Tag Archives: Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher

Will Bidadari still be a haven for the birds?

Will Bidadari still be a haven for the migratory birds?

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Bidadari today is still a stop over and wintering ground for migratory birds despite the loss of a large part of its woodlands and forests. 

When the announcement that the old Bidadari Cemetery would be developed for housing, the nature and birding community were mourning the loss of yet another nature and birding haven. We have documented more than 155 species of birds here, half of which are migrants. In fact it is one of the best places to find some of the rarer migrant species in Singapore.

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The core of the 9 hectare park, with a lake and a creek added to the landscape. Photo from CPG Corporation. The beige colored road is the old Upper Aljunied Road which will be converted into a pedestrian and cycle “Heritage Walk” with all the large Rain trees preserved. 

Bidadari today is almost devoid of forest and green cover. There is only a patch of woodlands near to Mt. Vernon parlours that is semi-wild. This is where part of the 9 hectare park will be. If you go there today, you can see many of the transplanted trees growing in between the huge Ficus and Acacia trees. The old Upper Aljunied Road will be converted into a pedestrian and cycle “Heritage Walk” lined with spreading Rain trees. On the other side of the Heritage Walk, a new water body “Alkaff Lake” will hopefully bring in waterbirds to the area with the planting of wetland vegetation. Facing Bartley Road to the north is the one- hectare Albizia Hillock which will be left untouched. This is the highest part of Bidadari where most migrants make landfall. A “Bidadari Greenway” running from north to south will serve as a green corridor for both the residents and wildlife to move around.

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The one hectare Albizia Hillock will be left untouched. The Bird Group mapped this out as the migrant hotspot during a six month study. It will be linked to the park by green connectors and link bridge.

The landscape consultants will adopted a biodiversity enhancement approach by keeping as much of the present greenery and paths while adding in layered planting of suitable trees and shrubs similar to what was done at Gardens by the Bay. The HDB and NParks with contribution from NSS want to show that it can create a park that is rich and conducive to wildlife, to achieve their vision of “A community in Garden” living for Bidadari.  Will the migrants return? Only time will tell especially when all the buildings are up and the residents moved in. There will be more noise and disturbance. But so far this season 14 migrant species have shown a high sense of site fidelity and found their way back, even though their numbers were low.

The flycatchers led by the Asian Brown Flycatchers were the first to arrive. The Yellow-rumped and the Paradise Flycatchers follow suit. Last week we saw the arrival of the globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers. Bidadari is one of the best places to see this flycatcher in its wintering range.

Bidadari

The Yellow-rumped Flycatchers were one of the first flycatchers to arrive at Bidadari. We get more females than males during Autumn.

Bidadari

Both the Amur and Blyth’s Paradise Flycatchers  descended at Bidadari in good numbers. Amurs like this one outnumbered the Blyth’s during this period.

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Bidadari is one of the best places to see this Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher in its  wintering range.

The star for this season had to be this Ruddy Kingfisher that went missing for three years. It stayed for more than a week delighting many of its admirers and fans. We hope that the migrants will continue to come back and use the new Bidadari Park as their stop over wintering ground.

Bidadari

List of migrants recorded so far this season at Bidadari:

  1. Arctic Warbler
  2. Eastern-crowned Warbler
  3. Asian Brown Flycatcher
  4. Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
  5. Dark-sided Flycatcher
  6. Amur Paradise Flycatcher
  7. Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher
  8. Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
  9. Ferruginous Flycatcher
  10. Tiger Shrike
  11. Brown Shrike
  12. Crow-billed Drongo.
  13. Ruddy Kingfisher.
  14. Drongo Cuckoo.

Source reference: Housing and Development Board

 

 

 

 

Singapore Bird Report-September 2017

The autumn migration is truly underway this month with more passerines reported all over the island. Out of the twenty plus arrivals this month, only four beat their previous early arrival dates. Some like the Arctic Warblers were very late. 

The list of the first arrivals of the season:

Adrian Silas Tay

Red-footed Booby washed up at the seawall at Marina Barrage. Photo: Adrian Silas Tay.

  1. Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres, six birds scoped at Pulau Sekudu, Ubin on 1st by Lim Kim Keang, Low Choon How and Russell Boyman
  2. Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii at Marina Barrage on 1st by Russell Boyman. Photo posted by Seng Alvin on 2nd. Another reported at Seletar Dam on 7th by Fadzrun A.
  3. Red-footed Booby Sula sula, a dried up carcass was found washed up on the seawall at Marina Barrage on 3rd by Adrian Silas Tay and friends. May have died at sea while on transit.
  4. Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae, a female at Dempsey Hill on 7th photographed by Lawrence Eu. This is 10 days earlier than the previous early arrival date.
  5. Daurian Starling Agropsar sturninus a small flock seen at the sand banks at Seletar Dam on 7th by Wang Heng Mount.
  6. Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus, with a Godwit at Pulau Tekong on 9th by Frankie Cheong.
  7. Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes, bird seen on the same day on Tekong by Frankie Cheong. Another three were reported there on 23rd and one on 29th. The reclaimed land there had been their favourite wintering ground for the past few years.
  8. A White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus was reported by Adrian Silas Tay at Lorong Halus on 10th. Lim Kim Keang reported several White-winged Terns feeding at Serangoon Reservoir on 15th. White-winged Terns usually arrives much earlier in July and August.
  9. Adrian Silas Tay also had a Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hydrida, at the  Lorong Halus that same day. This is about a week later than last year’s early date.
  10. Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis, one heard calling at the Bulim Woods on 10th by James Tann. It could be either an overstayer or a new arrival.
  11. Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus, seen at the MacRitchie Trail on 10th by Marcel Finlay. This was followed by one at GBTB on 25th photographed by Terence Tan and another at DFNP by James Tann on 25th.
  12. Another Wagtail, this time an Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla  tschuschensis, from Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course on 10th by Fadzrun A.
  13. Martin Kennewell had an early Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura, at Kranji Marshes on the 10th. Identified by call, this individual is 5 days earlier than the previous arrival date.
  14. Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis first one reported at Seletar Dam on 8th by Marcel Finlay. The second, a juvenile made a late landfall at Marina Barrage on 13th, duly spotted by Robin Tan. This juvenile stayed over to refuel for more than 2 weeks. On 23rd, Frankie Cheong reported three more Red-necked Stints at Pulau Tekong.
  15. Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, two birds were photographed at the Marina Barrage on 15th by Robin Tan. Pary Sivaraman posted another photo of one of them he shot the next day. A subspecies, the Swinhoe’s Plover C.a. dealbatus, was identified by Dave Bakewell from photos taken there by Alan OwYong on the 15th.
  16. Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei, a recent split, was photographed at Chinese Gardens on 20th by Siew Mun and seen by Marcel Finlay at Bukit Brown on same day. He had another at Old Thompson Road on 25th. Terence Tan also shot one at DFNP on 21st. Two birds were reported from Bidadari as well on 24th by Francis Yap and Alan OwYong. The Amur seems to be more commonly encountered than the Blyth’s during this migratory period. 
  17. Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris, was photographed at the Japanese Gardens on 21st by Gerald Lim.
  18. A returning non-breeding visitor, Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus, was photographed at Lorong Halus on 26th by Seng Alvin. This is just a day earlier than the last reported date. Alan OwYong saw the same bee-eater there the next day.
  19. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius, a male was a surprise find at Gardens East on 27th. It beats the earlier arrival date by 3 weeks. Unfortunately it did not stay around.
  20. Over at Pulau Ubin, a confiding Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca, was spotted by See Toh Yew Wai, Francis Yap and friends on 23rd. Last year one crashed into the River Valley High School on the same day.
  21. A Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus, was first recorded at Bukit Brown on 20th b=y Marcel Finlay. A second arrived at Bidadari on 24th. Robin Tan was there to welcome it. The next day another was picked up by Terence Tan at GBTB.
  22. Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers Locustella certhiola, are overdue. Great that Rama Krishnan heard one calling at the Kranji Marshes on 25th to confirm that they arrived. These confiding warblers are notoriously hard to see.
  23. Two Arctic Warblers Phylloscopus borealis, was reported by Tay Kian Guan on 21st at the Southern Ridges. Veronica Foo saw another at Hindhede NP on 28th. Unusually late as we get them in early August.
  24. Finally we had our first Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneata, when Martin Kennewell photographed one at SBWR on the 30th. Previous early arrival date was 23rd September.
  25. Kozi Ichiyama recorded the first Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia, on the last day of August. It was the start of an influx of these flycatchers all over the island for the whole of September including our second casualty that crashed into a factory in the Joo Koon, Tuas area on 18th (David Tan).

        (Note: Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you had an earlier sighting of any of the above or unreported species)                         

Terence Tan

A recent split Amur Paradise Flycatcher at Dairy Farm NP on 21st. Photo: Terence Tan

Based on our previous pelagic trips, mid September was the height of the passage of the Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels Oceanadroma monorhis, and Bridled Terns Onychoprion anaethetus, with counts of 5-600 birds. Unfortunately the 17th September trip organised by the Bird Group for NSS members came back with very low counts for both (16 for Bridled and 18 for the Storm Petrels). But they did established new early arrival date for the 25 Aleutian Terns Onychoprion aleuticus. Other seabirds recorded by Alfred Chia, Lim Kim Keang, Lim Kin Seng, Con Foley and others were 25 Swift Terns Thalasseus bergii, 3 Lesser Crested Terns Thalasseus bengalensis, and 1 White-winged Tern.

Robin Tan 2

This juvenile Red-necked Stint arrived at Marina Barrage on 13th. Photo: Robin Tan

Alfred Chia, Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo did a quick shorebird count at Chek Jawa on 24th. Their tally included 200 Lesser Sand Plovers Charadrius mongolus, 9 Terek Sandpipers Xenus cinerea , 7 Barred-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica, 15 Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus, 35 Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola, 25 Little Terns Sternula albifrons, 3 Pacific Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva, 2 Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana and 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos.

James Tann MW

Mangrove Whistler caught the eyes of James Tann at Pulau Ubin. 

With more birders and photographers in the field it was not surprising that a good number of rare and uncommon resident species were reported, most of them from Pulau Ubin. The elusive Mangrove Blue Flycatcher Cyornis rufigastra, was heard calling along the Chek Jawa boardwalk at Pulau Ubin on 1st by Low Choon How and heard again by Veronica Foo on 3rd. Staying at Ubin, Veronica added 3 Black-crested Bulbuls Pycnonotus flaviventris, from Butterfly Hill on the 15th, an unusual record for Ubin. A day later James Tann returned with great photos of the Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea, a much sought-after island species. There were two birds at Ketam according to Adrian Silas Tay.

Serin Subaraj

Juvenile Barred Eagle Owl at Pulau Ubin. Photo: Serin Subaraj.

The NParks survey team and volunteers did one better when they found a juvenile Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus, among the durian trees on the 18th. Subsequent visits confirmed the presence of its parents nearby although out of sight. This is the first evidence of the presence of a breeding family of this rare owl in Singapore.

Veronica Foo

Cinereous Bulbul, a non breeding visitor at Pulau Ubin. Photo: Veronica Foo.

The female Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus, made an appearance on 21st (Alan OwYong) feeding together with the Oriental Pieds at Butterfly Hill. During the hunt for the owl, See Toh Yew Wai, Francis Yap and friends spotted a Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda, there on 23rd. This could be our resident minor race or a migrant. The previous earliest arrival date of the migratory Ruddy Kingfisher was also on the 23rd at Pasir Ris Mangroves in 1989. The last uncommon record for Ubin were 2 Cinereous Bulbuls Hemixos cinereus, a non-breeding visitor, seen by Lim Kim Keang, Alfred Chia and Veronica Foo on 24th.

LKS

Three White-rumped Munias at Sentosa Cove on 18th. Photo: Lim Kim Seng.

Other notable residents was a King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis, from Kranji Marshes on 10th by Martin Kennewell, 14 Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica, at Lorong Halus pond on 15th by Lim Kim Keang, 3 White-rumped Munias Lonchura striata, at Sentosa Cove on 18th by Lim Kim Seng. A high count of 6 Red-legged Crakes were seen and heard calling at Bukit Brown on 19th and 20th by Marcel Finlay. An Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula, at Buloh Crescent on 29th by Derrick Wong, 4 Lesser Adjutants Leptoptilos javanicus, seen flying from Kranji Marshes Tower on 30th by Martin Kennewell and a Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea, at Sentosa on 30th by Lim Kim Seng. The White-rumped Munia is a new record for Sentosa but it’s status will required verification. The sighting of the 4 Lesser Adjutants was the largest for this former resident so far in Singapore. Lets hope they will re-establish here again.

References:

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

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

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

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from ebird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Adrian Silas Tay, Terence Tan, Robin Tan, James Tann, Serin Subaraj, Veronica Foo and Lim Kim Seng for the the use of their photos. Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you find errors in these records.

Wild Birds and Habitats-A Digital View.

Contributed by Andrew Chow.

My favorite paint medium for bird painting is soluble water color pencils. I still used them once in a while. But even an old hand like me had to embrace the digital age. I bought myself a Samsung Note 10 that came with a S-pen. With the help of the Autodesk Sketchbook software, it makes sketching a lot easier from the photos I took on site.

I did several digital bird paintings in the past years using the Note 10. I think it is important to include the habitat where the bird is found to tell the whole story. I hope to inspire those who wish to take up this absorbing hobby.

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Little Guilin is close to my place. It is also the nesting site of the nationally threatened Grey-headed Fish Eagle. No invitations needed to try out and start my digital journey.

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When the decision to turn the old Muslim Cemetery at Bidadari into a housing estate, I had to capture the lush greenery and woodlands before it was gone. The background shows the familiar view to all of us walking in. I had many lifers at this migrant haven. The one I chose to represent Bidadari is the globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, my lifer at this site.

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The lost of our fresh water wetlands may see these nationally threatened Little Grebes disappeared from our island. I had the privilege of seeing this family bringing up their chicks at the new pond off Lorong Halus in 2014. It was my pleasure to feature them and their precious wetland for posterity.

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One of the first birds I saw when I visited Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves many years back is the nationally near-threatened Copper-throated Sunbird. It is a mangrove specialist which means that we will have to keep our mangroves if we want to see this beautiful sunbird for generations to come. I want to illustrate the role the mangroves play in keeping our coastal biodiversity intact.

 

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This is one of my latest work at the newly opened Kranji Marshes. The Black-backed Swamphen is the emblem for the largest wetland in Singapore. It is the bird that every visitor want to see when visiting the marshes. We are glad that NParks and the URA have created this wetland sanctuary to bring back the water birds.

I wish to thank the Bird Group for showcasing my works on their blog. I hope these paintings will give you the reason to go out and enjoy our wild places and the birds.

 

 

 

 

 

China to Sumatra via Singapore: The Journey of the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher

To many casual birdwatchers, the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher (Rhinomyias brunneata) is just another of the many hundreds of ‘brown jobs’ that dwell in the region. The more serious birders and conservationists however, know it to be globally threatened, and appreciate its rarity in the region.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
(A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher from Bidadari, Singapore. Photographed in September 2012)

In Singapore, veterans of the Singapore Bird Race remember it as a ‘species in bold’, in the race checklist, a classification reserved for many of our rarest birds, and thus in need of special documentation in the race. First discovered in northern Singapore back in the early 1980s, the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher was a bird one seldom saw, and there were only a handful of records every year. In recent years, much has been learnt about the ecology of this little songbird. Birdwatchers visiting the famous Bidadari Cemetery found small numbers of these birds every October since 2006, and in 2013, a total of eight birds were sighted in the little patch of woodland of no more than 15 hectares in size. Parallel surveys I conducted in the Central Catchment Forest found as many as six birds in one morning in mid-October, or an average of 1 bird for every kilometre walked. Birdwatchers around the world now acknowledge that Singapore is probably the best place to see the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher in the world during the fall migration period between October-November, much more so that at it’s breeding habitat in China.

So, why the apparent rarity? One reason is that the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher has a habit of skulking in dense patches of undergrowth in woodlands and forests, perching motionless on a low twig while watching the ground for the unfortunate bug. Many birdwatchers are thus likely to have walked past the flycatcher without realising that it is there, just metres away in the bushes. Secondly, the drab-brownish colour tones of the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher mean that to the uninitiated, it can be quite a challenge to tell it apart from other flycatchers, many of which are also brownish and show subtle differences which are difficult to pick out when seen poorly. Thirdly, not many people know the calls the Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher makes. Only in recent years do we now know it produces a harsh series of ‘ticks’, a call made when it is alarmed, or when another Jungle Flycatcher comes too close into its territory. (Link to my recording on Xeno-canto Link1, Link2). This call is so similar to that made by Blue Flycatchers of the genus Cyornis, that it is not surprising why some taxonomists now consider it part of that group.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
(A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher from Bidadari, Singapore. Photographed on a low twig.)

In Singapore, the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher occurs as a passage migrant, which means that birds seen here are on their way to their wintering destination elsewhere. Breeding in the mountainous broadleaved forests of southern and central China (e.g. Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guizhou), Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers head south from August onwards, briefly passing through northern Vietnam. By mid-September, they would have reached Central Thailand, as confirmed by regular sightings around Bangkok . Sightings from Singapore are mainly from the last few days of September to early November and there are very few records of birds staying through winter. Birds have also been collected from the One Fathom Bank Lighthouse in the Straits of Malacca in November before the 1920s, while hundreds were mist-netted on migration in Frasers Hill in the 1960s.

For many years, no one knew for sure where they spend their winters. A major clue came when a team in Java mist-netted a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher in the Gunung Halimun National Park southwest of Jakarta. Subsequently, photographers based in Sumatra obtained images of ‘unknown flycatchers’ which were subsequently re-identified as the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers. Part of the confusion stemmed from the fact that the bird was not listed for Sumatra in the main bird field guide (i.e. Mackinnon et al’s Birds of Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Bali) covering the region. We now know that the bird has been found in the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Lampung, and the Harapan Rainforest in Jambi province. In short, we now know that the humble Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher makes a journey of 3,500km each way in Autumn and Spring, a massive distance for such a small little bird.

Photo Gallery

Reference:
MacKinnon, J., & Phillipps, K. (1993). A field guide to the birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Bali: the Greater Sunda Islands. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

This post is written by our contributor Yong Ding Li with additional input from Albert Low. Photographs by Francis Yap.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Rhinomyias brunneata

Brown-chested Flycatcher at Bida

I bumped into Eric Tan this morning at Bidadari. Eric, a long time bird photographer, was on a home break from his work in Queensland. He was photographing the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher at the OHT area with other photographers. He happily told me that this was his lifer. It just reminded me how precious and rare this flycatcher is even though we get to see it every year at Bidadari.

It is listed as a rare passage migrant and winter visitor to Singapore, but we think that the numbers passing through may be higher. It is globally threatened and served as one of the criteria for an Important Bird Area (IBA). It breeds in SE China and passes through Thailand on way to winter in Peninsular Malaysia. This particular genus Rhinomyias has two others, the Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher, R. olivacea and Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher R. umbratilis in it. They are residents of Greater Sundas for Fulvous-chested and Sumatra and Borneo for Grey-chested. Rare residents in Southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia.

Interestingly, there were no records of this Flycatcher before the 70s. Our first record was on 4th Jan1980 at Ulu Sembawang reported by Lim Kim Chuah. There were only ten records between this sighting and 1992. The earliest photo was one taken at Nee Soon Swamp Forest on 9th October 1994 ( Alan OwYong, Kenneth Kee and Alfred Chia) followed by others at Bukit Timah and Sime Road Forest in the subsequent years. Other sightings were at Tyersall Avenue, Kent Ridge Park and again at Ulu Sembawang.

When Bidadari gives way to HDB housing in a couple of years time, will we get to see this dainty Flycatcher returning to its favorite wintering ground again? I hope so.

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