Category Archives: Sightings

Birding in just one tree

Contributed by Morten Strange, retired photographer, author and publisher, now an independent financial analyst. 

The African Tulip Tree Spathodea campanulata is widely used in Singapore as an introduced ornamental tree, locally known as Flame of the Forest. We have one of those right outside our apartment on the fourth floor off lower Sembawang Road. Over the years the tree has grown up, so it is now right outside our windows, ideal for armchair birding! You get stunning point-blank eye-level views of all the common stuff, and now and then a few more difficult-to-see-well species.

A T Tree 1

The whole African Tulip Tree seen tree from our window.

Every morning we wake up to the fluty whistle of the Black-naped Oriole, it seems to call all year. When I grew up in Europe I hardly ever saw an oriole, the European species O. oriolus is really hard to find in the north; here we are lucky to have the stunning O. chinensis so easy to see. The call from the Asian Koel appears to be more seasonal; how that exciting cry can be a bother to anyone is a puzzle to me! Occasionally we get the sweet song from the Oriental Magpie-Robin.


The hidden cry from the male Asian Koel.

When the tree is in flower, the nectar-feeders come swarming in and flutter in and out of the tree all day. We get the two common species of sunbirds as you can imagine, as well as Oriental White-eye, Yellow-vented Bulbul and of course the every-where present Javan Myna.


Our environmental refugee the Javan Myna is just so amazingly omnivorous, you cannot help but feeling some sympathy for this adaptable foreign worker.

We used to regard this species as a pest here, and it is one of only six bird species that you are allowed to kill according to Singapore legislation. But since it was uplisted to globally Vulnerable to extinction last year, we might have to view it in a slightly different light: As an environmental refugee from its native range in Java and Bali, where it is widely persecuted with capture and imprisonment (I mean caging …), a species worthy of our protection in exile!?


Flowering season – male Brown-throated Sunbird.

Scarlet-rumped Flowerpecker visits the tree but does not seem to use the flowers. However, many insects do, and they in turn attract the Blue-tailed Bee-eater which is also a prolific and attractive visitor during flowering.

When the flowers turn into fruits, the parrots arrive and chew on them to get to the seeds. Rose-ringed Parakeet is most regular, but we also get Red-breasted and Long-tailed and the occasional Tanimbar Corella. My favorite however, is the diminutive and acrobatic Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, they come in late in the afternoon; you always know when they are there from their ringing whistle.

A T Tree 7

When the flowers turn into fruits, the parrots arrive, here the attractive and acrobatic Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot.  

I have never seen a bird nest in the tree, although we have Pink-necked Green Pigeon nesting other places in the estate. We did have a nest of Plantain Squirrel right outside our window one year. The Philippine Glossy Starling collects nesting material from the tree, and couples use it as a spring-board when they fly into their nests under the roof of our building. In the migratory season Asian Brown Flycatcher and occasionally Oriental Honey-Buzzard perch for a while.

A T Tree 2

My son Mark took this great shot of a Common Flameback male one day. I didn’t even know it had white dots in the primaries!?

Although we are at least a kilometer from the nearest proper secondary forest, we get some forest edge species visiting such as Hill Myna, Banded Woodpecker and occasionally Oriental Pied Hornbill and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo. In total more than 30 species of birds use that tree.

I sold all my camera equipment many years ago. But now and then I pick up a compact camera belonging to my son or wife and snap a few pictures of the birds in the tree for fun. Not because I think we need any more images like these, but to send the message out that you don’t have to travel to remote and exotic places to study and enjoy nature.


The ubiquitous Yellow-vented Bulbul very at home at every “local patch”

It was the British comedian and birder Bill Oddie who popularized the concept of the ‘local patch’. Our local patch is Springleaf Nature Park near our place; but in fact we don’t really even have to go anywhere to watch birds these days, they are right outside our window. We have already lost a few large branches in the tree, and one day I expect that a storm will snap off the crown completely. But until then we will enjoy it every day.

Morten Strange









Year of the Red Jungle Rooster

Contributed by Seng Alvin.

As we will be welcoming the Year of the Rooster in a few days time, there is no better time to write something about our Red Jungle Fowl, Galus galus, without which we will not have our Hainanese  Chicken Rice.


They are now seen all over the island from parks and gardens to our housing estates. But they were not recorded by our earlier authors up to the late 70s. The first record was from Pulau Ubin in 1985/86 from observations  by Lim Kim Keang, other birders and residents. This population, likely from Johor, had since established itself. Pulau Ubin is still considered the stronghold for this species. The first mainland record were two females seen at Poyan on 29 January 1998. (SINAV 12.1).

The spread of this species together with introduced stock and escapees to the rest of the island have resulted in hybrid birds roaming all over our parks and gardens. The danger will be a dilution of the original species in Ubin if it has not happened yet. Another concern is the spread of bird flu if it surfaces in Singapore again.


Pasir Ris Park has a few families of the Red Jungle Fowls, with 30-40 birds, thriving in this mangrove parkland. The most recent was this hybrid family where the mother was a domestic hen with a complete white plumage. The father seems to be a Red Jungle Fowl. Why did it choose to mate with a domestic hen instead one of the wilder birds around?

It was seen hanging around at a distant to the mother and her seven chicks but did not feed with them. This strange behavior may be of rejection by the hen and the reluctance of the father to abandon the family or normal for the mother bird to bring up the chicks alone. What do you think? Interestingly the chicks are both white and brown taking the genes from each parent. I will monitor this family and seen how the chicks will turn out when they become adults.

Gong Xi Fa Cai to all.

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

Yishun Dam and the returning Shorebirds.

Text and Photos by Mohamad Zahidi. 1st Oct, 2016.

There are a few places in Singapore we can go for shorebirds but I chose Yishun Dam as its close to where I live. For the shorebirds that flew thousands of miles from their Arctic breeding ground, the rich sand banks and mud flats provide a great refueling stop and a natural habitat to document them.

august-06Some of the early migrants to Yishun Dam. Small numbers of the Lesser Sand Plovers were seen.(6 Aug 2016).

c-august-15Increased in numbers in the following week. (15 Aug 2016)

I normally spend few hours playing the ‘waiting game’ under the hot sun and try to scan that area for some lifer or uncommon shorebird. The birds there also tend to forage for food at Khatib Bongsu and at some smaller island nearby.

img-20160825-wa0001Shorebirds shooting at low tide under the hot sun at the Yishun Dam. Photo: AlanOwYong


This year I am so determined to see the uncommon Greater Sand Plover. During my last Pelagic Trip in May, I was asking around about this Plover which I dipped during my unofficial Big Year in 2014. FrancisYap and See Toh suggested that I should go visit YD frequently in the month of Aug so that I can have a better chance to see the Greater Sand Plover there. 

september-22Lesser Sand Plovers at the sandbank. Background is the shoreline of Khatib Bongsu.

I finally decided to visit Yishun Dam (sandbank) somewhere in late July in order to see some early migrants with my birding kaki, David Tan. We ended up finding the Great-Billed Heron which Alan OwYong said was a new record for Yishun Dam (sandbank). The Western Osprey also made a brief appearance towards the end of our morning session there.

c-july-23Great–billed Heron adjusting to a new standing position. (23 July 2016)

Western Osprey was seen hunting for fish (23 July 2016)

b-july-23Western Osprey dropped its catch in mid-air (23 July 2016)

The news that a Great Knot landed in Yishun was sent to many by Francis Yap on a Saturday morning while I was at work. It attracted many photographers and avid birdwatchers to Yishun Dam again. It was time for me to get some new shot of this globally endangered star bird. There was a chance of getting the Greater Sand Plover as well.


b-august-15Great Knot was seen flying with the Lesser Sand Plover (15 Aug 2016).

Finally, on 22 August Lawrence Cher alerted us about Greater Sand Plover spotted in Yishun Dam. I was eager to go down asap but only managed to do it on 26 Aug 2016 despite the haze that morning.

aug-26Greater Sand Plover foraging along the shoreline (26 Aug 2016)

september-17-1Spotted another Greater Sand Plover at the sandbank. (17 Sep 2016)

Yishun Dam is a perfect place to see these great shorebirds and really hope that it will not be lost to development. I would like to thank Singapore Bird Group for the invite to write this article.

Below are some of my collection of birds taken recently at Yishun Dam.

september-22Common Sandpiper with baby cobra in threat posture (22 Sep 2016)

b-sep-22A pair of Pacific Golden Plover (22 Sep 2016)

a-sep-22Terek Sandpipers foraging on sandbank. (22 Sep 2016), Their numbers are in decline over the years.

oct-5-2014A juvenile Yellow Wagtail was spotted catching insects at Yishun Dam (5 Oct 2014)

sep-28-2014-1Ruddy Turnstone (28 Sep 2014)

oct-23-2013Close-up shot of Ruddy Turnstone (5 Oct 2013)

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

The Survivors of Pasir Ris Park.

Contributed by Seng Alvin. Photos Credit: Seng Alvin.

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

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

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

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

OWB 2 Seg Alvin

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

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

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

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

OWB Seng Alvin

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

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

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


Red-crowned Barbet and the Green Coffee Tree.

Contributed by Alan OwYong and Lim Kim Keang. Photos: Terence Tan, Foo Sai Khoon and Alan OwYong.


Green Coffee Tree

The endangered Green Coffee Tree at Seletar Reservoir Park. Photo: Alan OwYong.

On 30th May, Wendy Lin and her friends went to Seletar Reservoir Park to look for the uncommon  Chestnut-winged Babblers, Stachyris erythroptera, that Francis Yap shot days earlier. They did not see the Babblers but came across the Red-crowned Barbets  Magalaima rafflesii, feeding on large green berries on a tree by the roadside. The tree was identified by Albert Low as the Green Coffee Tree, Canthium glabrum . It is a native in Singapore and classified as endangered. The fruit is round to oval, green to dark purple when ripe but described in NParks Flora and Fauna Web as 4-ridged shape between 2.5 to 3.2 cm. There are two seeds in each fruit.

Red Crowned Barbet Terence Tan

Red-crowned Barbet having a hard time choosing which fruit to take. Photo: Terence Tan.

The Red-crowned Barbet was observed by Lim Kim Keang to squeeze the ripe fruit and eat the pulp, They will also swallow the fruit and later regurgitate and swallow  the fruit repeatedly  to get all the pulp.

The Red-crowned Barbet is an uncommon breeding resident confined to our central forests. They are hard to see at the Sime Forest nowadays but can be heard calling from the tree canopies in the mornings. So when word got out that they are feeding there, Selatar Reservoir Park became the latest hot spot for our birders and photographers. The fruits were enough to keep them coming back for more than a month.

Blue-winged Leafbird Terence Tan

A male Blue-winged Leafbird surrounded by the fruits of the Green Coffee Tree. Photo: Terence Tan

And like all fruit trees they invariably attract other frugivores like the Common Hill Mynas, Orange-breasted Flowerpeckers, Pink-necked Green Pigeons, Olive-winged and Cream-vented Bulbuls. Even the non breeding Jambu Friut-Dove was seen partaking the feast. A Blue-winged Leafbird was also photographed there but it maybe looking for worms that are eating the ripened fruits.

Palm King

The Common Palm King enjoying the ripe fruit of the Green Coffee Tree.

Besides birds the forest butterflies can be seen first feeding on the ripe fruits on the ground and later flying around the fruits on the tree. A Common Palm King was busy taking in the juices from the ripe fruits. Sailors and Lascars  joined in the feast. Other species seen by Kim Keang flying around the tree were Saturn, Malay Viscount and female Barons.

RC Barbet Sai Khoon Foo

An interesting capture of the Red-crowned Barbet surrounded by the Sailors, Lascar and the fruits of the Green Coffee Tree. Photo: Foo Sai Khoon.

The surprise was that the Long-tailed Macaques were not the least interested in these fruits. The only mammals seen eating them were the ever present Plantain Squirrels. This would be a good plant to propagate to attract birds and butterflies and increase the biodiversity in our parks and gardens.

Reference: National Parks Board Flora and Fauna Web.

A Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore.Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Le Tiah Khee. 2013 John Beaufoy Publishing Company.

A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Singapore. Gan Cheong Weei and Simon Chan Kee Mun. 2007.







First known nesting record of the Buffy Fish Owl


Taken on 25 March  2016 about 2 week after it was discovered.

In the 1980s and 90s, the Buffy Fish Owls, Ketupa ketupa, were found at only a few locations in Singapore, like Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh and Central Catchment Forest. Our only record that indicate breeding was the sighting of two immatures at the Lower Peirce Reservoir in 1994 & 2010 and MacRitchie Reservoir in October 2011.. In recent years, they have spread out to Sentosa, Pasir Ris Park, Punggol and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It augurs well for this owl.

Buffy Fish Owl Terence Tan

A month later, a fully fledged chick looking inquisitive. 25 April 2016. Photo: Terence Tan.

In early March this year, staff of SBWR noticed a fur ball through a gap in a Bird Nest Fern on a Rain Tree. It turned out to be an owl chick. It was the same with the Buffy Fish Owls I seen in Perak, Malaysia. They were also using Bird Nest Ferns as nests, which makes it hard to spot looking from below. Unlike other nesting birds, the parents do not feed them during the day and avoid undue attention.

Despite the attention of visitors to the Wetland Reserve, the parent birds don’t seem to feel threatened during the nesting. They just perched in the mid canopy nearby, keeping a watchful eye on the young. The chick was mostly exposed to the elements during the day staying awake most of the time.

On the 25th April, about seven weeks after being discovered, the chick was seen out of its nest, perched in the open on a branch of a nearby tree. It must have made the short flight across from the nest. It stayed at the same position for most of the day without trying to go near the parent birds perched below.


Taking its first wobbly steps to see the brave new world.

We are so privileged to have a close up view of the  nesting of this nationally threatened species , probably our first, and happy to see that it’s successful fledged. Richard White just posted a photo of another newly fledged juvenile with its parent at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. What a happy co-incidence!

Reference: Lim Kim Seng.The Avifauan of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore). Thanks to Terence Tan for the use of his photo.




An unexpected “Booby” prize.


Just missing a catch. The first few photos taken on 21st March 2016. Photo: Choo Tiong Whee.

A most unexpected rare pelagic Brown Booby, Sula lecuogaster, turned up at the Johor Straits on the morning of 21 March 2016. Choo Tiong Whee and friends Lee Van Hien and Benny Lim were at SBWR Platform 1 photographing the Ospreys when they saw the booby flying around the fish farms diving for fish. Apart from some great photos, Van Hien even had the time to video the fishing. He said that the booby was fishing there for around 15 minutes or so. This was a prized SG lifer for them.

Brown Booby Lee Van HIen

Lee Van Hien’s diving shot of the booby taken on 21st March.

We had only four records of this non-breeding visitor. Two were specimens dating back to 1878 ( Hume and Davison collection in Gibson-Hill 1950) from open seas and the other from Horsburgh Lighthouse in 1935 ( now in RMBR). Gibson-Hill (1950) mentioned a sighting in 1948 and the most recent was off Changi in 1982 (Paul Bristowe).

This latest sighting caused great excitement among the birding community here as this will be a SG lifer of all of us. Platform 1 was packed to capacity the following days with hopes of getting a sight of it.


Great overhead shot. It was so close that David could not get the whole bird in the frame.

But the lucky birder was David Li who was out on a boat on the 24th doing shorebirds tracking. The booby flew right over his head around noon just missing him with its bombing. Luckily he was fast enough to click this great overhead shot as it passed over. He also reported seeing the booby from Sungei Buloh the day before at 9.15 am.

Platform 1 Solomon Anthony

Bird’s eye view of SBWR Platform 1 with Choo Tiong Whee waving to the boat group. Photo: Solomon Anthony. 

This prompted See Toh Yew Wai and friends to charter a boat from Raffles Marina to go in search of this prize catch on 26th. Alas the booby did not make an appearance and they had to be satisfied with ticking the rare resident Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, off the shore of the Western Catchment.

Brown Booby FYap

A long shot of the booby near to Johor by Francis Yap. It went missing after this shot was taken.

Francis Yap decided to try his luck at SBWR Eagle’s Point on Sunday 27th and was duly rewarded with a sighting and record shots of the booby at 10 am. Just how lucky can you get? This is the last reported sighting so far and a great end to one of the most exciting finds in local birding history after the sightings of the Mask Finfoot in 1999.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. A field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan. 1993.

Many thanks to the use of photographs from Choo Tiong Whee, Lee Van Hien, David Li, Solomon Anthony and Francis Yap. 



A Green Avadavat at Punggol Barat?

Green Avadavat Dean Tan

Contributed by Dean Tan 6 March 2016.

I went down to Punggol Barat to look for birds on a sunny Satursday (05 March 16) afternoon at 4pm when I came across this green avadavat. I had less than 3 seconds to shot, while it perch on a branch approx. 6m from away. I was shooting common waxbills while this avadavat chased away the waxbills and perch on the same branch.
Initially, I thought it was a female red avadavat and did not think much about it. Until I went home, downloaded the shots, which I taken in my PC when I noticed that it don has the white spots where the female Red Avadavat has on it’s wings.
Immediatelly, I checked out on the web and found that it was actually a Green Avadavat. Understand from Alan OwYong that this is another introduced species, that had not been recorded before. Many of these alien species may not adapt to our climate and habitat, but those that do may impact on our native species. It is best to stop if not minimize this type of invasion to safeguard our native birds.
Admin notes: It has been identified as the female Orange-breasted Waxbill by Ron Chew.

NSS-Raffles Marina North-West Cruise.

Contributed by Alfred Chia.

On 31 January 2016, some members of the Nature Society (Singapore), took a maiden cruise along the North-west coastline of Singapore. This trip was made possible through the support of the kind people at Raffles Marina who not only provided the vessels and crew support but breakfast, lunch and refreshments as well. A big thank you to Francis Lee, President of Raffles Marina, Edwin Tan and Ray Perry, CEO. Also accommpanying us on this trip to share & partake experiences were Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social & Family Development and Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for National Development & Home Affairs.

27 of us, allocated into 3 boats, left the marina in a convoy at 8.25am after a hearty breakfast. The route took us immediately under the Second Link viaduct, emerging quickly into the periphery of the restricted Western Catchment Reserve. We travelled gingerly to stay clear of the 75-metre navigable sea lane restriction that was adjacent to the Live Firing Area. We sailed passed Bridge Eins from afar and looked longingly at it for beyond this bridge lies the Tengeh Reservoir. This is where perhaps waterfowl may be found. But this is a restricted zone. I remembered looking down onto this reservoir from atop a small hill many years ago when Poyan was still accessible: at least up to where Bulim Cemetery was. The scenery was beautiful, serene & picturesque then. Birds fluttered from tree to tree and very often, you see raptors going in for the kill from where you are. But I digress. Ah, those were the days!

View of the Second Link. Pix Alfred Chia

View of the Second Link. Pix Alfred Chia


It was a hot day and raptors abound. There were Brahminy Kites, White-bellied Sea Eagles, singles of Changeable Hawk Eagle and a Western Osprey. A surprising find was a lone Grey-headed Fish Eagle perched atop a “Danger” sign very early on. At Pulau Sarimbun, where we slowed down to search for a long-lost fern, we heard the Olive-winged Bulbul and the Oriental Magpie Robin.

Grey-headed Fish Eagle perched atop "Danger sign" Pix Tan Chuan-Jin.

Grey-headed Fish Eagle perched atop “Danger sign” Pix Tan Chuan-Jin.

Osprey inflight Pix Tan Chuan-Jin

Osprey inflight Pix Tan Chuan-Jin

We were alerted before the trip by Dr Shawn Lum to search for the fern Dipteris conjugata at Pulau Sarimbun, a probable last stronghold. This primitive fern once abound on the coastal cliff surface of Labrador in the early years and Labrador was declared a Nature Reserve by virtue of its existence then. Sadly, it is now completely obliterated from Labrador. Happily however, we managed to locate the fern at Pulau Sarimbun, healthily sashaying with the breeze.

Pulau Saribun Pix Alfred Chia

Pulau Sarimbun Pix Alfred Chia

Dipteris conjugata, taken from Gap Road, Fraser's Hill.pix Alfred Chia

Dipteris conjugata, taken from Gap Road, Fraser’s Hill.pix Alfred Chia

By 10.15am, we had Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in our view. We saw the familiar main bridge and its sluice gates. Great & Little Egrets and Grey Herons were more obvious here. In the heat of the day, many were just resting atop the numerous fish farms that dotted the coastlines.

One of the many fisg farms along the way. Pix Alfred Chia

One of the many fisg farms along the way. Pix Alfred Chia

Great Egrets resting in the heat of the day. Pix Alfred Chia

Great Egrets resting in the heat of the day. Pix Desmond Lee.

We continued further to the Kranji mudflats. As the tide was about 1.1 metre, some mudflats were exposed. Distance do not permit us however to view any waders but the bigger egrets & herons were more obvious. We turned around from here to head back.

Great Egret in flight Pix Desmond Lee

Great Egret in flight Pix Desmond Lee

En-route, we stopped for lunch at Fish Farm No 33, just off the end of Lim Chu Kang Road. This farm is owned by a Mr Cheung. We were warmly welcomed by the spritely 79-year old patriarch himself, together with his beautiful family. We were then brought around the farm by Mr Cheung and his son. We learned that the farm specialises more in the rearing of milk fish and mullets. We learned also of the different type of feeds for different species. We were also given an impromptu lesson on the challenges the fish farm faces: from the level of dissolved oxygen to planktons, to red tide and to aeration needs. A scrumptious lunch, meticulously arranged by Raffles Marina and its hardworking support staff, then followed. A big thank you to them and also to Mr Cheung and his family for so kindly hosting the group.

Mr. Cheung from Fish Farm No. 33. Pix Leong Kok Peng.

Mr. Cheung from Fish Farm No. 33. Pix Leong Kok Peng.

It was also at the fish farm that we had the highlight of the trip. While we were standing at one end of the farm, Ju Lin suddenly looked skywards and shouted “Adjutant Stock”! In a jiffy, all eyes, bins and cameras were pointed at the stock flying overhead us. It flew in from the direction of Lim Chu Kang towards Johore. When it was confirmed as a Lesser Adjutant, there were smiles and a sense of accomplishment all around. Both ministers also revelled in our joy, knowing that we had finally seen what we had set out to look for, a great rarity indeed!

Lesser Adjutant in flight Pix Lee Tiah Khee

Lesser Adjutant in flight Pix Lee Tiah Khee


A view of Cashin House, viewed from the sea. This colonial-era bungalow will be restored by NParks soon & will be linked to Sg Buloh Wetland Reserve by trails (Pix: Desmond Lee)

We returned to Raffles Marina at 1.20pm and gathered for some refreshments and tete-a-tete before calling it a day: a day very well-spent indeed.

Customary group photo. Pix Lim Kim Chuah.

Customary group photo. Pix Lim Kim Chuah.

In total, we saw 23 species of birds on the trip, confirmed that Dipteris conjugata is thriving in Pulau Sarimbun, saw the rare Lesser Adjutant and renewed friendship and made new ones.

Many thanks to Tan Chuan-Jin, Desmond Lee, Leong Kwok Peng, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee for the use of their photos.

Northern Pintail-Our Past Records.

Northern Pintails

A female (left) and an eclipse male Northern Pintails at Sungei Sembawang taken in Nov 1992.

6th February 2016

The Straits Times yesterday carried an article on the sighting of a male Northern Pintail, Anas acuta, at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 3rd February 2016. NParks’ Mendis Tan saw a duck with a greenish throat flying across the reserve in the morning but his colleague David Li found the Pintail among the egrets in the evening. This is the first time for the reserve and only our fifth record of this very rare winter visitor. They migrate from North Asia to South and East Asia making rare visits to Malaysia and Singapore

According to “Madge Waterfowl of the World”, Northern Pintails prefer open wetlands avoiding forested areas. They spend the winter at estuarine mudflats, brackish marshes and lagoons. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is an ideal habitat for its stop over. It feeds by dabbling in shallow water mainly in the evening or at night, spending the day loafing on shores and mudflats. Generally shy and wary.

I dug into my slide collection and scanned the above photo of two Northern Pintails taken at the Sungei Sembawang in November 1992. Two males and a female were seen then. This was our fourth and last record. They stayed from 22nd-29th November 1992 and was last seen on 13th December 1992 (SINAV 6.2). Sungei Sembawang was an integral part of Senoko, one of our premier birding sites in the 90s, where over 200 species were recorded.

Our first record was a male seen at Jurong River from 30th December 1967 to 29th January 1968 (MBR 1967-68). The second was a dead bird shot by a local farmer (RAFOS 1970). The third was a small flock seen at Poyang Reservoir in November 1983 (MBR 1982-83).

The sighting at Sungei Buloh also extends the extreme date from 29 January to 3rd February. Lets hope that the newly opened Kranji Marshes will attract more migratory water fowls to stop over here.

Compiled by Alan OwYong with edits from Tan Gim Cheong. Ref: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore 2009. Craig Robson. The Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd.