Tag Archives: Blue-winged Pitta nesting

Singapore Bird Report – August 2021

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

Residents continued to breed, and migrants started to make their way from their northern breeding grounds to Singapore in August; while most sightings of migrants were of shorebirds, migratory songbirds have also begun to arrive.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve – CCNR

CW Babbler, 018021, Geoff Lim

Chestnut-winged Babbler at Thomson Nature Park on 1 Aug 2021 by Geoff Lim.

Forest species continue to be observed within and along the tracks leading into the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.  The presence of species such as a Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, a Short-tailed Babbler, Pellorneum malaccense, and a pair of Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, were noted along Rifle Range Link on 29 August 2021 by Wai Heng Lua, who also spotted a Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus. Other birds seen within the CCNR were one Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, and three Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, spotted by Ester Gerber on 31 Aug 2021.

The tracks around Mandai, such as Mandai Track 7, have proven to be good birding grounds, given its proximity to old forests such as the Nee Soon forest complex. On 1 August 2021, a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, was spotted by Chen RX, while on 21 August 2021, forest specialists, such as a Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, and a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Cyanoderma erythropterum, were seen by Tan Kok Hui.

CCNR fringe parks supported species such as a pair of Chestnut-winged Babbler, Cyanoderma erythropterum, on 1 August 2021 at Thomson Nature Park by Geoff Lim, a Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, of which one was seen on 2 August 2021 at Thomson Nature Park by Yip Jen Wei; while along Old Upper Thomson Road, three Brown Hawk-Owl, Ninox scutulata, were reported on 10 Aug 2021 by Tanvi DG. Over at Windsor Nature Park, a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, on 27 Aug 2021 (Yap Bao Shen), two Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus, and a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone affinis, on 28 Aug 2021 (Fadzrun A), as well as four Long-tailed Parakeet, Psittacula longicauda, on29 Aug 2021 (Matthijs van Bevervoorde) were spotted.

For the Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis, nest at Windsor Nature Park, one of the chicks fledged on 14 August 2021 and the nest appeared empty thereafter (Samuel CWJ). The status of the other chick is not known, it could have fledged earlier when no one was around. Nothing is known about the fledging period of the Stork-billed Kingfisher (Wells, 2007). The discovery of the nest on 20 July 2021, when young with unopened eyes were being fed by the parents, tells us that the fledging period is more than 25 days.

SBKF nest, 020821, WNP, Lee Chin Pong

Stork-billed Kingfisher feeding a chick at the nest, the other chick’s bill can be seen near the top of the nest hole, Windsor Nature Park on 2 Aug 2021 by Lee Chin Pong.

At Dairy Farm Nature Park, Yeong WaiKai found the nest of a Straw-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus zeylanicus, on 25 August 2021. At the Singapore Quarry, an Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, a Laced Woodpecker, Picus vittatus, a Rufous Woodpecker, Micropternus brachyurus, and two Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Orthotomus sericeus, were spotted on 28 August 2021 by Wai Heng Lua.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Singapore Botanic Gardens continues to be a verdant ground for birds with a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone affinis, that had just one tail feather, at the ethnobotanical garden on 23 August 2021 (Harry Loh). Over at the Healing and Fragrant Gardens, a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, was seen on 25 Aug 2021 by Chen Boon Chong while a Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, and three Coconut Lorikeet, Trichoglossus haematodus, were seen on 27 Aug 2021 by Jon Garcia. Meanwhile, on the same day, a migratory Tiger Shrike, Lanius tigrinus, was spotted by Norhafiani A Majid within the garden grounds.

Central Singapore

A single Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, was seen at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 on 14 August 2021 by A. Fadzrun A.

Northern Singapore

RC Sunbird, 060821, SBWR, SCC

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird seen on 6 August 2021 at SBWR by Sim Chip Chye.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR), the premier birding location in northern Singapore, welcomed a rare Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Chalcoparia singalensis, on 3 August 2021 (Chen RX), 4 August 2021 (Joseph Lim), 5 August 2021 (Gan Lee Hsia), 6 August 2021 (Sim Chip Chye), and on 29 August 2021 (Bhagwant Kurade). The reserve also started to welcome various wintering shorebirds from the north. These included the two Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa, on 14 August 2021 (Kwok Tuck Loong), three Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, five Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, eighty-six Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, thirty-five Common Redshank, Tringa totanus, and three Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia, on 31 August 2021 (Alfred Chia).  Evergreen locals included a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, (A. Fadzrun), a pair of Red Collared Dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica, (A. Fadzrun), and one Eastern Cattle Egret, Bubulcus coromandus, (Mike Hooper) on 21 August 2021, one Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, (Ester Gerber) on26 August 2021, a pair of Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, (Chen Boon Chong) on28 August 2021, and two Little Egret, Egretta garzetta, (Alfred Chia) on 31 August 2021.

A pair of Ashy Tailorbirds, Orthotomus ruficeps, was seen bringing food to their nest at the reserve on 6 August 2021 (Tan Gim Cheong), and Kwan Kee Ming observed that a Lineated Barbet, Psilopogon lineatus, started to build its nest there on 1 August 2021.

Over at Kranji Marsh, a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, was seen on 15 August 2021 by Kaeden Sim; a pair of introduced Golden-backed Weavers, Ploceus jacksoni, was building a nest on 11 August 2021 (Tan Gim Cheong); a pair of the introduced Common Waxbill, Estrilda astrild, was building a nest on 23 August 2021 (Keith Hutton); and a nest of the Malaysian Pied Fantail, Rhipidura javanica, contained two chicks (Shahrul Kamal). Another Malaysian Pied Fantail nest contained one chick, which fledged on 28 August 2021, but the fledgling fell into the water and was eaten by a large frog (Felix Wong).

Searchers found White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea, at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on 15 Aug 2021 (Chen Boon Chong), and four Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius, scurrying in the monsoon drain at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 on 29 Aug 2021 (Daryl Yeo).  Further eastwards, an Intermediate Egret, Egretta intermedia, a House Swift, Apus nipalensis, and a Golden-bellied Gerygone, Gerygone sulphurea, were reported on 29 August 2021 by Kwok Tuck Loong. Traversing across the northern coastline, we noted the report of a single Western Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, and some Daurian Starling, Agropsar sturninus, along Yishun Dam on 21 August 2021 by Norman Wu, while at Lorong Halus Wetland, an Oriental Dollarbird, Eurystomus orientalis, was seen on 30 August 2021 by John Chin. In the heart of Sengkang, four Rose-ringed Parakeet, Psittacula krameri, and four relatively uncommon Common Myna, Acridotheres tristis, were spotted at Sengkang Riverside Park on 31 Aug 2021 by Tan Kok Hui.

Ashy Tailorbird, 060821, SBWR, TGC_6836,-Ashy-Tailorbird,-m-N-f,-960v

Ashy Tailorbirds, male on left and female on right (paler underparts), 6 August 2021 at SBWR by Tan Gim Cheong.

Eastern Singapore

On 4 August 2021, a fledgling Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was spotted by Tan Gim Cheong in the understorey of the forest at Pulau Ubin, following a parent pitta; and on 27 August 2021, a fledgling of the similar-looking Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, was calling in the mangroves but no adult pitta came to attend to it (Francis Yap).

The idyllic island also hosted migratory shorebirds such as three Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, and a Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, which were seen on 13 August 2021 by Oliver Tan, while other visitors encountered residents and local visitors such as the Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana, (Mike Hooper), Black Hornbill, Anthracoceros malayanus, (Tan Hui Zhen), and Green Broadbill, Calyptomena viridis, (Tan Hui Zhen) on 22 August 2021, while an  Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti,  was seen on 23 August 2021 (Tan Gim Cheong), and a White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, was seen the next day on 24 August 2021 (Max Khoo). Ubin’s eastern neighbour, Pulau Tekong, yielded a single Grey-tailed Tattler, Tringa brevipes, on 2 August 2021 (Frankie Cheong).

Pasir Ris Park yielded a Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, on 20 August 2021 (Robert Teo), a Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea, on 22 August 2021 (Kwok Tuck Loong), and a Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, on 28 August 2021 (Clarice Yan), while five Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, were spotted at Bedok Reservoir Park on 26 August 2021 (Jiah Rai).

A White-headed Munia, Lonchura maja, was seen within the grounds of Eastwood Estate on 27 Aug 2021 (Oliver Tan), while Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus, and Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica, were seen on 29 Aug 2021 along the Changi Coast Track by A. Fadzrun.

Southern Singapore

Visitors to Gardens-by-the-Bay East spotted a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, on 15 Aug 2021 (Fermandez Francis) and seven Masked Lapwing, Vanellus miles, on 28 Aug 2021 (Andrew William). At the breakwater along Marina East Drive in late August, Pary Sivaraman counted 160 Little Terns, Sternula albifrons.

After a failed nesting last month, a pair of Malaysian Plovers, Charadrius peronii, was seen guarding an egg on 1 August 2021 but when revisited 10 days later, “they were gone” (Ko Engwee). The nesting in July failed due to a House Crow which carried off the chick (Low Chong Yang). The chick was at least 25 days old – discovered on 26 June (Max Khoo) and predated on 20 July (Low Chong Yang).

Western Singapore

Jurong Lake Gardens, the swathe of park and wetland abutting the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, proved to be a hit for birds. The heronry continued to support various species of large heron, including one Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, seen on 29 August 2021 by Andrew William. The highly elusive Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, proved no match for Norhafiani A Majid who spotted one on 30 August 2021, along with a pair of Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu. Other birds that provided considerable excitement and cardio workout included the rarely seen Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, on 29 August 2021, which was spotted by the keen and young eyes of Kaeden Sim, as well as a migratory Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula zanthopygia, female, spotted on 31 August 2021 by Chen Boon Chong.

BW Stilt, 260821, TSA16, Art Toh

Black-winged Stilt seen on 26 August 2021 at Tuas by Art Toh.

The NTU campus yielded a pair of Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, and a Sunda Scops Owl, Otus lempiji, which were spotted on 26 August 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, while a Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, was seen on 27 August 2021 by Frank Chen. Nearer the Lim Chu Kang cemeteries, a Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was seen along Jalan Murai on 28 August 2021 by Eyzat Amer.

Visitors to Tuas South Avenue 16 reported seeing a Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, on 24 August 2021 (Raghav Narayanswamy), Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, on 26 August 2021 (Art Toh), Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, on 29 August 2021 (Bear Jia), four Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, on 29 August 2021 (Max Khoo), and a Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea, on 30 August 2021 (Pary Sivaraman).

Over at the Clementi Forest-Holland Plain nexus, a Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis, was reported on 11 August 2021 from Clementi Forest, while four Tanimbar Corella, Cacatua goffiniana, and one Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos, were seen around Holland Plain on 30 August 2021. All records were provided by Lynn Tan.

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 Lee Chin Pong, Sim Chip Chye and Art Toh for allowing us to use their photographs. 

Singapore Bird Report – July 2021

Geoff Lim, Isabelle Lee
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

TGC_0319_01,-Blue-winged-Pitta,-160721,-v,-nd

A fledgling Blue-winged Pitta at Mandai Track 15 on 16 Jul 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

Two spectacular July discoveries were reported in the NSS Bird Group blog – the first evidence of breeding of the Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on mainland Singapore (and only the second breeding record in country), as well as the amazing discovery of the Javan Plover, Charadrius javanicus, a species hitherto never found outside Indonesia.

The story about the Blue-winged Pitta can be found here, while the exciting discovery of the Javan Plover can be accessed here.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)

Within the CCNR core, a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, was spotted on 16 July 2021 by Bryan Lim, while a Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, was seen on 28 July 2021 by Marcel Finlay. A pair of Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, and a single White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, were seen on 22 July 2021 within Sime forest by Clarice Yan, while a Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, two Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, and a Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, were seen on 25 July 2021 along Rifle Range Link by Lim Kim Chuah. Meanwhile, the regular and solo Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, was spotted at Hindhede Nature Park, on 17 July 2021 (Matthew Teng) and 27 July 2021 (Martti Siponen).

The western fringe parks abutting CCNR yielded two Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, Leptocoma brasiliana, seen on 10 July 2021 at Dairy Farm Nature Park, by Raghav Narayanswamy, one Short-tailed Babbler, Pellorneum malaccense, and two Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, on 11 July 2021 at Chestnut Nature Park by Fadzrun A, while over at Singapore Quarry, three Red-breasted Parakeet, Psittacula alexandri were seen on 21 July 2021 by Sylvester Goh, while two Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Orthotomus sericeus, and one Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, were spotted on 22 July 2021 by Martti Siponen.

Along Mandai Track 15, Joseph Lim made the stunning discovery of a fledgling Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, on 16 July 2021, while two Short-tailed Babbler, Pellorneum malaccense, were seen on 24 July 2021 at Jalan Ulu Sembawang by Norhafiani A Majid. Birders working along Mandai Road Track 7 reported a Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Nisaetus cirrhatus, two Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, three Common Hill Myna, Gracula religiosa, and a Cream-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus simplex, on 21 July 2021 (Oliver Tan); a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Cyanoderma erythropterum, was seen on the same day by Leslie Loh; and Steven Cheong found a Banded Woodpecker, Chrysophlegma miniaceum, feeding its chick at its nest hole on 22 July 2021. A Common Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica, was seen on 22 July 2021 at Upper Peirce Reservoir Park by Fermandez Francis.

TGC_7904,-RC-Barbet,-1000v

An excellent portrait of a Red-crowned Barbet taken on 14 Jul 2021 at Thomson Nature Park by Tan Gim Cheong

Visitors had been drawn to Thomson Nature Park in early July 2021 to look at a nesting Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, which subsequently failed as the tree trunk broke during heavy rain. The birds re-commenced building another nest hole around 20 July 2021 but this, too, did not materialise. At another Red-crowned Barbet’s nest in the park, Tan Chuan Yean managed to photograph the barbet carrying a frog in its beak on 17 July 2021. During this period, visitors noted birds such as two Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, on 18 July 2021 (Kaeden Sim), two Plume-toed Swiftlet, Collocalia affinis, and one Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, on 19 July 2021 (Krishna Gopagondanahalli), as well as a pair of Chestnut-winged Babbler, Cyanoderma erythropterum, on 27 July 2021 (Joyce Le Mesurier), a species that has become increasingly rare in our forests. On 31 July 2021, a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, was photographed by Meng Kuang Han.

Other breeding records at Thomson Nature Park included a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, being fed by a Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, on 7 July 2021, by Alex Kang; a pair of Crimson Sunbirds, Aethopyga siparaja, feeding their two chicks behind the ladies toilet also on 7 July 2021, by Jojo Kuah; and on 23 July 2021, the successful nesting of a pair of Olive-winged Bulbuls, Pycnonotus plumosus, that the chicks fledged but were still being fed by their parents, also by Jojo Kuah.

At Windsor Nature Park, on 20 July 2021, the nest of the Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis, was discovered by Frankie Low. This is the first nest of this kingfisher to be found in Singapore, and it was built in a termite nest on the vertical trunk of a sturdy tree. Frankie Low photographed an adult feeding fish to a chick through the hole in the termite nest.   

Further afield, two Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, were seen on 20 July 2021 along Old Upper Thomson Road by Tan Kok Hui. The Lornie-MacRitchie area also yielded a Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, on 17 July 2021 at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (Marcel Finlay) and an Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, spotted on 20 July 2021 along Lornie Road (Chen Boon Chong).

Singapore Botanic Gardens

A Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu, was spotted within the garden grounds on 11 July 2021 by Joyce Le Mesurier, while a juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii, was being fed by Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, from 11 July 2021 (Vincent Chin) to 20 July 2021 (Andrew William). On 15 July 2021, Philip Ng reported three Banded Bay Cuckoo fledglings at separate areas being fed by their foster parents.  

Central Singapore

BT Falconet, 090721, Jln Mashhor, Tang Choon Siang

Black-thighed Falconet at Jalan Mashhor on 9 Jul 2021 by Tang Choon Siang.

On 9 July 2021, a Black-thighed Falconet, Microhierax fringillarius, was spotted at Jalan Mashhor by Art Toh and Tang Choon Siang. The bird was seen on subsequent days up till 12 July 2021 (Vincent Lao). At the same locality, a pair of Common Hill Mynas, Gracula religiosa, mated on 10 July 2021, seen by Chew Serteck. At Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, a Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, was photographed on 16 July 2021 by Vincent Ng, and a Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, spotted on 20 July 2021 by Clarice Yan.  Along Potong Pasir, a Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, was seen on 21 July 2021 by S.O Wu. At Bukit Brown on 21 July 2021, SB Lim photographed a female Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Treron vernans, mounting another female!

Northern Singapore

Note: Sg Buloh, the Kranji Marshes and the Lim Chu Kang-Neo Tiew farmlands are now moved to the section on Northern Singapore to align with NPark’s geographical description of the main Singapore island.

Two Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus, were seen on 12 July 2021 at Lorong Halus Wetland (Fermandez Francis), while two Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, were spotted on 24 July 2021 at the Serangoon Estuary (Tan Kok Hui). A single Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, was seen on 26 July 2021 at the Hampstead Wetlands Park (Steven Cheong).

The Kranji-Lim Chu Kang area yielded a Black-winged Kite, Elanus caeruleus, at the grounds of Kranji Marsh on 19 July 2021 (Martti Siponen) and five early arriving Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, on 25 July 2021 at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 (Raghav Narayanswamy); further afield, the report of the Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Chalcoparia singalensis, at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 11 July 2021 by YK Han electrified the local birding community, while the report of six Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, at the Reserve on 12 July 2021 by Martti Siponen served to anchor the birds’ presence in the island republic.

At Kranji Marshes on 14 July 2021, Kok M Lee recorded a Malaysian Pied Fantail, Rhipidura javanica, feeding its foster chick, a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis, and on 23 July 2021, Avadi L Parimalam saw the mating of a pair of Pied Trillers, Lalage nigra, and the Malaysian Pied Fantail building a nest. 

Eastern Singapore

Javan Plover, 150721, Tekong, Frankie Cheong

Javan Plover taken on 15 Jul 2021 by Frankie Cheong

July witnessed the spectacular discovery of the Javan Plover, Charadrius javanicus, on 15 July 2021 on reclaimed land adjoining one of our eastern islands by Frankie Cheong. At Pulau Ubin, the Green Broadbill, Calyptomena viridis, continued to be seen on 2 July 2021 (Isabelle Lee) until the end of the month; and a Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, of the resident subspecies minor, given the timing, was heard and photographed on 20 July 2021 by Keita, Dillen and Hong Yao. (The first record of the resident subspecies H. c. minor on Pulau Ubin was in August 2016.)

Other visitors reported the presence of Ubin regulars, such as the Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, on 4 July 2021 (Raghav Narayanswamy), Black Hornbill, Anthracoceros malayanus, on 19 July 2021 (Jared Tan), Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, and Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, on 20 July 2021 by Darren Leow and others, as well as up to six White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, on 25 July 2021 by Fitri Adnan. Near the site of the Green Broadbill, two Buffy Fish Owls were seen, one blind in the right eye, reported by Tan Chuan Yean.

Green Broadbill, 020721, Ubin, Geoff Lim

Green Broadbill taken on Pulau Ubin on 2 Jul 2021 by Geoff Lim

Other notable sightings in eastern Singapore included a Red Turtle Dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica, at Changi Business Park on 19 July 2021 by T. Ramesh; and at Pasir Ris Park, two Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, on the same day by Joshua Chong.

Breeding-related records at Pasir Ris included a juvenile Slaty-breasted Rail, Lewinia striata, with its parents, on 7 July 2021, and a nest of the Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goaiver, with two chicks on 12 July 2021 when the adult bulbul was photographed holding a young Changeable Lizard in its beak, both by Alvin Seng; and Andrew Hunt found the Collared Kingfishers, Todiramphus chloris, feeding their chicks in their nest at car park D on 21 July 2021, and the chicks reportedly fledged the next day.

YVB catch changeable lizard, 120721, PRP, Alvin Seng

Yellow-vented Bulbul holding a young Changeable Lizard, Pasir Ris Park, 12 Jul 2021, by Alvin Seng

Southern Singapore

Birders who visited the Marina East area reported an early Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, and two Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, on 18 July 2021 (Max Khoo), while a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, was spotted on 20 July 2021 (Krishna Gopagondanahalli) and 24 July 2021 (Jon Garcia). A pair of Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, was also spotted on 20 July 2021, as was a Greater Painted-Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, and eight Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, all by Krishna Gopagondanahalli.

Other sightings included a pair of Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, at Gardens by the Bay on 5 July 2021 (Joshua Chong), a Chinese Hwamei, Garrulax canorus, at Fort Siloso on 11 July 2021(Chen Boon Chong), a Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, at Lazarus Island on 16 July 2021 (Rajesh Nagaraj), as well as a White-rumped Munia, Lonchura striata, at Telok Blangah Hill Park on 25 July 2021 (Low Zhi Hao).

Breeding records included a Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, feeding its chick at Lazarus Island on 6 July 2021, by Cecilia Lee; and the Collared Kingfisher feeding its chicks at Buona Vista, by Tan Chuan Yean.

Western Singapore

Two Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, were seen near King Albert Park on 17 July 2021 by Jai Humphries, while at the nearby Holland Plain, a pair of fairly regular Red-wattled Lapwing, Vanellus indicus, were seen on 21 July 2021, as was an Oriental Dollarbird, Eurystomus orientalis, and five Long-tailed Parakeet, Psittacula longicauda, by Lynn Tan, who also spotted a single Grey-rumped Treeswift, Hemiprocne longipennis, at Maryland Drive the day before on 20 July 2021. Incidentally a single Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis, was spotted at Holland Plain on 20 July 2021 by Lynn Tan, while two birds were reported on 23 July 2021 by Richard Sanders. It remains to be seen if the Green Corridor area supports more than a pair of these prehistoric-looking birds.

Two Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, and a Laced Woodpecker, Picus vittatus, were spotted at Bukit Batok Nature Park on 20 July 2021 by Tan Hwee Main. At Jurong Lake Gardens, one Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, was reported on 28 July 2021 by Tay Kian Guan.

Breeding records at Jurong Lake Gardens included a Slaty-breasted Rail foraging with its young, still in black downy feathers, on 1 July 2021, by Kok M Lee; three Common Tailorbirds, Orthotomus sutorius, fledged on 4 July 2021, by Felix Wong who also recorded the nesting of the Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goaiver; and a pair of Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis, mating on 7 July 2021, when the male offered a grasshopper to the female during the process, photographed by Tan Boon Tiong. At Ulu Pandan on 8 July 2021, Tan Boon Tiong photographed a House Crow, Corvus splendens, carrying a Black-naped Oriole, Oriolus chinensis, chick in its beak as it flew.

Farther west, we noted the report of a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, from Pioneer South on 15 July 2021 by Raghav Narayanswamy, while a Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu, was reported from the grounds of NTU on 25 July 2021 by Frank Chen.

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 Tang Choon Siang, Frankie Cheong, Geoff Lim, and Alvin Seng for allowing us to use their photographs.

First Nesting Record of the Blue-winged Pitta in Singapore.

First documented records of the Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis breeding in Singapore.

BING WEN LOW, ALFRED CHIA, GIM CHEONG TAN, WEE JIN YAP & KIM KEANG LIM

(This article was first published in BirdingASIA 26 (2016) under Important Breeding Record)

Introduction:

The Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis is a widespread non-breeding visitor to the Malay Peninsula, with breeding previously considered to be confined to the Malaysian states of Perlis and Kedah, including Langkawi island (Wells 2007). However, in 2005 breeding was recorded at Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara National Park, significantly increasing the species’s known breeding range on the Malay Peninsula (Hutchinson & Mears 2006). In Singapore, the Blue-winged Pitta is classified as an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant that is recorded annually with an earliest date of 7 October and latest of 12 April (Lim 2009). However, since 2008 there has been an increasing number of reports of Blue-winged Pittas calling between late April and July. Most of these reports emanate from western Singapore, around the periphery of a military training area, but similar reports have also been received from northern Singapore and Pulau Ubin, an island off the main island’s north-east coast in the channel separating Singapore and Malaysia. Here we document the first confirmed breeding records of Blue-winged Pitta in Singapore, based on observations at two nest sites on Pulau Ubin in July and August 2016.

Observations in the field

On 9 July 2016, WJY observed two adult Blue-winged Pittas carrying earthworms, apparently to an unseen nest in an area of regenerating secondary forest on the eastern end of Pulau Ubin (Plate 1).

AC7Plate 1. The first Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis nest (arrowed) at  Pulau Ubin, Singapore, among the dead fronds of a rattan grove, July 2016. Alfred Chia.

On 14 July GCT and a small team of helpers searched for and located an active nest. The area is an abandoned rubber plantation; consequently most of the bigger trees are rubber Hevea brasiliensis. The understorey is, however, floristically diverse and features a variety of shrubs and climbers. The nest was at ground level amongst the dead fronds of rattans Calamus erinaceus, and comprised a roughly spherical mound of dried leaves and twigs bound together with mud (Plate 2). The mould measured 22 × 20 cm with a depth of 17 cm and an entrance hole 11 × 9 cm. It was located a mere 4.3 m from an unpaved track popular with recreational hikers and cyclists, particularly at weekends.

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Plate 2. The nest, a roughly spherical mound, was constructed using sticks and vegetation bound together with mud, July 2016. Alfred Chia.

When the nest was first found on 14 July, four chicks were present. They were estimated to be at least a week old, given the presence of pin feathers and that the parents were already feeding them on 9 July. In order to document feeding behaviour without undue disturbance, cameras switched to video mode were left to record nest visits when observers were in the general area. It was observed that both parents returned as frequently as every two minutes to tend to the chicks. The parents could be differentiated from behind, based on the width of their dark crown stripe, with one individual having a noticeably broader stripe than its partner (Plate 3). It was not clear whether this was due to differences in feather wear or individual variation.

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Plate 3. The parent birds could be distinguished by the difference in the width of their crown stripe, July 2016. Alfred Chia.

Nest visits generally lasted between 16 and 40 seconds, with longer visits associated with the feeding of young and removal of faecal sacs. The parents also made short visits to the nest for the sole purpose of faecal sac removal. The primary food for the chicks was earthworms, which were collected by the parents in areas of bare earth and small gullies close to the nest (Plate 4). It was surprising that while one parent incessantly uttered alarm calls whenever humans were within 15 m of the nest, the other parent (with the narrower crown stripe) continued visiting the nest silently to feed the young. At other times, one parent uttered the loud alarm call from a hidden position while the other gave a slightly longer, lower-pitched whirrr at intervals of between one and three seconds. This alternative warning call was often accompanied by ‘wing-flicking’—the rapid opening and closing of the wings.

9.7.16 YWJ Pair with Earthworms and LizardPlate 4. The parent birds returned to the nest frequently with copious quantities of earthworms, 9 July 2016. Yap Wee Jin.

Although the brood comprised four chicks, it was apparent that the bulk of the food was fed to the three chicks closest to the entrance of the mound. On 19 July, all four chicks left the nest between 12h42 and 17h01 (Plate 5); they left progressively, in their own time, even though the fourth chick appeared underdeveloped compared with its siblings (Plate 6). The three stronger chicks were already capable of short flights to perches 3 m above the ground, whilst the fourth could only hop on the forest floor. Assuming the chicks were around a week old on 14 July, the estimated fledging period was about 14 days.

 

BWP chick 1536H
Plate 5. One of the three stronger chicks during its first foray out of the nest, 19 July 2016Tan Gim Cheong.

BWP last chick 1701H snip
Plate 6. Compared to its three siblings, the fourth chick was noticeably weaker and less well-developed when the family fledged, 19 July 2016. Tan Gim Cheong.

During subsequent visits on 21 and 23 July, we observed a single fledgling about 50 m from the nest site; by this time it was already independent, capable of foraging alone and undertaking flights between trees (Plate 7). While the fate of the rest of the clutch is unclear, the observation of the lone juvenile foraging independently three days after leaving the nest suggests that the fledglings become independent very quickly. However, the parent birds were still very protective and one of them continued to utter alarm calls incessantly whenever observers approached within 15 m of the fledgling. The parents were also observed to make short circular flights and hops around observers, flicking their wings frequently to show their white wing patches, presumably to act as a distraction and on at least one occasion both parents were observed to make alarm calls, alternating with wing-flicking.

 

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Plate 7. Soon after leaving the nest, one of the fledglings was already a confident flier that frequently perched in the mid-storey, 21 July 2016.
Alfred Chia

 

 

On 23 July, a second nest was discovered by KKL deeper in the forest, about 50 m from the original nest; it was similar in construction to the first nest. On 28 July, a single egg was found in the new nest and thereafter one egg was laid every day until 1 August—a clutch of five eggs (Plate 8).

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Plate 8. The second Blue-winged Pitta nest found at Pulau Ubin showing the clutch of five eggs, 2 August 2016. Tan Gim Cheong.

 

 

The parents only started brooding on 2 August after all five eggs had been laid. During the incubation period, the parents took turns incubating and were occasionally observed to turn the eggs. On 14 August, 18 days after the discovery of the first egg, three chicks hatched and the remaining two eggs hatched the following day (Plate 9). During the period when there were both eggs and chicks to care for, the parents were observed to take turns feeding chicks and incubating. They also consumed the egg shells once the chicks had hatched.

AC10Plate 9. All five eggs in the second nest hatched successfully by 15 August 2016. Low Choon How.

During observations on 17 August, it was noted that nest visits lasted between 33 and 255 seconds, with intervals of from 1 to 19 minutes between visits. Parents were observed to either remove or consume faecal sacs and, in contrast to the first nest, alarm-calling was minimal, possibly due to the greater distance of the second nest from the trail. Unfortunately, this nesting attempt may not have had a positive outcome. On 18 August, the parents were seen to remove a dead chick from the nest and on 21 August we found that all the chicks had disappeared. As the chicks were only seven days old, unable to fly and completely dependent on their parents, it is most likely that they were predated.

Discussion:

The discovery of Blue-winged Pitta breeding in Singapore is significant both as an extension of the breeding range by about 400 km to the south-east but also because it may change our understanding of the status and movements of the species on the Malay Peninsula. The first reports of Blue-winged Pitta from Singapore outside the established wintering/migration period were in July 2008 when two individuals were heard calling vociferously on the Kranji Nature Trail (Low 2008, Lok et al. 2009); the species could already have bred in Singapore when the Taman Negara NP record was documented. We can now confirm that the breeding range of this species extends to the most southerly point of the Malay Peninsula, also raising the possibility of breeding on the islands of the Greater Sundas. The forest near the eastern end of Pulau Ubin is regenerating on abandoned rubber plantations. Similarly, most of the Blue-winged Pittas heard calling have been reported from western Singapore, where the forest has regenerated from land that was previously used for plantations or village agriculture (Yee et al. 2016). This is in line with published literature which notes the species’ preference for secondary growth as breeding habitat (Wells 2007). This habitat preference may also explain why the species has not been recorded breeding in southern Peninsular Malaysia, where there is little observer effort because the majority of visiting birdwatchers opt to visit remnant tracts of rainforest instead of secondary growth. There is no confirmatory evidence that the birds breeding in Singapore are resident—they may winter in Sumatra or elsewhere. In Singapore, anecdotal evidence such as birds colliding with windows shows that good numbers of Blue-winged Pittas move through the city-state on migration (BWL pers. obs.).

Acknowledgements:

We thank Low Choon How and Alan Owyong for their active involvement in documenting the nesting record and for useful discussion.

References:

Hutchinson, R. & Mears, A. (2006). Extension of the breeding range of Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis in peninsular Malaysia. Forktail 22: 119–120.

Lim K. S. (2009) The avifauna of Singapore. Singapore: Nature Society (Singapore).

Lok A. F. S. L., Khor K. T. N., Lim K. C. & Subaraj, R. (2009) Pittas (Pittidae) of Singapore. Nature in Singapore 2: 155–165.

Low, A. (2008) Bird Report. Singapore Avifauna 22(7): 1–25.

Wells, D. R. (2007) The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Yee A. T. K., Chong K. Y., Neo L. & Tan H. T. W. (2016) Updating the classification system for the secondary forests of Singapore. Raffles Bull. Zool. 32: 11–21.