Author Archives: TAN Gim Cheong

Singapore Raptor Report – January 2018


Peregrine Falcon, juvenile, at Kranji Marshes, on 14 Jan 2018, by Goh Cheng Teng

Summary for migrant species:

In January, 75 raptors of 9 migrant species were recorded. Apart from singles at Coney Island and Pasir Ris Park, a flock of 8 Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni was recorded at Lorong Halus Wetlands on the 20th. The grey morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia found on 9 Dec at Dairy Farm Nature Park was still around on 19 Jan. A juvenile Black Kite Milvus migrans (lineatus), a scarce migrant, was photographed at Bulim Avenue on the 15th and 21st.

A female Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis was still wintering at Ang Mo Kio, while another sub-adult female was photographed at Lorong Halus on the 20th. Only three Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis were recorded: one at Sentosa on the 3rd, one at Tampines Eco Green on the 20th and another at Mount Faber on the 26th, all were juveniles.

Two Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus were recorded, at the usual spots: one at Sungei Buloh – Kranji area and the other at Seletar Dam. Of the four Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus, one juvenile was at Pulau Ubin on the 7th, another juvenile at Jurong West also on the 7th, one at Sungei Buloh – Kranji area on multiple days, and the last one at Seletar Airport on the 27th.

For the Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes, up to 13 were in the Lorong Halus – Tampines area, 2 at Telok Blangah and another 5 at One North. Lastly, a total of 34 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus were recorded in January.

OHB, 020118, AMK, TErence Tan, torquatus tweeddale 2

Oriental Honey Buzzard, torquatus tweeddale morph, at Ang Mo Kio, on 2 Jan 2018, by Terence Tan.

Highlights for sedentary species:

January was a good month for the torquatus form of the Oriental Honey Buzzzard as four of these showed up, all of the tweeddale morph, one at Ang Mo Kio on the 2nd, one at Pasir Ris – Tampines area between the 2nd to 8th, one at Bukit Timah on the 18th, and one at Chinese Garden on the 31st.

The Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus pair at Sentosa was observed breaking off twigs for their nest and feeding on rodents at the beginning of the month; and as the leaves on the tree grew back, their nest high up the upper branches probably became more difficult to observe. Individuals were recorded at Pasir Ris, Mandai, and Telok Blangah, and another three at the Botanic Gardens.

The other sedentary raptors recorded included two Grey-headed Fish Eagle, two Black-winged Kites, nine Changeable Hawk-Eagles and the common White-bellied Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites.

Table 1, revised

Changes (highlighted in yellow) include additional records of 1 Brahminy Kite, 2 White-bellied Sea Eagles, 1 Grey-headed Fish Eagle, 2 Changeable Hawk-Eagles and 1 unidentified Accipiter.

For a pdf version (revised) with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – Jan 2018, revised

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong  

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Goh Cheng Teng and Terence Tan for the use of their photos.


Singapore Bird Report – January 2018

Band-bellied Crake, 190118, SBG, Meena Vathyam

January’s mega find, the Band-bellied Crake, at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 19 Jan 2018, by Meena Vathyam

The string of rarities continued to show up and provided for an eventful January. The bird of the month is without doubt the Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii, found by Meena Vathyam at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) on the 19th. Thanks to her, many birders managed to see this mega rarity as their lifer. It is only the second record for Singapore after the first occurrence in 2014. The bird continued to be observed at the same small patch of vegetation for the rest of January and is probably still wintering there.

Green-backed Flycatcher, 310118, Dillenia Hut, Fryap

Another rarity, the Green-backed Flycatcher, at Dillenia Hut on 31 Jan 2018, by Francis Yap

On the 20th, See Toh Yew Wai found another rarity at the Jelutong Tower – an adult male Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae; Francis Yap found one at the junction of Sime Track and Rifle Range Link on the 26th; and Martin Kennewell also photographed this species 100m up the junction, on Rifle Range Link, on the 28th, likely the same individual. Elsewhere, Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo found another individual at Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd. Francis Yap also recorded an individual at Dillenia Hut, CCNR on the 31st. Another rarity was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides found at BTNR on 27th by Lau Jia Sheng and Tan Kok Hui.

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, 200118, Jelutong, Thio HB

A rare non-breeding visitor, the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, at Jelutong Tower on 20 Jan 2018, by Thio Hui Bing

The non-migrant rarities for the month included a Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus, the 3rd record for this non-breeding visitor, found by Martin Kennewell, in the company of Richard Carden and Thio Hui Bing, at Jelutong Tower on the 20th. Additionally, Thio Hui Bing and Lim Kim Seng also recorded two individuals of the locally rare Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps on the same date & locality.

At Pulau Tekong, Frankie Cheong recorded an uncommon Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii and a flock of over 20 Marsh Sandpipers Tringa stagnatilis on the 3rd; and on the 20th, he recorded the Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis and Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta. A Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius was also recorded at Pulau Tekong on 3rd by Frankie Cheong, and two birds at Kranji Golf Course on 4th by Luke Milo Teo.

Two Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica were recorded at Kranji Golf Course on the 4th and 14 of these birds at Marina Bay MRT on the 10th, both by Luke Milo Teo. Also at Kranji Golf Course, an Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis was recorded on the 5th by Alan OwYong;  and a White Wagtail Motacilla alba on the 6th by Luke Milo Teo. A Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica was recorded at Kranji Golf Course on the 5th by Alan OwYong and at Bulim on the 6th by See Toh Yew Wai.

White-rumped Munia, 270118, SBG, Goh Cheng Teng

White-rumped Munia, at SBG on 27 Jan 2018, by Goh Cheng Teng

Alan OwYong recorded a sub-adult Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor at West Coast Park on the 3rd. Earlier in the morning Anthony Nik and Stuart Campbell photographed two unusual female flycatchers there. One was a Blue and White/ Zappey’s Flycatcher and the other had yet to be identified. Veronica Foo found another Hodgon’s Hawk Cuckoo at Bambusetum, SBG, where she also spotted the White-rumped Munias Lonchura striata, on 21st. The munias were present throughout the rest of the month feeding on seeds. A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus was recorded at SBWR on the 20th by Gautham, while a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was found at Telok Blangah Walk on the 22nd by Mark Nelson Valino . At Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd, a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus was recorded on the 23rd by Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo. On the 24th, an adult Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris was recorded at Hindhede NP by Alan OwYong.

Lester Tan photographed a Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala in flight at Jurong Street 22 on the 3rd, identification made possible by its tails feathers which were spread. This encouraged Alan OwYong to attempt to photograph snipes in flight and he managed to photograph a probable Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura at Bulim on the 15th.

A Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata was recorded by Luke Milo Teo at Turut Track on 4th, and by Alan OwYong at Kranji Marshes on 5th, and was still there on the 28th during an NSS outing. Another was photographed in flight at SICC Golf Link on the 5th by Francis Yap. On the 27th, Vincent Lao found an Oriental Dwarf (Black-backed) Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca at Lower Pierce Reservoir.

A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was recorded at Bedok Central on the 5th by Eileen Ruth; another at Bulim on the 6th by See Toh Yew Wai; and another at Neo Tiew Lane 3 on the 14th by Alan OwYong. At Bulim on the 7th, Alan OwYong found a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus, an uncommon migrant. At Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd, a Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis was found by Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo.


Greater Painted Snipe, 140118, Bulim Avenue, Pary Sivaraman

Amazing flight views of a Greater Painted Snipe, at Bulim Avenue on 14 Jan 2018, by Pary Sivaraman

At Bulim on the 6th, See Toh Yew Wai recorded 6-8 Greater Painted Snipes Rostratula benghalensis, a Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps, Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis, and Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia. On the 7th, Adrian Silas Tay found 4-5 Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea. The Greater Painted Snipes were still around on the 14th, photographed by Pary Sivaraman.

Two Baillon’s Crakes Porzana pusilla were found by See Toh Yew Wai at Bulim on the 6th, while David Tan reported another found inside an apartment at Tampines on the 11th, and Goh Cheng Teng found another of this scarce migrant at Turut Track on the 14th.

Blue Rock Thrush, 080118, Labrador Villa Rd (private pty), Art Toh

Blue Rock Thrush, at Labrador Villa Rd on 8 Jan 2018, by Art Toh

Art Toh had a lucky encounter with a Blue Rock Thrush Monticola soltarius at Labrador Villa Road on the 8th. He also found a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis at SBG on the 18th. The next day, on the 19th a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was recorded at BTNR by Looi Ang Soh Hoon.

Martin Kennewell reported seeing around 50 White-shouldered Starlings Sturnia sinensis feeding on Bottlebrush trees at Seletar Club Road on the 16th. A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka was recorded at NTU on the 22nd by Luke Milo Teo, and another at Bidadari on the 27th by See Toh Yew Wai. At DFNP on the 24th, an Orang-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina with a deformed (crossbeak) bill was found by Laurence Eu.

At Marina Barrage on the 18th, Pary Sivaraman recorded 12-15 Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus and 10-12 Swinhoe’s Plovers (dealbatus subspecies of the Kentish Plover). At nearby Marina East Drive, Lee Chuin Ming redorded a Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis on the 21st; while Feroz Fizah found a Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii at Changi Coastal Walk on the 22nd.

BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
NSS: Nature Society (Singapore)

NTU: Nanyang Technological University
SICC: Singapore Island Country Club

This report is produced by Tan Gim Cheong and Alan OwYong 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 Meena Vathyam, Francis Yap, Thio Hui Bing, Goh Cheng Teng, Pary Sivaraman, and Art Toh for the the use of their photos. 

Singapore Raptor Report – December 2017

OHB, 081217, Sgp, Teo Chee Kee

Oriental Honey Buzzard, adult female dark morph, on 8 Dec 2017, by Teo Chee Kee.

Summary for migrant species:

December marked the arrival of two migrant raptor species. The first Eastern Marsh Harrier for the season, a juvenile, was photographed in flight at Kranji Marshes on the 2nd at 6:59am. This is fairly typical behaviour for the species as they are early movers. The first Black Kites of the season came in a group of three over Pulau Ubin on the 26th. The three juveniles were flying about over Pulau Sekudu and the nearby fish farms, probably hoping to scavenge.

The rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl found on 30 November at Dairy Farm Nature Park was still around on the 1st, but disappeared thereafter. On the 9th, a grey morph Oriental Scops Owl was found roosting high up a nearby tree; it was recorded again on the 11th and the 17th at the same locality. This grey morph individual might also have been the same one found in January this year, returning to the same locality in Singapore after breeding in the northern latitudes!

Three Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded. One frequented the Tampines Eco Green to Pasir Ris Park area throughout the month; another was recorded at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West on the 10th and 11th; and the last one flew by Jelutong Tower on the 22nd. Two Common Buzzards were recorded; the first was photographed on the 2nd at Seletar Aerospace Drive; on the 6th, 2 birds were photographed at nearby Seletar West, and one of the birds may have been the same bird first recorded on the 2nd.

Five Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded. A male at Pasir Ris Park on the 3rd and 9th; a female at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West on the 9th, two over Henderson Wave on the 20th, and a female at Sentosa on the 24th. Two Peregrine Falcons were recorded; one at Clementi and the other at Seletar Airport area. Three Western Ospreys were recorded; one at SBWR-Kranji Marshes area, another at Yishun Dam and the last at Pasir Ris Park.

Finally, we come to the most abundant migrant raptors. 19 Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded; a number of them at Henderson Waves, probably just passing through for destinations further south. 20 Black Bazas were recorded, and a small group is probably wintering at Pasir Ris Park. The Oriental Honey Buzzard is tops again with 93 birds; a number were recorded at Henderson wave, also probably just passing through on their way farther south.

Crested Goshawk (Accipiter Trivirgatus), 281217, Sentosa, Michael Phua

Crested Goshawks mating, at Sentosa, on 28 Dec 2017, by Michael Phua.

Highlights for sedentary species:

For the uncommon Crested Goshawk, 11 birds were recorded. Notably the pair at Sentosa was observed mating on four days: the 24th, 25th, 26th and 28th. The pair was observed bringing small branches to reinforce their nest high up the bare tree and on the 25th, the female goshawk was photographed breaking a small branch with its beak. A juvenile goshawk, probably from the pair’s last breeding attempt, was also seen at the tree on the 24th.

All three records of the torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards were of the tweeddale form. An adult male was recorded at Pasir Ris Park on the 15th, the record on the 21st was probably of the same individual. Another was recorded at Toa Payoh on the 17th.

Of the two Grey-headed Fish Eagles recorded, one was at Bishan Park and the other at Little Guilin, where a new nest had been built on a tall tree but nesting was not observed during the month. The other resident raptors recorded included the Changeable Hawk Eagle, Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

Table 1

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong 

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Teo Chee Kee and Michael Phua for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – Dec 2017


Singapore Raptor Report – November 2017

Besra, 181117, posted 051217, Telok Blangah, Les Sail

Besra, juvenile, at Telok Blangah Hill on 18 Nov 2017, by Leslie Fung.

Summary for migrant species:

November 2017 turned out to be the best month ever for migrant raptor diversity, with 18 migrant species recorded! This is in huge contrast to last month, which was noted to be “the least remarkable October on record, with only 6 migrant species recorded”! The raptors seem to be making it up for a lacklustre October.

An incredible number of ‘megas’ (birding speak for very rare birds) were recorded, complete with photographic evidence. On 18 November, Leslie Fung and Diana Jackson photographed an accipiter which looked superficially like a Japanese Sparrowhawk in flight, but was in fact a juvenile Besra, one of the ‘megas’, and one which is amongst the most difficult to identify. A report of a Besra on the 10th turned out to be a Japanese Sparrowhawk, underscoring the difficulties in identification.

26 November must surely be a magical day for a few photographers who were richly rewarded for their efforts out in the field. Francis Yap’s vigil at Henderson Waves paid off handsomely with a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, another mega, and only the third occurrence of this species in Singapore. At the eastern end of Singapore, on the new Tanah Merah Coast Road, Adrian Silas Tay, Goh Cheng Teng, et al, made special efforts to get to this stretch of road where kerbside parking is not allowed and managed to photograph an Amur Falcon! Another mega, and also the third occurrence of the species in Singapore.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 261117, Henderson Wave, Francis Yap, 1004h
Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 26 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Francis Yap

On 8 November, Terence Tan chanced upon a Northern Boobook in daylight at Satay by the Bay and obtained a beautiful set of images of this rarely encountered nocturnal bird of prey.

Northern Boobook, 081117, SBTB, Terence Tan 3

Northern Boobook, 8 Nov 2017, Satay by the Bay, by Terence Tan

Just as the month came to a close, Khoo MeiLin and Tsang Kwok Choong found a rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl roosting at Dairy Farm Nature Park in the daytime. This particular individual might have been the same one found in January this year, returning to the same tree in Singapore after breeding in the northern latitudes!

OSO, 301117, DFNP, KC Tsang

Oriental Scops Owl, rufous morph, 30 Nov 2017, Dairy Farm Nature Park, by KC Tsang

On the 11th, a juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle, a rarity, flew by Henderson Waves, giving cheer to a bunch of birders who must have temporarily forgotten about being roasted under the sun!

GSE, 111117, Henderson Waves, Adrian Silas Tay

Greater Spotted Eagle, juvenile, 11 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Adrian Silas Tay

The rare Pied Harrier was photographed at Henderson Waves by Francis Yap on the 15th (a juvenile), recorded at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell on the 18th (immature) and at Pulau Semaukau by Saket Sarupria on the 28th (adult male).

Pied Harrier, 151117 1305h, TBHP CP2, Fryap

Pied Harrier, juvenile, 15 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Francis Yap

On the 13th, a dark morph Booted Eagle was spotted at Henderson Waves during the hottest part of the day, flying southeast initially and then turning northeast, perhaps deciding that it was not going to cross the seas to the south.

Booted Eagle, 131117, HW, TGC

Booted Eagle, dark morph, 13 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Tan Gim Cheong

The Jerdon’s Baza, a good bird for many birders, was recorded on three dates, singles on 12th and 14th at Henderson Waves, both in the afternoon, and the third one at Pasir Ris on the 25th.

Jerdon Baza, 251117, PRP CP B, Jeremy Ong

Jerdon’s Baza, at Pasir Ris Park on 25 Nov 2017, by Jeremy Ong.

The rather uncommon Grey-faced Buzzard was recorded at Henderson Waves on 2nd, 5th, 11th and 19th, all singly except for 2 birds on the 5th, and another 2 recorded at Sisters Island / St John’s Island area on the 4th.

Grey-faced Buzzard, 041117, St John Island, Adrian Silas Tay

Grey-faced Buzzard, 4 Nov 2017, near St John’s Island, by Adrian Silas Tay

The uncommon Common Buzzard was photographed on the 2nd, 19th and 25th, all being singles in flight at Henderson Waves.

Common Buzzard, 251117, HW, STYW

Common Buzzard, 25 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by See Toh Yew Wai

Another uncommon raptor despite its name, the Common Kestrel was photographed at the new Tanah Merah Coast Road on the 26th.

Common Kestrel, 261117, new Changi Coast Rd, Goh Cheng Teng
Common Kestrel, 26 Nov 2017, Tanah Merah Coast Road, by Goh Cheng Teng

Twenty two Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them over Henderson Waves, while one adult female seemed to be wintering at Ang Mo Kio. Five Peregrine Falcons and four Western Ospreys were also recorded.

BB w prey, 231117, PRP, Heather Goessel 2

Black Baza, feeding on a grasshopper, 23 Nov 2017, Pasir Ris Park, by Heather Goessel

Finally, we come to the most abundant migrant raptors. 129 Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them at Henderson Waves, this season’s hotspot. The Black Bazas showed quite a bit, from zero birds last month to 375 birds this month, with a day high of 127 birds on the 12th at Henderson Waves. Heather Goessel had a lucky encounter with one feeding on what appeared to be a grasshopper, at Pasir Ris Park. The Oriental Honey Buzzard is tops again with 531 birds, including a flock of 74 at Henderson Waves and a flock of 61 at Tuas, both on the 11th.

OHB, 151117, HW, Fryap

Oriental Honey Buzzard, juvenile, 15 Nov 2017, Henderson Waves, by Francis Yap

Highlights for sedentary species:

The locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle was recorded three times at the Kent Ridge / Henderson Waves area with a max of 2 birds, plus another one at Pulau Tekong on 23rd morning. For the uncommon Crested Goshawk, 3 juveniles were recorded, one at the Southern Ridges, one at MacRitchie and one at Pasir Ris; among the 5 adults, a pair was observed mating at the Botanic Gardens on the 18th.

All five records of the torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards at three localities were of the tweeddale form, with at least one female at Satay by the Bay and one male at Pasir Ris Park, the last locality being the Jelutong Tower. A Grey-headed Fish Eagle was recorded at Sentosa on the 16th, the other 6 were found at its usual haunts – Kranji, Little Guilin, Botanic Gardens and in flight over Henderson Waves.

A juvenile dark morph Changeable Hawk Eagle was seen calling, seemingly for the adult dark morph nearby, at Jalan Kayu on the 16th, indicating that the young hawk-eagle had recently fledged. Unfortunately, a juvenile pale morph did not make it, as its fresh carcass was found at Clarke Quay on 25th morning, apparently a victim of collision with a building or window. The other resident raptors recorded included the Black-winged Kite, Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

There are also additional records for October 2017, please refer to the PDF below.

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Leslie Fung, Jeremy Ong, Heather Goessel, Francis Yap, Adrian Silas Tay, See Toh Yew Wai, Goh Cheng Teng, Tsang Kwok Choong, and Terence Tan for the use of their photos.

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

For a pdf version of the report with detailed lists (including additional records for October 2017), please click here Singapore Raptor Report – November 2017


10th Singapore Raptor Watch Report

Autumn 2017 Migration – 5 Nov 2017
compiled by TAN Gim Cheong
CSH, Puaka, Jacky Soh, crop

Chinese Sparrowhawk, juvenile, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 5 Nov 2017, by Jacky Soh

The 10th Singapore raptor watch was held on Sunday, 5 November 2017 and involved 65 participants. Apart from a bit of drizzle at the start of the day, the weather was fine. There were 8 raptor watch sites and the numbers counted at each site varied from a high of 289 to a low of 21 birds. A total of 781 raptors were counted, including 567 raptors representing 7 migrant species and 113 raptors of 7 resident species. A further 101 raptors could not be identified to species level.

Number of raptors – 781
– 567 migrant raptors.
– 113 resident raptors.
– 101 un-identified raptors.

 Number of species – 14
 – 7 migrant species.
– 7 resident species.

Fiigure 1

Seven 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 shift of the Tuas site slightly north to Tuas South Avenue 12 due to construction works at Tuas South Avenue 16, and the addition of Marina Barrage.

Fiigure 2

After a slow start in the morning, with less than 20 birds each in the first three 1-hour periods (probably due to the drizzle), the numbers of migrant raptors surged to 224 birds in the 12pm-1pm period, then dropping gradually, to 146 birds in the next hour, 80 in the following hour and 60 in the last hour of the count.

Fiigure 3

The Black Baza reclaimed the top spot, a position it last held in 2009, with 252 birds counted. The largest number of Black Bazas were at Kent Ridge Park (148 birds), Telok Blangah Hill Park (36 birds) and Pulau Ubin (28 birds). The largest groups were a flock of 61 birds at 12:29pm and another flock of 60 between 1pm-2pm, both at Kent Ridge Park.  As for the Oriental Honey Buzzard (OHB), after 7 years as the most numerous migrant raptor during our Raptor Watch, it dropped to second place with 166 birds counted. The largest number of OHBs were at Kent Ridge Park (57 birds), Japanese Garden (45 birds) and Telok Blangah Hill Park (32 birds).

BB, Puaka, Jacky Soh, crop

Black Baza, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 5 Nov 2017, by Jacky Soh

The Japanese Sparrowhawks come out in force, with 126 birds, almost double its previous high of 67 birds in 2014. The main bulk of the Japanese Sparrowhawks (65 birds) were counted at, coincidentally, the Japanese Garden! There were 18 Chinese Sparrowhawks, and most of them (14 birds) were recorded at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin. Only two Western Ospreys were recorded – one at Japanese Garden and the other at Puaka Hilll, Pulau Ubin. For the uncommon Common Buzzard, two were recorded at Lorong Halus Wetlands between 12pm-1pm. A single Peregrine Falcon was recorded at Kent Ridge Park at 3:10pm.

JSH, Puaka, Jacky Soh, crop

Japanese Sparrowhawk, juvenile, at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin, 5 Nov 2017, by Jacky Soh

Fiigure 4

For the resident species, the total count was 113 birds of 7 species, one more species than the year before – the addition being the Crested Serpent Eagle. The count for the resident raptors comprised 53 Brahminy Kites, 33 White-bellied Sea Eagles, 16 Changeable Hawk Eagles, 5 Grey-headed Fish Eagles, 4 Crested Goshawks, 1 Black-winged Kite and 1 Crested Serpent Eagle.

Fiigure 5

The figure below provides a snapshot of the number of raptors according to the three categories – migrant, un-identified & resident raptors, at the 8 sites. A larger proportion of the migrant raptors were detected in the southwest stretch from the Japanese Garden to Kent Ridge Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park, with a peak of 229 migrant raptors at Kent Ridge. The highest number of un-identified raptors, also at Kent Ridge, were probably migrants flying too high for positive identification. Rather surprising was the low numbers at Tuas. Could the birds have avoided that area due to the ongoing constructions works?

Fiigure 6

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

Fiigure 7

Thanks to all the 65 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:

Fig names

KRP afternoon shift, Ee Ling

The ‘afternoon shift’ of raptor watchers/counters at Kent Ridge Park, by Lee Ee Ling

Thanks to Jacky Soh and Lee Ee Ling for the use of their photos.

Please click here for a pdf version 10th Singapore Raptor Watch – 2017

Singapore Raptor Report – October 2017

Accipiter, 251017, Jelutong, Fryap

Japanese Sparrowhawk, juvenile, at Jelutong Tower on 25 Oct 2017, by Francis Yap. Interestingly, this individual has dark and pale tailbands that appear equal in width, the most commonly held criteria for Besra. However, other features such as short tail, long primary projection, weak mesial stripe and weak chest markings point to Japanese Sparrowhawk. A good reminder that identification cannot be based on a single feature alone.

Summary for migrant species:

October 2017 is probably the least remarkable October on record, with only 6 migrant species recorded (we usually record around 9 species in October). For the second year in a row, there were no records of the Black Baza in October, not that they no longer come to Singapore, just that they arrive only later in the year.

The bulk of the 70 migrants recorded were made up by the 33 Oriental Honey Buzzards, and 25 Japanese Sparrowhawks. There were 8 Chinese Sparrowhawks, including one female spotted regularly at Ang Mo Kio. Two Western Ospreys were recorded at the Kranji-Sungei Buloh area and one adult Peregrine Falcon was recorded at Kent Ridge on the 3rd. The single juvenile Eastern Marsh Harrier at Mount Faber on the 3rd was a notable record.

Crested Goshawk mating, 271017, Ang Mo Kio, Seah Han Wah

A pair of Crested Goshawks mating, at Ang Mo Kio on 27 Oct 2017, by Seah Han Wah. Note the small dark droplet-shaped markings on a rather clean white breast of the female (below) versus the bigger rufous-brown patches on the breast of the male (above).

Highlights for sedentary species:

The locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle was recorded twice at Kent Ridge this month, on the third and the 12th. As for the uncommon Crested Goshawk, a pair was observed mating at Ang Mo Kio; another 4 adults were recorded at Kent Ridge and the Botanic Gardens; and a juvenile at Bidadari, honing its skills at hunting, using a Variable Squirrel as target. Amazingly, all the four records of the torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards were of the tweeddale form, with at least one female and one juvenile – one at Toa Payoh on 3rd, a female at Jelutong Tower on 7th, a juvenile at Jelutong Tower on 22nd, and a female at Old Upper Thomson on 29th. The other resident raptors recorded included the Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Francis Yap and Seah Han Wah for the use of their photos.

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

For a pdf version with more details please click Singapore Raptor Report – October 2017


Singapore Raptor Report, July-September 2017

PF, 170817, Ubin, Xu Weiting

Peregrine Falcon (ernesti subspecies), at Pulau Ubin, 17 August 2017, by Xu Weiting


The Osprey, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Chinese Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon were recorded during the July to September period. The Osprey was recorded in small numbers all 3 months, at the Kranji-Mandai and Yishun Dam areas. The 5 Oriental Honey Buzzards recorded from 13 July to 6 September are more likely to have stayed for the summer; and the first autumn arrival was on 24 September at Lorong Halus, followed by another on 25 September at Bidadari and small flocks on 30 September at Tuas. A torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzard tweeddale morph was photographed at Toa Payoh on 30 September.

The first arrival of the Japanese Sparrowhawk was on 24 September at Lorong Halus (3 birds), followed by singles at Bidadari and Jelutong Tower before the month ended. The first arrival of the Chinese Sparrowhawk was also on 24 September at Lorong Halus (2 birds), followed by an individual at Jelutong Tower later on. A Peregrine Falcon (ernesti subspecies) was recorded at Pulau Ubin on 17 August; another reported from the 39th floor of OCBC Building on 24 August was also seen feeding on feral pigeons on previous occasions.

CHE, 030917, Springleaf, Laurence Eu, 3DX_3089

A Changeable Hawk-eagle, adult pale morph, at Springleaf, 3 Sep 2017, by Laurence Eu

For the resident raptors, highlights included the locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle on 13 July at South Buona Vista Road. On 18 August at Little Guilin, a juvenile Grey-headed Fish Eagle was observed whining constantly in the presence of an adult, but just 2 weeks later, on 1 September, the adults were seen building a new nest on a tall tree.

A juvenile Crested Goshawk was recorded at Pasir Ris Park on 13 July, and Changi Village on 10 September, with a shrew in its talons; adults were recorded on 17 August at Kent Ridge Park, 21 August at Aljunied (2 birds), and 7 September at Sentosa, with a Plantain Squirrel in its talons. The Black-winged Kite was recorded on 9 July at Kranji Marsh, 10 July at Punggol Barat (2 birds) and 20 August at Changi Point Ferry Terminal. A Changeable Hawk-eagle which probably fledged sometime in June or earlier was seen on the nest at Dairy Farm area on 1 July and 15 July, maybe it was ‘homesick’.

Many thanks to everyone for their records and to Xu Weiting and Laurence Eu for the use of their photos.

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong 

For a pdf version with more details pleas click Singapore Raptor Report, Early Autumn Migration, Jul-Sep 2017


33rd Singapore Bird Race (2017) – Arbitrator’s Report


Participants of the 33rd Singapore Bird Race

The 33rd Singapore Bird Race, held from 7-8 October 2017, saw the participation of 27 teams across three categories. The 20-hour ‘Marathon’ category attracted 4 teams, the 5-hour ‘Sprint’ category 11 teams and the ‘Photography’ category 12 teams.

Marathon Category – Winning Teams

Scouring the island from the Marina Bay to the Southern Ridges to Bukit Timah and Kranji-Sungei Buloh areas, the Weekend Birders (Silas Tay & Jerold Tan) topped the Marathon category with 101 species. The Malay Pot-bellied Laughingthrushes (Sutari Supari, Ali Jaafar, P Pandian & Soh Lay Bee) came in second with 89 species. Teams ChonkChonkChonk (Keita Sin, Sandra Chia & Geraldine Lee) and ChongChongChong (Justin Nai, Ng Shao Hua, Teo Hui Min & Wong Chee Weng) tied for third place with 85 species. Alas, all 4 teams in the Marathon category walked away with prizes! Congrats.

Sprint Category – Winning Teams

To minimise time spent travelling, most of the Sprint teams limited themselves to the Kranji-Sungei  Buloh areas. In this relatively small area, Team Darters (Alfred Chia, Desmond Lee, Lim Kim Keang & Albert Low) turned in an amazing 75 species to top the Sprint category. The Falconets (Benjamin Lee, Chung Yi Fei, Chua Chong Tzeh & Thereis Choo) came in second with 68 species. The team JSP (Simon Siow, Alyce Ang, Fance Chua & Jimmy Lee) was a close third with 66 species. Well done.

Photography Category – Winning Teams

The Horseshoe Crabs (Goh Cheng Teng & Lester Tan) topped the Photography category with 59 species caught on camera. The team Gotcha (Michael Toh, Jane Rogers & Doreen Ang) came in second with 42 species. Right behind them was TnT (Tay Sia Ping, Ting Tuan Eng & Gan Lee Hsia) at third with 41 species photographed. Great work.

With several teams having photographed 40-odd species according to their log sheets, the fight for second and third place in the photography category was a tight one. In the end, it boiled down to things such as ensuring the photos for all species listed were submitted, submitting the photos in readable format (i.e. jpg and not raw, which we couldn’t read) and how closely the logged name matched the checklist name, etc. Future teams please note!

Race highlights

All teams combined, a total of 150 species were recorded. Among these, 3 species are listed as rare. They are the Lesser Adjutant at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 7 October at 6:11pm (an excellent record!); Little Grebe at Lorong Halus Wetlands on 8 Oct – both species were recorded by the Malay Pot-bellied Laughingthrushes; and the Blue-eared Kingfisher at Kranji Marshes on 8 Oct recorded by various teams.

Other interesting species included the Greater Sand Plover at SBWR on 7 Oct, Ruddy-breasted Crake at Satay by the Bay on 7 Oct, and the globally threatened Straw-headed Bulbul at Bukit Batok Nature Park on 7 Oct, and at SBWR and Hindhede Park on 8 Oct. Others on 8 Oct: Black-capped Kingfisher at Lorong Halus; Chinese Sparrowhawk and Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot at Kranji Marshes; Dark-sided Flycatcher and Slaty-breasted Rail at SBWR; Cinnamon Bittern at Neo Tiew Lane 3; Violet Cuckoo and Red-crowned Barbet at the Central Catchment Forests; Rusty-breasted Cuckoo at Neo Tiew area; Little Ringed Plover at Lim Chu Kang; Great-billed Heron at Seletar Dam; Blue-rumped Parrot at BTNR and Central Catchment Forests; Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Black-crested and Asian Red-eyed Bulbuls at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

A shout-out to fellow arbitrators Kenneth Kee, Morten Strange, See Toh Yew Wai and Francis Yap for generating the results so quickly.

Tan Gim Cheong
Chief Arbitrator, 33rd Singapore Bird Race

Bird Race Results

Position Marathon Category Score
1st Weekend Birders 101
2nd Malay Pot-bellied Laughingthrush 90
3rd ChonkChonkChonk & ChongChongChong 85
Position Sprint Category Score
1st Team Darters 75
2nd Falconets 68
3rd JSP 66
4th Jiak Hong Birders 61
5th Wings 58
6th Friends of Buloh 58
7th The Jiao Langs 53
8th Phalaropians 52
9th Robin’s Magpies 46
10th Bathawk, Robin & Penguin 37
11th Serendipity 33
Position Photography Category Score
1st Horshoe Crabs 59
2nd Gotcha 42
3rd T&T 41
4th Avian Pixels 40
5th JAWsome 40
6th The 3 Roosters 37
7th MNSJ Eagle 36
8th See & Shoot 33
9th The Trio 32
10th Wings of Johor 28
11th OK:-) 5
12th Kingfisher Blues

Singapore Bird Report – August 2017

Eurasian Curlew, 29-8-17, SBWR Hide 1D, STYW

Eurasian Curlew, at SBWR on 29 Aug, by See Toh Yew Wai

August was a busy month as the migrant species continue to arrive. On the 1st, Robin Tan had an Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia at SBWR. On the 2nd, an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina was found dead at Bendemeer Road by John Chan, probably after having crashed into the apartment flats. On the 3rd, David Li had a Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea at SBWR.

On the 5th, Frankie Cheong recorded the Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa at Pulau Tekong; while Martin Kennewell had a Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius at Kranji Marshes. On the 6th, Martin Kennewell recorded 4 Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola at Pulau Ubin. On the 7th, Luke Milo Teo and Francis Yap found a lone Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus at Seletar Dam. On the 11th, a rare Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis, juvenile, was photographed at the Kranji Marshes by lucky Deepthi Chimalakonda and Tanvi DG.

Brown-streaked FC, 18-8-17, PRP, Francis Yap

Brown-streaked Flycatcher, at Jelutong Tower, on 18 Aug, by Francis Yap

On 13th, a rare Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni was recorded at Pasir Ris Park by “Trust Mind”; See Toh Yew Wai had even better luck, seeing an adult and a juvenile on the 14th; while Francis Yap saw the juvenile on the 15th; Seng Alvin saw it on 17th; and Con Foley had his on the 18th. At the Jeutong Tower, Francis photographed another Brown-streaked Flycatcher on the 18th.

Also on 13th, a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis, first of the season, was recorded at Venus Link by Siew Mun. On 21st, a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis was photographed at Jurong Eco Garden by Luke Milo Teo. On 25th, Veronica Foo reported a Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis at SBWR in the late morning; while David Tan reported that an Eastern-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus was found dead at Winsland House.

Terek Sandpiper, 27-8-17, Seletar Dam, Goh Cheng Teng

Terek Sandpiper, at Seletar Dam, on 27 Aug, by Goh Cheng Teng

On 27th, Goh Cheng Teng found a lone Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus at Seletar Dam. On 28th, Robin Tan photographed an Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata at SBWR; See Toh Yew Wai found it on 29th; and Lim Kim Keang reported that the bird was still around on the 31st.

On 28th, David Li recorded a flock of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa at SBWR, and on 30th, Veronica Foo reported 10 birds in the afternoon. On 31st, Koji Ichiyama photographed a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia at Dairy Farm Nature Park. A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea was also photographed this month at Upper Changi Road East by Ramesh Thiruvengadam.

Gerals Chua

Stork-billed Kingfishers mating, at Pasir Ris, on 3rd Aug, by Gerals Chua

For the residents – Gerals Chua photographed a pair of Stork-billed Kingfishers Pelargopsis capensis mating at Pasir Ris Park on the 3rd; while Luke Milo Teo documented an adult Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus feeding a juvenile at the Chinese Gardens.

Siew Siew Ang

White-rumped Munia at Chinese Gardens on 3rd Aug, by Ang Siew Siew

A White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata was photographed at the Chinese Gardens by Ang Siew Sew on the 3rd and seen again by See Toh Yew Wai on the 10th. On the 4th, James Tann recorded a Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis at the southern Ridges near Kent Ridge Park, and Laurence Eu had another of this secretive bird at Dempsey Hill on the 7th. On the 5th, a family of Ruddy-breasted Crakes Porzana fusca with 3 chicks were seen at the Gardens by the Bay by Terence Tan.

On the 7th, Alan OwYong recorded a Malaysian Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica feeding an juvenile at the Chinese Gardens. On the 9th, James Tann saw 10 Pied Imperial Pigeons Ducula bicolor feeding on palm dates at Bukit Batok; Francis Yap photographed an Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis at the Chinese Gardens; and Dr Tan-Koi Wei Chuen reported several Grey Herons nesting at Pasir Ris Park. On the 10th, Seng Alvin photographed a juvenile Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana at Seletar Dam; while James Tann had an adult male Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu at the Green Corridor near Hillview Station.

During the NSS birding walk at Bishan Park for beginners on 13th, the Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus and Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo were recorded. On 16th, an Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula was recorded at SBWR by Meena Vathyam; a Chestnut-winged Babbler Cyanoderma erythropterum at Old Upper Thomson Road by Marcel Finlay; and Tan Eng Boo spied a pair of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis mating at Lorong Halus Wetlands.

WB Crake, 14-8-17, Halus, Seng Alvin

White-browed Crakes, Lorong Halus Wetlands, 14 Aug, by Seng Alvin

On 14th, Seng Alvin recorded 2 usually secretive White-browed Crakes Amaurornis cinerea at Lorong Halus; on 16th Terence Tan photographed one; James Tann also photographed one on the 18th. On 18th, Francis Yap photographed a Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta at Jelutong Tower, while another was found dead at Lornie Road by Vincent Lao on the 26th.

On 20th, a Spotted Wood Owl was spotted at Pasir Ris Park by James Ngeo. On 22nd, Siew Mun photographed a Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting at Jurong Eco Garden. On 24th, David Tan reported that a rare Black and Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos crashed into Ubin Outward Bound School.

Pied Fantail, Aug 17, PRP, Harry Geno-Oehlers 2

Malaysian Pied Fantail at Pasir Ris, mid-August, by Harry Geno-Oehlers. This nest was placed on a single horizontal twig. On 18th, the nest was found to have swivelled downwards, emptying the nest of 2 young chicks.

On 30th, NParks announced that a family of Black-backed Swamphen Porphyrio indicus, including 2 juveniles, were seen ‘recently’ near a pond in the core conservation area, marking the 1st evidence of breeding since the opening of the marshes in March 2016. Alan OwYong reported the successful nesting of a pair of Grey-rumped Treeswifts Hemiprocne longipennis at One North Crescent, with the adult still feeding its young as at August. On 16th, Ang Siew Siew photographed a juvenile Pied Fantail apparently begging for food from its parent. Over at Pasir Ris Park, Harry Geno-Oehlers reported that the nest of a pair of Malaysian Pied Fantails toppled over, killing the 2 chicks; Seng Alvin added that it was the 3rd round of nesting. Finally on 31st, Terence Tan photographed a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus at Kranji Marshes.


SBWR = Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve


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

Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. 2013. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited.

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

This report is compiled by Tan Gim Cheong and Alan OwYong from 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 See Toh Yew Wai, Francis Yap, Goh Cheng Teng, Gerals Chua, Ang Siew Siew,  Seng Alvin and Harry Geno-Oehlers for the the use of their photos. Please notify if you find errors in these records.

Pulau Ubin Nocturnal Bird Survey Report

Nocturnal Bird Survey Report at Pulau Ubin by Sandra Chia.

The nocturnal fauna of Singapore has long held the fascination of many nature-enthusiasts. From the inquisitive stare of the Buffy Fish Owl to the wide-eyed Sunda Scops Owl, nocturnal birds have been seen throughout the island, and garnered the attention of many. Several of us have seen owls on Pulau Ubin before, but how many are there exactly? And where?


One of Ubin’s the Buffy Fish Owls. Photo: Sandra Chia.

To get a better understanding of the diversity and numbers of nocturnal birds present on Pulau Ubin, the Bird Group in collaboration with Nparks conducted its first ever Ubin night survey. On 22 July, while hordes of people were headed home after a long day at the beach, a group of us were headed towards Changi Point Ferry Terminal for a very different reason. Boarding a bumboat, 11 of us set off into the sunset for Pulau Ubin. Headed by an experienced leader, the group was further split into three teams of three to four surveyors each. Three survey routes were established, covering the east, west and central portions of Ubin.

Upon reaching the starting point of each survey route, the group embarked on a slow walk back to the kampong centre, that took about 2 hours. Whenever a nocturnal bird was encountered or heard, the species and coordinates of the encounter were jotted down and compiled into a datasheet thereafter. When nocturnal mammals were encountered, the species and location of the encounter were likewise noted down, on a separate datasheet.

In total, 16 individual birds were seen or heard. The most numerous were the Large-tailed Nightjar and Sunda Scops Owl, of which 6 individuals of each species were encountered throughout the survey. The Buffy Fish Owl and Black-crowned Night Heron were encountered once each, while the Savanna Nightjar was encountered twice. To our delight, Greater Mousedeer were seen by all three groups and one group even saw a herd of wild boar with 3 adults and 13 piglets!


There is probably a much wider diversity and greater number of nocturnal birds on Ubin, based on historical sightings as well as the fact that there are many parts of Ubin our routes did not cover. For example, all species of owl known in Singapore are recorded on Ubin except for the Short-eared Owl. We hope to continue to conduct more nocturnal census and hopefully uncover more nocturnal birds on Ubin.

The Bird Group is grateful to all the survey leaders for leading the surveys and to all participants who assisted. The survey leaders included Lim Kim Keang, Willie Foo and Alfred Chia and participants included Sandra Chia, Emmanuel Goh, Dillen Ng, Lim Hong Yao and Tan Julin. We would also like to thank Robert Teo, Grace Ang, Joseph Lin and Jacky Soh from NParks for supporting our work.