Tag Archives: Asian Emerald Cuckoo

Singapore Bird Report – March 2020

By Geoff Lim & Isabelle Lee.
and Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

March continued to see the reporting of spectacular species – the 3rd record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo, a male, at Ghim Moh; the continued presence of the 3rd recorded Chinese Blue Flycatcher; and visitation by the globally threatened Chinese Egrets at Pulau Ubin.

Chinese Egret

Chinese Egret, 210320, Chek Jawa, Vincent Ng, crop

A Chinese (left) and Intermediate Egret at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 March 2020 by Vincent Ng

On 16 March 2020, Richard White and Francis Yap was at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin at low tide when Richard spotted a Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes, a rare visitor, on the intertidal zone. The egret continued to frequent the tidal flats on subsequent days, giving many birders a chance to see this globally threatened species in Singapore. T. Ramesh was delighted to spot the egret on 20 March 2020 just before the low afternoon tide and recorded some videos of its active feeding behaviour. On 31 March 2020, Vincent Ng recorded three individuals feeding together. The species was previously reported with a fair degree of regularity at Pulau Tekong only.

According to Dr. Yong Ding Li, “the egret can be tricky to ID, especially if in the non-breeding plumage, and seen from a great distance. But a nicely written article by Nial Moores shows that foraging behaviour can be a great clue towards its identification – especially its more erratic and ‘kancheong‘ movements!” This was also observed by T. Ramesh in his short notes and video.

Asian Emerald Cuckoo

AEC, 230320, Ghim Moh, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan

The Asian Emerald Cuckoo at Ghim Moh, photographed on 23 March 2020 by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan.

Singapore’s third record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus, came in the form of a splendid male. The two earlier records were at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park in May 2006, when an immature and a female appeared, and at Sentosa between late December 2017 and January 2018, when two females appeared. Social media reports indicated that the bird was first discovered on 23 March 2020 along the park connector at Ghim Moh. This bird continued to stay at the location until the end of the month, feeding on the abundant caterpillars that flourished in the trees.

The species is regarded at being of Least Concern and can be found from the Himalayas, through Nepal and Bhutan, NE India, Bangladesh and S China, through Myanmar, NW Thailand, N Laos and N and central Vietnam. During winter, it flies to S India, Sri Lanka, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indochina and Malaysia, with small numbers arriving at Sumatra (Payne, 2020). First reports of the bird arriving at the Penang Botanical Gardens were posted on social media around 16 December 2019 (Kelvin Low), and 19 December 2019 (Chan Kai Soon). Hence, it is possible that the bird encountered in March 2020, may well be a returnee heading back to its northern breeding grounds.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) and Fringe Parks

Chinese Blue FC, 110320, Dillenia, Angela Yeo

The Chinese Blue Flycatcher at CCNR, photographed on 11 March 2020 by Angela Yeo.

The core CCNR continued to support interesting forest species. These included a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus borealoides, which was spotted on 4 March 2020 at Mandai Track 15 by Choong YT, a non-breeding visitor in the form of a Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 8 March 2020, as seen by Lim Kim Chuah, the gem of an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, on 12 March 2020 along Rifle Range Link by Choong YT, and a Mugimaki Flycatcher, Ficedula mugimaki, on 14 March 2020 by John Ascher. Birders and photographers alike continued to be delighted to find the very rare Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis glaucicomans, from 1 March 2020, through to 14 March 2020, as seen by Norhafiani A Majid, and by Geoff Lim on 16 March 2020 (the same individual was first recorded on 25 February 2020). This presents the possibility that the species may be over-wintering in Singapore, albeit undetected.  Up to two Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, were also seen by Geoff Lim and Norman Wu on 16 March 2020.

At Dairy Farm Nature Park an Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, was reported on 4 March 2020 by Steven Cheong. Two owls were reported by Choong YT on 17 March 2020, a Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, (heard only), and a Northern Boobook, Ninox japonica, that was rehabilitated and released by Jurong Bird Park/NParks. About a week later, on 24 March 2020, three Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, were seen and reported by Oliver Tan, while an Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, was reported on 28 March 2020 by Mike Hooper.

Windsor Nature Park proved to fruitful, with a Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, seen on 14 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, a Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, reported on 16 March 2020 by Oliver Tan, and a Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus, seen and reported feeding on starfruit on 18 March 2020 by Kwok Tuck Loong.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

GPS, 060320, SBG, Herman Phua

Greater Painted Snipe at Botanic Gardens photographed on 6 March 2020 by Herman Phua.

A Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, was reported on 2 March 2020 on the Red Brick Path by Kwok Tuck Loong, while a Greater Painted Snipe, Rostatrula benghalensis was seen at the Eco-Lake of the Gardens on 5 March 2020 by Laurence Eu, and subsequently reported until 12 March 2020 (David Fur). During this period, a Von Schrenck’s Bittern, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, was reported on 8 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, while a Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, (possibly the same individual – Singapore’s first record – first seen on 30 November 2019) was reported on 14 March 2020 by Marcel Finlay and on 20 March 2019 by Myron Tay. At the end of the month, a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, was reported on 30 March 2020 by Choong YT. On the fringe of the Gardens, a Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus, was reported from Cluny Road on 5 March 2020 by Sandra Chia.

Taiga FC, 200320, SBG, Myron Tay

Taiga Flycatcher at Singapore Botanic Gardens, taken on 20 March 2020 by Myron Tay.

Central Singapore

Barn Owl, MAr 2020, TPY, David Fur

Eastern Barn Owl at Toa Payoh, photographed by David Fur on 16 March 2020.

Beginning on 11 March 2020, visitors to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park stumbled upon a Mangrove Pitta, Pitta macrorhyncha. First reported by Steve Ang a day after, the bird continued to be reported until 30 March 2020 by Vincent Chin.  This bird represents one of the few rare occurrences on mainland Singapore’s non-mangrove habitats, previous records included one at Singapore Botanic Gardens and two at the Lower Peirce Reservoir boardwalk in 2014, and a recent finding at Woodlands in January 2020. During this period, visitors also reported two Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, on 11 March 2020 (Martin Kennewell). An Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus, was also seen on 28 March 2020 by Angela Christine Chua. At Toa Payoh,  an Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto javanica, was reported on 16 March 2020 by Norman Wu.

Northern Singapore

A Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, was reported on 8 March 2020 from 960 Woodlands Road by Geri Lim, while a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, was reported on 21 March 2020 from Coney Island by Tan Kok Hui.

Eastern Singapore

An Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, was reported from Tampines Eco Garden on 5 March 2020 by Philip Howell, while a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, was seen on 14 March 2020 at Changi Business Park, by T. Ramesh, who also saw a Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, at Bedok North Street 1 on 16 March 2020, and a Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, on 28 March 2020 at Tanah Merah Coastal Road.

The star attraction at Pulau Ubin beginning on 16 March 2020 to the month’s end was the rarely encountered Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes. Also observed at Chek Jawa were a Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, on 18 March 2020 (Fadzrun A), a Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, on 20 March 2020 (Fadzrun A), as well as two Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, on 21 March 2020 (Tay Kian Guan).

Southern Singapore

Malaysian Plover, 190320, ME, Art Toh

Two Malaysian Plovers at Marina East photographed on 19 March 2020 by Art Toh.

One report of a Siberian Blue Robin, Larvivora cyane, was made on 20 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, while a White-throated Needletail, Hirundapus caudacutus, was spotted on 24 March 2020 on Sentosa by Dillen Ng. The Marina East area saw reports of two Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, on 19 March 2020 by Art Toh, a Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, on 28 March 2020 by Russell Boyman, a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 29 March 2020 by Mike Hooper, who also saw two Kentish Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus, and four Malaysian Plover on the same day. At the top of Pinnacle @ Duxton, a juvenile/female Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, was photographed by Angie Cheong on 7 March 2020.

Western Singapore

The Kranji Marshes-Neo Tiew Harvest Lane-Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 area continued to support a good number of species. Beginning with Kranji Marshes, we received sighting reports of eight White-shouldered Starling, Sturnia sinensis, on 7 March 2020 from Lau Jia Sheng. Also seen were two Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus, and a single Red Avadavat, Amandava amandava, on 8 March 2020 by Martti Siponen, who also spotted two Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, on 21 March 2020. One Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was seen on 29 March 2020, as was an Ashy Minivet, Pericrocotus divaricatus, by Martin Kennewell.

Over at the monsoon drain running somewhat parallel to Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, one Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius, and a White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, were spotted on 23 March 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy, who also spotted a Greater Painted-Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, on 27 March 2020. A Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, which was earlier reported at the site in January and February 2020, continued to be seen on 8 March 2020 by Vincent Chang and on 29 March 2020 by Michael Leong.

Ruddy KF, 080320, LCKL3, Vincent Chang

Ruddy Kingfisher at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 photographed on 8 March 2020 by Vincent S S Chang.

Along the fields at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, a Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, was spotted on 14 March 2020 by Martin Kennewell, while a Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, was reported on 15 March 2020 by Russell Boyman. Several days later, two Oriental Pratincole, Glareola maldivarum, were reported on 27 March 2020 by Raghav Narayanswamy. At the nearby Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a  Black Baza, Aviceda leuphotes, was spotted on 28 March 2020 by Martti Siponen, while the resident Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, was observed on 30 March 2020 by Peter Bijlmakers.

Brahminy Starling, 010320, JLG, Art Toh

Brahminy Starling at Jurong Lake Garden on 1 March 2020, photographed by Art Toh.

The Brahminy Starling, Sturnia pagodarum, at Jurong Lake Garden continued to be seen, with a record on 1 March 2020 by Art Toh. Apart from the afore mentioned Asian Emerald Cuckoo on 23 March 2020, we also noted reports of a Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra at King Albert Park by Martin Kennewell, as well as a  Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis, on the same day at Ulu Pandan Park Connector by Oliver Tan. Two days later, an Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus, was reported from Ulu Pandan Park Connector as well, by Sylvester Goh.


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 Art Toh, Angela Yeo, David Fur, Herman Phua, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, Myron Tay,  Vincent Chang, and Vincent Ng for allowing us to use their photographs.


Payne, R. B. (2020). Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.asecuc1.01

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

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


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

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

Dean Tan

Siberian Thrush from Dairy Farm. Photo: Dean Tan

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

brown-streaked-fc-18-8-17-prp-francis-yap (2)

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

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

Zappey's Khong Yew

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

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


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

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

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



Singapore Bird Report – December 2017

Singapore Bird Report-December 2017

The birding community could not ask for a better ending for the year. A national first (pending review by Record’s Committee), a second record after 11 years and several rare winter visitors gave many of us our year end lifers.

BW Fadhil

First photo of the “Booted Warbler” taken on 4th by Muhd Fadhil of NParks. 

Martin Kennewell was quick to alert us on an odd looking tree warbler at Kranji Marshes on 9th. After much consultation with overseas friends, the consensus is a Booted Warbler Iduna caligata, a long way from its wintering grounds in India and Sri Lanka. Muhd. Fadhil, an Nparks staff first photographed it on 4th. It is still there during the first week of January. Our thanks to Martin and Fadhil. 

Esther Ong

The photo that started the frenzy. Esther Ong’s photo of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo taken on 23rd December. 

While looking for the Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus, at Sentosa’s Siloso Park on 23th, Tuck Loong, Esther Ong and friends spotted a female Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus, feeding on the caterpillars on a bare Ficus superba there. Our first record for this non-breeding visitor was on 31 May 2006 at Seletar Reservoir Park. Incredibly a second female was reported six days later at the same tree feeding together. It stayed until 3rd January when all the caterpillars were gone, long enough for all of us to add a national tick to our list. A rare Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was also spotted there on 23rd (Lim Kim Chuah & Seng Beng) and along the Skywalk in following days.

Choon How

The rare Yellow-browed Warbler spent a week wintering along the Skywalk at Sentosa, giving many photographers a great chance to shoot this at eye level. Photo: Low Choon How.

The month started with a rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia returning to the same tree at DFNP on 1st. Another, a grey morph also returned on the 9th (Luke Milo Teo). Earlier in the year, on 10th Jan 2017, both of them were seen on the same tree there, a case of site fidelity assuming they were the same owls. Lena Chow got a first for Bukit Batok with a sighting of a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka, there on 1st. Another Grey Nightjar was back at Bidadari on 17th (Tan Kok Hui). At least 5 Eastern-crowned Warblers Phylloscopus coronatus, were counted at Upper Peirce Reservoir on 14th by Veronica Foo. An uncommon Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus, was videoed at PRP on 20th by Marc Ng.


Portrait of a rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl taken at DFNP by Luke Milo Teo.

Several rare flycatchers were still stopping over this month. Two Ferruginous Flycatchers Muscicapa ferruginea at DFNP on 1st (Oliver Tan), with another on 28th at RRL (Goh Cheng Teng and Lester Tan), our third of the season, a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata at Lower Peirce Reservoir on 5th (Basil Chia), a dead Blue and White/ Zappey’s from SGH on 13th (David Tan) and another 1st winter Blue and White Cyanoptila cyanomelana, male at Siloso on 30th (Tan Kok Hui and Co), the rare Green-backed Ficedula elisae, at CCNR on 5th (David Gibson) and a female at RRL on 23th (Alan OwYong and Lim Kim Keang), ending with a Mugimaki Ficedula mugimaki, at Siloso on 27th by Martin Kennewell.

Green-backed Flycatcher

The rare Green-backed Flycatcher resting at the Central Catchment Forest. Photo by Alan OwYong taken at Rifle Range Link. 

The cuckoos made a great showing this month in part due to the caterpillars on the bare ficus at Sentosa. Spotted there were 2 Chestnut-winged Cuckoos Clamator coromandus, one adult and one juvenile Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus, one juvenile and one adult Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides, a Malaysian Hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax and a Hodgson’s Hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor. A Hodgon’s was also photographed at Bishan Park on 8th by Terence Tan, a Malaysian Hawk-cuckoo at Healing Gardens on 14th by Laurence Eu, a dead Indian Cuckoo at NUS on 29th found by Yong Ding Li and a wintering Chestnut-winged Cuckoo at the SBG. 

Mark Itol

Mark Itol’s eye level shot of the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo wintering at the SBG.

Migrant thrushes, a favourite with the birders and photographers, showed up at Hindhede NP with the rare Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica on 5th (Oliver Tan), an Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus, at Bukit Brown on 14th (Marcel Finlay) and the Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina returning to the SBG on 26th (Goh Cheng Teng and Lester Tan).

Siew Mun

Siew Mun’s Baillon’s Crake taken at Satay by the Bay, a first for the gardens.

The visiting waterbirds reported this month include a Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis at Hampstead Gardens (Veronica Foo) and SBTB (Heather Gossels) both on 8th, Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus at SBG on 9th (Martin Kennewell and Richard Carden), a Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus, photographed flying over Changi Coastal Road by Goh Cheng Teng also on the 9th, a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla, at the SBTB on 17th (Siew Mun), 2 Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea on 18th, one at Japanese Gardens (Philip Toh) and the other found injured at Pasir Laba Camp by Daniel Ng. One of the largest flock of Oriental Pratincoles Glareola maldivarum, over 200 was seen flying over Turuk Track on 17th by Yong Ding Li.

MNH Goh Cheng Teng

Is this the first photograph of a Malayan Night Heron in flight taken in Singapore?. Photo: Goh Cheng Teng.

The uncommon Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata, was reported at Neo Tiew Lane 3 on 17th by Francis Yap and another back wintering at WCP on 21st. On the same day a dead Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca was found dead along Allenbrooke Road at Sentosa by Wahidah Dayanara.

Francis Yap 2

A much sought-after and very skittish Black-capped Kingfisher well hidden at Neo Tiew Lane 3.  Photo: Francis Yap. 

Notable shorebirds for the month include 2 globally threatened Great  Knot Calidris tenuirostris, at Chek Jawa on 6th (Lim Kim Keang) and Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta, at Tekong on 23rd (Frankie Cheong).

Resident species of interest include Plume-toed Swiftets Collocalia affinis and Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis, at SBG on 5th by See Toh Yew Wai and 8th by Zacc respectively, a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax at Eco Lake on 9th by Martin Kennewell, Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis at Telok Blangah Walkway on 12th by James Tann and a White-rumped Munia Lonchura striatabelow KRP canopy walk on 15th by Marc Ng. Its wild status is in question.


Not an easy swift to see over our skies. an Asian Palm Swift shot over Eco Lake by Mohamad Zahidi (Zacc HD).

An uncommon Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was spotted at SBTB by Tan Eng Boo on 19th. On the same day, Lim Kim Seng came across the long introduced Chinese Hwamei at Sentosa. It went missing for a large part of the year. The Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster at Pekan Quarry at Pulau Ubin picked out by Deborah Friets on 26th ends this report. Happy New Year and Good Birding 2018!                             

PS. A late record from Thio Hui Bing of another Oriental Darter seen at the Singapore Quarry on the 26 Dec suggested that there were two birds here. It is also the first for that location.

Location Abbreviations: DFNP Dairy Farm Nature Park, PRP Pasir Ris Park, NUS National University of Singapore, SBTB Satay by The Bay, WCP West Coast Park, KRP Kent Ridge Park and RRL Rifle Range Link.


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

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

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

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums, 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 Muhd Fadhil, Esther Ong, Low Choon How, Luke Milo Teo, Alan OwYong, Mark Itol, Siew Mun, Goh Cheng Teng, Francis Yap and Mohamad Zahidi for the the use of their photos. Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you find errors in these records.



A Christmas Cuckoo Present

A Christmas Cuckoo Present by Alan OwYong and Yong Ding Li.

Lim Kim Seng reported the sighting of the Chinese Hwamei at Siloso on the 19th December.  There has been no reports of this naturalised laughingthrush for a good part of the year. This led to Tuck Loong, Esther Ong and others to go and look for it on 23rd December.

They not only got the Chinese Hwamei but hit the jackpot when Tuck Loong spotted a small cuckoo perched high up on a high bare tree. From some of the early photographs taken, it looked like a possible candidate for a female Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus.



Our Christmas present the female Asian Emerald Cuckoo turning up at Sentosa on 23rd December. 

Subsequent photographs obtained the next day confirmed their finding, effectively giving the whole birding community a timely Christmas present. All those who made the trip to the Siloso Skywalk over the following week went home happy with their tick.


Ticking our presents, all the happy birders and photographers at Siloso Skywalk on Christmas Eve.

The bare tree in question is the Deciduous Fig Ficus superba, a fig species known to shed its leaves periodically. When the new shoots and leaves started to sprout, the Tussock Moths presumably the Clearwing, Perina sunda took full advantage of this by laying thousands of eggs on the tree. The result was an outbreak of it’s caterpillars. There were so many caterpillars that large congregations of them were to be seen on the ground, railings and nearby structures.


The caterpillars of the Tussock Moths on the Ficus Superba attracted five species of cuckoos, an occurrence we  not witnessed before. 

It was this massive supply of food in the form of tussock moth caterpillars that attracted the cuckoos. The Asian Emerald Cuckoo, a rare migrant to the Malay Peninsula, naturally caused the most excitement as this would otherwise be the second record of the species for Singapore.  Another female cuckoo was sighted on the 29th December, and concurrent observations of both individuals confirmed that there were at least two Asian Emerald Cuckoos around, which is unprecedented! Other cuckoos partaking in this caterpillar feast included at least two Large Hawk Cuckoos, two Indian Cuckoos, two Chestnut-winged Cuckoos, and one Hodgson’s and Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo each. Other uncommon migratory birds seen in the secondary forest around the site included a Crow-billed Drongo, at least two Yellow-browed Warblers and a first winter male Blue-and-white/Zappey’s Flycatcher (Cyanoptila sp.).

Our first record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo was a sub-adult female and juvenile observed at Seletar Reservoir Park on 31st May 2006. K.C. Tsang was the one who photographed them. Some of the diagnostic features were unclear in the photographs which resulted in conflicting identification answers from regional bird experts even after some consultation. The deliberations and discussions at the Records Committee went back and forth for two years before it was eventually included in the official NSS Checklist as a national first. There were two earlier records of females, both were turned out to be mis-identified Violet Cuckoos.

The Asian Emerald Cuckoo is widely distributed across the lower hills of the Himalayas (where it occurs as a summer visitor), eastward to southern China (Yunnan north to Sichuan) and much of continental Southeast Asia. There are few records in the Malay Peninsula and elsewhere in the Greater Sundas (e.g. Sumatra) where it probable occurs as a rare non-breeding visitor during the months of the northern winter. 

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