Tag Archives: Crested Serpent Eagle breeding

Singapore Raptor Report, Late Spring Migration, April-June 2021

CSH, f, 260621, Fort Siloso Sentosa, Jared Tan, pic

Chinese Sparrowhawk, Sentosa, at an unusually late date – 26 June 2021, by Jared Tan


Six migrant raptor species were recorded during this period compared with four in most other years. A Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis photographed by Jared Tan at Sentosa on 25th June came as a huge surprise, as it should have been at its breeding grounds now, and this individual is unseasonally late. The three other records for this species were on 1st April at Telok Blangah Hill Park, 2nd April at Henderson Waves (3 birds), and 9th April at Dairy Farm Nature Park.

The only record for the Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes was a flock of 25 at Henderson Waves on 2nd April, recorded by Zac C. In some years, this species is not recorded from April onwards for spring migration.

The twelve Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus on 2nd April – eight at Henderson Waves and four at Pinnacle@Duxton – might have been the last migrants to head north for the breeding grounds. There were another 13 records in April, 12 in May and 9 in June, and where photos were available, were all immatures, which would be over-summering here.

Fifty four Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis were recorded between 1st to 19th April, a high number compared with only five last April. Three Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded, one adult at Bangkit Road on 18th April, one at Chek Jawa on 25th April, and a juvenile at Sembawang from 18th April to 3rd May. Small numbers of Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus were also recorded between April to June.

Black-thighed Falconet, 300521, Goldhill, Art Toh, same

Black-thighed Falconet, practicing its habit of perching at the top of a bare branch, Goldhill Avenue, 30 May 2021, by Art Toh

Sedentary Raptors

The biggest surprise came in the form of a tiny Black-thighed Falconet Microhierax fringillarius photographed by Art Toh at Goldhill Avenue on 30th May, doing what the species like to do – perching on the top of a bare branch. Unfortunately, it did not stay long. Apart from the juvenile at Yishun in February this year, the last confirmed record for this species was more than 30 years ago, amazing.

The next great find was the first breeding record of the Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela, for which a fresh juvenile was photographed by Tan YinLing on 25th May at Goldhill Avenue. For the next two weeks it appeared on and off alone, and it was only on 8th June that lucky Koh Lian Heng managed to see an adult catching a skink and then passing it to the juvenile before flying off, leaving the juvenile to feed by itself, showing that it had recently fledged and was still dependent on its parents. On 10th June, Zacc HD had the good fortune of seeing the adult serpent eagle holding a snake, and the juvenile flew to the same perch, no doubt to feed on the prey. Other records of the serpent eagle came from Pulau Ubin, on 7th and 10th April, and a sub-adult at Upper Peirce Reservoir on 1st June.

CSE juv, 220621, Goldhill, TGC

Crested Serpent Eagle, the recently fledged juvenile looking well fed, Goldhill Avenue, 22 June 2021 by Tan Gim Cheong

There were breeding records for five other resident raptors. Three nestlings of the Brahminy Kite Haliastur Indus were noted by Lee Chin Pong on 3rd April at Dover Road. On 24th May, three Changeable Hawk-Eagles Nisaetuscirrhatus, an adult and two fresh juveniles, all pale morphs, were photographed at Tampines Avenue 12, where a pair has had a nest for a number of years. On 1st June, a fresh juvenile Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus that was apparently still dependent on its parents for food was photographed by Ash Foo at Little Guilin.The Crested Goshawks Accipiter trivirgatus at Sin Ming raised a second brood and two chicks were noted on 5th April, however one died on 15th April and the remaining chick was seen perching a few metres outside the nest on 23rd April. Another Crested Goshawk nest was discovered at Toa Payoh on 5th May, with an adult on the nest.

There were five nesting records for the White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster. The pair at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve bred again this season and two chicks were out of the nest on 30 May. The pair at Fort Canning also bred again, re-using their old nest which held two chicks on 7th June. At Loyang Avenue, an active nest was reported on 25th April, and two fully grown chicks were recorded on 29th May. At Yishun Avenue 1, a nest with two chicks was seen on 26th April, and at West Coast Park, a chick was reported to have made its maiden flight on 23rd June.

BHO, 300621, HNP, TGC

Brown Hawk Owl, 2 recently fledged young with an adult (partially hidden on the right), Hindhede Nature Park, 30 June 2021, by Tan Gim Cheong

Nocturnal Raptors

There were breeding records for five species of nocturnal raptors. A fledgling Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus was photographed at Rifle Range Link on 4th April, while two adults, presumably its parents, were seen the day prior at the same locality.

On 19th April, a family of Spotted Wood Owls Strix seloputo with two chicks was spotted at Pasir Ris Park, and one of the chicks was already out of its nest, which was fittingly a bird’s nest fern. The other chick was also out of the nest on 27th April. At Benjamin Shears bridge, a fully grown Eastern Barn Owl Tyto javanicachick was spotted on 27th April, with its parent.

In May, a fledgling Sunda Scops Owl Otus  lempiji was photographed at the Botanic Gardens, and the adults were seen bringing food to the young owl. On 26th June, a family of Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata with two fledglings was discovered at Hindhede Nature Park.

On 10th June, the mixed Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensisandBuffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupupair was spotted at Hindhede Quarry, together with their hybrid offspring. This family was first discovered in February 2021.

Many thanks to everyone for posting / sending in / sharing their records, and to Jared Tan & Art Toh for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report, Late Spring Migration, Apr-Jun 2021

The last jigsaw to the Mystery of the Crested Serpent Eagle.

By Alan OwYong and Tan Gim Cheong.

After publication of the previous article on the Crested Serpent Eagles at Goldhill, we received many reports from bird watchers and photographers of notable and important sightings of these eagles. We thank you for these records.

We now know that the serpent eagles may have paired up almost two years back in March 2019, thanks to Art Toh’s photo of two adults perched on the same tree.

We may have our final jigsaw piece yesterday (8 June 2021). These are the dramatic photos from Koh Lian Heng showing the adult handing to the juvenile a skink it had captured earlier this afternoon. This is also the first time that both the adult and juvenile were seen together.

The adult capturing the skink at the open field.

According to Lian Heng, the adult flew to a nearby Albizia tree after capturing the skink with both of them calling out. The juvenile could not locate where the adult was despite all the calling. The adult then flew higher up to another branch.

The juvenile flying to meet up with the adult after calling out to each other.

Seeing the adult fly, the juvenile flew in to join the adult. It was then that the adult passed over the skink to the juvenile, and then flew off leaving the juvenile to eat the skink alone.

The adult passing over the skink to the juvenile.

The juvenile with the skink in its talons and was about to tear it with its beak.

Last month on May 28th , MeiLin Khoo related that the adult caught a small monitor lizard and did not eat it. Instead it flew deeper inside the forest with the lizard in the direction where the juvenile was last seen. While both eagles were out of sight, they we calling to each other the whole time.

Many thanks to Koh Lian Heng and MeiLin Khoo for this last pieces of evidence to determine the status of this family of Serpent Eagles.

Photos by Koh Lian Heng.

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2021

JB,, 190321, Coney, Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan

Jerdon’s Baza, living up to its alternate name Lizard Hawk, feeding on a Changeable Lizard, Coney Island, 19 Mar 2021, by Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan

Summary for migrant species:

In March 2021, 210 raptors of eleven migrant species were recorded. A Black Kite fitted with a transmitter was recorded at Dairy Farm Nature Park on the 1st, and Singapore Quarry on the 2nd. The only Eastern Marsh Harrier was recorded on a northeastern island on the 5th, and a Rufous-bellied Eagle at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on the 6th.

Amazingly, seven Grey-faced Buzzards were reported, one at Kent Ridge Park on the 14th, three on the 15th, two on the 16th, and another at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on the 16th, all seemingly on passage. Five Jerdon’s Bazas were recorded, one at Changi Business Park on the 8th and up to four at Coney Island from 17th to 19th.

CSH, 170321, Coney, Ash Foo

Chinese Sparrowhawk, immature male, Coney Island, 18 Mar 2021, by Ash Foo

Five Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, singles at Ubin on the 6th, Kent Ridge Park on the 17th, Coney Island on the 17th (female) & 18th (male), and Lorong Halus on the 19th. There were also five Western Ospreys at various locations, including Upper Peirce Reservoir Park, and nine Peregrine Falcons. In addition, there were 31 Black Bazas, 43 Japanese Sparrowhawks,and102 Oriental Honey Buzzards.

CSE mating crop, posted 070321, Goldhill, Julian Wong

A pair of Crested Serpent Eagles mating, the 1st mating record for Singapore, Goldhill Avenue, 7 Mar 2021, Julian Wong

Highlights for sedentary species:

At Goldhill Avenue on the 7th, Julian Wong recorded a video of a pair of Crested Serpent Eagles mating – probably the first record of this species mating in Singapore! Breeding-related activities were also noted for four other diurnal resident raptors. At Seletar, where a pair of Black-winged Kites nested, one adult was seen passing a rat to another adult on the 6th, on the 10th two chicks fledged, and on the 25th and 26th, a fledgling was observed taking prey from the adult in mid-air.

BWK, 260321, Seletar, Kelvin Leong, food transfer in flight

A fledgling Black-winged Kite (left) in the process of taking prey from its parent, in mid-air, Seletar, 26 Mar 2021, by Kelvin Leong

At Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the 26th, an adult White-bellied Sea Eagle was sitting on its nest together with two chicks. At Turut Track on the 14th, two Brahminy Kite fledglings were observed. For the Crested Goshawk, the pair at West Coast Park was rebuilding their nest on the 1st and 3rd, and mated on the 4th. At Sin Ming, an adult was sitting on its nest on the 15th, and on the 31st, a chick covered in white down was seen, together with the adult female, in the nest.

WBSE, 130321, SBWR, Lawrence Koh, catch monitor lizard

White-bellied Sea Eagle, caught a young water monitor lizard, SBWR Eagle Point, 13 Mar 2021, by Lawrence Koh

For nocturnal raptors, a Brown Fish Owl was seen feeding its hybrid chick at Hindhede Nature Park on the 3rd, and a Buffy Fish Owl chick at Hampstead Wetlands fledged on the 14th. There were also two Barred Eagle Owls at Rifle Range Link.

In terms of prey items, a Crested Serpent Eagle at Goldhill Avenue caught two Paradise Tree Snakes at one go, on the 4th; and a juvenile water monitor lizard on the 17th. A White-bellied Sea Eagle at SBWR caught a juvenile water monitor lizard on the 13th.

CSE, 040321, Goldhill, SB Lim, same 4

A Crested Serpent Eagle, catching 2 Paradise Tree Snakes (which may have been mating) at a go, Goldhill Avenue, 4 Mar 2021, by SB Lim

All in, there were eight records of the Crested Serpent Eagle at Goldhill Avenue, Ubin, Jalan Gemala 2, Kent Ridge Park and Old Holland Road; ten Grey-headed Fish Eagles; 11 Black-winged Kites; 14 Crested Goshawks; ten Changeable Hawk-Eagles; and two torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards.

GHFE, 070321, Ulu Pandan, Teo Chee Yong

Grey-headed Fish Eagle, swooping down on a fish, Ulu Pandan, 7 Mar 2021, by Teo Chee Yong

Table 1

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Kelvin Ng Cheng Kwan, Julian Wong, Ash Foo, Kelvin Leong, Lawrence Koh, Teo Chee Yong and SB Lim for the use of their photos.

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – March 2021