Tag Archives: Crested Goshawk

Birding Kent Ridge Park

Text and photos by Keita Sin 

The Southern Ridges of Singapore, stretching from Mount Faber to Kent Ridge Park, with places of historical interest and great hiking trails, is a great place to spend a weekend. The four parks making up the Ridges are also great for birdwatching. Kent Ridge Park, located at the western end is one of the most wooded parks there.

Raptor watch

Kent Ridge Park is one of the places where the annual Raptor Watch is held. A panoramic view of the sky can be appreciated from the top car park area, and Oriental Honey Buzzards and Sparrowhawks can usually be observed during the migration period. Other notable species such as the rare visiting Booted Eagle has been recorded here too. In 2000 and 2001 we had our first two records of the Blyth’s Hawk Eagle, a very rare non-breeding visitor from this park.

Other rare resident raptors, such as the Crested Goshawk and Crested Serpent Eagle, can also be seen here. The former had been recorded nesting at the park.

photo-1Crested Goshawk, January 2016. This top-down photo was taken from the canopy walk area.

photo-2Crested Serpent Eagle, April 2016.

Attractive Trees

The fig tree near the top car park (shown), as well as the rows of Tembusu trees at the area below it, is another area that attracts plenty of birds.

photo-3View from top car park. This is a great spot to look out for both raptors and birds feeding on the fruits, at the same time.

A relatively big population of Red-Whiskered Bulbuls can often be seen here.

photo-4Red-Whiskered Bulbul. An uncommon introduced resident. I often see them travelling together with Yellow-Vented Bulbuls.

The Violet Cuckoo and Banded Bay Cuckoo have been observed on this tree too.

photo-5Male Violet Cuckoo. Listen for their flight calls, this bird is often heard before seen.

photo-6Female Violet Cuckoo. More drab looking than the male, but so is the female Asian Emerald Cuckoo – don’t ignore them, you’ll never know.

photo-7Banded Bay Cuckoo. This individual was seen on the same day as the pair of violet cuckoos. Maybe they were having a conference.

When this fig tree fruits trees, occasional surprises such as the Thick-Billed Pigeon can occur too.

This coming season…

The migratory birds have once again started visiting (returning?) to Singapore. When in Kent Ridge Park, look for the fruiting trees, and do make an effort to scan the skies for raptors as well!

Further reading Angus Lamont’s bird records of Kent Ridge Park at http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/rbz/biblio/46/46rbz113-122.pdf

Reference: Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East-Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd.

Birding West Coast Park

Text and Photos by Keita Sin

West Coast Park is where my birding journey begun in January 2014 and I’ve gotten quite a lot of interesting lifers there. This park, however, is probably not one of the places many would include their birding itinerary. Though usually associated with McDonald’s and the iconic giant pyramid, West Coast Park actually has a good diversity of bird life to offer.

Marsh Gardens

Located at the western end of the park, the best part about this place is that due to the small size, many of the birds can be seen at close proximity.

The highlight of the Marsh Gardens would probably be this lone Great-Billed Heron that has been seen rather consistently since September 2015.

photo-1wGreat-Billed Heron. This is an uncropped photo from a 300mm focal length x 1.6 crop factor. There are not many places in Singapore which offers such a close view of this bird.

The Marsh Gardens boardwalk, though a short one, is worth exploring too. A family of Abbott Babblers has been recorded there and I once encountered this friendly juvenile Crested Goshawk, which might have flew over from Kent Ridge Park. I was told that Black Bitterns had been seen here in the past ( per con Alan OwYong).

photo-2wCrested Goshawk, February 2015.

Carpark 2

The area around Carpark 2, especially the patch of vegetation indicated in this map, is another interesting area worth exploring (it’s quite hard to describe a location in West Coast Park).

wcp-map

Map retrieved from NParks. Watch out for snakes and random holes when exploring the area.

I found a lone Spotted Wood Owl here in August 2016, and a flock of Pied-Imperial Pigeon is usually around in the morning. I’ve seen most of Singapore’s parrots (every in the checklist except the Blue-Rumped Parrot) here too. The palm trees probably attract them to the area. A trio of Tanimbar Corellas and two Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos frequent this place as well.

photo-4wSulphur-Crested Cockatoo perched on a Pong Pong tree. They have been seen chewing on the pulp of the fruit.

The eastern half of West Coast Park

Majority of the people whom I see in the eastern half of West Coast Park are either joggers or dog-owners, because there are barely any facilities there apart from a dog-run. Just trees, trees and more trees – fantastic for birds.

I didn’t expect to see this Orange-Headed Thrush on a young Casuarina tree.

photo-5wOrange-Headed Thrush, December 2015.

I experienced one of my greatest birding moments so far when I spotted this Black-Capped Kingfisher through my binoculars.

photo-6wBlack-Capped Kingfisher, January 2016

Birding in West Coast Park

West Coast Park is a rather elongated one, so be prepared to walk some distance if you intend to explore the whole place. While there were few reports of rare finds in this park, the environment is fantastic for birding and it could just be because not many birders visit the place.

If you are unable to decide on a location this migratory season, do give West Coast Park a try. I was told that a Hooded Pitta spent a few week wintering here some years back.

Reference: Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Co. Ltd.

Crested Goshawks preying on Palm Roosting Bats.

The Crested Goshawk, Accipiter Trivirgatus, is a rare and only resident accipiter in Singapore. The first breeding attempt was recorded from the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 1987 (SINAV 2-1). Sporadic sightings at Kent Ridge Park in 1993/94 and P.Ubin in 2004/5 followed. The first successful breeding was most probably the one at the Japanese Gardens in 2011. Before that in 2010, we had several records of juveniles at the Singapore Zoo (Feb), Ang Mo Kio and Chinese Gardens (December). These were the first signs of this resident spreading across the island. Since then we have received more breeding records from Sentosa, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore Zoo,  Venus Drive, and Ang Mo Kio. The latest was a pair nesting in a Khaya senegalensis at Bishan Park, the subject of this article.

Adult Goshawk looking for bats in the palm fonds

Adult Goshawk looking for bats among the fonds of the Chinese Fan Palm.

Recently See Toh Yew Wai took Con Foley and I to document the feeding of the juvenile by its parents. What we saw was something most extraordinary. We are not sure if this has been documented before. The parent was seen moving in between the fonds of the Chinese Fan Palm Livistona Chinensis. We thought it was trying to hide from us, but it then flew out with a bat in its talons at around 9.30 am. It was actually looking for the bats roosting under the fonds instead of hunting for the usual prey like Rock Pigeons and Javan Mynas on the fly.

A common Frut Bat is still alive.

The bat looks like the Common Fruit Bat. It was still alive when caught. The Goshawk started pulling out the furs from its neck before tearing out the flesh.

We are not sure how the Goshawk know where to look for the bats. Is it something it learnt from its parent? Or did it noticed the roosting habits of the bats by chance or heard their calls? Whatever the case, this is definitely a more efficient way of hunting. The next day, Con Foley went back and saw the parent again looking for bats among the palms there. But this time round it was not able to find any. Could the bats moved out after being raided yesterday? Thankfully Con persisted with a third visit and saw the juvenile this time catching a bat on his own without the parent around. So the parent must have taught this to its young.

Adult Crested Goshawk tearing away the flesh of the Common Fruit Bat

Adult Crested Goshawk tearing away the flesh of the Common Fruit Bat.

The parent flew to the open branch of the Tembusu tree and began tearing open the bat with its hooked beak. It started feeding oblivious to our presence. The bat was still alive but surprisingly did not struggle or squeal. Nature can be really cruel. .

Start to call to its young to come to feed.

After finishing about half the bat, it started calling for its young to come to feed instead of bringing the bat to the young. This is one way to get the juvenile to do more flying.

The Juvenile flew in and start asking for the food

The Juvenile was hiding at a nearby tree and answered the parent’s call. It then flew to the Tembusu where the parent was waiting. It started flapping its wings and called for the parent to bring over the food.

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The parent at one stage came down to the ground. The juvenile followed but later decided to fly back to the branch. From this shot you can see that the eyes of the juvenile is light grey unlike the adult which is yelllow.

The moment when the parent pass over the Fruit Bat to its young

But in the end it had to fly back up to the same branch as the parent where the bat was passed over to it. The juvenile is below.

Claining its prizeThe juvenile white underside is speckled with brown spots. We estimate that this juvenile to be about two months old.

It did not eat the bat straight away but held on to it. It could be checking if there are any other predators around to steal its meal. After a good five minutes, it decided to fly to a higher perch at a Khaya Tree that has a thicker foliage. We did not follow it so as not to disturb it’s feeding. But later on it was seen perched high up calling again without the bat.

A video of the feeding at https://youtu.be/foX7NWzAJ7Y.

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. Lim Kim Seng. Thanks to See Toh Yew Wai for bringing us there and Con Foley for sharing his observations with me. Many thanks to Ender Tey for sharing this nesting record with us.

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

20150422_112114 IMG-20150521-WA0003

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.

Singapore Bird Report – February 2015

We are seeing many of the returning migrants on their way back north this month. Some will stay for a while to fuel up, others will just past through.

The outstanding sighting for the month was a bird that we have been expecting but unfortunately was only seen by a visiting birder. Canadian Gareth Puth reported to Kenneth Kee that he saw a Himalayan Griffon Vulture Gyps himalayansis flying over Fort Canning on the 14th. No subsequent sightings of this vagrant were reported. We are waiting for his full report for verification.

White-shoulderd Starling See Toh at Halus

White-shouldered Starling caught in flight by the fast lens of See Toh Yew Wai at Lorong Halus.

Returning migrants reported were a uncommon Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea at its favourite wintering Bidadari by Adrian Hall on 1st, a uncommon White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis flying over Halus on 14th “captured” by See Toh Yew Wai and the rare Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda at the Sime Forest on 19th by Ng Chay Tuan while looking for the Green-backed/Chinese Flycatcher Ficedula elisae.

Chloe Tan had been reporting about a very rare passage migrant Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius up at the Pinnacle@Duxton since December. She sent us another photo taken on the 17th of this month. Could it be wintering there? The female Siberian Stonechat Saxicola torquata reported in January is certainly wintering at the waste land at Punggol Barat based on Zacc HD’s 23/2 photo posted on fb

Most of us missed the rare Malaysian Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus that was wintering at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden photographed by Craig Williams on 13th.  He also reported a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccenis wintering there as well. Another Blue-winged Pitta was reported at the Rifle Range Link on the same day by George Presanis.

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This Von Schrenck’s Bittern was delighting us at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves earlier this month.

On the 7th, Low Choon How was surprised to find a female Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurththmus feeding in the open at the pond behind the Visitor’s Center at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves. David Li at SBWR told us that they mist-netted and ringed it the day earlier. No matter, it was the main attraction during the first half of the month. (Matt Prior commented after the post that he saw this Bittern at the same pond on 2nd)

Orange-headed Thrush Frankie Lim

Uncommon Orange-headed Thrush performing well at Hindhede Nature Park, beautifully captured by Frankie Lim.

Just when we got tired of the Bittern, a pair of Orange-headed Thrushes Zoothera citrina innotata made its appearance at Hindhede Nature Park.  Choo Ju Tiek first spotted them on 21st competing for territory with our resident White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus He also came across a juvenile Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji nearby but it did not stay around unlike the Thrushes. Soon the facebook pages were flooded with beautiful photos of this uncommon ground thrush.

Pin-tailed Snipe at Chinese Gardens by Alan Ng

You can just about see the “pins” tail feathers of this snipe taken at the Chinese Gardens by Alan Ng.

A lone snipe returned to the Lily pond at the Japanese Gardens on the 26th. It was later identified as the uncommon Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura by photo of tail feather spread from Alan Ng. This could be the same snipe that winters here last two years. Other snipe sightings were at Bishan Park and the canal at Farmway 3 as per email from Laurence Eu. Two Savanna Nightjars Caprimulgus affinis found the dark brown roof tiles of the Guest House at Japanese Gardens perfect for roosting as it can blend in.

As for raptors, a japonensis Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus was shot over a Punggol Barat by Aldwin Recinto on 21st, a Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus at the same place the next day by Zacc HD. Two records of our once rare resident Crested Goshawks Accipiter Trivirgatus  were coming in. Yam Tee Yang reported one at Pasir Ris Park on 23rd and another at West Coast Park from Toriwomtai on the 27th. A Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus was seen perched on a dead tree at Dempsey Hill on 1st by Alan OwYong.

Purple Heron Nesting at Bishan Shirley Ng

Happy Purple Heron family at Bishan Park photographed by Shirley Ng. 

Breeding records were coming in and we were so happy to hear from Shirley Ng that the nationally near-threatened Purple Herons Ardea purpurea were feeding three grown-up chicks on top of an Angsana Tree at Bishan Park on 19th. On the 6th, Seng Alvin reported a Striated Heron Butorides striatus bringing back nesting material to the side of the river at his favourite stomping ground Pasir Ris Park. Robin Tan pointed out a Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis nesting at the Chinese Gardens on the 26th.

Zacc HD reported a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Nectarnia sperata at Mount Faber, a first there, although there were previous records at Telok Blangah Hill and Sentosa. Good to see it spreading across the Ridge. Vincent Lao had an early arriving Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis, a breeding visitor at Venus Loop on the last day of the month.

Great to end this month’s report without any bird casualties except for a disoriented Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis found by Pamela Soh at the void deck of a HDB block at Jurong West on 26th.

Pied Cuckoo Micah Sixeight

We came across this late post in the Nature Society page in July of a sighting of the Pied Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus, (left) by Mark Oei on the 18th between the Halus bridge and the Tampines Expressway. This is our second record ( first on 4th December 2013) and first for the year.

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. 2009. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Craig Robson. 2000. Edited by Francis Yap. All the records are taken from postings in various fb groups, pages and bird forums. Many thanks for your postings. Thanks to See Toh Yew Wai, Alan Ng, Shirley Ng, Mark Oei and Frankie Lim for the use of your photos. All rights belong to the respective photographers.