Tag Archives: Cotton Pygmy Goose

Singapore Bird Report – December 2018

The Eurasian Wigeon reappears in Singapore after 31 years! December marks the end of peak annual migration season, and the year-end holidays. As holiday makers make their way to colder climes, birds continue to stream into Singapore, yielding surprises like the Eurasian Wigeon, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, and the Oriental Scops Owl duo.

wigeon

Photograph of the Eurasian Wigeon at Kranji Marshes on 23 December 2018 by Alan Ng.

Eurasian Wigeon 

On the morning of 23 December 2018, an Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope was spotted within the confines of Kranji Marsh by Martin Kennewell. This remarkable sighting represents one of only two records of the Wigeon in Singapore; the last being an immature female associating with Whimbrel flocks in the ponds, mudflats and mangroves around Sungei Buloh between December 1986 and February 1987. It also underscores the importance of the Kranji freshwater habitat in supporting wetland species sensitive to human activity.  The closest known breeding territory for the bird is in Mongolia, although the species occurs throughout Asia and southeast Asia. Although listed as being of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, this species is sensitive to human activity and faces pressure from habitat loss and hunting (Birdlife 2017).

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Eurasian Wigeon at Kranji Marshes on 23 December 2018 by Martin Kennewell showing the duck in the natural environment.

Cotton Pygmy Goose

While many were still reeling from the appearance of the mega-rare Eurasian Wigeon, news of a scarce Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus arriving at Lorong Halus on Christmas Eve rippled across social media. The last known appearance of the dimunitive duck in Singapore took place on 15 February 2016 at Satay by the Bay’s main pond; as the 2016 occurrence turned out to be a one-day bird, many birders and photographers abandoned their Christmas Eve plans for the afternoon to descend on the ponds of Lorong Halus. They were not disappointed as the bird continued to stay through Christmas till the end of 2018.

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Photograph of the Cotton Pygmy Goose at Lorong Halus on 29 December 2018 by Lim Swee Kin.

The Cotton Pygmy Goose is found across India, southern China, southeast Asia, parts of Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. Listed on IUCN’s Red List as being of Least Concern, research is still needed to better understand threats and conservation issues regarding the bird (Birdlife 2016).

Oriental Scops Owl

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The rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 10 December 2018. Photo taken by Lee Chin Pong

To the delight of many birders, the grey and rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus surnia returned to the trees adjacent to Wallace Centre at Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP). On 5 December 2018, Lim Kim Keang spotted the rufous morph, which was joined by the grey morph on 9 December 2018. On 19 December 2018, David Tan reported the collection of a dead rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl from the vicinity of Eng Neo Avenue, an area abutting the CCNR. The bird may have crashed into a window before landing into a water feature, where it was subsequently retrieved from.

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A portrait of the grey morph Oriental Scops Owl at Dairy Farm Nature Park. Taken on 13 December 2018 by David Fur.

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A dead rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl obtained from the vicinity of Eng Neo Avenue on 19 December 2018. Photograph by David Tan.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve

As expected, reports of migrants dominate in the month of December. Apart from the reports of the Oriental Scops Owl and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers Phylloscopus borealoides, a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae was observed just before Jelutong Tower on 17 December 2018 by Oliver Tan. Just before the year ended, a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida appeared at the foot of Bukit Timah hill on 30 December 2018, as reported by Chin Yee Hong.

Central Singapore

A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was sighted at Bishan Park on 10 December 2018 by Ng Kian Chye. An unhappy report on 30 December 2018 was made by Nicholas Chiam, who found a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor that had expired at the base of Cathay Building along Dhoby Ghaut; a casualty from possibly colliding with the building while in flight. An uncommon Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni was photographed at Gardens by the Bay on 26 December 2018 by Ng Wei Khim.

Northern Singapore 

Apart from the Cotton Pygmy Goose reported on Christmas Eve and described above, Halus Wetland Centre also yielded a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla, which was spotted on 27 December 2018 by Alfred Chia, and subsequently photographed over the next few days by an assembly of photographers searching for the goose. A Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was reported from Rivervale Cresent on 4 December 2018 by Jeff Long.

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Photograph of the Baillon’s Crake at Lorong Halus on 30 December 2018 by Lim Swee Kin.

Eastern Singapore

A rare Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides was reported to be in a basement carpark at Haig Road area on 29 December 2018, by Martin Kennewell. Another Hooded Pitta was reported from Simei Block 147 on 6 December 2018 by David Tan. Arising from the Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus reported in November, several interesting species were reported from the vicinity of Changi Business Park. These include a Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus reported on 5 December 2018 by Melinda Chan, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus on 8 December 2018 by Lim Kim Keang, a White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis on 11 December 2018 by Joseph Lim, and a Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni on 13 December 2018 by Stuart Campbell.

Further afield, a Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola and Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus were seen on Pulau Tekong on 19 December 2018 by Frankie Cheong, while a pair of Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeons Treron fulvicollis and another Jerdon’s Baza were spotted on Pulau Ubin on 30 December 2018 by Diane Campbell.

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Photograph of the Short-toed Snake Eagle at Changi Business Park on 8 December 2018 by Chan Yoke Meng.

Southern Singapore

A Common Buzzard Buteo buteo was seen at Holland Road on 1 December 2018 by Art Toh, a first for the location. Arising from a fruiting fig tree at Telok Blangah Hill Park, several species of birds were reported from the location, including a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea on 5 December 2018 and a Zappey’s or Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis or C. cyanomelana on 12 December 2018 by Anthony Nik and Jeremiah Loei, respectively. These were first for the location as well. A House Sparrow Passer domesticus was spotted at Gardens by the Bay on 23 December 2018 by Anthony Nik.

Western Singapore

A juvenile Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus spotted at Chinese Garden on 8 December 2018 by Loke Peng Fai. An Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca was reportedly seen on 15 December 2018 at Harvest Lane by Lim Kim Seng. The Eurasian Wigeon described above was seen at Kranji Marsh on 23 December 2018 by Martin Kennewell, while a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was spotted at the same Marsh on Christmas Day (25 December 2018) by Art Toh. Boxing Day (26 December 2018) birding yielded a Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves for Feroz, while an Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus was seen at West Coast Drive on 28 December 2018 by Tay Kian Guan. Finally, we received delightful news of a male Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis with three chicks at Kranji Marsh on 30 December 2018 by Hongxun.

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Watercock on Christmas Day (25 December 2018) at Kranji Marshes. Photo by Art Toh.

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler

Birders and scientists acknowledge that Phylloscopus warblers represent one of the most difficult species to identify. The Pale-legged and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers are cases in point as both are remarkably similar, in fact they were previously considered conspecific, i.e. same species.

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Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, 14 Janaury 2019, photo by Koh Lian Heng.

Pale-legged Leaf Warblers largely come from northeast Asia, and spend their winter months in southeast Asia. Sakhalin Leaf Warblers are found from the Sakhalin Island, down large swathes of Japan, as well as along coastal China from Weihai to an area the south of Xiamen. Wintering records of the species sparsely dot places in Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia. As it stands, only the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler is in the NSS bird checklist, the Pale-legged has yet to be recorded.

In 2014, a team of Singapore birders comprising Lim Kim Keang, Francis Yap, Yong Ding Li, Albert Low and Con Foley worked with NUS scientists to firmly establish the species as a rare accidental visitor to Singapore (Yap, et al, 2014). Then, Lim Kim Keang heard a Leaf Warbler calling in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve; conventional wisdom suggested that this was probably a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler. However, analysis of the recorded calls and comparisons with the known calls of the two species in question showed that the bird was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, as the calls were at a frequency lower than that of the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler.

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Detective work by our Singaporean birders. Extract of sonographic records from Yap et al, (2014) showing how the calls of the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler may be distinguished from the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler by distinct differences in their frequencies.

On 27 December 2018, when several high-frequency calls were heard by Lim Kim Chuah while jogging around MacRitchie Reservoir Park, several birders ventured to determine which Leaf Warbler species that was. Their effort revealed that up to three birds were calling within an area measuring about 500m by 250m. Detailed examination by Yong Ding Li of one of the calling birds revealed that it was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.

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Sonogram of the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 31 December 2018 (Yong, 2018).

Photographing the birds proved harder as they tended to be more furtive and often skulked in the darker sections below the canopies of trees, as well as descending to the darkened forest floor to forage. Several photographers managed to obtain decent photos, to reveal a bird that superficially resembles the common Arctic Warbler, but has distinguishing marks such as pinkish legs and a conspicuously long buffy eye-stripe that extends almost to the nape. The bird’s skulking behaviour, as well as its propensity to descend to the ground level, contrasts greatly with the canopy-loving Arctic Warbler.

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Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, 15 January 2019, demonstrating that the warbler’s propensity for the cover of the canopy. Photo by Koh Lian Heng.

References

BirdLife International 2017. Mareca penelope (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22680157A111892532.  http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22680157A111892532.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016a). Nettapus coromandelianusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22680090A92842427. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22680090A92842427.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016b). Phylloscopus tenellipesThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22715324A94448249. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22715324A94448249.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016c). Phylloscopus borealoidesThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22715329A94448458. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22715329A94448458.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

Robson, C. (2005) A field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. London: New Holland.

Wells, D. R. (2007) The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula, 2. London: Academic Press.

Yap, Francis & Yong, D. L., Low, W. B., Cros, E., Foley, C., Lim, K. K.  & Rheindt, E. F. (2014). “First wintering record of the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.” Phylloscopus borealoides in South- East Asia, with notes on vocalisations. BirdingAsia. 21. 76-81.

Yong, D.L. (2018)  Audio Recording XC448228 of Sakhalin Leaf Warbler on 31 December 2018. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/448228.

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

This report is compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. It is based on selected postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. We wish to thank all the contributors for their records. Many thanks to Lee Chin Poh, David Fur, David Tan, Martin Kennewell, Ng Alan, Lim Swee Kin, Koh Lian Heng and Art Toh for the use of their photos. 

 List of bird sightings in report

Family Species Date
Anatidae Cotton Pygmy Goose 24 Dec 2018
Eurasian Wigeon 23 Dec 2018
Ardeidae Cinnamon Bittern 10 Dec 2018
Great Egret 2 Dec 2018
Accipitridae Jerdon’s Baza 13 Dec 2018
Jerdon’s Baza 30 Dec 2018
Short-toed Snake Eagle 5 Dec 2018
Imperial Eagle 15 Dec 2018
Grey headed Fish Eagle 8 Dec 2018
Common  Buzzard 1 Dec 2018
Rallidae Slaty-legged Crake 29 Dec 2018
Ballion’s Crake 27 Dec 2018
Watercock 25 Dec 2018
Charadriidae Grey Plover 19 Dec 2018
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 30 Dec 2018
Scolopacidae Terek Sandpiper 19 Dec 2018
Strigidae Oriental Scops owl 5 Dec 2018
Oriental Scops owl 19 Dec 2018
Columbidae Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon 30 Dec 2018
Cuculidae Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 8 Dec 2018
Hodgson’s Hawk cuckoo 30 Dec 2018
Pittidae Hooded Pitta 4 Dec 2018
Hooded Pitta 6 Dec 2018
Hooded Pitta 30 Dec 2018
Dicruridae Ashy Drongo 2 Dec 2018
Phylloscopidae Sakhalin Leaf Warbler 27 Dec 2018
Sturnidae White-shouldered Starling 11 Dec 2018
Turdidae Eye-browed Thrush 28 Dec 2018
Muscicapidae Brown-streaked FC 26 Dec 2018
Ferruginous Flycatcher 5 Dec 2018
B&W/Zappey’s FC 12 Dec 2018
Green-backed Flycatcher 17 Dec 2018
Passeridae House Sparrow 23 Dec 2018
Motacillidae Forest Wagtail 26 Dec 2018
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Singapore Bird Report-January 2016

Lesser Adjutant in flight Pix Lee Tiah Khee

Lesser Adjutant flying over Straits of Johor. Photo: Lee Tiah Khee

The star sighting came on the last day of the month. Those who went on the Raffles Marina-NSS Bird Group’s maiden cruise to the North West of Singapore was rewarded by the fly past of the Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus.(Link). This rare resident was only added to the checklist two years ago.The dreaded news of a grounded Himalayan Vulture, Gyps himalayensis, found at Toa Payoh by Wandee Sofae on the 5th meant another loss of this species in the wild. As with most vultures found here this one was exhausted and collapsed on the roof of the flats there. ACRES retrieved it and it may end up in the Singapore Zoo if it survived. On a brighter note, two rare Cotton Pygmy Goose, Nettapus coromandelianus, made a surprised visit to the Lotus Pond at Satay by the Bay on 15th.(Hio John and Lilian Tay) Link. Unfortunately it stayed only a day. That was enough to draw birders and photographers to the Bay Gardens. Those that came were rewarded with some new and rare finds in the days that followed.

HGV by Wandee Sofea

The Himalayan Vulture collapsing on to the roof of a flat in Toa Payoh. Photo Wandee Sofae.

Chai Lee Fung shot a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, an uncommon winter visitor there on 11th. A family of Red-legged Crakes, Rallina fasciata, was photographed by James Tann on 18th. This uncommon resident must have been making their home here for sometime. Then another uncommon resident crake, the Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, was photographed by Millie Cher two days later. She later posted a photo of the globally threatened Straw-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus zeylanicus,on 27th. An excellent find that provides evidence for the dispersal of this uncommon resident through Singapore. Another bulbul, the Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos cinereus, a non- breeding visitor, was also recorded on the 30th by Mark J. Oei at the Meadows by the Bay. The last four species are new to the gardens. These finds just shows how efforts to make the gardens attractive to birds and wildlife are paying off.

Ashy Drongo at Mt Faber taken by Zacc on 31st Jan 2016

Ashy Drongo at Mt Faber taken by Zacc on 31st Jan 2016

Other passerine winter visitors of note include a male Siberian Thrush Geokichia sibirica, photographed by Tan Gim Cheong at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 7th, a Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus, and a Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, at summit of BTNR on 9th by See Toh Yew Wai, a Black-browed Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus bistrigiceps,  at Jurong Eco Gardens on 9th by Doreen Ang, Ah Huay, Jane Rogers and Nessie, an immature male Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, at Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course on 10th by Dean Tan, a Malayan Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, at Bidadari on 12th, a Sand Martin Riparia riparia, at Chek Java on 18th by Lim Kim Keang, Dark-sided Flycatchers Muscicapa sibirica, at BTNR summit on 23rd (Zacc HD) and CCNR on 24th by Lim Kim Seng, two White-shouldered Starlings Sturnus sinensis, at Tampines Eco Green on 30th by Seng Alvin and an Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus of salangensis sub spp, at Mt. Faber on 31st by Zacc HD. Link

Watercock Chee Wei-lin.

The Watercock that crashed into St Margaret Primary School posted by Chee Wei-lin

The influx of the Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea, continued. One at the Japanese Gardens on 2nd (Loke Peng Fai), another at Tuas South on the 3rd (Francis Yap),  a dead bird at Pasir Ris Street 11 on 4th (reported by David Tan) and another crashed into St Margaret Primary School (reported by Chee Wei-Lin). Fortunately this Watercock survived thanks to the quick action of ACRES.

Grey Plovers caught in flight off Chek Java by See Toh Yew Wai

Grey Plovers (black armpits) caught in flight off Chek Java by See Toh Yew Wai

Most of the shorebird records came from offshore islands. Up to 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, Limosa lapponica, were seen wintering off Chek Java on 16th by See Toh Yew Wai, but only two Curlew Sandpipers Calidris ferruginea, were counted at Mandai Mudflats by Lim Kim Keang, a lone Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, at P. Semakau by Andy Dinesh both during AWC on 23rd. Andy also videoed 4 Grey Plovers, Pluvialis squatarola,at Semakau South on the 8th. This is the first record in the southern islands for this Plover. Another flock of 20 Grey Plovers and about 90 Great Crested Terns Thalasseus bergii, were seen off P. Sekudu on 25th by Lim Kim Keang.

Asian Palm Swift See Toh

Asian Palm Swift a rare resident swift captured by See Toh Yew Wai over Thompson Road

Some resident species reported during the month were: Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostris, at BBNP on 3rd, Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis, at PRP on 4th, both by Seng Alvin, a pair of rare resident Asian Palm Swifts Cypsiurus balasiensis, captured by See Toh Yew Wai over Thompson Road, the much sought-after Barred Eagle Owl, Bubo sumatranus, making its second appearance at BTNR carpark on 12th found by See Toh Yew Wai, Plantive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus at TEG by Tan Gim Cheong, a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus,  at JEG (new?) by Chan Boon Heng both on 14th, a Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha,at Ketam Mountain Bike trail on 18th by Lim Kim Keang and Yong Yik Shih, a Barred Button Quail, Turnix suscitator at Kranji Marshes on 23rd by Lee Ee Ling, Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati,  at DFNP on 25th by Andrew Chow, another Plantive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus,  this time at Pasir Ris Park on 29th by Seng Alvin and a Golden-bellied Gerygone, Gerygone sulphurea, feeding a Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, at Changi Business Park photographed by Saxon Liew.

Jerdon's Baza at TEG by Lim Kim Keang

Jerdon’s Baza at Tampines Eco Green by Lim Kim Keang

On the raptor front, a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, still chose to hang out at TEG on the 1st (Lim Kim Keang). They were also seen over at Lorong Halus the next day by Lau Jiasheng, Danny Lau and Tan Kok Hui. A Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, was photographed at Punggol Barat on 5th by Zacc HD and Gim Cheong on 25th. A Rufous-bellied Eagle, Lophotriorchis kienerii, was photographed over at BTNR by Kieta Sin while a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, was also photographed at SBWR by Lim Kim Seng both on 9th. Con Foley had a sub-adult Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, over Bidadari and a Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, of the subspecies japonensis was photographed over at SBWR Eagle Point by Cindy Yeo both on 14th. Tan Gim Cheong reported a dark morphed Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, at Punggol Barat on 25th. And on the last day of the month, a possible Northern Boobook was reported at Pasir Ris Park by Goh Cheng Teng. Based on the photos of Jack Lau, the breast markings does not show the usual heart-shaped patterns that indicate the Brown-hawk Owl. This led to a rush of photographers and birdwatchers to the park to capture a potential lifer just in case it turned out to be the rare migratory Northern Boobook, Ninox japonica. (Note that current research suggests that the heart-shaped patterns is not necessarily a surefire way to distinguish the two owls, research on the separation of the two owls is still ongoing)

BTNR Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, CCNR Central Catchment Nature Reserve, AWC Asian Waterbirds Count, BBNP Bukit Batok Nature Park, PRP Pasir Ris Park, TEG Tampines Eco Green, JEG Jurong Eco Garden, DFNP Dairy Farm Nature Park, SBWR Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. 2009 The Avifauna of Singapore NSS. Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah. Lee Tiah Khee. 2013 The Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited.

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong from the postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Lee Tiah Khee, See Toh Yew Wai, Lim Kim Keang, Wandee Sofae and Zacc HD for the use of your excellent photos and Yong Ding Li for editing this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Raghav, an early bird.

 RaghavThe Singapore Bird Group is pleased to introduce an up and coming young birder to you. Raghav is 13 and have been birding for only three years, but have recorded close to 200 species, many with his camera. We do not get too many keen and committed birders in this age group. So we are very happy to see him progress and help with the study of our birds here. I met him a few times birding with his mom at Bidadari and was very impressed with his knowledge of our avifauna. He is credited for photographing the rare resident Cotton Pygmy Goose at Turuk Ponds this year. Probably the second photo of this water bird taken here. You can see his bird images at Flickr under birdbrains@spg.

Here is the interview we had with him recently.

SBG: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Raghav: I’m 13, and started birding almost three years ago. Besides birding I also play field hockey and tennis.

SBG: How did you get started on bird watching? When was that?

Raghav: In the summer of 2013, my family went on a trip to Taman Negara and at the hotel we saw a line of Oriental Pied Hornbills following each other in a straight line across a busy human footpath. The next day we were out in the field for almost six hours!

SBG: What do you get out of bird watching?

Raghav: The satisfaction of seeing a new species is incredible, and there’s always something happening when you’re out in nature.

SBG: Did anyone inspire you to take up birding and photography?

Raghav: My mom was the inspiration who decided to “just walk” at Taman Negara. From then we never looked back.

SBG: How often do you go bird watching and with who?

Raghav: Once or twice a week with my mom.

SBG: What is your list now? What is your best bird so far?

Raghav: My list is touching 200 including escapees in Singapore. Best bird so far… Sri Lankan Frogmouth from Thattekad. The experience: walking around the bird for different angles and watching the bird’s eyes follow us.

SBG: Do you have a favourite birding site in Singapore? Why?

Raghav: Tough one… It’ll have to be Prunus Trail. The joy of listening and seeing a Short-tailed Babbler’s singing and a Siberian Blue Robin’s bathing is pretty awesome.

SBG: Do you have a favourite family or group of birds? Why?

Raghav: It’s got to be the Babblers. Their singing is probably the coolest thing that I have experienced as a birder.

SBG: Any favourite bird or birds that you want to see?

Raghav: I’m happy as long as the list is ticking, so I don’t really have a favorite.

SBG: What do you aspire to be as a birder?

Raghav: My raptor ID skills still have a long way to go, so I would really like to improve on that.

SBG: How long have you been a member of the NSS and what do you like about it?

Raghav: I became a member two years ago and the walks are a great way to begin my weekends.

SBG: Any advice to youngsters like yourself on taking up bird watching?

Raghav: When you start off, it seems like it’s really easy to add to your list, and you’ll think it’ll be like that forever. But after a few years you start to slow down. At this point don’t give up, no matter how hard it is. Keep pushing and once you see one new bird, your count will keep ticking on.

SBG: Where else have you been bird watching outside Singapore?

Raghav: We made one trip to Thattekad in India last fall and another to Panti in Malaysia (and got the Black-thighed Falconet) last spring. During our China trip, we also visited Chanba in Shaanxi.

Some of Raghav’s most meaningful moments in his birding journey with his comments:

Singapore Bird Report-January 2015

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Very Rare Resident Cotton Pygmy Goose, female, photographed at Turut Ponds on 4 Jan by Raghav N aged 12.

The influx of migrants as expected has slowed down. Most of the migrants seen here were fuelling up and enjoying the winter. The year started with a bang when a male Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker Prionochilus thoracicus was spotted (YYS & TCT) foraging among the parasitic plants along the trail leading to Chek Jawa at P. Ubin. This is a rare resident in Peninsular Malaysia and Southern Thailand though there were unconfirmed (location unclear)  ringing and photographic records in 1970. If accepted this will be a new record for Singapore.

This was followed by rare sightings of the Gargeney Anas querquedula flying across the MacRitchie Reservior inlet (LKS) on 2nd and a female Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus photographed at the Turut Ponds ( S & R) on 4th. The former is a rare migrant duck last recorded on 2001 while the latter is a very rare resident last seen at the Kranji Marshes two years ago (LKS). S & R went on to photograph the rare Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes at Chek Java the next day. This very energetic mother-and-son team has been contributing greatly to our avifauna records.

Brown-streaked Flycatcher at Dairy Farm Lena Chow

Non Breeding Visitor, Brown-streaked Flycatcher at Dairy Farm on 22nd by Lena Chow.

The CCNR forest was the centre of attention for much of the month with multiple sightings of the Chinese Flycatcher Ficedula elisae near Jelutong Hut on 17th (YWJ) and another at Lower Pierce Boardwalk on 19th (LVH). A rare non-breeding visiting Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa willamsoni was photographed at the Wallace Center (LC) on 22nd and a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus seen at Venus Loop on 15th (LKS).

Outside the reserve, the Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida returned to the Singapore Botanic Gardens and was first seen on 15th (AL) at the forested area there. It later settled down at its favourite Ginger Gardens, much to the delight of our local photographers. Another returnee was the ernesti resident race Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus to the CBD area on 8th (LEL). An uncommon Black-capped Kingfisher (Ceyx erithacus) was seen at the Turut Ponds on 3rd (LCH).There were six Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica flying around at the Changi Coast (LKK) on 31st with a Dark-sided Flycatcher Musicapa sibirica photographed at P. Ubin (DT) on 25th.

 Red-throated Pipit See Toh @ PB

Non Breeding adult Red-throated Pipit at Punggol Barat photographed on 25th by See Toh Yew Wai.

The open waste land at Punggol Barat was still attracting uncommon migrants like the Siberian Stonechat Saxicola torquata, with a female was photographed on 23rd (BB), Red-throated Pipits, Anthus cervinus on 3rd (LKK) and Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius.

Migrant Raptors reported include a Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus and Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus over at Tuas South on the 25th (LCH) a Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus over at P. Ubin (SS) on 26th and a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni  photographed on perch at Tampines Eco Gardens (SA) on 30th.

Residents of note reported this month included a Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis sighting at Dempsey Hill (LE) on 24th and another at Mount Faber (ZHD) on 30thGreater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati at Bukit Brown (LKC), a shy White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea (STYW) at Lorong Halus and a single Mangrove Whistler, Pachycephala grisola at the Changi reclaimed land (LKK) all on the last day of January.

Bird casualties reported by David Tan, a  Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis found death at the gardens of Kent Vale Apartments on 25th and a dead female Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu at the NUS Computer Center on 30th. This pitta has a unusually large bill but later photos showed blackish crown stripes. This species was previously considered conspecific with the Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha 

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009. Edited by Yong Ding Li. All the records are taken from various facebook group postings, bird forum and individual facebook postings and personal reports from Yong Yik Shih (YYS), Tan Chay Tuan (TCT), Low Choon How (LCH), Lim Kim Keang (LKK), Subha and Raghav (S&R), Lee Ee Ling (LEL), Albert Low (AL), Lim Kim Seng (LKS), Yap Wee Jin (YWJ), Laurence Eu (LE), Benson Brighton (BB), David Tan (DT),SerinSabaraj (SS), Lena Chow (LC) Seng Avlin (SA), See Toh Yew Wai (STYW), Lee Van Hien (LVH) and Zacc HD (ZHD). Many thanks for all your records.Thanks for the use of photos from Raghav N,Lena Chow and See Toh.Yew Wai.