Category Archives: Singapore Avifauna

2017 Year in Review – Residents and Non-breeding Visitors.

2017 Year in Review- Part 3. Residents and Non-breeding Visitors.

We had several important breeding records for 2017 but the most significant was the first documented record of the successful nesting of the Red-legged Crakes Rallina fasciata at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 3rd November by Mike Smith. Prior to this, all we had were sightings of juveniles being fed by their parents.

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Mike Smith’s timely photo of the hatching of the first Red-legged Crake chick at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The other notable breeding record was the sighting of a pair of Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana sitting on a nest inside a row of Mangroves at Pulau Ubin near Chek Java on 2nd January by Daniel Ong. This was our first breeding record from the north of Singapore. On 30th August, Chua Yen Kheng of Sungei Buloh proudly announced the sightings of a pair of chicks with the adult Black-backed Swamphens Porphyrio indicus at Kranji Marshes, a first since its opening and an indication of the success of the enhancement of the Marshes.

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Pair of Black-backed Swamphens with youngs at Kranji Marshes. Photo: Bari Mohamed and NParks.

A juvenile Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was photographed at Pulau Ubin by Serin Subaraj on 18th September during an NParks survey. The adults were heard calling (Jonathan Tan of NParks). Breeding evidence of this rare owl at Ubin?

Serin Subaraj

Juvenile Barred Eagle Owl photographed by Serin Subaraj at Pulau Ubin.

The nesting of the introduced Monk Parakeets Myiopsitta monachus at Pasir Ris Park was however a little worrying as these aggressive parakeets may impact negatively on our native parrots. (Lim Kim Keang on 24th February)

Staying in Ubin, David Tan retrieved the carcass of a Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos on 24 August, after it crashed into a building at the Outward Bound School there. This was our third record. A female Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus was reported at Ubin on 21st September by Alan OwYong with another sighting by Martin Kennewell at Sentosa, sex unknown.

Black Hornbill Rob Arnold

The female Black Hornbill was one of the latest addition to the Checklist. Taken at Ubin by Rob Arnold.

The nationally threatened Mangrove Blue Flycatcher Cyornis rufigastra was heard calling at the eastern end of the island by Lim Kim Keang and Low Choon How on 1st September. Sharinder Singh also reported seeing one across Lorong Halus on 13th May. Another rare resident seen at Pulau Ubin was the Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea, once on 1st April by Lim Kim Keang and again on 16th September by James Tann. Mike Hooper reported seeing another at Marina East on 30th July. This is the only Whistler here.

James Tann MW

A rare photo of the Mangrove Whistler taken at P. Ubin by James Tann in September

The Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was reported at the Pekan Quarry on 22nd March, 4th June and 26th December. The surprise find by Thio Hui Bing at the Singapore Quarry on the same day 26th December could mean that there could be two darters around?  Seetoh Yew Wai and friends reported a skittish Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda at the southern mangrove area on 23rd September. Could this be our resident minor sub species extending its territory from Pulau Tekong? Rounding up at Ubin, a total of 68 Straw-headed Bulbuls Pycnonotus zeylanicus were recorded during a census on 4th June coordinated by Yong Ding Li. Pulau Ubin is the most important site for this globally threatened species.

SHB Ted Ng

Pulau Ubin is the most important site for this globally threatened species. Photo like this by Ted Ng will be difficult to get elsewhere.

Over at the resort island of Sentosa, Lim Kim Seng had our only record of the rare introduced Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea for the year on 30th September. He also reported a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata there on 18th September. Two other records of the White-rumped Munias came from Chinese Gardens on 3rd Aug and Kent Ridge Park Forest Walk on 16th December. Their status and origin are not too clear as recent escapees cannot be fully ruled out.

Francis Yap had the only record of the rare Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon from our Central Forest for the year with a sighting at Jelutong Tower on 17th May.

Lesser Green Leafbird FYap

This is the only record and photo of the nationally threatened Lesser Green Leafbird taken by Francis Yap this year inside our Central Forest.

But the secretive King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis was more cooperative with multiple sightings from Kranji Marshes on 10th February, 5th November and Seletar end on 20th February all by Martin Kennewell.

The large Lesser Adjutants Leptoptilos javanicus had been making rounds over the Kranji Marshes and Sungei Buloh areas during the last quarter of the year. Again Martin Kennewell and Con Foley were there to record the sightings on 30th September, 8th October where four birds were seen, and 4th December.

The forest loving Blue-eared Kingfishers Alcedo meninting continued with their location expansion with records coming in from Hindhede, Bukit Batok and Dairy Farm Nature Parks between 15th May and 24th June. Good news for our nationally threatened kingfisher.

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Gerals Chua’s photo of the spreading Blue-eared Kingfisher with its catch at Kranji Marshes.

This final part concludes the Bird Review for 2017. We want to thank all of you for your timely posts in the various facebook groups, e-forum and alerts. Let us look forward to another impressive year ahead with more lifers for all.

Compiled from the monthly Bird Reports for 2017 by Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong. Reference: Lim Kim Seng, The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009. Many thanks to Mike Smith, Bari Mohamed/NParks, Serin Subaraj, Rob Arnold, James Tann, Ted Ng, Francis Yap and Gerals Chua for the use of their photos. 

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2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

The discovery of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus at Sentosa by Tuck Loong and Esther Ong on 23 December had to be one of the birding highlights of the year. Another was the sighting of a female Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina that stopped over for 3 days at Dairy Farm NP on 28 November by Veronica Foo and Marcel Finlay. Two sightings of the vagrant White-throated Needletails Hirundapus caudacutus over the Henderson Wave on 19 and 31 Oct by Keita Sin and one over Jelutong Tower on 25 Oct by Francis Yap ( Cover photo). The cuckoo and flycatcher were only our second records for these species, while the needletails were our second, third and fourth records.

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Asian Emerald Cuckoo feeding on Tussock Moth caterpillars at Sentosa was                      only our second record.

Other rare visitors include the Asian House Martins Delichon dasypus, seen thrice, 11 March at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell, 19 October at Henderson Wave by Keita Sin and 24 November over Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap. Two Yellow-browed Warblers Phylloscopus inornatus, one at the Bukit Timah Hill summit on 18 January by Francis Yap and the other at Sentosa on 24 November by Lim Kim Chuah. A Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica was photographed by Khong Yew at Dairy Farm on 25 November and a Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus on 3 January at Pulau Ubin’s Butterfly Hill by Keita Sin. A ‘summer visitor’, the Austral Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis duly arrived on 27 May at Seletar end when Francis Yap went to look for them.

Dean Tan

Siberian Thrush from Dairy Farm. Photo: Dean Tan

A good number of rare and endangered flycatchers were sighted during the year. The globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus was recorded at Jurong Island and even Sungei Buloh WR and its usual haunt Bidadari between 30 September and 7 November. The non-breeding Brown-streaked Flycatchers Muscicapa williamsoni came over between August 13-26 and were spotted at Pasir Ris Park, Jelutong Tower and Portsdown Road.

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Brown-streaked Flycatcher, a non-breeding visitor comes over usually in July and August. Photo: Francis Yap.

Laurence Eu gave us an early arriving Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae when he photographed one at Dempsey Hill on 7 September, 10 days ahead of the previous extreme date. There were five more sightings of this flycatcher all at the Central Catchment Forest up to 6 April. Low Choon How had a new late departure date for the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata on 3 April at Simei. Other sightings of this flycatcher was at Belayer Creek on 24 October by Laurence Eu and a female bird at Bidadari on 12 and 18 November. Rounding up was the Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis, a recent split from the Blue and White. A first-winter bird was photographed by Khong Yew at Dairy Farm NP on 21 November, with Dave Bakewell providing the identification.

Zappey's Khong Yew

A first winter male Zappey’s Flycatcher from Dairy Farm NP. Photo: Khong Yew.

Other notable visitors for the year were the Black-capped Kingfishers Halcyon pileata, a photographers’ favourite, recorded at Kranji Marshes, Marina Barrage, Neo Tiew Lane 3 and West Coast Park between 20 October and 21 December; and Grey Nightjars Caprimulgus jotaka on 3 November at Satay by the Bay (Christina See), and one at Bukit Batok on 2 December by Lena Chow. Both were new for the sites. They were also recorded at Bidadari, Chinese Gardens, Rifle Range Link, One-north and AMK Park.

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A low roosting Grey Nightjar at the Chinese Gardens by Looi-Ang Soh Hoon. The species was seen at six other places. 

A dead Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida found at Toa Payoh on 20 November was the first for the season. Over at Seletar end, Goh Cheng Teng reported the Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus on 25 November. The confiding Lanceolated Warblers Locustella lanceolata were present at Seletar end on 10 March and Tuas South on 29 Oct as per entries in ebirds by Martin Kennewell and James Lambo respectively.

Complied from the monthly Bird Reports for 2017 by Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong. Reference: Lim Kim Seng, The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009. Many thanks to Alan OwYong, Dean Tan, Francis Yap, Khong Yew and Looi-Ang Soh Hoon for the use of their photos. 

 

 

2017 Year in Review. Part 1: National Firsts, Raptors, Sea and Shorebirds.

2017-Year in Review. Part 1: National Firsts, Raptors, Sea and Shorebirds.

We had another exciting year with four national firsts added to the Singapore Checklist and one in a new annex. There were also several rare second and third records.  A new raptor site was discovered that contributed several rare records for the year and a mass roosting of several hundreds of wagtails at the northern parts of the island.

Little Stint David Li

Long awaited Little Stint was finally photographed at Chel Java on 21 Sept by David Li

The long awaited Little Stint Calidris minuta was finally found at Chek Jawa by David Li during NParks Waders Survey on 21 September. Two birds were photographed beside the Rufous-necked Stints. George Presanis surprised us with a photo of a Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus he took at Dairy Farm NP on 9 October. This is a species found “principally in hilly country from low elevations up to 1200m” in Malaysia and did not reappear after this sighting. Then in December, two out-of-range birds turned up at Sungei Buloh and Kranji Marshes. On 2 December, Oliver Tan photographed a juvenile male Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi and Muhd Fadhil shot a Booted Warbler Iduna caligata on 4 December. Both are not known migrants to Singapore and must have strayed from their regular wintering grounds. On 29 April, See Toh Wai Yew, Lau Jiasheng and friends photographed a Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii at the Straits of Singapore during their pelagic trip. As it was not inside Singapore territory, the Records Committee decided to list it in Annex 1, a new category for such sightings.

Bulwer's Petrel Jiasheng

Bulwer’s Petrel migrating through the Straits of Singapore on 29 April Photo: Lau Jiasheng.

Pelagic surveys had added several new species to the Singapore bird list before and it continues to help us understand the behaviour and movements of these seabirds passing through the Straits better. On 17 September, 25 Aleutian Terns Onychoprion aleuticus were counted, making this an early arrival date. Bridled Terns Onychoprion anaethetus were seen nesting at Pedra Branca on 29 April in support of past records. Parasitic Jaegers Stercorarius parasiticus were recorded arriving on 14 October and departing on 29 April. 18 Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels Oceanodroma monorhis and 26 Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris were counted on this April day confirming that the Straits as their main migratory route. On the first day of the year, Low Choon How was quick enough to identify a Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus flying over Straits of Johor off Pulau Ubin, the only gull seen for the year. The last seabird recorded during the year was unfortunately a dead Red-footed Booby Sula sula when Adrian Silas Tay found its washed-up carcass at Marina East Drive.

Short-tailed Shearwater Wong Lee Hiong

Short-tailed Shearwater flying low by Wong Lee Hong. 28 counted during April.

Keita Sin’s passion for documenting migrating raptors led him to Henderson Wave where collectively several impressive rare arrivals were recorded. The list include a Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus on 13th, Common Buzzard Buteo buteo and Grey-faced Buzzard on 2nd, Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga on 11th, a first for the season Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni on 12th, a Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos on 15th and our 3rd record of a Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus on 26th by Francis Yap, all in November. Nearby over at Telok Blangah Hill, Leslie Fung shot a juvenile Besra Accipiter virgatus on 18 November.

Besra, 181117, posted 051217, Telok Blangah, Les Sail

Besra, juvenile, at Telok Blangah Hill on 18 Nov 2017, by Leslie Fung.

Continuing with visiting raptors, two sightings of the Grey-faced Buzzards Butastur indicus were reported. One on 2 November at Hindhede NP (Martin Kennewell) and several over St John’s Island on 4 November by Francis Yap and Keita Sin. A 3rd record of the Amur Falcon Falco amurensis was reported at the Changi Coast Road on 26 November by See Toh Yew Wai another Common Buzzard at Seletar Aerospace on 21 February by Alfred Chia, our only Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus for the year over Kent Ridge Park on 3 October by Keita Sin and a second Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos at Kranji Marshes on 18 November by Martin Kennewell. The rare Northern Boobook Ninox japonica made a one day stop over at Satay by the Bay on 8 November, surprising Terence Tan who was birding there. Another migrant owl, the Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia returned to Dairy Farm NP on 1 December and stayed until 10 January 2018.

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Terence Tan’s Northern Boobook on 8 November at the Satay by the Bay.

On 23 September, Shahrulbariah Arif-Sng posted on Facebook the mass roosting of hundreds of Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea at Yishun Street 11. On 8 October, Esther Ong was also seeing hundreds of Grey Wagtails returning every evening to roost at Sembawang. These mass roostings have never been seen before for this wagtail and it also attracted one or two Eastern Yellows Motacilla tschutschensis, a few Whites Motacilla alba and even the Forest Wagtails Dendronanthus indicus. This had to be the first record of roosting of all four species of wagtails at one place. The flock at Sembawang left by 9 January 2018 but Fadzrun Adnan was still reporting 350 Greys at Yishun on 13 January 2018. It will be interesting to see if they will return at the end of 2018?

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Unexplained mass gathering of all four species of wagtails at Yishun. 

For the migrant shore and waterbirds, there was the rare Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla seen on 26 March at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kenewell and one at Satay by the Bay on 17 December by Siew Mun, a first for the gardens. A globally threatened species, the Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes made six appearances at Pulau Tekong on 9 September, 10 October, between 21 January and 28 May, a late date, thanks to the watchful Frankie Cheong. The second globally threatened species, the Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris, 2 birds, were picked up by Lim Kim Keang at Chek Jawa on 6 December. The large and elegant Eurasian Curlews Numenius arquata, a globally near threatened species, was wintering at Tekong on 9 March and recorded arriving at SBWR on 28 August by Robin Tan. Ten globally near threatened early arriving Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa were counted at Sungei Buloh WR on 28 August by David Li and Veronica Foo.

Chinese Egret Frankie Cheong

The globally threatened Chinese Egret prefered the reclaimed land at Pulau Tekong during all its visits. Photo: Frankie Cheong.

The only Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa for the year was spotted by Lim Kim Keang at Pasir Ris Farmway 3 on 6 April just before the start of the migration back north. A Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus was making a late one day stopover at the Hindhede Quarry on 15 May when Martin Kenewell was there. Lastly we had to thank Luke Teo for the Sanderling Calidris alba that stop over to feed along the breakwaters off Marina East Drive on 12 November.

Sanderling Luke

Sanderling wintering over at the breakwaters at MED in November. Photo Luke Teo.

References:
Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore).
Jeyarajasingam & Pearson. A Field Guide to the Bird of West Malaysia and Singapore. 1999. Oxford University Press.

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong from the monthly Bird Reports of 2017, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. Many thanks to David Li, Lau Jiasheng, Wong Lee Hong, Leslie Fung, Terence Tan, Alan OwYong, Frankie Cheong and Luke Teo for the use of the photographs.

 

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.

Bird Records Committee Report ( May 2018)

Bird Records Committee Report (May 2018)

By Lim Kim Seng. Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee.

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Booted Warbler Iduna caligata at Kranji Marshes, 10 Dec 2017, Singapore’s first record and the second for Southeast Asia. It stayed till March 2018. Photo by Adrian Silas Tay.

The Records Committee continues to receive records of new bird species to the Singapore List and rarities. This report updates the findings of the last 12 months up to May 2018.

 New Species

Six new bird species were added to the Singapore List, bringing the total number of species to 403. The updated official NSS Singapore Checklist 2018 edition (2) here.

They include the following:

Little Stint Calidris minuta

An adult and an immature seen and photographed at Tg. Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 Sep 2017 by David Li was the first record for Singapore.

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Little Stint at Check Java by David Li.

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina

A lone bird seen and photographed at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 9 Oct 2017 by George Presanis was the first record of this sedentary species for Singapore. It was not seen subsequently despite some observer effort.

294A Verditer Flycatcher.

Verditer Flycatcher at Dairy Farm Nature Park by George Presanis.

Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi

A female seen and photographed at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 2 Dec 2017 by Oliver Tan was the first record for Singapore and Southeast Asia. It was last seen on 10 Apr 2018.

Gim Cheong

Indian Paradise Flycatcher at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve by Tan Gim Cheong.

Booted Warbler Iduna caligata

One was first photographed but not identified by Fadhil, an NParks staff, at Kranji Marshes on 4 Dec 2017. On 10 Dec 2017, several observers including Adrian Silas Tay, Richard Carden, Martin Kennewell, Francis Yap and Lim Kim Chuah also saw and photograph the mystery bird. Eventually, a close study of its features, habits and vocalization revealed this to be Singapore’s first and Southeast Asia’s second record of this species.  It was last seen on 23 Mar 2018.

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis

A female seen and photographed at Chek Jawa Coastal Boardwalk, Pulau Ubin, on 4 Mar 2018 by Roger Boey was our first record for this species.

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Female Ruby-cheeked Sunbird taken by Roger Boey at Pulau Ubin.

Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus 

A female photographed near the summit of Bukit Timah on 2 May 2018 by Ted Lee and subsequently seen and photographed by several other observers on 4 and 5 May 2018 was the first recent record for Singapore. It was last seen near the Treetop Walk at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 12 May 2018. This species was previously assigned to Category B.

Kwong Yew

Great Slaty Woodpecker at Bukit Timah Hill by Kwong Yew.

 Rarities

The following eight rarities were accepted.

Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus

An individual photographed at Sungei Buloh on 18 Oct 2017 by Con Foley, Danny Lau and Tan Kok Hui was a noteworthy record of this rare non-breeding visitor to Singapore.

White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus

An individual photographed at Henderson Waves on 19 Oct 2017 by Keita Sin was our second record. Another photographed here on 31 Oct 2017 again by Keita Sin was the fourth while yet another photographed at Jelutong Tower on 25 Oct 2017 by Francis Yap was our third record.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

A bird photographed at Henderson Wave Bridge on 26 Nov 2017 by Francis Yap was our third record for Singapore. The only other records were from Tuas View Lane by Martti Siponen on 14 Nov 2010 and Keita Sin, also at Henderson Wave Bridge, on 17 Nov 2016.

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis

An individual photographed at Changi on 26 Nov 2017 by Adrian Silas Tay was our third record. Our only previous records were from Changi Coast by Tan Gim Cheong on 21 Nov 2007 and Lower Seletar Dam on 16 Dec 2016 by Yip Peng Sun.

Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina

A female photographed at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 28 Nov 2017 by Veronica Foo and Marcel Finlay was our second record. Another female photographed at West Coast Park on 3 Jan 2018 by Stuart Campbell was our third record.

Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx macutalus

A female photographed at Fort Siloso, Sentosa, on 23 Dec 2017 by Esther Ong was our second record. It stayed till the end of the year.

Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykulii

An adult photographed at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 19 Jan 2018 by Meena Vathyam was our second record. It was last seen on 28 April 2018.

Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster

An individual photographed at Singapore Quarry on 18 Feb 2018 by Richard White was the first from this locality and our fourth record overall of this rare non-breeding visitor.

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus

A female seen and photographed at Jelutong Tower on 20 Jan 2018 by HB Thio was our fourth record. Another seen and photographed by Lim Kim Seng at Chek Jawa Coastal Boardwalk, Pulau Ubin, on 6 May 2018 was our fifth record.

Annex 1

In addition to the above, we have also received further records of Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii in the Singapore Straits on 29 Apr 2017 and 6 May 2017 from Lau Jiasheng. These two records were confirmed to be outside Singapore waters and are assigned to Annex 1. To date, we have no records of Bulwer’s Petrel in Singapore. Annex 1 is for species occurring near to but outside Singapore, e.g. birds occurring in the Indonesian and/or Malaysian side of the Singapore Straits.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thanks the following observers for submitting their records for review: Roger Boey, Stuart Campbell, Marcel Finlay, Con Foley, Veronica Foo, Danny Lau, Lau Jiasheng, David Li, Geoff Lim, Lim Kim Seng, Esther Ong, Alan Owyong, George Presanis, Keita Sin, Tan Kok Hui, Oliver Tan, Adrian Silas Tay, Meena Vathyam, Richard White, Francis Yap and Yip Peng Sun. Special thanks go to Dave Bakewell for help in unravelling the identity of Little Stint and Indian Paradise Flycatcher based on submitted evidence. Finally, thanks are also due to my fellow committee members for their expertise in the deliberation process:  Alfred Chia, Kenneth Kee, Lim Kim Chuah, Lim Kim Keang, Alan Owyong, Dr Frank Rheindt, Tan Gim Cheong and Dr Yong Ding Li.

Thanks to Adrian Silas Tay, David Li, George Persanis, Tan Gim Cheong, Roger Boey and Khong Yew for the use of their photographs.

Reference

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

 

Bird Records Committee Report ( May 2017)

By Lim Kim Seng
Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee.

Red-billed Starling

Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus at Gardens by the Bay, 30 Nov 2013, Singapore’s second record. A review of records was prompted by a discovery of another bird at Tampines Eco-Green in Dec 2015. Photo by Daniel Wee.

The Records Committee continues to receive records of new bird species to the Singapore List and rarities. This report updates the findings from the past 12 months.

New Species
Five new bird species were added to the Singapore List, bringing the total number of species to 397. Two are splits. They include the following:

Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus.
An individual photographed by Daniel Wee at Gardens by the Bay on 30 Nov 2013 and another photographed at Tampines Eco-Green by Alvin Seng on 27 Dec 2015 follows an earlier record by Lim Kim Seng from Lorong Halus on 25 Dec 1993.

Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
A single individual reported and photographed by Tay Wei Kuan at Lorong Halus on 4 Dec 2013 was the first for Singapore. There were several subsequent records from the same site.

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Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus at Lorong Halus on 4 Dec 2013, a first record for Singapore. Photo by Tay Wei Kuan.

Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus
A female photographed by Robin Arnold on Pulau Ubin on 23 Dec 2016 was subsequently seen by several observers. This species was first reported by Francis Yap at the same site on 23 Jul 2015. It is believed that this species may have invaded Singapore from nearby Johor.

Black Hornbill Rob Arnold

Black Hornbill taken by Rob Arnold taken at Pulau Ubin on 23 Dec 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis
This is a recent split from the “Asian Paradise-flycatcher” complex as proposed by Fabre et al (2012) and Andersen et al (2015) and accepted by IOC. We now have evidence of its occurrence in Singapore although exact dates are still being investigated. We prefer to use the name, “Blyth’s” rather than “Oriental”, as the latter is geographically misleading. This polytypic species breeds in mainland Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago, and birds appearing in Singapore are likely migrants from Peninsular Malaysia or Thailand.

Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei
This is a recent split from the “Asian Paradise-flycatcher” complex as proposed by Fabre et al (2012) and Andersen et al (2015) and accepted by IOC. We now have evidence of its occurrence in Singapore although exact dates are still being investigated. This monotypic species breeds in northern and northeast Asia and winters in Southeast Asia.

Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana
This is a recent split from the “Blue-and-white Flycatcher” complex as proposed by Leader & Carey (2012) and accepted by IOC. We now have evidence of its occurrence in Singapore although exact dates are still being investigated. This species breeds in northern and northeast Asia and winters in Southeast Asia.

Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis
This is another recent split from the “Blue-and-white Flycatcher” complex as proposed by Leader & Carey (2012) and accepted by IOC. We now have evidence of its occurrence in Singapore although exact dates are still being investigated. This species breeds in northern-central China and winters in Southeast Asia.

Annex 1 Species

Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii

One reported in the Singapore Straits on 12 Nov 2016 by Lau Jia Sheng was the first record from these waters. However, GPS coordinates show that the bird was seen 4.3 km outside of Singapore’s national boundaries. It is therefore assigned to Annex 1. Annex 1 is for species occurring near to but outside Singapore, e.g. birds occurring in the Indonesian and/or Malaysian side of the Singapore Straits.

Rarities
The following eight rarities were accepted.

White Wagtail Motacilla alba
One of subspecies lugens photographed at Bishan depot by Vincent Lao was the first record of this taxon in Singapore. The other subspecies currently accepted are leucopsis and ocularis.

Red-footed Booby Sula sula
One photographed in the Singapore Straits on 12 Nov 2016 by Francis Yap was 2.5 km outside Singapore waters. This record is assigned to Annex 1.

White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis
A bird seen flying over the Pan-Island Expressway on 13 Feb 2016 by Alfred Chia has been our first record for many years. This species is thought to be extirpated and this individual is more likely to be a transient rather than an undetected resident.

Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris
Three birds reported in the Singapore Straits by See Toh Yew Wai on 7 May 2016 were our third record for Singapore.

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Two birds photographed on Pulau Tekong on 1 Oct 2016 by Frankie Cheong were our first record for many years.

Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
One bird photographed on Pulau Tekong on 8 Oct 2016 by Frankie Cheong was our third record and the first from this locality.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
A bird photographed at Henderson Wave Bridge on 17 Nov 2016 by Keita Sin was our second record. Our only other record was reported at Tuas View Lane by Martti Siponen on 14 Nov 2010.

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis
A female photographed at Lower Seletar Dam on 16 Dec 2016 by Yip Peng Sun was our second record. Our only other record (also a female) was reported at Changi Coast by Tan Gim Cheong on 21 Nov 2007.

Acknowledgements
We would like to thanks the following observers for submitting their records for review: Robin Arnold, Frankie Cheong, Alfred Chia, Lau Jia Sheng, Vincent Lao, See Toh Yew Wai, Alvin Seng, Keita Sin, Tay Wei Kuan, Daniel Wee, Francis Yap and Yip Peng Sun. Thanks to Daniel Wee, Rob Arnold and Tay Wei Kuan for the use of their photos. Thanks are also due to my fellow committee members for their expertise in the deliberation process: Alfred Chia, Kenneth Kee, Lim Kim Chuah, Lim Kim Keang, Alan Owyong, Dr Frank Rheindt, Tan Gim Cheong and Yong Ding Li.

References
Andersen, M.J., P.A. Hoster, C.E Filardi, and R.G. Moyle. 2015. Phylogeny of the monarch flycatchers reveals extensive paraphyly and novel relationships within a major Australo-Pacific radiation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 67: 336–347.
Fabre, P.-H., M. Irestedt, J. Fjeldså, R. Bristol, J.J. Groombridge, M. Irham, and K.A. Jønsson. 2012. Dynamic colonization exchanges between continents and islands drive diversification in paradise-flycatchers (Terpsiphone, Monarchidae). Journal of Biogeography 39: 1900-1918.
Leader, P. & Carey, G. (2012). Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis, a forgotten Chinese breeding endemic. Forktail 28: 121-8.
Lim, K.S. (2009). The avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore.

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.

First Autumn Raptor Migration Count in Singapore

by Tan Gim Cheong
This article was first published in BirdingASIA 28 (2017).
The write-up here is an expanded version with more figures and acknowledgements.
DSC_0196-web

Figure 1 – Part of a kettle of 82 OHB, Tuas South Avenue 16, Singapore, 8 October 2014. 

From 1 October to 16 November 2014 Singapore’s first autumn raptor migration count took place at Tuas South Avenue 16 (1.265ON 103.622OE), near the southwest tip of Singapore island, an area with many grassland plots that generate strong thermals during the day. The project was carried out by volunteer amateur birdwatchers but, due to a shortage of volunteers over the 47-day period, full coverage was unfortunately not achieved – observation times varied from two to eight hours per day while on seven days, no counts were made; overall, an average coverage of five hours per day was achieved. Nonetheless, the count was still useful in providing a baseline indication of the numbers and diversity of raptors that may be expected in Singapore during autumn migration.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Daily total of all migrant raptors. Note: no birds were recorded on 3 October, and no counts made on 13, 14, 16, 20, 21 and 29 October and 11 November.

A total of 3,667 raptors of 11 migrant species were recorded. Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus (3,189 birds) accounted for 87% of the total. The Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis (252 birds) was a distant second, making up 7%, while the remaining 6% comprised small numbers of nine species, including 15 Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis. Those three species were recorded throughout the period. A total of 11 Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes was recorded – one on 30 October, two on 1 November and eight on 12 November; six Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus – one each on 4, 6 and 8 October and 1, 5 and 16 November; three Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus – one each on 1, 8 and 10 November; Booted Eagle Hieraeetus pennatus – singles on 18 and 24 October; Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga – singles on 23 October and 13 November; and Osprey Pandion haliaetus – singles on 10 and 16 November. There was just one Black Kite Milvus migrans on 23 October, and one Common Buzzard Buteo buteo on 30 October. A further 183 raptors were unidentified.

Figure-3

Figure 3. Individual species totals.

Although Oriental Honey Buzzards were recorded throughout the period, there were two noticeable peaks: between 6-12 October (37% of the total) and between 7-15 November (40% of the total). Flocks of up to 80 birds migrated across the site by ‘kettling’ – circling together – in one thermal and gliding to the next, making this site one of the best places in Singapore to observe migrating raptors (eg. prior to the 2014 count, 745 Oriental Honey Buzzarsd were recorded on a single day, on 9 November 2013; an even higher number, 894, has subsequently been recorded, on 9 November 2015).

Figure-4

Figure 4. Distribution of Oriental Honey Buzzards.

A count of 31 Japanese Sparrowhawks on 23 October 2014 was the highest one-day number of this species in Singapore. Most of these migrated singly, but up to three were observed kettling together. Chinese Sparrowhawk was encountered only in ones and twos; the largest group of Black Baza was a flock of eight, the remaining three comprised two together and a single. One notable record was a Northern Boobook Ninox japonica in flight on the afternoon of 1 November 2014 – it had probably been disturbed from its day-time roost.

The highest number of raptors recorded on a single day was 490 birds, on 8 October, with an average of 92 birds a day during the period. Notably, there was one day, 3 October, when no migrant raptors were recorded, even though the weather was fine. Reports of migrating raptors 4 km north of the count site, not seen by our recorders, suggest that migration occurred across a broad front, and some birds were not in visual range of the count site.

Figure-5

Figure 5. Distribution of Japanese Sparrowhawk.

The flight path also appeared to have shifted slightly compared with earlier years, when about half of the raptors flew south and the rest flew east-south-east. During the 2014 count, few raptors flew south; most flew east-south-east passing to the north of the observers. A survey of the wider area revealed that there was a new area of reclaimed land in the sea between Singapore and Malaysia, north-north-west of the count site, and birds were using the thermals it generated to cross the Straits of Johor; they passed further north of the count site than in previous years. The count site itself was reclaimed from the sea about 15 years ago, indicating that raptors adapt to the landscape altered by man to take advantage of available thermals.

Figure-6

Figure 6. Distribution of Chinese Sparrowhawk.

The peak hours for raptor movement were 12h00-16h00. Singapore is at the tip of continental South-East Asia, beyond which lie the Indonesian islands of the Riau Archipelago. Birds passing the site after 16h00 would find themselves flying over the sea as nightfall approaches, and might not have much time to find a suitable roosting site on the small islands scattered to the south.

The general direction of the flight path was from the north-west (Malaysia), then east-south-east towards Jurong Island (Singapore). By extrapolating the flight path, it would appear that most birds proceed directly to the Riau Islands without stopping in Singapore.

Other Migrants

Other migrants recorded during the count were: Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum (327), Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva (76), Pacific Swift Apus pacificus (25), Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus (11), White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis (10), Ashy Bulbul Hemixos flavala (9), Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica (5), Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus (2), Streaked Bulbul Ixos malaccensis (2), Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata (1), Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus (1) and Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus (1).

Acknowledgements

Sincere thanks go to all the volunteers who helped with the count: Alan Owyong, Alan Yeo, Alfred Chia, Alvin Yeo, Chong Boon Leong, Con Foley, Danny Lau, David Awcock, Diana Jackson, Doreen Ang, Francis Yap, Frankie Cheong, Frankie Lim, Han Yong Kwong, Horst Flotow, Jacky Soh, Jane & Terry Heppell, John Spencer, Lau Jia Sheng, Laurence Eu, Lawrence Cher, Lee Ee Ling, Lee How Sung, Leslie Fung, Lim Kim Keang, Lim Mui Soon, Low Choon How, Nicholas Tan, Ron Chew, See Toh Yew Wai, Subha & Raghav Narayanswamy, Tan Chee Keon, Tan Kok Hui, Timothy Lim, Wing Chong, Woo Jia Wei and Yap Euhian.

Singapore Bird Report – January 2018

Band-bellied Crake, 190118, SBG, Meena Vathyam

January’s mega find, the Band-bellied Crake, at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 19 Jan 2018, by Meena Vathyam

The string of rarities continued to show up and provided for an eventful January. The bird of the month is without doubt the Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii, found by Meena Vathyam at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) on the 19th. Thanks to her, many birders managed to see this mega rarity as their lifer. It is only the second record for Singapore after the first occurrence in 2014. The bird continued to be observed at the same small patch of vegetation for the rest of January and is probably still wintering there.

Green-backed Flycatcher, 310118, Dillenia Hut, Fryap

Another rarity, the Green-backed Flycatcher, at Dillenia Hut on 31 Jan 2018, by Francis Yap

On the 20th, See Toh Yew Wai found another rarity at the Jelutong Tower – an adult male Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae; Francis Yap found one at the junction of Sime Track and Rifle Range Link on the 26th; and Martin Kennewell also photographed this species 100m up the junction, on Rifle Range Link, on the 28th, likely the same individual. Elsewhere, Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo found another individual at Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd. Francis Yap also recorded an individual at Dillenia Hut, CCNR on the 31st. Another rarity was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides found at BTNR on 27th by Lau Jia Sheng and Tan Kok Hui.

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, 200118, Jelutong, Thio HB

A rare non-breeding visitor, the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, at Jelutong Tower on 20 Jan 2018, by Thio Hui Bing

The non-migrant rarities for the month included a Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus, the 3rd record for this non-breeding visitor, found by Martin Kennewell, in the company of Richard Carden and Thio Hui Bing, at Jelutong Tower on the 20th. Additionally, Thio Hui Bing and Lim Kim Seng also recorded two individuals of the locally rare Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps on the same date & locality.

At Pulau Tekong, Frankie Cheong recorded an uncommon Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii and a flock of over 20 Marsh Sandpipers Tringa stagnatilis on the 3rd; and on the 20th, he recorded the Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis and Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta. A Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius was also recorded at Pulau Tekong on 3rd by Frankie Cheong, and two birds at Kranji Golf Course on 4th by Luke Milo Teo.

Two Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica were recorded at Kranji Golf Course on the 4th and 14 of these birds at Marina Bay MRT on the 10th, both by Luke Milo Teo. Also at Kranji Golf Course, an Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis was recorded on the 5th by Alan OwYong;  and a White Wagtail Motacilla alba on the 6th by Luke Milo Teo. A Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica was recorded at Kranji Golf Course on the 5th by Alan OwYong and at Bulim on the 6th by See Toh Yew Wai.

White-rumped Munia, 270118, SBG, Goh Cheng Teng

White-rumped Munia, at SBG on 27 Jan 2018, by Goh Cheng Teng

Alan OwYong recorded a sub-adult Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor at West Coast Park on the 3rd. Earlier in the morning Anthony Nik and Stuart Campbell photographed two unusual female flycatchers there. One was a Blue and White/ Zappey’s Flycatcher and the other had yet to be identified. Veronica Foo found another Hodgon’s Hawk Cuckoo at Bambusetum, SBG, where she also spotted the White-rumped Munias Lonchura striata, on 21st. The munias were present throughout the rest of the month feeding on seeds. A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus was recorded at SBWR on the 20th by Gautham, while a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was found at Telok Blangah Walk on the 22nd by Mark Nelson Valino . At Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd, a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus was recorded on the 23rd by Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo. On the 24th, an adult Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris was recorded at Hindhede NP by Alan OwYong.

Lester Tan photographed a Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala in flight at Jurong Street 22 on the 3rd, identification made possible by its tails feathers which were spread. This encouraged Alan OwYong to attempt to photograph snipes in flight and he managed to photograph a probable Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura at Bulim on the 15th.

A Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata was recorded by Luke Milo Teo at Turut Track on 4th, and by Alan OwYong at Kranji Marshes on 5th, and was still there on the 28th during an NSS outing. Another was photographed in flight at SICC Golf Link on the 5th by Francis Yap. On the 27th, Vincent Lao found an Oriental Dwarf (Black-backed) Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca at Lower Pierce Reservoir.

A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was recorded at Bedok Central on the 5th by Eileen Ruth; another at Bulim on the 6th by See Toh Yew Wai; and another at Neo Tiew Lane 3 on the 14th by Alan OwYong. At Bulim on the 7th, Alan OwYong found a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus, an uncommon migrant. At Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd, a Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis was found by Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo.

 

Greater Painted Snipe, 140118, Bulim Avenue, Pary Sivaraman

Amazing flight views of a Greater Painted Snipe, at Bulim Avenue on 14 Jan 2018, by Pary Sivaraman

At Bulim on the 6th, See Toh Yew Wai recorded 6-8 Greater Painted Snipes Rostratula benghalensis, a Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps, Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis, and Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia. On the 7th, Adrian Silas Tay found 4-5 Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea. The Greater Painted Snipes were still around on the 14th, photographed by Pary Sivaraman.

Two Baillon’s Crakes Porzana pusilla were found by See Toh Yew Wai at Bulim on the 6th, while David Tan reported another found inside an apartment at Tampines on the 11th, and Goh Cheng Teng found another of this scarce migrant at Turut Track on the 14th.

Blue Rock Thrush, 080118, Labrador Villa Rd (private pty), Art Toh

Blue Rock Thrush, at Labrador Villa Rd on 8 Jan 2018, by Art Toh

Art Toh had a lucky encounter with a Blue Rock Thrush Monticola soltarius at Labrador Villa Road on the 8th. He also found a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis at SBG on the 18th. The next day, on the 19th a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was recorded at BTNR by Looi Ang Soh Hoon.

Martin Kennewell reported seeing around 50 White-shouldered Starlings Sturnia sinensis feeding on Bottlebrush trees at Seletar Club Road on the 16th. A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka was recorded at NTU on the 22nd by Luke Milo Teo, and another at Bidadari on the 27th by See Toh Yew Wai. At DFNP on the 24th, an Orang-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina with a deformed (crossbeak) bill was found by Laurence Eu.

At Marina Barrage on the 18th, Pary Sivaraman recorded 12-15 Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus and 10-12 Swinhoe’s Plovers (dealbatus subspecies of the Kentish Plover). At nearby Marina East Drive, Lee Chuin Ming redorded a Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis on the 21st; while Feroz Fizah found a Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii at Changi Coastal Walk on the 22nd.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
NSS: Nature Society (Singapore)

NTU: Nanyang Technological University
SICC: Singapore Island Country Club

This report is produced by Tan Gim Cheong and Alan OwYong 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 Meena Vathyam, Francis Yap, Thio Hui Bing, Goh Cheng Teng, Pary Sivaraman, and Art Toh for the the use of their photos.