Category Archives: Singapore Avifauna

First Nesting Record of the Blue-winged Pitta in Singapore.

First documented records of the Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis breeding in Singapore.

BING WEN LOW, ALFRED CHIA, GIM CHEONG TAN, WEE JIN YAP & KIM KEANG LIM

(This article was first published in BirdingASIA 26 (2016) under Important Breeding Record)

Introduction:

The Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis is a widespread non-breeding visitor to the Malay Peninsula, with breeding previously considered to be confined to the Malaysian states of Perlis and Kedah, including Langkawi island (Wells 2007). However, in 2005 breeding was recorded at Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara National Park, significantly increasing the species’s known breeding range on the Malay Peninsula (Hutchinson & Mears 2006). In Singapore, the Blue-winged Pitta is classified as an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant that is recorded annually with an earliest date of 7 October and latest of 12 April (Lim 2009). However, since 2008 there has been an increasing number of reports of Blue-winged Pittas calling between late April and July. Most of these reports emanate from western Singapore, around the periphery of a military training area, but similar reports have also been received from northern Singapore and Pulau Ubin, an island off the main island’s north-east coast in the channel separating Singapore and Malaysia. Here we document the first confirmed breeding records of Blue-winged Pitta in Singapore, based on observations at two nest sites on Pulau Ubin in July and August 2016.

Observations in the field

On 9 July 2016, WJY observed two adult Blue-winged Pittas carrying earthworms, apparently to an unseen nest in an area of regenerating secondary forest on the eastern end of Pulau Ubin near the Chek Jawa headland (Plate 1).

AC7Plate 1. The first Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis nest (arrowed) at Chek Jawa, Singapore, among the dead fronds of a rattan grove, July 2016. Alfred Chia.

On 14 July GCT and a small team of helpers searched for and located an active nest. The area is an abandoned rubber plantation; consequently most of the bigger trees are rubber Hevea brasiliensis. The understorey is, however, floristically diverse and features a variety of shrubs and climbers. The nest was at ground level amongst the dead fronds of rattans Calamus erinaceus, and comprised a roughly spherical mound of dried leaves and twigs bound together with mud (Plate 2). The mould measured 22 × 20 cm with a depth of 17 cm and an entrance hole 11 × 9 cm. It was located a mere 4.3 m from an unpaved track popular with recreational hikers and cyclists, particularly at weekends.

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Plate 2. The nest, a roughly spherical mound, was constructed using sticks and vegetation bound together with mud, July 2016. Alfred Chia.

When the nest was first found on 14 July, four chicks were present. They were estimated to be at least a week old, given the presence of pin feathers and that the parents were already feeding them on 9 July. In order to document feeding behaviour without undue disturbance, cameras switched to video mode were left to record nest visits when observers were in the general area. It was observed that both parents returned as frequently as every two minutes to tend to the chicks. The parents could be differentiated from behind, based on the width of their dark crown stripe, with one individual having a noticeably broader stripe than its partner (Plate 3). It was not clear whether this was due to differences in feather wear or individual variation.

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Plate 3. The parent birds could be distinguished by the difference in the width of their crown stripe, July 2016. Alfred Chia.

Nest visits generally lasted between 16 and 40 seconds, with longer visits associated with the feeding of young and removal of faecal sacs. The parents also made short visits to the nest for the sole purpose of faecal sac removal. The primary food for the chicks was earthworms, which were collected by the parents in areas of bare earth and small gullies close to the nest (Plate 4). It was surprising that while one parent incessantly uttered alarm calls whenever humans were within 15 m of the nest, the other parent (with the narrower crown stripe) continued visiting the nest silently to feed the young. At other times, one parent uttered the loud alarm call from a hidden position while the other gave a slightly longer, lower-pitched whirrr at intervals of between one and three seconds. This alternative warning call was often accompanied by ‘wing-flicking’—the rapid opening and closing of the wings.

9.7.16 YWJ Pair with Earthworms and LizardPlate 4. The parent birds returned to the nest frequently with copious quantities of earthworms, 9 July 2016. Yap Wee Jin.

Although the brood comprised four chicks, it was apparent that the bulk of the food was fed to the three chicks closest to the entrance of the mound. On 19 July, all four chicks left the nest between 12h42 and 17h01 (Plate 5); they left progressively, in their own time, even though the fourth chick appeared underdeveloped compared with its siblings (Plate 6). The three stronger chicks were already capable of short flights to perches 3 m above the ground, whilst the fourth could only hop on the forest floor. Assuming the chicks were around a week old on 14 July, the estimated fledging period was about 14 days.

 

BWP chick 1536H
Plate 5. One of the three stronger chicks during its first foray out of the nest, 19 July 2016Tan Gim Cheong.

BWP last chick 1701H snip
Plate 6. Compared to its three siblings, the fourth chick was noticeably weaker and less well-developed when the family fledged, 19 July 2016. Tan Gim Cheong.

During subsequent visits on 21 and 23 July, we observed a single fledgling about 50 m from the nest site; by this time it was already independent, capable of foraging alone and undertaking flights between trees (Plate 7). While the fate of the rest of the clutch is unclear, the observation of the lone juvenile foraging independently three days after leaving the nest suggests that the fledglings become independent very quickly. However, the parent birds were still very protective and one of them continued to utter alarm calls incessantly whenever observers approached within 15 m of the fledgling. The parents were also observed to make short circular flights and hops around observers, flicking their wings frequently to show their white wing patches, presumably to act as a distraction and on at least one occasion both parents were observed to make alarm calls, alternating with wing-flicking.

 

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Plate 7. Soon after leaving the nest, one of the fledglings was already a confident flier that frequently perched in the mid-storey, 21 July 2016.
Alfred Chia

 

 

On 23 July, a second nest was discovered by KKL deeper in the forest, about 50 m from the original nest; it was similar in construction to the first nest. On 28 July, a single egg was found in the new nest and thereafter one egg was laid every day until 1 August—a clutch of five eggs (Plate 8).

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Plate 8. The second Blue-winged Pitta nest found at Chek Jawa showing the clutch of five eggs, 2 August 2016. Tan Gim Cheong.

 

 

 

The parents only started brooding on 2 August after all five eggs had been laid. During the incubation period, the parents took turns incubating and were occasionally observed to turn the eggs. On 14 August, 18 days after the discovery of the first egg, three chicks hatched and the remaining two eggs hatched the following day (Plate 9). During the period when there were both eggs and chicks to care for, the parents were observed to take turns feeding chicks and incubating. They also consumed the egg shells once the chicks had hatched.

AC10Plate 9. All five eggs in the second nest hatched successfully by 15 August 2016. Low Choon How.

During observations on 17 August, it was noted that nest visits lasted between 33 and 255 seconds, with intervals of from 1 to 19 minutes between visits. Parents were observed to either remove or consume faecal sacs and, in contrast to the first nest, alarm-calling was minimal, possibly due to the greater distance of the second nest from the trail. Unfortunately, this nesting attempt may not have had a positive outcome. On 18 August, the parents were seen to remove a dead chick from the nest and on 21 August we found that all the chicks had disappeared. As the chicks were only seven days old, unable to fly and completely dependent on their parents, it is most likely that they were predated.

Discussion:

The discovery of Blue-winged Pitta breeding in Singapore is significant both as an extension of the breeding range by about 400 km to the south-east but also because it may change our understanding of the status and movements of the species on the Malay Peninsula. The first reports of Blue-winged Pitta from Singapore outside the established wintering/migration period were in July 2008 when two individuals were heard calling vociferously on the Kranji Nature Trail (Low 2008, Lok et al. 2009); the species could already have bred in Singapore when the Taman Negara NP record was documented. We can now confirm that the breeding range of this species extends to the most southerly point of the Malay Peninsula, also raising the possibility of breeding on the islands of the Greater Sundas. The forest near Chek Jawa is regenerating on abandoned rubber plantations. Similarly, most of the Blue-winged Pittas heard calling have been reported from western Singapore, where the forest has regenerated from land that was previously used for plantations or village agriculture (Yee et al. 2016). This is in line with published literature which notes the species’ preference for secondary growth as breeding habitat (Wells 2007). This habitat preference may also explain why the species has not been recorded breeding in southern Peninsular Malaysia, where there is little observer effort because the majority of visiting birdwatchers opt to visit remnant tracts of rainforest instead of secondary growth. There is no confirmatory evidence that the birds breeding in Singapore are resident—they may winter in Sumatra or elsewhere. In Singapore, anecdotal evidence such as birds colliding with windows shows that good numbers of Blue-winged Pittas move through the city-state on migration (BWL pers. obs.).

Acknowledgements:

We thank Low Choon How and Alan Owyong for their active involvement in documenting the nesting record and for useful discussion.

References:

Hutchinson, R. & Mears, A. (2006). Extension of the breeding range of Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis in peninsular Malaysia. Forktail 22: 119–120.

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

Lok A. F. S. L., Khor K. T. N., Lim K. C. & Subaraj, R. (2009) Pittas (Pittidae) of Singapore. Nature in Singapore 2: 155–165.

Low, A. (2008) Bird Report. Singapore Avifauna 22(7): 1–25.

Wells, D. R. (2007) The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Yee A. T. K., Chong K. Y., Neo L. & Tan H. T. W. (2016) Updating the classification system for the secondary forests of Singapore. Raffles Bull. Zool. 32: 11–21.

Singapore Bird Report- February 2017

BRT Seng Alvin

The return of the Blue Rock Thrush to the Pinnacle@Duxton. Photo: Seng Alvin

The buzz of the month had to be the return of the Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius to the Pinnacle@Duxton on 19th. This time two males, thanks to Seng Alvin’s vigilance during his temporary stay. It stayed around into the end of the month giving many birders their lifers. The next excitement was another returnee to the fig tree at DFNP, a male adult Blue and White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanonmelana on 10th ( Alan OwYong). The main interest was whether this could be a recently split Zappey’s. It was last seen on 20th by Vernoica Foo.

BWFC Con Foley

Con’s photo of the Blue and White Flycatcher taken at DFNP clinched its identification.

Besides these two most wanted winter visitors,  there were other less rare visitors like Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus from SBWR photographed by James Tann on the 2nd. Another Forest Wagtail was seen along Venus Loop by Veronica Foo on 8th and Thio Hb on 12th. Marcel Finlay had one more along the Lower Pierce Boardwalk on 13th.

Siberian Blue Robins Luscinia cyane were showing well this month especially inside the CCNR. Marcel Finlay alone counted 4 birds (2 males, 1 adult female, and 1 immature female) along the Petai Trail on 2nd, 15th, 27th and 28th. A family group wintering together? Earlier Terence Tan reported one along Venus Loop on 7th.

Black Drongo at PB by Danny Lau

A rare visiting Black Drongo taken at Punggol Barat by Danny Lau. 

Notable visitors passing through were a Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea back at the Bulim Canal on 3rd (James Tann) and a rare visiting Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus at Punggol Barat on 4th ( Danny Lau, Tan Kok Hui et al). Two were later photographed at the Seletar side by Martin Kennewell on 24th. A Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis was photographed at the Belayer Creek Mangroves by Kwek Jun Yi on the 8th. This is not its preferred habitat which is fresh water wetlands. It may have just made landfall.

Three sightings of the Crow-billed Drongos Dicrurus annectans were reported, one at CCNR by Lim Kim Seng on 8th, a first winter male at SBG on 15th by Richard White and another at Jelutong on 24th by Marcel Finlay.

Red rumped Swallow at KM Martin K.

A seldom seen perched photo of a Red-rumped Swallow taken at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell.

Smaller migrant passerines include Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica at Mandai on 10th by Lim Kim Seng and a very tame individual at the SBG on 6th (Richard White). A female Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae at Jelutong Tower was photographed by Laurence Eu on 22nd and a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia at Kranji Marshes of all the places on 25th (Martin Kennewell and Richard Carden). Martin was clocking 80-90 species at Kranji Marshes at this time of the year picking out uncommon species like the House Swifts Apus nipalensis (3 birds) on 18th and Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica on 19th and 26th.

DSFC Richard White

A very tame Dark-sided Flycatcher refueling at the Singapore Botanic Gardens before making its flight back north. Photo Richard White.

Eastern Crowned Warblers Phylloscopus coronatus were singing their hearts out in our forests at this time of the year. That was how Tan Kok Hui found one at DFNP on 11th. A White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis was expertly picked out by Terence Tan among a flock of Daurian Starlings Agropsar sturninus at Seletar Crescent on 17th.

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Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo making a stop over at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Alan OwYong.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is getting its fair share of migrants stopping over like the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca that made a short stop at the SBG on 2nd (Serena Chew). A Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor distracted the photographers temporary from the released Lady Amherst’s Pheasant on the 19th (Andrew Tan) and a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus was photographed there by Lee Chuin Ming on 25th.

Swintail Snipe Marcel

A “Swintail” Snipe shot flying over the flooded grasslands at Seletar. Photo: Marcel Finlay

Much of Punggol Barat is now over grown but fortunately a nearby patch is more open and has short grasses as cover. With the recent wet weather, parts of it were water logged, an ideal habitat for snipes to roost. No less than 150 Gallinago snipes were counted with at least half of them identified as Common Snipes Gallinago gallinago on 22nd (Martin Kennewell).  He also managed to find a good number of resident Greater Painted Snipes Rostratula benghalensis hiding among the taller sages. Visting Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea were also sighted with the most recent seen on 27th by Marcel Finlay.

Interesting shorebirds came from Frankie Cheong’s records at the reclaimed foreshore at Pulau Tekong. Two Chinese Egrets Egretta eulophotes, 10-12 Red-necked Stints Calidris ruficollis, 8 Curlew Sandpipers Calidris ferruginea, two Terek Sandpipers Xenus cinereus and 1 Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola. Most frustrating is that it is a restricted site.

Resident species that merit noting were an injured Barn Owl Tyto alba picked up near MBS on 6th ( Joe Lim). This could be from the family living under the Sheares Bridge. Two other owls, the Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji returning to the SBG to roost reported by Richard White on 14th and a surprise sighting of a Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo flying towards the buildings at Seletar Airport on 22nd evening (Martin Kennewell). Thick-billed Pigeons Treron curvirostra were photographed at the Chinese Gardens on 7th by Lee Chuin Ming, confirming their spread. Zacc HD picked up a House Swift Apus nipalensis flying over Seletar on 23rd. Keep a look out for these resident swifts to see if their numbers are increasing

The Oriental Pied Hornbills Anthracoceros albirostris at SBG successfully raised two chicks which fledged on 2nd (Millie Cher) and so did the Crested Goshawks Accipiter trivirgatus  on 19th at Bedok North. But the nesting of Oriental Pied Hornbills at Holland Drive somehow failed . The female was seen breaking out on 3rd by Lee Kia Chong but no chicks were seen feeding after that.

Legend: DFNP Dairy Farm National Park, SBWR Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, CCNR Central Catchment Nature Reserve

References:

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

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

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Seng Alvin, Con Foley, Danny Lau, Martin Kennewell, Richard White, Alan OwYong and Marcel Finlay for the use of their photos. Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you find errors in these records.

 

Singapore’s Missing Birds – Scarlet Minivet.

Singapore’s Missing Birds – Scarlet Minivet, Pericrocotus speciosus 
By Lim Kim Chuah.
I recalled often hearing the sweet, rapid and piercing whistles “weep-weep-weep-wit-wip” of the Scarlet Minivet, Pericrocotus speciosus during my walk around the forest of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in the 90’s. However, seeing one usually entailed some neck breaking exercises as this species usually forages high in the canopy amidst the tall dipterocarp trees. But it’s worth the effort as the stunning red colors of the male bird is simply dazzling amidst the green canopy.
scarlet-minivet-panti-2014-08-10-5l5a4740
Male Scarlet Minivet taken at Panti on 10 August 2014 by Lim Kim Chuah.
Besides Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, this species has also been recorded in our Central Catchment Nature reserve forests. Sadly, its sweet sounding call is now silent in Singapore and has not been heard since the early 2000’s. The last one reported was an unconfirmed report of a male at Jelutong Tower in August 2004.
I still recall rather vividly the last one I saw in Singapore. It was a lonely female perched high on a dead branch at MacRitchie Reservoir during the bird race in Dec 2000. It appeared to be looking forlornly in the distance as though sensing that its existence in Singapore was ending.
The Scarlet Minivet belongs to the cuckooshrike (Campephagidae) family. There are five members belonging to this family in Singapore – Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Lesser Cuckooshrike, Pied Triller, Ashy Minivet and Scarlet Minivet. This species has a wide distribution and can be found from the Indian subcontinent to Southern China and many parts of SE Asia. Fortunately, it is a common bird in neighboring Johor and this is where I go to enjoy this delightful bird. Hopefully it will return to Singapore one day.
Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore). Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee A Naturalist’s Guide to  the Birds of Singapore. 2013 John Beaufoy Publishing Limited

Singapore, the Global Stronghold of the Straw-headed Bulbul.

Annual bird census data reveals Singapore as the global stronghold of endangered songbird. 

Straw-headed Bulbul at Zoo

Wild populations of many bird species are in rapid decline across Southeast Asia as a result of unsustainable hunting for the pet-bird trade, especially in Indonesia. Sought by bird hobbyists for its powerful and rich song, the globally endangered Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus) is one of the world’s most threatened songbirds due to soaring demand for the pet trade.  Across much of Southeast Asia, the Straw-headed Bulbul has been relentlessly trapped from the wild to be later sold in the bird markets of Java, Kalimantan, Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia. The species has now gone extinct from Thailand and most parts of Indonesia where it used to be found, including the whole island of Java. There are also no recent records from Sumatra.

In a recent study published in the journal Bird Conservation International led by members of the Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group, wild populations of the Straw-headed Bulbul in Singapore was found to have steadily risen over the last 15 years, and may now be the largest in its entire distribution. Using data gathered from more than 15 years of the Annual Bird Census, the study found that populations on the island of Pulau Ubin have increased at nearly 4% per year. It is estimated that at least 110 individuals of the Straw-headed Bulbul now survives on Ubin, making the island a global stronghold for the species. On the other hand, trends in mainland Singapore were less clear, appearing to remain unchanged over the study period.

The population of the Straw-headed Bulbul in Singapore is estimated to be at least 202 individuals based on existing data. However this estimate is likely to be conservative since the Western Catchment area was not comprehensively surveyed. Moreover, new sites for the bulbul, including remnant pockets of woodland like Burgundy woods has been discovered very recently and these were not captured in the Annual Bird Census. Given that the global population of the species is now estimated at 600-1,700 individuals, Singapore may easily hold 12-34% of the world’s remaining wild Straw-headed Bulbuls.

To effectively conserve the Straw-headed Bulbul, there will be a need to conserve small pockets of woodland such as Bukit Brown and Khatib Bongsu outside the nature reserves. It is also hoped that the authorities will review plans to gazette at least some parts of Pulau Ubin as a nature reserve. Other biodiversity can be expected benefit from the conservation actions targeting the bulbul.

Studies on the long-term population trends of birds in Singapore would not be possible without the citizen science surveys carried out by the Nature Society and supported by a large team of volunteers since 1986. These surveys include the Mid-year, Fall, and most importantly, the Annual Bird Censuses. Additionally, there are also dedicated censuses focused on monitoring raptor migration and parrots in urban areas. During these censuses, as many as 50 volunteers may be surveying birds across the country concurrently. Over the last two decades, these censuses have allowed us to track population trends of threatened species such as the globally endangered Straw-headed Bulbul.”

By Yong Ding Li.

Singapore Bird Report-January 2017

 

grey-streaked-fc-by-aldwin-recinto-001

Our second record after 25 years, a rare vagrant Grey-streaked Flycatcher brilliantly captured at Pasir Ris Park by Aldwin Recinto. 

We kick-started the Year of the Rooster with a very rare vagrant, a Grey Streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta photographed by Aldwin Recinto at Pasir Ris Park on 13th. This is only our second record. Our first record was on 21 April 1991 at Poyan (IORA 1), more than 25 years ago. It winters in Borneo and the Philippines. Unfortunately it did not stay more than a day.

cinnamon-headed-pigeon-1st-jan-loke-peng-fai

This photo of a young Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon moulting into adult male plumage, by Loke Peng Fai, got us heading to Ubin on the second day of the New Year.

On the first day, Low Choon How photographed a Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus flying over the Straits of Johor and Loke Peng Fai had an exciting find, a Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon Treron fulvicollis at Ubin near Ketam Quarry. The next day Con Foley and See Toh Yew Wai counted no less than 12 Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeons there. This is the largest flock of these rare pigeons ever recorded in Singapore and most probably in Johor as well.

Staying in Ubin, a rare Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides was seen by See Toh Yew Wai on 2nd.  Daniel Ong found a pair of Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana sitting on a stick nest inside the mangroves near Chek Jawa on 3rd.  If nesting is confirmed this will be our first nesting record since 2005 at Pulau Bukom Kechil. A Jambu Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus jambu photographed by Tan Gim Cheong on the 5th near Ketam Quarry. Two Jerdon’s Bazas Aviceda jerdoni were photographed by Khaleb Yordan with Lim Kim Chuah on the 14th. Nearby at Chek Jawa, 3 globally near-threatened Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica were reported by Wing Chong on the same day while Andrew Chow came in with reports of Lesser Crested Terns Thalasseus bengalensis roosting at Pulau Seduku on 2nd.

little-ringed-pover-21-jantekong-frankie-cheong

A handsome male Little Ringed Plover in full breeding plumage taken at P. Tekong by Frankie Cheong.

Nearby at Pulau Tekong, Frankie Cheong sent in reports of Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius, Red-necked Stints Calidris rufficollis and an endangered Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes on 21st. It would seem that Pulau Tekong has become the favourite stop over for the Chinese Egrets. During the Asian Waterbird Census, Lim Kim Keang counted 67 Red-necked Stints at Mandai Mudflats. A sizable flock for this globally near-threatened shorebird under the IUCN listing mainly due to the loss of wetlands in the Yellow Sea.

oso-wang-bin

Wang Bin’s clever seamless two-in-one photo montage of both morphs of the Oriental Scops Owl taken on different days from Dairy Farm NP 

On the mainland, the most intriguing find was a pair of Oriental Scops Owls Otus Sunia at DFNP by Keita Sin on the 10th. One was a grey morph and the other was rufous, both roosting on the same tree. Did they meet on migration or flew in together? We may have to wait for further sightings for the answer.

oht-solomon-anthony

Male Orange-headed Thrush at the Singapore Botanic Gardens by Solomon Anthony.

Interesting passerine visitors include two Orange-headed Thrushes Geokichla citrina at the Rainforest at Singapore Botanic Gardens photographed by Solomon Anthony on 10th, a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia at Belayer Creek at Labrador on 12th, new for Labrador NR (Alan OwYong), a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans on the 15th at PRP by Tan Gim Cheong, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus at PRP on 16th by Tan Gim Cheong, a female Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae at Terangtang Trail by Keita Sin on 17th, a returning Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida flying into an apartment at Park East on 17th (Lee Li Er) and a Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus at the BTNR summit on 18th by Francis Yap.

grey-nj-at-cg-by-looi-ang-soh-hoon

Not often you get to see a Grey Nightjar roosting so low and open. Taken at Chinese Gardens by Looi Ang Soh Hoon.

Others were a Large Hawk Cuckoo at Bidadari on 20th by Tan Gim Cheong,  a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka back at the same tree as the previous season at Bidadari on 20th by Tan Gim Cheong and another at the Chinese Gardens on 23rd by Looi Ang Soh Hoon, a Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata at Kranji Marshes seen during a Bird Group trip on 22nd by Lee Ee Ling, a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 25th by Laurence Eu and a juvenile Hodgon’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor from the Canopy Walk at Kent Ridge Park on 29th by Alan OwYong.

Of the water species, two Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus were reported, first a juvenile on 15th at the PRP boardwalk by Lim Kim Keang and the second an adult at Satay by the Bay on 31st by Alan OwYong. This is new for the Bay Gardens. James Tann reported the return of the snipe to the Cattail pond at Chinese Gardens on 18th. This could be the Pin-tailed Gallinago stenura that was identified roosting there the past few years. A secretive Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was photographed at Kranji Marshes by Adrian Silas Tay on 22nd.

watercock-adrian-silas-tay-22-jan-km

A hard to find Watercock taken at Kranji Marshes by Adrian Silas Tay. 

Notable residents for the month were 4-5 Green Imperial Pigeons Ducula aenea feeding on red palm nuts at Changi Business Park reported on 1st by Ted Lee, Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps from Jelutong Tower by Keita Sin on 3rd and around 20 House Swifts Apus nipalensis flying over Kent Ridge Road reported by Keita Sin on 26th. This was by far the largest flock of this swift ever reported for a long while. We hope that this will signal a comeback.

Legend: DFNP Dairy Farm National Park, PRP Pasir Ris Park, BTNR Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

References:

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

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

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Aldwin Recinto, Loke Peng Fai, Frankie Cheong, Wang Bin, Solomon Anthony, Looi Ang Soh Hoon and Adrian Silas Tay for the use of their photos. If you have any earlier records than those reported here and found some errors, please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

Singapore Bird Report-December 2016

 

We cannot asked for a more exciting end to the year than having a rare montane species turning up at our forest. A Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia was spotted by Lim Kim Seng feeding on the figs next to NParks office at Pulau Ubin on new year’s eve. Being long distance flyers Ubin is probably within its range from the Central Highlands of Malaysia. Kim Seng was there to look for the Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus. The Mountain Imperial Pigeon is only our third record, the second for Ubin (previous sighting on 11.11.2012).

mip-lee-tiah-khee

Mountain Imperial Pigeon – A year end lifer for many birders here. Photo: Lee Tiah Khee.

Kim Seng had earlier reported an Aquila eagle being mobbed by our White-bellied Sea-eagles Haliaeetus leucogaster and House Crows Corvus splendens at the rocky Pulau Seduku on the 19th. It turned out to be a juvenile Asian Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, last recorded at Tanah Merah on 18.11.2001, 15 years back. These two rare sightings caused a stampede of birders and photographers to Ubin hoping to tick off their lifers. Most were successful. Staying at Ubin, a first of the season Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus was photographed by Keita Sin at Butterfly Hill on 28th.

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A rare Himalayan Cuckoo, formerly known as Oriental Cuckoo, first for the season.                   Photographed by Keita Sin at Butterfly Hill Ubin.

Earlier in the month on the 2nd, Gavan Leong stumbled on an Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia in broad daylight near Pekan Quarry, another first for the season.

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Gavan Leong was fortunate to find this rare Oriental Scops Owl near Pekan Quarry.

At the same quarry, Atish Banerjee spotted the on-off Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster  on the 5th. It was seen again on the 10th by Francis Yap who went over to check on the Mangrove Pittas Pitta megarhyncha. He found a few individuals at their usual haunt. On the same day, Millie Cher spied a shy Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata wintering at the nearby mangroves. A Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus was seen flying over Ketam Quarry on the 20th by Birding Dawn. It must have come over from Danga Bay further west of Ubin. This is the most easterly record for this threatened species. Just showed how rich and attractive Pulau Ubin is for these rare species. The decision to keep as much of the island as it is cannot be more timely.

Not to be outdone, SBWR came up with a male non-breeding Ruff Philomachus pugnax photographed by Robin Tan on 2nd. Our last records were in 2001 at Tanah Merah.

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After a long absence of 15 years, this Ruff was photographed at SBWR by Robin Tan 

Another Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus, this time an adult, was also photographed at SBWR on 20th by Tan Chee Keon. It later flew over to Kranji Marshes and stayed for a few days (Lim Kim Chuah 25th).

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An adult Grey-headed Lapwing photographed at SBWR by Tan Chee Keon.                                         This is the second record for the year. 

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This rare winter visitor Slaty-legged Crake had an unfortunate ending at Sentosa. Photo credit: SDC and Tan Kok Yeang.

Other rarities include a dead Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides that crashed into the fence at Pulau Selegu, now part of Sentosa, on the 5th. Tan Kok Yeang forwarded a photo of the dead crake taken by his staff.

A Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanophus at Tuas South on 9th was reported by Low Choon How, a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka at Bidadari on 10th (Lim Kim Keang), Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus at Kranji Marshes on 10th identified from a photo by Veronica Foo. This is the type of waterbirds that NParks hopes to attract back to the Marshes and this sighting is an indication that it is succeeding.

An Amur Falcon Falco amurensis on 16th at Seletar by Yip Peng Sun was an unexpected sighting, being only the second record for Singapore. Other interesting winter visitors reported include a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor at Upper Pierce Reservoir on 2nd (Veroica Foo), Orange-headed Thrush Geokichia citrina, a first for the season, below Jelutong Tower on 3rd (Lim Kim Seng), another Orange-headed Thrush at BTNR Tabun Loop on 9th (Lim Kim Keang), an Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis at Jurong Eco Garden on 3rd (Veronica Foo), up to four White Wagtails Motacilla alba at Marina Barrage on 4th (Alan OwYong), an Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus (leucogenis) race at Bidadari on the 8th (Xu Weiting), 4 Chinese Egrets Egretta eulophotes at Tekong on 10th (Frankie Cheong) and a Blue and White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana at Dairy Farm seen from Hill View Station on 12th by George Presanis. More than 200 Blue-tailed Bee-eaters Merops philippinus were seen roosting at the Nassim area on 11th by Richard White.

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The obliging Hooded Pitta at the Ginger Garden was the darling of many photographers               early in the month. Photo: Diamondo Sutjipto.

Hooded Pittas Pitta sordida made a strong showing at the Botanic Gardens this season starting with Lee Chuin Ming and James Tann’s sighting on the 7th. Three days later Atish Banerjee saw one at Symphony Lake and another at the Rain Forest while Richard White also reported another at the Dell. Richard confirmed that there were at least 3 Hooded Pittas and one Blue-wigned Pitta Pitta moluccensis at the gardens on the 12th. On the same day Daniel Ong reported another Blue-winged Pitta  at Tampines.

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Watercock found dead at Changi Business Park.   Photo: Mick Price.

Bird crashes were coming in fast and furious for the month. Three Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea, first at Riverdale alive on 1st, second at Changi Business Park on 2nd – dead (Mick Price) and the last at Hougang, which survived, on 8th.

Two dead Red-legged Crakes Rallina fasciata both at Ubin, first on 2nd and the other on 3rd. Two Blue-winged Pittas, at UWC SEA Tampines on 2nd and another at NUS Ridge View Residences on 3rd. An adult Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, probably a migrant at Sentosa Beach Station 0n 2nd (Sarah Chin).  A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka flew into a house at Changi but recovered and flew off on its own. A first winter male Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki found dead at Nepal Park and a dead Hooded Pitta at Kent View both on the 8th. A Thick-billed Pigeon Treton curvirostra crashed into an apartment at One-North on 9th (Alan OwYong). Fortunately it recovered the next day and was released. (All crash records from David Tan unless stated). (Received a late note from Joe Lim that a Hooded Pitta was found at Hospital Drive a little concussed. It was later released in the nearby forest.)

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This sub-adult male Thick-billed Pigeon survived the crash at One-North. Alan OwYong

Interesting resident sightings came from the Botanic Gardens as well. Richard White reported a Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis, a forest species there on 7th. It may have been pushed out of Bukit Brown where a new highway is being built. There were old records of this coucal at the gardens in the 90s. A confused Western Barn Owl Tyto alba was taking refuge at Temasek Poly on the 8th, much to the amusement of the students there (Wong Chung Cheong). A rare Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea was photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 11th by Alfred Chia. A small group frequented the Loyang area on a regular basis.

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Up to 8 House Swifts Apus nipalensis were seen flying over the Eco Lake at SBG by Keita Sin on 21st. A very good record as we normally get single bird sightings here and there. Signs of recovery for this species? An Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis was seen among them according to Keita. They used to nest at the Palm Valley nearby up to the 80s. A limping Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana flew onto the Marina Barrage on the 26th, a first for this location. Also first for the area were 4 Red-wattled Lapwings Vanellus indicus and a Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis seen on the open grassland there. This seafront is getting its fair share of uncommon species and waders.

Green Imperial Pigeon photographed at Pasir Ris Park by Alfred Chia.

Two early nesting records were from a male Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris seen regurgitating figs to feed the entombed female at SBG by Yang Pah Liang and a pair of Red-crowned Barbets Megalaima rafflesii at CCNR (Lim Kim Seng).

Legend: SBWR-Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. CCNR-Central Catchment Nature Reserve. SBG-Singapore Botanic Gardens. UWC-United World College. NUS-National University of Singapore.

References:

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

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

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Lee Tiah Khee, Keita Sin, Gavan Leong, Robin Tan, Tan Chee Keon, Tan Kok Yeang, Diamondo Sutjipto, Mick Price, Alan OwYong and Alfred Chia for the use of their photos. If you have any earlier records than those reported here and found some errors, please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com. 

 

Singapore Bird Report- November 2016

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Bulwer’s Petrel photographed by Lau Jiasheng on a pelagic trip to the Straits of Singapore.

The big new for November had to be the sighting of a Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii on 12th at the Straits of Singapore during a pelagic trip organised by Francis Yap and friends. This is the first encounter with this petrel and a very important find. It showed that they are using the Straits of Singapore to move from their breeding grounds at the islands off Japan and SE China to the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean.  (Note: the Singapore Straits is a multi-national stretch of water). The Records Committee is now assessing this record. During the same trip a rare Red-footed Booby Sula sula was photographed resting on flotsam. This is only the third record. Well done guys!

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Red-footed Booby, the third record of this species, at the Straits of Singapore photographed by Francis Yap.

With more and more observers, and people interested in birds, we are getting records of arriving thrushes, pittas, cuckoos and flycatchers from every corner of the island this month. This in turn gave us a very accurate picture of the movement of these migrants, data which is crucial for their conservation.

The Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida records for this month best illustrate this. Saket Sarupria posted a photo of one at the corner of a stair landing at Keppel Towers on 29th. It flew off later on its own. But the second sighting of the day at St. Andrew’s Cathedral survived the crash as well (David Tan). The next day, Sarah Chin’s dad found one at the PWC building at Chinatown. David Tan was kept busy going from Bedok North and then to King George’s Avenue to collect two more dead Hooded Pittas on the same day. The last Hooded Pitta for the month was at Tuas South, seen very much alive by Robin Tan. The five pittas found in that two days gave us a timing of its major movement. But it was the report of a Hooded Pitta that crashed into Patricia Lorenz’s house at Tanah Merah on 6th that sets a new extreme date (David Tan).

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Blue-winged Pitta looking lost in the grounds of Bowen Secondary School. Photo: Jimmy Lee.

The Blue-winged Pittas Pitta moluccensis continued to arrive this month. One found dead at Orchard Road on the 1st (David Tan), another casualty at Tuas on 3rd. Low Choon How reported one at Tuas South on 9th, another was photographed roosting at night at Hindhede NP by Vinchel Budihardjo on 11th. James Tann reported another crashing into Metropolis at One-North on 11th as well. This one survived. The last was seen wandering around Bowen Secondary School by Jimmy Lee on 18th. Pittas are one species that are very prone to crashing into buildings during night migration.

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Siberian Thrush feeding on the berries outside the BTNR Visitor Center. Photo: Lee Chuin Ming.

Up to three Siberian Thrushes Geokichla sibirica were first seen feeding on a fruiting tree near to the BTNR visitor center on 2nd by Lee Chuin Ming. This was followed by the appearance of the Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus at Bidadari spotted on the same day by Timothy Lim. More Eye-browed Thrushes were seen at Tuas South on 30th by Koh Lian Heng and Robin Tan.

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A surprise find at the Marina Barrage by Koh Lian Heng, a female Blue Rock Thrush.

The surprise find was a female Blue Rocked Thrush Moniticola solitarius at Marina Barrage by Koh Lian Heng on the 6th. This thrush normally prefers to perch at high buildings in Singapore. On the same day, Low Choon How recorded up another Siberian Thrush at Tuas South.

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First arrival of the season, a male Mugimaki Flycatcher photographed at Tuas South by Adrian Silas Tay.

The Ferruginous and Mugimaki Flycatchers were late by more than a month this season. First record of a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea came from the Zoo on 6th (Loke Peng Fai) and another at West Coast Park (Lim Kim Keang). This is the first record for West Coast Park. We managed to have three Mugimaki Flycatchers Ficedula mugimaki all arriving on the same day, 27th, at three different sites. Tuas South by Adrian Silas Tay, Pasir Ris Park by Lim Kim Seng and DFNP by Art Toh. These records almost nailed the date of the influx of this flycatcher.( Footnote: Received an update from Lim Zhong Yong that he photographed a Ferruginous Flycatcher on 29th October along the Rail Corridor near BTNR)

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This first winter male Blue and White Flycatcher came down to forage at the Acacia grove at Bidadari giving Lim Kim Keang this eye level side profile image. First seen by Er Bong Siong.

Another late arriving flycatcher was the rare Blue and White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana. We have yet to separate it in our checklist. Lee Van Hien photographed one at the favourite migrant stop over at Tuas South on 12th after a tip from his friends. Two days later Keita Sin had one flying over Jelutong Tower. Inevitably a first winter male was found at Bidadari foraging on the acacia groves on 15th (Er Bong Siong). The fourth record was another first winter male photographed at DFNP by James Tann on 27th. Four records for one month is not usual. Most stayed around for a few days.

The male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocauda at the Zoo entertained us for about a week. It was last seen on 6th. A week later on 13th Geoff Lim found another there, this time a female. One more female turned up at Bidadari on 18th (Lim Kim Keang) and could be the same female reported by Dawn Birding on 30th. We hope that this rare and beautiful flycatcher will return to our shores year after year.

Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoos Hierococcyx nisicolor arrived only in November. First one was seen at Tuas South, where else, by Low Choon How on 9th ( rather early), the second at SBWR on 13th by Lim Kim Seng and the third on 26th at Tuas South again. A day later we had our first record of the Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides at Bidadari (Goh Cheng Teng).

West Coast Park seems to be a favorite stop over for kingfishers this season. Keita Sin flushed a Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceryx erithaca there on the 3rd. Alan OwYong photographed a returning Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata near the big drain on the 5th. Then Lim Kim Keang stumbled on a Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda on the 6th while looking for the Black-capped. A Squared-tailed Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris was also wintering there since the 5th (Alan OwYong). All these (except for the Black-capped King fisher) were new for West Coast Park.

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A rare shot of an Indian Cuckoo in flight captured by Lee Tiah Khee over Tanah Merah Grasslands on 12th.

Other notable visitors reported were a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka found at a Jurong warehouse on 9th (Lim Kim Chuah), an Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus at Tanah Merah Grasslands on 12th (Lee Tiah Khee), Ruddy Kingfisher at Bidadari on 14th (Simon Siow), Cinereous Bulbul Hemixos cinereus heard at BTNR on 23rd by Lim Kim Chuah, two White-shouldered Starlings Sturnus sinensis at SBTB on 26th by Koh Lian Heng and a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans at Tuas South on 26th by Lim Kim Keang.

Four resident species were recorded for the first time in their respective locations. A lone Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta over Telok Blangah Hill on 6th (Alan OwYong), Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus at Murnane Reservoir on 11th (Seng Beng), an adult  Javan Munia Lonchura leucogastroides with three juveniles at Kovan on 12th (Seng Beng) and Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra at GBTB on 26th( Kok Lian Heng). An indication of the spreading of these species from their usual habitats?

Shorebirds recorded this month included Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica, globally threatened Great Knots Calidris tenuirostris at SBWR 0n 3rd (David Li), two Sanderlings Calidris alba again at Pulau Tekong on 6th (Frankie Cheong), a Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis at Marina Barrage on 5th (Liz How) and a Common Snipe gallinago gallinago at NTL 3 on 14th (Lim Kim Seng). The numbers for snipes is poor this season.

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Black Bittern at pond at Kent Ridge Park, a first for this site. Photo: Veronica Foo.

Waterbirds included one dead and another live Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurthythmus . David Tan picked up the dead bittern at Jurong West on 5th and Seng Alvin shot a confiding bittern at PRP on the 7th. The first Black Bittern Dupetor flavicolis for the season was captured by Veronica Foo at the pond at Kent Ridge Park on 22nd. This is new for the park. A second Black Bittern was reported from Tuas South on 26th by Lim Kim Keang. The month ended with an exciting find, a Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes at SBWR by Lee Kai Chong. It had a red ring attached to one of its leg. David Li is still trying to find out where it was ringed.

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The Chinese Egret in question shot at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve by Lee Kai Chong.

Legend: BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park. GBTB: gardens by the Bay. PRP Pasir Ris Park. NTL 3 Neo Tiew Lane 3.

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

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

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan. 1993

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Lau Jiasheng, Francis Yap, Lee Chuin Ming, Koh Lian Heng, Adrian Silas Tay, Lim Kim Keang, Lee Tiah Khee, Veronica Foo and Lee Kai Chong for the use of their photos. If you have any earlier records than those reported here and found some errors, please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com. 

 

32nd Singapore Bird Race 2016 Review.

Close to 100 eager participants gathered at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves on 16th October for the 32nd Singapore Bird Race 7.30 am flag-off. 18 Photographer teams, 14 Advanced and Novice birder teams made up this record turn out for a chance to bird inside the conservation core of the Kranji Marshes. The change of format to a half day instead of a 24 hours race help to entice more new participants to get a feel of what a bird race is all about. All enjoyed the race and most will take part again based on the survey done after the race. Some even asked a longer race!

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A record turnout of close to 100 participants from 32 teams for the 32nd Singapore Bird Race.

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Shawn Lum President of Nature Society (Singapore) welcoming the participants.

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Lim Kim Chuah Chairperson of the Bird Group and organizer for the 32nd Bird Race briefing the participants on the Rules and Regulations before the start of the Race.

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We are most grateful to Simon Siow ( second from the right) for fielding not one but two teams from MNSJ for this year’s Bird Race. His team ( with Alyce Ang and Jimmy Lee) recorded a creditable 60 species in the Advanced Category. The Bird Group will be visiting Danga Bay with MNSJ to check on the waders wintering there in December as part of joined activities with MNSJ.

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Just after flag-off, all eyes peeled to the skies for the early ticks

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Teams in intense action inside the Conservation Core of the Kranji Marshes. Many thanks to SBWR for opening this area for the Bird Race.

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Teams at the main bridge at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves shooting egrets roosting on the mangroves.

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The Duck Hide inside the Kranji Marshes Core was a great spot to tick the Black-backed Swamphen. This is the first visit to the Core Conservation Area for many of the participants.

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Teams hard at work tallying up the day’s count before submission

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Team CAL taking a deserved break after a frantic morning of chasing ticks. From right Richard Lim,  Ang Kok Hwa, Chang Wei Hean and supporter Lim Chun King 

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Arbitrators Morten Strange, Albert Low, Francis Yap, Tan Gim Cheong and Lee Taih Khee checking on the entries of the various teams to determine the winners. Many thanks to all our arbitrators for helping out on their rest day.

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Time to tuck in to a sumptuous buffet after a hard morning’s work and swapping stories with other teams. 

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We are grateful to Dr. Lena Chan, Director of the National Biodiversity Center at NParks, for gracing the Bird Race as our Guest of Honor.

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Morten Strage author of several regional bird guides highlighting some of the notable species recorded during the race like the Bar-tailed Godwit, Long-toed Stint, Little Ringed Plover and Pacific Swifts.

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Albert Low talking about the bird diversity in South East Asia. He and Yong Ding Li recently launched their book “100 Best Bird Watching Sites in Southeast Asia” which was on sale on the day.

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Leong Kok Peng Vice President of NSS giving away prizes to Eyzat Amer of Team “Tiger Shrike” Winners of the Advanced Category with 75 species, a super effort. The team was led by Martin Kennewell with Richard Carden. Congratulations!

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Father and daughter Team “Sandpiper”. Dad Lim Kim Seng turned a family bonding session with daughters Nur Diana and Nur Nadia ( both not in the photo) into a winning affair taking second prize in the Advanced Category with 69 species. 

Team “Little Terns” Lim Kim Keang, Willie Foo, Wong Chung Cheong and Leung Wai Kee tied with the Malaysian Nature Society Johor Team 1 led by Simon Siow both with 60 species. “Little Terns” took third spot based on count back. 

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Team “Aim High” ( Richard White and See Toh Yew Wai with G.O.H Dr. Lena Chan) certainly did that. They came up tops among the 18 photography teams with 66 species photographed. This was a fantastic feat making them Winners of the Photography Category and third overall total for the day. Well done Richard and See Toh.

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Team “OOF” came in second in the photography category with 50 species. G.O.H Dr. Lena Chan with Leader Keita Sin, Goh Cheng Teng and Tan Rui Siang. A very commendable effort. 

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Dr. Lena Chan with team “The 3 Roosters” of  Laurence Eu, Alan Yeo and Zenon Kosiniak. They shot a combined 43 species to claim the third prize. Great effort for first timers, definitely something to crow about.

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Adrian Silas Tay led team “Weekend Birders” with Daniel Ong, Jerold Tan and Aung Mee to pick up the first prize for the Novice Category with 60 species receiving their prizes from Leong Kok Peng VP of NSS.  Great job guys. Congrats. You are hereby promoted to the Advanced Category next year.  

Another family team the “Banerjee Family” led by Anish with Atish and Debina came in second in the Novice Category with 51 species. A great family effort.

Team “Rajawali ” led by Ann Ang with her Mum Cecila Mah and Pat Ong took it easy this year to claim a podium place with 47 species. They were past winners in this category. 

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Leong Kok Peng, Vice President of NSS presenting tokens of appreciation to our sponsors and friends. Top: Dr. Lena Chan, Director. National Biodiversity Center. NParks, our Guest of Honor; bottom: Klenn Koh of Swarovski Optics, Bird Race Sponsors.

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 Top: Chua Yen Kheng of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves, Venue Sponsors and bottom: Tony Wong Committee Member Malayan Nature Society Johor. The Bird Group thanked Andrew Chow for his generous donation of his beautiful bird paintings as prizes and tokens of appreciation to our sponsors. 

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Swarovski Optics, long time sponsor of our Bird Race with their latest scopes and binoculars for the participants to try out.  Many thanks to Swarovski Optics and Klenn Koh for your continued support.

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Lim Kim Chuah Chairperson of the Bird Group and Organizer of the Bird Race thanking our sponsors, volunteers and participants at the close of the race. Special thanks to co-organizer, Lee Ee Ling, Yap Wee Jin, Nisha and Delphin. See you all next year!

Photos credit: Yap Wee Jin. Many thanks.

 

 

Singapore Bird Report-October 2016

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Second land record of a Red-necked Phalarope after 22 years absence photographed at P. Tekong by Frankie Cheong.

The reclaimed land at Pulau Tekong continued to attract unexpected rare migrants for October. A juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus, made a surprised landfall on the 8th (Frankie Cheong). This is only our second land record after an absence of 22 years. They normally migrate and winter at sea where we had our second record at the Singapore Straits on 17.4 2011. The stormy weather over the South China Sea may have forced it to land. On the same day Frankie Cheong photographed a juvenile Sanderling  Calidris alba, feeding nearby.  The stormy weather may also account for the sighting of a rare non-breeding Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidan nilotica, at Tekong on the 1st.

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A rare land shot of a Gull-billed Tern in non breeding plumage at P. Tekong by Frankie Cheong.

The other big find was a juvenile Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus, that made a short refueling stop at the Kranji Marshes on the 23rd. We had to thank Martin Kennewell for spotting it from the tower and the quick alert. This rare vagrant visited nearby SBWR on 5th November 2011 (Lim Kim Chuah). Last year Richard White reported one flying over the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 16th November.

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The Grey-headed Lapwing hanging out with the Red Wattled Lapwings inside the core area of the Kranji Marshes digiscoped by Martin Kennewell.

Staying at Kranji Marshes, the rare Black-capped Kingfisher Halycon pileata, made a two-day appearance there on the 24th and 25th (Eyzat Amer Affandi). Terence Tan managed to get close for this shot on the second day.

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Super close up shot of this shy and sensitive Black-capped Kingfisher at Kranji Marshes. Photo: Terence Tan.

Unfortunately efforts to locate it during the Bird Race was not successful. But we ended the month on a high note with Laurence Eu’s visit to the Zoo on 31st. He found the rare and much sought after Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocauda, feeding around the Garden Pavilion. It stayed for a week fattening itself up before resuming its migration. Many of us got some great images thanks to Laurence.

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Laurence Eu’s photo of the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher at the Zoo earned WRS a few hundred dollars in new memberships and some great images for us.

Despite the on going forest clearing work at Bidadari, the incoming migrants and other visitors were still using the place as a rest stop. On the 1st the globally threatened Brown-chested Flycatcher Cyornis brunneata, (first arrival) and the uncommon Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica, were sighted by Richard White together with a rather tame non-breeding visiting Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax. Two days later he counted two more Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers there. A first winter Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans, on 2nd (Koh Lian Heng), a Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris, on 5th (Veronica Foo) and an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca, on 10th (Frankie Lim) made up the list.

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Photographer’s favorite, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher was recorded across the island this month.

Two days later, another concussed and lost Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher was picked up at NIE and handed over to ACRES (Diana and Adrian Tan). On 23rd another very tired Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher landed at Tuas South (Lim Kim Keang) giving photographers a field day as did another at Hindhede Nature Park on 29th (Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy). Gil Jones had one that flew into her house at Ridout Road on the 28th. Five known records in one month!

I learnt that Marcel Finlay had created a small wetland marsh besides the Sport Hub with the blessings of the authorities. He was rewarded by a first of the season arrival of an Oriental Reed Warbler Acrophalus orientalis, on 4th and a skulking Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola, on 18th. It just shows that you can attract uncommon migrants with the right habitat even in a suburban setting.

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A first winter male Siberian Blue Robin taken at Jelutong Tower by Adrian Silas Tay.

Other notable migrant passerines for October includes three Red-rumped Swallows, Cecropis daurica, flying over the Ecolake on 2nd at SBG (Richard White), three records of the Siberian Blue Robin Luscinia cyane: first at SBG on 3rd (Richard White), then a first winter male Siberian Blue Robin at Jelutong Tower on 9th (Adrian Silas Tay), and lastly three along the Petai Trail on 24th (Marcel Finlay). First arrivals Ruddy Kingfisher Halycon coromanda, at Jurong Eco Gardens on 10th (James Tann), White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis, at Seletar on 14th (Dean Tan), Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Calamatar coromandus, at Tuas South on 26th (Robin Tan and Lim Kim Keang), a confiding Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata, at Tuas South on 29th (Lim Kim Keang). Chuin Ming Lee’s sighting of a juvenile White Wagtail Motocilla alba,at Marina Barrage on 31st was the second record of this wagtail there.

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First arrival of the season, the White-shouldered Starling at Seletar on 4th. Photo: Dean Tan.

Records of the Blue-winged Pittas Pitta moluccenis, were coming in as expected. David Tan reported one that flew into a house at Woodlands on 12th, while James Tann spotted another at Kranji Marshes on 22nd. We can expect more crashes and sightings of this pitta in November.

As for the rest of the shore and sea birds, there were six Black-tailed Godwits, Limosa limosa, an Asian Dowitcher, Limnodromus semipalmatas, on 1st and 4 Eurasian Curlews Numenius arquata,on 22nd all at P. Tekong  (Frankie Cheong), three Bar-tailed Godwits, Limosa lapponica, 34 Grey Plovers, Pluvialis squatarola, at P. Sekuda off Ubin on 5th (Lim Kim Keang and Willie Foo) and two more Bar-tailed Godwits at SBWR on 15th ( Martin Kennewell).

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Geoff Lim’s record shot of the Oriental Pratincole roosting at the open land next to the Kranji Marshes was his lifer as well.  We had records of this wader from Tuas to Changi this month.

Martin also reported several Oriental Pratincoles Glareola maldivarum, roosting at the construction site next to Kranji Marshes on the 15th. Diana Jackson photographed 5 Oriental Pratincoles flying over Changi on 17th while Zacc shot another two migrating over Taus South on 20th and 8 more Oriental Pratincoles were reported flying over Kent Ridge Park on 21st by Keita Sin. Good to see these insect feeding shorebird are coming through.

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Two Ruddy Turnstones at the Marina Barrage were spotted by Atish Banerjee on 28th. Photo: Atish Banerjee.

During a pelagic trip to the West Singapore Straits, a Common Tern Sterna hirundo, was photographed on 15th by Francis Yap and company.  A lone Grey Plover at Marina Barrage on 22nd (Robin Tan), 20 Curlew Sandpipers Calidris ferruginea, at SBWR 0n 23rd (Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy), a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus, at Tuas South on 23rd (Lim Kim Keang) and 2 Ruddy Turnstones Arenaria interpres, also at Marina Barrage on 28th (Atish Banerjee and Jerold Tan) complete the list.

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A former resident, the Barred Eagle Owl made a brief appearance at the BTNR on 31st October. Photo: Lim Kim Chuah.

We had several interesting reports of uncommon and rare residents in between, notably a pair of Thick-billed Pigeons Treron curvirostra, feeding over at DFNP on 4th (Mark Nelson Valino), a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela, seen over Kent Ridge Road on 10th, 14th and 20th (Gavan Leong), a hard to find House Swift Apus nipalensis, flying past Kent Ridge Park on 20th (Keita Sin), a Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata, at Hindhede NP (Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy) on 31st.

October ended with a bang! Veteran birder Lim Kim Chuah found the returning Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus, by the BTNR’s biycle track. This former resident was on everyone’s most wanted list. It was recently added to the Singapore Checklist as a rare non-breeding visitor.

Legend: SBWR Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. BTNR Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. DFNP Dairy Farm Nature Park. SBG Singapore Botanic Gardens. NIE National Institute of Education

Reference:

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

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

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Birds Society of Japan. 1993

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Frankie Cheong, Martin Kennewell, Terence Tan, Laurence Eu, Alan OwYong, Adrian Silas Tay, Dean Tan, Geoff Lim, Atish Banerjee and Lim Kim Chuah for the use of their photos. If you have any earlier records than those reported here, please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com. 

 

Birding Kent Ridge Park

Text and photos by Keita Sin 

The Southern Ridges of Singapore, stretching from Mount Faber to Kent Ridge Park, with places of historical interest and great hiking trails, is a great place to spend a weekend. The four parks making up the Ridges are also great for birdwatching. Kent Ridge Park, located at the western end is one of the most wooded parks there.

Raptor watch

Kent Ridge Park is one of the places where the annual Raptor Watch is held. A panoramic view of the sky can be appreciated from the top car park area, and Oriental Honey Buzzards and Sparrowhawks can usually be observed during the migration period. Other notable species such as the rare visiting Booted Eagle has been recorded here too. In 2000 and 2001 we had our first two records of the Blyth’s Hawk Eagle, a very rare non-breeding visitor from this park.

Other rare resident raptors, such as the Crested Goshawk and Crested Serpent Eagle, can also be seen here. The former had been recorded nesting at the park.

photo-1Crested Goshawk, January 2016. This top-down photo was taken from the canopy walk area.

photo-2Crested Serpent Eagle, April 2016.

Attractive Trees

The fig tree near the top car park (shown), as well as the rows of Tembusu trees at the area below it, is another area that attracts plenty of birds.

photo-3View from top car park. This is a great spot to look out for both raptors and birds feeding on the fruits, at the same time.

A relatively big population of Red-Whiskered Bulbuls can often be seen here.

photo-4Red-Whiskered Bulbul. An uncommon introduced resident. I often see them travelling together with Yellow-Vented Bulbuls.

The Violet Cuckoo and Banded Bay Cuckoo have been observed on this tree too.

photo-5Male Violet Cuckoo. Listen for their flight calls, this bird is often heard before seen.

photo-6Female Violet Cuckoo. More drab looking than the male, but so is the female Asian Emerald Cuckoo – don’t ignore them, you’ll never know.

photo-7Banded Bay Cuckoo. This individual was seen on the same day as the pair of violet cuckoos. Maybe they were having a conference.

When this fig tree fruits trees, occasional surprises such as the Thick-Billed Pigeon can occur too.

This coming season…

The migratory birds have once again started visiting (returning?) to Singapore. When in Kent Ridge Park, look for the fruiting trees, and do make an effort to scan the skies for raptors as well!

Further reading Angus Lamont’s bird records of Kent Ridge Park at http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/rbz/biblio/46/46rbz113-122.pdf

Reference: Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East-Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd.