Category Archives: Rare Bird Sighting

Singapore Bird Report – July 2019

by Geoff Lim & Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

July 2019 was an amazing month, with the first record of the Pied Stilt, not just occurring, but also breeding, in Singapore; and the first breeding record of the rare Black-winged Stilt, so far only known as a visitor. The month also closed with the complete loss of a brood of 11 ducklings of a pair of Lesser Whistling Ducks.

First record of Pied Stilt in Singapore.

In July 2019, Frankie Cheong reported the first record of the Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus in Singapore, on the new reclaimed land around Pulau Tekong. It was on 17 July 2019 that he saw an adult Pied Stilt and four juveniles that appeared to associate with the adult. The four juvenile stilts were seen again on 23 July 2019.

Pied Stilt, posted 180719, Tekong, Frankie Cheong

Adult Pied Stilt (above) and four juvenile stilts (below) spotted on 17 July 2019, by Frankie Cheong.

Pied Stilt, posted 180719, Tekong, Frankie Cheong, juveniles

First breeding record of Pied Stilt in Singapore.

Just three days later, on 20 July 2019, he found that a pair of Pied Stilts were nesting! The nest contained one egg on 20 July 2019, and by 23 July 2019, the nest yielded four eggs. On 27 July 2019, the Pied Stilts were still sitting on their eggs.

Pied Stilt breeding, posted 20 Aug, Tekong, Frankie Cheong 2

Pied Stilt showing its long black ‘mane’ on back of neck, 20 July 2019. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

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Pied Stilt with nest containing one egg on 20 July 2019. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

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Pied Stilt nest containing four eggs on 23 July 2019. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

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Pied Stilt sitting on its nest on 27 July 2019, by Frankie Cheong.

The rare Black-winged Stilts

A rare Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus was also seen in the same vicinity on 17 July 2019, and again on 23 July 2019, fighting with the Pied Stilt.

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Black-winged Stilt spotted on 17 July 2019 by Frankie Cheong.

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Black-winged (left) and Pied (right) Stilts fighting on 23 July 2019. Photo by Frankie Cheong.

First breeding record of Black-winged Stilt in Singapore.

On 25 July 2019, Frankie stumbled on yet another nest with four eggs. This time, it belonged to a pair of Black-winged Stilts, which was unexpected as these birds have so far been known as rare migrants. By 27 July 2019, one chick was visible and tended to by its parents, while the nest only had one egg visible. The two other eggs had disappeared. By 29 July 2019, the Black-winged Stilt’s nest was empty, while two chicks were seen nearby, in the presence of two adult birds.

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Black-winged Stilt with chick on 27 July 2019, by Frankie Cheong.

The Black-winged Stilt is widely distributed and is found from France and Iberia S to sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, and E to C Asia and NC China, Indian Subcontinent (including Sri Lanka), Indochina and Taiwan; winters S to Africa (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019), while the Pied Stilt, also known as the White-headed Stilt, occurs in Sumatra and Java, E to New Guinea, and S to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand; winters N to Philippines, Greater Sundas and Sulawesi, and as far as Sri Lanka (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019). Historically, the Black-winged Stilt is listed as the only species of stilt found in the Malay Peninsula (Wells, 1999:273-274).

Hitherto, the Black-winged Stilt has been listed as a rare migrant to Singapore. The last three sightings were at the main hide at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in November 2011, Punggol Barat in December 2012 and Kranji Marsh in November 2015. Hence, Frankie’s breeding records presents new knowledge on the status of the bird in Singapore.

The Pied Stilt had previously been considered a sub-species of the Black-winged Stilt (Pierce and Kirwan, 2019) and is notably a largely Indonesian/Australasian species. In recent years, it has more frequently been accorded full species status (Sonobe & Usui, 1993; Robson, 2005). There are no previous records of the Pied Stilt in Singapore, much less a breeding record, therefore Frankie’s sightings constitute the first records of the Pied Stilt in Singapore.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) & Fringes

While resident species continued to hold sway, early migratory species have begun to reach our shores. In the heart of the CCNR, observers reported regular forest residents such as the Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus on 10 July 2019 (Francis Yap), Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps on 13 July 2019 at Jelutong Tower (Joseph Lim), the Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera on 23 July 2019 (Martin Kennewell), Short-tailed Babbler Malacocincla malaccensis on 23 July 2019 (Martin Kennewell – 2 heard) and on 25 July 2019 (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan – 1 bird seen on trail to Jelutong Tower), and Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati (Evelyn Lee – female at Jelutong Tower). A migratory Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni was reported as being seen on 22 July 2019 by Raghav N.

Violet Cuckoo, 100719, JT, Fryap

Violet Cuckoo at Jelutong Tower on 10 July 2019 by Francis Yap.

STB, KNCK

Short-tailed Babbler at CCNR on 25 July 2019 by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan.

CCNR fringe parks also received a fair amount of attention. Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) hosted a conference of Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana between 1 and 4 July 2019 (Peter Lim), beginning with 11 individuals on 1 Jul 2019, to 7 birds and eventually 4 birds by 4 July 2019. The Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus was spotted on 27 July 2019 (Yeong Wai Kai) and a female Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra was seen on 31 July 2019 (Roberta Cheok). Along the Rail Corridor, a Tanimbar Corella Cacatua goffiniana was spotted on 5 July 2019 (Lim Sheen Taw).

CBM, YWK

Chestnut-bellied Malkoha at DFNP on 27 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai.

Tanimbar, Taw

Tanimbar Corella along Rail Corridor on 5 Jul 2019 by Lim Sheen Taw.

Further away at the Singapore Quarry, a foraging Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus was spotted on 3 July 2019 (Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan), a pair of Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus and its juvenile were variously spotted on 16 July 2019, from 21 to 25 July 2019 by Art Toh and friends, and heard on 28 July 2019 by Yong Ding Li and Geoff Lim; while a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was spotted on 30 July 2019 by Francis Yap. Observers also noted the presence of the Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata at Hindhede Park on 4 and 26 July 2019 (Terence Tan and Joseph Lim).

BEO, Herman

Barred Eagle Owl at Singapore Quarry on 31 July 2019 by Herman Phua.

A Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax was spotted at Upper Peirce Reservoir on 24 July 2019 by Morten Strange and Bee Choo.

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Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo at Upper Peirce Reservoir on 24 July 2019 by Morten Strange & Ng-Strange Bee Choo.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Two Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata were seen on 2 July 2019 by Mike Smith, while the White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata was spotted on 13 July 2019.

RLC, Smith

Red-legged Crake at SBG on 2 Jul 2019 by Mike Smith.

Central Singapore

A White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster was seen at Potong Pasir Park Connector on 5 July 2019 by Paul Tan, while three Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela were seen at Goldhill Avenue on 6 July 2019 by Soon Yi Pak

Northern Singapore

The Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis was spotted at the Lorong Halus Wetland by Dean Tan and Siew Mun on 5 and 17 July 2019. Towards the end of July, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia were spotted at Yishun Dam on 28 July 2019 (Art Toh), as were up to four Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus on 31 Jul 2019 (Khoo Mei Lin), together with Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii, on 28 July 2019 (Art Toh) and 31 July 2019 (Khoo Mei Lin).

MP, Art

Malaysian Plover at Yishun Dam on 28 July 2019 by Art Toh.

Eastern Singapore

Singapore’s eastern flanks contain habitats that yielded surprises. Pulau Ubin delivered spectacular species, such as a rare Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos discovered during a joint NParks-NSS Ubin survey on 7 July 2019, a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela on 2 July 2019 by Feroz Ghazali, while the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus put up two appearances on 14 and 21 July 2019 at Chek Jawa for Francis Yap. There were also shorebirds lingering farther away – three Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus and two Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos spotted on 18 July 2019 by Feroz Ghazali, and Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and more Whimbrel on 21 July 2019 by Francis Yap.

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Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 July 2019 by Francis Yap.

Pasir Ris Park continued to support Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea (14 July 2019; Steven Cheong), the adult and juvenile Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo (28 July 2019; Jimmy Ng), the one-eyed Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu (28 July 2019; Jimmy Ng), and the juvenile Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting with a deformed foot (31 July 2019; Dean Tan). Nearby at the Sungei Tampines Canal East, Little Tern Sternula albifrons had been seen earlier on 1 July 2019 foraging above the waters by Alvin Seng.

Changi Business Park continued to be a stronghold for the Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea, which was reported on 14 July 2019 (T. Ramesh) drinking water in the canal, and on 19 July 2019 at a more conventional location. Also spotted was an early arriving Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, seen on 17 July 2019 by T. Ramesh.

SWO, JN

Juvenile Spotted Wood Owl at Pasir Ris Park on 28 July 2019 by Jimmy Ng.

Southern Singapore

Gardens by the Bay gave nature lovers much grief and anxiety when the ducklings belonging to a pair of Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica were systematically decimated through the course of the month. (From 11 ducklings on 27 June 2019), by 1 July 2019, there were seven ducklings, as counted by Isabelle Lee and other birders. Staff from the Gardens took pains to build a floating platform for the birds to provide a safe haven from suspected underwater predators. Despite everyone’s best effort, the family was eventually reduced to four survivors by 22 July 2019 (Ronnie Koh), as individuals were picked off by predatory fish lurking beneath the murky waters under the lotus pads. On 24 July 2019, the family decided to move to the ponds at Gardens by the Bay East, and by 25 July 2019, the family was down to a single duckling (Mary Yeo). Then, on 26 July 2019, there were no more ducklings (Jeremiah Loei).

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Lesser Whistling Duck and young using platform built by Gardens by the Bay staff on 7 July 2019, by Isabelle Lee.

Barely a kilometre away, another family of birds captured the attention of photographers and birders. A pair of Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles made a nest out of a scrape on the ground next to a construction site at Marina Bay East. Four eggs were reported on 16 July 2019, which eventually hatched by 19 July 2019. The chicks were rescued by construction workers when they could not surmount the kerb when their parents moved to the golf course across the construction site.

ML, Majid

Masked Lapwing with chicks at Marina East Drive on 25 July 2019 by Norhafiani A. Majid.

Further away, White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata were reported at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 19 July 2019 by John Marriott, who also reported Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea at Sentosa on 23 July 2019.

Western Singapore

The Kranji Marshes and surrounding habitat comprising Turut Track and Neo Tiew Harvest Lane received reports of migrants and residents alike. Two Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus were reportedly inspecting a hole at Turut Track on 3 July 2019 by Steven Wong, who also reported the sighting of a Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus in the vicinity on the same day. A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was reportedly seen on 7 July 2019 at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane by William Legge, who noted that “a small bittern uniformly salmon cinnamon coloured flew away from us”. Two Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus were spotted on 17 July 2019 within Kranji Marshes by Vincent Chin, while a juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii was seen on 28 and 29 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai; the young cuckoo was being fed by a Common Iora Aegithina tiphia on 28 July 2019. An adult Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata was also seen regurgitating food for three young birds on 30 July 2019 at Kranji Marsh by Yeo Seng Beng. Migratory Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius were reported to have arrived at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 28 July 2019 by Art Toh.

BBC, YWK

Juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo fed by adult Common Iora at Kranji Marsh on 28 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai.

WS, AT

Wood Sandpiper at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 28 July 2019 by Art Toh.

Shorebirds were also reported at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. As early as 7 July 2019, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus were seen huddling together at the main pond by William Legge. Other shorebirds reported were a lone Common Redshank Tringa totanus on 14 July 2019 (Adrian Silas Tay), and Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva on 23 July 2019 (YK Han). The Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus were also spotted on 7 July 2019 by YK Han, 14 July 2019 perched on a tree at Platform 2 by Adrian Silas Tay and two overflying birds on 20 July 2019 by Ng Wei Khim & Ng Wee Hao.

Two adults and a juvenile Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu were reported at the newly opened Jurong Lake Garden on 21 July 2019 by Yeong Wai Kai and seen again on 27 July 2019 by Ang Siew Siew, while the White-headed Munia Lonchura striata was also spotted on 23 July 2019 by Vincent Chin. The munia species was also seen along the Ulu Pandan Park Connector Network on 18 July 2019 by Brenda Chua LH, while further afield, a Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra was spotted at the West Coast Park on 22 July 2019 by John Marriott.
Abbreviations:
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park

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

Many thanks to Frankie Cheong, Francis Yap, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, Yeong Wai Kai, Lim Sheen Taw, Herman Phua, Morten and Bee Choo Strange, Mike Smith, Art Toh, Jimmy Ng, Isabelle Lee, and Norhafianni A. Majid for allowing us to use their photographs.

REFERENCES

Pierce, R.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53759 on 26 August 2019).

Robson, C. (2005). Birds of South-east Asia. New Holland Publisher: UK.

Sonobe, K. & Usui, S. (1993). A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan: Tokyo.

Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Academic Press: London.

LIST OF BIRDS REPORTED IN JUNE 2019

Family Species name Scientific Name Date
Anatidae Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica 1 Jul 2019
Anatidae Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica 22 Jul 2019
Podicipedidae Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 5 Jul 2019
Podicipedidae Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 17 Jul 2019
Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 7 Jul 2019
Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 14 Jul 2019
Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 20 Jul 2019
Ardeidae Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus 7 Jul 2019
Ardeidae Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra 22 Jul 2019
Accipitridae Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela 2 Jul 2019
Accipitridae Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela 6 Jul 2019
Accipitridae Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus 3 Jul 2019
Accipitridae Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus 3 Jul 2019
Accipitridae White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 5 Jul 2019
Rallidae Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata 2 Jul 2019
Recurvirostridae Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 17 Jul 2019
Recurvirostridae Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus 17 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus 3 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles 16 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles 19 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles 19 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 23 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 21 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 28 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 28 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii 31 Jul 2019
Charadriidae Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus 31 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 7 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 18 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 21 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Common Redshank Tringa totanus 14 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 21 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 28 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 28 Jul 2019
Scolopacidae Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 18 Jul 2019
Laridae Little Tern Sternula albifrons 1 Jul 2019
Columbidae Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra 31 Jul 2019
Columbidae Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 14 Jul 2019
Columbidae Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 19 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus 27 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus 10 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus 30 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii 28 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii 29 Jul 2019
Cuculidae Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax 24 Jul 2019
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 16 Jul 2019
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 18 Jul 2019
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus 30 Jul 2019
Strigidae Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 21 Jul 2019
Strigidae Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 27 Jul 2019
Strigidae Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu 28 Jul 2019
Strigidae Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo 28 Jul 2019
Strigidae Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata 4 Jul 2019
Strigidae Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata 26 Jul 2019
Alcedinidae Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting 31 Jul 2019
Cacatuidae Tanimbar Corella Cacatua goffiniana 5 Jul 2019
Cacatuidae Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea 14 Jul 2019
Cacatuidae Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea 23 Jul 2019
Eurylaimidae Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos 7 Jul 2019
Tephrodornithidae Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus 14 Jul 2019
Tephrodornithidae Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus 21 Jul 2019
Pycnonotidae Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus 17 Jul 2019
Pycnonotidae Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps 13 Jul 2019
Timaliidae Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera 23 Jul 2019
Pellorneidae Short-tailed Babbler Malacocincla malaccensis 23 Jul 2019
Pellorneidae Short-tailed Babbler Malacocincla malaccensis 25 Jul 2019
Muscicapidae Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni 22 Jul 2019
Chloropseidae Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati 27 Jul 2019
Nectariniidae Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana 1 Jul 2019
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 13 Jul 2019
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 19 Jul 2019
Estrildidae Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata 30 Jul 2019
Estrildidae White-headed Munia Lonchura maja 18 Jul 2019
Estrildidae White-headed Munia Lonchura maja 23 Jul 2019
Motacillidae Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 17 Jul 2019

Asian Openbill-Singapore’s 2nd Record

On 17 March 2019, Beng Neo’s facebook post of an Open-billed Stork, Anastomus oscitans, taken at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve caused a stir among the birding community here. The next day birders and photographers lined up on the main bridge, hoping to tick off their lifers. They were not disappointed and all went home happy with great sightings and shots.

1-Beng Neo

Beng Neo’s shot of the Open-billed on the 17 March at SBWR.

Apparently Clare and Grant Morton, visiting birders from Australia first spotted this stork flying over the main hide on 14 March. They reported by email to the Nature Society (Singapore) and later confirmed it with a photo on the 19 March. Their sighting constituted only our second record of this stork in Singapore.

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Heavily cropped shot of the Openbill flying over SBWR on the 14th March by Clare and Grant Morton.

Our first record was on 23 January 2013 when six birds were spotted feeding in an open flooded field at Seletar North. They were part of a larger flock that made its way down south from Thailand along the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. This movement may be due to the dry conditions back in Thailand and the lack of food sources.

Mei Ling Khoo

Mei Ling Khoo’s shot of the balancing stork taken from the main bridge. This month there were several postings of this stork on the Wild Bird Club Malaysia Facebook pages. 15th at Bota Kiri and Kinta NP on 3rd both in Perak and Tanjong Karang, Selangor on 11th. According to Tou Jing Yi they can be found in many parts of the West Coast and are still supplemented by migrants.

Mahesh Krishan

Mahesh Krishnan caught it flying towards him at the main pond. The Asian Openbill is a common resident of India and parts of Indochina. Hundreds can be seen roosting in temples in Bangkok.

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The abundance of mollusc at the main ponds will hopefully prolong its stay here. This photo made it look like they are using the gap to crack the snails but they actually pick out the flesh with the curved tip of its mandible.

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A curious Monitor Lizard checking out the new arrival.

Reference: B.W. Low et al. First Record of the First Asian Openbill in Singapore. 2013.

Many thanks to Beng Neo, Clare and Grant Morton, Mahesh Krishnan, Khoo Mei Ling and Alan OwYong for the use of their photos and to Clare and Grant Morton for their record.

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore Raptor Report – December 2018

Common Buzzard, Art Toh

Common Buzzard, adult pale morph with lizard tail protuding from its bill, on 1 Dec 2018, at the junction of Holland Road and North Buona Vista Road, by Art Toh.

Summary for migrant species:

A rare Short-toed Snake Eagle surprised and delighted a small group of birders who managed to get crisp photographs of the raptor as it flew over Changi Business Park on 5th December, and disappeared – a one-day wonder as it usually is for this species in Singapore. On the other side of the island, at the junction of Holland Road and North Buona Vista Road on 1st December, an uncommon Common Buzzard feeding on a lizard gave Art Toh many photo opportunities. A rare Imperial Eagle was reportedly seen at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on the 15th.

A rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl was found on 5th December at Dairy Farm Nature Park. Then, a grey morph Oriental Scops Owl showed up in the same vicinity on the 9th, the same date as the year before! Both morphs were present on 9th and 10th December. Thereafter only the rufous morph was reported to be around until the 15th. These two birds display amazing site fidelity, returning to the same spot for the 3rd season in a row!

Eight Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded: four wintering at Changi Business Park, three at Lorong Halus on the 25th and one at Pulau Ubin on the 30th. Five Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded: singles at Pulau Ubin, Henderson Waves & Coney Island, and two at Lorong Halus. Five Peregrine Falcons were recorded: singles at Kranji Marshes, Coney Island, Changi Business Park, Seletar Aerospace and West Coast Drive. Three Western Ospreys were recorded: one at Simpang grasslands, one at Kranji Marshes, and another at MacRitchie Reservoir.

Finally, we come to the most abundant migrant raptors. 15 Japanese Sparrowhawks and 49 Black Bazas were recorded, including 27 bazas at Lorong Halus on the 29th. The Oriental Honey Buzzard is tops again with 85 birds, including 33 birds at Tuas on the 1st.

STSE, 051219, CBP, Feroz, crop

Short-toed Snake Eagle, in flight over Changi Business Park, on 5 Dec 2018, by Feroz N Fizah.

Highlights for sedentary species:

The notable sightings for resident raptors include that of the locally rare Crested Serpent Eagle which was recorded three times: an immature at Henderson Waves on the 8th, and two sightings at Pulau Ubin, on the 7th & 31st, probably of the same bird. Another was the nesting of the Crested Goshawks at West Coast, with 2 chicks that were reported to have fledged by the time of this report. And also, a Brahminy Kite at Neo Tiew Lane 2 flying with nesting materials on the 29th.

The torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzard was recorded at Jelutong Tower on the 20th (tweeddale morph), Springside Link on the 25th, and an immature at Pasir Ris starting from the 27th (and is still around). The other resident raptors recorded were the Black-winged Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagles and Changeable Hawk Eagle.

table

For more details, please see the pdf Singapore Raptor Report – December 2018

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Art Toh and Feroz N Fizah for the use of their photos.

 

Singapore Raptor Report – November 2018

PF, 181118, Harvest Link, Khoo Meilin

Peregrine Falcon, juvenile, 18 Nov 2018, Neo Tiew Harvest Link, photo by Khoo Meilin

Summary for migrant species:

November is the peak month for migrant raptor diversity and this month matched last year’s record of 18 migrant species, while the numbers – 2666 migrant raptors – more than doubled that of last year’s 1090. The Southern Ridges continued to attract raptor watchers, with Henderson Waves being the favoured spot. On 12 November, a largish accipiter showed up west of Telok Blangah Hill Park, circled a few times and headed back west. Sensing something promising, Tan Gim Cheong snapped a few pics to confirm its identity – a rare Eurasian Sparrowhawk – the 5th record for this species in Singapore. On 20 November, Oliver Tan was well rewarded for his time spent at Henderson Waves with another rare raptor – a Short-toed Snake Eagle.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 121118, 1117h, TBH

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 12 Nov 2018, Telok Blangah Hill Park, by Tan Gim Cheong

After last month’s single record at Kent Ridge, we had three records of the rare Greater Spotted Eagle, all juveniles: one on the 3rd flying high over Changi Business Park, photographed by Zacc HD; one on the 4th at Henderson Waves, photographed by See Toh Yew Wai; and another one on the 10th, also at Henderson Waves, photographed by Tan Kok Hui. On the 6th, Low Choon How located a Northern Boobook at Tuas and another was found dead at a condo on the 10th, collected by David Tan. Two juvenile Black Kites were recorded: one on the 3rd at Tuas and another on the 8th at Hindhede Nature Park, both photographed in flight.

There were two flybys of the uncommon Eastern Marsh Harrier at Turut Track, an adult male on the 4th, photographed by Low Choon How; and a juvenile on the 5th, photographed by Francis Yap. On the 11th, while guiding a student group during the bird race, Adrian Silas Tay photographed a rare Pied Harrier, a juvenile, at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

STSE, 201118, HW, Oliver Tan 2

Short-toed Snake Eagle, 20 Nov 2018, Henderson Waves, by Oliver Tan

An uncommon Common Buzzard was photographed at Pasir Ris on the 2nd, and Dr Chaiyan remarked that it was a refectus juvenile. This month’s 11 Grey-faced Buzzards exceeded last month’s six. On the 3rd, five were recorded at Henderson Waves, two at Lorong Halus; on the 6th, two at Henderson Waves; and on the 10th, two at Lazarus Island; all being recorded between 10am to 1pm.

The uncommon Jerdon’s Baza was recorded twice, on the 19th at Preston Road perched on a tree, and on the 23rd flying over Henderson Waves. As Preston Road is near Henderson Waves, it may have been the same individual on both dates. Another uncommon raptor, the Common Kestrel was photographed at Neo Tiew Lane on the 29th.

OHB, 191118, KM, Feroz N Fizah

Oriental Honey Buzzard, orientalis juvenile, 19 Nov 2018, Kranji Marshes, by Feroz and Fizah

Fifty nine Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them over Henderson Waves, while one adult female seemingly returned to winter at Ang Mo Kio. Eight Peregrine Falcons and five Western Ospreys were also recorded. There was a report of an immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle (which is often confused with the resident Changeable Hawk-Eagle) rescued on the 4th at Pasir Ris and subsequently released.

Finally, we come to the most abundant migrant raptors. 209 Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them at Henderson Waves. From 35 birds last month, we had 664 Black Bazas this month, with a flock of 200 birds on the 8th at Telok Blangah Hill Park. The Oriental Honey Buzzard is tops again with 1698 birds, with a day high of 488 birds, which included a stream of 200 birds at noontime, at Tuas on the 10th.

CHE, 101118, Mt Faber, Risk Koh, prey Yellow Bittern 2

Changeable Hawk-Eagle, adult with prey ( yellow bittern) at Mount Faber on 10 Nov 2018, by Risk Koh.

Highlights for sedentary species:

Both records of the torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards were of the non-tweeddale form; one perched at Mandai on the 14th, and another in flight at Telok Blangah Hill Park on the 28th.

OHB tor

Oriental Honey Buzzard, torquatus juvenile, 2 views of the same bird, the crest is visible in the photo on the right, 28 Nov 2018, Telok Blangah Hill Park, by Pary Sivaraman

At Bukit Timah on the 8th, Richard White photographed an immature White-bellied Sea Eagle that had lost all its secondaries and half of its primaries on its right wing, and most of its tail feathers. Amazingly, it could still fly!

wbse, 081118, bukit timah, richard white

White-bellied Sea Eagle, still flying despite the loss of many flight feathers! Bukit Timah, 8 Nov 2018, by Richard White.

Nesting activities were observed for three resident species. A White-bellied Sea Eagle flying with a 2m long stick at West Coast, a Brahminy Kite flying with a smaller stick on the 22nd, a Grey-headed Fish Eagle perched near a nest at Punggol and a pair of Changeable Hawk-Eagles at their nest at Mount Faber. The other resident raptors recorded included the Crested Goshawk and Black-winged Kite.

WBSE, 061118, WCP, Zhang Licong

White-bellied Sea Eagle, carrying a stick in flight, 6 Nov 2018, West Coast Park, by Zhang Licong

Table 1

CGH, posted 281118, Ted Ng

Crested Goshawk, adult male, with a prey (a lizard), Nov 2018, Pasir Ris Park, by Ted Ng

For more details, please see the pdf singapore raptor report – nov 2018

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Khoo Meilin, Oliver Tan, Feroz and Fizah, Risk Koh, Pary Sivaraman, Richard White, Zhang Licong, and Ted Ng for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – October 2018

Extinct from Singapore since the 1940s, the Large Woodshrike re-appears after 70 years. October also marks the arrival of the charismatic, migratory black-backed race of the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, and migrant raptors. In concert with the World Migratory Bird Day celebrated in October, we will examine the importance of Singapore as part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, as well as the issue of bird collisions into building structures.

Large Woodshrike, 22 Oct 2018, Jelutong, Fryap, crop

Large Woodshrike at Jelutong Tower on 22 October 2018, moments before it disappeared as quickly as it appeared, by Francis Yap.

Large Woodshrike : re-appears after 70 years

Extinct from Singapore since the 1940s, a Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis virgatus  made an amazing appearance at Jelutong Tower on 22 October 2018 for a few seconds, long enough for Francis Yap to capture a clear photo, before it flew and disappeared into the canopy of the trees. The lucky observers, including Oliver Tan, also noted that its loud calls in flight matched the recordings of this species.

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

The northern black-backed race of the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca started to trickle into Singapore in October. The first of the season report of the kingfisher was made on 4 October 2018 at Gardens by the Bay by Goh Bak Seng, and the bird remained there for several days, allowing many birders and photographers to view it. Another bird was spotted on Pulau Ubin on 6 October 2018 by Lim Kim Seng. On 18 October 2018, the species was reported at Satay by the Bay by Billy Tey and at Kallang Sector 2 by Richard Ngo.

ODKF,-071018,-GBTB,-Angela-Yeo,-w

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (black-backed race) at Gardens by the Bay. Photographed on 7 October 2018 by Angela Yeo.

The Gardens by the Bay kingfisher subsequently found itself in the local news after it was attacked by a White-breasted Waterhen while drying out on the floor of the reed bed on 6 October 2018, and was rescued by the Gardens staff and two NSS Bird Group members. The bird was subsequently released back to the Gardens by one of the Bird Group members on 7 October 2018.

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Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher rescued by staff at Gardens by the Bay. Photographed on 6 October 2018 by Geoff Lim.

Wells (1997:518-521) noted that the species migrates nocturnally, and that about 65 per cent of birds surveyed at lighthouses were first winter birds. This suggested that the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (black-backed race) has a relatively low rate of survival.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve

The first Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica of the season was spotted at Bukit Timah on 6 October 2018 by Richard White, who also spotted a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus on Bukit Timah Hill on 15 October 2018, along with a flock of about 11 Pacific Swift Apus pacificus; another flock of about 210 birds were subsequently spotted on 22 October 2018 over Jelutong Tower by Martin Kennewell.  Six Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis, possibly passage migrants, were seen flying high and southwards on 20 October 2018 from Bukit Timah Hill by Richard White. Another first of the season was an Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus seen at Jelutong Tower on 19 October 2018 by Francis Yap, who also spotted a first-of-the-season Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis on 26 October 2018 from the same tower.

Silver-backed Needletail, Fryap

A photo-montage of a Silver-backed Needletail taken from Jelutong Tower on 26 October 2018 by Francis Yap.

Residents spotted during October were a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu at Singapore Quarry on 6 October 2018 by Yap Wee Jin, a flock of about 40 Plume-toed Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta from Bukit Timah Hill on 16 October 2018 by Richard White, and the rediscovery of the Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis virgatus, a former resident, as mentioned earlier.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A solitary and skulking Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus was spotted within the Evolution Garden on 28 October 2018, along with a female Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at Symphony Lake by Geoff Lim.

BCJFC, posted 121018, Bida, Steven Cheong

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, at Bidadari on 12 October 2018 by Steven Cheong.

Central Singapore

A Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda, first for the season, was spotted at Bidadari on 12 October 2018 by Kozi Ichiyama, and continued to be seen till 27 October 2018 by many observers. Also spotted on 12 October 2018 at Bidadari was a first winter Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus by Art Toh and Steven Cheong; three more of the same species of Flycatcher were also seen along the former cemetery’s perimeter on 27 October 2018 by Tuck Loong and others. In addition, a Cinereous Bulbul Hemixos cinereus, a non-breeding visitor, was recorded at Bidadari on 29 October 2018 by Terry Chen.

Ruddy KF, 191018, Bida, Terence Tan

Ruddy Kingfisher at Bidadari on 19 October 2018, showing a glimpse of its bright blue rump, by Terence Tan.

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Cinereous Bulbul spotted at Bidadari and photographed on 29 October 2018 by Terry Chen.

Northern Singapore

About 1,000 Barn Swallow Hirunda rustica were reported to be roosting at the HDB estate located within Yishun Avenue 7 on 10 October 2018 by Esther Ong, while about 200-plus Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, along with a White Wagtail Motacilla alba of the rare lugens subspecies and a number of Forest Wagtail Dendroanthus indicus were spotted at Yishun Street 11 on 12 October 2018 by Veronica Foo and Henrietta Woo.

Eastern Singapore

Several rare and uncommon birds were spotted on Pulau Tekong. These include an Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus (3 October 2018), Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus (6 October 2018), the rare and endangered Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes (10 October 2018), and a single Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata (13 October 2018), all by Frankie Cheong.

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A Broad-billed Sandpiper photographed by Frankie Cheong on 25 October 2018.

The neighbouring island of Pulau Ubin yielded several notable species as well. A good find was a Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus photographed at Jejawi Tower on 21 October 2018 by Diane Campbell. Since the first ever record of this species in Singapore in 2013, there are less than ten records of this rare non-breeding visitor. Participants of the joint NParks-NSS surveys noted a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea on 6 October 2018 (See Toh Yew Wai), a Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis on 6 October 2018, a Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes and two Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica on 28 October 2018 (Lim Kim Keang). Other observers spotted a Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica at Chek Jawa on 14 October 2018 (Martin Kennewell), and a resident Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis at Balai Quarry on 28 October 2018 (Diane Campbell).  Two Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus, the firsts for the season, were also seen at Pulau Ubin on 14 October by Pary Sivaraman and a few others.

Other birds spotted in eastern Singapore include a Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata at Pasir Ris Park on 17 October 2018 by Wang Wen; a juvenile Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus rescued on the grounds of Bedok Green Primary School on 19 October 2018 by school staff and subsequently released by Isabelle Lee; a first-for-the-season flock of seven White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis along Changi Coastal Road by Ramesh T.; and a Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata at Changi Point Ferry Terminal on 30 October 2018 by Lim Kim Seng.

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Black-capped Kingfisher at Pasir Ris Park. Photographed by Danny Khoo on 17 October 2018.

Southern Singapore

A rare Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius was spotted on 2 October 2018 at the Labrador Power Station by Art Toh, while two Daurian Starlings Agrospar sturninus were seen at Satay-by-the-Bay on 28 October 2018, and a Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus at the nearby Marina Barrage on 31 October 2018 by Martin Kennewell.

The southern ridges also yielded a rare Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus on 20 & 21 October 2018 (Adrian Silas Tay & See Toh Yew Wai, respectively), 23 Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum on 21 October 2018 by Low Choon How, and up to five White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus on 28 October 2018 by Daniel Ong and Martin Kennewell.

A notable resident species spotted in the south was the House Swift Apus nipalensis at Kent Ridge Park and Henderson Wave on 20 October 2018 by Alan Owyong and Zacc HD, respectively.

Western Singapore

SBWR remains an important bird area in Western Singapore, attracting and holding residents and migrants alike. Notable migrants include two Long-toed Stint Calidris submimuta on 8 October 2018 by Stuart Campbell, a first-of-the-season Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus on 9 October 2018 by Subha & Raghav, another first-of-the-season Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata by Feroz also on 9 October 2018, and a Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica on 16 October 2018 by Stuart Campbell. Notable residents/NBV include the Abbott’s Babbler Malacocinla abbotii and Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, spotted on 2 October 2018 by Lawrence Eu.

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Long-toed Stints photographed by Stuart Campbell on 8 October 2018 at SBWR.

Kranji Marshes and the adjoining grasslands a stone’s throw away yielded several species, including a first-for-the-season Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps over the Marshes on 6 October 2018 by Tan Kok Hui, two Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus at the Marshes on 20 October 2018 by Martin Kennewell, 18 Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum on 28 October 2018 by Pary Sivaraman & Martin Kennewell, as well as Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus in the fields adjacent to the Marshes on 30 October 2018 by Martin Kennewell.

Oriental Pratincole, 271018, off Turut Track, Pary Sivaraman

An Oriental Pratincole in flight off Turut Track on 28 October 2018. Photographed by Pary Sivarman.

Other birds spotted in the west include White Wagtail Motacilla alba on 14 October 2018 by Felix Wong, Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea on 18 October 2018 by Art Toh, more than 300 roosting Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis at Eng Kong Terrace on 21 October 2018 by Richard White, a juvenile Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor on 22 October 2018 by Amin (Last Romeo) at West Coast Park, and a flock of first-of-the-season Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus seven strong at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) grounds on 31 October 2018 by James Lambert.

Bird Collisions into Buildings

The migratory Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis is a much sought after species by birders and photographers alike because of its strikingly beautiful plumage. Normally residing in wooded areas, the species could be found all over the country at the start of the migration season. It was unfortunate that the pitta, along with the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, attracted considerable attention in social media, as it is one of four ‘super colliders’, a term used for species whose fatalities exceeded 20 specimens collected during a period of study by Low, Yong, Tan, OwYong and Chia (2017) on migratory bird collisions in Singapore.

This season, one pitta was reported to have crashed but survived at Jurong West on 3 October 2018, by Serena Chew. Three others were not so fortunate on 13 October 2018. They were found dead at Bedok, Tampines and Joo Chiat, and collected by David Tan.

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One of the Blue-winged Pitta casualties collected by David Tan. Photographed on 14 October 2018 by David Tan.

Other collisions include a female Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane, which survived a collision at MacPherson on 25 October 2018, reported by Peng Ah Huay; an Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus which survived a collision at Chinatown on 29 October 2018, reported by Kenneth Koh and a Pallas’ Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola, which survived a collision on 29 October 2018 on Jurong Island, reported by Lim Kim Chuah.

Raptors

The month yielded a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela on 16 October 2018 at Kent Ridge Park, by Veronica Foo, and the second half saw the onset of migratory raptors drifting into Singapore. Raptor watchers keeping vigil at Henderson Wave spotted Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus on 21 October 2018 (2 birds), 26 October 2018 (2 birds) and 27 October 2018 (2 bird) by See Toh Yew Wai & friends, Sandra Chia & Oliver Tan, and Francis Yap, respectively. A first-for-the-season Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes was spotted on 22 October 2018 by Zacc HD, while a kettle of 29 birds were spotted from Hindhede Nature Park on 29 October 2018 by Richard White. Other raptors included a first-for-the-season Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga at Henderson Wave on 27 October 2018 by Alan Owyong, and a first-for-the-season Rufous-bellied Eagle Lophotriorchis kienerii at Pang Sua Connector on 30 October 2018 photographed by Fadzrun Adnan, identified by James Eaton. For a more detailed report on raptors, please refer to the NSS Bird Group’s latest raptor report.

BB

A Black Baza flying over Henderson Wave on 22 October 2018. Photographed by Zacc HD.

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A Rufous-bellied Eagle (right) with an Oriental Honey Buzzard (left) flying over Pang Sua Park Connector on 30 October 2018. Photographed by Fadzrun Adnan.

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World Migratory Bird Day & the Conservation of the Mandai Mangroves & Mudflats

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Mr Richard Hale (right) discovered the ponds that was to become part of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in 1986. He is examining the Flyway Game developed by Dr Yong Ding Li of BirdLife International, together with Mr Lim Kim Chuah (left), Chairman and Mr Alfred Chia (middle), committee member of the NSS Bird Group on 7 Oct 2018. Photo by Geoff Lim.

The World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was initiated in 2006. Originally held once a year, the campaign is now held twice a year, on the second Saturday of May and October. The WMBD was celebrated at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Saturday, 13 October 2018, with the participation of NSS Bird Group. There were daily programs during the week leading up to WMBD.

The East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF) is one of the world’s major flyways. Spanning 37 countries from Far Eastern Russia, China, Korea, Japan, South-east Asia and the western Pacific, used by about 50 million migratory waterbirds, and countless land bird species comprising 492 species (Birdlife, 2018). Singapore is used as a stopover for many species of land and water birds.

On 7 October 2018, which was the 25th anniversary of SBWR, NParks made an important announcement that the Mandai mangrove and mudflats would be conserved as a nature park as research has shown that shorebirds feed at these habitats during low tide, and return to roost at SBWR when the tides come in. The area will open as a nature park in 2022. You can read more about how these habitats were saved through the contribution of ordinary volunteers, in partnership with government authorities here.

Mandai Mudflats

Mandai Mudflats and Mangroves at low tide. It is part of the Kranji-Mandai IBA ( Important Bird and Biodiversity Area). Photo by NSS Bird Group.

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Pelagic Trip along Straits of Singapore

A pelagic trip organised by Martin Kennewell and friends on 13 Ocotber 2018 yielded a Common Tern Sterna hirundo and a Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus. Note that these may not have been in Singapore waters.

 

This report is compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong based on 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 Francis Yap, Angela Yeo, Geoff Lim, Steven Cheong, Terry Chen, Frankie Cheong, Terence Tan, Danny Khoo, Stuart Campbell, Pary Sivaraman, David Tan, Zacc HD, and Fadzrun Adnan for the use of their photos. 

References

Birdlife (2018) East Asia Australasian Factsheet. Accessed from the Internet on 11 Nov 2018 at https://www.birdlife.org/sites/default/files/attachments/8_East_Asia_Australasia_Factsheet.pdf.

Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of Thai-Malay Peninsula. Vol. 1. Non-passerines. London: Academic Press.

 

List of Bird Sightings in report:

Ciconiidae Lesser Adjutant 2-Oct
Ardeidae Von Schrenck’s Bittern 19-Oct
Chinese Egret 10-Oct
Accipitridae Black Baza 22-Oct
Black Baza 29-Oct
Crested Serpent Eagle 16-Oct
Rufous-bellied Eagle 30-Oct
Greater Spotted Eagle 27-Oct
Eastern Marsh Harrirer 21-Oct
Grey-faced Buzzard 21-Oct
Grey-faced Buzzard 26-Oct
Grey-faced Buzzard 27-Oct
Charadriidae Kentish Plover 31-Oct
Scolopacidae Asian Dowitcher 3-Oct
Bar-tailed Godwit 16-Oct
Bar-tailed Godwit 28-Oct
Eurasian Curlew 13-Oct
Grey-tailed Tattler 28-Oct
Long-toed Stint 8-Oct
Broadbilled Sandpiper 6-Oct
Glareolidae Oriental Pratincole 21-Oct
Oriental Pratincole 25-Oct
Laridae Gull-billed Tern 14-Oct
Cuculidae Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 15-Oct
Rusty-breasted Cuckoo 13-Oct
Indian Cuckoo 19-Oct
Strigidae Buffy Fish Owl 6-Oct
Apodidae Glossy Swiftlet 16-Oct
White-throated Needletail 28-Oct
Sliver-backed Needletail 26-Oct
Brown-backed Needletail 20-Oct
Pacific Swift 15-Oct
Pacific Swift 22-Oct
House Swift 19-Oct
House Swift 20-Oct
Coraciidae Asian Dolllarbird 20-Oct
Alcedinidae Ruddy Kingfisher 12-Oct
Black-capped Kingfisher 9-Oct
Black-capped Kingfisher 17-Oct
Common Kingfisher 28-Oct
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 4-Oct
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 6-Oct
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 6-Oct
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 18-Oct
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 18-Oct
Meropidae Blue-throated Bee-eater 21-Oct
Pittidae Blue-winged Pitta 3-Oct
Blue-winged Pitta 13-Oct
Blue-winged Pitta 13-Oct
Blue-winged Pitta 13-Oct
Tephrodornithidae Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike 21-Oct
Campephagidae Large Woodshrike 22-Oct
Ashy Minivet 31-Oct
Pycnonotidae Cinereous Bulbul 29-Oct
Hirundinidae Barn Swallow 7-Oct
Asian House Martin 20-Oct
Asian House Martin 21-Oct
Red-rumped Swallow 6-Oct
Phylloscopidae Eastern Crowned Warbler 29-Oct
Acrocephalidae Black-browed Reed Warbler 6-Oct
Locustellidae Lanceolated Warbler 30-Oct
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 29-Oct
Pellorneidae Abbott’s Babbler 2-Oct
Sturnidae Daurian Starling 28-Oct
White-shouldered Starling 21-Oct
Muscicapidae Ferrugious Flycatcher 6-Oct
Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher 9-Oct
Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher 10-Oct
Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher 12-Oct
Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher 15-Oct
Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher 28-Oct
Siberian Blue Robin 25-Oct
Blue Rock Thrush 2-Oct
Chloropseidae Lesser Green Leafbird 25-Oct
Motacillidae Forest Wagtail 12-Oct
Grey Wagtail 18-Oct
White Wagtail 12-Oct
White Wagtail 14-Oct
Red-throated Pipit 30-Oct

Singapore Bird Report – August 2018

Singapore celebrated our 53rd National Day on 9 August 2018. During the days preceding and following National Day, electrifying news of a juvenile Barred Eagle Owl, being seen together with its parents at the Singapore Quarry, captured the attention of birders and bird photographers in Singapore. August also continued to see reports of breeding activity, as well as many first reports of migrants arriving on our shores. 

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One of the three Barred Eagle Owls at Singapore Quarry photographed by Mahesh Krishnan on 19 August 2018.

During the days preceding and following National Day, electrifying news of a juvenile Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus, seen together with its parents at the Singapore Quarry, captured the attention of birders and bird photographers in Singapore. Hitherto an elusive owl whose sightings in Singapore remain few and far in between, the sightings continue to surprise many with what birdlife Singapore could sustain.

Nature lover, Peter Ding, first spotted an adult on 24 May 2018 during one of his walks. He did not see the Barred Eagle Owl again until 7 August 2018. This time, it was a juvenile he spotted, trying to move from one branch to another. A day or two later, Peter saw the juvenile calling out to an adult perched in a separate tree. Puzzled as to what bird he had seen, Peter posted a photo of the bird and asked for help to identify it. That was how word got round social media and started the Barred Eagle Owl chase.  Today, Peter shares his happiness with birders all over Singapore that the rare and elusive owl has bred successfully in Singapore.

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Barred Eagle Owl juvenile at Singapore Quarry photographed by Francis Yap in August 2018.

Two non-breeding visitors were also reported. A Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax was spotted on 16 August 2018 at Lower Peirce by Colin Trainor,  while another was seen at Pasir Ris Park on 21 August 2018 by Lim Kim Seng and on 29 Aug at Pasir Ris Park by Herman Phua. Kim Seng also spotted a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) on 26 August 2018.

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Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo at Pasir Ris Park on 29 August 2018 by Herman Phua.

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

An Asian Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus brunneus, more usually encountered in the central forests, was spotted on 7 August 2018 by Art Toh; while a male Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu and White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata were seen at the Learning Forest on 15 and 22 August 2018 by Reuben Braddock and Felix Wong, respectively. On 17 August 2018, Meilin Khoo photographed a Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting, and on 22 August 2018 a Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus was recorded by Felix Wong and Eng Eng.

 Central Singapore

 A Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca was spotted at Bidadari on 19 August 2018 by Zacc HD, while a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus was seen at OCBC Building on 30 August 2018 by Steven Wong. About 10 Grey-rumped Treeswift Hemiprocne longipennis were spotted at Kampong Java Park on 22 August 2018 by Henrietta Woo, Tok Sock Ling and James Chua.

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Zacc HD spotted a Ruddy-breasted Crake at Bidadari on 19 August 2018.

Northern Singapore

Two resident Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygnus javanica were spotted at Lorong Halus by Con Foley, Tan Kok Hui and Danny Lau. Several migratory species were sighted in the north. A Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii was seen at Seletar Dam on 5 August 2018  by Saravanan Krishnamurthy, while a Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus was spotted on 10 August 2018 at Seletar Club Road by Goh Cheng Teng and Lester Tan, about a month earlier than our previous record. A Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis was subsequentlly seen at Hampstead Road on 19 August 2018 by Art Toh and Meilin Khoo.  Meilin Khoo also reported receiving news concerning the arrival of Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea and Forest Wagtail Dendroanthus indicus roosting in Yishun on 31 August 2018.

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A Brown Shrike at Seletar Club Road on 10 August 2018 taken by Goh Cheng Teng.

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A Greater Sand Plover at Seletar Dam on 22 August 2018 taken by Geoff Lim.

Eastern Singapore

Species encountered during a joint NParks-NSS survey on 5 August 2018 included a Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis and a Great Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii, which was also reported at Chek Jawa on 26 August 2018 by YT Chong. A Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting was spotted at Pasir Ris Park on 20 August 2018 by Yew Chong.

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A Buff-rumped Woodpecker recorded during a survey on Ubin on 5 August 2018. Photograph provided by the NSS-NParks Ubin Survey Team.

Migrants had started to arrive in force. A Common Redshank Tringa totanus was spotted on 3 August 2018 at Pasir Ris Park by Martin Kennewell. During the Ubin Survey on 5 August 2018, NParks and NSS volunteers spotted Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, Terek Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Red-necked Stint  Calidris ruficollis and Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus on the northern island. On 19 August 2018, a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was sighted on the island by Ramesh T.

Farther afield, a flagged Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes was spotted on Pulau Tekong on 11 August 2018, one month earlier than the last extreme date, by Frankie Cheong.

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A Grey-tailed Tattler on 11 August 2018 taken by Frankie Cheong on Pulau Tekong.

Southern Singapore

In the south, residents continued to feature. On 2 August 2018, Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii were sighted at Marina Barrage by John Marriott. A Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus was seen being fed by a Golden-bellied Gerygone Gerygone sulphurea on 8 August 2018 at the Asian Civilisation Museum by Han YK. Lim Kim Seng’s foray into Pulau Semakau on 13 August 2018 yielded a White-headed Munia Lonchura maja and a Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea.

Western Singapore

Resident species encountered in the west included a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis at the vicinity of Kranji Marsh on 3 August 2018 by Looi Ang Soh Hoon, an Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti on 9 August 2018 at SBWR by Gerard Francis, and a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnomomeus on 26 August 2018 at Lim Chu Kang by Martin Kennewell.

On 3 August 2018, a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, a first for the season, were seen at Lim Chu Kang on 4 August 2018 by Luke Milo Teo. By 26-27 August 2018, multiple sightings of the Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea were made at Lim Chu Kang by Martin Kennewell, Goh Cheng Teng and Lester Tan (Ramesh T. also recorded the wagtail at Changi Business Park on 26 August 2018). A first of the season Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis were reported on 29 August 2018 at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve by Geraldine Lee and David Li, and Veronica Foo, respectively.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong,  based on 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 Mahesh Krishnan, Frankie Cheong, Francis Yap, Herman Phua, Goh Cheng Teng, Zacc HD, Geoff Lim and the NSS-NParks Ubin Survey Team  for the use of their photos. 

List of Bird Sightings in the report:

Family Species Date
Anatidae Lesser Whistling Duck 4-Aug
Ardeidae Cinnamon Bittern 26-Aug
Pandionidae Western Osprey 4-Aug
Rallidae

 

 

Slaty-breasted Rail 22-Aug
Ruddy-breasted Crake 19-Aug
Watercock 19-Aug
Charadriidae

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific Golden Plover 4-Aug
Pacific Golden Plover 30-Aug
Pacific Golden Plover 31-Aug
Malaysian Plover 2-Aug
Lesser Sand Plover 5-Aug
Greater Sand Plover 5-Aug
Scolopacidae

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-tailed Godwit 29-Aug
Whimbrel 5-Aug
Common Redshank 3-Aug
Marsh Sandpiper 29-Aug
Common Greenshank 5-Aug
Wood Sandpiper 4-Aug
Grey-tailed Tattler 11-Aug
Terek Sandpiper 5-Aug
Red-necked Stint 5-Aug
Laridae Swift Tern 5-Aug
Columbidae Jambu Fruit Dove 15-Aug
Cuculidae Little Bronze Cuckoo 8-Aug
Malayan Hawk Cuckoo 16-Aug
Strigidae Barred Eagle Owl 8-Aug
Apopidae Grey-rumped Treeswift 22-Aug
Alcedinidae Common Kingfisher 19-Aug
Blue-eared Kingfisher 20-Aug
Picidae Buff-rumped Woodpecker 5-Aug
Falconidae Peregrine Falcon 30-Aug
Pittidae Blue-winged Pitta 3-Aug
Pachycephalidae Mangrove Whislter 13-Aug
Laniidae Brown Shrike 10-Aug
Monarchidae Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher 26-Aug
Pycnonotidae Asian Red-eyed Bulbul 7-Aug
Pellorneidae Abbott’s Babbler 9-Aug
Zosteropidae Oriental White-eye 30-Aug
Estrildidae

 

White-heaed Munia 13-Aug
White-rumped Munia 22-Aug
Motacillidae

 

 

 

Forest Wagtail 31-Aug
Grey Wagtail 27-Aug
Grey Wagtail 26-Aug
Grey Wagtail 31-Aug

A nigrescens Ashy Drongo at Punggol Waterfront.

A nigrescens Ashy Drongo at Punggol Waterfront.

By Alan OwYong.

I was shooting the Austral migrant Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo with friends on 6 June morning along the Punggol Waterfront Promenade when a darkish drongo flew over our heads. The first thing I noticed was the forked tail without rackets. It later returned to perch high up on the dry twigs some distance away. Some of us took a few record shots.

Later, I managed to get a few heavily backlit shots when it came closer and perched on top of a Sea Almond tree. In the afternoon Terence Tan got some better side shots of it lower down from inside the forest.

Terence Tan Ashy Drongo

Terence Tan’s side profile shot of the Ashy Drongo from inside the forest.

From the photos, I posted it as a Black Drongo, Dicrurus macrocerus, a migrant which should have left last month. Thanks to Dave Bakewell’s ever vigilance, he corrected the ID to a nigrescens Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus, a resident race of Peninsular Malaysia and Southern Thailand. Tou Jing Yi agreed and was kind enough to elaborate on its distinguishing features “lack of white spot on base of bill, long forked tail, very slender base on tail, non-glossy plumage that is not jet black but somehow greyish, these were all signs of an Ashy Drongo, the resident subspecies for the region, primarily resides mangrove areas in Peninsular Malaysia.

Black Drongo Punggol Prominade

As we are more familiar with the lighter plumaged migratory Salagensis and Leucogenis races of Ashy Drongos here, it did not occur to us that this is an Ashy. The extreme dates for these two migrants are 15 October to 13 May.

The last record of a nigrescens was at West Coast Park on 17 January 2004 ( SINAV 18.1). It is not difficult to overlook this particular race as the Black or the Greater Racket-tailed since some field marks are a little similiar.  The movements of these three races of the Ashy Drongos need further studies and any records old or new are welcome. So now we have a new date for this non-breeding visitor to Singapore.

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

Many thanks to Dave Bakewell and Tou Jing Yi with the help on the ID and Terence Tan for the use of his photo.

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2018

Eurasian-Sparrowhawk,-110318-morning,-TEG,-Feroz-Fizah,-w

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Tampines Eco Green, on 11 March 2018, by Feroz Fizah

Summary for migrant species:

In March, 150 raptors of 12 migrant species were recorded. Feroz Fizah sought ID help for a raptor photographed in flight at Tampines Eco Green on 11 March, late morning and both Adrian Silas Tay and Lau Jiasheng quickly identified it as the very rare Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, making it our 4th record for this species. On 15 March, Tay Kian Guan photographed an accipiter at Henderson Waves, harassing an Oriental Honey Buzzard. Accipiters can be notoriously difficult to identify, nevertheless, the photo showed enough detail to identify the raptor as a female Besra Accipiter virgatus, another rarity.

Yet another scarce raptor was a juvenile pale morph Common Buzzard Buteo buteo photographed in the Central Business District on 2 March by John Marriott, and is probably the same juvenile pale morph photographed by Luke Milo Teo on 27 Jan 2018. Also, Veronica Foo photographed a juvenile Black Kite Milvus migrans in flight at Lorong Halus on 21 March. Ryan Lee found a Northern Boobook Ninox japonica on the ground near a block of HDB flats at Pasir Ris on the 30th, it could have flown against a window; at Chung Cheng High (Main), another boobook was found by Teo Jo-Hsuan on the 16th morning and it was stunned, having flown against a window.

Accipiter,-150318,-HW,-Tay-Kian-Guan,-w

Besra, adult female, harassing an Oriental Honey Buzzard, Henderson Waves, on 15 March 2018, by Tay Kian Guan.

A total of 69 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhynchus were recorded, a mixture of adults and juveniles but notably all orientalis subspecies. 42 Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes were recorded, with the bulk at Kranji Marshes. Of the 11 Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis recorded, there were six females and one male, with the remainder unsexed.

The small flock of Jerdon’s Bazas Aviceda jerdoni were still around Coney Island on the 15th, when 8 were recorded; the Bishan individual stayed from the 7th to the 12th; while the last record was an individual photographed by Luke Milo Teo at Ulu Sembawang on the 24th, a new late date for the species.

The female Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis at Ang Mo Kio was still around on the 3rd, while a male was seen at Lorong Halus on the 11th, followed by another individual at Kranji Marshes on the 17th. Of the five Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus recorded, at least two were juveniles. Four Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus at the northern areas rounded up the migrant raptors for the month.

JSH,-f,-230318,-Jelutong,-Fryap,-web

Japanese Sparrowhawk, adult female, Jelutong Tower, on 23 March 2018, by Francis Yap

Highlights for sedentary species:

There were breeding records for four resident species this month. An adult dark morph Changeable Hawk Eagle (CHE) Nisaetus cirrhatus was found sitting on its nest at Kranji Marshes on the 17th, and the next day, the 18th, at Bukit Batok West, a CHE was found lying low on another nest. A family of four Black-winged Kites Elanus caeruleus, with two recently fledged juveniles were recorded at Kranji Marshes on the 18th. A White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster nest, on a metallic comms tower south of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, holding one chick was recorded on the 30th. For the nocturnal raptors, a young chick, covered in white downy feathers, of a pair of Spotted Wood Owls Strix seloputo fell from its nest at Pasir Ris Park on the 23rd, and concerned photographers contacted ACRES, whose staff placed the owlet back into the tree; in addition, another pair with 2 chicks were observed at Bidadari on the 24th.

For other nocturnal raptors, there were two records of the rare Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus on Pulau Ubin, a juvenile on the 4th and an adult on the 17th. Five Buffy Fish Owls Ketupa ketupu were recorded, one at Ulu Pandan, three at the Botanic Gardens, and a juvenile at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Two Sunda Scops Owls Otus lempiji were recorded, one at Dairy Farm and another at Pasir Ris. Unfortunately for the Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula, one was found injured at Jurong West on the 28th.

Throughout the month, there were reports of a single Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela at Goldhill Avenue, but at the end of the month, sharp-eyed Adrian Silas Tay noticed that there were actually two birds. The other sedentary raptors recorded included seven Crested Goshawks, seven Grey-headed Fish Eagles and 17 Brahminy Kites. All in, there were 10 Changeable Hawk-Eagles, eight Black-winged Kites, and eight White-bellied Sea Eagles.

Table 1

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – March 2018

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Feroz Fizah, Tay Kian Guan and Francis Yap for the use of their photos.

Return of the King.

Return of the King

Lim Kim Seng

Every once in a long while, we get really lucky in life. For birders and bird photographers alike, it would be encountering a species that nobody has seen before. It sounds impossible in urban Singapore but it actually happened.

On 2nd May 2018, Ted Lee found it even if he did not realise the importance of his sighting. He posted his photo of a Great Slaty Woodpecker (GSW) on Facebook and every Singapore birder and bird photographer was stunned! It was a bird that had been thought lost to our forests, a bird so scarce that nobody had seen it before in Singapore. Alan Owyong calls this the sighting of the decade. Yes, it was really spectacular in the sense that this really was a totally unexpected, out of the blue sighting.

IMG_9809 BTNR

2018 has been an exceptional year so far for rarities with a string of super rarities turning up – Band-bellied Crake, Booted Warbler, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, and now this. The GSW takes the cake because it was supposed to be extirpated. Our rainforests have been well surveyed and nobody had even come close to a sighting of this legendary behemoth of a bird. It is also noteworthy as the largest living woodpecker species in the world since two larger species, Imperial and Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, both from the New World, are supposed to be extinct or on the verge of extinction.  It measures up to 50 cm in length from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail and weighs a maximum of about half a kilogram. The GSW is an awesome bird especially when seen close up.  It has a big head, big eyes, a narrow neck, a very long chisel-like bill and a stiff, long tail. Overall, it is clothed in dark grey with just a bit of buff on its throat. Males differ from females in having a broad, bright orange malar stripe.

The GSW has a wide global range being found in the Indian Subcontinent south of the Himalayas and southern China south to Southeast Asia as well as the islands of Borneo, Java and Sumatra. It occurs in deciduous and evergreen forests usually below 600 m but can range as high as 2000 m in some parts of its range. Due to its preference for old trees, it is most regular in old growth forest but has also been seen in plantations, mangroves and swampy forests. As such, it is rated as globally vulnerable by IUCN due to the large scale loss of old growth forests in the region in recent years.

IMG_9825 BTNR

In Singapore, the GSW has not been seen since 1950. There were unconfirmed sightings in the 1970s but none since. There are however specimens in the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum including an individual collected in Woodlands in 1904, so it was originally here.

After the report by Ted Lee on 2nd May, I had expected to see birders and bird photographers climbing up the 163-m Bukit Timah to seek the GSW the very next day, on 3rd May. I happened to be leading a group of students on a field trip there and spent some time looking for it near the summit. No luck for me and everyone else who tried that day! To add to my misery, I injured my right knee while descending the hill.

On 4th May, more people tried but most were disappointed as they missed the bird except for Dominic Ng who got there around dawn and managed a photograph of the GSW. I was down at nearby Dairy Farm Nature Park where the most interesting bird was a pair of Greater Green Leafbirds. The pain in my right knee grew and I had to go for acupuncture to relieve it.

IMG_9798

On 5th May, which was a Saturday, I was taking a break from birding and relaxing at home but any hope of peace was shattered very early on. My mobile phone kept beeping as whatsapp messages started from 7.00 am. The GSW was back and in view! My phone was still beeping three hours later. GSW still here, reported Kenneth Kee. I had some errands to do and only managed to get to Bukit Timah around noon. I bumped into Felix Wong as he was driving out, the smile on his face sufficient to tell me that he had seen the bird. The climb from the foot was very steep and I was careful not to push too hard, mindful of my knee injury. Sweat was pouring down my back as I huffed and puffed up the hill, each step seemingly harder than the last. Thankfully, I met Toh Yuet Hsin who was also keen to see the bird and we managed to reach the spot where the bird was last seen in good time.

Amongst the half a dozen people there toting binoculars and cameras was Low Bing Wen. He told me that we had missed the GSW by about 10 minutes and that it was probably still around. I scanned every branch carefully but couldn’t see anything. At 12.40 pm, some relief. The GSW called but despite anxious minutes passing by, we could not see it. The minutes ticked by. Nothing! A Chestnut-bellied Malkoha was a welcome distraction until someone shouted, “Woodpecker!” at 1.14 pm. I moved as fast as my injured legs could carry me and stood behind the group of people staring up a thick Shorea curtisi tree. A panicky few seconds passed before I laid my eyes on this giant woodpecker. It was about 15 metres up the tree, perched on a small branch and hammering away, searching for grubs. Elation was replaced by the frantic rummaging of my camera bag and I squeezed off shot after shot.

More people were coming up the hill and they soon showed happy faces as each had their own communion with their holy grail.

At 1.48 pm, we had the GSW in view for over half an hour, an eternity for a rarity, and I was satisfied at last. I had squeezed off 99 still frames, taken two short videos and also made a 30-second recording of its whinnying call. Job done, I descended the hill even as more people seeking this bird huffed and puffed their way up the hill. I heard that the bird was present most of that day and probably over 100 people had seen this mega rarity by then. This was a really special moment in Singapore birding, the return of the king of woodpeckers, and easily the ornithological event of the decade!

All photos by Lim Kim Seng.

Singapore Bird Report – March 2018

The month of March yielded some spectacular surprises – an amazing vagrant that looks good to become Singapore’s first record of the Indian Paradise Flycatcher, a nesting Chestnut-bellied Malkoha pair in Jurong Eco-Garden (JEG) and a young Jerdon’s Baza that stayed at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park over one weekend. Migrants continue to be reported throughout the month.

IPFC Feroz

Indian Paradise Flycatcher at SBWR on 23 March 2018, by Feroz Fizah.

A mixed report of resident and migratory species trickled into our consciousness during the first week of March. A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus was spotted on 1 March 2018 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) by Nosherwan Sethna, while Alan Owyong was greeted by a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus when he crested the summit of Bukit Timah Hill; he earlier spotted a Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris while ascending the summit. Slightly further afield and on the same day, Martin Kennewell spotted an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina, Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji and Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus along Dairy Farm Loop.

The first Saturday of the month (3 March) yielded a migratory Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus at Lower Pierce Reservoir (Vincent Lao), and a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus pair nesting along a public pathway at the Jurong Eco-Garden (Anthony Nik), where the chick fledged subsequently on the 14th (Esther Ong). A joint NParks-NSS Bird Group survey of Pulau Ubin on Sunday (4 March) yielded 6 Cinereous Bulbuls Hemixos cinereus, among other regular Ubin species, such as the Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting, Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis, Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans and Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha. The survey team also counted 33 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea that flew in a south-easterly direction to Ubin. Roger Boey, who was with the survey, photographed a Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis, a report currently pending acceptance by the Records Committee, while a Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was spotted by Adrian Silas Tay and Jerold Tan on the island. Back on mainland Singapore, a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was reported by Heather Goessel at Mimosa Walk.

CBMKH, snip

One of the nesting pair of Chestnut-bellied Malkohas at Jurong Eco-Garden with a praying mantis on 8 March 2018, photo by Terence Tan.

More reports of migratory species were reported between the week spanning 5 and 11 March. A White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis subspecies was spotted at Marina Barrage on 6 March by Dodotee Tee. A Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was seen at SBG on 8 March by Geri Lim. Two different Ruddy Kingfishers Halcyon coromanda were spotted, one on 8 March at West Coast Park by Thio Hui Bing, and another on 10 March at Venus Loop by Lim Kim Chuah. Oliver Tan chanced upon a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae on 9 March near Dillenia Hut in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. A juvenile Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni spent the weekend at Bishan, alternating between the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Parks 1 & 2 between 10 and 12 March. Known for its sporadic appearance at Tampines Eco Green (TEG) and Pasir Ris Park, this Baza has eluded many birders and photographers alike. Hence, its appearance in the heart of the island proved to be a boon to the community. Feroz Fizah photographed an accipiter on 11 March at Tampines Eco Green, which was subsequently identified by Adrian Silas Tay and Lau Jiasheng as an Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus.

Jerdon

TThe juvenile Jerdon’s Baza that lingered at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park between 10 and 12 March 2018. Photo taken on 10 March 2018 by Arman AF.

Resident species encountered included Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) on 8 March by Francis Yap, and a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus at JEG by Terence Tan, Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra at West Coast Park on 10 March by Kozi Ichiyama, while Felix Wong highlighted the fledging of a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum early in the morning from a HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang. This is the second known and documented record of the flowerpecker nesting in an urban environment. The second chick fledged around noon on 11 March.

Between 12 to 18 March, we continued to receive reports of migratory species across Singapore. A Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis and Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus were encountered by Alan Owyong at Venus Loop. Martin Kennewell chanced upon a Black-backed Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca in the CCNR on 13 March, while an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina was seen by Luke Milo Teo at Ulu Sembawang on the same day. A Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus was spotted hawking over the skies of HortPark by Keita Sin on 15 March, while Tan Kok Hui chanced upon a Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides on Coney Island on the same day. Other notable migrants were a Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica seen by Fadzrun Adnan on 16 March over Seletar Aerospace, a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia in Pulau Ubin by Lena Chow on 16 March, a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla in Kranji Marshes on 17 March by Martin Kennewell, and two Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, one seen winging over Henderson Wave by Tay Kian Guan on 16 March and another at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 17 March by Francis Yap.

Resident species spotted during this week include a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu along Ulu Pandan Canal on 16 March by Jason Humphries, Grey-rumped Treeswift Hemiprocne longipennis and Ruddy-breasted Crake at One-North Cresent, also on 16 March, by Alan Owyong, a Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus along Ulu Pandan Canal on 17 March by Mark Nelson Valino, a Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus during a night survey on Pulau Ubin, also on 17 March, by Francis Yap and Jacky Soh, and a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela at Malcolm Park on 18 March by Lena Chow.

BEO

Barred Eagle Owl spotted during a night survey of Pulau Ubin on 17 March 2018. Photo by Francis Yap.

The week of 19 to 25 March proved to be fruitful in terms of bird reports in social media. KC Ling reported at least 20 Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots Loriculus galgulus feeding from a White Gutta or Nyatoh Tree at the Eco-Garden within SBG. Lim Kim Keang reported spotting two Mangrove Whistlers Pachycephala cinerea on Pulau Hantu on 21 March, while Alan Owyong reported a Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus at Bishan Park on 23 March. Also on 23 March, Lim Kim Chuah reported that a Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo chick had fallen out of its nest at Pasir Ris Park. The chick was subsequently rescued by ACRES and restored into a nearby tree in a makeshift nest. Keita Sin reported spotting two Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo adults with two chicks at Bidadari on 24 March.

BCHP

Male Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot on a White Gutta tree at the Eco-Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 24 March 2018. Photo by Geoff Lim.

Reports of migratory species continued to filter in. A Black Kite Milvus migrans was photographed by Veronica Foo flying over Lorong Halus on 21 March, while two instances of Black-backed Kingfishers Ceyx erithaca entering residential areas were reported: an injured bird at Keppel Bay on 21 March, and another bird which spent the night in Kim Forrester’s kitchen after flying inside. It left on its own accord the next morning. Feroz Fizah sought ID help for a Paradise Flycatcher photographed on 23 March at SBWR and Dave Bakewell noticed that it looked different from the Amur & Blyth’s, identifying it as an out-of-range Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi, a first for Singapore! (Oliver Tan realised that he had photographed a similar-looking paradise flycatcher at SBWR on 2 Dec 2017). The bird was seen again on the 25th by many birders. On 23 March, Henrietta Woo and Ong Ruici reported seeing a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus at SBG, while a Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus was seen fishing at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) and another at Springleaf Nature Park by Thana Sinnarthamby and Cheah Chen Poh, respectively. On 24 March, Keita Sin spotted a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka at Bidadari, while Felix Wong spotted two Hooded Pittas standing metres apart in SBG. A Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni spotted by Luke Milo Teo on 24 March at Ulu Sembawang proved to be a new extreme date for the species. An NParks survey on Pulau Ubin on 25 March yielded Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola, a Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica in breeding plumage and a Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris at Chek Jawa. Meanwhile, Doreen Ang, together with two friends, spotted a first winter Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus at Bulim on 25 March.

GBFC

A Green-backed Flycatcher in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 29 March 2018, by Oliver Tan. The bird was video-recorded while singing.

The final week of March (26 – 31 March) yielded several interesting records. Two Green-backed Flycatchers Ficedula elisae were spotted, a calling female by Fadzrun Adnan on 27 March at Venus Loop, and a singing male by Oliver Tan inside CCNR. A Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was spotted at Bidadari by Martin Kennewell on 28 March. A White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis was reported on Pulau Ubin on 29 March by Joseph Lin, a first for the island (correction: there was an earlier record on 8 Oct 2017 by Martin Kennewell). Migratory flycatchers continue to be reported – a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia at Kheam Hock Road on 29 March by Thana Sinnathamby, and a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea at Ulu Sembawang by Luke Milo Teo on 30 March.

BBC

The highly prized Band-bellied Crake continued to be seen at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 31 March 2018. Photo taken by Geoff Lim.

Two Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded, one at SBWR on 30 March by Tan Kok Hui, and another at Fairway Golf Course on 31 March by Alan Owyong. A Northern Boobook Ninox japonica was reported at a Pasir Ris HDB block on 31 March by Ryan Lee, while an Eastern-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus was seen inside CCNR by Martin Kennewell. Also spotted on 31 March was the Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii by Geoff Lim, Kozi Ichiyama and visiting Australian birder, Alastair White, at SBG. The highlight of the last day of March would be the Indian Paradise Flycatcher relocated at SBWR by Lim Kim Chuah.

Residents reported during this week include an injured Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula at Jurong West Street 91 by Hafinani on 28 March, an Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti at West Coast Park on 29 March by Art Toh, a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus at SBWR on 30 March by Tan Kok Hui, a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana at Ulu Sembawang on the same day by Luke Milo Teo, and a Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii on 31 March inside CCNR by Martin Kennewell.

During their pelagic trip along the multi-national Straits of Singapore on 3 March, Francis Yap, Seetoh Yew Wai and friends spotted a Parasitic Jaegar Stercorarius parasiticus, as well as Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis, Swift Tern Thalasseus bergii, and a Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra. Note that some of these may not be in Singapore waters.

Parasitic Jaeger

Parasitic Jaegar in flight during the pelagic trip on 3 March 2018, by Francis Yap.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong, based on 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 Feroz Fizah, Terence Tan, Arman AF, Oliver Tan, Geoff Lim and Francis Yap for the use of their photos.