We have several very early migrant sightings this month. Is it due to global warming? Maybe the birds are more sensitive to the changes than us.
Composite photo of a Wood Sandpiper flying over Jurong West by Goh Cheng Teng. First migrant shorebird to arrive this season.
A Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus was photographed by Francis Yap with Keita Sin at Jelutong Tower on 19th, two weeks earlier than the previous early date. On 16th, Goh Cheng Teng photographed a Wood Sandpipers Tringa glareola flying over Jurong West. This is 2 days ahead of the previous early arrival date. Four days later Alan OwYong flushed another Wood Sandpiper from a wet patch at Bulim grasslands. On the same day and place, Ben Choo photographed a female leucopsis White Wagtail Motacilla alba at the canal there. The jury is out if this is over summering or early arrival as the previous early arrival date is 9th September 2016 (Richard White, Marina Barrage).
Ben Choo’s shot of a female White Wagtail in breeding plumage at a canal at Bulim raise the question of its arrival or over-summering status.
The sighting of the Wood Sandpiper prompted Francis Yap to stake out Seletar Dam and he was rewarded with shots of Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and Little Egrets Egretta garzetta there on 24th. A day later, three Common Redshanks Tringa totanus were reported by Robin Tan and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos by Lim Kim Seng, both at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
The first passerine migrant spotted by Thio Hb at the Kampong Java Park on 20th. Photo: Thio Hb.
On 26th Francis returned to Seletar Dam and notched up two more new arrivals. Three Lesser Sand Plovers Charadrius mongolus and a Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, normally the harbinger of the start of the migrant season. But it was beaten by an Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris photographed by Thio Hb at Kampong Java Park on 20th. Our previous early arrival date for this flycatcher was 9th August. Fadzrun A. shot a flock of 46 Lesser Sand Plovers at Kranji Dam on 31st. The migrating shorebirds have arrived!
First Lesser Sand Plovers of the season from Seletar Dam captured by Francis Yap
We ended the month with a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea crashing into the Beach Villas at Resort World Sentosa on 31st. Tan Kok Yeang was kind enough to send us the photo. The injured bird was handed over to Nparks. This is a new addition to Sentosa but we had record of this migrant arriving as early as 8th of July. We can expect a busy month ahead as more migrants will be making landfall at various parts of the island.
The injured Watercock that crashed into the Beach Villas at Sentosa. Photo: Tan Kok Yeang.
Our residents put up a good show as well. The most unexpected sighting was a rare Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea turning up at Marina East on 30th, a first for the south. We had very few mainland records as this is a mangrove island dweller. We had to thank Mike Hooper for this record. Koh Liang Heng followed up the next day and found it at the same place. The Mangrove Pittas Pitta megrahyncha were reported at Pulau Ubin and Pasir Ris Park on 8th and 17th respectively ( Willie Foo and Lim Kim Keang). The Blue-winged Pittas Pitta moluccensis were heard calling at the Bulim Forest by Wing Chong and James Tann and at Choa Chu Kang Cemeteries by Martin Kennewell both during the Mid Year Bird Census on 8th. They may be nesting but no nests were found so far.
The rare Mangrove Whistler photographed at Marina East by Mike Hooper on 30th.
An Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris was seen at Gardens by the Bay by Veronica Foo on 27th, a surprising first for GBTB. From one Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica to ten at the Lorong Halus ponds on 17th was the welcome news from Lim Kim Keang. We continue to receive records of House Swifts Apus nipalensis over the months. Three birds were seen at the East Coast Parkway near Fort Road by Lim Kim Chuah on 14th. Signs that this species maybe making a comeback.
The juvenile Greater Green Leafbird at Dairy Farm is a good indication of the successful breeding of this uncommon species.
The other good news were sightings of juveniles of some of the uncommon species, confirming their breeding success. A Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati juvenile was photographed feeding on a White Mulberry Tree at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 15th. We do not have any breeding records for this leafbird and this is only the second record of a juvenile.
A young male Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was seen being chased by an female Sunbird at Jurong Eco Garden on 18th. Lim Kim Keang also reported seeing the same there a few weeks earlier. Over at the Lorong Halus ponds, a pair of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis were seen feeding a juvenile on 25th. All the three above records came from Alan OwYong. The last young bird reported was a Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 31st by Seng Alvin, a first for the park.?
This young Violet Cuckoo was being chased around Jurong Eco Garden by a female Sunbird.
Finally two non-breeding visitors were reported this month. A Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was seen perched at Science Park 2 on 13th by Francis Yap and a pair of Black Hornbills Anthracoceros malayanus at Sentosa flying towards Siloso on 30th seen by Colin Richardson, a visiting birder (posted in ebird, reported by Martin Kennewell). This hornbill was recently added to the checklist based on the records from Pulau Ubin, where one was seen by Adrian Silas Tay on 22nd.
Errata: an earlier version of this post included the report of a Pacific Swift (below) which Keita Sin has subsequently said was likely a misidentified House Swift and has since retracted.
Keita Sin did better when he came across a Pacific Swift Apus pacificus flying across Punggol Barat on 22nd, more than a month from the last early date of 3rd Sept.
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, individual reports and extracts from ebird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Goh Cheng Teng, Ben Choo, Thio Hb, Francis Yap, Tan Kok Yeang and Alan OwYong for the the use of their photos. Please notify firstname.lastname@example.org if you find errors in these records.