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.
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, 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.
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).
Common Buzzard, juvenile pale morph, at Changi Business Park, 12 Nov 2019, by James Gan
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.
Jerdon’s Baza captured in formation! Henderson Waves, 9 Nov 2019, by Adrian Silas Tay.
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.
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.
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.