Tag Archives: Chestnut-cheeked Starling

Bird Records Committee Report (Feb 2020)

Bird Records Committee Report (Feb 2020)

By Lim Kim Seng

Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee.

Large Woodshrike at Jelutong Tower

Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis gularis at Jelutong Tower, 22 Oct 2018. Photo by Francis Yap.

The Records Committee continues to receive records of new bird species to the Singapore List and rarities. This report updates the findings of the period, October 2018 – January 2020.

New Species

Eleven new bird species were added to the Singapore List, bringing the total number of species to 414. The 2020 edition can be downlink here NSS Singapore Checklist 2020 edition.  NSS-Singapore Checklist-2020-edition

They include the following:

Shikra Accipiter badius

An immature photographed flying over Jelutong Tower on 21 Nov 2019 by Alex Fok was the first record for Singapore since a specimen was collected in 1891.

Shikra, 211119, Jelutong, Alex Fok, crop

Shikra Accipiter badius at Jelutong Tower on 21 Nov 2019. Photo by Alex Fok.

Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus

Up to five birds photographed on Pulau Tekong on 17 Jul 2019 by Frankie Cheong was the first record for Singapore.

Pied Stilt

Pied Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus at Pulau Tekong on 17 July 2019. Photo: Frankie Cheong.

Oriental Turtle-dove Streptopelia orientalis

An adult of the nominate subspecies orientalis recorded on Sisters’ Island during an island survey by Camphora Pte Ltd on 28 Nov 2018 for SDC. This was the first record for Singapore.

Oriental Dove

Oriental Turtle-dove Streptopelia orientalis at Sisters’ Island on 28 Nov 2018. Photo: Camphora Pte Ltd.

Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha

A bird seen and photographed near Dillenia Hut in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 8 Nov 2019 by Francis Yap and Richard White was the first record for Singapore.

Fairy Pitta

Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha at Central Catchment Forest on 8 Nov 2019. Photo: Francis Yap.

Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis gularis

A female seen at Jelutong Tower on 22 Oct 2018 by Oliver Tan, Francis Yap and Pary Sivaraman. This was the first record for Singapore since the 1950s.

Large Woodshrike at Jelutong Tower

Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis gularis at Jelutong Towers on 22 Oct 2019. Photo: Francis Yap.

Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis

One photographed at Pandan Reservoir on 3 Nov 2018 by Angela Chua was the first record for Singapore.


Eurasian Skylark, Alauda arvensis, at Pandan Reservoir on 3 Nov 2018. Photo by Angela Chua.

Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus

A male photographed at the Ecolake, Singapore Botanic Gardens, on 12 Nov 2019 by Dennis Lim and Arman Nacionales and confirmed by Geoff Lim on 15 November 2019 was our third record for Singapore. A female seen at Satay by the Bay on 9 Feb 2013 by Laurence Eu was the first record. A male seen at Cashew Heights by Subha on 20 Jan 2014 was the second record while a female seen at Tg Rhu on 14 and 15 Jan 2020 by Manju Gang was our fourth record. Lastly, a male seen at National University of Singapore on 30 Jan 2020 by Lynette Chia was our fifth.  Previously assigned to Cat E, recent studies have shown that this species occur on a regular basis in Southeast Asia during the winter months, and should be rightly considered as wild birds.


Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 15 Nov 2019. Photo: Geoff Lim.

Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla

A non-breeding male/female seen and photographed at the Ecolake, Singapore Botanic Gardens on 30 Nov 2019 by Lim Kim Seng, Wayne Merritt and Roy Toh was the first record for Singapore.

Tiaga FC

Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 30 Nov 2019. Photo: Lim Kim Seng.

Japanese Tit Parus minor

A bird photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 30 Nov 2019 by Yeo Seng Beng was our third record of this species in Singapore. The first record came from a bird observed at Chinese Garden on 27 Oct 2012 by Choo Teik Ju and photographed by Frankie Lim and Wong Lee Hong.  The second was another individual photographed at Tuas on 5 November by Yong Ding Li.

Jap Tit

Japanese Tit Parus minor at Pasir Ris Park on 30 Nov 2019. Photo: Yeo Seng Beng.

White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus

A subadult male was found at Seletar Aerospace Drive on 16 Jan 2020 by Martin Kennewell. This was our first record. It was seen again later by Alan OwYong and Alfred Chia who submitted a formal report for it to be accepted into Cat A.

White-cheeked Starling

White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus at Seletar Aerospace Drive on 16 Jan 2019. Photo: Alan OwYong.

Brahminy Starling Sturnia pagodarum

A bird photographed at Jurong Lake Gardens on 30 Jan 2020 by Deborah Friets was our sixth record. The other records were singles at Marina East on 2 Feb 2008 and 5 Oct 2008 by Mike Hooper, Bidadari on 3 Dec 2013 by Frankie Cheong, Punggol Barat on 8 Feb 2016 by Francis Yap and 12 Sep 2016 at Gardens by the Bay by Mike Hooper.  Terry Heppell also photographed one at Gardens by the Bay on 13 Sept 2016 and should be the same bird as Mike Hooper’s. Previously assigned to Category E, recent studies have shown that this species occur on a regular basis in Southeast Asia during the winter months, and should be rightly considered as wild birds.

Brahminy Starling

Brahminy Starling Sturnia pagodarum at Jurong Lake Gardens on 30 Jan 2020. Photo: Deborah Friets.

In addition, a record of Black-headed Bunting in difficult juvenile plumage reported from Kranji on 18 Nov 2018 remains as “pending” as its identification (from the similar Red-headed Bunting) was not conclusive. Another record of Blue Whistling Thrush reported from Fort Canning Park on 7 Dec 2019 was assigned to category E.


The following eight rarities were accepted.

Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala

An adult photographed at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 on 18 Jan 2020 by Dillen Ng was our second confirmed record from the field. Its similarity to Pintail Snipe means that a close look at its outermost tail feathers is essential to confirm its identification.

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

A bird seen and photographed at Kranji Marshes on 15 Jan 2020 by Veronica Foo and Lim Kim Keang was our fourth record. This individual was photographed at Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 earlier on 11 Jan 2020 by Art Toh.

Chestnut-cheeked Starling Agropsar philippensis

A male photographed at Jurong Lake Gardens on 9 Feb 2020 by Sandra Chia was our fifth record.  Previous records include singles at Loyang on 8 Dec 1987 by R. Subaraj, Bidadari on 11 Oct 2014 by Zahidi Hamid, Pandan River on 1 Nov 2019 by Mai Rong Wen and at Henderson Waves on 16 Nov 2019 by See Toh Yew Wai.


We would like to thanks the following observers for submitting their records for review and for the use of their photographs in this report:  Frankie Cheong, Alfred Chia, Lynette Chia, Sandra Chia, Angela Chua, Veronica Foo, Alex Fok, Deborah Friets, Geoff Lim, Lim Kim Seng, Dillen Ng, Alan Owyong, Oliver Tan, Felix Wong, Francis Yap and Yeo Seng Beng. Finally, thanks are also due to my fellow committee members for their expertise in the deliberation process:  Alfred Chia, Kenneth Kee, Benjamin Lee, Lim Kim Chuah, Lim Kim Keang, Alan Owyong, Dr Frank Rheindt, Tan Gim Cheong and Dr Yong Ding Li.


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

Singapore Bird Report – October 2014


Chestnut-cheeked Starling Zacc HD

(Chestnut-cheeked Starling at Bidadari by Zacc HD)

The diversity and number of migrants seen during October proved again that this is the peak migration month. The soon to be developed former Muslim Cemetery at Bidadari as expected provides the most migrant sightings with the Japanese Gardens and Tuas South coming in close.

Ashy Bulbul Daniel Wee

(Cinereous Bulbul at Lazarus Island by Daniel Wee)

The star migrant was the single vagrant Chestnut-cheeked Starling (Sturnus philippensis) photographed at Bidadari on 11th feeding together with the Daurian Starlings. Unfortunately it did not stay long enough for further documentation. This is potentially our second record, the last on 8th December 1987 in Loyang.

An Asian House Martin (Delichon dasypus), a very rare passage migrant was seen flying over the CCNR from Jelutong Tower on 3 consecutive days from the 16th. Last record was over MacRitchie Reservoir on 23 October 2005. The more common Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) were seen hawking over the Serangoon Reservoir on the 30th.

Asian House Martin

(Asian House Martin at Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap)

A Sakhalin Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus borealoides) spotted at Sime Forest was awarded the “Bird of Day” prize during the Annual Bird Race. This species was previously listed as the Pale-legged Warbler in the Checklist. Identification of this rare warbler is best by its song that they normally sing in Springtime. A lone Cinereous or Ashy Bulbul (Hemixos flavala) was photographed at Bidadari on 17th with reports from East Coast MOE Adventure Center on the same day and another sighting at the Japanese Gardens the next day. A report from Lazarus Island on 26th of 20 birds beats the previous record of 15 birds at St John’s island on 1989. This is an uncommon non-breeding visitor that prefers island locations and coastal forests. Another rare non-breeding visitor the Brown Streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa williamsoni) was photographed at the Japanese Gardens on 5th suggesting a winter visitor status. A more common non-breeding visitor the Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo (Hierococcyx fugax) flew over to SBWR on 3rd and another seen at Lorong Halus on 13th.

Oriental Cuckoo Francis Yap

(Oriental Cuckoo at Bidadari by Francis Yap)

A male Jambu Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus jambu) was photographed at the Japanese Gardens on 2nd, first for the season, followed by another male at Bidadari on 19th.

Migrant flycatchers were well represented by two Ferruginous (Muscicapa ferruginea) at Bida on 6th and 25th, Dark-sided ( Muscicapa sibirica) at MacRitchie Reservoir on 7th and Brown-chested Jungle (Rhinomyias brunneata) crashing in an office on Jurong Island on 15th.

Ferruginous Flycatcher

(Ferruginous Flycatcher at Bidadari by Francis Yap)

Bidadari, our own cuckoo land hosted four species this month: Indian Cuckoos (Cuculus micropterus), both an adult and juvenile, a lone Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (Clamator coromandus) on 20th, a juvenile Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) on 24th, firsts for the season and an Asian Drongo Cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) on 28th. A Crow-billed Drongo (Dicrurus annectans) at Tampines Eco Gardens on 28th, a Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) at Jurong Central Gardens, a female Siberian Blue Robin (Luscinia cyane) at Japanese Gardens on 13th and a juvenile leucopsis White Wagtail (Motacilla albawere the other notables.

The members of the Bird Group conducted two Pelagic surveys during the month. Highlights were a rare Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) on the 19th, an uncommon Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica) and first winter Common Tern ( S. hirundo) on 5th. The Aleutian (S. aleutica), Bridled Terns (S. anaethetus) and Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels (Oceanodroma monorhis) were seen in good numbers on both trips.

Parasitic Jaeger

(Parasitic Jaeger at Singapore Strait by Francis Yap)

The Raptor Group is in the midst of a 47 days Raptor Count at Tuas South and I will leave the October Raptor Report to Gim Cheong. But watchers at Tuas were pleasantly surprised to find other interesting migrants flying over Tuas. Red-rumped Swallows (Hirundo daurica) were first recorded coming in on the 5th and were seen throughout the month. Ten were seen over at Serangoon Reservoir on  the 9th. A large flock of over 60 Fork-tailed or Pacific Swifts (Apus pacificus) were recorded migrating over Tuas on the 31st. This was preceded by the first sighting of this Swift at Simei on 23rd. Oriental Pratincoles (Glareola maldivarum) were seen on 11th and 25th thermaling. We believed some of them were roosting at some grasslands at Tuas.

Pacific Swift

(Pacific Swifts in large numbers over Tuas South by Francis Yap)

With the migration season at its peak so are the crashes into our high rise buildings. This is David Tan’s busiest month rushing around to collect the dead specimens for his sequencing research. It seems that both the Black-backed Kingfishers (Ceyx erithacus) and Blue-winged Pittas (Pitta moluccenis were the most affected. A total of 5 kingfishers and 4 pittas were picked up for the month all over Singapore. Even a Fork-tailed Swift was not spared. It crashed into a house at Woodlands on 17th. The surprise was a Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida) found dazed at Serangoon Gardens Way on the 31st. The staff at Acres managed to revive and release it later. This is a new extreme date for this pitta as they are normally seen in late November. A Von Schrenck’s Bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus) was found dead at Jurong West on 13th another early arrival that did not make it.

On the home front, the Large-tailed Nightjars (Caprimulgas macrurus) were raising their young at Japanese Gardens, Green Imperial Pigeons (Ducula aenea) have spread to Pasir Ris Park (13th), a Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porohyrio) somehow found itself in a monsoon drain at Tampines Eco Park. It was rescued and set free by staff from Acres. A splendid male Violet Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) found a caterpillar patch at the Jurong Eco Gardens but did not stay for long after 28th. The pair of Greater Painted Snipes (Rostraula benghalensis) reappeared at the marsh ponds at Jurong Central Gardens on the 15th but went into hiding after a few days much to the disappointment of its many admiring photographers.

Ref: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009. Bird Crashes records mostly from David Tan supplemented by Felix Wong, Albert Low and Azmi Mohamad.  All other records were taken from postings in the various facebook, bird forums and individual facebook pages from Francis Yap, Seng Alvin, Zacc HD, Tan Chee Keon, Rey Aguila, See Toh Yew Wai, Lim Ser Chai, Lim Kim Seng, Khun Eu Meng, Lim Kim Keang, Johnson Chua, Lawrence Cher, Vincent Ng, Lau Jiasheng, Daniel Wee, Lee Van Hien and Alan OwYong. Many thanks to one and all.