Kranji Marshes was the top location for rarity sightings this month starting with a rare passage migrant, an Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus picked out by Martin Kennewell on 11th from among the high flying Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica and Aerodramus Swiftlets. This also sets a new late date for the few spring records we have.
An unusual open shot of a Baillon’s Crake at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell.
Later in the month on 26th, Martin photographed an uncommon visiting Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla in the canal there. A rare Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, a former resident was counted during the Annual Bird Census on 4th by Martin and Con Foley, and Martin followed up with a sighting of the shy White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea the next day. The other rare find outside Kranji this month was the Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisea encountered by Lim Kim Seng on 22nd at Jelutong Tower.
Other migrants reported passing through were a Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea at the Buona Vista MRT canal on 7th by Andrew Chow and another at Lower Peirce on 4th and 10th (Marcel Finlay) and Oriental Pratincoles Glarela maldivarum at Marina Barrage on 5th (Zacc HD). A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka was seen by Lim Kim Keang at the Rifle Range Link on 11th. The male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia spotted by Veronica Foo at Labrador Nature Reserve on 17th has a very nice orange flush across its chest unlike the autumn birds. While the male that Lim Kim Keang saw at Pulau Ubin on 22nd was in song, something we only hear during Spring. So were the Eastern-crowned Warblers Phylloscopus coronatus that were wintering at DFNP this month (Martin Kennewell). Martin also came across a small group of Eye-browed Thrushes Turdus obscurus there. He counted six to seven birds from 21st to end of the month.
One of the more colorful cuckoos, the Chestnut-winged photographed by Lim Kim Seng at Halus.
Several migrating cuckoos were reported this month starting with the Chest-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus at Lorong Halus on 4th by Lim Kim Seng, followed by another record at Pulau Ubin on 10th sent in by Jacky Soh.
Two Large Hawk-Cuckoos Hierococcyx sparverioides, first from SBG on 7th seen by Luce Sam and again on 18th at Healing Gardens by Laurence Eu, the other along the ECP near the Sailing Club on 16th by Roland Lim.
Bidadari is still a favourite rest stop for visiting cuckoos. This juvenile Large Hawk-Cuckoo (left) was photographed there recently by Richard White.
A male Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was seen flying over Jelutong Tower on 12th by Adrian Silas Tay, another over Petai Trail on 3rd (Marcel Finlay) and two different Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoos Surniculus lugubris at Jurong Eco Garden on 25th (James Tann) and at Petai Trail on 12th (Marcel Finlay). These two may be winter visitors but we do have a resident population as well. Two resident cuckoos reported were a female Plantive Cacomantis merulinus from the Chinese Gardens on 4th (Siew Mun), another Plantive at the GBTB on 15th (Alan OwYong) and a Little Bronze Chrysococcyx minutillus at Kranji Marshes on 9th (Andrew Chow)
We had only one report of a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida from the CCNR by Marcel Finlay. This one was sighted along Petai Trail on 8th. A Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis was reported at DFNP on 30th by Martin Kennewell. Khong Yew photographed an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca at the SBG on 27th. It was passing through.
Scanning the open skies proofed profitable with some great finds. Francis Yap had a Pacific Swift Apus pacificus on migration flying over his favorite Jelutong Tower on 8th, while Alan OwYong picked out the smallish resident Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis hawking insects over the SBG on 11th.
A really difficult species to photograph, the fast flying Brown-backed Needletail captured by Keita Sin from the BTNR summit on 21st.
Not to be outdone Keita Sin reported the passage of a fast flying Brown-backed Needtail Hirundapus giganteus across BTNR summit on 21st. This uncommon visitor was also recorded by Martin Kennewell over at DFNP on 23rd. Two birds were seen there. On the last day of the month Martin sent in a report of Glossy Swiftlets Collocalia esculenta flying over DFNP. He also reported a House Swift Apus nipalensis over at the SBG on 24th. Sightings of House Swifts are now getting more frequent which is a good sign.
Coming back to ground, two hard to see Lanceolated Warblers Locustella lanceolata were reported at Seletar End on 10th (Marin Kennewell), A Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola at the GBTB was spotted by John Spencer on 11th. This is a new record for GBTB. Several Black-browed Warblers Acrocephalus bistrigiceps were also hiding there on 15th (Alan OwYong). Another Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler was reported to be wintering at the small marsh garden at the Sport Hub for most of the month (Marcel Finlay).
Two male Kentish Plovers in breeding plumage wintering at Marina Barrage.
Shorebirds still wintering here include Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus (two males in breeding plumage and one female) at Marina Barrage on 10th (Alan OwYong), a male dealbatus subspecies of the Kentish Plover, sometimes known as “White-faced Plover“ C. a. dealbatus on 11th (Robin Tan) and an Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata at Pulau Tekong on 9th (Frankie Cheong).
Venus Loop is one of the few locations where the Red-legged Crake can be encountered. Photo by Lee Chuin Ming on 13th March at Venus Loop.
Resident species of note came from Sister’s Island where a Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana was reported by Timothy Chua on 11th, another at Seletar Dam on 11th (Marcel Finlay), two Red-legged Crakes Rallina fasciata and three pairs of forest specialist Short-tailed Babblers Malcocincla malaccensis (22nd) at Petai Trail (Marcel Finlay) and Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji at Labrador NP on 26th (Abel Yeo). This could be a new record for Labrador.
Two nestings were reported. Black-winged Kites Elanus caeruleus at NTL 2 with three chicks that were about to fledge on 5th by Alfred Chia and Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis at PRP by Lim Kim Keang. Eggs belonging to Greater Painted Snipe Rostraula benghalensis at Seletar were unfortunately predated as per report on 10th (Martin Kennewell) robbing us the chance of documenting the breeding of this uncommon resident snipe for the first time.
Less common Slaty-breasted Rail are most at home among the marshy areas at Kranji. Siew Mun photographed this there on 13th March.
The only crashed record was that of a rare migrant Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia hitting a glass panel at SDE Foyer at NUS on 9th (Cheryl Lee). A road kill identified as a Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus along Neo Tiew Road was reported by Chua Yen Kheng of NParks on 11th. This is compensated by the sightings at Kranji Marshes on 13th by Siew Mun and two juveniles rails at Bishan Park by Andrew Tan on 22nd.
Ending this month’s report were the Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster returning to Ketam Quarry at Ubin on 22nd and a Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis seen at Bishan Park on 17th. At least one Black Drongos Dicrurus macrocercus that were wintering at Seletar last month was still around on 12th. All three records from Lim Kim Keang.
Legend. DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park, ECP: East Coast Parkway, GBTB: Gardens by the Bay, CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore).
Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. 2013. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited.
Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.
This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records especially Martin Kennewell and Marcel Finlay for their personal lists. Many thanks to Martin Kennewell, Lim Kim Seng, Richard White, Keita Sin, Alan OwYong, Lee Chuin Ming and Siew Mun for the use of their photos. Please notify firstname.lastname@example.org if you find errors in these records.