Category Archives: Breeding ecology

Nesting of Little Terns in Singapore.

LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons)

By Frankie Cheong

I came across some Little Tern nests in end May and early June at my place. There were at least 5 nests. Each nest, in a shallow depression in the sand, consisted of 2 to 3 eggs. Fig 1 & 2

Fig 1
Fig 2

I started to monitor them. The adult birds took turn to sit on the eggs, normally for around 2 hours, then the other bird would take over. Fig 3, 4.

Fig 3
Fig 4

Every time when people or vehicle passed by or moved too close to their nests, they would fly up and made lots of loud and alert calls . Fig 5.

Fig 5

In mid June, I started seeing the hatchings, these are day old chicks, most of the time they still hide under the parent for protection. Fig 6,7,8,9.

Fig 6
Fig 7
Fig 8
Fig 9

2 to 3 days later, these chicks started to venture out moving around close to the nest area.

As the place is a bare reclamation land without any trees and very hot during the day, these little chicks were smart enough to hide under some long grass to shade themselves from the sun. Fig 10, 11, 12, 13.

Fig 10
Fig 11
Fig 12
Fig 13.

The parents continued to bring food back for the chicks. Sometimes, they would use the fish to teach the chicks to move forward to catch, I believed this is part of the training for survival. Fig14.15.

Fig 14
Fig 15

I monitored them till mid July when all the chicks fledged. F 16, 17, 18 .

Fig 16

Likely this is a 2 to 3 weeks old chick. fig 17,18.

Fig 17

A slightly older one.

Fig 18

A family photo.

It was a great privilege to study and document the nesting of our only resident tern that breeds on mainland Singapore, even though this site is on an offshore island. The Little Tern is listed as a common resident, but suitable breeding sites across the island is diminishing. It was featured in Lim Kim Seng’s 1992 book “Vanishing Birds of Singapore” as vulnerable. At 2019 Mapletree Investment’s exhibition “Singapore Birds on the Blink” at Vivocity, it was one of the species highlighted.

Reference:

Lim Kim Seng. Vanishing Birds of Singapore 1992.

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

“Bubblegum-blowing” by tiny parrot – an apparently undescribed courtship display of the male Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot.

BCHP-bubblegumming,-010321,-Whampoa,-crop,-TGC,-200ms,-699x500

Male Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (right) “blows bubblegum” (a glob of regurgitated food) in a courtship display to show the female (left) that he is well able to provide food for the family. Animated image by Tan Gim Cheong.

Whampoa, Singapore – a pair of tiny Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots Loriculus galgulus (12-14 cm) flew in to an old tree which had a hole in its trunk. The male flew down from the tree top first, urging the female to come down to check out the tree hole which he had found.

When the female came down to check out the tree hole, the male did something amazing – it started to blow a yellow “bubblegum”, suck it back and blow again, to impress the female. The “bubblegum” is actually a glob of regurgitated food (which is used to feed the chicks). It seems that this display has not been documented before, and is probably part of the male’s courtship ritual to show the female that he is able to provide food for the family.

Unfortunately for this pair, the tree hole was already taken by another pair of hanging parrots, so they both flew off after a while. Good luck finding another tree hole to make a nest, bubblegum blower!

– observed on 1 March 2021

The first sighting of a juvenile Blue-winged Pitta on mainland Singapore.

By Joseph Lim.

On the morning of 16 July this year, I went hiking to the Central Catchment Forest, Mandai Track 15 to look for the Sambar deer, a former native but probably escapees from the zoo. I started the hike at 7.40 am and shortly reached a stream where sightings of the deer had been reported. I tread slowly and quietly anticipating the deer to appear anytime. Suddenly, I saw some small movements at the bare dark patches of the bushes about 5 meters away.

Surprised to see that it was a juvenile Blue-winged Pitta, a first for mainland Singapore.

It was a small bird and from the size and shape I could see that it was a pitta even though it was dark and shaded at 8 am in the morning. As I got nearer I could see it “hopping” around just like a pitta. Upon seeing me coming, the pitta jumped up and perched on a low branch, instead of getting skittish and flee. At one point the pitta turned and looked straight at me in absolute silence. From my photos, I can see that it was a juvenile Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, with duller plumage and gape. On checking with my friends I was told that this is the first mainland record of a juvenile Blue-winged Pitta. The previous sighting of a fledged juvenile was at Pulau Ubin also around July in 2016 where its nest was discovered ( See reference).

The gape, duller and less defined plumage of the juvenile Blue-winged Pitta

I tried to move in for a closer shot and to avoid the many mountain bikers coming through as this was a shared track at this spot. Unfortunately a biker went by fairly fast and spooked the bird. It quickly hopped and flew further into the bushes.

I wandered around the vicinity to look for it. Then I heard the calls of a Blue-winged Pitta coming from a forest patch about 20 meters away. It turned out to be another pitta, a bigger adult with brighter plumage and clear define plumage perched on a small tree, 3 meters from the ground.

The adult Blue-winged Pitta calling loudly from a small tree.

This adult Blue-winged Pitta was calling loudly and regularly  throughout my observations. It remained perched for about 3 minutes and flew deeper into the forests when I approached it for closer shots. I can only assumed that this is the parent bird.

Both the adult and the juvenile could not be located and was not seen again.

Reference :

1.‘First documented records of the Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis breeding in Singapore, BING WEN LOW, ALFRED CHIA, GIM CHEONG TAN, WEE JIN YAP & KIM KEANG LIM

source:  https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/first-nesting-record-of-the-blue-winged-pitta-in-singapore/?fbclid=IwAR07OKZ95cOOwwBNKrDr0OVpNyYrPXvdoBuD3pRVtdl4eomPPeT4J-8i2XQ

2.‘PITTAS (PITTIDAE) OF SINGAPORE’  NATURE IN SINGAPORE 2009 2: 155–165,

     A. F. S. L. Lok1*, K. T. N. Khor2 , K. C. Lim3 and R. Subaraj4

source:  https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/app/uploads/2017/06/2009nis155-165.pdf

Breeding ecology of the Black-thighed Falconets in Perak, Malaysia.

By Khoo Siew Yoong

The recent sightings of the Black-thighed Falconet, Microhierax fringillarius, in Singapore after 30 years, created considerable interest of this long-lost former resident there. This seems to be a good time to share some observations of their breeding behavior in this blog with you.

A successful brood of four juveniles

I have been studying the nesting of this falconet around the limestone hills at my backyard in Ipoh since 2005.  

A female “helper” tearing the innards of a bird to feed the chicks.

I followed a particular super productive pair full time from 2007 till present. They renewed their courtship around November to March every year, successfully brooding 3-6 chicks each year with a bumper brood of 6 chicks in 2018. In a 9 year period, between 2011 and 2019, they successfully raise at least 30 chicks.

Courtship of the studied pair. Note the size difference between the male and female.

One interesting aspect I discovered during the study was the “outsider” breeding rendered by helper adults in incubating the eggs, feeding and looking after the chicks. All of them, the parents, the helpers and the chicks roost in the same nest hole in the cliff side. Some years back, I took my Singapore birding friend Alan OwYong and his wife to check on the nesting. They were amazed to count a total of 10 of them flying back cramming into one nest hole to roost!

The nest hole inside the side of the limestone cliffs is perfect for the whole family.
A 3 month old falconet already acquired adult plumage.

Breeding – Incubation: 3-3.5 weeks. Fledging: 2.5-3 weeks. Post fledgling: 1-7,5 months.

Diet – Bat & House swift (caught on the fly), house gecko, bee, dragonfly, butterfly, moth and small birds. Occasionally small rat. Collected more than 60 pellets during one nesting period for Prof, Puan at University Putra Malaysia for analysis by his undergrad students.

Some of the pellet droppings for analysis
 MaleFemaleJuvenile
SizeSmallerLargerSmall
Belly and ThighLight rufousSlight darker rufousLight rufous
ThroatWhite/Light rufousLight to darker rufousWhite/beige
Ear StripeWhiteWhiteRufous
SuperciliumWhiteWhiteRufous
Table 1. Field features of the males, females and juveniles.
Family photo of parents, young and helper showing the different plumages.

I hope that more falconets will expand beyond Johor down to Singapore and establish a breeding colony there.

References:

In correspondence with advice from David Wells and Alan Kemp.

Research expedition with the British Broadcasting Corporation on the Black – thighed Falconet (Microhierax Fringillarins – smallest eagle in the world). 2013.

“Strange Castaways” in the Wonders of the Monsoon Series. British Broadcasting Corporation. Broadcast in 2014.  

Scientific presentation on the Black- thighed Falconet (smallest eagle in the world) at the Kasetsart University – Raptor rehabilitation Unit, Chatuchak, Bangkok. 2017

Fledging Fledgling in Bird Ecology Study Group (28 Jan. 2013). Raptors: Black-thighed Falconette in Bird Ecology Study Group (5 Sept. 2009). Black-thighed Falconet: Mating and nesting rituals in Suara Enggang (29 June 07). Co- authored with K C Tsang. 

The last jigsaw to the Mystery of the Crested Serpent Eagle.

By Alan OwYong and Tan Gim Cheong.

After publication of the previous article on the Crested Serpent Eagles at Goldhill, we received many reports from bird watchers and photographers of notable and important sightings of these eagles. We thank you for these records.

We now know that the serpent eagles may have paired up almost two years back in March 2019, thanks to Art Toh’s photo of two adults perched on the same tree.

We may have our final jigsaw piece yesterday (8 June 2021). These are the dramatic photos from Koh Lian Heng showing the adult handing to the juvenile a skink it had captured earlier this afternoon. This is also the first time that both the adult and juvenile were seen together.

The adult capturing the skink at the open field.

According to Lian Heng, the adult flew to a nearby Albizia tree after capturing the skink with both of them calling out. The juvenile could not locate where the adult was despite all the calling. The adult then flew higher up to another branch.

The juvenile flying to meet up with the adult after calling out to each other.

Seeing the adult fly, the juvenile flew in to join the adult. It was then that the adult passed over the skink to the juvenile, and then flew off leaving the juvenile to eat the skink alone.

The adult passing over the skink to the juvenile.

The juvenile with the skink in its talons and was about to tear it with its beak.

Last month on May 28th , MeiLin Khoo related that the adult caught a small monitor lizard and did not eat it. Instead it flew deeper inside the forest with the lizard in the direction where the juvenile was last seen. While both eagles were out of sight, they we calling to each other the whole time.

Many thanks to Koh Lian Heng and MeiLin Khoo for this last pieces of evidence to determine the status of this family of Serpent Eagles.

Photos by Koh Lian Heng.

The Mystery of the Goldhill Juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle.

By Alan OwYong and Tan Gim Cheong.

The Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis Cheela, is listed as a rare resident and migrant in the NSS Bird Group’s Checklist 2021. Earlier authors were divided on its status. Robinson (1927) was not sure of its presence, while Burknill & Chasen (1927) noted that they visited on occasions. Gibson-Hill (1950) recorded it as a resident with small numbers. Chasen considered the subspecies here as the malayensis ( Thai-Malay Peninsula and N. Sumatra). Visiting burmanicus subspecies ( Indochina) have been recorded including one at the Chinese Gardens.

Cindy Chen had been photographing this Serpent Eagle at Goldhill for more than three years. An unusual back view of the eagle looking flustered fending off the mob attack of the Collared Kingfishers was one of her more memorable images of this eagle.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, two individual Crested Serpent Eagles were residing at the Upper Seletar Reservoir Park. Subsequent records from around the island were mostly single birds and were assumed to be wanderers from Johor.

Over the past decade, a Crested Serpent Eagle had been visiting a patch of open forest at the end Goldhill Avenue. It seemed to be taken up residence there during the past few years, mainly due to the availability of reptiles and rodents there.

The tall Albizia trees fringing the open fields at Goldhill Avenue provide vantage perches for hunting for the Crested Serpent Eagles. Photo: Alan OwYong.

The first record of another bird here was on 14 March 2019 when Art Toh photographed both eagles perched on the same tree. They appeared to be of different sex but no bonding or pairing between the two was seen. Will these two be the real deal?

Photo of the two Serpent Eagles perched on the same tree on 14 March 2019 by Art Toh.

It took almost two years before we got the answer. On 7 March 2021, Julian Wong videoed the mating of this pair on an Albizia tree at the fringe of the Goldhill area. He was surprised to learn that this is the first record of these eagles mating here. This was great news as the Crested Serpent Eagle has no proven breeding records in Singapore.

Julian Wong videoed the first mating of a pair of Crested Serpent Eagles on 7 March.

But it was the photo of a juvenile bird taken by Tan YinLing on 25 May 2021 at the same forest that got us excited. This was the second photo of a juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle in Singapore (the other photo was in August 2018 at Bukit Batok). The first record of an immature was from Botanic Gardens on 11 November 1982. On 12 December 2001, a juvenile was recorded at Kent Ridge Park. Dr. Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua of the Kasetsart Laboratory of Raptor Research, Thailand, commented that this is a malayensis subspecies.

Second photo of the juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle taken on 25 May by Tan YinLing.

Trevor Teo made his own luck, roaming the area for several days, and finally got a close up look at the juvenile eating a snake on 3 June 2021. A just reward for his hard work. Unfortunately he did not see how the juvenile got the snake.

Trevor Teo worked very hard to get this photo of the juvenile with a snake. It was tearing and eating the snake when he saw it.

But the big question remains unanswered. Where did this juvenile come from?

So far no one has spotted any nests around the Malcolm Road area. These eagles build large platform nests with sticks and small branches close to the canopy of tall and secluded trees. They lay one egg and incubate it for 37-42 days. It will take a further 59-65 days before it fledges. The interval between mating to appearance of this Goldhill juvenile was 80 days. This time line looks a bit tight.

Curiously, none of the adults had been seen together with the juvenile, either on the same tree or close to each other. There were no reports of the adults chasing the juvenile away. No feeding was observed.

Juveniles are known to wander around. In a tracking study done in Taiwan, a juvenile was recorded some 20 km away from its natal site.

The Bird Group’s Records Committee will be evaluating this in their next review to determined the origin of this juvenile and change its status if needed.

We wish to thank Cindy Chen, Art Toh, Julian Wong, Tan YinLing and Trevor Teo for sharing their sightings and notes with us and for the use of their photographs.

References:

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

Gombobaatar Sundev and Toru Yamazaki (compilers). 2018. A field Guide to the the Raptors of Asia. Volume 1.

Wikipedia.

In letters Dr. Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua. Kasetsart Laboratory of Raptor Research and Conservation Medicine. Thailand.

“Two Pairs of Young Kings”

Observation Records of Juvenile Stork-Billed Kingfishers and White-Throated Kingfishers

Text and photos by Veronica Foo

The months of April and May provide many opportunities to see young birds.

On 15th April 2021 during a walk at Kranji Marshes with Kwek Swee Meng, I chanced upon a pair of juvenile White-throated Kingfishers (Halcyon smyrnensis) perched on a rail by a drain with an adult. The White-throated Kingfisher is a common resident in Singapore. It is polytypic and the subspecies in Singapore is the perpulchra. Both juveniles had darkish bills and some vermiculation on their throat and breast areas.

The adult was seen diving down to the drain once and returning to the rail without any catch. Subsequently, one of the juveniles dived and returned to the rail seemingly without a catch. These birds feed on fish, small amphibians and insects.  It was suggested that the juveniles were probably attempting to learn to feed.  The adult bird subsequently flew off, followed by the 2 juveniles one after another.

The Adult White-Throated Kingfisher with two juveniles.

The remaining juvenile White-throated Kingfisher that eventually flew off

On 4th May 2021, during a walk at MacRitchie Reservoir with Lim Kim Keang, two birds swooped to a tree in front of us followed by another larger bird a few seconds later. The two obscured birds were making calls to each other. They subsequently flew to different trees on the opposite side of the reservoir boardwalk where we had a better view of them. They were the uncommon resident Stork-Billed Kingfishers (Pelargopsis capensis), our largest Kingfisher species in Singapore. Rarely do we see a juvenile Stork-Billed Kingfisher lest a pair of them? This species is polytypic and the ones resident in Singapore is the subspecies malaccensis.

Both juveniles had brown crowns, head-sides and napes, brown vermiculation on their breasts, darkish bills unlike the bright red in adults.  These kingfishers feed on fish and crabs but the juvenile birds did not attempt to dive to fish nor were they fed by the adult.  The juveniles continued making calls while the adult remained perched on a different tree. The birds eventually flew off into the forest.

Pictures of the two juvenile Stork-billed Kingfishers

The adult Stork-Billed Kingfisher perched and overlooking the reservoir water.

Based on this observation, the Stork-Billed Kingfishers were probably looking for better hunting grounds.

Documentation of nesting and breeding records of Kingfishers especially that of Stork-Billed Kingfisher are very scant. These two confirmed breeding records add to the knowledge of our resident kingfishers. Based on a previous record by Lim Kim Chuah and Marcel Finlay on the nesting and breeding record of Stork-Billed Kingfisher can be read on this link.  https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/nesting-and-breeding-record-of-stork-billed-kingfisher-in-singapore/ . The juvenile Stork-Billed Kingfisher photographed by Marcel Finlay on 4 July 2017 has a darker bill base with some red towards the tip. This juvenile may be of a younger age than the two that were observed recently.

Stork-billed Kingfisher calling

Kingfishers generally dig and build nests in river-banks, decaying trees or termite nests in trees in obscurity.  From the above observations and sightings, we can deduce that these two kingfisher species are building nests here. Their successful nestings that resulted in these four juveniles is a positive occurrence and we hope for their continuous survival with records of their sightings.

REFERENCES

1.Lim, K.S. (2009). The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). 

2.Wells, D.R. (1997). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Academic Press.  

3. Yong, D.L., Lim, K.C. and Lee T.K. (2017). A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy.

4. Craig Robson (2016). Birds of South-East Asia (Concise Edition).

5. Nesting and Breeding Record of Stork-Billed Kingfisher by Lim Kim Chuah and Marcel Finlay  https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/nesting-and-breeding-record-of-stork-billed-kingfisher-in-singapore/

Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot cutting and ‘stuffing’ leaves onto its feathers

Text & photos by Sim Chip Chye

BCHP SCC 1

A female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot with strips of cut leaves ‘stuffed’ onto its back feathers (note how a slit in the leaves catch onto the feathers)

On 28 April 2021, looking from my balcony, I witnessed an interesting phenomenon: an adult female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot was seen perforating 1.0 – 1.5 cm on the side margin of the Jambu plant’s leaves and would tear it off strips measuring around 4 cm to 6 cm with the final piece looking like a serrated blade.

BCHP SCC 2

A female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot holding a strip of cut leaf (note that four of the leaves in the photo show signs of cuttings)

It would then place this “blade of leaf” between its back feathers and repeat this act for quite a few times, carefully arranging them neatly, seemingly wanting to “wear the leaves on its back by sticking them on” and when it is satisfied with the placements, fly off as fast as it had come in! I didn’t see any fragments falling off in its flight!!! Looking closer at the photos, it appears the parrot actually made a slit on the serrated leaf and cleverly let the slit catch on to its feathers.

BCHP SCC 3

A female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot securing a strip of cut leaf onto its back feathers which already have many strips of cut leaves

I was guessing if it’s preparing a nest with those tediously collected pieces of leaf fragments and curiosity got the better of me! I googled and saw a couple of locally reported encounters much like mine!

The Red Breasted Parakeet’s Production Factory at Serangoon Garden Circus.

By Mike Smith.

Red breasted parakeets are not native to Singapore but successfully breed in the wild after being released as pets many years ago. They are found at Changi Village, Serangoon Gardens, Pasir Ris Park, the West Coast and undoubtably many other places.

I decided to observe the birds which live in a colony in Serangoon Gardens between late December 2020 and April 2021

The Alexandri subspecies live in Serangoon Gardens.

Summary

 My conclusion is that RBP’s are successful in Singapore because:

  1. They live in permanent colonies.
  2. They have adapted to rural and urban locations.
  3. They select their trees and environment wisely.
  4. They defend their nest holes.
  5. They use the same nest holes on multiple occasions.
  6. At least two birds monitor the nests and feed chicks.
  7. The male often feeds the female in the nest so there is less incentive to leave the nest unattended.
  8. Breeding is prolific and most babies fledge so a colony can grow by 50% in a breeding season.

 If it is determined that the RBP population is growing too fast, to the detriment of other parakeets in Singapore, its population could be controlled by aggressively trimming tree branches in the colony or closing holes.

 Details.

RBP’s in Singapore live in “permanent communities” and take over a whole tree or group of trees. The colony in Serangoon Gardens has been around for several years for example and continues to do well.

RBP’s have adapted to both rural & urban settings eg PRP, Changi Village and Serangoon Gardens.

 The Angsana is a regular choice of tree for a RBP colony to live in. This makes sense because Angsana trees are tall, healthy, hard wood trees that are common in Singapore. They are often planted alongside roads and thus need branches that grow over the roads cutting off, presenting opportunities for woodpeckers, barbets etc to drill out nests, which when abandoned can be taken over by RBP.

 The holes/nests at Serangoon Gardens are at a safe height, offer good views against potential adversaries and are in a location with few predators.

 I would estimate there were initially 20 – 25 RBP at Serangoon Gardens, primarily living in one tree.

 RBP’s are clever and efficient because they keep using the same holes for breeding rather than looking for a hole and abandoning it after fledging.

 Once established a nest is seldom left unguarded for more than 20 or 30 minutes. Once babies have hatched there are often two or more birds monitoring the nest.

 Male adults feed the female in the nest when required. No large protein eg worms or caterpillars was fed to the babies so I suspect protein was from seeds or possibly small bugs on the tree (adults were seen gnawing at branches). Males & females are involved in looking after the nest and feeding chicks but 1 bird, female, dominates sitting in the nest or at the entrance.

 Between January and April 2021, I witnessed 10 successful fledges. In simple terms the population increased by almost 50% in less than 4 months! If this colony is typical then no wonder the population is growing so quickly.

 In all instances, within twenty – four hours of the chicks fledging the nest was “choped” again by another pair of RBP, thus making sure no other type of bird could take over the hole or tree.

 I am not sure what the ethics of preventing RBP from continuing to grow are but perhaps one way to stem the growth is to target angsana trees with significant populations and fill in some of the holes or severely trim the trees and remove some holes which would probably be more politically correct.

Conclusion.

 RBP are thriving in Singapore and will continue to do so unless efforts are taken to control their numbers.

References: ikcnhm.nus.edu.sg, wiki.nus.edu.sg, desgroup.org

The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 2.

The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 2.

A Personal Observation by Pary Sivaraman

In my previous article ‘The Farmland Marshes of Kranji. Part 1’, I had described an ‘accidental site’ comprising muddy parts, marsh-like and water-logged areas that attracted migrant birds and local birds.  In the second part of my write up, I will highlight how some of our resident birds have managed to breed in this accidental site, signaling the ultimate success of such a place. Most of the observations on the breeding of these birds were taken exclusively from outside the fence near one of the lamp posts. Not unexpectedly, it was impossible to photograph the chicks.

The White-breasted Waterhen is a relatively common bird seen at many locations in Singapore. It was one of the first birds seen here to have chicks. The chicks were rather small when first seen and did not venture beyond a specific area located to the left of the Farmland. A pair of Cinnamon Bitterns were also sometimes seen perched on the low-lying shrubs in the deeper parts of the Farmland. Subsequently I would see one of them intermittently fly in to catch what was possibly insects and fly off. With careful observations I tracked it to another Farmland. It would go regularly to the same location with food in its mouth leading me to believe there could be a nest there.  I did not attempt to search for the nest in the other Farmland as it would highly likely have disturbed the nesting. Anyway, it was in another Farmland. The Slaty-breasted Rails with three juveniles have been seen to walk regularly in this Farmland. They would also walk outside the Farmland. Since I did not see the chicks in this Farmland, I cannot be certain whether they had bred here though it is possible since they appeared comfortable walking around.

Chestnut Munia (Black-headed Munia), Scaly-breasted Munia, Common Waxbill and Golden-backed Weavers have been busily seen bringing nesting materials. The nests cannot be seen but I have seen fledglings of the Chestnut Munia and Scaly-breasted Munia. I did not pay too much attention to the other two birds and thus may have missed the fledglings. The Red-wattled Lapwings would fly in an extremely aggressive manner above this Farmland when disturbed. Its chicks were seen in the Farmland behind this plot of land.

Lesser-whistling ducks have been seen regularly visiting this plot of land. The maximum number of Lesser-whistling ducks I had seen at one time was twenty-eight (28) as they flew away from the Farmland.  They would fly in, wade in the water-logged areas or stand at various places (Photos 1 to 3).

Photo 1. Lesser-whistling ducks flying into the Farmland.

Photo 2. Lesser-whistling ducks wading in the water-logged areas.

Photo 3. Lesser-whistling ducks standing at one part of the Farmland.

The area shown by Photo 3 may be especially important as I have seen one pair of Lesser-whistling ducks spend a considerable portion of their time there. It was in the water-logged area near this site, I first noticed the seven (7) ducklings wading with its parents.

Photo 4. Showing the areas where the adults would be seen wading with the chicks.

The Lesser-whistling ducks and ducklings would be seen intermittently wading in the areas marked by the three red arrows. They would usually move in the direction of the blue arrows and reverse back. Whilst I could see the chicks with my binoculars partially hidden by the vegetation, it was not possible for me to get any photos standing outside the fence. The other angle that allowed observation from outside the fence in the past unfortunately was blocked by significant overgrowth of vegetation (hatched purple) and prevented any clear line of sight.

The Common Moorhen has also been seen at various parts of the Farmland. They would either wade in the water-logged areas or stand at a few chosen spots on the solid ground (Photos 5 & 6).

Photo 5. Common Moorhen wading in the water-logged areas.

Photo 6. Common Moorhen standing at one of its usual sites.

The maximum number of adult Common Moorhens I had seen in this Farmland was four (4). I was unable to capture all four in a single frame (Photo 7).

Photo 7. Three Common Moorhens. The fourth one was hidden to the left of this photo.

Photo 7 is interesting as this was the same area where I had seen the pair of Lesser-Whistling ducks spend a considerable portion of the time. Similarly, a pair of the Common Moorhens would spend time here and move to the water-logged area (Photo 8).

Photo 8. Pair of Common Moorhens would be seen regularly at this location.

Two chicks were subsequently seen wading in the water-logged areas with the parents in this location. The chicks were much smaller than the adult and appeared almost completely black, except for the beak which looked possibly tan/pinkish. Despite all my attempts I could not get a single photo standing outside the Farmland. I was terribly disappointed in not being able to get any photos but was still happy to have seen the chicks of the Common Moorhen!

The movement of the Common Moorhen with its chicks was more restricted and usually would be restricted to the leftmost red arrow of Photo 4. I was somewhat puzzled as to whether the Lesser-whistling ducks and the Common Moorhens would get along. I had seen them on multiple occasions sharing the same area (Photo 9) in close proximity.

Photo 9. Lesser-whistling duck and Common Moorhen in proximity.

The final bird that had bred here would be the White-browed Crake. I did not see the chicks but saw the juvenile White-browed Crakes moving within the reeds. They had brownish heads. They would never venture out into the open and I do not have any decent photos of them. Unlike the Lesser-whistling ducks and the Common Moorhens, they preferred a slighly different location that included marsh-like and water logged areas (Photo 10). The head can usually be seen near the purple circled area and they would move within the area marked in blue.

Photo 10. Showing where the juvenile White-browed crakes would be seen.

From July to August 2020, the workers had started more intensive work around the Farmland to clear vegetation, move the bags of sand/fertilizer, etc. With permission from the Farmland supervisiors, I managed to enter and attempted to look for the Common Moorhens. They were not found making me suspect they had left the location due to the regular and significant human activity especially at the place where they were seen to be resting most of the time. Prior to this, the workers did walk around intermittently without doing any clearing of vegetation and I suspect the Common Moorhens remained at the site as they were not threatened.

The Lesser Whistling ducks still continue to come to the Farmland but in lesser numbers and would wade and rest at different locations. The White-browed Crakes can still be found in the Farmland as its usual movement area has not been affected by human activity.

At the start of September 2020,  I was fortunate to witness two chicks of the White-browed Crake with its parents. In the ensuing days only one of the chicks was regularly seen, making me suspect that one of the chicks might have either died or fallen prey. Since my entry into the Farmland was not restricted, I was able to obtain photos of the slightly grown-up chick of the White-browed Crake and subsequently the Juvenile White-browed Crake (Photos 11 & 12). Many other birders have also been successful in capturing precious images of this bird.

Photo 11. White-browed chick with its parent

Photo 12. Juvenile White-browed chick

This accidental site in the Farmland consisting of muddy parts, marsh-like and water-logged areas has attracted both migrant birds and local birds. Recently, the Pallas-grasshopper Warbler and Oriental Reed Warbler have been spotted here. The site has also supported breeding of some of the most uncommon birds we have in Singapore.

In my opinion, this site has been successful as a habitat for both migratory and uncommon local birds. The muddy areas provided a resting and feeding spot for birds like the Long-toed stint and Little-ringed plover. The water-logged areas had relatively shallow portions and even the deeper portions were possibly at most only 0.5 meters. This allowed birds like the White-browed Crakes walk in the shallow areas and Asian Openbills in the deeper areas to forage for food. The interspersed vegetation with reeds provided cover from predators and yet allowed the birds to move freely and forage for food. Excessive human activity like clearing of vegetation would be a threat to these birds as exemplified by the disappearance of the Common Moorhens from this Farmland. Finally, my wish would be such a similar site would be reproduced in a nearby vicinity and it would allow birders like me to watch, photograph and enjoy birdlife.