A Morning Birding at Bulim Grasslands.

By Doreen Ang.
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Birding at the Bulim Grasslands with Peng Ah Huay, Ian and Freda Rickwood. Photo: Michael Toh.
Large open grasslands are a premium in Singapore, especially those that are left wild and untouched. They are refuge for many of our grassland species like the Zitting Cisticolas and Paddyfield Pipits. Often during the raining season they are waterlogged, creating a haven for bitterns, crakes and snipes. One such grassland is by Bulim Avenue where both our resident Painted Snipes and the migratory Common and Swinhoe’s snipes have been seen.
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First winter Red-throated Pipit turned out to be our bird of the day. Photo: Michael Toh.
So on Sun, 25.3.2018, Ian & Freda Rickword, Peng Ah Huay, Tan Sock Ling, Michael Toh and I decided to venture to Bulim grasslands to do some sniping. We spent slightly more than 2 hours in the morning.  The grounds were wet as it had rained the night before.  We saw about 6-7 Red-wattled Lapwings, 1 Common Sandpiper, some Intermediate Egrets and many Pipits.  But zilch snipes! What a let down!
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Intermediate Egret coming in to land. Photo: Michael Toh.
In one particular flock, there were about 13 pipits on the ground.  One seen through the bins looked a bit darker and ‘fatter’.  I cannot confirm if Michael’s photo was taken from this flock but his photo does show a Red-throated Pipit (a first winter as Kim Keang and you indicated). At least this sighting save our morning birding.
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Good to see the Red-wattled Lapwings back foraging at the grasslands. Photo: Michael Toh.
We don’t know how long before the whole area will be developed. Already a bus depot has taken a good piece of land next to the PIE. Several buildings are under construction, parts of the grasslands are fenced off and other parts are cleared with a concrete road running through it. Best is to enjoy it while it is there, before such habitats become just a memory.
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No Black Kite, our resident Brahminy will do. Photo: Michael Toh.
Many thanks to Michael Toh for the use of his photos.
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Birding at Simei-Changi Business Park

Birding at Simei- Changi Business Park

By T. Ramesh

I have been walking around Simei-Changi Business Park estate for the  past three years . Ever since I started birding in Jan 2017,  I combined my morning 5 km walk with birding (with bino and a zoom camera) which yielded interesting sightings of various species of birds.

I have recorded 65 species so far in this area . Many are residents and some are uncommon or rare visitors during migratory season.  Below is the list in random order.

1.     Black-naped Oriole
2.     Eurasian Tree Sparrow
3.     Common Goldenback
4.     Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker
5.     Red-breasted Parakeet
6.     Rose-ringed Parakeet
7.     Blue crowned Hanging Parrot
8.     Common Kingfisher
9.     White-throated Kingfisher
10.  Collared Kingfisher
11.  Yellow Bittern
12.  Grey Heron
13.  Striated Heron
14.  Cinnamon Bittern
15.  Black-crowned Night heron
16.  Blue-throated Bee-eater
17.  Blue-tailed Bee-eater
18.  White-breasted Waterhen
19.  Spotted Dove
20.  Zebra Dove
21.  Pink-necked Pigeon
22.  Green Imperial Pigeon
23.  Red Turtle Dove
24.  Oriental Pied Hornbill
25.  Red-whiskered Bulbul
26.  Little Egret
27.  Common Iora
28.  White-headed Munia
29.  Scaly-breasted Munia
30.  Brown Shrike
31.  Long-tailed Shrike
32.  Tiger shrike
33.  Pied Triller
34.  Oriental Dollarbird
35.  Oriental Magpie Robin
36.  Asian Glossy Starling
37.  Asian Koel
38.  Lesser Coucal
39.  Grey Wagtail                                                                                                                            40.  Paddyfield Pipit
41.  Malayan Pied Fantail
42.  Pacific Swallow
43.  Asian Brown Flycatcher
44.  Dark-sided Flycatcher
45.  Large-tailed Nightjar
46.  White-bellied Sea-eagle
47.  Ashy Tailorbird
48.  Common Tailorbird
49.  Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
50.  Large-billed Crow
51.  Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
52.  Oriental White-eye
53.  Slaty-breasted Rail
54.  Arctic Warbler
55.  Oriental Reed Warbler
56.  Chinese Pond Heron
57.  Crow-billed Drongo
58.  Ashy Minivet
59.  Snipe Spp.
60.  Oriental Honey Buzzard
61.  Brahminy Kite
62.  Changeable Hawk Eagle
63.  Black Baza
64.  Jerdon’s Baza                                                                                                                                 65. Pacific Golden Plover.

Map of the birding spots in Simei- Changi Business Park.Map

If you are driving,  you can park your car next to CBP bus terminal down slope going into the canal path ( marked in red here) .

Photos of birds of Simei – Changi Business Park

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Green Imperial Pigeon

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Jerdon’s Baza

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Five Black Bazas in a tree

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Snipe Spp

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Juvenile Cinnamon Bittern

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Dark-sided Flycatcher

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White headed Munia

The best time for birding in this area is 7-9 am . (except Green Imperial Pigeon which comes around  around 10-11 a.m.)

Changi Business Park with many open fields have large number of  equatorial spitting cobras  and I spotted three spitting cobras within a span of 8 minutes walk in different locations!  I definitely need to get Phua Chu Kang boots J ( yellow safety boots ) and  eye protection if I decide to  I go into the fields.

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Equatorial Spitting Cobra

If you are interested in watching metal birds landing, this is an ideal place as well, as flights land every few minutes.  This poses danger to birds and below photo is a carcass of a bird ( grey heron?) may be  due to collision with a plane.

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Collision with an aircraft?

Look forward to seeing more birders in this area before this area develops into a complete concrete jungle.  Remember to cover the canal behind Changi Bus terminal where Jerdon Baza, Black Baza , Grey Wagtail, Juvenile Cinnamon bittern &  Juvenile night heron  were sighted.

Happy birding !

Singapore Bird Report – February 2018

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A brilliant capture of a Short-tailed Babbler under the dim lighting at Venus Loop, 21 Feb 2018, by Alex Fok

A rare Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis that flew over from Bukit Batok Nature Park must have made the day for Francis Yap when he looked out the balcony of his new apartment on the 8th. At nearby BTNR, the rare Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides found last month was still there at the Cave Path on the 3rd (Martin Kennewell). BTNR also harboured a Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane on the 26th (Richard White). Another rarity, an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was seen at Singapore Quarry by Richard White on 18th.

At Singapore Botanic Gardens, the very rare Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii continued to be present throughout the month, even attracting birders from overseas! An Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina on the 4th (Khong Yew) heralded the arrival of the Lunar New Year. On 18th, Alan OwYong recorded a Van Hasselts’ Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana, possibly a first for the locality. On 24th, Richard White found a female Cinnamon Bittern.

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Orange-headed Thrush, a fitting welcome for the Lunar New Year, at SBG on 12 Feb 2018, by Terence Tan

In the Central Catchment, a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae, possibly the same bird recorded last month, was recorded on the 4th by Michael Noble. Also on 4th, Subha & Raghav Narayanswamy recorded a little jewel, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca (black-backed race). On the 7th, Francis Yap had the good luck of seeing two species of pittas, a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida and a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis. The next day, Oliver Tan also got lucky with a Hooded Pitta. On the 17th, Martin Kennewell found a Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps. On 20th, along the Rifle Range Link, Veronica Foo recorded a Siberian Blue Robin, a Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris and two Abbott’s Babblers Malacocincla abbotti.

At the fringes of the Central Forests, Veronica Foo found a Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus and a Siberian Blue Robin at Windsor Park on the 1st. Art Toh recorded a Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji at Lower Pierce on the 4th. Short-tailed Babblers Malacocincla malaccensis were recorded by Vincent Lao at Lower Pierce on the 10th and at Venus Loop on the 18th by Alex Fok. Venus Loop also held a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu on the 17th (Art Toh & Peach Won). Yong Ding Li reported that a rare Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was seen at MacRitchie by visiting Chinese birders on the 16th. Hindhede Park held a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka on the 17th, outside Rainforest Condo, and another two were recorded at the Rail Corridor on the 18th (Richard White).

Pulau Tekong held a rare Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes and a Rufous-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis on the 21st (Frankie Cheong). During a survey of the marine areas south of Singapore on the 22nd, Alan OwYong recorded four Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana, one at Raffles Marina, two at Pulau Salu and one at Terembu Bembang Besar. At Pulau Hantu, he managed to find the Mangrove Whistler which had eluded others previously.

Great-billed Heron caught Copperband Butterfly Fish, 220218, Pulau Salu, Lester Tan

Great-billed Heron caught a Copperband Butterfly Fish, 22 Feb 2018, Pulau Salu, by Lester Tan

Pulau Ubin continued to deliver amazing records: a very rare Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea on the 9th came from Jojo and Jen (reported by Roger Boey). A few days later, on the 12th, Wang HengMount photographed a Black Kite Milvus migrans over Pekan Quarry; on 13th, Keita Sin found two Cinerous Bulbuls Hemixos cinereus and on 18th Lim Kim Chuah saw a Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha. Also, on the 4th during an NParks survey, notable records included a Crested Serpent Eagle (Tan Ju Lin), Blue-rumped Parrot Psittinus cyanurus (Yong Ding Li), Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata (Lim Kim Keang) and Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni (Keita Sin). Also, Jacky Soh found a scarce Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus.

At Pasir Ris Park, Seng Alvin photographed a White-headed Munia Lonchura maja on the 5th, while Feroz Fizah found a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectens on the 6th. At nearby Lorong Halus, Lim Kim Keang counted 37 Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica on the 24th, a pretty high number, and Alfred Chia found them still there on the 25th; Geri Lim saw a number of Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni on the 6th, estimating 8-10 birds but was unsure if they were all of the same species, while Ramesh Thiruvengadam had one on the 7th at Changi Business Park, which also held a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus on 25th (also by Ramesh). At Tampines Eco Green on the 17th, Marc Ng found a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor while Feroz Fizah photographed a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus on the 22nd.

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Plaintive Cuckoo at Tampines Eco Green, on 22 Feb 2018, by Feroz Fizah

A Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola was seen at Seletar on 4th (Wang HengMount) and on 6th (Luke Milo Teo). At nearby Seletar Aerospace Drive, Lim Kim Keang found a Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus on the 9th. On the 20th, an Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum was seen at Seletar end (Gerald Chua) and on 27th, Martin Kennewell had a Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator at Piccadilly Seletar.

A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea put up an appearance at West Coast Park on 9th (Art Toh). Richard White reported that his friend photographed a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus at Holland Village on the 17th. At Woodlands Drive, also on the 17th, Kannan A. found a Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris. Down at Telok Bangah Walk, Alan OwYong encountered a Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus on the 26th. At Bishan Park on 26th, 27th and 28th, Martin Kennewell found five Asian Palm Swifts Cypsiurus balasiensis flying low.

Satay by the Bay held a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus on 9th (Thana Sinnathamby) and a Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula on 19th (Deborah Friets). On owls, Heather Goessels found a grey morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia on the 14th at Mimosa Walk.

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Watercock at Kranji Marshes, on 18 Feb 2018, by Goh Cheng Teng

Kranji Marshes continued to hold good birds. The vagrant Booted Warbler Iduna caligata was recorded throughout the month. On 18th, a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was recorded by Goh Cheng Teng and Keita Sin, while Tanvi DG had a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis. On 25th, Martin Kennewell recorded secretive species such as the King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis, Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla, Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis and Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago. On the 26th, Adrian Silas Tay found a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia. And on the last day of the month, Martin Kennewell recorded a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis sepulcralis, Watercock, Plaintive Cuckoo, Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola.

For breeding-related records, Felix Wong was at Changi Business Park on the 10th when he saw two pairs of Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea and witnessed the mating, followed by courtship feeding (female prodding the male for food, and then fed by male). A Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis was building its nest at Ang Mo Kio Town Park on 18th (Alan OwYong). On the 24th, Felix again witnessed another courtship feeding, a male Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus regurgitating yellowish liquid to feed a female at a potential nest hole at Whampoa. Richard White reported a newly fledged chick of the Buffy Fish Owl at SBG in late February and another at SBWR on 27th, which Khoo MeiLin photographed a day earlier.

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A young Buffy Fish Owl at SBWR, 26 Feb 2018, by Khoo Meilin

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
This report is compiled by Tan Gim Cheong and Alan OwYong based on selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from ebird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Terence Tan, Alex Fok, Lester Tan, Feroz Fizah, Goh Cheng Teng and Khoo MeiLin for the the use of their photos.

More Insect Prey for Malkoha Chick

By Gerald KC Lim.

After reviewing the many photographs I took of the parents bringing back food for the chick at the Jurong Eco Gardens, I found that a few were not mentioned in the earlier post. I also had a high number of Praying Mantis which was noted to be their favourite prey.  I would like to share some of the others, a leafhopper and two locusts in this follow up article. These photos were taken between 6th and 13th of March 2018.

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A leafhopper.

Locus Gerald Lim

A Locust.

Caterpillar Gerald Lim

Caterpillar, not sure if it is an Atlas Moth Cat.

Leaf Hopper Gerald Lim

Another locust/grasshopper.

Praying Mantis Gerald Lim

Praying Mantis, its favourite prey.

The Varied Prey for the Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Chick.

The Varied Prey for the Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Chick.

Compiled by Seng Alvin.

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Seng Alvin’s photo showing the parent bringing back a grasshopper.

Between 1996 and 2005, the Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, had not been recorded outside the Central Catchment Forest, Bukit Timah Nature Reserves or Nee Soon Swamp Forest, based on the Annual Bird Census findings. The highest number recorded for each year were six birds, the lowest one and the total of thirty birds for the ten years. These data confirmed that they were not common and were forest specific although they were seen foraging at forest edges at Mandai Lake Road, Bukit Batok Nature Park and Bukit Brown. It is listed as nationally near threatened (Lim 1992). Their population trend since 2001 was declining which was not surprising for a bird of this size.

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The Praying Mantis is their favourite prey either because of its abundance at the park or an easy catch. Photos Top: Art Toh, Bottom Chen Boon Chong.

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Chee Wei-lin’s full portrait of the parent with another Praying Mantis.

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More Praying Mantis prey. Photos Top: Isabella Lee, Bottom: Geoff Lim.

The first sign of their spread outside of the central forests was the presence of a pair at the Western Catchment Forest on 28 October 2006. This may be due to strays from outside Singapore. They have also been recorded as far south as Kent Ridge Park on a few occasions. How much park connectors play in this movement has yet to be studied. Historically, dead specimens were collected from Kranji River, Jurong, Seletar, Sungei Sembawang and Ulu Pandan.

Fat and juicy caterpillars of the largest moth in the world, the Atlas Moth. Photos: Left Esther Ong, Top Right: Edwin Choy, Bottom Right: Calinda Yap.

The most visible nesting records in the past were from the old Mandai Orchid Gardens and along the Mandai Lake Road the early 2000s, followed by one outside the Bukit Timah NR Visitor Centre.

The recent nesting records at Jurong Eco Gardens were a good sign that they are adapting well to nature parks that are close to denser forests, in this case the Western Catchment Forest.

Tan Eng Boo Long Horn Grasshopper

A Katydid prey identified by its long antennae. Photo by Tan Eng Boo.

Early this week, a pair of Chestnut-bellied Malkohas nested in the gardens again. We were concerned about the chances of success as the nest was next to a walking path. But they were able to adapt and brought up one chick successfully, overcoming a mass school running event a few days before fledging.

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One of the smallest prey, a spider. Photo by Chen Boon Chong.

Seng Alvin saw the value of the many closed up images of the parents bringing back food for the chick for a study of their diet. From the many closed up photographs that he managed to compile, the Praying Mantis was their favourite prey, followed by the Atlas Moth caterpillars. It may be a case of the abundance of these two insects at the time. Other insects brought back included Katydid, a spider and large grasshoppers. All these are sizable prey and are rich in proteins, allowing the chick to fledge in the shortest time possible. We hope that such information will help park planning if we want to keep species like this near threatened Malkoha expands across to all our green spaces islandwide.

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A large grasshopper like this will keep the chick full for a while.

We are grateful to Lena Chow for the identity of the insects and prey. Many thanks to Art Toh, Calinda Yap, Chee Wei-Lin, Chen Boon Chong, Edwin Choy, Esther Ong, Geoff Lim, Isabella Lee, Tan Eng Boo, Seng Alvin and Alan OwYong for the use of the photographs.

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

Lim Kim Chuah and Lim Kim Seng. State of Singapore’s Wild Birds and Bird Habitats. A Review of the Annual Bird Census 1996-2005. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore).

A Short History of the Jerdon’s Baza in Singapore.

A Short History of the Jerdon’s Baza in Singapore.

By Alan OwYong and  Tan Gim Cheong.

We are indeed fortunate when a juvenile Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni moved from the northern part of Singapore to the heart of the island at Bishan Park in late February 2018. This raptor has eluded birders and photographers for many years as they make sporadic appearances at Lorong Halus and Tampines Eco Green. Last weekend, it was hunting at Bishan Park from early morning to late afternoon giving many of us our lifers and hundreds of perched, feeding and flight shots.

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An exceptional shot of the Jerdon’s Baza making a low fly pass at Bishan Park captured by Lim Ser Chai. 

But surprisingly this raptor was not recorded in the 1920s to 1990s. One of the reasons may be that it is largely sedentary. We should consider the winter population in Singapore to be true but short distance migrants. They are very rare in Peninsular Malaysia, so the birds we see could have come from north of Chumphon, possibly Northern Thailand, Myanmar or India. Their range includes South India and Southern China down to parts of South East Asia and across to Borneo, Sumatra (breeding recorded) and the Philippines.

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A well taken and nicely framed habitat shot of Jerdon’s Baza by Mettalady Yeo.

It was listed as a rare accidental here, based on only seven records from 1996 to 2008. Our first record was an injured juvenile from Maju Camp at Clementi on 6 December 2002. I remembered someone pointed out the serrated upper mandible as one of the identity features. It was revised when a miss-identified juvenile Blyth’s Hawk Eagle photographed at Bidadari in January 1996 by the late Ong Kiem Sian was re-identified as an adult Jerdon’s Baza.

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Martii Siponen’s photo of a Jerdon’s Baza (left) with an Oriental Whip Snake at Hindhede Quarry.

Between 2006 and 2008, a bunch of records came in from the Lim Chu Kang, Poyan and Choa Chu Kang areas. Con Foley photographed one in flight over the Chinese Gardens in 2007. In 2010, we had several records from the reclaimed land at Changi Cove (Lau JiaSheng et al). These records do point to a case of this species being overlooked in the past. In fact,  Martti Siponen, a keen raptor watcher shot one in flight over Hindhede Quarry in 2010 and kept it filed as a Changeable Hawk Eagle.

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The Jerdon’s Baza is also called a Lizard Hawk, well illustrated by Terence Tan’s dramatic shot of a Changeable Lizard being torn up. 

Most of the recent sightings were at Lorong Halus where up to eight birds were roosting there during the migratory months. Their foraging ground then extended to Tampines Eco Green and the open fields of Pasir Ris Park. My first sighting was at Biopolis at one-north in 2012 where two birds were seen perched by Horst Flotow from his office window. This is also the first for one-north. Last November two were seen flying over Henderson Wave.  Lets hope they will be returning year after year and enjoy our warm weather during the winter months.

(PS. The Jerdon’s Baza was last seen at Bishan Park on 12 March 2018).

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore). Toru Yamazaki. Field Guide to the Raptors of Asia. 2012 Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network. 

Many thanks to Lim Ser Chai, Mettalady Yeo,Martti Siponen and Terence Tan for the use of their photographs.

 

A Witness to a Hunt.

A Witness to a Hunt – Changeable Hawk Eagle. By Thio Hui Bing.

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I was about to leave Lorong Halus on a hot and sunny March day 3rd, 2018, just past midday, when I heard and saw two Changeable Hawk Eagles flying some distance away. I took a few record shots of them. I walk slowly back along the road keeping a lookout for other birds.

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It was then I noticed a dark colored raptor on a tree about 10-20m away on the right side from the road. It was a dark morph Changeable Hawk Eagle, perched on tree branches fairly high up.  It was behaving normally, looking around, just like what raptors do. I took a few photos and video of it. Just when I was about to leave, it suddenly flew down across the road with its legs hanging swooping down into the secondary vegetation.

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The next moment I heard and saw some mynas flying out. I knew the raptor had likely caught a prey. Curiously, I approached with care and wondered if it was still inside. Looking around I managed to see it among the branches some 10m away, on a low perch. I took some more shots of it. It seemed to know that I was watching it. My close presence may have caused it to fly out of the semi thick vegetation to the other side of the road where it was previously.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to get a focused shot even though I got it in frame for flying off with its prey. This time it opted to perch on a branch of tall tree,  probably not wanting to be disturbed. After landing on the tree, it hopped and flew to an even higher tree branch. I could still see it with the backlight,  but not see its prey. I took some shots and video of it plucking the prey’s feathers for records, before leaving it in peace.  What an amazing sight to witness its precision hunting skills.

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NSS Blue and Green Survey 22 Feb 2018

The Nature Society (Singapore) is conducting monthly Marine, Bird and Plant surveys along the North West coast and around the Southern Islands of Singapore. The Blue and Green Alliance between Raffles Marina and Nature Society ( Singapore) is a long standing and significant partnership for the cause of nature protection. We are grateful to Raffles Marina for their continued support and look forward to exciting initiatives together as we celebrate IYOR2018. We started off with the first survey on 22 Feb 2018 on board Lady Olivia, a 38 footer Grand Banks from Raffles Marina.

NSS Blue and White Survey 22 Feb 2018Part of the NSS Survey Team. From left Stephen Beng, Davy Koh, Alan OwYong, Lester Tan and Ong Shean Boon. Photo: Ong Shean Boon and Raffles Marina.

The route covered the coast of the newly reclaimed land slated for the development of the mega Tuas Port across south of Jurong Island towards Pulau Samakau ending at Pulau Jong. We made a stop over at Pulau Hantu on the way back.

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Mega shipyards for VLCC and oil rigs are already operating off the reclaimed land at Tuas.

We were off to a great start with the sighting of a Great-billed Heron feeding off beach next to Raffles Marina. I have seen this heron there in the early 2000s, the first record of this species in the northern part of Singapore.

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Pleased to find this Great-billed Heron feeding off the beach next to Raffles Marina.

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This patch of Casuarinas in the middle of the Tuas reclaimed land will be a migrant trap come September. Had to find a way to get in there, legally of course.

In all we recorded 20 species and one unidentified raptor. The highlight was the Mangrove Whistler at Pulau Hantu. It had gone missing for the past few years. So it was great to see it back at Hantu. The surprise was that we did not see a single tern or shorebird during the trip.

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Good to see the return of the Mangrove Whistler to Pulau Hantu. Only one bird was seen. (Photo: Lester Tan.)

Three more Great-billed Herons were recorded, two off Pulau Salu, where we hope to reconnect with the long lost Beach Stone-Curlew.

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One of the two Great-billed Herons seen off Pulau Salu where the last Beach Stone-curlew held out until 1999.

Terebu Bembang Besar

The highest one day count for the Great-billed Herons at the Southern Islands was 12 by NSSBG on 10.1.1999.  Like most herons, they skimmed the sea surface like this heron off Terebu Bembang Besar.

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Pulau Jong stood out like an emerald isle north of the Western Anchorage. Very little surveys were done here. Hoping to find some rare plants or animals.

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Interesting find on Pulau Jong was this pair of Large-billed Crows. We saw them flying off to Semakau most probably to scavenge on whatever is left from the incinerated garbage.

Jong

Stephen Beng and Davy Koh surveying the reefs off Pulau Jong. 

 Tigertail Seahorse (Hippocampus comes) and Gorgonian Fan Coral ( Gorgonia flabellum). (Photos by Stephen Beng.)

Jong

Lester Tan looking for signs of animal footprints, crabs and rare plants on Pulau Jong. He reported seeing lots of small fishes in the shallow waters and Hermit Crabs on the beach.

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Close up of the coastal vegetation on Pulau Jong. Does anyone know which species of Pandanus is this?

hermit

Hermit Crabs on Pulau Jong ( Photo: Lester Tan).

Checklist of Birds seen on 22 Feb 2018 from Raffles Marina to Pulau Jong
Species              No
Barn Swallow  30+
Swiftlet spp      20+
Javan Myna     15
Spotted Dove   11
Scaly-breasted Munia 8
House Crow     7
Brahminy Kite 6
Grey Heron      6
Great-billed Heron  4
Intermediate Egret  4
Collared Kingfisher 3
White-bellied Sea-eagle   3
Brown-throated Sunbird 3
Black-naped Oriole 3
Striated Heron 2
Large-billed Crow 2
Black-winged Kite 2
Yellow-vented Bulbul 2
Little Egret 1
Mangrove Whistler 1
Unid Raptor 1

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

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

 

Singapore Raptor Report – January 2018

PF,-140118,-KM,-goh-Cheng-Teng,-crop

Peregrine Falcon, juvenile, at Kranji Marshes, on 14 Jan 2018, by Goh Cheng Teng

Summary for migrant species:

In January, 75 raptors of 9 migrant species were recorded. Apart from singles at Coney Island and Pasir Ris Park, a flock of 8 Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni was recorded at Lorong Halus Wetlands on the 20th. The grey morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia found on 9 Dec at Dairy Farm Nature Park was still around on 19 Jan. A juvenile Black Kite Milvus migrans (lineatus), a scarce migrant, was photographed at Bulim Avenue on the 15th and 21st.

A female Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis was still wintering at Ang Mo Kio, while another sub-adult female was photographed at Lorong Halus on the 20th. Only three Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis were recorded: one at Sentosa on the 3rd, one at Tampines Eco Green on the 20th and another at Mount Faber on the 26th, all were juveniles.

Two Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus were recorded, at the usual spots: one at Sungei Buloh – Kranji area and the other at Seletar Dam. Of the four Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus, one juvenile was at Pulau Ubin on the 7th, another juvenile at Jurong West also on the 7th, one at Sungei Buloh – Kranji area on multiple days, and the last one at Seletar Airport on the 27th.

For the Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes, up to 13 were in the Lorong Halus – Tampines area, 2 at Telok Blangah and another 5 at One North. Lastly, a total of 34 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus were recorded in January.

OHB, 020118, AMK, TErence Tan, torquatus tweeddale 2

Oriental Honey Buzzard, torquatus tweeddale morph, at Ang Mo Kio, on 2 Jan 2018, by Terence Tan.

Highlights for sedentary species:

January was a good month for the torquatus form of the Oriental Honey Buzzzard as four of these showed up, all of the tweeddale morph, one at Ang Mo Kio on the 2nd, one at Pasir Ris – Tampines area between the 2nd to 8th, one at Bukit Timah on the 18th, and one at Chinese Garden on the 31st.

The Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus pair at Sentosa was observed breaking off twigs for their nest and feeding on rodents at the beginning of the month; and as the leaves on the tree grew back, their nest high up the upper branches probably became more difficult to observe. Individuals were recorded at Pasir Ris, Mandai, and Telok Blangah, and another three at the Botanic Gardens.

The other sedentary raptors recorded included two Grey-headed Fish Eagle, two Black-winged Kites, nine Changeable Hawk-Eagles and the common White-bellied Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites.

Table 1, revised

Addendum
Changes (highlighted in yellow) include additional records of 1 Brahminy Kite, 2 White-bellied Sea Eagles, 1 Grey-headed Fish Eagle, 2 Changeable Hawk-Eagles and 1 unidentified Accipiter.

For a pdf version (revised) with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – Jan 2018, revised

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong  

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Goh Cheng Teng and Terence Tan for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – January 2018

Band-bellied Crake, 190118, SBG, Meena Vathyam

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

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

Green-backed Flycatcher, 310118, Dillenia Hut, Fryap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Greater Painted Snipe, 140118, Bulim Avenue, Pary Sivaraman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTU: Nanyang Technological University
SICC: Singapore Island Country Club

This report is produced by Tan Gim Cheong and Alan OwYong based on selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from ebird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Meena Vathyam, Francis Yap, Thio Hui Bing, Goh Cheng Teng, Pary Sivaraman, and Art Toh for the the use of their photos.