Author Archives: TAN Gim Cheong

Singapore Bird Report – March 2020

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

March continued to see the reporting of spectacular species – the 3rd record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo, a male, at Ghim Moh; the continued presence of the 3rd recorded Chinese Blue Flycatcher; and visitation by the globally threatened Chinese Egrets at Pulau Ubin.

Chinese Egret

Chinese Egret, 210320, Chek Jawa, Vincent Ng, crop

A Chinese (left) and Intermediate Egret at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 March 2020 by Vincent Ng

On 16 March 2020, Richard White and Francis Yap was at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin at low tide when Richard spotted a Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes, a rare visitor, on the intertidal zone. The egret continued to frequent the tidal flats on subsequent days, giving many birders a chance to see this globally threatened species in Singapore. T. Ramesh was delighted to spot the egret on 20 March 2020 just before the low afternoon tide and recorded some videos of its active feeding behaviour. On 31 March 2020, Vincent Ng recorded three individuals feeding together. The species was previously reported with a fair degree of regularity at Pulau Tekong only.

According to Dr. Yong Ding Li, “the egret can be tricky to ID, especially if in the non-breeding plumage, and seen from a great distance. But a nicely written article by Nial Moores shows that foraging behaviour can be a great clue towards its identification – especially its more erratic and ‘kancheong‘ movements!” This was also observed by T. Ramesh in his short notes and video.

Asian Emerald Cuckoo

AEC, 230320, Ghim Moh, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan

The Asian Emerald Cuckoo at Ghim Moh, photographed on 23 March 2020 by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan.

Singapore’s third record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus, came in the form of a splendid male. The two earlier records were at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park in May 2006, when an immature and a female appeared, and at Sentosa between late December 2017 and January 2018, when two females appeared. Social media reports indicated that the bird was first discovered on 23 March 2020 along the park connector at Ghim Moh. This bird continued to stay at the location until the end of the month, feeding on the abundant caterpillars that flourished in the trees.

The species is regarded at being of Least Concern and can be found from the Himalayas, through Nepal and Bhutan, NE India, Bangladesh and S China, through Myanmar, NW Thailand, N Laos and N and central Vietnam. During winter, it flies to S India, Sri Lanka, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indochina and Malaysia, with small numbers arriving at Sumatra (Payne, 2020). First reports of the bird arriving at the Penang Botanical Gardens were posted on social media around 16 December 2019 (Kelvin Low), and 19 December 2019 (Chan Kai Soon). Hence, it is possible that the bird encountered in March 2020, may well be a returnee heading back to its northern breeding grounds.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Chinese Blue FC, 110320, Dillenia, Angela Yeo

The Chinese Blue Flycatcher at CCNR, photographed on 11 March 2020 by Angela Yeo.

The core CCNR continued to support interesting forest species. These included a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus borealoides, which was spotted on 4 March 2020 at Mandai Track 15 by Choong YT, a non-breeding visitor in the form of a Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 8 March 2020, as seen by Lim Kim Chuah, the gem of an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, on 12 March 2020 along Rifle Range Link by Choong YT, and a Mugimaki Flycatcher, Ficedula mugimaki, on 14 March 2020 by John Ascher. Birders and photographers alike continued to be delighted to find the very rare Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis glaucicomans, from 1 March 2020, through to 14 March 2020, as seen by Norhafiani A Majid, and by Geoff Lim on 16 March 2020 (the same individual was first recorded on 25 February 2020). This presents the possibility that the species may be over-wintering in Singapore, albeit undetected.  Up to two Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, were also seen by Geoff Lim and Norman Wu on 16 March 2020.

At Dairy Farm Nature Park an Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, was reported on 4 March 2020 by Steven Cheong. Two owls were reported by Choong YT on 17 March 2020, a Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, (heard only), and a Northern Boobook, Ninox japonica, that was rehabilitated and released by Jurong Bird Park/NParks. About a week later, on 24 March 2020, three Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, were seen and reported by Oliver Tan, while an Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, was reported on 28 March 2020 by Mike Hooper.

Windsor Nature Park proved to fruitful, with a Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, seen on 14 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, a Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, reported on 16 March 2020 by Oliver Tan, and a Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus, seen and reported feeding on starfruit on 18 March 2020 by Kwok Tuck Loong.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

GPS, 060320, SBG, Herman Phua

Greater Painted Snipe at Botanic Gardens photographed on 6 March 2020 by Herman Phua.

A Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, was reported on 2 March 2020 on the Red Brick Path by Kwok Tuck Loong, while a Greater Painted Snipe, Rostatrula benghalensis was seen at the Eco-Lake of the Gardens on 5 March 2020 by Laurence Eu, and subsequently reported until 12 March 2020 (David Fur). During this period, a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, was reported on 8 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, while a Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, (possibly the same individual – Singapore’s first record – first seen on 30 November 2019) was reported on 14 March 2020 by Marcel Finlay and on 20 March 2019 by Myron Tay. At the end of the month, a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, was reported on 30 March 2020 by Choong YT. On the fringe of the Gardens, a Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus, was reported from Cluny Road on 5 March 2020 by Sandra Chia.

Taiga FC, 200320, SBG, Myron Tay

Taiga Flycatcher at Singapore Botanic Gardens, taken on 20 March 2020 by Myron Tay.

Central Singapore

Barn Owl, MAr 2020, TPY, David Fur

Eastern Barn Owl at Toa Payoh, photographed by David Fur on 16 March 2020.

Beginning on 11 March 2020, visitors to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park stumbled upon a Mangrove Pitta, Pitta macrorhyncha. First reported by Steve Ang a day after, the bird continued to be reported until 30 March 2020 by Vincent Chin.  This bird represents one of the few rare occurrences on mainland Singapore’s non-mangrove habitats, previous records included one at Singapore Botanic Gardens and two at the Lower Peirce Reservoir boardwalk in 2014, and a recent finding at Woodlands in January 2020. During this period, visitors also reported two Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, on 11 March 2020 (Martin Kennewell). An Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus, was also seen on 28 March 2020 by Angela Christine Chua. At Toa Payoh,  an Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto javanica, was reported on 16 March 2020 by Norman Wu.

Northern Singapore

A Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, was reported on 8 March 2020 from 960 Woodlands Road by Geri Lim, while a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, was reported on 21 March 2020 from Coney Island by Tan Kok Hui.

Eastern Singapore

An Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, was reported from Tampines Eco Garden on 5 March 2020 by Philip Howell, while a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, was seen on 14 March 2020 at Changi Business Park, by T. Ramesh, who also saw a Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, at Bedok North Street 1 on 16 March 2020, and a Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, on 28 March 2020 at Tanah Merah Coastal Road.

The star attraction at Pulau Ubin beginning on 16 March 2020 to the month’s end was the rarely encountered Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes. Also observed at Chek Jawa were a Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, on 18 March 2020 (Fadzrun A), a Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, on 20 March 2020 (Fadzrun A), as well as two Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, on 21 March 2020 (Tay Kian Guan).

Southern Singapore

Malaysian Plover, 190320, ME, Art Toh

Two Malaysian Plovers at Marina East photographed on 19 March 2020 by Art Toh.

One report of a Siberian Blue Robin, Larvivora cyane, was made on 20 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, while a White-throated Needletail, Hirundapus caudacutus, was spotted on 24 March 2020 on Sentosa by Dillen Ng. The Marina East area saw reports of two Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, on 19 March 2020 by Art Toh, a Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, on 28 March 2020 by Russell Boyman, a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 29 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, who also saw two Kentish Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus, and four Malaysian Plover on the same day. At the top of Pinnacle @ Duxton, a juvenile/female Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, was photographed by Angie Cheong on 7 March 2020.

Western Singapore

The Kranji Marshes-Neo Tiew Harvest Lane-Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 area continued to support a good number of species. Beginning with Kranji Marshes, we received sighting reports of eight White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, on 7 March 2020 from Lau Jia Sheng. Also seen were two Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus, and a single Red Avadavat, Amandava amandava, on 8 March 2020 by Martti Siponen, who also spotted two Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, on 21 March 2020. One Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was seen on 29 March 2020, as was an Ashy Minivet, Pericrocotus divaricatus, by Martin Kennewell.

Over at the monsoon drain running somewhat parallel to Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, one Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius, and a White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, were spotted on 23 March 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, who also spotted a Greater Painted-Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, on 27 March 2020. A Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, which was earlier reported at the site in January and February 2020, continued to be seen on 8 March 2020 by Vincent Chang and on 29 March 2020 by Michael Leong.

Ruddy KF, 080320, LCKL3, Vincent Chang

Ruddy Kingfisher at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 photographed on 8 March 2020 by Vincent S S Chang.

Along the fields at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, a Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, was spotted on 14 March 2020 by Martin Kennewell, while a Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, was reported on 15 March 2020 by Russell Boyman. Several days later, two Oriental Pratincole, Glareola maldivarum, were reported on 27 March 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy. At the nearby Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a  Black Baza, Aviceda leuphotes, was spotted on 28 March 2020 by Martti Siponen, while the resident Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, was observed on 30 March 2020 by Peter Bijlmakers.

Brahminy Starling, 010320, JLG, Art Toh

Brahminy Starling at Jurong Lake Garden on 1 March 2020, photographed by Art Toh.

The Brahminy Starling, Sturnia pagodarum, at Jurong Lake Garden continued to be seen, with a record on 1 March 2020 by Art Toh. Apart from the afore mentioned Asian Emerald Cuckoo on 23 March 2020, we also noted reports of a Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra at King Albert Park by Martin Kennewell, as well as a  Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis, on the same day at Ulu Pandan Park Connector by Oliver Tan. Two days later, an Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus, was reported from Ulu Pandan Park Connector as well, by Sylvester Goh.

 

This report is compiled/written by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird make up this report. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified.

Many thanks to Art Toh, Angela Yeo, David Fur, Herman Phua, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, Myron Tay,  Vincent Chang, and Vincent Ng for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCE

Payne, R. B. (2020). Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.asecuc1.01

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2020

GFB, 080320, KM, MArtti Siponen, crop

Grey-faced Buzzard, at Kranji Marshes, on 8 March 2019, by Martti Siponen

Summary for migrant species:

In March 2020, 131 migrant raptors of ten species were recorded. There were 52 Oriental Honey Buzzards, including 7 at Pasir Ris on the 7th. The 27 Japanese Sparrowhawks included some, apparently on migration, over the Kent Ridge Park – seven on the 27th and nine on the 30th. There were also 19 Black Bazas, including 11 at Kent Ridge Park on the 27th.

The single immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle wintering here was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 22nd, and at Ulu Pandan Park Connector on the 24th. At Bedok, Ramesh T. managed to spot the Common Buzzard after a few visits, following the uncommon raptor’s appearance late last month.

JB, 160320, CBP, Herman Phua

Jerdon’s Baza, at Changi Business Park, on 16 March 2020, by Herman Phua

Four Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded, one each at Halus-Coney Island area, Tampines Eco Green, Changi Business Park and Pulau Ubin. Of the five Grey-faced Buzzards reported, one at Sentosa was found injured and taken in for care, one was flying over Pasir Ris on the 4th, two at Kranji Marshes on the 8th, and another at Chek Jawa on the 13th.

Seven Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, including five on migration over Kent Ridge Park (3 on the 27th, and 2 on the 30th). Nine Peregrine Falcons and six Western Ospreys rounded up the migrant raptors for March 2020. At Kent Ridge Park on the 27th, eight Accipiters, not identified to species level, were likely on northward migration.

BWK, 250320, Turut, James Gan

Black-winged Kite, with its striking red eyes well ‘captured’, at Kranji Marshes, on 25 Mar 2020, by James Gan

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were reported for four resident raptor species. A fledgling dark morph Changeable Hawk-Eagle was photographed at the Botanic Gardens on the 2nd. An adult White-bellied Sea Eagle was sitting on its nest at Coney Island on the 21st. A fledgling Grey-headed Fish Eagle was recorded on its nest at Springleaf on the 4th, with an adult closeby; and there was activity at the nest on the 20th.

For the Crested Goshawks, four nests were reported: one at Pasir Ris where an adult was on the nest guarding against a party of Oriental Pied Hornbills, on the 3rd; one at Thomson where an adult brought a Javan Myna for the fledgling, on the 7th; one at Pasir Panjang with two chicks, on the 7th; and on the 29th, another at Sentosa with a fledgling, and it was noted that ‘a few days prior’, the adults were ‘dive-bombing’ a party of Oriental Pied Hornbills to keep them away from the nest.

The other sedentary raptors recorded included three Crested Serpent Eagles: one at Goldhill Avenue area throughout the month, one adult at Pulau Ubin on the 18th, and one at King Albert Park on the 22nd. There were also six Black-winged Kites and the common Brahminy Kites.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Martti Siponen, Herman Phua, and James Gan for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – March 2020

 

Singapore Raptor Report – February 2020

Common Buzzard, 270220, Bedok, Danny Khoo

Common Buzzard, juvenile pale morph, at Bedok North Avenue 3, on 27 Feb 2020, by Danny Khoo

Summary for migrant species:

In February 2020, 126 raptors of 10 migrant species were recorded. A scarce Common Buzzard perched on top of a HDB apartment block at Bedok North Avenue 3 was photographed by Danny Khoo on the 27th. A single dark morph Booted Eagle was photographed in flight at Coney Island on the 23rd by Yip Jen Wei, who also photographed a Grey-faced Buzzard at Puaka Hill, Pulau Ubin on the 29th.

Three Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, one at Pasir Ris, one at Lorong Halus – Coney Island area, and one female wintering at Ang Mo Kio. Of the six Jerdon’s Bazas, five were recorded in the Lorong Halus – Coney Island area between the 7th to the 22nd, and one at Pulau Ubin on the 23rd. At our coastal areas, six Western Ospreys were recorded, including one at Lorong Halus on the 25th, mobbed by a Peregrine Falcon. As for the Peregrine Falcons, seven were recorded around the island, including one that mobbed an Oriental Honey Buzzard at Lorong Halus on the 25th.

Nine Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, all singles, at various localities. Rounding off the migrant raptors were 45 Oriental Honey Buzzards and 47 Black Bazas, including a flock of 14 at Kranji Marshes on the 28th.

GHFE, 180220, Pandan River, Yeak Hwee Lee, cinnamon bittern 5

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, flying off with an adult male Cinnamon Bittern that it had caught in the river, at Pandan River, on 18 Feb 2020, by Yeak Hwee Lee

Highlights for sedentary species:

Breeding-related activities were observed for five resident species. On the 10th, a pair of Changeable Hawk-Eagles (1 pale morph & 1 dark morph) were observed on their nest at Little Guilin. On the 23rd, a Black-winged Kite at Kranji Marshes was flying with nesting materials. At Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 25th, a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles were photographed in the act of mating. On the 28th, an active nest of the Brahminy Kite was found at the Jurong Lake Gardens.

February might just be the peak breeding period for the Crested Goshawk, as breeding-related activities were observed at five different locations: on the 5th, a nest with one chick was recorded at West Coast Park; on the 10th, courtship feeding was observed between a pair which had built a nest at Pasir Ris Park; the goshawk at Ang Mo Kio on the 10th was apparently nesting for the second season; at Pasir Panjang, an active nest with two chicks was observed throughout the month; and at Thomson, a nest with two chicks was recorded during the month, although only one chick survived.

Crested Goshawk, 130220, PRP, Michael Kwee, prey monitor lizard 4

Crested Goshawk, with a young Water Monitor Lizard that it had caught, at Pasir Ris Park, on 13 Feb 2020, by Michael Kwee.

Nine Grey-headed Fish Eagles were recorded at various waterbodies, including an adult at Pandan River on the 18th, ‘captured’ on camera by a lucky few (Yeak Hwee Lee, et al) in the act of catching an adult male Cinnamon Bittern that was hunting in the river. This is the second time a Grey-headed Fish Eagle was observed preying on a Cinnamon Bittern – the previous occurrence was on 13 Sep 2018, also at Pandan River. While mostly a fish eater, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle is known to take birds up to the size of a junglefowl, and small mammals like squirrels.

GHFE,-180220,-Pandan-River,-Yeak-Hwee-Lee,-cinnamon-bittern,-animation,-660

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, in a sequence ‘caught’ on camera as it caught and flew off with a Cinnamon Bittern, at Pandan River, on 18 Feb 2020, by Yeak Hwee Lee.

A Crested Serpent Eagle was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 12th & 25th. And, one torquatus tweeddale morph Oriental Honey Buzzard was recorded at Singapore Quarry on the 20th.

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Danny Khoo, Yeak Hwee Lee, and Michael Kwee for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – February 2020

Singapore Bird Report – February 2020

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

February continues with unusual species – the first occurrence of the Chinese Blackbird in Singapore, the first occurrence of the nominate subspecies of the White Wagtail, and our third sighting of the very rare Chinese Blue Flycatcher.

1. CBFC

Chinese Blue Flycatcher, photographed by a casual birder on 25 February 2020 at the CCNR.

The third sighting of the very rare Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis glaucicomans, was made by a casual birder on 25 February 2020 inside the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR).  On 29 February 2020, the bird was spotted again and heard in the early morning by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee, and subsequently seen by several others in the late morning. Previous occurrences for the species included a sighting in November 1997 at Sungei Buloh, and a male bird photographed at Bidadari in November 2013 (the supposed occurrence in December 2015 was a mis-identification).

The Chinese Blue Flycatcher was previously lumped together as a subspecies of the Blue-throated Flycatcher, Cyornis rubeculoides, (for more taxonomic info, see Zhang, et al., 2016). Although classified as Least Concern, the bird is generally uncommon and widespread across its breeding range, which extends from southern Shaanxi and western Hubei to Yunnan, and its non-breeding range in west, central and southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia (del Hoyo, Collar and Christie, 2020), and Singapore.

This species prefers dense thickets, and the low and shady understorey, rarely 3m above the ground (del Hoyo, Collar and Christie, 2020); though observations by volunteers have shown that the species does visit the mid to upper canopy levels of the rainforest. In view of its preferred habitat and skulking habits, and possibility of appearances by non-breeding juvenile or female plumages, this species may be under-observed and may overwinter in Singapore.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

2, OHT

The Orange-headed Thrush at Dairy Farm Nature Park photographed on 22 February 2020 by Alan Owyong.

The core CCNR forests yielded several good species. Apart from the Chinese Blue Flycatcher, other birds spotted include two Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps, seen on 2 February 2020 at Jelutong Tower by Sandra Chia, a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 22 February 2020 by Martin Kennewell, four Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, seen on 23 February 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, and a Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka, on 28 February 2020 by Richard Davis.

The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) yielded a Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cyanomelana, on 15 February 2020 by Martin Kennewell, a Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, on 21 February 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, who also saw two Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus, on the same day, a Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, on 23 Feb 2020, by Ryan Bruce, two Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, and one Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus borealoides, on 23 February 2020 by Lim Kim Chuah.

Over at the nearby Hindhede Nature Park, two Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, were reported by Norhafiani Majid at the quarry pool, as was a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 25 February 2020 by Richard Davis. On the same day, one Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, was seen by Lu Kiat.

Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) yielded a Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, which was spotted on 11 February 2020 by Art Toh, and on 25 February 2020 by Richard Davis. An Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, in partial moult was observed on 15 and 23 February 2020 by Geoff Lim, who also spotted another Green-backed Flycatcher together with Yong Ding Li on the latter date. On 12 February 2020, a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, was seen by Keita Sin.

3, RLC

Red-legged Crake with its chick at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 7 February 2020 and photographed by Herman Phua.

The month’s record at the gardens began with the sighting of a Blue-winged Pitta, on 1 February 2020 by James Tann. A report of a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, was made six days later on 7 February 2020 by Peter Bijlmakers, who saw the bird in the rainforest section of the gardens. On the same day, a Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, with a chick, was spotted by Herman Phua.

4a, apfc

A white-morph Amur/Blyth’s paradise flycatcher, on 28 February 2020, photographed by Isabelle Lee

The month’s end saw reports of an Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, on 25 February 2020 by Sandra Chia; a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, on 26 February 2020 by Choong YT; and the re-appearance of the Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, also on 26 February 2020 by Josh Spiler. The appearance of a white morph Blyth’s / Amur Paradise Flycatcher, on 28 February 2020, delighted many birders, such as Norhafiani A Majid who provided the report in social media. Interestingly, one of the long tail streamers of the paradise flycatcher was half-brown half-white! On 29 February 2020, a Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, was reported by Felicia Tay; and Cheong Khan Hoong observed a pair of Banded Woodpeckers Chrysophlegma miniaceum mating.

4, TF

Taiga Flycatcher at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 26 February 2020 photographed by Vincent Lao

Central Singapore

A Lanceolated Warbler, Locustella lanceolata, was spotted under the hedgerow near the CHIJ Toa Payoh playground on 6 February 2020 by Richard Davis, who subsequently also spotted a Chinese Hwamei, Garrulax canorus, and an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis, at Toa Payoh on 12 February 2020. (Note: the Chinese Hwamei appears to be a recently escaped pet).

Northern Singapore

5, HHC

A Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo spotted on 4 February 2020 on Coney Island by Oliver Tan.

A Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, was spotted on 4 and 7 February 2020 on Coney Island by Oliver Tan, and again on 22 February 2020 on the same isalnd by Tan Kok Hui. A Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis, was seen at Lorong Halus Wetland on 11 February 2020 by Peter Bijlmakers. On 22 February 2020, a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, and five White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, were spotted at Lorong Halus Wetland by Lu Kiat, while a solitary Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, was spotted on 26 February 2020 by Martin Kennewell. Other birds spotted in the north included one Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, on 24 February 2020 at Seletar Dam by Martin Kennewell, as well as up to 80 Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, seen at Yishun St 11 in a communal roost by Oliver Tan.

Eastern Singapore

The woods at Changi Business Park proved to be a cuckoo magnet, given the sighting of a Himalayan Cuckoo, Cuculus saturatus, on 4 February 2020 photographed by Choong YT, and a Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides, on 22 February 2020 by Yeo Seng Beng. A distance away, a single White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, was spotted at Sungei Bedok on 26 February 2020 by Choong YT, while two Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, were seen at Pasir Ris Park on 29 February 2020 by William Mahoney.

A visit on 23 February 2020 by Oliver Tan to Pulau Ubin yielded several species of shorebirds, such as fifty Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, thirty Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, three Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, one Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, ten Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, and thirteen Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii. During another visit on 25 February 2020, Oliver also counted 15 White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, on the island.

Southern Singapore

A White-rumped Munia, Lonchura striata, was spotted on 19 February 2020 at Telok Blangah Heights by Oliver Tan. A report of the nesting activities of this rare munia, was made by Vincent Chiang. At Gardens by the Bay on 4 February 2020, Lam SG observed a pair of Zebra Doves, Geopelia striata mating.

Western Singapore

6, Brah St

Brahminy Starling at Jurong Lake Gardens photographed on 29 February 2020 by Alan Owyong.

Jurong Lake Gardens, with its aquatic and park setting, has shown to support various types of birds. A Brahminy Starling, Sturnia pagodarum, descended on the gardens on 1 February 2020, and was reported by Tan Kok Hui; the bird has remained till the end of the month. Another starling, a Chestnut-cheeked Starling, Agropsar philippensis, was spotted on 9 February 2020 by Sandra Chia. A single Large Hawk-Cuckoo, was spotted on 8 and 16 February 2020, by Thana Sinnathamby and Peter Bijlmakers, respectively. A Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, was also reported on 15 February 2020 by Tan Kok Hui.

7, BWS

Three Black-winged Stilt at Jurong Lake Gardens on 16 February 2020 photographed by Geoff Lim.

The next day on 16 February 2020, three Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, were reported in the morning by Adrian Silas Tay. The birds, two adults and a juvenile, remained for the rest of the day. They were not seen on subsequent days. The grass fields of the gardens also supported a Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, which was spotted on 20 February 2020 by Keita Sin.

The Kranji Marshes, Neo Tiew fields and Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 continued to provide delights. At Kranji Marshes, besides a Red-rumped Swallow, Cecropis daurica, spotted on 7 February 2020 by Keita Sin, there were also three Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus, spotted on 23 February 2020 by Martin Kennewell, who also spotted a Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius. Visitors to the monsoon drain at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 were delighted to see a Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, which was reported on 1 February 2020 by Chan Tsan Tsai, and subsequently seen during the month by others. A  Pin-tailed Snipe, Gallinago stenura, was reported on 8 February 2020 by Fadzrun A.

8, WWT alba

White Wagtail, nominate species (M. alba alba) photographed at Neo Tiew on 9 February 2020 by Lee Van Hien.

The fields at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane harboured a White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, reported on 9 February 2020 by Lee Van Hien; the bird was a male of the nominate (alba) race, a rare find indeed. According to Alfred Chia, who posted a detailed note on the wagtail, he noted that “This is a summer plumage male Motacilla alba alba, another subspecies that will be new to Singapore…The black on breast of race leucopsis, whether in summer or winter plumage, do not extend to the throat, unlike this individual. The black on the throat also continues up on the neck-sides, a feature not found in leucopsis too. The two distinctive white wingbars formed by the white tips & edges to the median & greater coverts also rules out leucopsis. The lack of a black eye-stripe & the presence of the wingbars also rules out the lugens…”

Also seen was a Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, which was reported on 22 February 2020 by Fadzrun A, two Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, on 23 February 2020 by Pary Sivaraman, and a Red-throated Pipit, Anthus cervinus, on the same day by Martin Kennewell.

Nearby at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a single Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, was reported on 5 February 2020 by Choong YT. Subsequently on 26 February 2020, a House Swift, Apus nipalensis, was reported by Richard Davis, while a Blue-winged Pitta, was spotted by John Paul Briones.

Down by the West Coast Park, a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita, was seen on 14 February 2020 by Keita Sin, who also flagged out the existence of Singapore’s second Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, on 22 February 2020. On 28 February 2020, a Black Bittern, Dupetor flavicollis, was reported by Peter Bijlmakers, who also saw a Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, winging over the park. Further east at the NUS Education Research Centre, the previously reported Daurian Redstart, Phoenicurus auroreus, continued to be seen on 8 February 2020 by Tan Kok Hui.

Unusual Sightings

9, blackbird

Chinese Blackbird spotted at Jurong Lake Garden on 11 February 2020 by Oliver Tan

A Chinese Blackbird, Turdus mandarinus, was photographed on 11 February 2020 at Jurong Lake Gardens by Oliver Tan and others – this is the first occurrence of this species in Singapore; while an Asian Pied Starling, Gracupica contra, was spotted on 23 February 2020 at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane by Pary Sivaraman. The starling was previously spotted at Neo Tiew on 10 January 2020.

This report is compiled and by written by Geoff Lim and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, and 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 Alan Owyong, Isabelle Lee, Herman Phua, Lee Van Hien, Oliver Tan, Vincent Lao, Geoff Lim and the casual birder for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCES

del Hoyo, J., N. Collar, and D.A. Christie (2020). Chinese Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis glaucicomans), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D.A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.butfly2.01

Zhang, Z., Wang, X., Huang, Y., Olsson, U., Martinez, J., Alström, P. & Lei, F. (2016) Unexpected divergence and lack of divergence revealed in continental Asian Cyornis flycatchers (Aves: Muscicapidae). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 94: 232–241.

Singapore Raptor Report – January 2020

 

Himalayan Vulture, 090120, Pinnacle, Bp Chua, crop

Himalayan Vulture, near the Pinnacle@Duxton, 9 Jan 2020, by Bp Chua

Summary for migrant species:

The Himalayan Vultures stole the show in January. Amazingly, a total of 12 immature vultures showed up, besting the previous high of 9 immature birds in January 1992. On the 8th, one vulture was photographed at The Pinnacle@Duxton at 2:24pm, flying east, and another two were photographed at Cashew Road at 2:45pm. At 6:25pm, a flock of ten vultures, initially mistaken for Asian Openbills, were photographed at Bedok, flying towards Siglap. Shortly after 7pm, up to 11 vultures were captured on video flying at the Tanjong Pagar area around Amara Hotel and The Pinnacle@Duxton. One vulture even landed on the roads – Peck Seah Street & Maxwell Road, causing vehicles to slow down and avoid the bird. Members of the public expressed shock in seeing such a huge bird, which eventually flew off to safety.

The vultures must have roosted on the tall building in the Tanjong Pagar area as they were spotted on top of the buildings on the morning of the 9th. Twelve vultures were spotted and after 9am, they took flight, heading south towards Sentosa, but then turned back, probably dreading to fly over the open sea. By around 11am, eleven vultures were spotted flying over Fort Canning Park and by noon time, twelve vultures were spotted at Dairy Farm Nature Park – they were heading north.

There were no sightings of the vultures on the 10th. Then on the 11th, nine vultures were spotted at West Coast Park in the afternoon, flying west.

HV, 090120, DFNP, Siew Mun, around noon (managed 7 out of 10)

Himalayan Vultures at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 9 Jan 2020, by Siew Mun

A total of 137 raptors of 14 migrant species were recorded in January 2020. This is in great contrast to 7 migrants species recorded in January 2019! Only one Grey-faced Buzzard, a juvenile, was photographed at St John’s Island on the 3rd. Also, a single Eastern Marsh Harrier was recorded, a juvenile on the 19th at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane. The wintering immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park–Hindhede Nature Park area on the 15th, and at Bukit Timah Hill vicinity on the 17th.

Two Booted Eagles were reported – one at Pasir Ris Park on the 7th, and another at Pulau Ubin on the 9th. Also, two Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded – one at the Botanic Gardens on the 15th and the wintering female at Ang Mo Kio on the 25th.

Five Western Ospreys were recorded along the northern coast from Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) to Yishun Dam to Pulau Ubin. Six Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded – two at Changi Business Park, three at Coney Island, and one at Pasir Ris–Tampines Eco Green area. Ten Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, mostly singles at various location in the western half of Singapore.

GFB, 030120, St John's Island, Dillen Ng

Grey-faced Buzzard, juvenile, at St John’s Island, on 3 Jan 2020, by Dillen Ng

Thirteen Peregrine Falcons were recorded, probably the highest monthly number for the species, comprising both adults and juveniles; they were recorded singly, with some individuals regularly perching near the top of apartment blocks at Jurong and Punggol. Twenty Black Bazas were recorded, mostly in the Lim Chu Kang area (including SBWR & Kranji Marshes) and Pasir Ris Park. 61 Oriental Honey Buzzards were recorded – apart form 12 recorded at Kranji Marshes on the 1st, the others were mostly singles from various localities.

A Buteo photographed at a distance at Tuas South on the 5th by Martin Kennewell and Zacc HD was initially thought to be a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, but may potentially be a Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus – stay tuned! Lastly, two Oriental Scops Owls, a nocturnal raptor, were photographed during the daytime at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on the 23rd.

Brahminy with Red-legged Crake, posted 140120, SBTB, Andrew Seah

Brahminy Kite, flying with a dead Red-legged Crake in its talons, at Satay by the Bay, on 14 Jan 2020, by Andrew Seah

Highlights for sedentary species: 

Three Crested Serpent Eagles were recorded, one at Malcolm Road on the 10th and probably the same bird at Stevens MRT on the 12th; one at Seletar on the 12th; and one at Pulau Ubin on the 19th and 22nd.

Up to nine Grey-headed Fish Eagles were recorded, localities included SBWR, Kranji Marshes, Little Guilin, Sungei Ulu Pandan, Botanic Gardens, Central Catchment forest, Springleaf Nature Park, Yishun Dam, Lorong Halus and Pulau Ubin.

Breeding-related activities were observed for four species. Mating was observed for the Black-winged Kite at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on the 4th and at Kranji Marshes on the 26th. For the Crested Goshawk, a nest with chicks was observed at West Coast Park on the 3rd, and at Pasir Ris Park, nest building was observed on the 30th, followed by mating on the 31st. Interestingly, the nest at West Coast Park was only about 20m away from the nest of a pair of Brahminy Kites.

CGH x2 fighting, posted 040120, near Aljunied MRT, BICA, KL Pow's hubby

Crested Goshawks, feet locked together, apparently refusing to let go, was separated by a passerby before flying off, male (left) is much smaller than female (right), Aljunied MRT vicinity, Jan 2020, by KL Pow’s husband

There were two nesting records for the Brahminy Kite, the nest at West Coast Park had two chicks, with one fledging on the 17th, and amazingly the adults were observed mating! By the 21st, the second chick had also fledged. The second nest was found at the Lim Chu Kang area on the 12th. On the 14th, an adult Brahminy Kite at Satay by the Bay was captured on camera flying with a dead Red-legged crake in its talons. For the White-bellied Sea Eagle, a pair was building a nest at SBWR on the 26th.

There was one ernesti Peregrine Falcon, an adult, on the 29th, in the vicinity of the Botanic Gardens, eating a bird. No torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzzards were recorded in January. The other sedentary raptors recorded were five Changeable Hawk-Eagles, and one Barred Eagle Owl at the Singapore Quarry, its usual location, on the 23rd.

Table 1

For more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – January 2020

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Siew Mun, Bp Chua, Dillen Ng, and Andrew Seah for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – January 2020

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

The turn of the new year yielded several amazing sightings, such as twelve Himalayan Vultures gathering at the Central Business District, a rare Slaty-legged Crake feeding regularly over several days at Punggol, Black-headed Gulls at Yishun Dam, a splendid male von Schrenck’s Bittern at SBWR, an appearance by a very rare Green Sandpiper at Lim Chu Kang, and the first sighting of a White-cheeked Starling in Singapore!

Himalayan Vultures

HV, 090120, CBD, Zacc HD

Himalayan Vulture over Peck Seah Street on 9 January 2020, photo by Zacc HD.

Following the report of two Himalayan Vultures, Gyps himalayensis, at Hindhede on 28 December 2019, a flock of vultures were reported on 8 and 9 January 2020 over the Central Business District by the news and birders like T. Ramesh. On the morning of 9 January 2020, Lee Chuin Ming reported 12 vultures at the CBD area, and on the afternoon of the same day, Raghav Narayanswamy had a sighting of ten vultures at Cashew Road. On 11 January 2020, a flock of nine birds were photographed at West Coast Park (Tan Chuan Yean).

HV, 110120, WCP, Tan Chuan Yean

A Himalayan Vulture being mobbed by a Brahminy Kite on 11 January 2020 over West Coast Park, photo by Tan Chuan Yean.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Jambu,120120, DFNP, Gan Lee Hsia

Juvenile Jambu Fruit Dove spotted on 12 January 2020 at DFNP, photo by Gan Lee Hsia.

The CCNR core yielded one Brown-backed Needletail, Hirundapus giganteus, two Black-headed Bulbuls, Pycnonotus atriceps, and five Cinereous Bulbuls, Hemixos cinereus, on 4 January 2020 by Adrian Silas Tay at Jelutong Tower, as well as a single female Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, seen between Dillenia Hut and the stream. Several days later, two Eyebrowed Thrush, Turdus obscurus, and one Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, was spotted on 7 January 2020 by Martin Kennewell, while an Indian Pond Heron, Ardeola grayii, in breeding plumage was photographed on 15 January 2020 by Millie Cher. Other notable migrants included a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone affinis, on 17 January 2020 by Richard Davies, an Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone incei, on 18 January 2020 by Martin Kennewell, and a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus borealoides, on 24 January 2020 by YT Choong. Resident species spotted included a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, on 26 January 2020 by Marcel Finlay, a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, on 28 January 2020 by Oliver Tan, who also spotted three Red-crowned Barbets, Megalaima rafflesii, on the same day.

Two Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, were reported on 16 January 2020 by Keita Sin who surmounted the steep incline that snaked its way up Bukit Timah Hill, while three Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, were spotted on 19 Jan 2020 along Rifle Range Link by Fadzrun A. .

Hindhede Park, which buffers the old growth Bukit Timah forest core, yielded a Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, Lophotriorchis kienerii, and one Asian House Martin, Delichon dasypus, on 15 January 2020 by Martin Kennewell, who also saw an Asian House Martin again on 18 January 2020. The park also hosted a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, which was reported on 26 January 2020 by Francis Yap, followed by two Red-legged Crakes, Rallina fasciata, on the same day by Geoff Lim, who noted that the crakes flushed the pitta from the undergrowth. On 28 January 2020, a Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, in full adult regalia was spotted and reported by Leslie Loh, while a Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, was seen on 28 January 2020 by Lim Kim Chuah.

OHT, 100120, DFNP, Danny Khoo

Orange-headed Thrush at DFNP on 10 January 2020; photo taken by Danny Khoo.

Dairy Farm Nature Park, another excellent buffer park abutting the Bukit Timah forest core in the west, continued to yield exciting species, which included a Siberian Thrush, Geokichla sibirica, on 1 January 2020 by John Ascher, an Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, on 10 January 2020 by Danny Khoo, a juvenile Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, 11 January 2020 by Gan Lee Hsia, a female Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone atrocaudata, on 12 January 2020 by Jackie Yeo, a Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka, on 21 January 2020 by Martin Kennewell, and a Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, on 26 January 2020 by Karyne Wee.

Further afield at the Singapore Quarry, a Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, and a Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, were spotted on 23 January 2020 by Martin Kennewell.

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

The garden grounds received three White-rumped Munia, Lonchura striata, spotted on 16 Janaury 2020 by Dillen Ng, as well as two Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, seen on 24 January 2020 by Mike Hooper, as was a Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, on 30 January 2020 by Samuel Ng.

Central Singapore

At Ang Mo Kio, a single Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis, was reported on 25 January 2020 by Norhafiani A Majid, while a Chinese Hwamei, Garrulax canorus, a recent escapee, and a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, were spotted at Toa Payoh Town Park on 30 January 2020 by Richard Davis.

Northern Singapore

The northern region yielded a rare Slaty-Legged Crake, Rallina eurizonoides, which was reported on 6 January 2020 at the HDB carpark at Block 305D, Punggol Road by Oliver Tan and Kwok Tuck Loong, and remained until 12 January 2020. On 8 January 2020, George Presanis and Geoff Lim noticed that the bird was actively foraging in a planter at the basement carpark from about 10:15pm to 11:10pm. At one stage, the crake managed to find an earthworm in the soil and tugged at it until the worm came free from the soil. (Note: the Slaty-legged Crake was first photographed at nearby Block 299 Punggol Central by Stephen Cheok, who posted his pic for ID on 30 December 2019).

Slaty-legged Crake, 100120, Punggol 305D, TGC

Slaty-legged Crake at Punggol on 11 January 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

Between 5 and 14 January 2020, there were up to two Black-headed Gulls, Chroicocephalus ridibundus, at Yishun Dam, first spotted by Ng Wei Khim, followed by many other birders.

BH Gull, 110120, Seletar, Zacc HD

Black-headed Gull over Seletar Dam on 10 January 2020, photo by Zacc HD.

Other sightings included one White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, at Seletar Aerospace Drive on 15 January 2020 by Wang Wee Woan, one Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, on 16 January 2020, at Picadilly by Martin Kennewell, and a potential national first White-cheeked Starling, Spodiopsar cineraceus, spotted on 16 January 2020 at Seletar Aerospace Drive by Martin Kennewell. The White-cheeked Starling was last seen on 24 January 2020 (Norhafiani A. Majid).

WCS, 240120, Seletar Aerospace, Norhafiani A Majid

A White-cheeked Starling at Seletar on 24 January 2020, photo by Norhafiani A Majid

A Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, was discovered at Woodlands Park on 24 January 2020 by  Loh Wei, Norhafiani A Majid and others, a first for the location. On 25 January 2020, Geoff Lim found it unresponsive and unmoving despite having passers-by barely 2 metres away. At one point in time, a White-breasted Waterhen, Amaurornis phoenicurus, rushed at the pitta, forcing it to hop about 10 metres from where it was first found. There, it remained quiet and closed its eyes for long periods of time. It was subsequently rescued by NParks, with assistance from Clarinda Yap, Vincent Lao and Kwok Tuck Loong, who stayed around to ensure that the rescuers could locate it. The bird subsequently died, possibly from swelling and possible internal bleeding.

MP, 250120, Woodlands, Geoff Lim

Mangrove Pitta found at Woodlands Park on 25 January 2020, photo by Geoff Lim

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pulau Ubin reported spotting one Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea, on 11 January 2020 by Martin Kennewell, a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, on 19 January 2020, by Vicki Stokes, two White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, along with 45 Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, one Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, three Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, two Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, and 23 Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, reported on 23 January 2020 by Oliver Tan, as well as one Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, spotted on 27 January 2020, by Hannu Kemola.

Other birds spotted in the east included the report of one Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus, on 7 January 2020 at Pasir Ris Park by Oliver Tan, three Jerdons Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, on 11 January 2020 at Coney Island by Ng Wei Khim, a Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis, on 27 January 2020 at the broadwalk in Pasir Ris Park by Serin, two Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus, on 29 January 2020 at Changi Business Park by Oliver Tan, and an Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, on 31 January 2020 by Peter Bijlmakers.

Southern Singapore

Nest building by White-Rumped Munia, Lonchura striata, on New Year’s Day was reported at Telok Blangah Heights by Vincent Chiang, while a Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus, was spotted on 3 January 2020 on St John Island by Dillen Ng. On 8 January 2020, about 150 Oriental Pratincole, Glareola maldivarum, were spotted overflying Ayer Rajah by Lillian Sng, while a Brown-backed Needletail, Hirundapus giganteus, was seen on 9 January 2020 from atop Pinnacle@ Duxton by Oliver Tan.

A female Daurian Redstart, Phoenicurus auroreus, the second record for the season, was reported on 14 and 15 January 2020 at Tanjong Rhu by Manju Gang, while two Asian Fairy-bluebird, Irena puella, were reported on 11 January 2020 at Hort Park by Millie Cher. Previously restricted to the central forests, the Asian Fairy Bluebird may be using park connectors or other patches of greenery to slowly disperse from the central forests.

Daurian Redstart, 140120, Tg Rhu condo, Manju Gang

Female Daurian Redstart spotted on 14 January 2020 at Tanjong Rhu by Manju Gang

Western Singapore

The marshes and fields around Kranji Marsh proved to be a fruitful venue for birding. The turn of the new year and the ensuing days saw reports of a Baillons Crake, Porzana pusilla, on 1 January 2020, a King Quail, Excalfactoria chinensis, and a White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea, on 4 January 2020, and two Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, on 12 January 2020 at Kranji Marsh by Martin Kennewell. This was followed by the sighting of two Asian Pied Starling, Gracupica contra, a Cat E-Introduced species, on 19 January 2020 by Martin Kennewell, and a Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, on 26 Janaury 2020 by Peng Ah Huay.

RT Pipit, 150120, NTHL, Luke Milo Teo

A Red-throated Pipit spotted at Neo Tiew on 15 January 2020 by Luke Teo.

The fields encompassed by Neo Tiew Harvest Lane yielded a Red-Throated Pipit, Anthus cervinus, which was seen on 7 January 2020 by CL Lau, while a Lanceolated Warbler, Locustella lanceolata, was spotted on 11 January 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, who also spotted an Eastern Marsh Harrier, Circus spilonotus, several days later on 19 January 2020. On 20 January 2020, a Savanna Nightjar, Caprimulgus affinis, was seen by Peter Bijlmakers, while two Oriental Pratincole, Glareola maldivarum, were spotted on 22 January 2020 by Choong YT, while a Stejnegers Stonechat, Saxicola stejnegeri, was seen on 28 January 2020 by Lu Kiat.

A distance away, birders at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 spotted various species, including a Common Snipe, Gallinago gallinago, and a Swinhoes Snipe, Gallinago megala, on 18 January 2020 by Dillen Ng, while a very rare Green Sandpiper, Tringa ochropus, was photographed on 18 January 2020 by Fadzrun Adnan, and recorded again on 19 & 20 January 2020 by other birders; upon checking his photos, Art Toh realised that he had unknowingly photographed the Green Sandpiper on 11 January 2020. Visitors seeking out the Green Sandpiper also saw a Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis, on 22 January 2020, and a Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, on 23 January 2020, both spotted by Luke Teo.

Green Sandpiper, 110120, LCK3, Art Toh

Green Sandpiper at Lim Chua Kang Avenue 3 on 11 January 2020 by Art Toh.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) yielded a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, on 11 January 2020 (Adrian Silas Tay), which stayed through the Chinese New Year holidays and was last reported on 30 January 2020 (John Spiler). The reserve also held a Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, on 14 Jan 2020 by Richard Lim, five Lesser Adjutants, Leptoptilos javanicus, on 22 January 2020 (Hannu Klemola), a Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, and a White-headed Munia, Lonchura maja, on 25 January 2020 (Fadzrun A), another Lesser Adjutant on 26 January 2020 (Geri Lim), and a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 27 January 2020 (Mike Hooper). Shorebirds reported included one Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, spotted on 14 Jan 2020 (Martin Kennewell), thirty Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, on 27 January 2020 (Mike Hooper) and one Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia, on 28 January 2020 by YK Han.

Schrenck's Bittern, 250120, SBWR, Geoff Lim

Von Schrenck’s Bittern at SBWR on 25 January 2020 by Geoff Lim.

Other notable sightings in the west included a Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, on 22 January 2020 by Kaikee Leong at Jurong Lake Gardens, a male Daurian Redstart, Phoenicurus auroreus, at U-Town, Kent Ridge on 29 January 2020 by Lynette Chia, two White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, by Oliver Tan, a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, by Choong YT, both on 30 January 2020 at Jurong Lake Gardens.

Abbreviations:
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

This report is compiled and by written by Geoff Lim and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, and 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 Art Toh, Danny Khoo, Zacc HD, Gan Lee Hsia, Tan Chuan Yean, Manju Gang, Luke Teo, T. Ramesh, Norhafiani A. Majid and Geoff Lim for allowing us to use their photographs.

Singapore Raptor Report – December 2019

PF, posted 121219, SBWR, Ang T H, japonensis and calidus,, levelled

A fortuitous photo of 2 Peregrine Falcons of different subspecies: Left – juvenile japonensis, Right – juvenile calidus (thinner moustachial stripe & paler), at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 12 Dec 2019, by Ang T. H.

Summary for migrant species:

Two Peregrine Falcons interacting with each other at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 12th were captured on camera by Ang T. H., providing an excellent opportunity for plumage comparison between the two similar-looking subspecies. For the month, we had 11 migrant type (japonensis/calidus) Peregrine Falcons. Interestingly, two adult japonensis were perched within meters of each other at Jurong East, on the 11th.

PF, 111219, Jurong East, Johnny Chew, 2 birds, crop

Two adult Peregrine Falcons together, at Jurong East, on 11 Dec 2019, by Johnny Chew

Just a few days before the year came to a close, on the afternoon of the 28th, two huge Himalayan Vultures flew over Hindhede Quarry, surprising birders who were there looking for a waterbird, the vultures eventually settled on the cliff edge for the night. The next morning, birders were out in force to marvel at these two rare vagrants, which took flight at mid-morning and were mobbed by the resident White-bellied Sea Eagles. They were seen shortly after at Jelutong Tower, thermalling high up.

Himalayan Vulture, 281219, Hindhede, Lee Van Hien 2

Himalayan Vultures, at Hindhede Nature Park, on 28 Dec 2019, by Lee Van Hien

The single wintering immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle was photographed twice at Dairy Farm Nature Park, on the 4th & 6th. The only Common Kestrel, a female/juvenile type, was recorded at Tuas South on the 22nd & 23rd. Only one Common Buzzard, an adult, was seen/photographed at Holland Village Car Park on the 25th & 26th.

An adult female Chinese Sparrowhawk, probably the same individual from previous years, and which returned on October 2019, was still wintering at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West. Elsewhere, there were three other individuals, one each at Dairy Farm Nature Park (juvenile), Pasir Ris Park (adult female), and Changi Business Park.

Three Western Ospreys were recorded: two at Kranji Marshes, and another at Yishun Pond. Five Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded: three at the Pasir Ris – Lorong Halus – Coney Island area, and two at Changi Business Park.

BB, 021219, PRP CP C, Sim Chip Chye 2

Black Baza, at Pasir Ris Park on 2 Dec 2019, by Sim Chip Chye

Finally, we come to the most abundant migrant raptors. 15 Japanese Sparrowhawks and 33 Black Bazas were recorded, including 13 bazas at the Botanic Gardens on the 25th. The Oriental Honey Buzzard is tops again with 84 birds, including many juveniles and a small number of dark morphs.

CG, 221219, PRP, Chan Yoke Meng, with prey

Crested Goshawk, with prey (Yellow Bittern), at Pasir Ris Park, on 22 Dec 2019, by Chan Yoke Meng

Highlights for sedentary species:

The notable sightings for resident raptors include that of the locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle, which was recorded three times: one at Pulau Ubin on the 1st, one at Malcolm Road on the 3rd, and an adult at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 16th.

CG, posted 311219, PRP CP B, Dennis Lim, discarding innards 3

Crested Goshawk, eating a rat, at Pasir Ris Park, on 31 Dec 2019, by Dennis Lim

Nesting-related records were reported for four species. There was a nest of a pair of Grey-headed Fish Eagles, with one chick, high up a tall tree at Little Guilin. Nest-building activity was observed for the Brahminy Kite at Lim Chu Kang area, and for the Crested Goshawk at Pasir Ris. At Bishan, the chick of a pair of Spotted Wood Owls had already fledged.

CG, 281219, Southern Ridges, Tay Kian Guan 2, edit

Crested Goshawk, with prey (Javan Myna), at the Southern Ridges, on 28 Dec 2019, by Tay Kian Guan

At Dairy Farm Nature Park, a juvenile ernesti Peregrine Falcon was photographed in flight on the 8th. The other resident raptors recorded were the Black-winged Kite, Changeable Hawk Eagle, and the common White-bellied Sea Eagle.

Table 1

For more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – December 2019

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Ang T H, Lee Van Hien, Chan Yoke Meng, Sim Chip Chye, Johnny Chew, Dennis Lim, and Tay Kian Guan for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – December 2019

by Geoff Lim.
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

Decembers are generally slow months with relatively fewer sightings as many birders are out of town with their families, and the wet weather doesn’t help. The last month of the year turned out to be an exciting one, with a possible first record of the Taiga Flycatcher, the spectacular irruption of Asian Openbills, mysterious appearances by the Japanese Tit and Blue Whistling Thrush, and the visitation at the end of the month by Himalayan Griffons.

Taiga Flycatcher at Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, is a dimunitive flycatcher which habitually feeds from low perches at the forest edge or thickets. It breeds in temperate Siberia and winters in Southeast Asia, Thai-Malay Peninsula and NW Borneo, among other places (Wells, 2007: 522-523). Largely uniform ash brown with dark upper tail coverts and flight feathers, the bird could be overlooked as an Asian Brown Flycatcher if it did not perch “cocked”, with its tail held at an angle from its body, showing off the conspicuous white on the outer edge of the tail feathers.

1. Taiga

Taiga Flycatcher photographed on 9 December 2019 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens by David Fur.

On 1 December 2019, news broke that a Taiga Flycatcher had been seen & photographed by a few birders / photographers (Lim Kim Seng, Roy Toh, & others) at the Singapore Botanic Gardens eco-lake the day prior. They had been looking for the Daurian Redstart, which failed to show, but were treated to a bird that had never been recorded in Singapore. On the afternoon of 1 December 2019, Mike Hooper spotted the bird at the same vicinity, and the bird was seen by many birders during the subsequent days. It was last seen on 13 December 2019 by Yang Chee Meng.

Local birders quickly realised that the bird could be Singapore’s first ever record, though Wells noted that the species is known to be a migrant to West Malaysia. Usually solitary, the bird is known to take insects by sallying from perches in habitats ranging from mangrove forests, coastal scrub, lowland forest clearings, and overgrown rubber gardens, though there have been instances of birds dropping to the open ground. Photographers affirmed these observations as the solitary flycatcher often remained close to the ground and within thickets. During my observation of the bird on 1 December 2019, I also noted that the bird dropped to the ground on several occasions, appearing to be feeding.

Asian Openbills over Singapore

On 6 December 2019, Oliver Tan found two Asian Openbills, Anastomus oscitans, at Jurong Lake Gardens, and on the next day, 7 December 2019, an airborne invasion of hundreds of Asian Openbills into Singapore’s airspace took everyone by surprise. Veronica Foo and Betty Shaw were at Kranji Marshes for the monthly opening of the Kranji Marshes’ core areas when they were stunned by the sheer number of birds that took to the air around 7:15am that morning.  A rough count suggested an estimated 300 to 400 birds were present. Based on records compiled by Martin Kennewell from eBird submissions by many observers, flocks of the Asian Openbill continued to be spotted all over Singapore, from Tuas to Sentosa, to Changi, to Yishun, throughout the month. On 12 December, Oliver Tan counted 1,500 birds over NSRCC Changi. The birds were reliably seen around the fields near Kranji Marshes, Neo Tiew Harvest Lane and Turut Track, given the abundance of apple snails in the waterlogged fields.  Subsequently, several larger flocks were seen, the largest being a flock of 5,000 birds flying over Eastwood Estate / Sungei Bedok, on 25 December 2019, recorded by  Oliver Tan.

aob

An Asian Openbill, showing its ‘open bill’, at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, 23 Dec 2019, by Tan Gim Cheong

2. AOB

Asian Openbills in flight over Kranji Marsh on 7 December 2019. Photographed by Darren Leow.

3. AOB eclipse

Asian Openbills over Marina Barrage during the annular solar eclipse on 26 December 2019. by Kwok Tuck Loong.

Prior to this irruption, Asian Openbills were a rarity. The earliest record was in January 2013 near Seletar Airport; Francis Yap’s account of his search for the birds when they were first reported on our shores. The second was of a solitary bird in March 2019.

According to Dr Yong Ding Li, an ornithologist with the conservation group BirdLife International, the birds may have been driven south into Singapore by unseasonably dry weather in the Mekong basin (Straits Times, 8 December 2019).

Himalayan Vultures at Hindhede

Shirley Ng and her friends spotted two Himalayan Vultures, Gyps himalayensis, at around 6pm at Hindhede Park on 28 December 2019 while looking at the Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, in the pond. Birders and photographers venturing to the park were delighted to see the two birds the next morning, as the pair remained perched until the late morning, when they took off into the air, and were spotted at Jelutong Tower by Vincent Ng.

The Himalayan Vulture is the largest Asian Gyps vulture and is widespread in the mountains of China, South Asia and Central Asia (BirdLife 2013).  In a study conducted in 2008, two Asian ornithologists (Yong & Kasorndorkbua, 2008) noted that there had been over 30 records of the vulture’s occurrence in Southeast Asia between 1979 and 2008. The records for Singapore were clustered between the months of December, January and February, and were notably dominated by juveniles, including nine birds at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 12 January 1992. The authors opined that the dispersal could be attributable to climate change, deforestation and hunting, though natural patterns of post-fledging dispersal and navigational inexperience may have contributed to their appearance outside their regular range.

A compilation of Himalayan Vulture sightings since 1989 is appended below.

table

Table 1 – Himalayan Vulture Sightings in Singapore (adapted from Yong & Kasorndorkbua, 2008).

While the occurrence of the vultures in Singapore is interesting, their survival in Singapore is doubtful given the lack of carrion (see Latif & Osman, 2016, which reported that the bird discovered at Toa Payoh was found to be in a weakened state and the bones on its neck could be felt while the bird was covered with mites).

4. Capture HV

One of the two Himalayan Vultures taking off on 29 December 2019. Photographed by Danny Khoo.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Visitors to the CCNR and fringe areas spotted a variety of species. On 8 December 2019, a Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cyanomelana, was spotted on 8 December 2019 at Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) by Russell Boyman.  A few days later on 13 December 2019, between 20 to 30 Eyebrowed Thrush, Turdus obscurus, were  flying in a southeasterly direction from the vantage of Jelutong Tower and was reported by Francis Yap,  who also spotted the locally rare Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Dicaeum agile, on 16 December 2019 at DFNP. Observers who subsequently looked for the canopy-dwelling flowerpecker reported about three birds, with at least one juvenile sighted.  Other than the two Himalayan Vulture first seen by Shirley Ng at Hindhede Park on 28 December 2019 and the Oriental Darter, there were two Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, seen on 29 December 2019 at DFNP by Oliver Tan.

5. TBFP

Thick-billed Flowerpecker at Dairy Farm Nature Park. Photographed on 21 December 2019 by Lee Van Hien.

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

Apart from the earlier mentioned Taiga Flycatcher, visitors also spotted a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 3 December 2019, which was reported by Kwok Tuck Loong, and a Christmas Eve sighting of a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, on 24 December 2019 within the garden grounds by Art Toh.

6. HP

Hooded Pitta at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 24 December 2019 by Art Toh.

Central Singapore

The central region yielded reports of a Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, on 14 December 2019, at Fort Canning, by William Mahoney, a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, on Christmas Day, 25 December 2019, at Bidadari by Norhafiani A Majid, and a Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, on 27 December 2019 at Duxton Pinnacles by Chen Boon Chong.

Northern Singapore

A very rare Dusky Warbler, Phylloscopus fuscatus, was photographed on 22 December 2019 along Yishun Pond and within the grounds of the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital by Keith Hutton. The Dusky Warbler breeds in Siberia and China, and winters across a wide range, including the Himalayan foothills, the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, South China and SE Asia, including Peninsular Malaysia, where it prefers the understorey and floor of various forest types such as mangroves and regenerated growths following disturbance (Wells, 2007: 266-267).  Singapore’s records have been sparse, in 1994 and 1995 only. Both had been records from the Tuas reclaimed land.

7. Dusky Warbler, 251219, KTP, Kelvin Yoong

Dusky Warbler at the grounds of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on 25 December 2019 by Kelvin Yoong

8. DW

Dusky Warbler, ventral view, at the grounds of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on 25 December 2019 by Geoff Lim.

Other recorded sightings in the north were a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, and a dark morph Oriental Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhyncus, at Punggol Park on 28 December 2019 by Norhafiani A. Majid.

9. BWP

Blue-winged Pitta seen on 28 December 2019 at Punggol Park by Norhafiani A. Majid.

Eastern Singapore

On 2 December 2019, the Jurong Bird Park received, for treatment, an injured Short-eared Owl, Asio flammeus, that was found at Tanah Merah. Unfortunately, the owl succumbed to its injuries. On 7 December 2019, an Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, was spotted at the park connector from ECP to GBTB by Manju Gang. On the same day (7 December 2019), a Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka, was seen at Pasir Ris Park by Michael Leong. While visiting the woods near Changi Business Park on 22 December 2019, T. Ramesh spotted a Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides.

Across the sea, a Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes, was spotted on 20 December on Pulau Tekong 2019 by Frankie Cheong, while a Black Hornbill, Anthracoceros malayanus, was seen on Pulau Ubin on 21 December 2019 by Martin Kennewell, who subsequently spotted two Lesser Crested Tern, Thalasseus bengalensis, along Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 28 December 2019.

Southern Singapore

An Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, was seen on 29 December 2019 at the Southern Ridges by Dhanushri Munasinghe.

Western Singapore

Kicking off bird sightings in western Singapore were two House Sparrow, Passer domesticus, an introduced species, spotted on 1 December 2019 at Tuas South by Gahya Arasu. On 6 December 2019, a rare Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis, was photographed at the Jurong Lake Gardens by Nigel Tan. A rare Stejneger’s Stonechat, Saxicola stejnegeri, was photographed by Lester Tan at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 22 December 2019, and present for the remainder of the month.

10. CHGP

Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon at Jurong Lake Garden on 6 December 2019 by Nigel Tan.

Apart from the spectacular sighting of more than a thousand Asian Openbills at Kranji Marsh and Harvest Link on 7 December 2019 by Veronica Foo and other birdwatchers, other species reported included a Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, on 23 December 2019 at Tuas South by See Toh Yew Wai, and a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 27 December 2019 at West Coast Park by Tay Kian Guan.  On 28 December 2019, a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, was seen along Turut Track by Art Toh.

Unusual Sightings

On 1 December 2019, Seng Beng posted a video of a Tit taken at Pasir Ris Park the day prior, asking if it was a Cinereous or Japanese Tit. Subsequently, good photographs obtained by Francis Yap and other birders showed that it was a Japanese Tit, Parus minor. It was seen by many on subsequent days, and the last report of it was on 14 December 2019, by Adrian Silas Tay. Most birders reported seeing only one bird, but Isabelle Lee reported seeing a second bird on 2 December 2019. Interestingly, the expected species is the Cinereous Tit, Parus cinerea, which is resident in the mangrove forests in Malaysia, while the Japanese Tit is known to be resident in northern Thailand and beyond.

11. JT

Japanese Tit photographed from Pasir Ris Park by Francis Yap, posted on 4 December 2019.

Another interesting bird sighted in December was the Blue Whistling Thrush, Myophonus caeruleus, spotted by Felix Wong on 7 December 2019 at Fort Canning Park. Interestingly, it was of the black-billed caeruleus subspecies, the nearest known wintering area being northern Thailand, with birds straying towards central Thailand. The whistling thrush, which had a broken upper mandible tip, remained in the same location for many days and was last reported on 24 December 2019 by Keita Sin. The crassirostris subspecies, which sports a yellow beak, is found in Peninsular Malaysia (Wells, 2007: 480-481); but they do not occur south of the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur.

12. BWT

Blue Whistling Thrush photographed on 8 December 2019 at Fort Canning Park by Francis Yap.

========================
Strait of Singapore

A pelagic trip along the Strait of Singapore (a multi-national stretch of water) on 14 December 2019 led by Martin Kennewell yielded three Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, Bridled Tern, Onychoprion anaethetus, Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana, and three White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus.

 

This report is compiled and by written by Geoff Lim and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, and 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 Art Toh, Danny Khoo, Darren Leow, David Fur, Francis Yap, Geoff Lim, Kelvin Yoong, Kwok Tuck Loong, Lee Van Hien, Nigel Tan, and Norhafiani A. Majid  for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCES

BirdLife (2013). Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis. Archived 2014 Discussion. Accessed from the Internet at https://globally-threatened-bird-forums.birdlife.org/2013/09/himalayan-vulture-gyps-himalayensis-request-for-information/

Latif M. R., & Osman F. M. b. (2016). Himalayan Vulture at Toa Payoh. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2016:5. Obtained from the internet at https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/app/uploads/2017/04/sbr2016-005.pdf

Tan, A. (2019, December 8). “Hundreds of Asian Openbill storks spotted in Singapore.” Straits Times. Accessed from the Internet at https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/hundreds-of-asian-openbill-storks-in-singapore-in-rare-sighting-with-possible.

Wells, D. R. (2007). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula Vol. 2, London: Christopher Helm.

Yong, D. L. and Kasorndorkbua, C. (2008). “The Status of the Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis in South-East Asia”, Forktail, 24:57-62.

 

Singapore Raptor Report – November 2019

Shikra, 211119, Jelutong, Alex Fok, crop

The first record of the Shikra, a juvenile on 21 Nov 2019, at Jelutong Tower, by Alex Fok. Note the long tail, uneven spotting of the underwing coverts, and belly heavily marked by thick streaks (the last is variable).

Summary for migrant species:

It’s another amazing November, with 21 migrant raptor species recorded, compared to last November’s already high count of 18 migrant raptor species. On the 21st, Alex Fok was at Jelutong Tower when he photographed an interesting looking accipiter that was to become the first Shikra for Singapore! Previously thought to be resident where it occurs, the Shikra is now known to be a short distance migrant, with thousands passing Chumphon, Thailand during autumn migration, though only a small number have been recorded in northern Peninsular Malaysia.

Another lucky birder was Pary Sivaraman, who was at Ulu Pandan park connector on the 6th when he photographed a distant raptor that turned out to be a rare Short-toed Snake Eagle. An immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle seemed to be wintering in Singapore, being photographed at Ulu Pandan on the 9th, seen at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on the 14th and photographed again at Bukit Timah Hill vicinity on the 30th.

STSE, 061119, Sg Ulu Pandan PCN, Pary Sivaraman, crop

Short-toed Snake Eagle, 6 Nov 2019, Sungei Ulu Pandan park connector, by Pary Sivaraman

The third Besra for the season (this rare raptor is seldom recorded, and if we are lucky, we usually get one in a season) was photographed at Singapore Quarry on third November, what a coincidence, and by three lucky observers – Keita Sin, Dillen Ng and Fang Twangqi. This Besra was an adult female, interestingly the only previous record of the Besra at Singapore Quarry was also an adult female on 23 Jan 2010.

Besra, 031119, Sg Quarry, Keita Sin 2

Besra, adult female, at Singapore Quarry, 3 Nov 2019, by Keita Sin

It was an exceptional month for the Greater Spotted Eagle, with 5 records just on one day – third November – Zacc HD photographed a very rare pale morph at Neo Tiew Harvest Link; Bryan Lim photographed two in flight at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve at 9:27am; Goh Cheng Teng photographed another at Tuas at around 11am; and Francis Yap photographed one at Ulu Pandan at 5:24pm, amazing. The next day, 4 Nov 2019, Sue Shuttleworth photographed a juvenile at the Botanic Gardens, perched on a bare branch. On the 6th, Choong YT photographed two eagles at Kent Ridge Park; on the 9th, Zacc HD photographed another eagle at Henderson Waves; and on the 10th, two eagles were recorded/photographed by Oliver Tan, Woo Jia Wei and See Toh Yew Wai. All in, up to 10 Greater Spotted Eagles were recorded over a period of eight days.

GSE, 031119, Neo Tiew Harvest Link, 1733h, pale form, Zacc HD, crop

Greater Spotted Eagle, the rare pale (fulvescens) morph, at Neo Tiew Harvest Link, 3 Nov 2019, by Zacc HD

The beginning of November proved to be a good time for raptors at the southern ridges, with a Pied Harrier each, on the 2nd (female at Henderson Waves), 3rd (juvenile at Kent Ridge Park) and 4th (juvenile at Henderson Waves); followed by a juvenile Eastern Marsh Harrier on the 6th, and a juvenile Black Kite on the 7th, both at Henderson Waves. Elsewhere, single records included a Northern Boobook at Tuas on the 5th, an Oriental Scops Owl at Jurong on the 23rd, and a Common Kestrel at Tuas South on the 30th.

Six Common Buzzards were recorded, one at Kent Ridge Park on 7th morning, one each at Henderson waves on 7th afternoon, 9th, 10th, one at Changi Business Park on 10th & 12th, and another at West Coast Park on the 26th. At least half (3 birds) were pale morph juveniles. Eleven Grey-faced Buzzards were recorded, same as last November – two at Tuas (one each on the 2nd & 30th), nine at Henderson Waves (one on 2nd, 3rd & 10th, and six on the 7th).

CB, 121119, CBP, James Gan 2

Common Buzzard, juvenile pale morph, at Changi Business Park, 12 Nov 2019, by James Gan

CB, 261119, WCP, Keita Sin 2

Common Buzzard, juvenile pale morph, at West Coast Park, 26 Nov 2019, by Keita Sin

Five Booted Eagles were recorded, a dark morph at Henderson Waves on the 3rd, a pale & a dark morph at Bukit Timah summit on the 10th, one at Pulau Ubin on the 18th, and another dark morph at the Botanic Gardens on the 21st. Eight Western Ospreys were recorded, with half probably on migration across the southern ridges. Of the eleven Peregrine Falcons recorded, a juvenile photographed at Neo Tiew Road by Pary Sivaraman on the 29th was identified as a calidus subspecies by Dr. Chaiyan.

Fourteen Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded, most of them (11) were on passage migration at Henderson Waves between the 1st and 16th, including a flock of 4 birds captured by Adrian Silas Tay on the 9th, and one with a damaged wing on the 16th; one was at Satay by the Bay on the 8th, another at the Botanic Gardens on the 23rd & 24th; and one wintering at Changi Business Park from 18th to the end of the month.

JB, 091119, HW, AST, crop

Jerdon’s Baza captured in formation! Henderson Waves, 9 Nov 2019, by Adrian Silas Tay.

JB, 161119, HW, STYW

Jerdon’s Baza, Henderson Waves, 16 Nov 2019, by See Toh Yew Wai.

Thirty nine Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them over Henderson Waves, while an adult female, likely the same individual, returned again to winter at Ang Mo Kio. 194 Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them also at Henderson Waves, with 47 birds on the 23rd; an adult female at Kent Ridge Park on the 6th was missing an inner primary flight feather, giving it the appearance of ‘6 fingers’, and it made also an appearance at Henderson waves on the 19th.

JSH, 061119, KRP, Zacc HD, crop

Japanese Sparrowhawk, appearing to have 6 fingers instead of 5 fingers due to moult, at Kent Ridge Park, 6 Nov 2019, by Zacc HD

We had 803 Black Bazas this month, with 100 birds passing Sentosa on the 6th and 180 birds passing Henderson Waves on the 10th. Numbers for the Oriental Honey Buzzard stood at 1339, with a day high of 259 birds over Tuas on the 2nd, and 160 birds passing Hindhede Nature Park on the 19th, ahead of rain.

Highlights for sedentary species:

There were four Crested Serpent Eagles, one each at Jelutong Tower on the 10th, Pasir Ris Park on the 19th, Kranji Marsh on the 27th, and one at Pulau Ubin on the 18th & 24th. We also had a single record of a juvenile torquatus tweeddale morph of the Oriental Honey Buzzard at Ang Mo Kio on the 6th, and an ernesti Peregrine Falcon at Hindhede Nature Park on the 11th.

Nesting-related activities were observed for two resident species. Two adult White-bellied Sea Eagles were flying together on the 10th at Kent Ridge, and one eagle was carrying nesting materials; two adult Brahminy Kites at Pasir Ris Park on the 27th, carrying sticks/branches. The other resident raptors recorded included the Black-winged Kite, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Crested Goshawk and Changeable Hawk-Eagles.

Table 1

For more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – November 2019

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Alex Fok, Adrian Silas Tay, See Toh Yew Wai, Pary Sivaraman, Zacc HD, Keita Sin and James Gan for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – November 2019

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

November was spectacular, with the first record of two species – the Fairy Pitta and Shikra at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve; an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (the locally extinct rufous-backed subspecies), found inside a camera shop in the city; and, a rare Red-footed Booby at St John’s Island. Also, it was and has always been a great month to spot migrating raptors in southern Singapore.

A Fairy’s Visitation in November

1 FP, 081119, CCNR, Fryap

The first Fairy Pitta discovered in Singapore on 8 Nov 2019 – photo by Francis Yap.

On 8 November 2019, Francis Yap and Richard White were en route to Jelutong Tower, when the duo spotted a paler than usual pitta along the trail under the darkening morning sky as a storm threatened from Sumatra. When Francis managed to regain phone reception and were able to refer to other photos on the internet, the two confirmed that they had Singapore’s first record of the Fairy Pitta, Pitta nympha. Francis’ electrifying account can be accessed here. The Fairy Pitta stopped over for a week, with daily records from 8-13 November 2019.

The Fairy Pitta has been recognised as part of a superspecies comprising the Blue-winged Pitta, P. moluccensis, Mangrove Pitta, P. megarhyncha, and Indian Pitta, P. brachyura (Lambert & Woodcock, 1996:162), hence the superficial resemblance with one another. BirdLife has classified the species as Vulnerable, with key threats being habitat loss and conversion, as well as local trapping pressure (BirdLife, 2019). The pitta breeds in coastal eastern China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and migrates to Borneo, and possibly Indochina, during the northern winter (Lambert & Woodcock, 1996:163). The species is known as a long-distance migrant; however, its movement is still not well understood.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Souls who braved the relative steep inclines of our modest Bukit Timah Hill were rewarded with sightings of our resident fruit pigeons and doves, needletails and raptors. Visitors on 1 November 2019 noted the presence of five Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra and two Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, both by Choong YT, as well as a Zappey’s or Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cumatilis/cyanomelana, spotted by Richard White at the summit.

A week later, four White-throated Needletail, Hirundapus caudacutus, and one Silver-backed Needletail, Hirundapus cochinchinensis, were seen on 7 November 2019 by Fadzrun Adnan, the summit being a known site for needletail sightings. Subsequently, two Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus, were seen on 10 November 2019 by Martin Kennewell, while an immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, Lophotriorchis kienerii, was seen on 14 November 2019 by Alfred Chia. Another sighting of the Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle flying towards the summit on 30 November 2019 by Francis Yap probably relate to the same individual.

On the foothills, at Hindhede Nature Park, a Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, in full adult splendour was spotted on 18 November 2019 by Richard White, and the bird was spotted again on 30 November 2019 by Felix Wong.

2 RBE, 301119, BT, Fryap, crop

Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle at Bukit Timah on 30 November 2019 by Francis Yap

The core CCNR area continued to yield good sightings. On 1 November 2019, a White-throated Needletail, Hirundapus caudacutus, was spotted flying southwards from Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap, who also spotted three Ashy Minivet, Pericrocotus divaricatus. Apart from the spectacular discovery of the Fairy Pitta, Pitta nympha, by Richard White and Francis Yap on 8 November 2019 as narrated above, a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, was also spotted on the same day by Nicholas Lim along Rifle Range Link. Fairy Pitta hunters the following week stumbled on an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, (black-backed subspecies) on 9 November 2019 (Norhafiani Majid), while visitors to other parts of the CCNR reported a Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, on 10 November 2019 at Sime Road (Felix Wong) and a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 11 November 2019 (Adrian Tay). On 21 November 2019, the first Singapore record of the Shikra, Accipiter badius, was made by Alex Fok, who photographed the bird from his vantage point at Jelutong Tower.

Several days later on 25 November 2019, a Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, was flushed at Rifle Range Link behind the fenceline within a protected area next to the main track (Oliver Tan), while Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, were seen flying over the MacRitchie Reservoir. Further afield, a male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone atrocaudata, was spotted on 2 November 2019 at Thomson Nature Park by Andrew Wood, while a Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, was seen on 16 November 2019 at Lower Peirce Reservoir Park by Stephen Matthews.

Farther west, at the fringe parks comprising Singapore Quarry-Dairy Farm Nature Park, a Besra, Accipiter virgatus, was photographed on 3 November 2019 by Keita Sin & Dillen Ng. A few days later on 6 November 2019 at the quarry, a single  Brown-backed Needletail, Hirundapus giganteus, was seen by Martin Kennewell. A  Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, was seen by Richard White on 10 November 2019 at Dairy Farm Nature Park, while a small flock of four birds was spotted at the park on 14 November 2019 by Martin Kennewell. One day later on 15 November 2019, a female Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, an IUCN red-listed and endangered species, was spotted by Mike Hooper. The Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, continued to make a regular appearance, with a report of one bird being made on 29 November 2019 by Chelsea Lee.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

On 1 November 2019, a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, was spotted within the garden by Tomohiro Iuchi, while a single Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was spotted on 2 November 2019 by Kwok Tuck Loong and Geoff Lim. On the same day, a  Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, was spotted within the garden grounds by Kwong Yew. Two days later on 4 November 2019, a Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, was spotted by Christi Kemmel, while on 12 November 2019, a male Daurian Redstart, Phoenicurus auroreus, was spotted by photographer Dennis Lim. Birders arriving to confirm the redstart’s presence discovered an adult Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, on 13 November 2019 (Martin Kennewell), as well as a female Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone atrocaudata, on 14 November 2019 (Francis Yap).

3 DR, 161119, SBG, DF

Daurian Redstart at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 16 November 2019 by Dorcas Fong.

Other noticeable sightings included a flock of several Common Hill Myna, Gracula religiosa, on 16 November 2019, a Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus, on 21 November 2019, which was harassed by a Brahminy Kite, Haliastur indus (Oliver Tan), and a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, on 23 November 2019 by Peng Ah Huay.

4 JB, 231119, SBG, MY

Jerdon’s Baza at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 24 November 2019 by Angela Yeo

Central Singapore

The fragmented woods of Bidadari continued to attract important bird species such as the globally vulnerable Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, spotted on 3 November 2019 by Norhafiani Majid, an Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, on the same day by T. Ramesh, a very skittish Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides, on 5 November 2019 by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, who also spotted the first-of-the-season Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka.

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Adult male Zappey’s Flycatcher taken on 10 November 2019 by Isabelle Lee

A full adult male Zappey’s Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cumatilis, appeared on 10 November 2019 and was reported by Krishna Gopagondanahalli, while a first winter male Zappey’s / Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila sp., was sighted by Yang Chee Meng on 11 November 2019. Several days later, a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone atrocaudata, was reported on 16 November 2019 by Chan Kumchun, while a first winter male Siberian Thrush, Geokichla sibirica, was spotted on 21 November 2019 by Alan Owyong.

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First winter male Zappey’s or Blue-and-White Flycatcher on 15 November 2019 by Art Toh

Further afield came the surprising report of a Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, (the locally extinct rufous-backed subspecies), found on 6 November 2019 inside Peninsula Plaza by the staff of Cathay Photo; while a less happy news of a building strike casualty in the form of a female Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, was reported on 25 November 2019 by Shiva at Hotel V, Lavender.

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Siberian Thrush at Bidadari on 21 November 2019 by Alan Owyong

Northern Singapore

Eight first-of-the-season White-Shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, were reported on 1 November 2019 at Lorong Halus by Lim Kim Keang. Further away at Canberra Street, a fledgling Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach, was seen on 22 November 2019  by Desmond Yap.

Eastern Singapore

The woods along a large canal at Changi Business Park has proven to be a good birding spot, as a Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda, was seen on 1 November 2019 by Tan Eng Boo, while four Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea, were seen on 6 November 2019 by Mike Hooper, and a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, was spotted on 21 November 2019 by Steven Cheong, and on 25 November 2019 by Mike Hooper.

Pasir Ris Park yielded a migrating Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, on 5 November 2019 by Alvin Seng, a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, on 19 November 2019 by Tan Yes Chong, and a report of a first winter male Zappey’s / Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila sp, on 23 November 2019 by Wong Sangmen. Over at Pulau Ubin, we received a report of a flying Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, on 24 November 2019.

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Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo spotted on 5 November 2019 at Pasir Ris Park by Alvin Seng

Southern Singapore

With migration progressing in earnest in November, migrant watchers congregated along the Henderson Waves were rewarded by sightings of a wide variety of birds. On 1 November 2019, a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, constituted a new arrival date, thirty-seven first-of-the-season Black Baza, Aviceda leuphotes, arrived in four kettles, as did nine Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus, and a single Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis; as reported by Oliver Tan. The next day, 2 November 2019, yielded a south-flying Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, by Francis Yap, a Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus, by Sandra Chia, a Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus, by Oliver Tan, who also spotted a Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus.

On 3 November 2019, a Grey-faced Buzzard was seen by Oliver Tan. A Pied Harrier, Circus melanoleucos, was seen shortly after twelve noon on 4 November 2019, by Francis Yap, while seventy nine Crested Honey Buzzard were spotted flying at varying intervals on 7 November 2019 by Low Choon How, with the peak occurring around 10:53am (24 birds) and 11:03am (23 birds); Choon How also reported the sighting of four Grey-faced Buzzard.  A first-of-the-season Black Kite, Milvus migrans, was also spotted on the same day by Zacc HD.

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Pied Harrier taken from Henderson Waves on 4 November 2019 by Francis Yap

On 9 November 2019, a Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, and a Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, were seen by Martin Kennewell. An Asian House Martin, Delichon dasypus, was seen on 11 November 2019 by Keita Sin, who also saw a White-throated Needletail, Hirundapus caudacutus, on 14 November 2019, which constituted the tenth record of the bird for 2019, and a Brown-backed Needletail, Hirundapus giganteus, on the same day. The next day, on 16 November 2019, a single Chestnut-cheeked Starling, Agropsar philippensis, was photographed among fifteen Daurian Starling by See Toh Yew Wai.

The Telok Blangah park area, where most birders would park or pass by on their way to the Henderson Waves, also yielded several species. These included a Mugimaki Flycatcher, Ficedula mugimaki, spotted on 11 Nov 19 by Tan Eng Boo, a Zappey’s / Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila sp., on 16 November 2019 by Herman Phua, a Siberian Thrush, Geokichla sibirica, on 21 Nov 19 by Dean Tan.

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Female Zappey’s / Blue-and-White Flycatcher taken on 16 November 2019 by Herman Phua

Further south, Kent Ridge Park yielded two Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, on 6 November 2019 by Choong YT, ten Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, and a Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, on 7 November 2019 by Alan Owyong, and two high flying Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, on 24 November 2019 by Raghav Narayanswamy.

Over at Satay-by-the-Bay, a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, was spotted on 4 November 2019 by Choong YT, while a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, was seen on 8 November 19, at Gardens-by-the-Bay by Steven Ang. On 30 November 2019, there was an amazing report of an immature Red-footed Booby, Sula sula, photographed on St. John’s Island, by Chua Yingzhi.

Red-footed Booby, 311119, St John, Chua Ying Zhi

Red-footed Booby, at St John’s Island on 30 November 2019, by Chua YingZhi

Western Singapore

At Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR), a Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa, was seen on 2 November 2019 by Andy Dinesh, who observed that the bird fed continuously for 2-3 hours. The next day on 3 November 2019, a Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, was reported by Bryan Lim, while three days later on 6 November 2019, an Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, was spotted by Jimmy Wong. Towards the end of the month, on 23 November 2019, birders at SBWR thought they might have had four Eurasian Curlews, but they turned out to be Whimbrels, Numenius phaeopus, a common winter visitor, of which 35 were recorded by Alastair Newton.

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Black-tailed Godwit on 2 November 2019 at SBWR by T. Ramesh

Birders visiting the area around the Kranji Marshes (KM) noted a pale morph Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, on 3 November 2019 along Neo Tiew Harvest Link (Zacc HD), a White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, at Lim Chu Kang Avenue 3 on 10 November 2019 (Veronica Foo), as well as a Grey-headed Lapwing, Vanellus cinereus, on 16 November 2019 along Turut Track (Sandra Chia).

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Grey-headed Lapwing at Turut Track on 16 November 2019 by Sandra Chia

The adventurous ones visiting Tuas were ambly rewarded. Birds seen on 2 November 2019 includewd a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, one Black Bittern, Dupetor flavicollis,  one Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides, and Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor (Martin Kennewell), a Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus (Low Choon How), Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, and Himalayan Cuckoo, Cuculus saturatus (Jerold Tan). The next day, on 3 November 2019, yielded a Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, (Art Toh), and a Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, (Jerold Tan), while  5 November 2019 yielded two Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator (Martin Kennewell), and a Northern Boobook, Ninox japonica, (Yong Ding Li). On 16 November 2019, a female House Sparrow, Passer domesticus, was spotted by Richard White, while an Asian House Martin, Delichon dasypus, was seen on 23 November 2019 by Choong YT. A Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, was subsequently seen on 30 November 2019, hovering over the grasslands by Gahyathree Arasu.

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House Sparrow (left ) with Eurasian Tree Sparrows at Tuas on 19 November 2019 by Zacc HD

Mai Rong Wen (麥榮文)photographed a big flock of Daurian Starlings at Pandan River on 1 November 2019, and Kim Chuah, amazingly, noticed a single Chestnut-cheeked Starling, Agropsar philippensis, among the mass of flying birds. Birders trawling the Pandan Canal reported seeing a Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus, on 2 November 2019 (Martin Kennewell), a Greater Spotted Eagle, Clanga clanga, on 3 November 2019 (Francis Yap), and a Short-toed Snake Eagle, Circaetus gallicus, on 6 November 2019 (Pary Sivaraman). The Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, Lophotriorchis kienerii, recorded on 9 November 2019 by Krishna Deepak RNV appeared to be the same individual seen in the Bukit Timah Area.

A variety of species encountered in other parts of Western Singapore included three Ashy Minivet, Pericrocotus divaricatus, on 1 November 2019 at Jurong Lake Gardens (Oliver Tan), a Black Bittern, Dupetor flavicollis, near Dunearn Road on 2 November 2019 (Yeo Seng Beng), seven hundred and eighty seven roosting Blue-throated Bee-Eater, Merops viridis, on 7 November 2019 at Eng Kong Place (Richard White), a dead Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, on 19 November 2019 at Upper Bukit Timah Road (Francis Loke), and a Brown-backed Needletail, Hirundapus giganteus, on 23 November 2019 (Mike Hooper).

 

This report is written by Geoff Lim, compiled by Alan OwYong & Geoff Lim, 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 Art Toh, Angela Yeo, Alan Owyong, Alvin Seng, Dorcas Fong, Francis Yap, Isabelle Lee, Herman Phua, T. Ramesh, Sandra Chia, and Zacc HD for allowing us to use their photographs.

References

BirdLife International 2017. Pitta nympha (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22698684A116880779. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T22698684A116880779.en. Downloaded on 23 December 2019.

Lambert, F. and Woodcock, M. (1996). Pittas, Broadbills and Asities. London: Pica Press.