Tag Archives: Buffy Fish Owl

A Brief Encounter with Buffy.

Our brief encounter with the Buffy Fish Owls at Singapore Botanic Gardens.  
by Henrietta Woo.

Observers: Goh Pei Shuan, Henrietta Woo, Ong Ruici

Date: 21 Mar 2018

Time: From 1918 hours till nightfall

Location: NParks HQ, Singapore Botanic Gardens

Pei Shuan and I had just left the office and were making our way to the Evolution Garden when two large-sized birds abruptly landed in the tree above us while calling. We thought it might be the Red Jungle Fowls, but turning the corner, the birds revealed themselves to be Buffy Fish Owls. Both continued to vocalise, one more so frequently than the other, uttering a relatively soft “yiiii” (like a squeaky chair, for lack of a better description) each time. The other owl answered sporadically with a louder and harsher “yiooorhhh”. I am guessing that the former is a subadult; the plumage differences seem rather minute, however. Both kept close to each other.

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While this was happening, Ruici who was at Botany Centre observing the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher immediately rushed over and joined me about 5 minutes after Pei Shuan left. At this time, the owls had become more active, flying across the path to another tree and calling more frequently. The pair thereafter flew across the carpark, to the trees directly in front of the HQ, where we observed was a third owl. Soon after, two of the owls flew across the carpark one after the other back to the Evolution Garden. One of them was carrying a small branch/large twig from the Araucaria tree it had been perching in. The two owls in the Evolution Garden started to vocalise, seemingly coaxing the third individual (subadult?) to join them.

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I had my camera (thankfully!) with me, and managed to squeeze off a few shots before night fell. We also were able to take a few recordings of the owls vocalising and will eventually upload onto xeno-canto. This brief encounter with these Buffy Fish Owls while unexpected was most exhilarating! 

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Pulau Ubin Nocturnal Bird Survey Report

Nocturnal Bird Survey Report at Pulau Ubin by Sandra Chia.

The nocturnal fauna of Singapore has long held the fascination of many nature-enthusiasts. From the inquisitive stare of the Buffy Fish Owl to the wide-eyed Sunda Scops Owl, nocturnal birds have been seen throughout the island, and garnered the attention of many. Several of us have seen owls on Pulau Ubin before, but how many are there exactly? And where?

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One of Ubin’s the Buffy Fish Owls. Photo: Sandra Chia.

To get a better understanding of the diversity and numbers of nocturnal birds present on Pulau Ubin, the Bird Group in collaboration with Nparks conducted its first ever Ubin night survey. On 22 July, while hordes of people were headed home after a long day at the beach, a group of us were headed towards Changi Point Ferry Terminal for a very different reason. Boarding a bumboat, 11 of us set off into the sunset for Pulau Ubin. Headed by an experienced leader, the group was further split into three teams of three to four surveyors each. Three survey routes were established, covering the east, west and central portions of Ubin.

Upon reaching the starting point of each survey route, the group embarked on a slow walk back to the kampong centre, that took about 2 hours. Whenever a nocturnal bird was encountered or heard, the species and coordinates of the encounter were jotted down and compiled into a datasheet thereafter. When nocturnal mammals were encountered, the species and location of the encounter were likewise noted down, on a separate datasheet.

In total, 16 individual birds were seen or heard. The most numerous were the Large-tailed Nightjar and Sunda Scops Owl, of which 6 individuals of each species were encountered throughout the survey. The Buffy Fish Owl and Black-crowned Night Heron were encountered once each, while the Savanna Nightjar was encountered twice. To our delight, Greater Mousedeer were seen by all three groups and one group even saw a herd of wild boar with 3 adults and 13 piglets!

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There is probably a much wider diversity and greater number of nocturnal birds on Ubin, based on historical sightings as well as the fact that there are many parts of Ubin our routes did not cover. For example, all species of owl known in Singapore are recorded on Ubin except for the Short-eared Owl. We hope to continue to conduct more nocturnal census and hopefully uncover more nocturnal birds on Ubin.

The Bird Group is grateful to all the survey leaders for leading the surveys and to all participants who assisted. The survey leaders included Lim Kim Keang, Willie Foo and Alfred Chia and participants included Sandra Chia, Emmanuel Goh, Dillen Ng, Lim Hong Yao and Tan Julin. We would also like to thank Robert Teo, Grace Ang, Joseph Lin and Jacky Soh from NParks for supporting our work.

First known nesting record of the Buffy Fish Owl

25.3.2016

Taken on 25 March  2016 about 2 week after it was discovered.

In the 1980s and 90s, the Buffy Fish Owls, Ketupa ketupa, were found at only a few locations in Singapore, like Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh and Central Catchment Forest. Our only record that indicate breeding was the sighting of two immatures at the Lower Peirce Reservoir in 1994 & 2010 and MacRitchie Reservoir in October 2011.. In recent years, they have spread out to Sentosa, Pasir Ris Park, Punggol and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It augurs well for this owl.

Buffy Fish Owl Terence Tan

A month later, a fully fledged chick looking inquisitive. 25 April 2016. Photo: Terence Tan.

In early March this year, staff of SBWR noticed a fur ball through a gap in a Bird Nest Fern on a Rain Tree. It turned out to be an owl chick. It was the same with the Buffy Fish Owls I seen in Perak, Malaysia. They were also using Bird Nest Ferns as nests, which makes it hard to spot looking from below. Unlike other nesting birds, the parents do not feed them during the day and avoid undue attention.

Despite the attention of visitors to the Wetland Reserve, the parent birds don’t seem to feel threatened during the nesting. They just perched in the mid canopy nearby, keeping a watchful eye on the young. The chick was mostly exposed to the elements during the day staying awake most of the time.

On the 25th April, about seven weeks after being discovered, the chick was seen out of its nest, perched in the open on a branch of a nearby tree. It must have made the short flight across from the nest. It stayed at the same position for most of the day without trying to go near the parent birds perched below.

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Taking its first wobbly steps to see the brave new world.

We are so privileged to have a close up view of the  nesting of this nationally threatened species , probably our first, and happy to see that it’s successful fledged. Richard White just posted a photo of another newly fledged juvenile with its parent at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. What a happy co-incidence!

Reference: Lim Kim Seng.The Avifauan of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore). Thanks to Terence Tan for the use of his photo.

 

 

 

Singapore Bird Report – June 2015

Rescued White-tailed Tropicbird from Tuas (Photograph courtesy of ACRES)

Rescued White-tailed Tropicbird from Tuas.  (Photograph courtesy of ACRES)

We all were expecting another quiet month when Yong Ding Li dropped a bombshell on 22nd. He reported that ACRES had retrieved a White-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon Lepturus, from Pioneer Sector at Tuas. This will our very first record of an identified tropicbird in Singapore. From the yellowish wash in the plumage this is the Fulvus form. The Record’s Committee will be deliberating on its status and decide on its inclusion into the Checklist. There were two unidentified records of tropicbirds previously. One bird seen flying off Seletar on 11 December 1963 off (MBR 1964) and another in 1986 by Tan Gim Cheong off Serangoon Estuary. The nearest breeding colony is at the Cocos-Keeling and Christmas Islands.

Black-winged Flycatchershrike Wolfgang

The other big find for the month was a Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Hemipus hirundinaceus, photographed by a visiting German birdwatcher Wolfgang Kraemer, at Chek Java, P. Ubin on the 28th. This is our second record following Francis Yap’s sighting at the Jelutong Towers on 23 August 2013. This species was previously listed in Category F: Doubtful species because of mis-identification, but have since ungraded to Category A and added in the 2013 Checklist. Efforts to find this flycatchershrike two days later was not rewarded.

Oriental Darter Cherry Goh

The Oriental Darter captured by Cherry Goh at the Pekan Quarry on 2nd Ubin Day.

The migrants reported this month include a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis at SBWR on 1st (Andy Dinesh). During Ubin Day an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster, made a surprised appearance at the Pekan Quarry. It was first seen there by John Ascher sometime in April (per con Andy Dinesh). This Darter was first reported at Ketam Quarry co-incidentally during the first Ubin Day on 30th October 2014. It is not in our current checklist but these sightings will strengthen its inclusion. There were two sightings of the Oriental Honey Buzzards, Pernis ptilorthyncus, one a juvenile at the Botanic Gardens on 18th by Tan Eng Boo and the other a second year bird over at Dempsey Hill on 20th by Sampath Ah. Both are summering and will only return north next spring.

Blue-eared KF Wolfgang

A rare find for Pulau Ubin of a Blue-eared KingFisher by Wolfgang Kraemer.

Non-breeding visitors reported were a Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax, at the Kranji Park on 13th by Sampath Ah and the Cinereous Bulbul Hermixos flavala,at Chek Java on 28th by Wolfgang Kraemer. Wolfgang also photographed our forest Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, there showing how this once Central Catchment species have spread. Choo Chong Teck showed us a photo of a Chrysococcyx cuckoo taken at the Tampines Mountain Bike Trail on 27th. It turned out to be another Horsfield Bronze Cuckoos Chrysococcyx basalis, at a new location. The Austral cuckoos at Punggol Barat were still wintering there as of the 28th based on reports from See Toh Wai Yew.

Grey-headed Fish-eagle David Awcock 2

Fishing Grey-headed Fish-eagle caught by David Awcock at the Swan Lake.

The resident Grey-headed Fish-eagles, Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, were keeping the photographers busy with their daily fishing antics at the Singapore Botanic Garden’s Swan Lake. They were first videoed by Jeremiah Loei on 10th. A pair of Buffy Fish Owls Ketupa ketupu, were roosting at the Rain Forest section of the gardens (Zacc HD 13th). They were first spotted at the Gardens by Richard White last month on 8th May. We think that they may have been flushed out from the Tyersall side due to the construction of the new extension to the gardens.

The once rare Crested Goshawks Accipiter trivirgatus, are now being seen more often. Seng Alvin photographed a second year bird in flight over at Pasir Ris Park on 10th with another photographed at Ang Mo Kio Park by Audrey Ngo on 7th. Jia Wei Woo was delighted to have captured a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus flying over at the Swan Lake on 27th. It was the resident ernesti race.

Other notable records were an Asian Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris, photographed at the Dillenia Hut by Vincent Lao on 28th. This should to be our resident subspecies barussarum. A pair of Plaintive Cuckoos, Cacomantis merulinus were photographed at Punggol Barat on 23rd by Liz How. We usually get to see single bird of this species. From the sightings this month, it is evident that we cannot slack off for any periods if we are to keep track of the rarities.

Reference: Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. 2009. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-east Asia. Craig Robson Asia Books Ltd.2000. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Simpson and Day, Edited by Francis Yap and Yong Ding Li. The above records are taken from the various bird FB groups. pages, reports and forums.  Many thanks for your postings. Many thanks to ACRES, Wolfgang Kraemer, David Awcock and Cherry Goh for the use of the photographs.

Singapore Bird Report – May 2015

HBC Albert Tan 24 April 15 Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo Eric Tan.

Albert Tan’s 24th                                       Eric Tan’s 25th. Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo

May is the usual slow and quiet month as most of the migrants have left and the residents were in their post breeding period.  But all these were shattered with an influx of the long awaited and rare Austral migrant, the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx basalis.

Apparently it was photographed at Punggol Barat on the 10th by Vincent Lao, but was dismissed as the Little Bronze Cuckoo. Albert Tan and Eric Wang posted their exciting finds on 24th and 25th after reading a timely post by Francis Yap of Lim Kim Seng’s old Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo article.

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo at Punggol Barat

Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo at Punggol Barat

The race was on to find them before they are gone. To everyone’s surprise, there were a bunch of them flying around at the Mimosa open waste land at Punggol Barat. This is Francis Yap’s excited text on 30th: “Got the horsy, Punggol Barat now”, “Lost track of it, near pond”, “Cannot find. Very hot now”, “Found again”, “3 birds now, near pond”, “ 4-5 birds”, “ Lost count liao after 10 birds”. Con Foley was calling this a “Cuckoo Convention”. It was just incredible. In June 2005 we had one adult and one juvenile that stayed for a week at Marina South. The past eight records, all were single birds. This is our chance to study their “wintering” behaviour.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher by Vincent Ng

Asian Paradise Flycatcher by Vincent Ng

The month started well with the sighting of a male white morphed Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone paradise, at Bidadari on the 2nd ( new extreme date?).  Many of us were grateful for the instant alert from Vincent Ng as it was gone the next day, clearly on passage back. Two Von Schrenck’s Bitterns, Ixobrychus eurhythmus, were photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 5th by Billy Goh and 8th at SBWR on 8th by Alan OwYong. They are known to stay late till June. Another late migrant was an adult Tiger Shrike, Lanius tigrinus, picked up at Bidadari on 9th by Lim Kim Seng. A total of 49 Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels, Oceanodroma monorhis, on passage were counted during a private Pelagic trip to the Straits of Singapore on 10th ( Francis Yap). This was the largest flock recorded for the year, a low count compared to previous year.

Eric Wang managed to photograph all three Jambu Fruit Doves, Ptilinopus jambu, adult male, female and a juvenile feeding on the same tree at Bidadari on the same date. These are the uncommon non breeding visitors attracted by fruiting figs. Another uncommon non breeding visitor was an Cinererous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, recorded at Belukar trail on the 20th, another new extreme date.

Interesting resident records include a Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica at the Japanese Gardens, reported by Laurence Eu , Buffy Fish OwlsKetupa ketupu, one at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 8th ( Richard White) and another at Bidadari on 15th (Er Bong Siong). All are new for the location.

Two eggs belonging to the Large-tailed Nighjars, Caprimuigus macrurus, were found by Lucy Davies on 10th at Wessex, while the chick of the Changeable Hawk Eagle at Mount Faber fledged on the 12th, much to the delight of the  many of its fans ( Johnson Chua). The young eaglet that was rescued and looked after by the vets in Sentosa turned out to be a Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivigatus This is the first record of this rare resident raptor breeding there. It will be tagged before released back into the wild. Seng Alvin painstaking monitoring of the pair of Malaysian Pied Fantails, Rhipidura javanica, paid off.  He documented the fledgling of two chicks on the 25th. Happy days.

Nesting Malaysian Pied Fantails about to fledge. Photo: Seng Alvin

Nesting Malaysian Pied Fantails about to fledge. Photo: Seng Alvin

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Crested Goshawk chick rescued at Sentosa in April. Same chick a month later. Ready for tagging before release. Photos; Daniel Seah of SDC.

One crash record came from John Arifin who found a concussed female Jambu Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus jambu, at Winsland House off Orchard Road on 27th. He informed us that the dove managed to fly off on its own after a short recovery.

Reference: Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. 2009. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-east Asia. Craig Robson Asia Books Ltd.2000. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Simpson and Day, Edited by Francis Yap. The above records are taken from the various bird FB groups. pages, reports and forums.  Many thanks for your postings. Many thanks to Francis Yap, Vincent Ng, Seng Alvin, Daniel Seah, Albert Tan and Eric Wang for the use of the photographs.