Tag Archives: Band-bellied Crake

Singapore Bird Report – April 2019

by Geoff Lim, Alan Owyong (compiler), & Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

April continues to see the exodus of migratory species, while residents breed, nest and raise their young. This month also sees the appearance of the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike at a previously unrecorded location.

BWFCS, Jan 2018, Jelutong, Thio Hb

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike from Jelutong Tower taken on 20 January 2018 by Thio Hui Bing.

New Location for Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike

A Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus was spotted during the early morning hours of 22 April 2019 by Fadzrun Adnan at the Dairy Farm Nature Park. Here is Fadzrun’s own narrative of how he stumbled upon the bird:

On the morning of 22nd April, I dropped by Dairy Farm Nature Park hoping to see the scarce Jambu Fruit Dove. When I came to the False Curry Trees, the trees were indeed bearing fruit but the target bird refused to make any appearance at such an early hour. I turned around to have a better look at the clumsy Red-crowned Barbet that was feeding just above the corner of the Wallace Education Centre. As I was admiring the bird and chatting away with a fellow birder, a most inconspicuous but clearly black-and-white bird flew in to perch on some tall snags. A brief view on the binoculars showing the black upperparts and the white underparts readily confirmed its identity as the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, a rare visitor to our forests. That sharp black-white delineation on the face is unmistakeable! 

From my experience with this species in Malaysia, this flycatcher-sized bird with a rather slim appearance keeps strictly to the canopy. It may occasionally descend to mid-storey to prey on insects. It is most easily seen when it perches quietly on some sparse snags, just as how I came across one that morning. It was rather unfortunate that the bird soon went out of sight just as some other birders hastily arrived, hoping to have a glimpse of this elusive bird.

Prior to this, this rare visitor was seen only at two other locales – Jelutong Tower, within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, and at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin. The Jelutong sightings occurred on 11 February 2013 (Chan Tsan Tsai and Geoff Lim), on 23 August 2013 (Francis Yap), and 20 January 2018 (Martin Kennewell, Thio Hui Bing and Richard Carden). The Ubin sightings occurred on 28 June 2015, seen by by visiting German birdwatcher, Wolfgang Kraemer, and on 6 May 2018 by Lim Kim Seng during the Comprehensive Ubin Biodiversity Survey (CUBS). The bird was formally accepted into the Singapore list in 2013.

Wells (2009: 107 – 109) noted that the species is generally a loner, though they occur more commonly in pairs and less often in small parties. A lowland species that does not venture beyond 300m above sea level, the Flycatcher-shrike is more often found in the high open canopies of forests and tops of forest edge growth along clearings, logging tracks and other edge habitats. Generally known to be a gleaner that picks off small arthropods from the underside of leaves, the species also flies short sorties to snap at airborne prey before returning to the same perch.

Wells (2009: 109) suggested that evidence from observations of nest building, eggs and nestling suggests that egg laying occurs between February and July. Figure 1 provides a graphic representation of the sightings so far across the months of the year. While the sightings from April onwards could be possibly due to a post-breeding dispersal from Malaysia, the occurrences in January and February weaken this theory. Only time will tell whether these sightings are of non-breeding visitors from the north, or come from a local breeding population.

Figure 1

The following photographs from previous sightings in 2013 and 2018 serve to illustrate  Well’s points about the bird being mostly alone, and is usually perched in the open canopies of forests and vegetation along forest edge environments.

BWFCS, 2013, Jelutong, Chan Tsan Tsai

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike from Jelutong Tower taken on 11 February 2013 by Chan Tsan Tsai

BWFCS, Aug 2013, Jelutong, Fryap

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike from Jelutong Tower taken on 23 August 2013 by Francis Yap showing how dimunitive the bird is

Central Catchment, BTNR, DFNP & Bukit Brown

Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) remains one of the more accessible and productive parks located at the fringes of the CCNR. During the month of April 2019, several resident and migratory species were spotted within the park. Besides Fadzrun’s Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, a Jambu Dove Ptilinopus jambu was spotted on 5 April 2019 by Lim Kim Seng, as was a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus on 6 April 2019 by Martin Kennewell. The park also yielded a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica on 19 April 2019 by YT Choong, a first for this year’s spring. A Common Iora Aegithinia tiphia was seen nesting on 24 April 2019 by Alan Owyong, while a juvenile male Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati was spotted on 27 April 2019 by Khong Yew.

Further afield, we had a report of a Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane at Lower Pierce Trail on 5 April 2019 by Mei Hwang, while a Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata was spotted on 8 April 2019 at Upper Seletar by Lian Yee Ming. A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus was reported at the Jungle Trail of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 13 April 2019 by Kevin Choo; the bird was apparently present at this location since 30 March 2019. A Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis was also spotted at the Singapore Quarry pond on 14 April 2019 by Betty Shaw. During the Good Friday holiday on 19 April 2019, a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides was heard calling beyond the stream next to Dillenia Hut by Yong Ding Li and Geoff Lim. The duo later joined Francis Yap and other birders to observe three Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps flying around the trees; one of which was a juvenile. A Pacific Swift Apus pacificus was spotted at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 25 April 2019 by Richard White, while a Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus was seen at Bukit Brown on 27 April 2019 by Alvin Tan, a new location for this species of owl in Singapore.

BH Bulbul, 200419, Jelutong, Raymond Siew Kung Kiet

A Black-headed Bulbul taken on 21 April 2019 from Jelutong Tower by Raymond Siew Kung Kiet.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula xanthopygia was spotted at the Learning Forest on 7 April 2019 by Geoff Lim, who subsequently saw a  White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata at the Bambusetum on 21 April 2019.

YRFC, 070419, SBG, Geoff Lim

A Yellow-rumped Flycatcher seen on 7 April 2019 at the Learning Forest by Geoff Lim.

Central Singapore

Inter-specific interaction between a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus and an Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus was observed on 4 April 2019 at Haig Road by Dawn Teo. The Falcon attacked the larger bird, which managed to escape.

PF, OHB, 040419, Haig Rd, Dawn Teo

Aerial combat between a Peregrine Falcon and Oriental Honey Buzzard captured by Dawn Teo over Haig Road on 4 April 2019.

A few days later on 7 April 2019, a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata was seen at Bidadari, while David Tan reported that a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis was found to have expired at the foot of a building on 13 April 2019 at Lorong Lew Lian, the first spring collision for 2019.

BWP, David Tan

The first spring collision casualty for 2019 – a Blue-winged Pitta recovered from Lorong Lew Lian on 13 April 2019 by David Tan.

Eastern Singapore

The eastern islands continue to be a haven for birds due to their relatively pristine condition. Several Pulau Ubin residents were seen. On 4 April 2019, a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was seen by Kelvin Ng and Michael Phua, a Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus was seen on 7 April 2019, while a Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha was spotted on 20 April 2019 by Goh Zai Fa.  

Pasir Ris and its environs also attracted several species of good birds, such as a male Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki at Pasir Ris Park on 4 April 2019, up to 33 Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocynus javanica at Pasir Ris Industrial Park area on 5 April 2019 by Alfred Chia, an oddly displaced Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus on 7 April 2019 at Pasir Ris Farmway 3 by Adrian Silas Tay, and three Black-naped Terns Sterna sumatrana off Pasir Ris Park on 28 April 2019 by Norhafiani A Majid.

Further afield, we received a report of an Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus at Tampines Eco Green, which was spotted by Willam Mahoney on 28 April 2019, while David Tan brought the tragic news of Singapore’s third record of a Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykulli found dead on 29 April 2019, possibly 2-3 days after colliding with a window at Temasek Polytechnic. Also, a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus was seen at Hougang Avenue 1 by Francis Chia on 30 April 2019.

BBC, 290419, Temasek Poly, found by Sunny Tan, pic by David Tan (3rd record)

The third record of the Band-bellied Crake in Singapore, found expired at Temasek Polytechnic on 29 April 2019 and collected by David Tan.

Southern Singapore

An Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti was heard on 9 April 2019 at the Mount Imbiah Trail on Sentosa by John Marriott, while a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was spotted on 15 April 2019 by Isabelle Lee. Three Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa, along with a Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchus on 17 April 2019 at Gilman Barracks by Alan Owyong. An adult male Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus was seen on 24 April 2019 by Tay Kian Guan.

Western Singapore

A number of species were encountered at West Coast Park during the first week of April 2019. A male Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei with an elongated tail was spotted on 4 April 2019 by Vincent Ng, while another bird without long tail streamers was seen on the same day by Veronica Foo, who also spotted a Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata and a dark morph Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra. On the next day, 5 April 2019, a solitary Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti was spotted within the Marsh Garden by Alan Owyong, while a Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris was spotted by Siew Mun within the park grounds.

Veteran birder, Alan Owyong, braved the wet fields around Bulim Drive on 3 April and spotted one male and three female Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis. He also heard five cryptic Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata, a species which is extremely difficult to see in the wild.

Few birders ventured to the vicinity around Kranji Marsh. Those who did on 7 and 10 April 2019 reported spotting the Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans; one bird was seen on the 7th at Harvest Lane by Jayden Kwek, while two were spotted on the 10th by Tan Eng Boo along Turut Track.

Asian Openbill, 150419, Turut Track, Tan Eng Boo

Two Asian Openbills at Turut Track on 15 April 2019 and photographed by Tan Eng Boo.

A stone’s throw away at SBWR yielded a white morph Asian-type Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone sp. with a long tail on 13 April 2019, which was spotted by Leong Peng Chor, while a Banded Woodpecker Chrysophlegma miniaceum was seen on 19 April 2019 by Kenneth Kee.

Some birders venturing into the western end of Singapore were amply rewarded. A Barred Button Quail Turnix suscitator and a Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda were spotted on 7 April 2019 at Tuas South by Fadzrun Adnan and Martin Kennewell; while a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was seen on 16 April 2019 inside a construction site at Gul Circle by John Marshall.

Towards the end of the month, an Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii delighted bird photographer Tuck Loong when he stumbled upon the bird in the lotus pond at Japanese Garden on 28 April 2019.

IPH, Tuck Loong

An Indian Pond Heron at Japanese Garden on 28 April 2019 and photographed by Tuck Loong.

=======================================================

Pelagic 

Two Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuiroistris were spotted on 28 April 2019 along the Straits of Singapore by Martin Kennewell and friends. Note that pelagic sightings might not be in Singapore waters.

STSW, 280419, Sg straits, Feroz

One of two Short-tailed Shearwater seen on 28 April 2019 along the Singapore Straits and photographed by Feroz.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is written by Geoff Lim based on listings compiled by Alan OwYong, 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 Chan Tsan Tsai, Francis Yap, Thio Hui Bing, Raymond Siew Kung Kiet, Geoff Lim, Dawn Teo, David Tan, Tan Eng Boo, Tuck Loong and Feroz  for the use of their photos. 

 Reference:
Wells, D. R. (2009). The Birds of Thai-Malay Peninsula. Vol. 2. Passerines. London: Academic Press. 

List of Species seen:

Family Species Date
Anatidae Lesser Whistling Duck 5 Apr 2019
Procellariidae Short-tailed Shearwater 28 Apr 2019
Ciconiidae Asian Openbill 7 Apr 2019
Asian Openbill 10 Apr 2019
Ardeidae Von Schrenck’s Bittern 6 Apr 2019
Black Bittern 14 Apr 2019
Indian Pond Heron 28 Apr 2019
Pacific Reef Heron 4 Apr 2019
Accipitridae Crested Serpent Eagle 4 Apr 2019
Crested Serpent Eagle 15 Apr 2019
Rallidae Band-bellied Crake 29 Apr 2019
Turnicidae Barred Button Quail 7 Apr 2019
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 3 Apr 2019
Laridae Black-naped Tern 28 Apr 2019
Columbidae Jambu Fruit Dove 5 Apr 2019
Cuculidae Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 13 Apr 2019
Drongo Cuckoo 5 Apr 2019
Strigidae Barred Eagle-Owl 7 Apr 2019
Barred Eagle-Owl 7 Apr 2019
Barred Eagle-Owl 27 Apr 2019
Apodidae Pacific Swift 25 Apr 2019
Alcedinidae Ruddy Kingfisher 7 Apr 2019
Black-capped Kingfisher 4 Apr 2019
Black-capped Kingfisher 8 Apr 2019
Picidae Banded Woodpecker 19 Apr 2019
Falconidae Peregrine Falcon 5 Apr 2019
Peregrine Falcon 30 Apr 2019
Pittidae Hooded Pitta 16 Apr 2019
  Blue-winged Pitta 14 Apr 2019
  Mangrove Pitta 20 Apr 2019
Tephrodornithidae Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike 22 Apr 2019
Aegithinidae Common Iora 24 Apr 2019
Laniidae Tiger Shrike 24 Apr 2019
Dicruridae Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo 7 Apr 2019
Monarchidae Amur Paradise Flycatcher 4 Apr 2019
Amur Paradise Flycatcher 4 Apr 2019
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher 7 Apr 2019
Asian-type Paradise Flycatcher sp 13 Apr 2019
Corvidae Large-billed Crow 17 Apr 2019
Pycnonotidae Black-headed Bulbul 19 Apr 2019
Phylloscopidae Sakhalin Leaf Warbler 19 Apr 2019
Eastern Crowned Warbler 28 Apr 2019
Locustellidae Lanceolated Warbler 3 Apr 2019
Pellorneidae Abbott’s Babbler 5 Apr 2019
Abbott’s Babbler 9 Apr 2019
Sturnidae Common Hill Myna 17 Apr 2019
Muscicapidae Dark-sided Flycatcher 21 Apr 2019
Siberian Blue Robin 5 Apr 2019
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 7 Apr 2019
Mugimaki Flycatcher 4 Apr 2019
Chloropseidae Greater Green Leafbird 27 Apr 2019
Estrildidae White-rumped Munia 21 Apr 2019

Singapore Bird Report – March 2018

The month of March yielded some spectacular surprises – an amazing vagrant that looks good to become Singapore’s first record of the Indian Paradise Flycatcher, a nesting Chestnut-bellied Malkoha pair in Jurong Eco-Garden (JEG) and a young Jerdon’s Baza that stayed at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park over one weekend. Migrants continue to be reported throughout the month.

IPFC Feroz

Indian Paradise Flycatcher at SBWR on 23 March 2018, by Feroz Fizah.

A mixed report of resident and migratory species trickled into our consciousness during the first week of March. A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus was spotted on 1 March 2018 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) by Nosherwan Sethna, while Alan Owyong was greeted by a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus when he crested the summit of Bukit Timah Hill; he earlier spotted a Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris while ascending the summit. Slightly further afield and on the same day, Martin Kennewell spotted an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina, Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji and Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus along Dairy Farm Loop.

The first Saturday of the month (3 March) yielded a migratory Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus at Lower Pierce Reservoir (Vincent Lao), and a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus pair nesting along a public pathway at the Jurong Eco-Garden (Anthony Nik), where the chick fledged subsequently on the 14th (Esther Ong). A joint NParks-NSS Bird Group survey of Pulau Ubin on Sunday (4 March) yielded 6 Cinereous Bulbuls Hemixos cinereus, among other regular Ubin species, such as the Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting, Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis, Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans and Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha. The survey team also counted 33 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea that flew in a south-easterly direction to Ubin. Roger Boey, who was with the survey, photographed a Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis, a report currently pending acceptance by the Records Committee, while a Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was spotted by Adrian Silas Tay and Jerold Tan on the island. Back on mainland Singapore, a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was reported by Heather Goessel at Mimosa Walk.

CBMKH, snip

One of the nesting pair of Chestnut-bellied Malkohas at Jurong Eco-Garden with a praying mantis on 8 March 2018, photo by Terence Tan.

More reports of migratory species were reported between the week spanning 5 and 11 March. A White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis subspecies was spotted at Marina Barrage on 6 March by Dodotee Tee. A Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was seen at SBG on 8 March by Geri Lim. Two different Ruddy Kingfishers Halcyon coromanda were spotted, one on 8 March at West Coast Park by Thio Hui Bing, and another on 10 March at Venus Loop by Lim Kim Chuah. Oliver Tan chanced upon a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae on 9 March near Dillenia Hut in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. A juvenile Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni spent the weekend at Bishan, alternating between the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Parks 1 & 2 between 10 and 12 March. Known for its sporadic appearance at Tampines Eco Green (TEG) and Pasir Ris Park, this Baza has eluded many birders and photographers alike. Hence, its appearance in the heart of the island proved to be a boon to the community. Feroz Fizah photographed an accipiter on 11 March at Tampines Eco Green, which was subsequently identified by Adrian Silas Tay and Lau Jiasheng as an Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus.

Jerdon

TThe juvenile Jerdon’s Baza that lingered at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park between 10 and 12 March 2018. Photo taken on 10 March 2018 by Arman AF.

Resident species encountered included Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) on 8 March by Francis Yap, and a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus at JEG by Terence Tan, Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra at West Coast Park on 10 March by Kozi Ichiyama, while Felix Wong highlighted the fledging of a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum early in the morning from a HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang. This is the second known and documented record of the flowerpecker nesting in an urban environment. The second chick fledged around noon on 11 March.

Between 12 to 18 March, we continued to receive reports of migratory species across Singapore. A Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis and Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus were encountered by Alan Owyong at Venus Loop. Martin Kennewell chanced upon a Black-backed Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca in the CCNR on 13 March, while an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina was seen by Luke Milo Teo at Ulu Sembawang on the same day. A Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus was spotted hawking over the skies of HortPark by Keita Sin on 15 March, while Tan Kok Hui chanced upon a Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides on Coney Island on the same day. Other notable migrants were a Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica seen by Fadzrun Adnan on 16 March over Seletar Aerospace, a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia in Pulau Ubin by Lena Chow on 16 March, a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla in Kranji Marshes on 17 March by Martin Kennewell, and two Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, one seen winging over Henderson Wave by Tay Kian Guan on 16 March and another at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 17 March by Francis Yap.

Resident species spotted during this week include a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu along Ulu Pandan Canal on 16 March by Jason Humphries, Grey-rumped Treeswift Hemiprocne longipennis and Ruddy-breasted Crake at One-North Cresent, also on 16 March, by Alan Owyong, a Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus along Ulu Pandan Canal on 17 March by Mark Nelson Valino, a Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus during a night survey on Pulau Ubin, also on 17 March, by Francis Yap and Jacky Soh, and a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela at Malcolm Park on 18 March by Lena Chow.

BEO

Barred Eagle Owl spotted during a night survey of Pulau Ubin on 17 March 2018. Photo by Francis Yap.

The week of 19 to 25 March proved to be fruitful in terms of bird reports in social media. KC Ling reported at least 20 Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots Loriculus galgulus feeding from a White Gutta or Nyatoh Tree at the Eco-Garden within SBG. Lim Kim Keang reported spotting two Mangrove Whistlers Pachycephala cinerea on Pulau Hantu on 21 March, while Alan Owyong reported a Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus at Bishan Park on 23 March. Also on 23 March, Lim Kim Chuah reported that a Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo chick had fallen out of its nest at Pasir Ris Park. The chick was subsequently rescued by ACRES and restored into a nearby tree in a makeshift nest. Keita Sin reported spotting two Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo adults with two chicks at Bidadari on 24 March.

BCHP

Male Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot on a White Gutta tree at the Eco-Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 24 March 2018. Photo by Geoff Lim.

Reports of migratory species continued to filter in. A Black Kite Milvus migrans was photographed by Veronica Foo flying over Lorong Halus on 21 March, while two instances of Black-backed Kingfishers Ceyx erithaca entering residential areas were reported: an injured bird at Keppel Bay on 21 March, and another bird which spent the night in Kim Forrester’s kitchen after flying inside. It left on its own accord the next morning. Feroz Fizah sought ID help for a Paradise Flycatcher photographed on 23 March at SBWR and Dave Bakewell noticed that it looked different from the Amur & Blyth’s, identifying it as an out-of-range Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi, a first for Singapore! (Oliver Tan realised that he had photographed a similar-looking paradise flycatcher at SBWR on 2 Dec 2017). The bird was seen again on the 25th by many birders. On 23 March, Henrietta Woo and Ong Ruici reported seeing a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus at SBG, while a Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus was seen fishing at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) and another at Springleaf Nature Park by Thana Sinnarthamby and Cheah Chen Poh, respectively. On 24 March, Keita Sin spotted a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka at Bidadari, while Felix Wong spotted two Hooded Pittas standing metres apart in SBG. A Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni spotted by Luke Milo Teo on 24 March at Ulu Sembawang proved to be a new extreme date for the species. An NParks survey on Pulau Ubin on 25 March yielded Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola, a Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica in breeding plumage and a Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris at Chek Jawa. Meanwhile, Doreen Ang, together with two friends, spotted a first winter Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus at Bulim on 25 March.

GBFC

A Green-backed Flycatcher in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 29 March 2018, by Oliver Tan. The bird was video-recorded while singing.

The final week of March (26 – 31 March) yielded several interesting records. Two Green-backed Flycatchers Ficedula elisae were spotted, a calling female by Fadzrun Adnan on 27 March at Venus Loop, and a singing male by Oliver Tan inside CCNR. A Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was spotted at Bidadari by Martin Kennewell on 28 March. A White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis was reported on Pulau Ubin on 29 March by Joseph Lin, a first for the island (correction: there was an earlier record on 8 Oct 2017 by Martin Kennewell). Migratory flycatchers continue to be reported – a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia at Kheam Hock Road on 29 March by Thana Sinnathamby, and a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea at Ulu Sembawang by Luke Milo Teo on 30 March.

BBC

The highly prized Band-bellied Crake continued to be seen at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 31 March 2018. Photo taken by Geoff Lim.

Two Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded, one at SBWR on 30 March by Tan Kok Hui, and another at Fairway Golf Course on 31 March by Alan Owyong. A Northern Boobook Ninox japonica was reported at a Pasir Ris HDB block on 31 March by Ryan Lee, while an Eastern-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus was seen inside CCNR by Martin Kennewell. Also spotted on 31 March was the Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii by Geoff Lim, Kozi Ichiyama and visiting Australian birder, Alastair White, at SBG. The highlight of the last day of March would be the Indian Paradise Flycatcher relocated at SBWR by Lim Kim Chuah.

Residents reported during this week include an injured Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula at Jurong West Street 91 by Hafinani on 28 March, an Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti at West Coast Park on 29 March by Art Toh, a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus at SBWR on 30 March by Tan Kok Hui, a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana at Ulu Sembawang on the same day by Luke Milo Teo, and a Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii on 31 March inside CCNR by Martin Kennewell.

During their pelagic trip along the multi-national Straits of Singapore on 3 March, Francis Yap, Seetoh Yew Wai and friends spotted a Parasitic Jaegar Stercorarius parasiticus, as well as Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis, Swift Tern Thalasseus bergii, and a Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra. Note that some of these may not be in Singapore waters.

Parasitic Jaeger

Parasitic Jaegar in flight during the pelagic trip on 3 March 2018, by Francis Yap.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong, 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 Feroz Fizah, Terence Tan, Arman AF, Oliver Tan, Geoff Lim and Francis Yap for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – February 2018

STBabbler, 21 Feb 18, Venus, Alex Fok, crop

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 and on 18th. This was the second record for this location and could well be the same bird seen at the Bukit Gombak Quarry on December 2016.

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.

OHT, 120218, SBG, Terence Tan, crop

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.

Plaintive Cuckoo, 220218, TEG, Feroz Fizah

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.

Watercock, 180218, KM, Goh Cheng Teng, crop

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.

BFO, 260218, SBWR, Khoo Meilin

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.

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. 

Band-bellied Crake – Singapore’s Very Public Rarity

It was late February in 2014 and Singapore was experiencing an unexpected drought. Birds inhabiting marshy areas were running out of places to hide as ponds and marshes dried up. Snipes were reported in multiple places. Two were found wandering around the grassy patch near a pond at Chinese Garden and attracted photographers hoping for good photos of this normally elusive species. But they weren’t the only birds being exposed there…

Seasoned bird photographer Lee Tiah Khee was rather perplexed. The bird he saw swimming on the pond seemed odd. His friends said it was a resident Ruddy-breasted Crake but he wasn’t convinced. He kept his peace and did what was sensible. When the bird came out walking, he managed to snap a few photos. Later that evening, he posted the photos to a Facebook group meant for documenting the Singapore Big Year competition being held the same year, hoping for a better answer. It didn’t attract much attention. The month was ending and everyone was preparing for the weekend and didn’t think too much about a nondescript crake.

A few hundred kilometres away, Dave Bakewell, a veteran birder based in Penang logged on his Facebook account early the next morning. Scrolling through all the postings he came across Tiah Khee’s photos. Dave had seen this bird species before a few years back. He knew instantly that a mega (birders noun for a very rare bird) has been found. He typed out a reply. “This is the globally MEGA-rare Band-bellied Crake – FIRST for Singapore? Ready, steady, GO!“. And so the race began, for all the Big Year participants and soon the rest of the birding fraternity in Singapore. Many SMS, Whatsapp and Facebook messages were sent, and weekend plans were changed immediately.

A closer look at the bands across the belly that the name of the crake is derived from. From certain angles, it can be indistinct.

A closer look at the bands across the belly that the name of the crake is derived from. From certain angles, it can be indistinct.

Soon Chinese Garden was teeming with birders looking for a bird that resembled a Ruddy-breasted Crake. A photographer who arrived earlier hoping to shoot the snipes before the news came out reported seeing a crake swimming in the pond earlier in the morning, but it soon disappeared. There was a palpable sense of tension. Could the bird have flown away? A one day bird? After more searching, most gave up the chase and headed for lunch.

Unknown to the birders, the crake merely wandered off to another section of the garden and was feeding unnoticed. A few that came in later saw the bird, photographed it and left. Later another batch saw it too and soon the news spread again. The crake was found, and the rush was on once more. I received the news from the other side of the island and quickly drove to the place within 45 minutes. The bird was wandering about in an open drain looking for food. I took out my camera to shoot, only to find out that it has no battery! I had forgotten to check before starting the journey. Veteran photographer Jimmy Chew had an opposite problem. He arrived at Chinese Garden with friends for another reason, saw fellow birders and went over to check. Although armed with a camera, he didn’t carry a long lens. Making the best out of the situation, we took turns to swap our gears and got the photos we wanted.

Band-bellied Crake at Chinese Garden feeding on an open drain. Taken on the afternoon of 1 March 2014.

Band-bellied Crake at Chinese Garden feeding on an open drain. Taken on the afternoon of 1 March 2014.

We both needn’t have been so “kancheong” (excited). The crake stayed for weeks before finally departing to its breeding ground up north in Russia or China. In the meantime, news spread widely and even regionally and soon birders around the region came to this tiny island specifically to see the crake and also the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler (that’s another story!). The event was even newsworthy enough to be picked up by the local newspaper.

Lianhe Zaobao's (Chinese-language newspaper) article on the Band-bellied Crake discovery. The event brought out large number of photographers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

Lianhe Zaobao’s (Chinese-language newspaper) article on the Band-bellied Crake discovery. The event brought out large number of photographers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.


The Band-bellied Crake (Porzana paykullii) is classified as a Near Threatened bird according to Birdlife International and is seldom seen nor photographed. Breeding population has been reported in the rather inaccessible parts of south-east Russia and north-east China. The wintering ground is also poorly known. Hence the excitement and the rush to see it. Most walked away happy, as the prolonged drought had forced the crake out in the open and it often foraged along very accessible drains and ponds, in a public garden no less. A few months later, it was formally included into the Singapore bird checklist.

The question remains as to the rarity of this bird in Singapore. Its close resemblance to the Ruddy-breasted Crake perhaps cause it to be overlooked by most. Post discovery of this bird, there was a report of a sighting in the same place in 2011. Perhaps we will see it again some day then.

A comparison between the adult Ruddy-breasted Crake and the immature Band-bellied Crake. Under certain lighting conditions, the Ruddy-breasted Crake 's reddish chestnut underparts may look a bit faced, but normally the colouration between the two birds differ. The fully adult Band-bellied Crake will have a stronger chestnut colouration below but still not as intense as the Rusty-breasted. The strength of the bill also differs, as does the bands across the belly.

A comparison between the adult Ruddy-breasted Crake and the immature Band-bellied Crake. Under certain lighting conditions, the Ruddy-breasted Crake ‘s reddish chestnut underparts may look a bit faced, but normally the colouration between the two birds differ. The fully adult Band-bellied Crake will have a stronger chestnut colouration below but still not as intense as the Rusty-breasted. The strength of the bill also differs, as does the bands across the belly.

Photo Gallery

Video of the Band-bellied Crake by Jeremiah Loei: