here since its discovery by a group of otter watchers on 28 June. There were some drama early this month too. Micky Lim recounted how an overprotective lady wanted to keep the distressed kingfisher and how ACRES were called in to “rescue” it from the waters of the canal.

Lim Swee Kin 30.6

Praying Mantis “praying” for its life. An excellent moment capture by Lim Swee Kin.

With so many “food-in-mouth” photos on social media, Art Toh saw a great opportunity to compile and study the different types of prey that the parents brought back to feed the chick. Clarinda Yap’s all action BIF with FIM ( beetle larvae) cover photo summed up this story best. Many of the love, bonding and tender moments between the parents and their fledgling were captured in the photographs.  This study is a great example of citizen science at work, sharing collective knowledge of our avian world.

Michael Thura 2 .7

This Sun Skink made a fulfilling meal for “Fluffy”. Photo: Michael Thura

Both the parents were resourceful hunters. It seemed that everything is on the menu. They brought back no less than a dozen different types of food for the fledgling. Some were a little surprising like the swimmer crab and a centipede. Others were weird looking insects, larvae and beetles. There were photos of a long thin “snake’, caterpillars, dragonflies, a skink and a few praying mantises. Many cannot be identified.

James Gan 4 .7

A nice juicy beetle caught floating in mid air by James Gan. Despite all the colorful diet this juvenile was not able to produce any color in its plumage.

Normal fledglings should be able to forage on its own by now. But due to its poor eyesight and weak flight, it was not able to do so. The parents had to do all the hunting. We don’t know when or if “Fluffy” will be able to survive on its own. Just hope that the parents will not abandon it and continue with the feeding until it is able to fend for itself.

Tony Chua 2.7.1

A tender moment of the parent bringing back a caterpillar for “Fluffy” captured by Tony Chua. 

All these photos tell a story but more importantly they expanded our knowledge of the diet of the Collared Kingfisher chick. Unfortunately we were not able to feature all the food here but we hope you can add it your photos of the food not covered here in the comments.

Terence Tan 28 .6

An early photos taken by Terence Tan on 28 June showing “Fluffy” with what looks like a grasshopper.

Kelvin Ng 5.7

Its favourite seemed to be the Praying Mantis. Kelvin Ng’s well taken shot with the parent proudly showing off its catch.

Darren Leow 1.7

The parent tossing up a half eaten Blue Swimmer Crab was dramatically captured by Darren Leow at the perfect moment.

Tan Chee Huat 3.7

Tan Chee Huat’s clear and open shot of the parent with what looks like a centipede, a stable prey for the  Long-tailed Shrike chicks.

Khong Yew 12.7

The love of the parent scarifying a juicy beetle larvae for its chick well captured in this photo by Khong Yew

Dave Koh 30.6.1

“Fluffy” stretching out to pick up a cicada from its parent. Photo by Dave Koh.

Many thanks to Clarinda Yap, Lim Swee Kin, Michael Thura, James Gan, Tony Chua, Terence Tan, Kelvin Ng, Darren Leow, Tan Chee Huat, Dave Koh and Khong Yew for the use of their photographs.

Thanks also to Lena Chow for helping to identify some of the insects and prey and Art Toh for his suggestion to document this.  Please leave a comment if you know any of the unidentified food that were brought in.

Complied by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong.

 

 

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

The discovery of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus at Sentosa by Tuck Loong and Esther Ong on 23 December had to be one of the birding highlights of the year. Another was the sighting of a female Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina that stopped over for 3 days at Dairy Farm NP on 28 November by Veronica Foo and Marcel Finlay. Two sightings of the vagrant White-throated Needletails Hirundapus caudacutus over the Henderson Wave on 19 and 31 Oct by Keita Sin and one over Jelutong Tower on 25 Oct by Francis Yap ( Cover photo). The cuckoo and flycatcher were only our second records for these species, while the needletails were our second, third and fourth records.

1-PC253239

Asian Emerald Cuckoo feeding on Tussock Moth caterpillars at Sentosa was                      only our second record.

Other rare visitors include the Asian House Martins Delichon dasypus, seen thrice, 11 March at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell, 19 October at Henderson Wave by Keita Sin and 24 November over Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap. Two Yellow-browed Warblers Phylloscopus inornatus, one at the Bukit Timah Hill summit on 18 January by Francis Yap and the other at Sentosa on 24 November by Lim Kim Chuah. A Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica was photographed by Khong Yew at Dairy Farm on 25 November and a Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus on 3 January at Pulau Ubin’s Butterfly Hill by Keita Sin. A ‘summer visitor’, the Austral Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis duly arrived on 27 May at Seletar end when Francis Yap went to look for them.

Dean Tan

Siberian Thrush from Dairy Farm. Photo: Dean Tan

A good number of rare and endangered flycatchers were sighted during the year. The globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus was recorded at Jurong Island and even Sungei Buloh WR and its usual haunt Bidadari between 30 September and 7 November. The non-breeding Brown-streaked Flycatchers Muscicapa williamsoni came over between August 13-26 and were spotted at Pasir Ris Park, Jelutong Tower and Portsdown Road.

brown-streaked-fc-18-8-17-prp-francis-yap (2)

Brown-streaked Flycatcher, a non-breeding visitor comes over usually in July and August. Photo: Francis Yap.

Laurence Eu gave us an early arriving Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae when he photographed one at Dempsey Hill on 7 September, 10 days ahead of the previous extreme date. There were five more sightings of this flycatcher all at the Central Catchment Forest up to 6 April. Low Choon How had a new late departure date for the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata on 3 April at Simei. Other sightings of this flycatcher was at Belayer Creek on 24 October by Laurence Eu and a female bird at Bidadari on 12 and 18 November. Rounding up was the Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis, a recent split from the Blue and White. A first-winter bird was photographed by Khong Yew at Dairy Farm NP on 21 November, with Dave Bakewell providing the identification.

Zappey's Khong Yew

A first winter male Zappey’s Flycatcher from Dairy Farm NP. Photo: Khong Yew.

Other notable visitors for the year were the Black-capped Kingfishers Halcyon pileata, a photographers’ favourite, recorded at Kranji Marshes, Marina Barrage, Neo Tiew Lane 3 and West Coast Park between 20 October and 21 December; and Grey Nightjars Caprimulgus jotaka on 3 November at Satay by the Bay (Christina See), and one at Bukit Batok on 2 December by Lena Chow. Both were new for the sites. They were also recorded at Bidadari, Chinese Gardens, Rifle Range Link, One-north and AMK Park.

grey-nj-at-cg-by-looi-ang-soh-hoon

A low roosting Grey Nightjar at the Chinese Gardens by Looi-Ang Soh Hoon. The species was seen at six other places. 

A dead Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida found at Toa Payoh on 20 November was the first for the season. Over at Seletar end, Goh Cheng Teng reported the Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus on 25 November. The confiding Lanceolated Warblers Locustella lanceolata were present at Seletar end on 10 March and Tuas South on 29 Oct as per entries in ebirds by Martin Kennewell and James Lambo respectively.

Complied from the monthly Bird Reports for 2017 by Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong. Reference: Lim Kim Seng, The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009. Many thanks to Alan OwYong, Dean Tan, Francis Yap, Khong Yew and Looi-Ang Soh Hoon for the use of their photos. 

 

 

The Varied Diet of the Yellow-vented Bulbul Chicks.

The Varied Diet of the Yellow-vented Bulbul Chicks. By Seng Alvin.

The ubiquitous Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier has to be the most common bird in our urban greenery. Its bubbly call is a welcome sound in our parks and gardens. If you listen carefully, they have different calls and alarms for different situations.

35922739_1735937819818341_3890536111503572992_n

With two hungry chicks to feed, the parent bulbuls were kept busy throughout the day

I was lucky to come across a nesting pair at Pasir Ris Park this June and decided to document the food that the parents brought back to feed the chicks, and it was very varied.

Insects formed the main source of proteins for the growing chicks. Wasps from a nearby nest, a green grasshopper and a spider showed the variety of the feed.

My monitoring started on the 17th. I spent one to two hours each day between 8.00 am and 10 am photographing the the feeding process. Both chicks successfully fledged on the 22nd after a week of feeding.

35972124_1735937693151687_6208370656522797056_n

Happy and well fed chicks about to fledge on the 22nd June.

For the first three days, the parents brought back soft and small insects that can be easily digested. Spiders and caterpillars were also a good source of proteins for the growing chicks. In the later stage, berries and figs supplemented larger insects like grasshoppers.

35924509_1735938076484982_3849998835774390272_n

Squashed figs and berries will form the main diet of these frugivorous species when they grow up. 

In first part of the day, the parents will usually feed the chicks with insects. As the day progressed, they would start bringing back figs and berries to the chicks, for desserts? As there was a wasp’s nest nearby, they took full advantage of this ready source of rich protein insects. I wonder how do they neutralise the venom if any inside these wasps?

36003014_1735937943151662_5461723182325039104_n

Sharing a fat caterpillar.

From my observations, their diet is not just varied but well balanced for the chicks to grow up as fast as possible to begin another generation.