A nigrescens Ashy Drongo at Punggol Waterfront.
By Alan OwYong.
I was shooting the Austral migrant Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo with friends on 6 June morning along the Punggol Waterfront Promenade when a darkish drongo flew over our heads. The first thing I noticed was the forked tail without rackets. It later returned to perch high up on the dry twigs some distance away. Some of us took a few record shots.
Later, I managed to get a few heavily backlit shots when it came closer and perched on top of a Sea Almond tree. In the afternoon Terence Tan got some better side shots of it lower down from inside the forest.
Terence Tan’s side profile shot of the Ashy Drongo from inside the forest.
From the photos, I posted it as a Black Drongo, Dicrurus macrocerus, a migrant which should have left last month. Thanks to Dave Bakewell’s ever vigilance, he corrected the ID to a nigrescens Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus, a resident race of Peninsular Malaysia and Southern Thailand. Tou Jing Yi agreed and was kind enough to elaborate on its distinguishing features “lack of white spot on base of bill, long forked tail, very slender base on tail, non-glossy plumage that is not jet black but somehow greyish, these were all signs of an Ashy Drongo, the resident subspecies for the region, primarily resides mangrove areas in Peninsular Malaysia.
As we are more familiar with the lighter plumaged migratory Salagensis and Leucogenis races of Ashy Drongos here, it did not occur to us that this is an Ashy. The extreme dates for these two migrants are 15 October to 13 May.
The last record of a nigrescens was at West Coast Park on 17 January 2004 ( SINAV 18.1). It is not difficult to overlook this particular race as the Black or the Greater Racket-tailed since some field marks are a little similiar. The movements of these three races of the Ashy Drongos need further studies and any records old or new are welcome. So now we have a new date for this non-breeding visitor to Singapore.
Reference: Lim Kim Seng. Avifauna of Singapore 2009 Nature Society (Singapore).
Many thanks to Dave Bakewell and Tou Jing Yi with the help on the ID and Terence Tan for the use of his photo.