Author Archives: TAN Gim Cheong

Singapore Bird Report – April 2019

by Geoff Lim, Alan Owyong (compiler), & Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

April continues to see the exodus of migratory species, while residents breed, nest and raise their young. This month also sees the appearance of the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike at a previously unrecorded location.

BWFCS, Jan 2018, Jelutong, Thio Hb

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike from Jelutong Tower taken on 20 January 2018 by Thio Hui Bing.

New Location for Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike

A Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus was spotted during the early morning hours of 22 April 2019 by Fadzrun Adnan at the Dairy Farm Nature Park. Here is Fadzrun’s own narrative of how he stumbled upon the bird:

On the morning of 22nd April, I dropped by Dairy Farm Nature Park hoping to see the scarce Jambu Fruit Dove. When I came to the False Curry Trees, the trees were indeed bearing fruit but the target bird refused to make any appearance at such an early hour. I turned around to have a better look at the clumsy Red-crowned Barbet that was feeding just above the corner of the Wallace Education Centre. As I was admiring the bird and chatting away with a fellow birder, a most inconspicuous but clearly black-and-white bird flew in to perch on some tall snags. A brief view on the binoculars showing the black upperparts and the white underparts readily confirmed its identity as the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, a rare visitor to our forests. That sharp black-white delineation on the face is unmistakeable! 

From my experience with this species in Malaysia, this flycatcher-sized bird with a rather slim appearance keeps strictly to the canopy. It may occasionally descend to mid-storey to prey on insects. It is most easily seen when it perches quietly on some sparse snags, just as how I came across one that morning. It was rather unfortunate that the bird soon went out of sight just as some other birders hastily arrived, hoping to have a glimpse of this elusive bird.

Prior to this, this rare visitor was seen only at two other locales – Jelutong Tower, within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, and at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin. The Jelutong sightings occurred on 11 February 2013 (Chan Tsan Tsai and Geoff Lim), on 23 August 2013 (Francis Yap), and 20 January 2018 (Martin Kennewell, Thio Hui Bing and Richard Carden). The Ubin sightings occurred on 28 June 2015, seen by by visiting German birdwatcher, Wolfgang Kraemer, and on 6 May 2018 by Lim Kim Seng during the Comprehensive Ubin Biodiversity Survey (CUBS). The bird was formally accepted into the Singapore list in 2013.

Wells (2009: 107 – 109) noted that the species is generally a loner, though they occur more commonly in pairs and less often in small parties. A lowland species that does not venture beyond 300m above sea level, the Flycatcher-shrike is more often found in the high open canopies of forests and tops of forest edge growth along clearings, logging tracks and other edge habitats. Generally known to be a gleaner that picks off small arthropods from the underside of leaves, the species also flies short sorties to snap at airborne prey before returning to the same perch.

Wells (2009: 109) suggested that evidence from observations of nest building, eggs and nestling suggests that egg laying occurs between February and July. Figure 1 provides a graphic representation of the sightings so far across the months of the year. While the sightings from April onwards could be possibly due to a post-breeding dispersal from Malaysia, the occurrences in January and February weaken this theory. Only time will tell whether these sightings are of non-breeding visitors from the north, or come from a local breeding population.

Figure 1

The following photographs from previous sightings in 2013 and 2018 serve to illustrate  Well’s points about the bird being mostly alone, and is usually perched in the open canopies of forests and vegetation along forest edge environments.

BWFCS, 2013, Jelutong, Chan Tsan Tsai

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike from Jelutong Tower taken on 11 February 2013 by Chan Tsan Tsai

BWFCS, Aug 2013, Jelutong, Fryap

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike from Jelutong Tower taken on 23 August 2013 by Francis Yap showing how dimunitive the bird is

Central Catchment, BTNR, DFNP & Bukit Brown

Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) remains one of the more accessible and productive parks located at the fringes of the CCNR. During the month of April 2019, several resident and migratory species were spotted within the park. Besides Fadzrun’s Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, a Jambu Dove Ptilinopus jambu was spotted on 5 April 2019 by Lim Kim Seng, as was a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus on 6 April 2019 by Martin Kennewell. The park also yielded a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica on 19 April 2019 by YT Choong, a first for this year’s spring. A Common Iora Aegithinia tiphia was seen nesting on 24 April 2019 by Alan Owyong, while a juvenile male Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati was spotted on 27 April 2019 by Khong Yew.

Further afield, we had a report of a Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane at Lower Pierce Trail on 5 April 2019 by Mei Hwang, while a Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata was spotted on 8 April 2019 at Upper Seletar by Lian Yee Ming. A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus was reported at the Jungle Trail of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 13 April 2019 by Kevin Choo; the bird was apparently present at this location since 30 March 2019. A Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis was also spotted at the Singapore Quarry pond on 14 April 2019 by Betty Shaw. During the Good Friday holiday on 19 April 2019, a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides was heard calling beyond the stream next to Dillenia Hut by Yong Ding Li and Geoff Lim. The duo later joined Francis Yap and other birders to observe three Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps flying around the trees; one of which was a juvenile. A Pacific Swift Apus pacificus was spotted at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 25 April 2019 by Richard White, while a Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus was seen at Bukit Brown on 27 April 2019 by Alvin Tan, a new location for this species of owl in Singapore.

BH Bulbul, 200419, Jelutong, Raymond Siew Kung Kiet

A Black-headed Bulbul taken on 21 April 2019 from Jelutong Tower by Raymond Siew Kung Kiet.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula xanthopygia was spotted at the Learning Forest on 7 April 2019 by Geoff Lim, who subsequently saw a  White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata at the Bambusetum on 21 April 2019.

YRFC, 070419, SBG, Geoff Lim

A Yellow-rumped Flycatcher seen on 7 April 2019 at the Learning Forest by Geoff Lim.

Central Singapore

Inter-specific interaction between a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus and an Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus was observed on 4 April 2019 at Haig Road by Dawn Teo. The Falcon attacked the larger bird, which managed to escape.

PF, OHB, 040419, Haig Rd, Dawn Teo

Aerial combat between a Peregrine Falcon and Oriental Honey Buzzard captured by Dawn Teo over Haig Road on 4 April 2019.

A few days later on 7 April 2019, a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata was seen at Bidadari, while David Tan reported that a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis was found to have expired at the foot of a building on 13 April 2019 at Lorong Lew Lian, the first spring collision for 2019.

BWP, David Tan

The first spring collision casualty for 2019 – a Blue-winged Pitta recovered from Lorong Lew Lian on 13 April 2019 by David Tan.

Eastern Singapore

The eastern islands continue to be a haven for birds due to their relatively pristine condition. Several Pulau Ubin residents were seen. On 4 April 2019, a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was seen by Kelvin Ng and Michael Phua, a Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus was seen on 7 April 2019, while a Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha was spotted on 20 April 2019 by Goh Zai Fa.  

Pasir Ris and its environs also attracted several species of good birds, such as a male Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki at Pasir Ris Park on 4 April 2019, up to 33 Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocynus javanica at Pasir Ris Industrial Park area on 5 April 2019 by Alfred Chia, an oddly displaced Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus on 7 April 2019 at Pasir Ris Farmway 3 by Adrian Silas Tay, and three Black-naped Terns Sterna sumatrana off Pasir Ris Park on 28 April 2019 by Norhafiani A Majid.

Further afield, we received a report of an Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus at Tampines Eco Green, which was spotted by Willam Mahoney on 28 April 2019, while David Tan brought the tragic news of Singapore’s third record of a Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykulli found dead on 29 April 2019, possibly 2-3 days after colliding with a window at Temasek Polytechnic. Also, a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus was seen at Hougang Avenue 1 by Francis Chia on 30 April 2019.

BBC, 290419, Temasek Poly, found by Sunny Tan, pic by David Tan (3rd record)

The third record of the Band-bellied Crake in Singapore, found expired at Temasek Polytechnic on 29 April 2019 and collected by David Tan.

Southern Singapore

An Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti was heard on 9 April 2019 at the Mount Imbiah Trail on Sentosa by John Marriott, while a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was spotted on 15 April 2019 by Isabelle Lee. Three Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa, along with a Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchus on 17 April 2019 at Gilman Barracks by Alan Owyong. An adult male Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus was seen on 24 April 2019 by Tay Kian Guan.

Western Singapore

A number of species were encountered at West Coast Park during the first week of April 2019. A male Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei with an elongated tail was spotted on 4 April 2019 by Vincent Ng, while another bird without long tail streamers was seen on the same day by Veronica Foo, who also spotted a Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata and a dark morph Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra. On the next day, 5 April 2019, a solitary Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti was spotted within the Marsh Garden by Alan Owyong, while a Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris was spotted by Siew Mun within the park grounds.

Veteran birder, Alan Owyong, braved the wet fields around Bulim Drive on 3 April and spotted one male and three female Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis. He also heard five cryptic Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata, a species which is extremely difficult to see in the wild.

Few birders ventured to the vicinity around Kranji Marsh. Those who did on 7 and 10 April 2019 reported spotting the Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans; one bird was seen on the 7th at Harvest Lane by Jayden Kwek, while two were spotted on the 10th by Tan Eng Boo along Turut Track.

Asian Openbill, 150419, Turut Track, Tan Eng Boo

Two Asian Openbills at Turut Track on 15 April 2019 and photographed by Tan Eng Boo.

A stone’s throw away at SBWR yielded a white morph Asian-type Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone sp. with a long tail on 13 April 2019, which was spotted by Leong Peng Chor, while a Banded Woodpecker Chrysophlegma miniaceum was seen on 19 April 2019 by Kenneth Kee.

Some birders venturing into the western end of Singapore were amply rewarded. A Barred Button Quail Turnix suscitator and a Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda were spotted on 7 April 2019 at Tuas South by Fadzrun Adnan and Martin Kennewell; while a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was seen on 16 April 2019 inside a construction site at Gul Circle by John Marshall.

Towards the end of the month, an Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii delighted bird photographer Tuck Loong when he stumbled upon the bird in the lotus pond at Japanese Garden on 28 April 2019.

IPH, Tuck Loong

An Indian Pond Heron at Japanese Garden on 28 April 2019 and photographed by Tuck Loong.

=======================================================

Pelagic 

Two Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuiroistris were spotted on 28 April 2019 along the Straits of Singapore by Martin Kennewell and friends. Note that pelagic sightings might not be in Singapore waters.

STSW, 280419, Sg straits, Feroz

One of two Short-tailed Shearwater seen on 28 April 2019 along the Singapore Straits and photographed by Feroz.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is written by Geoff Lim based on listings compiled by Alan OwYong, 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 Chan Tsan Tsai, Francis Yap, Thio Hui Bing, Raymond Siew Kung Kiet, Geoff Lim, Dawn Teo, David Tan, Tan Eng Boo, Tuck Loong and Feroz  for the use of their photos. 

 Reference:
Wells, D. R. (2009). The Birds of Thai-Malay Peninsula. Vol. 2. Passerines. London: Academic Press. 

List of Species seen:

Family Species Date
Anatidae Lesser Whistling Duck 5 Apr 2019
Procellariidae Short-tailed Shearwater 28 Apr 2019
Ciconiidae Asian Openbill 7 Apr 2019
Asian Openbill 10 Apr 2019
Ardeidae Von Schrenck’s Bittern 6 Apr 2019
Black Bittern 14 Apr 2019
Indian Pond Heron 28 Apr 2019
Pacific Reef Heron 4 Apr 2019
Accipitridae Crested Serpent Eagle 4 Apr 2019
Crested Serpent Eagle 15 Apr 2019
Rallidae Band-bellied Crake 29 Apr 2019
Turnicidae Barred Button Quail 7 Apr 2019
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 3 Apr 2019
Laridae Black-naped Tern 28 Apr 2019
Columbidae Jambu Fruit Dove 5 Apr 2019
Cuculidae Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 13 Apr 2019
Drongo Cuckoo 5 Apr 2019
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl 7 Apr 2019
Barred Eagle-Owl 7 Apr 2019
Barred Eagle-Owl 27 Apr 2019
Apodidae Pacific Swift 25 Apr 2019
Alcedinidae Ruddy Kingfisher 7 Apr 2019
Black-capped Kingfisher 4 Apr 2019
Black-capped Kingfisher 8 Apr 2019
Picidae Banded Woodpecker 19 Apr 2019
Falconidae Peregrine Falcon 5 Apr 2019
Peregrine Falcon 30 Apr 2019
Pittidae Hooded Pitta 16 Apr 2019
  Blue-winged Pitta 14 Apr 2019
  Mangrove Pitta 20 Apr 2019
Tephrodornithidae Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike 22 Apr 2019
Aegithinidae Common Iora 24 Apr 2019
Laniidae Tiger Shrike 24 Apr 2019
Dicruridae Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo 7 Apr 2019
Monarchidae Amur Paradise Flycatcher 4 Apr 2019
Amur Paradise Flycatcher 4 Apr 2019
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher 7 Apr 2019
Asian-type Paradise Flycatcher sp 13 Apr 2019
Corvidae Large-billed Crow 17 Apr 2019
Pycnonotidae Black-headed Bulbul 19 Apr 2019
Phylloscopidae Sakhalin Leaf Warbler 19 Apr 2019
Eastern Crowned Warbler 28 Apr 2019
Locustellidae Lanceolated Warbler 3 Apr 2019
Pellorneidae Abbott’s Babbler 5 Apr 2019
Abbott’s Babbler 9 Apr 2019
Sturnidae Common Hill Myna 17 Apr 2019
Muscicapidae Dark-sided Flycatcher 21 Apr 2019
Siberian Blue Robin 5 Apr 2019
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 7 Apr 2019
Mugimaki Flycatcher 4 Apr 2019
Chloropseidae Greater Green Leafbird 27 Apr 2019
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia 21 Apr 2019
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Singapore Raptor Report – March 2019

1

Japanese Sparrowhawk, adult female, at West Coast Park, on 29 March 2019, by Norvin Ng

Summary for migrant species:

In March, 133 raptors of 9 migrant species were recorded. There were 60 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus, including 13 at Yishun on the 17th, flying northwesterly. The 30 Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes included a kettle of 12 at Telok Blangah Hill Park on the 24th.

Seventeen Chinese Sparrowhawks Accipiter soloensis were recorded, including six at Sungei Buloh on the 23th, apparently on passage migration to the north. Three Jerdon’s Bazas Aviceda jerdoni were still wintering in Singapore on the 10th: two at Pasir Ris and one at Pulau Ubin.

One Common Buzzard Buteo buteo was observed at Kent Ridge Park on the 10th, possibly on passage and four Grey-faced Buzzards Butastur indicus, were also recorded over the Southern Ridges: three on the 8th at Kent Ridge Park and one on the 13th at Telok Blangah Hill Park. These were recorded by Keita Sin, who spent a number of days observing raptors at the Southern Ridges.

Five Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded: singles at Satay by the Bay, Bukit Merah, Pulau Ubin, Kranji Marshes and Telok Blangah Hill Park. Ten Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis and three Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus rounded up the migrant raptors for March.

CGH, posted 300319, PRP, Lim Sheen Taw, FB SGB

Adult male Crested Goshawk eating a Changeable Lizard, Pasir Ris Park, March 2019, by Sheen Taw Lim.

Highlights for sedentary species:

There were two breeding records in March: two White-bellied Sea Eagles at a nest on Pulau Ubin on the 10th, and a nest with two Brahminy Kite chicks at Turut Track on the 12th.

Also, there were two Crested Serpent Eagles, one at Pulau Ubin on the 10th and another in the area around Malcolm Park on three different dates. The Grey-headed Fish Eagle was observed flying with an eel-like prey at Coney Island on the 13th and 19th. The other sedentary raptors recorded included nine Changeable Hawk-Eagles, four Crested Goshawks and three Black-winged Kites.

Table 1

For more details, please see the pdf Singapore Raptor Report – March 2019

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Norvin Ng and Sheen Taw Lim for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – March 2019

by Geoff Lim & Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong

March 2019 continues to witness the return migration of birds back to their northern breeding grounds. We were also treated to the arrival of a solitary Asian Openbill, a small species of stork that last visited us in January 2013.

Asian Openbill, Francis Yap

The Asian Openbill photographed at Sungei Buloh on 23 March 2019 by Francis Yap.

Openbill Visitation

On 14 March 2019, an Asian Openbill Anastomus ocsitans was spotted at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) by visiting Australian birders, Grant and Clare Morton, who sent an email to Nature Society (Singapore) to report the sighting. The bird was subsequently spotted again at SBWR,  sparking off an intense hunt for the bird in the days that ensued.

The first record of the species occurred three years ago, on 23 January 2013, when six birds were found feeding in a waterlogged grass patch close to Seletar Airport. These were thought to be part of larger groups of birds that flew southwards down Peninsula Malaysia. The appearance in 2013, along with the current record, represent the southernmost record of the species to date. Further information about the sighting can be found here.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

Migrants continued to be observed within the CCNR in the month of March. A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka was seen on 5 March 2019 from Jelutong Tower by Kelvin Ng while Eastern Crowned Warblers Phylloscopus coronatus were spotted at Venus Drive and Windsor Nature Park on 10 March 2019 by Benson Brighton and Russell Boyman, respectively. On 15 March 2019, a juvenile Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus was seen at Hindhede Nature Park as it stalked along the forest floor and was stumbled upon by Fadzrun Adnan and Richard White. The last time we had a publicly recorded sighting of the heron was at the Singapore Botanic Gardens in April 2018.

MNH, Goh Yew Lin

A Malayan Night Heron photographed at Hindhede Park on 15 March 2019 by Goh Yew Lin and discovered by Richard White.

The following week yielded reports of flycatchers in Singapore’s central green core. A Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia was spotted at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 17 March 2019 by Zhang Licong, as was an Asian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone species, which was fleetingly seen at Lower Pierce by Vincent Lao, who did not have sufficient time to identify it further. A Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda was seen at Venus Link on 22 March 2019 by Richard White, while a Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis was spotted at the Singapore Quarry on 24 March 2019 by Veronica Foo.

YRFC, ZLC

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher photographed at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 17 March 2019 by Zhang Licong.

Residents species observed include an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster on 11 March 2019 at the Hindhede Quarry by Richard White, quite possibly the same bird as the one seen at the Singapore Quarry; three male Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus chasing and calling to a female for more than 30 minutes in the high boughs of a stand of Albizia trees in Hindhede Nature Park on 16 March 2019 by Alan Owyong; and a male Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu on 24 March 2019 at Dairy Farm Nature Park by Vincent Lao.

Jambu, Vincent Lao

Jambu Fruit Dove at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 24 March 2019 and photographed by Vincent Lao

Northern Singapore

A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea was seen around the vicinity of Seletar Camp on 13 March 2019 by Timothy Chua, who also spotted a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica on 17 March 2019 at Woodlands Town Park.

Eastern Singapore

Birders at Pasir Ris Park noted the movement of cuckoos during the month of March. A Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor was seen on 8 March 2019 by Wong Sangmen, as was another spotted on 26 March 2019 by Alvin Seng. Three sightings of a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus were made on 17 March 2019 by Feroz, while a Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparveroides was seen on 19 March 2019 by Fabius Tan. The last week of March yielded a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia on 26 March 2019 by Wong Sangmen, a Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki on 28 March 2019 by Khoo Mei Lin and a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythymus on 31 March 2019 by Wong Keng.

LHC, Fabius Tan

The Large Hawk Cuckoo photographed on 19 March 2019 by Fabius Tan.

Further afield, two Jerdons Baza Aviceda jerdoni was spotted at the Pasir Ris Farmway 3 on 10 March 2019 by Vincent Lao, while a Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes was seen on 23 March 2019 on Pulau Tekong by Frankie Cheong. Rare non-breeding visitors reported from this regions included a pair of Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis species on Pulau Ubin on 7 March 2019 by Chris Sanderson.

Central Singapore

A Hodgsons Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor was spotted lurking in the remnants of Bidadari on 10 March 2019 by Mike Hooper.

Southern Singapore

The southern green lung that is collectively formed by Gardens-by-the-Bay and Satay-by-the-Bay attracted several species of migratory and resident birds during the month of March 2019. On 2 March 2019, a Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was spotted in the Gardens by Martine Ruane. A juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax was seen at the pond next to Satay-by-the-Bay on 14 March 2019 by Veronica Foo, while a Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting made its appearance in the canals near the Meadow on 25 March 2019.

BEKF, Siew Mun

The Blue-eared Kingfisher at Gardens by the Bay. This photograph was taken on 27 March 2019 by Siew Mun.

A Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata appeared in a tree near the pond next to Satay-by-the-Bay on 26 March 2019 as reported by Andy Chew. This is an unusual location for the species which is usually seen/heard around the central forests only. It continued to be seen over the next few days until the last report on 31 March 2019 made in social media.

BHO, Herman

Brown Hawk Owl by the Bay and photographed in March 2019 by Herman Phua.

Farther afield, we received a report of a Pacific Swift Apus pacificus over Henderson Wave on 5 March 2019 by Keita Sin, who also reported movement across the hills of Kent Ridge Park on 8 March 2019 of one Common Buzzard Buteo buteo and three Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indus.

Western Singapore

The Kranji Marsh-Neo Tiew area continued to yield reports during this month as well. Social media continued to report the presence of wintering Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus at Harvest Lane, while five Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum were spotted on 22 March 2019 at the same location by Deborah Friets. Twelve Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola were also spotted at Harvest Lane on 24 March 2019 by Alan Chou, as was a “Swintail” Snipe Gallinago sp. on 26 March 2019 by Gabriel Koh, and a Stejnegers Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri on 29 March 2019 by Alan Owyong, which is later than the previous extreme date of 28 March for this species (note: the individual was still around well into April). Within Kranji Marsh, a Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa was spotted on 23 March 2019 by Lim Kim Seng.

STJ Stonechat, AOY

Alan Owyong captured this Stejneger’s Stonechat on 29 March 2019 at Harvest Link

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) continued to support shorebirds and waterbirds. Apart from the spectacular report of a solitary Asian Openbill mentioned above, the Reserve continued to attract species such as Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinerus on 23 March 2019 by Gabriel Koh, Khoo Mei Lin and friends, the regular congregation of Great Egrets Ardea alba reported on 30 March 2019 by Lee Van Hien, one male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher  Terpsiphone artrocaudata on 31 March 2019 by Marvin Heng, and five thermaling Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, also on 31 March 2019 by Adrian Silas Tay.

Birders and photographers drawn by the Grey-headed Fish Eagle along Pandan Canal reported other species. A Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus was seen on 3 March 2019 by Steven Wong, as was an Abbotts Babbler Malacocincla abbotti and Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus on 20 March 2019 by Alan Owyong. A Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata was reported on 29 March 2019 by Ash Foo, a new record for the location.

Other species reported from this region include a pair of Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus sauluris on 6 March 2019 at Tuas Naval Base by Kerry Pereira,  a first for this part of Singapore. Within the compounds of the Jurong Bird Park on 31 March 2019, two Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis were seen together before one of them surreptitiously flew to an embankment and waited for about a minute and a half or so before walking into the undergrowth and disappearing into the thick scrub, leaving Geoff Lim to wonder if they were nesting.

Breeding-related activities

Nesting by Collared Kingfisher Todirhampus chloris was reported on 10 March 2019 at Queens Drive by Cheng Li Ai; another pair was followed by many bird photographers in Clementi during the same period, reported by Khoo Mei Lin, and the chicks fledged on 19 and 20 March 2019. Other breeding behaviour reported include the sighting of the critically endangered Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus on 9 March 2019 at Bukit Batok Nature Park by Lim Kim Chuah, who saw a pair with a juvenile, suggesting that breeding had taken place within the Park.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is written by Geoff Lim based on listings compiled by Alan OwYong, 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 Francis Yap, Goh Yew Lin, Zhang Licong, Vincent Lao, Fabius Tan, Siew Mun and Alan Owyong for the the use of their photos. 

List of Species seen:

Family Species Date
Ciconiidae Asian Openbill 14-Mar-19
Asian Openbill 17-Mar-19
Lesser Adjutant** 31-Mar-19
Ardeidae Von Schrenck’s Bittern 31-Mar-19
Black Bittern 24-Mar-19
Malayan Night Heron 15-Mar-19
Black-crowned Night Heron## 14-Mar-19
Chinese Pond Heron 3-Mar-19
Javan Pond Heron 23-Mar-19
Great Egret 30-Mar-19
Chinese Egret 23-Mar-19
Anhingidae Oriental  Darter* 11-Mar-19
Accipitridae Jerdon’s Baza 10-Mar-19
Grey-faced Buzzard 8-Mar-19
Grey-faced Buzzard 13-Mar-19
Common Buzzard 8-Mar-19
Scolopacidae Swinhoe’s Snipe 26-Mar-19
Wood Sandpiper 24-Mar-19
Terek Sandpiper 23-Mar-19
Glareolidae Oriental Pratincole 22-Mar-19
Columbidae Jambu Fruit Dove* 24-Mar-19
Cuculidae Greater Coucal 31-Mar-19
Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 30-Mar-19
Violet Cuckoo## 16-Mar-19
Little Bronze Cuckoo 20-Mar-19
Plaintive Cuckoo 17-Mar-19
Large Hawk-Cuckoo 19-Mar-19
Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo 8-Mar-19
Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo 10-Mar-19
Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo 26-Mar-19
Strigidae Brown Hawk-Owl 26-Mar-19
Caprimulgidae Grey Nightjar 5-Mar-19
Apodidae Pacific Swift 5-Mar-19
Alcedinidae Ruddy Kingfisher## 22-Mar-19
Black-capped Kingfisher 29-Mar-19
Collared Kingfisher 10-Mar-19
Collared Kingfisher 20-Mar-19
Blue-eared Kingfisher## 25-Mar-19
Picidae Buff-rumped Woodpecker 7-Mar-19
Dicruridae Black Drongo 17-Mar-19
Monarchidae Asian Paradise Flycatcher 17-Mar-19
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher* 31-Mar-19
Pycnonotidae Straw-headed Bulbul##** 9-Mar-19
Phylloscopidae Yellow-browed Warbler 2-Mar-19
Eastern Crowned Warbler 10-Mar-19
Eastern Crowned Warbler 10-Mar-19
Pellorneidae Abbott’s Babbler 20-Mar-19
Muscicapidae Oriental Magpie-Robin## 6-Mar-19
Dark-sided Flycatcher 17-Mar-19
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 17-Mar-19
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 26-Mar-19
Green-backed Flycatcher 22-Mar-19
Mugimaki Flycatcher 28-Mar-19
Stejneger’s Stonechat 29-Mar-19
Motacillidae Grey Wagtail 13-Mar-19

Singapore Raptor Report – February 2019

 

Common Buzzard, 050219, Holland Dr, Zacc HD

Common Buzzard, adult pale morph, at Holland Drive, on 5 Feb 2019, by Zacc HD

Summary for migrant species:

In February, 90 raptors of 8 migrant species were recorded. After going ‘missing’ for two months, the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo ‘re-appeared’ at Holland Drive from 4th to 12th February. Three Jerdon’s Bazas Aviceda jerdoni continued to winter at Changi Business Park, one wintering at Coney Island, and another two were spotted at Pulau Ubin.

Only one Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis was recorded, at MacRitchie Reservoir Park on the 3rd. There were a total of six Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, including an adult male and a juvenile at the Lim Chu Kang area. Three migrant Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded, one at Boon Lay Way on the 1st, one at Holland Drive on the 5th mobbing the Common Buzzard and one at Kranji Marshes on the 17th. Three Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus were recorded, including one at the Botanic Gardens, away from the usual northern coastal areas.

Twenty one Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes were recorded in the month, including a group of seven at Lorong Halus on the 6th. Forty seven Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus, which included a group of eight at Coney Island on the 9th, rounded up the migrant raptors for the month.

BWK, 090219, LCK, Zhang Licong

Black-winged Kite, showing its striking red eye, at Lim Chu Kang, on 9 Feb 2019, by Zhang Licong.

Highlights for sedentary species:

There were two breeding-related records in February: a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles mating at West Coast Park on the 21st and a Changeable Hawk-Eagle calling on its nest at Kranji Marshes on the  16th. The only record of the Crested Serpent Eagle was at Pulau Ubin on the 23rd. Two ernesti Peregrine Falcons were recorded in the CBD area on the 2nd.

The other sedentary raptors recorded included four Grey-headed Fish Eagles, eight Crested Goshawks, five Black-winged Kites, and the common Brahminy Kites.

Table 1

For more details, please see the pdf Singapore Raptor Report – February 2019

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Zacc HD and Zhang Licong for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – February 2019

February continues to dazzle with exciting migratory species, such as the elusive Slaty-legged Crake at Admiralty,  rare Sakhalin Leaf Warbler & Green-backed Flycatcher; rare resident race Ruddy Kingfisher at SBWR, as well as unusual sightings of familiar residents in new places. Chinese New Year treats include the Crakes and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo at Lorong Halus Wetland.

Slaty-legged Crake, 070219, Admiralty Park, Bee Choo Ng-Strange

Slaty-legged Crake at Admiralty Park on 7 February 2019, by Bee Choo Ng-Strange.

Slaty-legged Crake at Admiralty Park

The Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides is rare winter visitor and passage migrant that is elusive and seldom encountered. Although listed as being of least concern (BirdLife, 2016), the species is said to be in decline. A rather large crake measuring about 25cm in length, the species is said to breed across South Asia to the Philippines, and certain populations is known to migrate within the region.

The most recent report concerned one that was photographed in a basement carpark at Haig Road in December 2018, as well as a hitherto unreported sighting at Admiralty Park on 3 December 2018 by Luke Milo Teo, who had been unsure of the species of crake he had photographed until the postings of the Haig Road bird. These were preceded by one found dead at Sentosa in December 2016, and a record on Jurong Island in January 2015. Thus, a sighting on 7 February 2019 at Admiralty Park by veteran birder Morten Strange, and his wife Bee Choo, was therefore greeted with much enthusiasm.

The crake was also seen on 8 February 2019 by Keita Sin. The last confirmed sighting of the crake was on 9 February 2019, reported by Khoo MeiLin, who noted that the crake, along with several White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus, frequented an evaporating pool during twilight hours to bathe before returning to the thick undergrowth within the vicinity.

Geoff 1

Photograph of one of several White-breasted Waterhen in the pond frequented by the crake at Admiralty Park at 7pm on 12 February 2019, illustrating the less-than-ideal state of the pond; taken by Geoff Lim.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

Sightings within the CCNR were confined to the initial days of February. On 2 February 2019, an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca (black-backed subspecies), Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans and an unidentified Hawk Cuckoo were spotted around the vicinity of Dillenia Hut by Thio Hui Bing. Another Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (black-backed subspecies) was spotted on 6 February 2019, as was a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae by Raghav Narayanswamy. The same day also yielded a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park for Geoff Lim.

GBFC, Feb 19, Rifle Link, Fryap

This Green-backed Flycatcher was spotted sometime in February 2019 along Rifle Range Link, by Francis Yap.

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

On 8 February 2019, a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans was spotted at SBG’s Learning Forest by Karyne Wee. On 17 February 2019, two White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata were spotted feeding in the Bambusetum by visiting Dutch ecologist, Tessa van Vreeswijk and Geoff Lim.

CB Drongo, 080219, SBG, Karyne Wee

A Crow-billed Drongo spotted inside the Learning Forest by Karyne Wee on 8 February 2019.

Geoff 2

A White-rumped Munia at the Bambusetum on 17 February 2019. Photo by Geoff Lim

Northern Singapore

Prior to the Chinese New Year season, Lorong Halus was a hotbed of activity due to the continued appearance of two rallids and a charismatic cuckoo. A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus on 2 February 2019 was reported by Lee Yue Teng, while a Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca was seen on the same day by Kok M Lee. Also spotted and posted on social media was the elusive Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla. The crake had been sighted in end December 2018 and continued to be seen in the reedbeds at the Lorong Halus Wetland during the Chinese New Year holidays.

CWC, 020219, Halus, Lee Yue Teng

A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo photographed at Lorong Halus on 2 February 2019 by Lee Yue Teng.

RB Crake, GEral KC Lim

A Ruddy-breasted Crake at Lorong Halus on 3 February 2019. Photo taken by Gerald KC Lim.

Visitors to Baker Street on 3 February 2019 noted the presence of two species of skulking bittern around the pond’s perimeter. A Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis was spotted by See Toh Yew Wai, while a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was seen by Pan Denan. The pond also attracted a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, which was seen on 21 February 2019 by Khoo Mei Lin.

BFO, 210219, Baker St, Khoo MeiLin

A Buffy Fish Owl was spotted at Baker Street on 21 February 2019; photo by Khoo MeiLin

Apart from the Slaty-legged Crake reported on 7 February 2019 by Morten Strange, other species reported in the north included a spectacular roosting by about 600-700 Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus at Yishun Ring Road reported by Alfred Chia, a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula xanthopygia at Admiralty Park on 11 February 2019 by Alan Owyong, two Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax at Serangoon Reservor on 13 February 2019 by Wong Keng, and a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida provided some relief to students when it flew in and out of a classroom at Anderson Secondary School on 15 February 2019, reported by Mohd Nasir Sani.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pulau Ubin in February 2019 reported the presence of a Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus at Chek Jawa on 3 February 2019 (Adrian Silas Tay), as well as four Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus on 8 February 2019 by Teo Kah Ming, Joseph Lai and Joseph Lin. A Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus was spotted at Pasir Ris Park on 12 Feb 2019 by Alvin Seng, while a Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni was seen on Coney Island on 28 February 2019.

Southern Singapore

A Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis found its way into an apartment at Geylang Lorong 29 on 12 February 2019 and injured itself during the process; the bird was reported by Kelvin Goh. A similar bittern was seen on 17 January 2019 at the Marine Parade Polyclinic and reported in last month’s report. A Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax turned up at Satay-by-the-Bay on 20 February 2019 and was reported by Sim Chip Chye. On the same day, a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans was spotted on Sentosa by Alfred Chia. The island yielded an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina at Imbiah Falls on 28 February 2019 when Lim Kim Seng and David Mostardi visited the site.

Western Singapore

Western Singapore continued to provide an astonishing number of reports, given that many local Important Bird Areas are clustered in this part of the island nation.

The area around Kranj Marsh continues to support a wide variety of species. The marshes themselves hosted a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea, which was spotted on 3 February 2019 by Veronica Foo; while a Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis was encountered at Turut Track on 22 February 2019.

The nearby canal at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 supported a variety of species; a Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura on 2 February 2019 by Benson Brighton, a Greater Painted Snipe Rostatula benghalensis on 3 February 2019 by Lim Kim Seng, an Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis, two Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, three White Wagtail Motacilla alba ocularis, four Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, and five Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius  on 5 February 2019 by Yong Ding Li, Koji Ichiyama & Geoff Lim, as well as a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea on 6 February 2019 by Art Toh. Two adult and two juvenile Common Moorhen were spotted by Khoo Mei Lin on 6 February 2019 also.

Watercock, Art Toh

A Watercock spotted at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 on 6 February 2019 by Art Toh.

Geoff 3

The environs of the Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 drain at low tide on 5 February 2019, visited by a Common Moorhen, a White-breasted Waterhen and a Little Egret, photo by Geoff Lim

GEoff 4

White Wagtail at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 on 5 February 2019, spotted by Yong Ding Li, Koji Ichiyama and Geoff Lim

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) continued to surprise birders. On 4 February 2019, a rare resident race Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda minor with a strong purplish gloss to its back was photographed by Siew Mun. Several days later on 7 February 2019, seven Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus were seen by Low Choon How, the highest number to date. An Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was seen on 11 February 2019 by Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo.

Ruddy KF, 040219, SBWR, Siew Mun

The Ruddy Kingfisher at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Photo taken by Siew Mun on 4 February 2019.

Farther afield in the west, we received news of a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka along the railway track near Bukit Timah Drive by Richard White, who also noted the phenomenal congregation of about 660 Blue-throated Bee-eaters Merops viridis at Eng Kong Place on 9 February 2019.

Holland Drive yielded a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo on 4 February 2019 by Art Toh, a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus on 5 February 2019 by Arasu Sivaraman and Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo on 25 February 2019 by Cedric Tan, an apparent first for the location.

Common Buzzard, 050219, Holland Dr, Art Toh

A Common Buzzard at Holland Drive on 4 February 2019 as photographed by Art Toh.

SWO, 260219, Holland Dr, Khoo MeiLin

Two Spotted Wood Owl at Holland Drive photographed on 26 February 2019 by Khoo MeiLin.

A fishing Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus at Pandan River attracted a steady following of bird photographers and birders alike, resulting in reports of a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis and a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus on 21 February 2019 by Alan Owyong.

The West Coast Park complex yielded three Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea on 21 February 2019 at the Pasir Panjang Canal by Alan Voo, as well as a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor on 27 February 2019 by Steven Wong.

Abbreviations:
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
SBTB: Satay by the Bay

This report is based on records compiled by Alan OwYong, written by Geoff Lim, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. The records are based on selected postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Bee Choo Ng-Strange, Khoo MeiLin, Francis Yap, Karyne Wee, Lee Yue Teng, Gerald KC Lim, Art Toh, Siew Mun and Geoff Lim for the use of their photos. 

References
BirdLife International (2016). Rallina eurizonoidesThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22692317A93347854. Downloaded on 27 March 2019.

List of Birds seen in February 2019

Family Species Date Location
Ciconiidae

 

Lesser Adjutant 8-Feb Pulau Ubin
Lesser Adjutant 7-Feb SBWR
Ardeidae

 

Cinnamon Bittern 3-Feb Baker Street
Cinnamon Bittern 21-Feb Pandan Canal
Black Bittern 3-Feb Baker Street
Black Bittern 12-Feb Geylang Lor 29
Black Bittern 21-Feb Pandan Canal
Black-crowned Night-heron 20-Feb SBTB
Black-crowned Night-heron 13-Feb Serangoon Reservoir
Anhingidae Oriental Darter 11-Feb SBWR
Accipitridae

 

Jerdon’s Baza 28-Feb Coney Island
Grey-headed Fish-eagle 8-Feb Pandan Canal
Common Buzzard 4-Feb Holland Drive
Rallidae

 

Slaty-legged Crake 7-Feb Admiralty Park
Ruddy-breasted Crake 2-Feb Lor Halus
Watercock 3-Feb Kranji Marsh
Watercock 6-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Common Moorhen 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Common Moorhen 6-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Charadriidae Little Ringed Plover 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 3-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Scolopacidae

 

Pin-tailed Snipe 2-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Wood Sandpiper 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Broad-billed Sandpiper 3-Feb Pulau Ubin
Cuculidae

 

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 2-Feb Lor Halus
Banded Bay Cuckoo 12-Feb Pasir Ris Park
Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo 27-Feb West Coast Park
Hawk Cuckoo 2-Feb CCNR
Strigidae

 

Buffy Fish Owl 21-Feb Baker Street
Spotted Wood Owl 25-Feb Holland Drive
Caprimulgidae

 

Grey Nightjar 4-Feb Bukit Timah  Drive
Savanna Nightjar 22-Feb Turut Track
Alcedinidae

 

Ruddy Kingfisher 4-Feb SBWR
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 2-Feb CCNR
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 6-Feb CCNR
Meropidae

 

Blue-tailed Bee-eater 5-Feb Yishun Ring Road
Blue-throated Bee-eater 9-Feb Eng Khong Place
Falconidae Peregrine Falcon 5-Feb Holland Drive
Pittidae Hooded Pitta 15-Feb Anderson Sec School
Dicruridae

 

Crow-billed Drongo 2-Feb CCNR
Crow-billed Drongo 14-Feb Singapore Botanic Gardens
Crow-billed Drongo 20-Feb Sentosa
Phylloscopidae Sakhalin Warbler 6-Feb CCNR
Turdidae Orange-headed Thrush 28-Feb Sentosa
Muscicapidae

 

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 11-Feb Admiralty Park
Green-backed Flycatcher 6-Feb CCNR
Motacillidae

 

Eastern Yellow Wagtail 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Grey Wagtail 21-Feb Pasir Panjang Canal
White Wagtail 5-Feb Lim Chu Kang Ave 3
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia 17-Feb Singapore Botanic Gardens

11th Singapore Raptor Watch Report

Autumn 2018 Migration – 3 Nov 2018
compiled by TAN Gim Cheong

1

Chinese Sparrowhawk, juvenile, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 3 Nov 2018, by Henrietta Woo

The 11th Singapore raptor watch was held on Saturday, 3 November 2018 and involved 42 participants. The weather was mostly partly cloudy. There were seven raptor watch sites and the numbers counted at each site varied from a high of 193 to a low of 19 birds. A total of 556 raptors were counted, including 437 raptors representing 8 migrant species and 69 raptors of 6 resident species. A further 50 raptors could not be identified to species level.

Summary:
Number of raptors – 556
– 437 migrant raptors.
– 69 resident raptors.
– 50 un-identified raptors.

Number of species – 14
– 8 migrant species.
– 6 resident species.

Most of the sites were the same ones as previous years, thanks to all the site leaders for their faithful support!  The minor changes were the shifting of the Japanese Gardens site to Jurong Hill, due to ongoing works at the Japanese Gardens, and the shifting of the Tuas site slightly north to Tuas View Drive.

2

Figure 1 : 2018 Raptor Watch Sites. (source of basemap – maps.google.com.sg)

The highest number of raptors recorded was at Telok Blangah Hill Park (193 birds), followed by Puaka Hill, Ubin (108 birds) and Jurong Hill (105 birds). Note that the count at Jurong Hill ended earlier, at 2:15pm, due to manpower constraints. Rather surprising was the low numbers at Tuas for the second year running.

3

Figure 2 : Total count by Site

The peak hours for migrant raptors were between 10am to 2pm, with a high of 133 migrant raptors in the 11am to 12pm period. In the morning, 16 migrant raptors were recorded in the first hour between 8-9am, and in the later part of the afternoon, another 16 were recorded in the last 2 hours of observation.

4

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

The Oriental Honey Buzzard (OHB) reclaimed the top spot, with 248 birds counted. The largest number of OHB were at Jurong Hill (81 birds) despite the count ending earlier, Telok Blangah Hill Park (72 birds) and Kent Ridge Park (38 birds).  There were 120 Japanese Sparrowhawks, similar to last year. The main bulk of the Japanese Sparrowhawks (66 birds) were counted at Telok Blangah Hill Park. There were 30 Chinese Sparrowhawks, and most of them were recorded at Telok Blangah Hill Park (15 birds), and Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin (14 birds).

5

Oriental Honey Buzzard, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 3 Nov 2018, by Henrietta Woo

Grey-faced Buzzards put up a good show this year, with 11 counted across four sites: six at Puaka Hill, two each at Telok Blangah Hill Park and Lorong Halus Wetlands, and an individual at Jurong Hill. Three Peregrine Falcons were recorded: singles at Jurong Hill, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Lorong Halus. Only one Western Osprey was recorded – at Jurong Hill and one Black Kite – at Tuas.

6

Figure 4 : Migrant and Unidentified Raptors Counted

IMG_1408

Watching raptors at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 3 Nov 2018, photo courtesy of Jacky Soh

For the resident species, the total count was 69 birds of 6 species. The count for the resident raptors comprised 34 Brahminy Kites, 15 White-bellied Sea Eagles, 10 Changeable Hawk Eagles, 5 Grey-headed Fish Eagles, 4 Crested Goshawks, and 1 Crested Serpent Eagle.

7

Figure 5 : Resident Raptors Counted

The figure below provides a snapshot of the number of raptors according to the three categories – migrant, un-identified & resident raptors, at the 7 sites. A larger proportion of the migrant raptors were detected in the southwest stretch from Jurong Hill to Kent Ridge Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park, with a peak of 159 migrant raptors at Telok Blangah Hill Park.

8

Figure 6 : Raptor Sub-totals by Category (migrant /unidentified /resident) by Site

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

9

Figure 7 : Raptor numbers by Site and break down of Species

CRBJ1962

The team of raptor watchers/counters at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, photo courtesy of Jacky Soh

Thanks to all the 42 wonderful birders, both leaders and participants, which included National Parks Board staff, for spending their Sunday out in the open to count raptors. The following fantastic people led or assisted in the raptor count:

11

Thanks to Henrietta Woo and Jacky Soh for the use of their photos.

Please click here for a pdf version 11th Singapore Raptor Watch – 2018

Singapore Raptor Report – January 2019

JB, 060119, Halus, Mettalady Yeo

Jerdon’s Baza, at Lorong Halus, on 6 Jan 2019, by Angela Yeo

Summary for migrant species:

In January, 90 raptors of 7 migrant species were recorded. Up to six Jerdon’s Bazas Aviceda jerdoni were recorded at Lorong Halus-Coney Island area throughout the month, one at Bukit Timah Hill on the 12th and another found wintering at Changi Business Park from the 27th onwards.

Nine Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis were recorded: two at Kranji Marshes, and singles at Mount Faber, Bukit Timah area, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR), Dempsey Road, West Coast Park, Punggol Promenade and Arena Country Club. A single Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis was recorded at Lorong Halus on the 5th.

Three Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus were recorded, one at Sungei Buloh, one at the Central Catchment on the 23rd and another at Pulau Ubin on the 30th. Three migrant Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded, one at Gardens by the Bay, one at Kranji Marshes and one in the Bukit Timah area.

For the 29 Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes recorded, eight were at Serangoon Avenue 3. Lastly, a total of 31 migrant Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus were recorded in January.

CHE dm, 060119, Serangoon Res, Zhang Licong

Changeable Hawk Eagle, dark morph, at Serangoon Reservoir, on 6 Jan 2019, by Zhang Licong

Highlights for sedentary species:

Amazingly, four Crested Serpent Eagles Spilornis cheela were recorded, one at the Botanic Gardens on the 2nd, one at Malcolm Road on the 14th, one at SBWR on the 16th and one at Pulau Ubin on the 20th. An Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula was photographed in the daytime at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 17th.

Three torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzzards were recorded in January, one at Mount Faber on the 2nd, and up to two immatures at Pasir Ris Park between the 7th and 31st. Three ernesti Peregrine Falcons were reported, one at Bishan on the 6th and two in the CBD.

OHB, tor, 080119, PRP, Alvin Seng crop

Oriental Honey Buzzard, immature torquatus, at Pasir Ris Park, on 8 Jan 2019, by Alvin Seng

The other sedentary raptors recorded included four Grey-headed Fish Eagles, four Crested Goshawk, seven Changeable Hawk-Eagles, ten Black-winged Kites, and the common White-bellied Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites.

T1

 

For more details, please see the pdf Singapore Raptor Report – January 2019

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Angela Yeo, Zhang Licong, and Alvin Seng for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – January 2019

Migratory and resident species are seen all over the island as the former settle down in Singapore after their arduous journey from the northern hemisphere. One remarkable species encountered this month was the Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, a rare resident; up to two birds were seen at the summit of Bukit Timah Hill, sparking an uphill climb by many birders to see and photograph this rare gem. As a result, several other species of migrants were also spotted during the first half of the month.

Yellow-vented FP, 120119, BT hilltop, Feroz

Yellow-vented Flowerpecker at the summit of Bukit Timah Hill on 12 January 2019 by Feroz.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

New Year’s Day began with continuing reports of a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, as well as a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida at the foot of Bukit Timah Hill, as seen by N. Movin and others. The next day yielded a Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane spotted at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 2 January 2019 by Veronica Foo. Up to two Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers Dicaeum chrysorrheum were spotted at the summit of the hill by Yong Ding Li and Francis Yap, sparking a frenzied race by many birders and photographers up the hill over several days to spot this rare gem feeding on the ripe fruit of a fig tree. The flowerpecker at the summit was first seen and photographed by William Mahoney on 5 January.

2, EBT


Eye-browed Thrush at the summit of Bukit Timah Hill on 10 January 2019 by James Tann.

The combination of a fruiting fig tree and presence of many birders and photographers at the summit yielded several interesting species over the ensuing days; an Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus was spotted on 9 January 2019 by Francis Yap, as were several Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris, followed by a Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica on 10 January 2019 by James Tann, as well as an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina and a Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon on 12 January 2019 by Lester Tan and See Toh Yew Wai, respectively. On 26 January 2019, a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae was spotted within the CCNR by N. Raghav.

3, ST


Siberian Thrush at the summit of Bukit Timah Hill on 10 January 2019 by James Tann.

Central Singapore

An ernesti race Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus visited Bishan on 6 January 2019, after an apparent hiatus of four years (Sun Chong Hong), while a two White Wagtail Motacilla alba were seen in Pelton Canal on 30 January 2019 by Drew Su.

4, LGLB


Lesser Green Leafbird spotted at the summit of Bukit Timah Hill on 12 January 2019 by See Toh Yew Wai.

Northern Singapore

On 24 January 2019, a pair of Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla were spotted at Lorong Halus by Veronica Foo. Further afield on 26 January 2019, a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata was seen on Coney Island by Julie Wee, while a female Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus was spotted at the pond at Baker Street on 28 January 2019 by Alfred Chia. On 29 January 2019, an ocularis White Wagtail Motacilla alba was spotted in Sembawang in full breeding regalia by Luke Milo Teo, while an injured Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was rescued on 30 January 2019 at Hougang Secondary School by Eric Tan.

6, WC


Watercock rescued at Hougang Secondary School on 30 January 2019 by Eric Tan.

5, OHT


Orange-headed Thrush at the summit of Bukit Timah Hill on 12 January 2019 by Lester Tan.

Eastern Singapore

During the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC2019) on 19 January 2019, several shorebird species were spotted in sizeable numbers at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin by Lim Kim Keang. These included 2 Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, 9 Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, 61 Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis and 3 Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus. Pulau Ubin continued to yield interesting species to birders willing to undertake the sea crossing and arduous inland journeys. On 20 January 2019, five Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris and five Sanderling Calidris alba were spotted at Chek Jawa by Fadzrun and his companions. An Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus was seen on 26 January 2019 by Khoo Mei Ling, while an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster and Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus were spotted on 31 January 2019 by Lim Kim Keang, Jacky Soh and Veronica Foo.

7, OHB


Ashy Drongo and Oriental Honey Buzzard at Changi Business Park on 21 January 2019. Photo taken by Herman Phua

Changi Business Park continued to support interesting bird species. Apart from the Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus first spotted by T. Ramesh in December 2018 and had continued to linger in the area, a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nyticorax as well as a Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus were spotted at Changi Business Park on 5 January 2019 by Feroz and Eyzat Amer, respectively. A Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu and Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu were subsequently reported there on 31 January 2019 by Thio Hui Bing.

Southern Singapore

Two Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis were spotted in the south, one bird was seen at the Marine Parade Polyclinic on 17 January 2019 by Dawn Teo, while another was seen at Satay by the Bay on 19 January 2019 by Kelvin Leong.

8, BBit


Black Bittern at Marine Parade Polyclinic on 17 January 2019 spotted by Dawn Teo.

Western Singapore

January opened on a sad note for western Singapore with a report from David Tan concerning a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla reported by Pan Hanseng and collected from NTU’s The Hive on 3 January 2019, a possible road kill. Other parts of the west yielded three Cinereous Bulbul Hemixos cinereus on 16 January 2019 at Kent Ridge Park, as well as six Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola lurking in the fields at Bulim Avenue on 30 January 2019 by Alan Owyong.

9, BC


Baillon’s Crake collected by David Tan on 3 January 2019 from NTU.

The Kranji-Lim Chu Kang area continued to attract birders, who in turn noted the presence of the following species; a Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata was observed at Turut Track, while Long-toed Stint Calidris submunita were spotted at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 by Keita Sin, Sandra Chia, Movin and Dillen Ng. On 22 January 2019, a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was seen at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 by Yeo Seng Beng, while Martin Kennewell reported seeing a Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii briefly as it flew up and popped down into the vegetation at Kranji Marsh on 25 January 2019.

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Greater Painted Snipe at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 on 26 January 2019 by T. Ramesh.

On 26 January 2019, a female Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis was seen at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, while a male was spotted a few days later by T. Ramesh. A few days later at the same location on 31 January 2019, up to two Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura were seen by Wong Weng Fai and See Toh Yew Wai.

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Probable Pin-tailed Snipe at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 on 27 January 2019 by Vincent Ng.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) and the adjacent Mandai mudflats continued to host various species of land and shore birds. On 18 January 2019, a Barn Owl Tyto alba was reported from the reserve by Wang HM, while AWC2019 on 19 January 2019 yielded a Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata, a Forest Wagtail Dendroanthus indicus and three Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus by Yap Wee Jin and his fellow surveyors. Several days later on 26 January 2019, a Copper-throated Sunbird Leptocoma calcostetha was spotted within SBWR by James Tann.

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Three Lesser Adjutant seen from SBWR on 19 January 2019 by Yap Wee Jin.

This report is compiled and written by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. It is based on selected postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Feroz, James Tann, See Toh Yew Wai, Lester Tan, Eric Tan, Herman Phua, Dawn Teo, David Tan, T. Ramesh, Vincent Ng and Yap Wee Jin for the the use of their photos.

List of bird sightings in report

Family Species Date
Anatidae Cotton Pygmy Goose 28 Jan 2019
Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant 19 Jan 2019
Ardeidae Von Schrenck’s Bittern 31 Jan 2019
Black Bittern 17 Jan 2019
Black Bittern 19 Jan 2019
Malayan Night Heron 5 Jan 2019
Black-crowned Night Heron 5 Jan 2019
Anhigidae Oriental Darter 31 Jan 2019
Rallidae Baillon’s Crake 3 Jan 2019
Baillon’s Crake 24 Jan 2019
Band-bellied Crake 25 Jan 2019
Watercock 22 Jan 2019
Charadridae Grey Plover 19 Jan 2019
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 26 Jan 2019
Scolopacidae Pin-tailed Snipe 31 Jan 2019
Bar-tailed Godwit 19 Jan 2019
Wood Sandpiper 30 Jan 2019
Terek Sandpiper 19 Jan 2019
Great Knot 20 Jan 2019
Sanderling 20 Jan 2019
Red-necked stint 19 Jan 2019
Curlew Sandpiper 19 Jan 2019
Long-toed Stint 17 Jan 2019
Columbidae Jambu Fruit Dove 31 Jan 2019
Cuculidae Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo 26 Jan 2019
Indian Cuckoo 26 Jan 2019
Tytonidae Barn Owl 18 Jan 2019
Strigidae Buffy Fish Owl 31 Jan 2019
Alcedidae Black-capped Kingfisher 19 Jan 2019
Falconidae Peregrine Falcon 6 Jan 2019
Dicruridae Ashy Drongo 21 Jan 2019
Pycnonotidae Black-crested Bulbul 9 Jan 2019
Cinereous Bulbul 16 Jan 2019
Phylloscopidae Sakhalin Leaf Warbler 1 Jan 2019
Eastern-crowned Warbler 6 Jan 2019
Locustellidae Lanceolated Warbler 17 Jan 2019
Turdidae Orange-headed Thrush 12 Jan 2019
Eye-browed Thrush 9 Jan 2019
Siberian Thrush 10 Jan 2019
Muscicapidae Siberian Blue Robin 2 Jan 2019
Green-backed Flycatcher 26 Jan 2019
Chloropseidae Lesser Green Leafbird 12 Jan 2019
Dicaeidae Yellow-vented Flowerpecker 5, 7 Jan 2019
Nectariniidae Copper throated Sunbird 26 Jan 2019
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia 26 Jan 2019
Motaciliidae Forest Wagtail 19 Jan 2019
White Wagtail 29 Jan 2019
White Wagtail 30 Jan 2019

Singapore Raptor Report – December 2018

Common Buzzard, Art Toh

Common Buzzard, adult pale morph with lizard tail protuding from its bill, on 1 Dec 2018, at the junction of Holland Road and North Buona Vista Road, by Art Toh.

Summary for migrant species:

A rare Short-toed Snake Eagle surprised and delighted a small group of birders who managed to get crisp photographs of the raptor as it flew over Changi Business Park on 5th December, and disappeared – a one-day wonder as it usually is for this species in Singapore. On the other side of the island, at the junction of Holland Road and North Buona Vista Road on 1st December, an uncommon Common Buzzard feeding on a lizard gave Art Toh many photo opportunities. A rare Imperial Eagle was reportedly seen at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on the 15th.

A rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl was found on 5th December at Dairy Farm Nature Park. Then, a grey morph Oriental Scops Owl showed up in the same vicinity on the 9th, the same date as the year before! Both morphs were present on 9th and 10th December. Thereafter only the rufous morph was reported to be around until the 15th. These two birds display amazing site fidelity, returning to the same spot for the 3rd season in a row!

Eight Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded: four wintering at Changi Business Park, three at Lorong Halus on the 25th and one at Pulau Ubin on the 30th. Five Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded: singles at Pulau Ubin, Henderson Waves & Coney Island, and two at Lorong Halus. Five Peregrine Falcons were recorded: singles at Kranji Marshes, Coney Island, Changi Business Park, Seletar Aerospace and West Coast Drive. Three Western Ospreys were recorded: one at Simpang grasslands, one at Kranji Marshes, and another at MacRitchie Reservoir.

Finally, we come to the most abundant migrant raptors. 15 Japanese Sparrowhawks and 49 Black Bazas were recorded, including 27 bazas at Lorong Halus on the 29th. The Oriental Honey Buzzard is tops again with 85 birds, including 33 birds at Tuas on the 1st.

STSE, 051219, CBP, Feroz, crop

Short-toed Snake Eagle, in flight over Changi Business Park, on 5 Dec 2018, by Feroz N Fizah.

Highlights for sedentary species:

The notable sightings for resident raptors include that of the locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle which was recorded three times: an immature at Henderson Waves on the 8th, and two sightings at Pulau Ubin, on the 7th & 31st, probably of the same bird. Another was the nesting of the Crested Goshawks at West Coast, with 2 chicks that were reported to have fledged by the time of this report. And also, a Brahminy Kite at Neo Tiew Lane 2 flying with nesting materials on the 29th.

The torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzard was recorded at Jelutong Tower on the 20th (tweeddale morph), Springside Link on the 25th, and an immature at Pasir Ris starting from the 27th (and is still around). The other resident raptors recorded were the Black-winged Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagles and Changeable Hawk Eagle.

table

For more details, please see the pdf Singapore Raptor Report – December 2018

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Art Toh and Feroz N Fizah for the use of their photos.

 

Singapore Bird Report – December 2018

The Eurasian Wigeon reappears in Singapore after 31 years! December marks the end of peak annual migration season, and the year-end holidays. As holiday makers make their way to colder climes, birds continue to stream into Singapore, yielding surprises like the Eurasian Wigeon, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, and the Oriental Scops Owl duo.

wigeon

Photograph of the Eurasian Wigeon at Kranji Marshes on 23 December 2018 by Alan Ng.

Eurasian Wigeon 

On the morning of 23 December 2018, an Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope was spotted within the confines of Kranji Marsh by Martin Kennewell. This remarkable sighting represents one of only two records of the Wigeon in Singapore; the last being an immature female associating with Whimbrel flocks in the ponds, mudflats and mangroves around Sungei Buloh between December 1986 and February 1987. It also underscores the importance of the Kranji freshwater habitat in supporting wetland species sensitive to human activity.  The closest known breeding territory for the bird is in Mongolia, although the species occurs throughout Asia and southeast Asia. Although listed as being of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, this species is sensitive to human activity and faces pressure from habitat loss and hunting (Birdlife 2017).

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Eurasian Wigeon at Kranji Marshes on 23 December 2018 by Martin Kennewell showing the duck in the natural environment.

Cotton Pygmy Goose

While many were still reeling from the appearance of the mega-rare Eurasian Wigeon, news of a scarce Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus arriving at Lorong Halus on Christmas Eve rippled across social media. The last known appearance of the dimunitive duck in Singapore took place on 15 February 2016 at Satay by the Bay’s main pond; as the 2016 occurrence turned out to be a one-day bird, many birders and photographers abandoned their Christmas Eve plans for the afternoon to descend on the ponds of Lorong Halus. They were not disappointed as the bird continued to stay through Christmas till the end of 2018.

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Photograph of the Cotton Pygmy Goose at Lorong Halus on 29 December 2018 by Lim Swee Kin.

The Cotton Pygmy Goose is found across India, southern China, southeast Asia, parts of Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. Listed on IUCN’s Red List as being of Least Concern, research is still needed to better understand threats and conservation issues regarding the bird (Birdlife 2016).

Oriental Scops Owl

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The rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 10 December 2018. Photo taken by Lee Chin Pong

To the delight of many birders, the grey and rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus surnia returned to the trees adjacent to Wallace Centre at Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP). On 5 December 2018, Lim Kim Keang spotted the rufous morph, which was joined by the grey morph on 9 December 2018. On 19 December 2018, David Tan reported the collection of a dead rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl from the vicinity of Eng Neo Avenue, an area abutting the CCNR. The bird may have crashed into a window before landing into a water feature, where it was subsequently retrieved from.

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A portrait of the grey morph Oriental Scops Owl at Dairy Farm Nature Park. Taken on 13 December 2018 by David Fur.

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A dead rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl obtained from the vicinity of Eng Neo Avenue on 19 December 2018. Photograph by David Tan.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve

As expected, reports of migrants dominate in the month of December. Apart from the reports of the Oriental Scops Owl and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers Phylloscopus borealoides, a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae was observed just before Jelutong Tower on 17 December 2018 by Oliver Tan. Just before the year ended, a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida appeared at the foot of Bukit Timah hill on 30 December 2018, as reported by Chin Yee Hong.

Central Singapore

A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was sighted at Bishan Park on 10 December 2018 by Ng Kian Chye. An unhappy report on 30 December 2018 was made by Nicholas Chiam, who found a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor that had expired at the base of Cathay Building along Dhoby Ghaut; a casualty from possibly colliding with the building while in flight. An uncommon Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni was photographed at Gardens by the Bay on 26 December 2018 by Ng Wei Khim.

Northern Singapore 

Apart from the Cotton Pygmy Goose reported on Christmas Eve and described above, Halus Wetland Centre also yielded a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla, which was spotted on 27 December 2018 by Alfred Chia, and subsequently photographed over the next few days by an assembly of photographers searching for the goose. A Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was reported from Rivervale Cresent on 4 December 2018 by Jeff Long.

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Photograph of the Baillon’s Crake at Lorong Halus on 30 December 2018 by Lim Swee Kin.

Eastern Singapore

A rare Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides was reported to be in a basement carpark at Haig Road area on 29 December 2018, by Martin Kennewell. Another Hooded Pitta was reported from Simei Block 147 on 6 December 2018 by David Tan. Arising from the Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus reported in November, several interesting species were reported from the vicinity of Changi Business Park. These include a Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus reported on 5 December 2018 by Melinda Chan, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus on 8 December 2018 by Lim Kim Keang, a White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis on 11 December 2018 by Joseph Lim, and a Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni on 13 December 2018 by Stuart Campbell.

Further afield, a Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola and Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus were seen on Pulau Tekong on 19 December 2018 by Frankie Cheong, while a pair of Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeons Treron fulvicollis and another Jerdon’s Baza were spotted on Pulau Ubin on 30 December 2018 by Diane Campbell.

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Photograph of the Short-toed Snake Eagle at Changi Business Park on 8 December 2018 by Chan Yoke Meng.

Southern Singapore

A Common Buzzard Buteo buteo was seen at Holland Road on 1 December 2018 by Art Toh, a first for the location. Arising from a fruiting fig tree at Telok Blangah Hill Park, several species of birds were reported from the location, including a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea on 5 December 2018 and a Zappey’s or Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis or C. cyanomelana on 12 December 2018 by Anthony Nik and Jeremiah Loei, respectively. These were first for the location as well. A House Sparrow Passer domesticus was spotted at Gardens by the Bay on 23 December 2018 by Anthony Nik.

Western Singapore

A juvenile Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus spotted at Chinese Garden on 8 December 2018 by Loke Peng Fai. An Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca was reportedly seen on 15 December 2018 at Harvest Lane by Lim Kim Seng. The Eurasian Wigeon described above was seen at Kranji Marsh on 23 December 2018 by Martin Kennewell, while a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was spotted at the same Marsh on Christmas Day (25 December 2018) by Art Toh. Boxing Day (26 December 2018) birding yielded a Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves for Feroz, while an Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus was seen at West Coast Drive on 28 December 2018 by Tay Kian Guan. Finally, we received delightful news of a male Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis with three chicks at Kranji Marsh on 30 December 2018 by Hongxun.

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Watercock on Christmas Day (25 December 2018) at Kranji Marshes. Photo by Art Toh.

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler

Birders and scientists acknowledge that Phylloscopus warblers represent one of the most difficult species to identify. The Pale-legged and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers are cases in point as both are remarkably similar, in fact they were previously considered conspecific, i.e. same species.

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Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, 14 Janaury 2019, photo by Koh Lian Heng.

Pale-legged Leaf Warblers largely come from northeast Asia, and spend their winter months in southeast Asia. Sakhalin Leaf Warblers are found from the Sakhalin Island, down large swathes of Japan, as well as along coastal China from Weihai to an area the south of Xiamen. Wintering records of the species sparsely dot places in Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia. As it stands, only the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler is in the NSS bird checklist, the Pale-legged has yet to be recorded.

In 2014, a team of Singapore birders comprising Lim Kim Keang, Francis Yap, Yong Ding Li, Albert Low and Con Foley worked with NUS scientists to firmly establish the species as a rare accidental visitor to Singapore (Yap, et al, 2014). Then, Lim Kim Keang heard a Leaf Warbler calling in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve; conventional wisdom suggested that this was probably a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler. However, analysis of the recorded calls and comparisons with the known calls of the two species in question showed that the bird was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, as the calls were at a frequency lower than that of the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler.

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Detective work by our Singaporean birders. Extract of sonographic records from Yap et al, (2014) showing how the calls of the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler may be distinguished from the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler by distinct differences in their frequencies.

On 27 December 2018, when several high-frequency calls were heard by Lim Kim Chuah while jogging around MacRitchie Reservoir Park, several birders ventured to determine which Leaf Warbler species that was. Their effort revealed that up to three birds were calling within an area measuring about 500m by 250m. Detailed examination by Yong Ding Li of one of the calling birds revealed that it was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.

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Sonogram of the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 31 December 2018 (Yong, 2018).

Photographing the birds proved harder as they tended to be more furtive and often skulked in the darker sections below the canopies of trees, as well as descending to the darkened forest floor to forage. Several photographers managed to obtain decent photos, to reveal a bird that superficially resembles the common Arctic Warbler, but has distinguishing marks such as pinkish legs and a conspicuously long buffy eye-stripe that extends almost to the nape. The bird’s skulking behaviour, as well as its propensity to descend to the ground level, contrasts greatly with the canopy-loving Arctic Warbler.

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Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, 15 January 2019, demonstrating that the warbler’s propensity for the cover of the canopy. Photo by Koh Lian Heng.

References

BirdLife International 2017. Mareca penelope (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22680157A111892532.  http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22680157A111892532.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016a). Nettapus coromandelianusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22680090A92842427. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22680090A92842427.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016b). Phylloscopus tenellipesThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22715324A94448249. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22715324A94448249.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016c). Phylloscopus borealoidesThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22715329A94448458. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22715329A94448458.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

Robson, C. (2005) A field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. London: New Holland.

Wells, D. R. (2007) The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula, 2. London: Academic Press.

Yap, Francis & Yong, D. L., Low, W. B., Cros, E., Foley, C., Lim, K. K.  & Rheindt, E. F. (2014). “First wintering record of the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.” Phylloscopus borealoides in South- East Asia, with notes on vocalisations. BirdingAsia. 21. 76-81.

Yong, D.L. (2018)  Audio Recording XC448228 of Sakhalin Leaf Warbler on 31 December 2018. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/448228.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. It is based on selected postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Lee Chin Poh, David Fur, David Tan, Martin Kennewell, Ng Alan, Lim Swee Kin, Koh Lian Heng and Art Toh for the use of their photos. 

 List of bird sightings in report

Family Species Date
Anatidae Cotton Pygmy Goose 24 Dec 2018
Eurasian Wigeon 23 Dec 2018
Ardeidae Cinnamon Bittern 10 Dec 2018
Great Egret 2 Dec 2018
Accipitridae Jerdon’s Baza 13 Dec 2018
Jerdon’s Baza 30 Dec 2018
Short-toed Snake Eagle 5 Dec 2018
Imperial Eagle 15 Dec 2018
Grey headed Fish Eagle 8 Dec 2018
Common  Buzzard 1 Dec 2018
Rallidae Slaty-legged Crake 29 Dec 2018
Ballion’s Crake 27 Dec 2018
Watercock 25 Dec 2018
Charadriidae Grey Plover 19 Dec 2018
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 30 Dec 2018
Scolopacidae Terek Sandpiper 19 Dec 2018
Strigidae Oriental Scops owl 5 Dec 2018
Oriental Scops owl 19 Dec 2018
Columbidae Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon 30 Dec 2018
Cuculidae Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 8 Dec 2018
Hodgson’s Hawk cuckoo 30 Dec 2018
Pittidae Hooded Pitta 4 Dec 2018
Hooded Pitta 6 Dec 2018
Hooded Pitta 30 Dec 2018
Dicruridae Ashy Drongo 2 Dec 2018
Phylloscopidae Sakhalin Leaf Warbler 27 Dec 2018
Sturnidae White-shouldered Starling 11 Dec 2018
Turdidae Eye-browed Thrush 28 Dec 2018
Muscicapidae Brown-streaked FC 26 Dec 2018
Ferruginous Flycatcher 5 Dec 2018
B&W/Zappey’s FC 12 Dec 2018
Green-backed Flycatcher 17 Dec 2018
Passeridae House Sparrow 23 Dec 2018
Motacillidae Forest Wagtail 26 Dec 2018