Category Archives: Bird Report

Singapore Raptor Report – December 2016

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Eastern Imperial Eagle, juvenile, Pulau Ubin, 28 Dec 2016, by Robin Tan

Summary for migrant species:

An uncommon Grey-faced Buzzard (adult) photographed by Thio Hui Bing on the 1st on Pulau Ubin after rain was a good start for the month. The next day, on the 2nd, two rare raptors showed up: a grey morph Oriental Scops Owl photographed by Gavan Leong in the daytime, also on Pulau Ubin and a juvenile Black Kite photographed by Francis Yap at Jelutong Tower.

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Grey-faced Buzzard, Pulau Ubin, 1 Dec 2016, by Thio Hui Bing

Not to be outdone, a very rare Amur Falcon was photographed by Yip Peng Sun at Yishun Dam on the morning of the 16th – this being the second record for Singapore since the first occurrence on 21 Nov 2007.

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Amur Falcon, Yishun Dam, 16 Dec 2016, by Yip Peng Sun

The streak of rarities culminated with a juvenile Imperial Eagle, again on Pulau Ubin. The last record being on 18 Nov 2001, 15 years ago. First photographed on the 19th, the Imperial Eagle was relocated on the 27th at the same spot and appeared there everyday till the 31st, giving birders here a great opportunity to see this rarity. A juvenile Imperial Eagle photographed on the 24th at the eastern part of Singapore main island was most likely the same individual. As is the case with migrant eagles, this individual was occasionally mobbed by resident House Crows and Brahminy Kites.

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Eastern Imperial Eagle, juvenile, Pulau Ubin, 28 Dec 2016, by Frankie Cheong

A dark morph Booted Eagle was still wintering at Pulau Punggol Barat and the nearby areas, being recorded on the 3rd, 10th, 17th and 26th. Two Ospreys were recorded around the usual areas near the northern coast of Singapore. For the Accipiters, six Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, but none for the Chinese Sparrowhawk. Five Peregrine Falcons (3 juveniles, 1 adult, 1 un-aged) were recorded around the island, quite a good number for this uncommon species.

A total of 36 Black Bazas were recorded on the northern areas from Sungei Buloh to Pasir Ris, the largest flock being 15-strong at Punggol Barat. For the Oriental Honey Buzzard, 45 were recorded, the largest flock comprised 11 birds at Sungei Buloh on the 3rd, probably on migration. On the 15th, there was a sight report of a juvenile Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, which cannot be verified due to the possibility of confusion with other similar-looking species.

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White-bellied Sea Eagle, immature, Pulau Ubin, 27 Dec 2016, by Tan Gim Cheong

Highlights for sedentary species:

By the 22nd, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle chick on the nest at Little Guilin had fledged – another successful nesting for the species at the same locality. Other records of this fish eagle came from Kranji Marshes (on 10th & 26th) and Pulau Ubin (on 15th & 29th).

The Crested Goshawk was recorded from the Botanic Gardens (adult on 3rd & 13th), West Coast Park (juvenile on 7th & 20th) and Sengkang Floating Wetlands (juvenile on 17th).  There were 2 torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzzards; the adult tweeddale morph recorded at Pasir Ris Park the previous month was still around on the 10th, 17th and 21st, while a juvenile tweeddale morph first recorded last month at Ang Mo Kio was photographed at the nearby Bishan Park on the 24th and 25th.

For the Changeable Hawk-Eagle, it was notable that nesting was observed at Mount Faber on the 20th. The White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, and Black-winged Kite completed the roundup for the month.

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Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Robin Tan, Yip Peng Sun, Thio Hui Bing and Frankie Cheong for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click singapore-raptor-report-dec16

 

 

Singapore Bird Report- November 2016

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Bulwer’s Petrel photographed by Lau Jiasheng on a pelagic trip to the Straits of Singapore.

The big new for November had to be the sighting of a Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii on 12th at the Straits of Singapore during a pelagic trip organised by Francis Yap and friends. This is the first encounter with this petrel and a very important find. It showed that they are using the Straits of Singapore to move from their breeding grounds at the islands off Japan and SE China to the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean.  (Note: the Singapore Straits is a multi-national stretch of water). The Records Committee is now assessing this record. During the same trip a rare Red-footed Booby Sula sula was photographed resting on flotsam. This is only the third record. Well done guys!

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Red-footed Booby, the third record of this species, at the Straits of Singapore photographed by Francis Yap.

With more and more observers, and people interested in birds, we are getting records of arriving thrushes, pittas, cuckoos and flycatchers from every corner of the island this month. This in turn gave us a very accurate picture of the movement of these migrants, data which is crucial for their conservation.

The Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida records for this month best illustrate this. Saket Sarupria posted a photo of one at the corner of a stair landing at Keppel Towers on 29th. It flew off later on its own. But the second sighting of the day at St. Andrew’s Cathedral survived the crash as well (David Tan). The next day, Sarah Chin’s dad found one at the PWC building at Chinatown. David Tan was kept busy going from Bedok North and then to King George’s Avenue to collect two more dead Hooded Pittas on the same day. The last Hooded Pitta for the month was at Tuas South, seen very much alive by Robin Tan. The five pittas found in that two days gave us a timing of its major movement. But it was the report of a Hooded Pitta that crashed into Patricia Lorenz’s house at Tanah Merah on 6th that sets a new extreme date (David Tan).

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Blue-winged Pitta looking lost in the grounds of Bowen Secondary School. Photo: Jimmy Lee.

The Blue-winged Pittas Pitta moluccensis continued to arrive this month. One found dead at Orchard Road on the 1st (David Tan), another casualty at Tuas on 3rd. Low Choon How reported one at Tuas South on 9th, another was photographed roosting at night at Hindhede NP by Vinchel Budihardjo on 11th. James Tann reported another crashing into Metropolis at One-North on 11th as well. This one survived. The last was seen wandering around Bowen Secondary School by Jimmy Lee on 18th. Pittas are one species that are very prone to crashing into buildings during night migration.

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Siberian Thrush feeding on the berries outside the BTNR Visitor Center. Photo: Lee Chuin Ming.

Up to three Siberian Thrushes Geokichla sibirica were first seen feeding on a fruiting tree near to the BTNR visitor center on 2nd by Lee Chuin Ming. This was followed by the appearance of the Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus at Bidadari spotted on the same day by Timothy Lim. More Eye-browed Thrushes were seen at Tuas South on 30th by Koh Lian Heng and Robin Tan.

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A surprise find at the Marina Barrage by Koh Lian Heng, a female Blue Rock Thrush.

The surprise find was a female Blue Rocked Thrush Moniticola solitarius at Marina Barrage by Koh Lian Heng on the 6th. This thrush normally prefers to perch at high buildings in Singapore. On the same day, Low Choon How recorded up another Siberian Thrush at Tuas South.

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First arrival of the season, a male Mugimaki Flycatcher photographed at Tuas South by Adrian Silas Tay.

The Ferruginous and Mugimaki Flycatchers were late by more than a month this season. First record of a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea came from the Zoo on 6th (Loke Peng Fai) and another at West Coast Park (Lim Kim Keang). This is the first record for West Coast Park. We managed to have three Mugimaki Flycatchers Ficedula mugimaki all arriving on the same day, 27th, at three different sites. Tuas South by Adrian Silas Tay, Pasir Ris Park by Lim Kim Seng and DFNP by Art Toh. These records almost nailed the date of the influx of this flycatcher.( Footnote: Received an update from Lim Zhong Yong that he photographed a Ferruginous Flycatcher on 29th October along the Rail Corridor near BTNR)

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This first winter male Blue and White Flycatcher came down to forage at the Acacia grove at Bidadari giving Lim Kim Keang this eye level side profile image. First seen by Er Bong Siong.

Another late arriving flycatcher was the rare Blue and White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana. We have yet to separate it in our checklist. Lee Van Hien photographed one at the favourite migrant stop over at Tuas South on 12th after a tip from his friends. Two days later Keita Sin had one flying over Jelutong Tower. Inevitably a first winter male was found at Bidadari foraging on the acacia groves on 15th (Er Bong Siong). The fourth record was another first winter male photographed at DFNP by James Tann on 27th. Four records for one month is not usual. Most stayed around for a few days.

The male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocauda at the Zoo entertained us for about a week. It was last seen on 6th. A week later on 13th Geoff Lim found another there, this time a female. One more female turned up at Bidadari on 18th (Lim Kim Keang) and could be the same female reported by Dawn Birding on 30th. We hope that this rare and beautiful flycatcher will return to our shores year after year.

Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoos Hierococcyx nisicolor arrived only in November. First one was seen at Tuas South, where else, by Low Choon How on 9th ( rather early), the second at SBWR on 13th by Lim Kim Seng and the third on 26th at Tuas South again. A day later we had our first record of the Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides at Bidadari (Goh Cheng Teng).

West Coast Park seems to be a favorite stop over for kingfishers this season. Keita Sin flushed a Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceryx erithaca there on the 3rd. Alan OwYong photographed a returning Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata near the big drain on the 5th. Then Lim Kim Keang stumbled on a Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda on the 6th while looking for the Black-capped. A Squared-tailed Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris was also wintering there since the 5th (Alan OwYong). All these (except for the Black-capped King fisher) were new for West Coast Park.

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A rare shot of an Indian Cuckoo in flight captured by Lee Tiah Khee over Tanah Merah Grasslands on 12th.

Other notable visitors reported were a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka found at a Jurong warehouse on 9th (Lim Kim Chuah), an Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus at Tanah Merah Grasslands on 12th (Lee Tiah Khee), Ruddy Kingfisher at Bidadari on 14th (Simon Siow), Cinereous Bulbul Hemixos cinereus heard at BTNR on 23rd by Lim Kim Chuah, two White-shouldered Starlings Sturnus sinensis at SBTB on 26th by Koh Lian Heng and a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans at Tuas South on 26th by Lim Kim Keang.

Four resident species were recorded for the first time in their respective locations. A lone Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta over Telok Blangah Hill on 6th (Alan OwYong), Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus at Murnane Reservoir on 11th (Seng Beng), an adult  Javan Munia Lonchura leucogastroides with three juveniles at Kovan on 12th (Seng Beng) and Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra at GBTB on 26th( Kok Lian Heng). An indication of the spreading of these species from their usual habitats?

Shorebirds recorded this month included Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica, globally threatened Great Knots Calidris tenuirostris at SBWR 0n 3rd (David Li), two Sanderlings Calidris alba again at Pulau Tekong on 6th (Frankie Cheong), a Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis at Marina Barrage on 5th (Liz How) and a Common Snipe gallinago gallinago at NTL 3 on 14th (Lim Kim Seng). The numbers for snipes is poor this season.

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Black Bittern at pond at Kent Ridge Park, a first for this site. Photo: Veronica Foo.

Waterbirds included one dead and another live Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurthythmus . David Tan picked up the dead bittern at Jurong West on 5th and Seng Alvin shot a confiding bittern at PRP on the 7th. The first Black Bittern Dupetor flavicolis for the season was captured by Veronica Foo at the pond at Kent Ridge Park on 22nd. This is new for the park. A second Black Bittern was reported from Tuas South on 26th by Lim Kim Keang. The month ended with an exciting find, a Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes at SBWR by Lee Kai Chong. It had a red ring attached to one of its leg. David Li is still trying to find out where it was ringed.

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The Chinese Egret in question shot at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve by Lee Kai Chong.

Legend: BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park. GBTB: gardens by the Bay. PRP Pasir Ris Park. NTL 3 Neo Tiew Lane 3.

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

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

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

A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan. 1993

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Lau Jiasheng, Francis Yap, Lee Chuin Ming, Koh Lian Heng, Adrian Silas Tay, Lim Kim Keang, Lee Tiah Khee, Veronica Foo and Lee Kai Chong for the use of their photos. If you have any earlier records than those reported here and found some errors, please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com. 

 

32nd Singapore Bird Race 2016 Review.

Close to 100 eager participants gathered at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves on 16th October for the 32nd Singapore Bird Race 7.30 am flag-off. 18 Photographer teams, 14 Advanced and Novice birder teams made up this record turn out for a chance to bird inside the conservation core of the Kranji Marshes. The change of format to a half day instead of a 24 hours race help to entice more new participants to get a feel of what a bird race is all about. All enjoyed the race and most will take part again based on the survey done after the race. Some even asked a longer race!

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A record turnout of close to 100 participants from 32 teams for the 32nd Singapore Bird Race.

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Shawn Lum President of Nature Society (Singapore) welcoming the participants.

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Lim Kim Chuah Chairperson of the Bird Group and organizer for the 32nd Bird Race briefing the participants on the Rules and Regulations before the start of the Race.

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We are most grateful to Simon Siow ( second from the right) for fielding not one but two teams from MNSJ for this year’s Bird Race. His team ( with Alyce Ang and Jimmy Lee) recorded a creditable 60 species in the Advanced Category. The Bird Group will be visiting Danga Bay with MNSJ to check on the waders wintering there in December as part of joined activities with MNSJ.

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Just after flag-off, all eyes peeled to the skies for the early ticks

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Teams in intense action inside the Conservation Core of the Kranji Marshes. Many thanks to SBWR for opening this area for the Bird Race.

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Teams at the main bridge at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves shooting egrets roosting on the mangroves.

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The Duck Hide inside the Kranji Marshes Core was a great spot to tick the Black-backed Swamphen. This is the first visit to the Core Conservation Area for many of the participants.

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Teams hard at work tallying up the day’s count before submission

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Team CAL taking a deserved break after a frantic morning of chasing ticks. From right Richard Lim,  Ang Kok Hwa, Chang Wei Hean and supporter Lim Chun King 

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Arbitrators Morten Strange, Albert Low, Francis Yap, Tan Gim Cheong and Lee Taih Khee checking on the entries of the various teams to determine the winners. Many thanks to all our arbitrators for helping out on their rest day.

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Time to tuck in to a sumptuous buffet after a hard morning’s work and swapping stories with other teams. 

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We are grateful to Dr. Lena Chan, Director of the National Biodiversity Center at NParks, for gracing the Bird Race as our Guest of Honor.

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Morten Strage author of several regional bird guides highlighting some of the notable species recorded during the race like the Bar-tailed Godwit, Long-toed Stint, Little Ringed Plover and Pacific Swifts.

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Albert Low talking about the bird diversity in South East Asia. He and Yong Ding Li recently launched their book “100 Best Bird Watching Sites in Southeast Asia” which was on sale on the day.

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Leong Kok Peng Vice President of NSS giving away prizes to Eyzat Amer of Team “Tiger Shrike” Winners of the Advanced Category with 75 species, a super effort. The team was led by Martin Kennewell with Richard Carden. Congratulations!

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Father and daughter Team “Sandpiper”. Dad Lim Kim Seng turned a family bonding session with daughters Nur Diana and Nur Nadia ( both not in the photo) into a winning affair taking second prize in the Advanced Category with 69 species. 

Team “Little Terns” Lim Kim Keang, Willie Foo, Wong Chung Cheong and Leung Wai Kee tied with the Malaysian Nature Society Johor Team 1 led by Simon Siow both with 60 species. “Little Terns” took third spot based on count back. 

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Team “Aim High” ( Richard White and See Toh Yew Wai with G.O.H Dr. Lena Chan) certainly did that. They came up tops among the 18 photography teams with 66 species photographed. This was a fantastic feat making them Winners of the Photography Category and third overall total for the day. Well done Richard and See Toh.

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Team “OOF” came in second in the photography category with 50 species. G.O.H Dr. Lena Chan with Leader Keita Sin, Goh Cheng Teng and Tan Rui Siang. A very commendable effort. 

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Dr. Lena Chan with team “The 3 Roosters” of  Laurence Eu, Alan Yeo and Zenon Kosiniak. They shot a combined 43 species to claim the third prize. Great effort for first timers, definitely something to crow about.

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Adrian Silas Tay led team “Weekend Birders” with Daniel Ong, Jerold Tan and Aung Mee to pick up the first prize for the Novice Category with 60 species receiving their prizes from Leong Kok Peng VP of NSS.  Great job guys. Congrats. You are hereby promoted to the Advanced Category next year.  

Another family team the “Banerjee Family” led by Anish with Atish and Debina came in second in the Novice Category with 51 species. A great family effort.

Team “Rajawali ” led by Ann Ang with her Mum Cecila Mah and Pat Ong took it easy this year to claim a podium place with 47 species. They were past winners in this category. 

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Leong Kok Peng, Vice President of NSS presenting tokens of appreciation to our sponsors and friends. Top: Dr. Lena Chan, Director. National Biodiversity Center. NParks, our Guest of Honor; bottom: Klenn Koh of Swarovski Optics, Bird Race Sponsors.

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 Top: Chua Yen Kheng of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves, Venue Sponsors and bottom: Tony Wong Committee Member Malayan Nature Society Johor. The Bird Group thanked Andrew Chow for his generous donation of his beautiful bird paintings as prizes and tokens of appreciation to our sponsors. 

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Swarovski Optics, long time sponsor of our Bird Race with their latest scopes and binoculars for the participants to try out.  Many thanks to Swarovski Optics and Klenn Koh for your continued support.

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Lim Kim Chuah Chairperson of the Bird Group and Organizer of the Bird Race thanking our sponsors, volunteers and participants at the close of the race. Special thanks to co-organizer, Lee Ee Ling, Yap Wee Jin, Nisha and Delphin. See you all next year!

Photos credit: Yap Wee Jin. Many thanks.

 

 

Birding Kent Ridge Park

Text and photos by Keita Sin 

The Southern Ridges of Singapore, stretching from Mount Faber to Kent Ridge Park, with places of historical interest and great hiking trails, is a great place to spend a weekend. The four parks making up the Ridges are also great for birdwatching. Kent Ridge Park, located at the western end is one of the most wooded parks there.

Raptor watch

Kent Ridge Park is one of the places where the annual Raptor Watch is held. A panoramic view of the sky can be appreciated from the top car park area, and Oriental Honey Buzzards and Sparrowhawks can usually be observed during the migration period. Other notable species such as the rare visiting Booted Eagle has been recorded here too. In 2000 and 2001 we had our first two records of the Blyth’s Hawk Eagle, a very rare non-breeding visitor from this park.

Other rare resident raptors, such as the Crested Goshawk and Crested Serpent Eagle, can also be seen here. The former had been recorded nesting at the park.

photo-1Crested Goshawk, January 2016. This top-down photo was taken from the canopy walk area.

photo-2Crested Serpent Eagle, April 2016.

Attractive Trees

The fig tree near the top car park (shown), as well as the rows of Tembusu trees at the area below it, is another area that attracts plenty of birds.

photo-3View from top car park. This is a great spot to look out for both raptors and birds feeding on the fruits, at the same time.

A relatively big population of Red-Whiskered Bulbuls can often be seen here.

photo-4Red-Whiskered Bulbul. An uncommon introduced resident. I often see them travelling together with Yellow-Vented Bulbuls.

The Violet Cuckoo and Banded Bay Cuckoo have been observed on this tree too.

photo-5Male Violet Cuckoo. Listen for their flight calls, this bird is often heard before seen.

photo-6Female Violet Cuckoo. More drab looking than the male, but so is the female Asian Emerald Cuckoo – don’t ignore them, you’ll never know.

photo-7Banded Bay Cuckoo. This individual was seen on the same day as the pair of violet cuckoos. Maybe they were having a conference.

When this fig tree fruits trees, occasional surprises such as the Thick-Billed Pigeon can occur too.

This coming season…

The migratory birds have once again started visiting (returning?) to Singapore. When in Kent Ridge Park, look for the fruiting trees, and do make an effort to scan the skies for raptors as well!

Further reading Angus Lamont’s bird records of Kent Ridge Park at http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/rbz/biblio/46/46rbz113-122.pdf

Reference: Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East-Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd.

Birding West Coast Park

Text and Photos by Keita Sin

West Coast Park is where my birding journey begun in January 2014 and I’ve gotten quite a lot of interesting lifers there. This park, however, is probably not one of the places many would include their birding itinerary. Though usually associated with McDonald’s and the iconic giant pyramid, West Coast Park actually has a good diversity of bird life to offer.

Marsh Gardens

Located at the western end of the park, the best part about this place is that due to the small size, many of the birds can be seen at close proximity.

The highlight of the Marsh Gardens would probably be this lone Great-Billed Heron that has been seen rather consistently since September 2015.

photo-1wGreat-Billed Heron. This is an uncropped photo from a 300mm focal length x 1.6 crop factor. There are not many places in Singapore which offers such a close view of this bird.

The Marsh Gardens boardwalk, though a short one, is worth exploring too. A family of Abbott Babblers has been recorded there and I once encountered this friendly juvenile Crested Goshawk, which might have flew over from Kent Ridge Park. I was told that Black Bitterns had been seen here in the past ( per con Alan OwYong).

photo-2wCrested Goshawk, February 2015.

Carpark 2

The area around Carpark 2, especially the patch of vegetation indicated in this map, is another interesting area worth exploring (it’s quite hard to describe a location in West Coast Park).

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Map retrieved from NParks. Watch out for snakes and random holes when exploring the area.

I found a lone Spotted Wood Owl here in August 2016, and a flock of Pied-Imperial Pigeon is usually around in the morning. I’ve seen most of Singapore’s parrots (every in the checklist except the Blue-Rumped Parrot) here too. The palm trees probably attract them to the area. A trio of Tanimbar Corellas and two Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos frequent this place as well.

photo-4wSulphur-Crested Cockatoo perched on a Pong Pong tree. They have been seen chewing on the pulp of the fruit.

The eastern half of West Coast Park

Majority of the people whom I see in the eastern half of West Coast Park are either joggers or dog-owners, because there are barely any facilities there apart from a dog-run. Just trees, trees and more trees – fantastic for birds.

I didn’t expect to see this Orange-Headed Thrush on a young Casuarina tree.

photo-5wOrange-Headed Thrush, December 2015.

I experienced one of my greatest birding moments so far when I spotted this Black-Capped Kingfisher through my binoculars.

photo-6wBlack-Capped Kingfisher, January 2016

Birding in West Coast Park

West Coast Park is a rather elongated one, so be prepared to walk some distance if you intend to explore the whole place. While there were few reports of rare finds in this park, the environment is fantastic for birding and it could just be because not many birders visit the place.

If you are unable to decide on a location this migratory season, do give West Coast Park a try. I was told that a Hooded Pitta spent a few week wintering here some years back.

Reference: Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd.

Missing Birds-Moustached Babbler

By Lim Kim Chuah.

MISSING SINCE 1994

MOUSTACHED BABBLER Malacopteron magnirostre

Status: Extinct???

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Moustached Babbler from Panti (LKC)

This species was occasionally reported in very small numbers from the Upper Seletar and Sime Forest during the 1980’s. Breeding was also reported on several occasions. The last known report was from the MacRitchie catchment forest between 1993-94.

Considering the minimal size of the forest in Singapore and the vocal nature of this species, it is unlikely that the Moustached Babbler would have gone unnoticed all these years if the bird around. Also the sedentary nature of this species would probably rule out any possibility of birds dispersing from neighbouring Johor to Singapore. There is a high likelihood that this species could be extinct in Singapore today.

Hopefully I am wrong and should anyone discover this species in Singapore, please contact the Nature Society Bird Group.

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

Text and Photos by Raghav Narayanswamy.

I stumbled upon Hindhede Nature Park last spring when an Orange-headed Thrush popped up there. I had two hours to spare for birding that day and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Before this not many people have heard about this corner of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The reserve now is only opened on weekends.

In just a couple of months, this rather small plot of land with nothing more than a flooded quarry and a short loop has offered me some great birding.

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Male Jambu Fruit Dove

There’s always something happening here. Calls of the loud Greater Racquet-tailed Drongos, Red-breasted Parakeets, and Common Hill Mynas greet you when you walk in. Other uncommon birds like the Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Western Osprey, and the Emerald Dove, will keep you busy for long periods of time.

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Brown Hawk Owl. 

Compared with other more popular birding spots, this park is compact and you can expect to be amazed by the proximity of the birds to each other. It sometimes seems overwhelming to deal with so many birds at once, especially when they are meters from each other. At one particular spot in the park, a pair of Red-legged Crakes, four Sunda Scops Owls, and a pair of Brown Hawk Owls converge each evening, with me right in the middle of it all, struggling to pick one to shoot over the rest.

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This family of Sunda Scops Owl is doing well at the Park.

What’s the first place you think of when asked, “Where can you find the Blue-winged Leafbird?” Chances are it was probably the Central Catchment, or Dairy Farm Nature Park, or Bukit Timah Hill. And I’d bet a large — avery large — sum of money that it was not Hindhede Nature Park. But when there’s a tree fruiting at Hindhede, you’re bound to catch sight of it, and good views are the standard here.

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The Blue-winged Leafbirds making their appearance at Hindhede NP.

We all hear about fruiting trees at Dairy Farm, Bukit Timah, and Upper Seletar. But again, there’s a surprise coming from the Hindhede camp. With a pair of Jambu Fruit Doves, Cream-vented, Olive-winged, Red-eyed, and Black-crested Bulbuls, and at least two Blue-winged Leafbirds, you can’t go wrong with a quick visit.

Singapore is known across Southeast Asia as one of the best places for the globally-vulnerable Straw-headed Bulbul. After all, Noah Strycker came specifically here for it in his 2015 World Big Year at a point when he had already seen 90% of Singapore’s checklist outside of Singapore. But out of all the places I have seen this bird, Hindhede really stands out. It is nearly always around, calling, and offering great views.

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The fruiting trees attracted this uncommon introduced Black-crested Bulbul 

Even birds that are traditionally seen around or past dusk, like owls, show up early here. Often, I don’t even need a flashlight for a decent photo, and the views, again, are guaranteed to be fantastic. Where else can you get to see three species of owls making their appearance almost daily. Other noteworthy sightings include the Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, which was fairly active in the month of June, during which it was presumably breeding, and a pair of Van Hasselt’s Sunbirds. And all this was just in the last three months!

I cannot wait to see what the migratory season will bring, now that the breeding season is coming to a close and the trees are no longer fruiting. Will the thrushes stop over? I am sure the Asian Brown and Mugimaki Flycatchers will pass by. What about the visiting cuckoos?

The Survivors of Pasir Ris Park.

Contributed by Seng Alvin. Photos Credit: Seng Alvin.

Pasir Ris Park at the north-eastern end of Singapore with its riverine mangroves and wooded parklands  has long been a favourite place to bringing up babies, baby birds to be exact. Malaysian Pied Fantails, resident cuckoos, sunbirds and of course the star of Pasir Ris, the Spotted Wood Owls are some of the species that breed at the park. Raiding parties of Oriental Pied Hornbills from across Pulau Ubin made foraging sweeps now and then for nesting chicks to feed their young during the breeding season.

BFO Seng AlvinLong time rehab resident at PRP, our darling Buffy Fish Owl.

But the park may be  turning into an infirmary and home for injured birds. Long time resident “one-eye Jack” our darling Buffy Fish Owl have been rehabilitating  in the mangroves for some time now.

Pacific Swallow Senf AlvinSo is this Pacific Swallow with a skin injection around the eyes. It has been around since the middle of last year.

OWB 2 Seg Alvin

30th April. First photo of the one-legged Olive-winged Bulbul inside the Mangroves at PRP.

Early this year, on 30th April, I photographed an Olive-winged Bulbul, Pycnonoyus plumosus, inside the mangrove area but did not think much about the photo. Then a month later I came across another Olive-winged Bulbul at the mangroves and realised that it also had only one leg. Digging out the photo of the bulbul I shot in April, I realised that it was the same bulbul. Was it crippled at birth or did it suffered some mishap later on? I have no way to know but was happy to see that it was surviving.

OWB 3 Seng Alvin29th May, second shot of this bulbul inside the mangroves.

I was out on the evening of August 2nd at the bridge waiting for the Stock-billed Kingfisher to start fishing for dinner. A bulbul distracted me and I fired a few shots ( with the wrong settings). Later as I was about to delete it I found something strange with it. Just to make sure I was not seeing things, I posted it on Bird Sightings FB Group and asked if anyone sees any thing different with this bulbul. Keen eyed Benny Lim responsed that it was one legged!

OWB Seng Alvin

August 2nd shot near to the bridge while waiting for the Stork-billed Kingfisher. Can you see the missing leg?

Bingo, I now have a third photo of the same bulbul, which means that it has survived almost four months now. Wang Heng Mount proclaimed it as a winner and survivor. This guy is a mighty said Millie Cher and Jeffrey Long called it “a fighter”.

To me it is all the above and we should all be inspired by these survivors at Paris Ris and wish them a long and happy time at the park.

 

From the lens of a rookie birdwatcher

A few months ago, Lim Kim Chuah, Chairperson of the Bird Group was asked to conduct a test for girl guides who aspire to have the Birdwatcher Badge. He took a student from MGS, Hao Yunrui under his wings, went over to her school one afternoon, pass her a pair of binoculars and also one of our field guide written by Ding Li and et al. He showed her the birds in her school, taught her a few things about birding and then gave her some assignments. The assignments were: 1) learn and write her observation on 6 species of birds that she can find in her school or around her home/park 2) to participate in one NSS Birdwatching activity 3) to write a reflection on her journey
Here is Hao Yunrui’s reflection:

After an eventful few weeks of dabbing into amateur bird watching, I’ve gathered some thoughts to share about this fascinating hobby. When I initially made the decision to take on the Bird watching Badge, I saw it as something to be done and then simply forgotten. Like ticking off the goods on the grocery list, it was just one of those things that I needed to try out once to clear it off my bucket list. Mrs Tham then brought me under the guidance of Mr Lim Kim Chuah, who then carried me through the course of my one month Bird watching Journey. His tasks for me were:

First, to make a bird watching journal covering my observations of 6 different species of birds

Second, to go on a Bird watching trip with the Bird Group members of Nature Society (Singapore).

Hmmm, that sounded easy, was what I thought to myself when I first saw the tasks assigned to me, and that marked the start of my fascinating journey of unveiling a new realm of experience whose door had previously never been opened to me.

To achieve the tasks, I made it a point to go to various nature reserves and parks to watch birds every Saturday. My aim on each of my solo trip was to spot at least one species of bird that is new to me (a lifer in birdwatchers lingo). I also jotted down my observations in a field logbook (which would later become my bird watching journal) and if those tiny flickering feathered friends would allow me, I would try to snap a picture or two.

Female Koel from Bishan Park.

Female Asian Koel from Bishan Park.Photo: Hao Yunrui.

During my early morning sojourns to our parks and gardens, I spotted a variety of birds some of which made calls which I have heard previously e.g. the Asian Koel. It dawned on me that all of us do cross paths with many types of birds in our daily life. We hear their calls, catch their silhouettes among the trees but we are usually so caught up with our busy schedule that we choose to ignore such beautiful creatures in our midst. Throughout this one month, I sometimes wonder, if only people could spare a moment to look at the flowers and trees around them instead of staring into their phones. Only then will they discover the feathered wonders among our midst – those eye-catching and bright yellow Black-naped Oriole and the ubiquitous loud and noisy Asian Koel. And if you care to look closely at the Eurasian Tree Sparrow, you will realise that the patterns on its back are actually intricately beautiful. If you observe a Javan Myna, it is not all black but has white patches on its wings when it flies. These are some of tiny details that many of us fail to notice but which is really visible if we could only spend some time to observe them. On the hindsight, I was also like one of these people. I am glad taking on this bird watching badge has taught me to be more observant of the nature around us.

White-breasted Waterhen at Kranji Mashes.

White-breasted Waterhen at Kranji Mashes. Photo: Hao Yunrui

Through this experience, I have managed to see a lot of rare and interesting birds. Mr Lim took the extra step to encourage me to join the Nature Society on a birding walk to Kranji marsh. It was really an eye-opener and a wonderful experience which will certainly open up my eyes and taught me to see our natural world especially our avian friends through a different set of lens.

Common Moorhen at Kranji Marshes.

Common Moorhen at Kranji Marshes. Hao Yunrui

These are some of the shots I’ve captured over the weeks. However, I wasn’t able to capture most of the birds that I saw as they were either too far away or flying. The graceful physiques of these birds were instead captured by my eyes with binoculars.

The trip to Kranji Marshland was really eye-opening ( quite literally ). It’s the first time I am visiting a marshland. And I felt privileged to be able to visit the core area of this park which is yet to be opened to the public. I initially felt really awkward and out of place because everyone else around me were equipped with gigantic, state-of-the-art bird viewing equipment and most participants were in their 40s and 50s. However, it was evident that they were really passionate about what they were doing as they could call out the names of all the birds that came within our view. Some could even spot birds miles away with their sharp eyes and telescopes were also on hand to allow close views of distant birds. It was quite heartening to see a handful of young adults mixing in the crowd because it truly shows that this hobby is not just for the “old” but the young as well. It was the first time I ever felt so close and intimate with nature, as though I were a part of it and it a part of me. Watching our feathered friends in such a quiet place gave me a sense of connection. When the White-bellied Sea Eagle stared intensely into my eyes through the binoculars, I could almost feel it whispering to me. Seeing nature fully at work was very magical, because everything seemed to be in such perfect balance without the interference of man. We spotted a Purple Heron poking its head out of the water hyacinths in search of prey. It made me realised that nature can function by itself perfectly and does not need our help to survive, but rather we are the ones who constantly seek help from nature. We should treasure of whatever nature we have conserve it to the best of our ability.

Bird watching is no longer something to be simply tick off my bucket list. I hope to be able to visit such places again and be acquainted with its many fascinating birds.

My thanks to Mr. Lim Kim Chuah for his guidance, time and sharing his knowledge with me, Mr. Wong Chung Cheong and members of the Bird Group for showing me the birds at Kranji Marshes.

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

Singapore Bird Report-June 2016

Blue-eared Kingfisher Mark Nelson Valino

The forest Blue-eared Kingfisher fishing at the canal at Kranji Marshes. Photo: Mark Nelson Valino.

There were less excitement this month compared to last June. Then we had the first record of a White-tailed Tropicbird at Tuas, an Oriental Darter at Ubin and the wintering Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoos at Punggol Barat to keep us busy. This June, we had to be contented with the King Quails, Excalfactoria chinensis, at Punggol Barat, Blue-eared Kingfishers, Alcedo meninting, at Kranji Marshes and Red-crowned Barbets, Megalaima rafflesii at Seletar to keep our shutters clicking. On the plus side we had many interesting nesting records including a first from all over the island.

Red Crowned Barbet Wendy Lin

Wendy Lin and friends Peter Okimi, Chai Lee Fung and Edwin Choy were at Seletar Revervoir Park on 30th May looking for the Chestnut-winged Babblers when they chanced upon the Red-crowned Barbets feeding on the fruits of the Green Coffee Tree. Photo: Wendy Lin showing the barbet squeezing the pulp out of the fruit.

The most surprising record came from Cashew area on 20th when a member of the public reported a baby owl at the foot of a rain tree on her way to work. NParks staff rescued the owlet and subsequently put it back into its Bird-nest Fern nest much to the relief of a pair of Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, parents. This is a rare nesting record for this uncommon owl and confirmed that they also use Bird-nest Ferns to nest just like the Buffy Fish Owls.

Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker Danny Khoo

A perfect shot of the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker leaving the nest. Photo: Danny Khoo.

There were several important nesting records from Ubin. A pair of Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis was found nesting in an old termite nest on 4th. The nest was attached to a bamboo (Lim Kim Chuah). This could be the first confirmed nesting of this kingfisher in Singapore. A failed nesting of the Mangrove Pittas, Pitta megarhyncha, there, probably due to predation; and the nesting of the most common bird in Ubin the Olive-winged Bulbul, Pycnonotus plumosus, (12th Lim Kim Keang). Elsewhere another failed nesting of the Pied Triller, Lalage nigra, at Punggol Point on 15th (Seng Alvin); two Crested Goshawks, Accipiter trivirgatus, fledged at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 18th (Laurence Eu); Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Dendrocopus moluccensis, at Taman Jurong; Pacific Swallows, Hirundo tahitica, at Stagmont Park on 21st (Timothy Chua) and the Blue-throated Bee-eaters, Merops viridis, at Punggol end.

OHB at SBTB Andrew Tan

Second calendar year Oriental Honey Buzzard spending the summer in the region. Taken at Satay by the Bay by Andrew Tan.

Winter visitors recorded for the month include a Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, photographed off Pulau Pawai by Francis Yap and his friends during a mini pelagic trip to Raffles Lighthouse on 25th. This is a new extreme date (previous late date: 18 June 1990). Another winter visitor still present was the Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis. At least three were heard calling at the edge of the Western Catchment on the 19th (Alfred Chia). Will they spend the summer and even breed here? Time will tell. Egrets are known to over summer in our wetlands. All three species were recorded this month. Intermediate at Lorong Halus (Lim Kim Keang), Little and Great at SBWR (Lim Kim Seng) all on the 12th.

Great crested tern FYap

Greater Crested Tern photographed off Pulau Pawai on 25th June set a new late date for this visiting tern. Photo: Francis Yap.

We know that the second calendar year Oriental Honey Buzzards, Pernis ptilorhynchus, stay over during summer and do not migrate back north. Two were photographed, on 11th over SBTB by Andrew Tan and the other at Ubin by Lim Kim Chuah on 12th. Both were juveniles. A dead Black Bittern, Dupetor flavicollis at Aljunied Avenue on 10th was picked up by David Tan.

Peregrine Falcon LTK

Resident ernesti race Peregrine Falcon flying over Punggol Barat captured by Lee Tiah Khee.

Other notable sightings were three Black-naped Terns, Sterna sumatrana, flying across Keppel Harbour on 8th (Richard White) and three more near the southern island of Pulau Senang on 25th (Francis Yap). These resident terns were more common in the northern straits where they have been nesting at a rocky out crop since 1949.. Francis also recorded ten Pied Imperial Pigeons, Ducula bicolor, flying pass Pulau Sudong on the same day. These are the wild pigeons that spend most of their time around the southern islands. A Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupa, was photographed at Hindhede Quarry by Raghav Narayanswany on 19th confirming the further spreading of this uncommon owl. A second in two months of a resident ernesti race Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus  was photographed by Lee Tiah Khee on 15th over Punggol Barat. The locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, was photographed by Jan Roberts on the 4th at Chancery Lane.

Buffy-fish Owl at Hindhede Quarry. Photo Raghav.

Buffy Fish Owl at Hindhede Quarry. Photo: Raghav Narayanswany

Seng Alvin reported three to four Plaintive Cuckoos, Cocomantis merulinus, at Pasir Ris Park on 3rd. Could be that foster parents like the Malaysian Pied Fantails are plentiful there? The on-off Black Hornbill, Anthracoceros malayanus was seen flying around the Pekan Quarry at Ubin on the 4th (Lim Kim Chuah). It is still listed under Category E for suspected escapees and released birds.  The introduced Javan Munias, Lonchura leucogastroides were back at SBWR on 7th (How Sung Lee).

Over at the Hindhede Park, mother and son team, Subha and Raghav Narayanswany sent in records of Black-crested, Pycnonotus flaviventris, and Asian Red-eyed Bulbuls, Pycnonotus brunneus, Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis and a pair of Jambu Fruit Doves, Ptilinopus jambu feeding on a fruit tree. Due to the closure of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Hindhede Nature Park was also hardly visited. This may account for the increased bird activity there.

Reference:

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

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

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

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Mark Nelson Valino, Wendy Lin, Danny Khoo, Andrew Tan, Lee Tiah Khee and Raghav for the use of their photos.