Category Archives: Singapore Avifauna

The Black-Thighed Falconet in Singapore.

THE BLACK-THIGHED FALCONET IN SINGAPORE

Lim Kim Seng

Introduction

The Black-thighed Falconet Microhierax fringillarius was previously classified as a resident breeder as there had been specimens collected from Singapore as well as records since the 1920s and up to the 1990s (Lim 2009) but is likely to have become extirpated thereafter. It was re-categorized by the Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee, or NSSBGRC, as a non-breeding visitor as there have been no confirmed breeding record and no confirmed sightings for thirty years (Lim 2021). The Black-thighed Falconet was put into Category B, a category for wild birds, resident, visitor or vagrant, that have not been recorded for thirty years. In 2021 alone, however, there were three separate records of Black-thighed Falconet and as a result, it was re-instated in Category A by NSSBGRC.

Black-thighed Falconet was re-instated by the NSSBGRC in 2021. Photo taken at Panti Forest by Jimmy Chew.

Global Range, Habitat Requirements, Altitudinal Range, Breeding Habits and Conservation Status of Black-thighed Falconet

The Black-thighed Falconet is a monotypic species first described by Drapiez in 1824. It is one of five falconets in the world, all of which occur in southern China, South and Southeast Asia. Its natural range spans the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Java. Its habitat is primary and secondary forests (including on limestone), edges of forests, rubber plantations, fruit orchards, cultivated land, parkland and wooded gardens up to 1,700 m (Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2000, Lim et al 2020, Wells 1999). The Black-thighed Falconet occurs as a common resident in most parts of its range and it is not known to undertake any movements (Robson 2000). In north Borneo, this species is replaced by the endemic White-fronted Falconet M. latifrons (Myers 2009).

In the Thai-Malay Peninsula, it breeds from November to July (Khoo 2021, Wells 1999). Nests are usually in tree cavities abandoned by woodpeckers and larger barbets, mostly in dead trees. In a site monitored in Perak, Malaysia, birds used a cavity in a limestone outcrop and nested successfully (Khoo 2021). Clutch size is three to six. The young remain with their parents for at least two months after fledging (Khoo 2021, Wells 1999).  It breeds from December to June in Borneo (Myers 2009). There is also evidence of communal feeding by birds other than parents, possibly by older siblings, and birds have also been seen to use old nest cavities as communal roost sites (Khoo 2021).

In Perak, Malaysia, they used cavities in Limestone outcrops to nest. Photo: Khoo Siew Yoong.

The Black-thighed Falconet is treated as “least concern” by IUCN (BirdLife International 2016).

Identification and Ecology of Black-thighed Falconet

The Black-thighed Falconet is one of the smallest raptors in the world at 15-17 cm in length from bill tip to tail tip. It is the same size as the White-fronted Falconet but smaller than Collared and Pied Falconets and has the distinction of being the smallest bird of prey of the world! In comparison, the Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala measures 15-17 cm, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus moluccensis, 13 cm and Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier measures 19-21 cm. Females are slightly larger than males and an adult weighs about 43 g (Wells 1999). In terms of its jizz, the Black-thighed Falconet has a big-headed, stout-bodied appearance with a medium-sized tail.

The small size of the falconet makes it hard to confuse with other birds although distance may make identification challenging as this species usually hawks from tall trees. It is mostly black on the head, eyestripe, ear patch, upperparts, bill, leg and tail, with mostly white on forehead, eyebrow and underparts, and orange-rufous on throat and lower breast to vent. Juveniles show pinkish horn bill and cere, rusty eyebrow and ear stripe, pale fine edges to upperparts and less rufous on lower underparts.

Its flight is rapid and direct, with fast wingbeats and sharp pointed wings, often accompanied by short periods of gliding.

Its voice is a shrill squeal kweer-week (Wells 1999).

Black-thighed Falconets hunt socially or alone, making sorties from a dead tree. Its diet is mainly arthropods, typically termites, butterflies and moths, dragonflies, carpenter bees, beetles, mantids, grasshoppers and cicadas, birds such as House Swift Apus nipalensis, sunbirds and munias, mammals such as bats and rats, and geckos (Khoo 2021, Wells 1999). Prey is usually snatched on the wing, occasionally from the ground, to be consumed from a perch, and there is evidence that falconets choose flowering trees with an abundance of nectar feeders to hunt (Wells 1999).

Birds indulge in head bobbing and tail wagging in close proximity and allo-preening has been observed (Wells 1999).

Historical Status of the Black-thighed Falconet in Singapore

The earliest reference to the occurrence of the Black-thighed Falconet in Singapore can be found in Bucknill & Chasen (1927) who stated that it “sometimes visit Singapore”. Gibson-Hill (1950) mentioned that it was “resident in small numbers” while RAFOS (1966-1969) and Tweedy (1970) mentioned the existence of several records in the 1960s.

There were no records until almost two decades when I found the first of four sight records within a period of seven years, all from a dead durian tree in my wooded garden in Jalan Ulu Sembawang in the north of Singapore. All records were of singles and included a juvenile seen on the following dates – 11 October 1979, 2 October 1983, 1 December 1983 and 12 April 1986 (Lim 1992). These records indicate the presence of a small and possibly breeding resident population in the area or that of non-breeding visitors from nearby Johor state, Malaysia. There were no further records from this site which was resettled and developed as part of the new Sembawang Estate in the early 1990s. Our most recent record was an adult seen on a dead tree, near the current Ranger’s Station, in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 7 October 1990 (Lim 2009).

In addition to these records, there were also four unconfirmed records between 1992 and 2005 from Sime Road, Loyang and Bukit Batok Nature Park. There are also nine specimens collected from MacRitchie Reservoir, Jurong and Singapore in the Lee Kong Chian Nature History Museum collection.  

Due to the fact that there have been no records for thirty years and also no confirmation of breeding, the Black-thighed Falconet’s status was reviewed by NSSBGRC in early 2020 as no longer fitting that of a wild bird for Category A, which is the category for all wild birds recorded within the last thirty years. It was re-categorised as belong to Category B, which is the category for all wild birds recorded within Singapore but not within the last thirty years (Lim 2021).

As fate would have it, soon after the release of the new checklist, news came of our first sighting of Black-thighed Falconet since 1990. This came from a juvenile that was seen and photographed by Lee Lay Na at a HDB block in Yishun Street 71 on 12 February 2021 (Tan, G.C. & Lim, G. 2021). The report of a juvenile is interesting as it indicates local or regional breeding.

A typical perch of the Black-thighed Faconet on top of tree at Goldhill Avenue by Art Toh.

There were two additional records, both also backed by photographs. One was a bird photographed using the top of a tree at Goldhill Avenue on 20 May 2021 by Art Toh (Tan, G.C. 2021) while the second was another adult from Jalan Mashhor on 9 July 2021, reported by Art Toh and Tan Choon Siang, and still present on 12 July 2021, reported by Vincent Lao (Lim, G. et al 2021).

A far away photo of the second adult falconet taken at Jalan Mansor two months later again by Art Toh.

These three sightings from 2021 have the effect of reinstating the Black-thighed Falconet into the Singapore List once again. At the moment, it is probably best considered a rare non-breeding visitor due to the short-term nature of their occurrences in 2021. Hopefully, one day, we will find them nesting in Singapore again.

Concluding Remarks

Birders and bird photographers are much more active than two decades ago. There are people at various locations in Singapore every day and most of them carry some sort of photographic equipment with them. This number of people watching birds daily is bound to yield rewards in the form of documenting the occurrence of rarities as well as species that are either new to Singapore or those thought to have been extirpated. Recent records of Javan Plover and Green Broadbill attest to this increased opportunity of detecting something really sensational!

Would-be falconet seekers are encouraged to focus on sites in the central and north of Singapore, where all confirmed sightings have been made since 1979. Bukit Brown would be another place to pay attention to given the recent record (and nearby, in Goldhill). Searches on Pulau Ubin may also yield results due to the island’s proximity to Malaysia as well as the island’s reputation for attracting Malaysian visitors. Prime habitats to look for this elusive raptor are the edges of forests and woodland as well as areas where there are tall trees or snags.

It is hoped that birders and bird photographers will continue to help us make new discoveries or re-discoveries in the case of the Black-thighed Falconet, the smallest bird of prey in the world.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Yong Ding Li for helpful suggestions with the drafting of this article, Jimmy Chew, Khoo Siew Yoong and Art Toh for the use of their photographs.

References

BirdLife International. (2016). Microhierax fringillarius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. Downloaded on 10 September 2021.

Bucknill, J.A.S & Chasen, F.N. (1927).  The birds of Singapore Island. Government Printing Office, Singapore.

Ferguson-Lees & Christie, D.A. (2001). Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm, London.

Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1950). A checklist of the birds of Singapore Island. Bull. Raffles Mus. No. 21: 132-183.

Khoo, S.Y. (2021). Breeding ecology of Black-thighed Falconets in Perak, Malaysia. Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group. https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/tag/black-thighed-falconet/

Lim, G., Lee, I. & Tan, G.C. (2021). Singapore Bird Report – July 2021. Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group.  https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/category/monthly-bird-reports/

Lim, K.S. (1992). Vanishing birds of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore.

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

Lim, K.S. (2021). Bird Records Committee Report (January 2021). Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group. https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2021/02/02/birds-records-committee-report-jan-2021/

Lim, K.S., Yong, D.L. & Lim, K.C. (2020). A field guide to the birds of Malaysia and Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing, Oxford.

Myers, S. (2009). A field guide to the birds of Borneo. Talisman Publishing, Singapore.

Royal Air Force Ornithological Society (1966-1969). Bulletins of the Singapore Branch & unpublished correspondence with members.

Tan, G.C. (2021). Singapore Raptor Report, Late Spring Migration, April-June 2021. Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group. https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/category/raptor-report/singapore-raptor-report/

Tan, G.C. & Lim, G. (2021). Singapore Bird Report – February 2021. Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group. https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/category/monthly-bird-reports/

Tweedy, L. (1970). The birds of Singapore. Army Birdwatching Club (Far East).

Wells, D.R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Volume One: Non-passerines. Academic Press, London.

Singapore Bird Report – July 2021

Geoff Lim, Isabelle Lee
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

TGC_0319_01,-Blue-winged-Pitta,-160721,-v,-nd

A fledgling Blue-winged Pitta at Mandai Track 15 on 16 Jul 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

Two spectacular July discoveries were reported in the NSS Bird Group blog – the first evidence of breeding of the Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on mainland Singapore (and only the second breeding record in country), as well as the amazing discovery of the Javan Plover, Charadrius javanicus, a species hitherto never found outside Indonesia.

The story about the Blue-winged Pitta can be found here, while the exciting discovery of the Javan Plover can be accessed here.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

Within the CCNR core, a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, was spotted on 16 July 2021 by Bryan Lim, while a Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, was seen on 28 July 2021 by Marcel Finlay. A pair of Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, and a single White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, were seen on 22 July 2021 within Sime forest by Clarice Yan, while a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, two Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, and a Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, were seen on 25 July 2021 along Rifle Range Link by Lim Kim Chuah. Meanwhile, the regular and solo Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, was spotted at Hindhede Nature Park, on 17 July 2021 (Matthew Teng) and 27 July 2021 (Martti Siponen).

The western fringe parks abutting CCNR yielded two Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, Leptocoma brasiliana, seen on 10 July 2021 at Dairy Farm Nature Park, by Raghav Narayanswamy, one Short-tailed Babbler, Pellorneum malaccense, and two Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, on 11 July 2021 at Chestnut Nature Park by Fadzrun A, while over at Singapore Quarry, three Red-breasted Parakeet, Psittacula alexandri were seen on 21 July 2021 by Sylvester Goh, while two Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Orthotomus sericeus, and one Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, were spotted on 22 July 2021 by Martti Siponen.

Along Mandai Track 15, Joseph Lim made the stunning discovery of a fledgling Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 16 July 2021, while two Short-tailed Babbler, Pellorneum malaccense, were seen on 24 July 2021 at Jalan Ulu Sembawang by Norhafiani A Majid. Birders working along Mandai Road Track 7 reported a Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Nisaetus cirrhatus, two Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, three Common Hill Myna, Gracula religiosa, and a Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, on 21 July 2021 (Oliver Tan); a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Cyanoderma erythropterum, was seen on the same day by Leslie Loh; and Steven Cheong found a Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, feeding its chick at its nest hole on 22 July 2021. A Common Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica, was seen on 22 July 2021 at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park by Fermandez Francis.

TGC_7904,-RC-Barbet,-1000v

An excellent portrait of a Red-crowned Barbet taken on 14 Jul 2021 at Thomson Nature Park by Tan Gim Cheong

Visitors had been drawn to Thomson Nature Park in early July 2021 to look at a nesting Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, which subsequently failed as the tree trunk broke during heavy rain. The birds re-commenced building another nest hole around 20 July 2021 but this, too, did not materialise. At another Red-crowned Barbet’s nest in the park, Tan Chuan Yean managed to photograph the barbet carrying a frog in its beak on 17 July 2021. During this period, visitors noted birds such as two Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, on 18 July 2021 (Kaeden Sim), two Plume-toed Swiftlet, Collocalia affinis, and one Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, on 19 July 2021 (Krishna Gopagondanahalli), as well as a pair of Chestnut-winged Babbler, Cyanoderma erythropterum, on 27 July 2021 (Joyce Le Mesurier), a species that has become increasingly rare in our forests. On 31 July 2021, a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, was photographed by Meng Kuang Han.

Other breeding records at Thomson Nature Park included a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, being fed by a Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, on 7 July 2021, by Alex Kang; a pair of Crimson Sunbirds, Aethopyga siparaja, feeding their two chicks behind the ladies toilet also on 7 July 2021, by Jojo Kuah; and on 23 July 2021, the successful nesting of a pair of Olive-winged Bulbuls, Pycnonotus plumosus, that the chicks fledged but were still being fed by their parents, also by Jojo Kuah.

At Windsor Nature Park, on 20 July 2021, the nest of the Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis, was discovered by Frankie Low. This is the first nest of this kingfisher to be found in Singapore, and it was built in a termite nest on the vertical trunk of a sturdy tree. Frankie Low photographed an adult feeding fish to a chick through the hole in the termite nest.   

Further afield, two Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, were seen on 20 July 2021 along Old Upper Thomson Road by Tan Kok Hui. The Lornie-MacRitchie area also yielded a Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, on 17 July 2021 at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (Marcel Finlay) and an Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, spotted on 20 July 2021 along Lornie Road (Chen Boon Chong).

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu, was spotted within the garden grounds on 11 July 2021 by Joyce Le Mesurier, while a juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, was being fed by Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, from 11 July 2021 (Vincent Chin) to 20 July 2021 (Andrew William). On 15 July 2021, Philip Ng reported three Banded Bay Cuckoo fledglings at separate areas being fed by their foster parents.  

Central Singapore

BT Falconet, 090721, Jln Mashhor, Tang Choon Siang

Black-thighed Falconet at Jalan Mashhor on 9 Jul 2021 by Tang Choon Siang.

On 9 July 2021, a Black-thighed Falconet, Microhierax fringillarius, was spotted at Jalan Mashhor by Art Toh and Tang Choon Siang. The bird was seen on subsequent days up till 12 July 2021 (Vincent Lao). At the same locality, a pair of Common Hill Mynas, Gracula religiosa, mated on 10 July 2021, seen by Chew Serteck. At Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, a Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, was photographed on 16 July 2021 by Vincent Ng, and a Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, spotted on 20 July 2021 by Clarice Yan.  Along Potong Pasir, a Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, was seen on 21 July 2021 by S.O Wu. At Bukit Brown on 21 July 2021, SB Lim photographed a female Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Treron vernans, mounting another female!

Northern Singapore

Note: Sg Buloh, the Kranji Marshes and the Lim Chu Kang-Neo Tiew farmlands are now moved to the section on Northern Singapore to align with NPark’s geographical description of the main Singapore island.

Two Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus, were seen on 12 July 2021 at Lorong Halus Wetland (Fermandez Francis), while two Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, were spotted on 24 July 2021 at the Serangoon Estuary (Tan Kok Hui). A single Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, was seen on 26 July 2021 at the Hampstead Wetlands Park (Steven Cheong).

The Kranji-Lim Chu Kang area yielded a Black-winged Kite, Elanus caeruleus, at the grounds of Kranji Marsh on 19 July 2021 (Martti Siponen) and five early arriving Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, on 25 July 2021 at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 (Raghav Narayanswamy); further afield, the report of the Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Chalcoparia singalensis, at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 11 July 2021 by YK Han electrified the local birding community, while the report of six Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, at the Reserve on 12 July 2021 by Martti Siponen served to anchor the birds’ presence in the island republic.

At Kranji Marshes on 14 July 2021, Kok M Lee recorded a Malaysian Pied Fantail, Rhipidura javanica, feeding its foster chick, a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, and on 23 July 2021, Avadi L Parimalam saw the mating of a pair of Pied Trillers, Lalage nigra, and the Malaysian Pied Fantail building a nest. 

Eastern Singapore

Javan Plover, 150721, Tekong, Frankie Cheong

Javan Plover taken on 15 Jul 2021 by Frankie Cheong

July witnessed the spectacular discovery of the Javan Plover, Charadrius javanicus, on 15 July 2021 on reclaimed land adjoining one of our eastern islands by Frankie Cheong. At Pulau Ubin, the Green Broadbill, Calyptomena viridis, continued to be seen on 2 July 2021 (Isabelle Lee) until the end of the month; and a Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, of the resident subspecies minor, given the timing, was heard and photographed on 20 July 2021 by Keita, Dillen and Hong Yao. (The first record of the resident subspecies H. c. minor on Pulau Ubin was in August 2016.)

Other visitors reported the presence of Ubin regulars, such as the Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, on 4 July 2021 (Raghav Narayanswamy), Black Hornbill, Anthracoceros malayanus, on 19 July 2021 (Jared Tan), Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, and Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, on 20 July 2021 by Darren Leow and others, as well as up to six White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, on 25 July 2021 by Fitri Adnan. Near the site of the Green Broadbill, two Buffy Fish Owls were seen, one blind in the right eye, reported by Tan Chuan Yean.

Green Broadbill, 020721, Ubin, Geoff Lim

Green Broadbill taken on Pulau Ubin on 2 Jul 2021 by Geoff Lim

Other notable sightings in eastern Singapore included a Red Turtle Dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica, at Changi Business Park on 19 July 2021 by T. Ramesh; and at Pasir Ris Park, two Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, on the same day by Joshua Chong.

Breeding-related records at Pasir Ris included a juvenile Slaty-breasted Rail, Lewinia striata, with its parents, on 7 July 2021, and a nest of the Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goaiver, with two chicks on 12 July 2021 when the adult bulbul was photographed holding a young Changeable Lizard in its beak, both by Alvin Seng; and Andrew Hunt found the Collared Kingfishers, Todiramphus chloris, feeding their chicks in their nest at car park D on 21 July 2021, and the chicks reportedly fledged the next day.

YVB catch changeable lizard, 120721, PRP, Alvin Seng

Yellow-vented Bulbul holding a young Changeable Lizard, Pasir Ris Park, 12 Jul 2021, by Alvin Seng

Southern Singapore

Birders who visited the Marina East area reported an early Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, and two Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, on 18 July 2021 (Max Khoo), while a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, was spotted on 20 July 2021 (Krishna Gopagondanahalli) and 24 July 2021 (Jon Garcia). A pair of Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, was also spotted on 20 July 2021, as was a Greater Painted-Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, and eight Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, all by Krishna Gopagondanahalli.

Other sightings included a pair of Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, at Gardens by the Bay on 5 July 2021 (Joshua Chong), a Chinese Hwamei, Garrulax canorus, at Fort Siloso on 11 July 2021(Chen Boon Chong), a Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, at Lazarus Island on 16 July 2021 (Rajesh Nagaraj), as well as a White-rumped Munia, Lonchura striata, at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 25 July 2021 (Low Zhi Hao).

Breeding records included a Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, feeding its chick at Lazarus Island on 6 July 2021, by Cecilia Lee; and the Collared Kingfisher feeding its chicks at Buona Vista, by Tan Chuan Yean.

Western Singapore

Two Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, were seen near King Albert Park on 17 July 2021 by Jai Humphries, while at the nearby Holland Plain, a pair of fairly regular Red-wattled Lapwing, Vanellus indicus, were seen on 21 July 2021, as was an Oriental Dollarbird, Eurystomus orientalis, and five Long-tailed Parakeet, Psittacula longicauda, by Lynn Tan, who also spotted a single Grey-rumped Treeswift, Hemiprocne longipennis, at Maryland Drive the day before on 20 July 2021. Incidentally a single Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis, was spotted at Holland Plain on 20 July 2021 by Lynn Tan, while two birds were reported on 23 July 2021 by Richard Sanders. It remains to be seen if the Green Corridor area supports more than a pair of these prehistoric-looking birds.

Two Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, and a Laced Woodpecker, Picus vittatus, were spotted at Bukit Batok Nature Park on 20 July 2021 by Tan Hwee Main. At Jurong Lake Gardens, one Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, was reported on 28 July 2021 by Tay Kian Guan.

Breeding records at Jurong Lake Gardens included a Slaty-breasted Rail foraging with its young, still in black downy feathers, on 1 July 2021, by Kok M Lee; three Common Tailorbirds, Orthotomus sutorius, fledged on 4 July 2021, by Felix Wong who also recorded the nesting of the Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goaiver; and a pair of Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis, mating on 7 July 2021, when the male offered a grasshopper to the female during the process, photographed by Tan Boon Tiong. At Ulu Pandan on 8 July 2021, Tan Boon Tiong photographed a House Crow, Corvus splendens, carrying a Black-naped Oriole, Oriolus chinensis, chick in its beak as it flew.

Farther west, we noted the report of a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, from Pioneer South on 15 July 2021 by Raghav Narayanswamy, while a Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu, was reported from the grounds of NTU on 25 July 2021 by Frank Chen.

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

Many thanks to Tang Choon Siang, Frankie Cheong, Geoff Lim, and Alvin Seng for allowing us to use their photographs.

First Records of the Javan Plover in Singapore

First Records of the Javan Plover in Singapore

By Frankie Cheong & Lim Kim Seng

Figure #1: Javan Plover photographed at Pulau Tekong on 16th July 2021. Photo © Frankie Cheong. Note the flesh-coloured long legs, buff breast patch and eyestripe, and white supercilium extending beyond eye.

     I (FC) was going for my usual round exploring the reclaimed land on Pulau Tekong on the morning of 16th July 2021. My main reason for going to this area was to follow up on a Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus to get a better look since it is a rare breeding visitor in Singapore only recorded at this location to date.

Upon reaching the area, I heard the call of a Pied Stilt, so I stopped my car and scanned the area. I was not able to find it. However, I did see three waders busy foraging about 20 to 30 m away.  I pointed my camera and looked through the view finder to try and see what they were. They are appeared to me to be Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, a species known to be an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant in Singapore (Lim 2009; Lim et al. 2020) so I just clicked a few shots for record purposes and continued to search for the stilt.

Once I had downloaded and processed my photographs, one of these plovers were identified as a “Kentish Plover” and subsequently shared online on a Facebook group. I was pleasantly surprised to received messages from Dave Bakewell and James Eaton were both saying that this could be something rarer than Kentish Plover. There was a mad rush to google and messages were flying. Later that day. James Eaton messaged me to confirm that this is a Javan Plover Charadrius javanicus, a species never before seen outside Indonesia and Timor Leste!

He wrote, the plumage is spot on for Javan (gingery breast sides and ear coverts) but it has a long, sleek appearance with quite long thin bill and very leggy typical of Javan”. I also sent a short report, with my photographs, to the Records Committee of the Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group as this species was not on the official bird checklist for Singapore.

Subsequently, I went back to my archives because I remember seeing the same plovers some time ago at Pulau Tekong. Indeed, I have some badly taken photos on 20th June 2021! There were also three birds, one of which looked like a juvenile. I sent these photos to James Eaton and he concurred that this was a juvenile, which meant that breeding could be taken place for the first time here in Singapore and outside Indonesia and Timor Leste! So, not only was this a new species for Singapore, it was also a new breeding record for Singapore! In addition, this was also a new record for continental Southeast Asia! What a mega tick! The three birds were still there on 2nd August.

If accepted by the Records Committee, these will be the first records, and the first breeding record of the Javan Plover in Singapore, something unprecedented since a similar event when Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis turned up in 1988 (Lim 2009, Lim et al 2020).

Status and Range of Javan Plover

The Javan Plover is a monotypic resident shorebird found across Java, the Lesser Sundas, southern Sumatra (Lampung) Bangka and Belitung (Iqbal et al. 2013; Iqbal 2015, Eaton et al 2016). The species is locally common at a number of sites it is known from in Indonesia (e.g. Jakarta Bay). The species is essentially endemic to Indonesia and Timor-Leste until the Singapore records. The records from the south-east coast of Sumatra and Belitung are fairly recent (within the last decade) and suggests a northward trajectory of range expansion of the species. The species occurs in a variety of habitats ranging from beaches and shrimp ponds to coastal mudflats and wetlands, occasionally straying into semi-open scrubland. The Singapore records suggest a northward expansion of its range towards continental Southeast Asia, and the species may already be occurring undetected in the Riau Archipelago, e.g. on Bintan (Yong, D.L., Adha Putra, C. in litt.). The Javan Plover is rated as globally Near-Threatened in view of its small and declining range (BirdLife International 2021).

Identification of the Javan Plover

The Javan Plover is a small plover with sandy brown upperparts, white lores, white supercilium extending behind eye and white collar, buff-coloured eyestripe and breast patches. Its bill is long and black and its legs are long and flesh-coloured. Compared to Kentish Plover, it has a bigger head with a less sloping forehead, a slenderer body and distinctly longer legs. The Malaysian Plover Charadrius peroni is similar but is shorter-billed with distinctly mottled upperparts. The Swinhoe’s Plover Charadrius dealbatus can be differentiated from the other two plovers by its head shape (steep forehead), the broad, white supercilium extending almost to the collar, the absence of the dark patch on its lores (giving it a ‘white-faced’ appearance), its shorter bill and legs.

Recommendations for future fieldwork

More fieldwork needs to be conducted in coastal (wetland) habitats around Singapore and its offshore islets as well as southern Peninsular Malaysia and the Riau Archipelago to determine if the Javan Plover has established a presence further northward as the Singapore records would suggest. There are known areas of coastal wetlands used by shorebirds in the northern and western coastline of Bintan (Yong, D.L. in litt.) and these sites should be further surveyed for their shorebird communities.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Dave Bakewell and James Eaton for helpful comments on my photographs on Facebook. Thanks also go to Alan OwYong and Yong Ding Li for the use of his photograph of Kentish Plover and White-faced Plover, as well as input on the species from the region from Yong Ding Li and Chairunas Adha Putra.

Figure #2. Javan Plover photographed at Pulau Tekong on 16th July 2021. Photo © Frankie Cheong.

Figure #3. Javan Plover photographed at Pulau Tekong on 16th July 2021. Photo © Frankie Cheong.

Figure # 4 & 5. Javan Plovers photographed at Pulau Tekong on 20th June 2021. Photos © Frankie Cheong.

Figure # 6 & 7. Javan Plover photographed at Pulau Tekong on 20th June 2021. Photos © Frankie Cheong.

References

BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Charadrius javanicus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/07/2021.  

Eaton, J.A., van Balen, B., Brickle, N.W. & Rheindt, F.E. (2016). Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago. Greater Sundas and Wallacea. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Iqbal, M. 2015. Javan Plover Charadrius javanicus on Belitung Island, a new site for Sumatra (Indonesia). Wader Study 122(2): 160–161.

Iqbal, M., Taufiqurrahman, I., Gilfedder, M. & Baskoro, K. 2013. Field identification of Javan Plover Charadrius javanicus. Wader Study Group Bull. 120(2): 96–101.

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

Lim, K.S., Yong, D.L. & Lim, K.C. (2020). A field guide to the birds of Malaysia and Singapore. John Beaufoy, Oxford.

Figure # 8. Kentish Plover at Marina East on 31st January 2021. Photo © Alan OwYong.

Figure #10. White-faced Plover at Marina Barrage by Yong Ding Li.

The first sighting of a juvenile Blue-winged Pitta on mainland Singapore.

By Joseph Lim.

On the morning of 16 July this year, I went hiking to the Central Catchment Forest, Mandai Track 15 to look for the Sambar deer, a former native but probably escapees from the zoo. I started the hike at 7.40 am and shortly reached a stream where sightings of the deer had been reported. I tread slowly and quietly anticipating the deer to appear anytime. Suddenly, I saw some small movements at the bare dark patches of the bushes about 5 meters away.

Surprised to see that it was a juvenile Blue-winged Pitta, a first for mainland Singapore.

It was a small bird and from the size and shape I could see that it was a pitta even though it was dark and shaded at 8 am in the morning. As I got nearer I could see it “hopping” around just like a pitta. Upon seeing me coming, the pitta jumped up and perched on a low branch, instead of getting skittish and flee. At one point the pitta turned and looked straight at me in absolute silence. From my photos, I can see that it was a juvenile Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, with duller plumage and gape. On checking with my friends I was told that this is the first mainland record of a juvenile Blue-winged Pitta. The previous sighting of a fledged juvenile was at Pulau Ubin also around July in 2016 where its nest was discovered ( See reference).

The gape, duller and less defined plumage of the juvenile Blue-winged Pitta

I tried to move in for a closer shot and to avoid the many mountain bikers coming through as this was a shared track at this spot. Unfortunately a biker went by fairly fast and spooked the bird. It quickly hopped and flew further into the bushes.

I wandered around the vicinity to look for it. Then I heard the calls of a Blue-winged Pitta coming from a forest patch about 20 meters away. It turned out to be another pitta, a bigger adult with brighter plumage and clear define plumage perched on a small tree, 3 meters from the ground.

The adult Blue-winged Pitta calling loudly from a small tree.

This adult Blue-winged Pitta was calling loudly and regularly  throughout my observations. It remained perched for about 3 minutes and flew deeper into the forests when I approached it for closer shots. I can only assumed that this is the parent bird.

Both the adult and the juvenile could not be located and was not seen again.

Reference :

1.‘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

source:  https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/first-nesting-record-of-the-blue-winged-pitta-in-singapore/?fbclid=IwAR07OKZ95cOOwwBNKrDr0OVpNyYrPXvdoBuD3pRVtdl4eomPPeT4J-8i2XQ

2.‘PITTAS (PITTIDAE) OF SINGAPORE’  NATURE IN SINGAPORE 2009 2: 155–165,

     A. F. S. L. Lok1*, K. T. N. Khor2 , K. C. Lim3 and R. Subaraj4

source:  https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/app/uploads/2017/06/2009nis155-165.pdf

Singapore Bird Report – June 2021

by Geoff Lim, Isabelle Lee
& Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

Not one but five spectacular species were reported in a hitherto quiet month of June. Read on to find out more!

Black Magpie, 090621 1720h, Hindhede, Kenneth Chow on FBBS

Black Magpie by Kenneth Chow, 9 June 2021 at Hindhede Nature Park.

The first surprise find for June was a Black Magpie, Platysmurus leucopterus, on 9 June 2021 at Hindhede Quarry by Vinod Saranathan. Vinod reported that its “weird raucous call” gave it away when he saw it at 6:40pm that day. Another birder, Kenneth Chow, reported seeing the bird at 4:30pm, which he thought was a “strange crow with dirty wings” at the quarry area, and at 5:20pm when he thought it was a Greater Coucal.

Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler, posted 150621, Upper Seletar Res, Lawrence Cher, pic

Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler by Lawrence Cher, 15 June 2021 at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park.

While the community was reeling from the appearance of the Magpie, a hitherto unexpected find in the form of a Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler, Macronus ptilosus, was made on 15 June 2021 around 2pm at the Upper Seletar Reservoir Park by Lawrence Cher. Lawrence was at the park looking for butterflies to photograph that afternoon as June was relatively quiet in terms of interesting bird life, when he noticed several Pin-striped Tit-Babblers and Chestnut-winged Babbler calling in the background. The birds were popping in and out from view as they foraged, when one popped into the open. Lawrence managed to obtain one clear photo from the series taken; he had thought that it was a Chestnut-winged Babbler until post-processing revealed that it was a different babbler species.

Shearwater, 230621, BAMK, Art Toh, same

Wedge-tailed Shearwater by Art Toh, 23 June 2021 at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

The third report to take the community by storm was the appearance of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Ardenna pacifica, a seabird more likely to be encountered in the seas and oceans, than at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, as reported by William Khaw on 23 June 2021. The bird was apparently found at one of the apartment blocks of the housing estate that morning, and brought to the park by an unknown person. Concerned parties alerted ACRES, who collected the bird that evening.  While the shearwater appeared to be far from any body of sea-water, these birds travel across long distances and may well have been in transit across our island when it possibly came into contact with one of our tall concrete structures. Unfortunately, the bird expired shortly after its rescue.

Green Broaodbill, 280621, Ubin, AOY

Green Broadbill at Pulau Ubin by Alan Owyong, 28 June 2021.

A Green Broadbill, Calyptomena viridis, was discovered on 27 June 2021 along Jalan Batu Ubin, Pulau Ubin, by Adrian Silas Tay and Jerold Tan. The bird continued to remain visible for the rest of that Sunday, and was seen for subsequent days. According to our records, the bird was last reported in 1941 as a resident and thought to have been extirpated ever since. So, where did this Green Broadbill, a former resident come from?  That was a question venerable birder, Alan Owyong, asked and an excerpt of his social media post is reproduced here:

It is always a difficult question to answer especially if the species is being sold in the pet shops in Singapore or a popular caged bird. On 27 November 2014, one was photographed at East Coast Park and another was photographed a month later on 25 December at Pulau Ubin. These were assigned to Category [D] but were reassigned to Cat A in 2020 and listed in the 2021 Checklist. [I was reminded of one heard at Nee Soon in 2002.]

The Green Broadbills can be nomadic and are known to wander afar in search of fruits. The continuous forest cover at Pulau Ubin must surely be a welcome sight for those birds that fly over from the forest of southern Johor.

This Green Broadbill should be the same bird spotted on 11 April 2021 along the same stretch of road. [On] 28 June, we noticed that the Green Broadbill flew to a MacArthur’s Palm by the roadside to feed on the young green palm fruits. Most broadbills are insectivorous. But the Green Broadbill is [mainly] frugivorous and feed on berries, figs and small fruits. This may be the reason why it stayed around the same area for the past three days.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

BEO, 050621, RRL, LKC

Barred Eagle Owl by Lim Kim Chuah, 5 June 2021, Rifle Range Link.

Within the core CCNR area, a Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, was spotted on 5 June 2021, along Rifle Range Link (Lim Kim Chuah), while on the same day a single Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps, was seen along the same track (Lau Jia Sheng). Visitors also spotted Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, on 15 June 2021 (Max Khoo), and heard a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, on 19 June 2021 at Mandai Road Track 7 (Tan Kok Hui). From Jelutong Tower, two Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus were spotted by Yap Bao Shen on 3 June 2021, as well as two Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, (T. Ramesh), and a pair of Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, (Chan Mei Yee) on 20 June 2021.

Fringe parks abutting the CCNR yielded good forest species such as the Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, seen at Hindhede Nature Park on 10 June 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, a Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, spotted on 20 June 2021 at MacRitchie Reservoir Park by Marcel Finlay. At Thomson Nature Park, a Short-tailed Babbler, Malcocincla malaccensis, was recorded by Fitri Adnan on 20 June 2021, and a family of White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, with two fledglings were recorded by Khong Yew on 30 June 2021. A Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, was spotted at Hindhede Nature Park on 21 June 2021 by Raghav Narayanswamy.

Central Singapore

CSE, 220621, Goldhill, TGC, juvenile

Juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle at Goldhill Avenue by Tan Gim Cheong, 22 June 2021.

There was much rejoicing over the sighting of a juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, together with adults at Goldhill Avenue. One sighting of the juvenile eagle was on 19 June 2021 by Matthew Teng. More reports of the confirmation of a successful nesting can be found in this link.

Central Singapore also yielded the afore-mentioned Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Ardenna pacifica, which was reported on 23 June 2021 at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park by William Khaw, Art Toh and others. On 13 June 2021, Ash Foo found a pair of Striated Herons, Butorides striata, at their nest at the same park.

Northern Singapore

The Lorong Halus Wetland continued to support the Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, which was spotted on 15 June 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, who also saw an Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, at the same location. On 24 June, 2021, Yeong WaiKai found a male Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, sitting on its nest.

Further afield, a Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, was reportedly seen at Sengkang Riverside Park/ Sengkang Floating Wetland on 21 June 2021 by Vilis Lu. At Punggol Barat on 4 June 2021, Keith Hutton found a Large-tailed Nightjar, Caprimulgus macrurus, nest with two eggs.

Eastern Singapore

Mangrove Pitta, 280621, PRP, Danny Khoo

Mangrove Pitta at Pasir Ris Park by Danny Khoo, 28 June 2021.

Pasir Ris Park continued to support a diverse range of residents, including the single Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, spotted on 4 June 2021 by Danny Khoo, and on 9 June 2021 by Low Zhi Hao, a pair of adult and two juvenile Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, on 15 June 2021 by Mae Wong, as well as reports of a Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea, a Tanimbar Corella, Cacatua goffiniana, and an over-summering Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus, on 22 June 2021 by Shuna Maekawa.

At the nearby Tampines Eco Green, a Rufous Woodpecker, Micropternus brachyurus, was reported on 22 June 2021 by Lim Kim Keang, who also reported the presence of two Asian Golden Weavers, Ploceus hypoxanthus.

Pulau Ubin continued to dazzle with reports of the Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis, spotted on 12 June 2021 by Lim Kim Chuah, a Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Hemipus hirundinaceus, on 21 June 2021, at the Chek Jawa Wetlands by Jeff Tan, and the spectacular Green Broadbill, Calyptomena viridis, on 27 June 2021 at Jalan Batu Ubin, discovered by Adrian Silas Tay and Jerold Tan.

On another northeastern island, Frankie Cheong found a small colony of 20-30 breeding  Little Terns, Sternula albifrons, with some 8-10 chicks hatching around mid-June; later on a single stilt was seen on 25 June 2021, and then he reported 4 stilts, which appeared to be an interesting mix of at least one Pied Stilt, Himantopus leucocephalus, (which was the fifth exceptional species for the month) and one Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, on 28 June 2021.   

Southern Singapore

Over at Gardens by the Bay, two House Swift, Apus nipalensis, were reported on 6 June 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, while two species of raptor were reported on 20 June 2021 – a single Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Nisaetus cirrhatus, and a Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, by budding birder, Kaeden Sim, who also saw the Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca.

On 20 June 2021, Abegale Queddeng witnessed a snake catching one of the Sunda Pygmy Woodpeckers, Yungipicus moluccensis, that tried to defend their nest, and on the next day Kelvin Ng found the remaining parent still attending to the nest. Kelvin also spotted a fledgling Olive-backed Sunbird, Cinnyris jugularis on the same day. Then on 23 June 2021, Jayden Woo found a Yellow-vented Bulbul’s, Pycnonotus goiavier, nest that held two chicks.

A stone’s throw away, albeit not too literally, a Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, our resident plover, was reported on 12 June 2021 at Marina East by Low Zhi Hao. Across the waters, an Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto javanica, was reported on 22 June 2021 at Millenia Tower by Yip Jen Wei.

Visitors to Sentosa were serenaded by up to two Chinese Hwamei, Garrulax canorus, reported on 21 June 2021 by Norhafiani A Majid. Meanwhile, along the waters of the Southern Islands, a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, and a Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana, were seen the day before, 20 June 2021, by Raghav Narayanswamy.

Western Singapore

Sungei Buloh Weland Reserve was visited by, not one but eight spectacular Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, on 14 June 2021 (Ester Gerber), while a pair of Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, were reported on 21 June 2021 (Kieran Kwek). On 12 June 2021, Lee Chin Pong found a Common Tailorbird, Orthotomus sutorius attending to two chicks in a nest. At the nearby Kranji Marsh, a male Pied Triller, Lalage nigra, was seen feeding a chick in its nest on 13 June 2021, by Philip Ng.

Over at the popular Jurong Lake Gardens, a cryptic Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, was seen on 8 June 2021 (Jared Tan), while the regular Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, was seen on 21 June 2021 along the Ulu Pandan Park Connector (Norhafiani A Majid), where a pair of Golden-bellied Gerygones, Gerygone sulphurea, were observed to have mated on 17 Jun 2021 (Richard Lee), and on 20 June 2021, David Chan photographed a Golden-bellied Gerygone feeding a Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, that had already left the nest.

Other species noted in the west included a Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, on 6 June 2021, along Jalan Murai, (Marcel Finlay), a Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos, on 20 June 2021 at Greenleaf View (Lynn Tan), as well as two Long-tailed Parakeet, Psittacula longicauda, and three Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus, both on 22 June 2021 along Holland Plain (Lynn Tan).


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

Many thanks to Kenneth Chow, Lawrence Cher, Art Toh, Alan Owyong, Lim Kim Chuah, and Danny Khoo for allowing us to use their photographs.

Singapore Bird Report – May 2021

IPH, 020521, Bedok Canal, Herman Phua

Indian Pond Heron, Bedok canal, 2 May 2021, by Herman Phua

May 2021 – most of the migrants have departed. A rare Pheasant-tailed Jacana flying to the north was photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 12 May 2021 by W K Ang. The Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii at Dover Road stayed till 8 May 2021 (Russell Boyman), while another individual at Bedok canal stayed till 13 May 2021 (Max Khoo).

For the cuckoos, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus was photographed at Thomson Nature Park on 6 May 2021 by Norman Wu; a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor reported at Changi Business Park on 8 May 2021 by Lim Kim Keang; and an Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus at Pasir Ris Park on 14 May 2021, by Oliver Tan.

A Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps and an Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis were recorded at Gardens by the Bay on 15 May 2021 by Kaeden Sim. On 8 May 2021, Low Chong Yang photographed a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola, and on 16 May 2021, Yip Jen Wei recorded another at Kranji Marsh.

At Sembawang beach on 3 May 2021, an immature Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus was photographed by Steven Cheong. An unfortunate Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was found dead at Chestnut Avenue on 5 May 2021, by Troy. On 9 May 2021, Betty Shaw recorded a Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus at Bukit Panjang Link, and the wintering Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka at Hampstead wetlands was still around (Max Cheo). An Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia with long breeding plumes was photographed at Ulu Pandan on 20 May 2021 by Olga Lipunova.

Intermediate Egret, 200521, Ulu Pandan, Olga Lipunova on BICA

Intermediate Egret, showing long breeding plumes, Ulu Pandan, 20 May 2021, by Olga Lipunova

At the Central Forests and its fringes, an adult Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was photographed at Rifle Rang Link on 13 May 2021 by Lam SG; at Jelutong Tower on 8 May 2021, a Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex and a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana were recorded by Norvin Ng; at Mandai Track 7 on 2 May 2021, Tan Yes Chong recorded a Red-crowned Barbet Psilopogon rafflesii and a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, and on 16 May 2021, Russell Boyman recorded 6 Chestnut-winged babblers Cyanoderma erythropterum. At Windsor Nature Park, Alex Fok found the Blue-rumped Parrot Psittinus cyanurus feasting on the starfruits on 1 May 2021, and for several days after, at least until 11 May 2021, as noted by Gerald Lim. At Dairy Farm Nature Park on 2 May 2021, Norvin Ng encountered three Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds Orthotomus sericeus.

BR Parrot, posted 110521, Windsor NP, Gerald KC Lim

Blue-rumped Parrot, male, Windsor Nature Park, 11 May 2021, by Gerald KC Lim

At Turut Track, a Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis was photographed on 8 May 2021, and three Greater Painted Snipes Rostratula benghalensis were photographed on 9 May 2021, both by Norvin Ng. Towards the south, Gilbert Lee photographed three Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica at Satay by the Bay on 4 May 2021, and Ray Ng saw many Little Terns Sternula albifrons at Marina Barrage on 1 May 2021. At Pasir Ris Park, the Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha was still around on 4 May 2021 (David Kow), and the Sunda Scops Owl was also detected on 12 May 2021 (Erwin Foo).

Elsewhere, a Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana was photographed at Sembawang beach near PAssion Wave on 1 May 2021 by Benjamin Seah; a male Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was recorded at Eco Lake, Botanic Gardens on 1 May 2021 by Andrew H.; and a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata visited the terraces at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 2 May 2021 (Khoo MeiLin). On 11 May 2021 at Jurong Lake Gardens, Jade Neo photographed an Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris holding a naked chick in its beak (this is quite common as the hornbill is a prolific nest raider). At the park connector along Hougang Avenue 7 on 22 May 2021, a handsome male Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata with a ring on its left leg (escapee) showed up, photographed by Danny Khoo.

Parasitic Jaeger, 080521, port limits, Norhafiani A Majid

Parasitic Jaeger, pelagic off east coast within port limits, 8 May 2021, by Norhafiani A. Majid

During a pelagic trip conducted off the east coast, within port limits, on 2 May 2021, Francis Yap recorded a Common Tern Sterna hirundo. On another similar trip on 8 May 2021, Herman Phua photographed a Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus.

Lau Jia Sheng spent three weekend sessions at Kusu Island watching distant seabirds. He reported six Short-tailed Shearwaters Ardenna tenuirostris on 16 May 2021; 23 Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis on 16 May 2021, and 41 individuals on 22 May 2021; ten Bridled Terns Onychoprion anaethetus on 22 May 2021, and nine individuals on 29 May 2021.

Bridled Tern, 080521, port limits, Herman Phua, crop

Bridled Tern, pelagic off east coast within port limits, 8 May 2021, by Herman Phua

Breeding records

At Pasir Ris Park on 1 May 2021, a Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo chick that landed on the ground managed to climb back up the tree on its own effort, reported by George Koh. Alan Chew reported 4 owls in total, 2 adults and 2 fledglings.

At Whampoa, a Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus was photographed outside a treehole on 14 May 2021 by Gilbert. In the vicinity of Hampstead Wetlands on 3 May 2021, Joe KS photographed a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills Anthracoceros albirostris checking out the abandoned tree hole, with the female entering the hole, but they apparently decided not to use it. On 1 May 2021, Jeremiah Loei reported that the female hornbill at Newton Food Centre had broken out of the nest hole, and suspected another nesting failure.

The pair of Collared Kingfishers Todiramphus chloris which successfully raised three chicks at Pasir Ris Park in April was observed mating on 3 May 2021 by Alan Chew. At Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 1 May 2021, Max Cheo saw a Purple Heron Ardea purpurea flying with a stick in its beak. A pair of Copper-throated Sunbirds Leptocoma calcostetha were attending to their nest at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) on 14 May 2021, by Anthony L; and the nest of a pair of Yellow-bellied Prinias Prinia flaviventris at Punggol Barat held three eggs on 28 May 2021, by Keith Hutton. At the eastern end of Yishun Dam, Keith Hutton found a Striated Heron Butorides striata sitting on its nest on 28 May 2021.

BN Tern, 050521, PRP east end, Wong Sangmen

Black-naped Terns, about to mate, Pasir Ris Park, 5 May 2021, by Wong Sangmen

Near Sophia Residence on 3 May 2021, Eric Tan found a Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier nest with two young chicks. At Dairy Farm Nature Park on 25 May 2021, Tan Boon Tiong saw the Swinhoe’s White-eye Zosterops simplex feeding its fledgling; and at Ulu Pandan on 28 May 2021, Kelvin Ng photographed a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus in a nest being fed by a Golden-bellied Gerygone Gerygone sulphurea.

At SBWR, Alex Low found a nest of the Ashy Tailorbird Orthotomus ruficeps which held three chicks. He reported that an Oriental Whip Snake was warded off by, interestingly, by a sunbird, and the next day, an Abbott’s Babbler grabbed one chick and dropped it on the ground. The chick was rescued and put back into the nest, but two days later, Alex found the nest empty and abandoned.

At the eastern end of Pasir Ris Park, several Black-naped Terns Sterna sumatrana frequented the offshore buoy. On 4 May 2021, Keith Hutton observed courtship feeding and mating. Mating was also observed on 5 May 2021 and 15 May 2021 by Wong Sangmen. On 8 May 2021, there was at least one chick, photographed by Yeong WaiKai. The terns were also breeding at their traditional site, the nearby Loyang Rock, also known as Squance Rock, observed by various birders.

For the escapees, Janssen Tan saw a male Golden-backed Weaver Ploceus jacksoni flying with a blade of grass at Neo Tiew area on 8 May 2021, and Tan CY photographed a pair mating on 9 May 2021; at Halus Wetlands on 20 May 2021,  Avadi L Parimalam photographed a Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus in the early stages of nestbuilding.

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

Many thanks to Herman Phua, Olga Lipunova, Gerald KC Lim, Norhafiani A. Majid, and Wong Sangmen for allowing us to use their photographs.

Singapore Bird Report – April 2021

A rare White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus made a brief appearance at Holland Plains on 25 Apr 2021 (Richard White), and at Pulau Ubin, a Green Broadbill Calyptomena viridis also made a brief appearance on 11 Apr 2021 near Jalan Batu Ubin-Jelutong junction (Keita Sin & Geraldine Lee). At Chek Jawa on 3 Mar 2021, Lim Kim Keang counted seven Chinese Egrets Egretta eulophotes, dropping to five birds on 4 Apr 2021 (Leslie Loh) and 2 birds on 18 Apr 2021 (Norman Wu).

Amur PFC, 080421, JLG, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan

Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Jurong Lake Gardens, 8 Apr 2021, by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan

At Tampines Eco Green on 7 Apr 2021, Lester Tan bumped into a male long-tailed Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata which was only seen again on 13 Apr 2021 (Khong Yew). A female showed up at the same area on 17 Mar 2021 (Ch Gan). At Jurong Lake Gardens on 23 Apr 2021, a short-tailed individual was recorded by Jared Tan; and on the first day of the month, another individual appeared at the Botanic Gardens (Dennis Lim).

For the Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei a long tailed male was recorded by Ash Foo on 8 Apr 2021 at Jurong Lake Gardens, where there was also a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus on 24 Apr 2021, recorded by Herman Phua. A Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus was still at the lake gardens on 2 Apr 2021 (Shahrul), but another individual, an adult, showed up at Rower’s Bay Park on 26 Apr 2021 (Basil Chia), and stayed for a few days.

Common Moorhen. 280421, Rower Bay, TGC

Common Moorhen, Rower’s Bay Park, 28 Apr 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

In addition to the Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii at Dover Road, present  till 23 Apr 2021 (Chen Yi-Fan), there was another individual at the field next to the Chinese Garden MRT station on 21 Apr 2021, recorded by Norhafiani A. Majid. Breeding plumage Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosawas recorded at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 2 Apr 2021 by Jeremy Lim, and at Marina East Drive on 10 Apr 2021 by Wong Chung Cheong. Recognisable Chinese Pond Herons Ardeola bacchuswere at Labrador Park on 1 Apr 2021 (Lucas), and at Marina East drive on 8 Apr 2021 (Donald).

A Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus was at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 3 Apr 2021 (Raghav N.) and 4 Apr 2021 (Art Toh); while a Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratiiwas atConey Island on 1 Apr 2021 (Norvin Ng). A Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor was recorded at Tampines Eco Green on 4 Apr 2021 by Pher Joseph, and at Ketam Quarry, Ubin on 10 Apr 2021 by Aps Kumar.

Himalayan Cuckoo, 040421, DFNP near toilet, Art Toh

Himalayan Cuckoo, Dairy Farm Nature Park, 4 Apr 2021, by Art Toh

For the flycatchers, a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea was still at Windsor Nature Park on 1 Apr 2021 (Lam SG); two Green-backed Flycatchers Ficedula elisae a male and a female were at Rifle Range Link on 5 Apr 2021 (Wong Lee Hong); while a male Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimakiwas at Jurong Lake Garden on 7 Apr 2021 (Kok M Lee).

At Pasir Ris Park, a White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus showed up on 11 Apr 2021 (HongWY); a Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis at the bridge near car park B on 18 Apr 2021 (Ray Ng); and the Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha was still around on 25 Apr 2021 (Yip Jen Wei). Around six Black-naped Terns Sterna sumatrana were observed at the buoy off the eastern end of the park on 21 Apr 2021, by Vincent Yip.

A shy Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus was seen at Changi Business Park on 15 Apr 2021 by Ramesh T.; two Pacific Reef Herons Egretta sacra one dark morph and one white morph were seen at Marina East on 19 Apr 2021 by Darren Leow; and a Grey Heron Ardea cinerea at Check Jawa, Ubin caught a big fish on 24 Apr 2021 (Peh Chee Ee).

Grey Heron eat big fish, 240421, CJ, Ubin, Peh Chee Ee

Grey Heron caught a big fish, Chek Jawa, Ubin, 24 Apr 2021, by Peh Chee Ee

The small Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana was seen near Jelutong Tower on 4 Apr 2021 by Lam SG, and a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis on 6 Apr 2021 at Golf Link after the boardwalk towards Jelutong Tower (Keith Hutton).

A male Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu showed up at Hindhede Nature Park on 14 Apr 2021 (Raghav N.), while a female appeared at Rifle range Link on 26 Apr 2021 (Tan Ping Guang). Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica were seen near the PIE- Bedok PCN intersection on 11 Apr 2021 by Ryuta Teo (7 birds), and at Satay by the bay on 26 Apr 2021 by Sylvester Goh (9 birds). A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka was photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 2 Apr 2021 by Bhupesh Kurade, while the nightjar at Hampstead Wetlands was still around on 4 Apr 2021 (Peter Cheng).

Elsewhere, a Ruddy-breasted Crake Zapornia fusca was photographed at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on 6 Apr 2021 by Meena Vathyam; an Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus atConey Island on 7 Apr 2021 by Vincent Yip; three Pacific Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva in different plumages at Bedok Canal on 19 Apr 2021 by Tan Gim Cheong; a Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinusat Goldhill Avenue on 12 Apr 2021 by Steven Cheong; a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 16 Apr 2021 by Ash Foo; and two Straw-headed Bulbuls Pycnonotus zeylanicus at Little Guilin on 18 Apr 2021 by Wong LP.

PGP, 250421, Bedok canal, Ho Siew Mun, crop

Pacific Golden Plover, this individual was the most advanced in moult into breeding plumage, Bedok canal, 25 Apr 2021, by Ho Siew Mun

During a pelagic trip conducted within port limits on 25 Apr 2021, four Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris were recorded – three near Changi and one nearer to Marina East (Francis Yap). From Kusu Island, Lau Jia Sheng saw two of these birds on 24 Apr 2021.

For escapees, two Vinous-breasted Starlings Acridotheres burmannicus were back at Ang Mo Kio Street 53 on 1 Apr 2021, noted by Tan Heng Liang; while a female Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata was at the field between Hougang Ave 3 and Defu Ave 1 on 9 Apr 2021 (Mark Oei) and on 22 Apr 2021 (Vincent Yip).

Breeding records

Mating was recorded for the following species: Common Flameback at Tampines Eco Green on 20 Apr 2021 by Lim Chong Hwee; Long-tailed Parakeet at Sembawang on 20 Apr 2021 by Keith Hutton; and a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita mating with a Tanimbar Corella Cacatua goffiniana in April photographed by Julie Edgley.

CPSBB, 170421, HWL, TGC

Coppersmith Barbet, feeding its chick, Hampstead Wetlands, 17 Apr 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

Mating was also observed for the Blue-throated Bee-eaters Merops viridis at Sentosa in April, by Vincent Yip; and at Tampines Eco Green on 18 Apr 2021 by Wong Sangmen. The bee-eaters were seen digging holes in a sand pile at Sentosa on 8 April 2021 by Norvin Ng; and in the ground at Punggol end on 25 Apr 2021 by Mark Oei.

An Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis was perched in a nest being built by a Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus on 14 Apr 2021 but was chased away by the weaver, noted Thomas Chong. A Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus couple was building their nest near Jelutong Twr on 11 Apr 2021, seen by Ingo Moench. The Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster was seen nesting at Lorong Halus on 9 Apr 2021 by Senthil Kumar Damodaran. A number of Golden-backed Weavers Ploceus jacksoni were building nests at Lorong Halus on 10 Apr 2021, noted Peter Wong. At the Botanic Gardens on 12 Apr 2021, an Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis nest containing eggs was raided by Oriental Pied Hornbills Anthracoceros albirostris (Cheng Li Ai).

TGC_4784,-Collared-KF, 1280x960, 130421, PRP

Collared Kingfisher feeding a gecko to its chick, 13 Apr 2021, Pasir Ris Park, by Tan Gim Cheong

At Hampstead Wetlands, a pair of Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephalus was feeding their chicks on 2 Apr 2021 (Derrick Wong) and through many days thereafter. At Pasir Ris Park, a pair of Collared Kingfishers Todiramphus chloris wre also feeding their chicks on 10 Apr 2021 (Julian Wong), and Samantha Wong reported that all three chicks fledged on 14 Apr 2021. At Petir Road on 30 Apr 2021, an adult Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus moluccensis was seen feeding a big chick in its nest hole (Cheong Khan Hoong).

At Jurong Lake Gardens on 29 Apr 2021, Neo Jinju saw a Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier feeding a fledgling, while Benny Ng reported that chicks of the Striated Herons Butorides striata at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve had fledged on 21 Apr 2021. At Rifle Range Link on 4 Apr 2021, Lam SG photographed a recently fledged Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus covered mainly in white feathers, and the fledgling was recorded on subsequent days, including on 25 Apr 2021 by Christian H.

BEO chick, early April 21, RRL, Norhafiani A Majid

Barred Eagle Owl, Rifle Range Link, early April 2021, by Norhafiani A. Majid

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

Many thanks to Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, Peh Chee Ee, Art Toh, Ho Siew Mun and Norhafiani A. Majid for allowing us to use their photographs.

 

Singapore Bird Report – March 2021

Emerald Cuckoo, 050321, May Swales

Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Living Lab, Pulau Ubin, 5 Mar 2021, by May Swales

A number of rarities showed up in March 2021. An Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus, for which there are less than five records, was photographed by May Swales at Living Lab, Pulau Ubin on 5 Mar 2021. The female was present till 8 March (Wong Wai Loon).

At Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, Lau Jia Sheng photographed the elusive Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus on 6 Mar 2021. And at Marina East, Linda Teh photographed a Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus that made a brief visit on 19 Mar 2021. On 19 Mar 2021, another 1-day bird, a female Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius visited Catalina Tong’s high rise balcony along Thomson Road opposite Singapore Polo Club.

The Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus that showed up at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park last month was joined by a second bird on 2 Mar 2021 (Yk Goh) but both birds promptly disappeared the next day. The Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides noted at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) in February continued to be present from 1 Mar 2021 (Wilson Chua) till 13 Mar 2021 (Leslie Loh).

Green Sandpiper, 060321, 0925h, LCK3, Lau Jia Sheng, crop

Green Sandpiper (left) with a Wood Sandpiper (right), Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, 6 Mar 2021, by Lau Jia Sheng

A rare Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea put up a brief appearance at Jurong Lake Gardens on 15 Mar 2021, photographed by Vincent Chin and Joseph Pher. Five days later, on 20 Mar 2021, one monarch, probably the same individual, showed up at Clementi Woods Park (Frank Rheindt) and remained for most of the day but disappeared thereafter.

At Dover Road on 8 Mar 2021, a pond heron that started to moult into breeding plumage showed signs of it being an Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii (Art Toh), and it would develop into full breeding plumage over the course of the month. A male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata with long tail showed up at Coney Island on 18 Mar 2021 (Richard Wee) and those who braved the rain in the afternoon were rewarded with views of its exquisite beauty.

At Kent Ridge Park, a Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata skulked in the bushes on 23 Mar 2021 (Norman Wu), and was present till 26 Mar 2021 (Lee Chin Pong). On a northeastern island, a Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes showed up on 20 Mar 2021 (Frankie Cheong). Two Oriental Pratincoles Glareola maldivarum gave close views at the Marina East field on 2 Mar 2021 (Vincent Yip).

BNM, 200321, Clementi Woods, Art Toh, crop

Black-naped Monarch, Clementi Woods Park, 20 Mar 2021, by Art Toh

The skittish Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata was recorded at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park on 6 Mar 2021 by Teo Soon Haur, and at Turut Track on 14 Mar 2021 by Fitri Titi. The Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus was first noted near 1036 Sembawang Road on 15 Mar 2021 by Desmond Yap, with up to 17 birds showing on 19 Mar (Fadzrun A.); the species was also recorded at Lorong Halus on 21 Mar 2021 and up to 12 birds were observed (Russel Boyman).

Two smart-looking male Yellow-rumped Flycatchers Ficedula zanthopygia were recorded at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park on 14 Mar 2021 by Lam SG, and another two males at Jurong Lake Gardens on 20 Mar 2021 by Yang Chee Meng. A shy Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides was noted at Changi Business Park on 3 Mar 2021 (Ash Foo), and an injured individual, probably from flying into a window, was resting on a tree along Jalan Pemimpin on 15 Mar 2021, noted by Lian Yee Ming.

The next three species were recorded at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio (BAMK) Park and another location. A Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa at BAMK on 11 Mar 2021 was coming into breeding plumage (Pher Joseph) while the one at Marina East at 29 Mar 2021 had attained breeding colours (Herman Phua). A Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus at BAMK on 15 Mar 2021 (Sneo), and another at Springleaf Nature Park on 20 Mar 2021 (Ho Kinyunn) were in recognizable breeding colours. A female Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was at BAMK on 12 Mar 2021 (Vincent Yip) and a male at Eco Lake, Botanic Gardens on 18 Mar 2021 (Steve Ang).

JPFC, 180321, Coney, Lum Lai Har

Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, male, Coney Island, 18 Mar 2021, by Lum Lai Har

The juvenile diffusus Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis was still at SBWR on 12 Mar 2021 (Tan Gim Cheong) and the Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha at Pasir Ris Park was also still around on 20 Mar 2021 (Keith Loh). A Black-headed Bulbul Brachypodius atriceps was recorded at Jelutong Tower on 5 Mar 2021 by Emily Wong; a female Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis was at Turut Track on 14 Mar 2021 (Fitri Titi); two Chestnut-winged Cuckoos Clamator coromandus were recorded at Coney Island on 15 Mar 2021 by Sze Kai; and a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea was at Windsor Nature Park on 31 Mar 2021 (Yip Jen Wei).

Steven Struyck photographed a White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis holding a mouse it its beak on 8 Mar 2020, and Joseph Lim photographed a Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris holding a baby squirrel in its beak.

As for species which are more clearly escapees, there was an Asian Pied Starling Gracupica contra at Jurong Lake Gardens on 18 Mar 2021, photographed by Gan Lee Hsia; a Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus at Changi Business Park on 22 Mar 2021 photographed by Nomis Gnat; and a small flock of Zebra Finches Taeniopygia guttata at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park, one of which was caught by an adult Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus on 3 Mar 2021, photographed by Liu Xiao Dong.

Breeding records

Mating was observed for these two species: Pied Trillers Lalage nigra on 5 Mar 2021 by Sim Chip Chye, and Red-crowned Barbets Psilopogon rafflesii on 14 Mar 2021 by Ivan Khor. Copper-throated Sunbirds Leptocoma calcostethawerenestbuilding at SBWR on 4 Mar 2021, observed by Koh Wen Min, who saw 6 birds.

TGC_8924,-CTSB,-male, 960v, 080321, SBWR

Copper-throated Sunbird, male, displaying its yellow pectoral tufts, SBWR, 8 Mar 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

On 14 Mar 2021, Tabiyeo photographed two Grey Herons Ardea cinerea at their nest at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. On 18 Mar 2021 Alyssa Sng photographed a Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor sitting on its nest. An active Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephalusnest was observed Jurong Lake Gardens on 16 Mar 2021 by Tan Gim Cheong, and another at Hampstead Wetlands by William Chua on 19 Mar 2021. On 23 Mar 2021, Philip Ng photographed a male Common Iora Aegithina tiphiasitting on its nest at Lorong Halus. And on 24 Mar 2021, Helen Tee recorded a pair of Collared Kingfishers nesting at Pasir Ris Park.

A Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator chick was accompanied by its parent at Jurong Lake Gardens on 24 Mar 2021, observed by Dennis Lim, while Tracy Doan saw a Golden-bellied Gerygone Gerygone sulphurea feeding a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus, its brood parasite.

There were four reported nestings for the Black-naped Oriole. One nest was observed outside Sophia Residences on 18 Mar 2021 by Eric Tan. On 20 Mar 2021 Khoo MeiLin reported a nest at West Coast Park being raided by a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills which were undeterred by the mobbing by the adult orioles. Tan Tze Siong reported a successful nesting at Bukit Timah with two chicks fledging, he also noted that the parents fed the chicks with a baby bird. At Satay by the Bay, a nest with two chicks was observed on 15 Mar 2021 (Steve Ang), it was unusually open, perhaps as a result of the nest tree shedding leaves. On 17 Mar 2021 Andy Chew saw a House Crow Corvus splendens taking one chick from the nest, and killing it. On 19 Mar 2021, another Black-naped Oriole tried to raid the nest but was driven away, and on 22 Mar 2021, the remaining chick fledged (David Kow). This last pair fed their chicks with small geckos, grasshoppers and small round fruits (16 Mar 2021, Tan Gim Cheong).

BNO nest, 160321, SBTB, TGC

Black-naped Oriole nest with 2 chicks, the nest was unusually open, perhaps as a result of the nest tree shedding leaves, Satay by the Bay, 16 Mar 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

At Pulau Ubin on 8 Mar 2021, a male Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris was feeding its family through the slit in a man-made nestbox, observed by Lee Chin Pong. Unfortunately for theOriental Pied Hornbill nest in the vicinity of Hampstead Wetlands, one chick was found dead on 14 Mar 2021 by Justin Jing Liang, and another chick dead on 19 Mar 2021, observed by Valli Nalla. On 21 Mar 2021 the male was still seen feeding the female through the slit (Tuck Loong), but the hole was reported as having been unsealed on 22 Mar 2021 by a birder who goes by the initials “R L”.

Three nestings were also reported for the House Crow, all of which were parasitized by the Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus. At Marina East on 9 Mar 2021, Neo Jinju observed a koel chick being hosted by the crows. At Fort Road car park on 25 Mar 2021, a nest with three crow chicks and one koel chick was observed by Sylvester Goh. And at Yishun Street 22 on 18 Mar 2021, Keith Hutton found three koel fledglings out of the nest being fed by the crows.

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

Many thanks to May Swales, Lau Jia Sheng, Art Toh, and Lum Lai Har, for allowing us to use their photographs.

Singapore Bird Report – February 2021

CPG, 090221, BAMK, SCC

Cotton Pygmy Goose, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, 9 Feb 2021, by Sim Chip Chye

February 2021 was marked by a number of interesting records. A Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensis, the first for Singapore, was photographed at Hindhede Quarry on 17 Feb 2021 by Jackie Yeo and Yeak Hwee Lee. The Brown Fish Owl even sired an owlet with a Buffy Fish OwlKetupa ketupu. At Yishun, a juvenile Black-thighed Falconet Microhierax fringillarius showed up at an apartment block on 12 Feb 2021 to the delight of Lee Lay Na (refer to the Feb 2021 raptor report for more details for both of these).

A rare Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus showed up at a pond at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 8 Feb 2021, recorded by Teo Ang Guan, and was present through the month. At Goldhill Avenue/Malcolm Road patch of woods, a male Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus with a portion of its tail missing/broken, was photographed on 25 Feb 2021 by Thomas Soo. A Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides was seen and sound-recorded at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) on 9 Feb 2021 by Yong Ding Li, and also recorded by others through the rest of the month, with Norhafiani A. Majid snagging a photo on 28 Feb 2021.

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, 280221, SBWR entrance boardwalk, Norhafiani A Majid, pic

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, SBWR, 28 Feb 2021, by Norhafiani A. Majid

A juvenile diffusus Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis was photographed at Hampstead Wetlands on 21 Feb 2021 by Ash Foo, and also at SBWR on the same day by Ang Hou Boon. At SBWR, 14 Lesser Adjutants Leptoptilos javanicus were recorded on 7 Feb 2021 by Rene Sun, and on 27 Feb 2021 by Spencer Yau. About 100 Asian Openbills Anastomus oscitans at SBWR on 27 Feb 2021 early morning recorded by Bernard Seah flying southwest was the biggest flock for this season; there were 74 at Tuas South on the same day mid-morning, possibly the same flock, heading west, recorded by Martti Siponen. At nearby Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, a Baillon’s Crake Zapornia pusilla was photographed on 27 Feb 2021 by Keith Hutton.

Towards the south, a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis was recorded at Satay by the Bay on 7 Feb 2021 by Saravanan K., and an Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum at Marina East on 27 Feb 2021 by Lam SG. The wintering Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus was at Central Boulevard on 6 Feb 2021 (Khoo MeiLin), and at Marina East on 18 Feb 2021 (Marcel Finlay). Interestingly, Adrian Silas Tay found a Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata at Central Boulevard on 21 Feb 2021, and the bird was on site for the next four days. The Pied Bushchat at Holland Plain was still there on 11 Feb 2021 (Yip Jen Wei).

PBC, 230221, Lee Chin Pong, crop

Pied Bushchat, Central Boulevard – Marina Gardens Drive junction, 23 Feb 2021, by Lee Chin Pong

Elsewhere, a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 5 Feb 2021 by Tan Gim Cheong; an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina at Ubin on 5 Feb 2021 by Mike Hooper; the Grey Nighjar Caprimulgus jotaka was still wintering at Hampstead Wetlands on 22 Feb 2021 (Johnny Wee); a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida at Venus Drive on 25 Feb 2021 by Adeline Goh; an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Black-backed) Ceyx erithaca at the rail corridor south of King Albert Park on 27 Feb 2021 by Gideon; and a Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa had started to moult into breeding plumage at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on 28 Feb 2021 (Khoo MeiLin).

A male Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae was recorded at Rifle Range Link on 7 Feb 2021 by Ramesh T., while individual females were recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park (1 Feb 2021, Steven Cheong), Central Catchment (6 Feb 2021, Raghav N.), and Hindhede Nature Park (18 Feb 2021, Choong YT), quite a month for the Green-backed Flycatchers.

GBFC male, 070221, Rifle Range Link, Ramesh T

Green-backed Flycatcher, male, Rifle Range Link, 7 Feb 2021, by Ramesh T.

Breeding records

Mating was observed for the following birds: Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus at Windsor Nature Park on 16 Feb 2021 by Ong Peline; White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis on 19 Feb 2021 by Lai Yeu Huan; Zebra Dove Geopelia striata at Hampstead Wetlands on 20 Feb 2021 by Meena Vathyam; Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephalus at Hampstead Wetlands on 21 Feb 2021 by Ash Foo; and Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 21 Feb 2021 by Wang Jun Loong.

A Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata chick was moving about with its parents at Hindhede Nature Park on 5 Feb 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong. At Whampoa, the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus was visiting a treehole on 9 Feb 2021 (Eric Yeo), and was photographed bringing leaves, tucked into its rump feathers, back to the treehole on 25 Feb 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong.

At Hampstead Wetlands, a pair of Banded Woodpeckers Chrysophlegma miniaceum was observed feeding their chicks in a treehole on 11 Feb 2021, by Kwok Tuck Loong. On 15 Feb 2021, Javan Mynas Acridotheres javanicus entered the nest hole and attacked the chicks, causing one chick to fall into the pond below. Unfortunately, as the chick struggled on the water, a monitor lizard closed in swiftly and caught it, observed by Jess Leo, Serene Ong and Tan Heng Liang. This is an example of how an invasive species (Javan Myna) can negatively affect native species (Banded Woodpecker). The parent woodpeckers fought with the mynas and one chick was strong enough to fly to safety (Yeak Hwee Lee). In the aftermath, the Javan Mynas occupied the nest hole. Note: in mid-November 2020, Wong Keng photographed the Banded Woodpecker and Javan Mynas fighting over the tree hole, and the Banded Woodpeckers proceeded to use the hole for nesting.

Banded Woody fight J Myna, 150221, Hampstead, Lai Yeu Huan

Banded Woodpecker defending its nesting hole against a Javan Myna, Hampstead Wetlands, 15 Feb 2021, by Lai Yeu Huan

In the vicinity of Hampstead Wetlands, a male Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris was seen bringing food to its mate sealed in a treehole on 3 Feb 2021, by Wong Chung Cheong. Unfortunately, this nesting failed eventually. At SBWR, a Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja nest with two chicks was observed on 21 Feb 2021 by Andy Chew, but on 25 Feb 2021 only one chick remained and a pair of Copper-throated Sunbirds Leptocoma calcostethaattacked the nest and were chased away by the nesting sunbird. On 28 Feb 2021, the remaining chick was found dead, noted by Khoo MeiLin.

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

Many thanks to Sim Chip Chye, Norhafiani A. Majid, Lee Chin Pong, Ramesh T., and Lai Yeu Huan for allowing us to use their photographs.

Singapore Bird Report – January 2021

Common House Martin lagopodum, 030121, NTHL, Mike Hooper, crop

Common House Martin (Delichon urbicum, subspecies lagopodum), Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, 3 Jan 2021, by Mike Hooper

January 2021 – birders who bagged photos of the ‘Asian House Martin’ at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane on 3 Jan 2021 were in for a surprise when Frank Rheindt scrutinised their photos and found that it was a Common House Martin Delichon urbicum of the eastern lagopodum subspecies, which had a bigger white rump compared to the Asian House Martin, this information came from a recent article on House Martin identification shared by Yong Ding Li. The lucky photographers included Mike Hooper, Rob Arnold, Fadzrun A. and Geoff Lim.

BN Monarch, 250121, Ubin, Eunice Kong, crop

Black-naped Monarch, at Butterfly Hill, Ubin, 25 Jan 2020, by Eunice Kong

Nearby, at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, a rare Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus was photographed by Norman Wu on 17 Jan 2021, and by Choong YT on 21 Jan 2021. On Pulau Ubin, another rarity, the Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea was photographed by Eunice Kong at Butterfly Hill on 25 Jan 2021.

GHLW, 250121, MED, Danny Khoo

Grey-headed Lapwing with well developed black breastband, Marina East, 25 Jan 2021, by Danny Khoo

The Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus was still at Marina East on 3 Jan 2021 (Chen Boon Chong), but had shifted to Central Boulevard from 9 to 12 Jan 2021 (Yip Jen Wei & Kwok Tuck Loong respectively), but was back at Marina East on 23 Jan 2021 (Kwok Tuck Loong). By 25 Jan 2021, it had developed a nice black breastband, as photographed by Danny Khoo. Marina East also had a Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris on 27 Jan 2021, photographed by Sim Chip Chye. Unfortunately, the knot stayed not – it only appeared for a while.

Great Knot, 270121 1537h, ME, SCC

Great Knot, Marina East, 27 Jan 2021, by Sim Chip Chye

At Pulau Ubin, two Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica and three Red-necked Stints Calidris ruficollis were recorded on 11 Jan 2021 by Krishna G.; a Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres on 24 Jan 2021 by Chen Boon Chong; a Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus on 14 Jan 2021 by Yip Jen Wei; and a Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus on 14 Jan 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, and 26 Jan 2021 by Steven Cheong. On 27 Jan 2021, Yong Ding Li saw and sound-recorded a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides at Ketam mangroves, Ubin.

At a very small patch of woods along Marina View, next to the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC), a Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda was recorded on 6 Jan 2021 by Kwok Tuck Loong, and was present till 15 Jan 2021 (James Gan). Kwok Tuck Loong also recorded a Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides in the same patch on 7 Jan 2021, and a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida along the footpath of the SCCC on 6 Jan 2021.

Ruddy KF, 150121, SCCC vicinity, James Gan

Ruddy Kingfisher, Marina View, 15 Jan 2021, by James Gan

At Jurong Lake Gardens, a Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator was recorded on 3 Jan 2021 by Norhafiani A. Majid, and a Baillon’s Crake Zapornia pusilla on 6 Jan 2021 was reported by Lee Ee Ling.

At Dairy Farm Nature Park, the diffusus Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis was still around between 3 Jan 2021 (Andy Lee) to 12 Jan 2021 (Choong YT). A Black-headed Bulbul Brachypodius atriceps was also recorded on 5 Jan 2021 by Krishna G.

At Hindhede Nature Park on 20 Jan 2021, Richard White recorded an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina, an Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus, and a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae.

TGC_6678_00001,-OHT,-960v

Orange-headed Thrush, Hindhede Nature Park, 25 Jan 2020, by Tan Gim Cheong

Elsewhere, an adult Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was recorded in the Central Catchment on 6 Jan 2021 by Richard White; a Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni at the Botanic Gardens on 15 Jan 2021 by Tan Swee Nam; a Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus was feeding on Yellow Bittern at West Coast Park on 24 Jan 2021 (Sebastian Lim): a White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis was recorded at Pasir Ris Park on 25 Jan 2021 by Mike Hooper; and three White Wagtails Motacilla alba of three subspecies (ocularis, leucopsis & lugens) were recorded at Pelton Canal on 26 Jan 2021 by Felix Wong. At Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, Tan Tze Siong photographed a pair of Coppersmith Barbets Psilopogon haemacephalus mating; Valli Nalla saw a White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis eating a changeable lizard on 21 Jan 2021; and the Pied Bushchat Halcyon smyrnensis was still at Holland Plain on 3 Jan 2021 (Russell Boyman).

WTKF eating CL, posted 210121, Valli Nalla

White-throated Kingfisher caught a changeable lizard, 20 Jan 2021, by Valli Nalla

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

Many thanks to Mike Hooper, Eunice Kong, Danny Khoo, Sim Chip Chye, James Gan and Valli Nalla for allowing us to use their photographs