Tag Archives: Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Singapore Raptor Report – November 2018

PF, 181118, Harvest Link, Khoo Meilin

Peregrine Falcon, juvenile, 18 Nov 2018, Neo Tiew Harvest Link, photo by Khoo Meilin

Summary for migrant species:

November is the peak month for migrant raptor diversity and this month matched last year’s record of 18 migrant species, while the numbers – 2666 migrant raptors – more than doubled that of last year’s 1090. The Southern Ridges continued to attract raptor watchers, with Henderson Waves being the favoured spot. On 12 November, a largish accipiter showed up west of Telok Blangah Hill Park, circled a few times and headed back west. Sensing something promising, Tan Gim Cheong snapped a few pics to confirm its identity – a rare Eurasian Sparrowhawk – the 5th record for this species in Singapore. On 20 November, Oliver Tan was well rewarded for his time spent at Henderson Waves with another rare raptor – a Short-toed Snake Eagle.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 121118, 1117h, TBH

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 12 Nov 2018, Telok Blangah Hill Park, by Tan Gim Cheong

After last month’s single record at Kent Ridge, we had three records of the rare Greater Spotted Eagle, all juveniles: one on the 3rd flying high over Changi Business Park, photographed by Zacc HD; one on the 4th at Henderson Waves, photographed by See Toh Yew Wai; and another one on the 10th, also at Henderson Waves, photographed by Tan Kok Hui. On the 6th, Low Choon How located a Northern Boobook at Tuas and another was found dead at a condo on the 10th, collected by David Tan. Two juvenile Black Kites were recorded: one on the 3rd at Tuas and another on the 8th at Hindhede Nature Park, both photographed in flight.

There were two flybys of the uncommon Eastern Marsh Harrier at Turut Track, an adult male on the 4th, photographed by Low Choon How; and a juvenile on the 5th, photographed by Francis Yap. On the 11th, while guiding a student group during the bird race, Adrian Silas Tay photographed a rare Pied Harrier, a juvenile, at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

STSE, 201118, HW, Oliver Tan 2

Short-toed Snake Eagle, 20 Nov 2018, Henderson Waves, by Oliver Tan

An uncommon Common Buzzard was photographed at Pasir Ris on the 2nd, and Dr Chaiyan remarked that it was a refectus juvenile. This month’s 11 Grey-faced Buzzards exceeded last month’s six. On the 3rd, five were recorded at Henderson Waves, two at Lorong Halus; on the 6th, two at Henderson Waves; and on the 10th, two at Lazarus Island; all being recorded between 10am to 1pm.

The uncommon Jerdon’s Baza was recorded twice, on the 19th at Preston Road perched on a tree, and on the 23rd flying over Henderson Waves. As Preston Road is near Henderson Waves, it may have been the same individual on both dates. Another uncommon raptor, the Common Kestrel was photographed at Neo Tiew Lane on the 29th.

OHB, 191118, KM, Feroz N Fizah

Oriental Honey Buzzard, orientalis juvenile, 19 Nov 2018, Kranji Marshes, by Feroz and Fizah

Fifty nine Chinese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them over Henderson Waves, while one adult female seemingly returned to winter at Ang Mo Kio. Eight Peregrine Falcons and five Western Ospreys were also recorded. There was a report of an immature Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle (which is often confused with the resident Changeable Hawk-Eagle) rescued on the 4th at Pasir Ris and subsequently released.

Finally, we come to the most abundant migrant raptors. 209 Japanese Sparrowhawks were recorded, many of them at Henderson Waves. From 35 birds last month, we had 664 Black Bazas this month, with a flock of 200 birds on the 8th at Telok Blangah Hill Park. The Oriental Honey Buzzard is tops again with 1698 birds, with a day high of 488 birds, which included a stream of 200 birds at noontime, at Tuas on the 10th.

CHE, 101118, Mt Faber, Risk Koh, prey Yellow Bittern 2

Changeable Hawk-Eagle, adult with prey ( yellow bittern) at Mount Faber on 10 Nov 2018, by Risk Koh.

Highlights for sedentary species:

Both records of the torquatus Oriental Honey Buzzards were of the non-tweeddale form; one perched at Mandai on the 14th, and another in flight at Telok Blangah Hill Park on the 28th.

OHB tor

Oriental Honey Buzzard, torquatus juvenile, 2 views of the same bird, the crest is visible in the photo on the right, 28 Nov 2018, Telok Blangah Hill Park, by Pary Sivaraman

At Bukit Timah on the 8th, Richard White photographed an immature White-bellied Sea Eagle that had lost all its secondaries and half of its primaries on its right wing, and most of its tail feathers. Amazingly, it could still fly!

wbse, 081118, bukit timah, richard white

White-bellied Sea Eagle, still flying despite the loss of many flight feathers! Bukit Timah, 8 Nov 2018, by Richard White.

Nesting activities were observed for three resident species. A White-bellied Sea Eagle flying with a 2m long stick at West Coast, a Brahminy Kite flying with a smaller stick on the 22nd, a Grey-headed Fish Eagle perched near a nest at Punggol and a pair of Changeable Hawk-Eagles at their nest at Mount Faber. The other resident raptors recorded included the Crested Goshawk and Black-winged Kite.

WBSE, 061118, WCP, Zhang Licong

White-bellied Sea Eagle, carrying a stick in flight, 6 Nov 2018, West Coast Park, by Zhang Licong

Table 1

CGH, posted 281118, Ted Ng

Crested Goshawk, adult male, with a prey (a lizard), Nov 2018, Pasir Ris Park, by Ted Ng

For more details, please see the pdf singapore raptor report – nov 2018

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and especially to Khoo Meilin, Oliver Tan, Feroz and Fizah, Risk Koh, Pary Sivaraman, Richard White, Zhang Licong, and Ted Ng for the use of their photos.

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2018

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Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Tampines Eco Green, on 11 March 2018, by Feroz Fizah

Summary for migrant species:

In March, 150 raptors of 12 migrant species were recorded. Feroz Fizah sought ID help for a raptor photographed in flight at Tampines Eco Green on 11 March, late morning and both Adrian Silas Tay and Lau Jiasheng quickly identified it as the very rare Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, making it our 4th record for this species. On 15 March, Tay Kian Guan photographed an accipiter at Henderson Waves, harassing an Oriental Honey Buzzard. Accipiters can be notoriously difficult to identify, nevertheless, the photo showed enough detail to identify the raptor as a female Besra Accipiter virgatus, another rarity.

Yet another scarce raptor was a juvenile pale morph Common Buzzard Buteo buteo photographed in the Central Business District on 2 March by John Marriott, and is probably the same juvenile pale morph photographed by Luke Milo Teo on 27 Jan 2018. Also, Veronica Foo photographed a juvenile Black Kite Milvus migrans in flight at Lorong Halus on 21 March. Ryan Lee found a Northern Boobook Ninox japonica on the ground near a block of HDB flats at Pasir Ris on the 30th, it could have flown against a window; at Chung Cheng High (Main), another boobook was found by Teo Jo-Hsuan on the 16th morning and it was stunned, having flown against a window.

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Besra, adult female, harassing an Oriental Honey Buzzard, Henderson Waves, on 15 March 2018, by Tay Kian Guan.

A total of 69 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhynchus were recorded, a mixture of adults and juveniles but notably all orientalis subspecies. 42 Black Bazas Aviceda leuphotes were recorded, with the bulk at Kranji Marshes. Of the 11 Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis recorded, there were six females and one male, with the remainder unsexed.

The small flock of Jerdon’s Bazas Aviceda jerdoni were still around Coney Island on the 15th, when 8 were recorded; the Bishan individual stayed from the 7th to the 12th; while the last record was an individual photographed by Luke Milo Teo at Ulu Sembawang on the 24th, a new late date for the species.

The female Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis at Ang Mo Kio was still around on the 3rd, while a male was seen at Lorong Halus on the 11th, followed by another individual at Kranji Marshes on the 17th. Of the five Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus recorded, at least two were juveniles. Four Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus at the northern areas rounded up the migrant raptors for the month.

JSH,-f,-230318,-Jelutong,-Fryap,-web

Japanese Sparrowhawk, adult female, Jelutong Tower, on 23 March 2018, by Francis Yap

Highlights for sedentary species:

There were breeding records for four resident species this month. An adult dark morph Changeable Hawk Eagle (CHE) Nisaetus cirrhatus was found sitting on its nest at Kranji Marshes on the 17th, and the next day, the 18th, at Bukit Batok West, a CHE was found lying low on another nest. A family of four Black-winged Kites Elanus caeruleus, with two recently fledged juveniles were recorded at Kranji Marshes on the 18th. A White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster nest, on a metallic comms tower south of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, holding one chick was recorded on the 30th. For the nocturnal raptors, a young chick, covered in white downy feathers, of a pair of Spotted Wood Owls Strix seloputo fell from its nest at Pasir Ris Park on the 23rd, and concerned photographers contacted ACRES, whose staff placed the owlet back into the tree; in addition, another pair with 2 chicks were observed at Bidadari on the 24th.

For other nocturnal raptors, there were two records of the rare Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus on Pulau Ubin, a juvenile on the 4th and an adult on the 17th. Five Buffy Fish Owls Ketupa ketupu were recorded, one at Ulu Pandan, three at the Botanic Gardens, and a juvenile at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Two Sunda Scops Owls Otus lempiji were recorded, one at Dairy Farm and another at Pasir Ris. Unfortunately for the Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula, one was found injured at Jurong West on the 28th.

Throughout the month, there were reports of a single Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela at Goldhill Avenue, but at the end of the month, sharp-eyed Adrian Silas Tay noticed that there were actually two birds. The other sedentary raptors recorded included seven Crested Goshawks, seven Grey-headed Fish Eagles and 17 Brahminy Kites. All in, there were 10 Changeable Hawk-Eagles, eight Black-winged Kites, and eight White-bellied Sea Eagles.

Table 1

For a pdf version with more details, please click Singapore Raptor Report – March 2018

Compiled by Tan Gim Cheong

Many thanks to everyone who had reported their sightings in one way or another, and also thanks  to Feroz Fizah, Tay Kian Guan and Francis Yap for the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – March 2018

The month of March yielded some spectacular surprises – an amazing vagrant that looks good to become Singapore’s first record of the Indian Paradise Flycatcher, a nesting Chestnut-bellied Malkoha pair in Jurong Eco-Garden (JEG) and a young Jerdon’s Baza that stayed at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park over one weekend. Migrants continue to be reported throughout the month.

IPFC Feroz

Indian Paradise Flycatcher at SBWR on 23 March 2018, by Feroz Fizah.

A mixed report of resident and migratory species trickled into our consciousness during the first week of March. A Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus was spotted on 1 March 2018 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) by Nosherwan Sethna, while Alan Owyong was greeted by a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus when he crested the summit of Bukit Timah Hill; he earlier spotted a Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris while ascending the summit. Slightly further afield and on the same day, Martin Kennewell spotted an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina, Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji and Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus along Dairy Farm Loop.

The first Saturday of the month (3 March) yielded a migratory Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus at Lower Pierce Reservoir (Vincent Lao), and a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus pair nesting along a public pathway at the Jurong Eco-Garden (Anthony Nik), where the chick fledged subsequently on the 14th (Esther Ong). A joint NParks-NSS Bird Group survey of Pulau Ubin on Sunday (4 March) yielded 6 Cinereous Bulbuls Hemixos cinereus, among other regular Ubin species, such as the Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting, Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis, Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans and Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha. The survey team also counted 33 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea that flew in a south-easterly direction to Ubin. Roger Boey, who was with the survey, photographed a Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis, a report currently pending acceptance by the Records Committee, while a Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was spotted by Adrian Silas Tay and Jerold Tan on the island. Back on mainland Singapore, a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was reported by Heather Goessel at Mimosa Walk.

CBMKH, snip

One of the nesting pair of Chestnut-bellied Malkohas at Jurong Eco-Garden with a praying mantis on 8 March 2018, photo by Terence Tan.

More reports of migratory species were reported between the week spanning 5 and 11 March. A White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis subspecies was spotted at Marina Barrage on 6 March by Dodotee Tee. A Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was seen at SBG on 8 March by Geri Lim. Two different Ruddy Kingfishers Halcyon coromanda were spotted, one on 8 March at West Coast Park by Thio Hui Bing, and another on 10 March at Venus Loop by Lim Kim Chuah. Oliver Tan chanced upon a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae on 9 March near Dillenia Hut in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. A juvenile Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni spent the weekend at Bishan, alternating between the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Parks 1 & 2 between 10 and 12 March. Known for its sporadic appearance at Tampines Eco Green (TEG) and Pasir Ris Park, this Baza has eluded many birders and photographers alike. Hence, its appearance in the heart of the island proved to be a boon to the community. Feroz Fizah photographed an accipiter on 11 March at Tampines Eco Green, which was subsequently identified by Adrian Silas Tay and Lau Jiasheng as an Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus.

Jerdon

TThe juvenile Jerdon’s Baza that lingered at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park between 10 and 12 March 2018. Photo taken on 10 March 2018 by Arman AF.

Resident species encountered included Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) on 8 March by Francis Yap, and a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus at JEG by Terence Tan, Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra at West Coast Park on 10 March by Kozi Ichiyama, while Felix Wong highlighted the fledging of a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum early in the morning from a HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang. This is the second known and documented record of the flowerpecker nesting in an urban environment. The second chick fledged around noon on 11 March.

Between 12 to 18 March, we continued to receive reports of migratory species across Singapore. A Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis and Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus were encountered by Alan Owyong at Venus Loop. Martin Kennewell chanced upon a Black-backed Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca in the CCNR on 13 March, while an Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina was seen by Luke Milo Teo at Ulu Sembawang on the same day. A Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus was spotted hawking over the skies of HortPark by Keita Sin on 15 March, while Tan Kok Hui chanced upon a Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides on Coney Island on the same day. Other notable migrants were a Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica seen by Fadzrun Adnan on 16 March over Seletar Aerospace, a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia in Pulau Ubin by Lena Chow on 16 March, a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla in Kranji Marshes on 17 March by Martin Kennewell, and two Japanese Sparrowhawks Accipiter gularis, one seen winging over Henderson Wave by Tay Kian Guan on 16 March and another at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 17 March by Francis Yap.

Resident species spotted during this week include a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu along Ulu Pandan Canal on 16 March by Jason Humphries, Grey-rumped Treeswift Hemiprocne longipennis and Ruddy-breasted Crake at One-North Cresent, also on 16 March, by Alan Owyong, a Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus along Ulu Pandan Canal on 17 March by Mark Nelson Valino, a Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus during a night survey on Pulau Ubin, also on 17 March, by Francis Yap and Jacky Soh, and a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela at Malcolm Park on 18 March by Lena Chow.

BEO

Barred Eagle Owl spotted during a night survey of Pulau Ubin on 17 March 2018. Photo by Francis Yap.

The week of 19 to 25 March proved to be fruitful in terms of bird reports in social media. KC Ling reported at least 20 Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots Loriculus galgulus feeding from a White Gutta or Nyatoh Tree at the Eco-Garden within SBG. Lim Kim Keang reported spotting two Mangrove Whistlers Pachycephala cinerea on Pulau Hantu on 21 March, while Alan Owyong reported a Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus at Bishan Park on 23 March. Also on 23 March, Lim Kim Chuah reported that a Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo chick had fallen out of its nest at Pasir Ris Park. The chick was subsequently rescued by ACRES and restored into a nearby tree in a makeshift nest. Keita Sin reported spotting two Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo adults with two chicks at Bidadari on 24 March.

BCHP

Male Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot on a White Gutta tree at the Eco-Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 24 March 2018. Photo by Geoff Lim.

Reports of migratory species continued to filter in. A Black Kite Milvus migrans was photographed by Veronica Foo flying over Lorong Halus on 21 March, while two instances of Black-backed Kingfishers Ceyx erithaca entering residential areas were reported: an injured bird at Keppel Bay on 21 March, and another bird which spent the night in Kim Forrester’s kitchen after flying inside. It left on its own accord the next morning. Feroz Fizah sought ID help for a Paradise Flycatcher photographed on 23 March at SBWR and Dave Bakewell noticed that it looked different from the Amur & Blyth’s, identifying it as an out-of-range Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi, a first for Singapore! (Oliver Tan realised that he had photographed a similar-looking paradise flycatcher at SBWR on 2 Dec 2017). The bird was seen again on the 25th by many birders. On 23 March, Henrietta Woo and Ong Ruici reported seeing a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus at SBG, while a Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus was seen fishing at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) and another at Springleaf Nature Park by Thana Sinnarthamby and Cheah Chen Poh, respectively. On 24 March, Keita Sin spotted a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka at Bidadari, while Felix Wong spotted two Hooded Pittas standing metres apart in SBG. A Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni spotted by Luke Milo Teo on 24 March at Ulu Sembawang proved to be a new extreme date for the species. An NParks survey on Pulau Ubin on 25 March yielded Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola, a Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica in breeding plumage and a Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris at Chek Jawa. Meanwhile, Doreen Ang, together with two friends, spotted a first winter Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus at Bulim on 25 March.

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A Green-backed Flycatcher in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 29 March 2018, by Oliver Tan. The bird was video-recorded while singing.

The final week of March (26 – 31 March) yielded several interesting records. Two Green-backed Flycatchers Ficedula elisae were spotted, a calling female by Fadzrun Adnan on 27 March at Venus Loop, and a singing male by Oliver Tan inside CCNR. A Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was spotted at Bidadari by Martin Kennewell on 28 March. A White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis was reported on Pulau Ubin on 29 March by Joseph Lin, a first for the island (correction: there was an earlier record on 8 Oct 2017 by Martin Kennewell). Migratory flycatchers continue to be reported – a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia at Kheam Hock Road on 29 March by Thana Sinnathamby, and a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea at Ulu Sembawang by Luke Milo Teo on 30 March.

BBC

The highly prized Band-bellied Crake continued to be seen at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 31 March 2018. Photo taken by Geoff Lim.

Two Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus were recorded, one at SBWR on 30 March by Tan Kok Hui, and another at Fairway Golf Course on 31 March by Alan Owyong. A Northern Boobook Ninox japonica was reported at a Pasir Ris HDB block on 31 March by Ryan Lee, while an Eastern-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus was seen inside CCNR by Martin Kennewell. Also spotted on 31 March was the Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii by Geoff Lim, Kozi Ichiyama and visiting Australian birder, Alastair White, at SBG. The highlight of the last day of March would be the Indian Paradise Flycatcher relocated at SBWR by Lim Kim Chuah.

Residents reported during this week include an injured Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula at Jurong West Street 91 by Hafinani on 28 March, an Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti at West Coast Park on 29 March by Art Toh, a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus at SBWR on 30 March by Tan Kok Hui, a Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana at Ulu Sembawang on the same day by Luke Milo Teo, and a Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii on 31 March inside CCNR by Martin Kennewell.

During their pelagic trip along the multi-national Straits of Singapore on 3 March, Francis Yap, Seetoh Yew Wai and friends spotted a Parasitic Jaegar Stercorarius parasiticus, as well as Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis, Swift Tern Thalasseus bergii, and a Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra. Note that some of these may not be in Singapore waters.

Parasitic Jaeger

Parasitic Jaegar in flight during the pelagic trip on 3 March 2018, by Francis Yap.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
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, edited by Tan Gim Cheong, 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 Feroz Fizah, Terence Tan, Arman AF, Oliver Tan, Geoff Lim and Francis Yap for the use of their photos.

Raptor Migration ( Autumn) along Henderson Waves

Raptor Migration (Autumn) along Henderson Waves

Article and photos by Keita Sin

Autumn migration

Birdwatching in Singapore gets particularly exciting during the migratory season. One of the groups of birds that migrate through Singapore is what are generally referred to as “raptors” – birds of prey from the order Accipitriformes (eagles, hawks, harriers etc) and Falconiformes (falcon, kestrels etc).

The majority of raptors migrate through Singapore around October to November for the autumn migration, during which they head south to their wintering grounds. During the spring migration in mid-February to mid-April, they will head back north towards their breeding grounds.

There are several locations that have been known to be good spots for raptor watching in autumn. The annual Singapore Bird Group Raptor Count has been conducted at these locations, such as Pulau Ubin, Changi, Tuas and the Southern Ridges (Kent Ridge Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park).

Being a fan of raptors myself, I joined the Raptor Counts at Kent Ridge Park in 2015 and 2016 to watch the convoys of birds flying south-east along the ridge. During these counts, one particular question occurred to me: if the birds were filtering in at different points on the Southern Ridges before continuing to fly along the ridge, wouldn’t it be most productive to do a count as close as possible to its southernmost end?

The birds of Henderson Waves

On 17th November 2016, I made my way towards Mount Faber Park (the southernmost park along the ridge) to find out the answers to my question. However, the views offered there were rather disappointing, and I thus continued towards the Henderson Waves, which offered great views in all directions.

Photo 1 View from HWView from Henderson Waves (facing South)

I stood there from 9:20am to 1:00pm and was rewarded with 19 Crested Honey Buzzards; 9 Black Bazas; 1 Booted Eagle; 1 Chinese Sparrowhawk; 8 Japanese Sparrowhawks; and most importantly, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, which then became the second accepted record for Singapore.

Photo 2 Eurasian SparrowhawkEurasian Sparrowhawk at Henderson Waves, 17 November 2016. Note the 6 “fingers” and bulky body

Observations in 2016 and 2017 by many pairs of eyes led to observations of many other uncommon migratory raptors including the Greater Spotted Eagle, Grey-faced Buzzard, Common Buzzard and Jerdon’s Baza. Other migratory raptors such as the Pied Harrier and Eastern Marsh-harrier were recorded nearby too. Resident raptors such as the Crested Goshawk, Changeable Hawk-eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle and Grey-headed Fish-eagle were also seen regularly (detailed counts in the monthly raptor report).

Photo 3 CollageLeft to right, from top row onwards: Jerdon’s Baza, Grey-faced Buzzard, Black Baza, Crested Goshawk, Changeable Hawk-eagle, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Eastern Marsh-harrier, Crested Honey Buzzard, Japanese Sparrowhawk.

Other migrants such as Oriental Pratincoles, Pacific Swifts, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Ashy Minivets, and Blue-throated and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters regularly flew over the bridge too.

Photo 4 Oriental PratincoleOriental Pratincoles at Henderson Waves, 15 November 2017

The highlights, however, were the Asian House Martin (solitary bird on 19 October) and Needletails. The second and fourth White-throated Needletails in Singapore were recorded (a solitary bird on 19 October, and another on 31 October flying together with 2 other unidentified needletails) and another single unidentified Needletail was photographed on 6 November (by Lawrence Cher).

Photo 5 White-throated NeedletailWhite-throated Needletail at Henderson Waves, 31 October 2017

The diversity of birds recorded at Henderson Waves is astonishing compared to the other sites along the Southern Ridges. It could be that many of the birds flew south through the Central Catchment and only entered the ridge halfway through, causing them to be unrecorded at the other locations. The better view offered at the bridge might also have contributed to the increased diversity observed.

The raptors (and other migrants) usually fly over the bridge from north-west to south-east (from Telok Blangah Hill Park towards Mount Faber Park). The collective observation of the large number of birders stationed at the bridge in 2017 seems to point to a rough trend of having better counts (in terms of both quantity and diversity) when the wind is blowing from the north-west direction.

Birding at Henderson Waves

On text, Henderson Waves sounds like the perfect place in Singapore to go raptor watching. It is, sadly, not as fantastic as it seems. This place offers no shelter from the scorching sun (and yet the hotter it is, the better for raptor migration) and the birds tend to fly very high along the ridge. For those whose main objective is bird photography, Henderson Waves will be a disappointment. However those who are prepared can be rewarded with beautiful sights of convoys of birds, and the occasional low-flying raptor. Those who keep local lists will no doubt be able to tick off a great number of uncommon species.

When birding at Henderson Waves, make sure you protect yourself against the sun – apply sunblock, wear a hat, and put on sunglasses. It will also be great to record the wind direction and share your sightings. A pair of binoculars is a must.

What about spring migration?

Singapore has a lower number (in terms of both quantity and diversity) of raptors recorded during the spring migration. This could be due to the different flight paths taken by the raptors during their return journey, and it would be interesting to find out how Henderson Waves performs then. Could there be a different site in Singapore that hosts the main bulk of raptors flying through in spring? There’s only one way to find out.

Seven New Species added to the 2013 Checklist.

The following seven new species were accepted into Category A by the Records Committee in 2015. They were added to the 2013 Checklist (385) making the total of 392 species for the 2015 Checklist. Many thanks to all who sent in their records for review.

Indian Pond Heron at Bida

Indian Pond Heron at Bidadari

  1. Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii: Joseph Tan shot this heron at Bidadari on the 11th April 2015 and did not think too much of this heron. Six days later, Er Bong Siong shot and posted it on his facebook and identified it as a Javan Pond Heron. Francis saw the post and immediately alerted everyone that an Indian Pond Heron was at Bidadari. He and others went the next day and found it at the open grass patch. This confirms an earlier record of another summer bird seen at Senoko on 20 Mar 1994 by Lim Kim Chuah and Lim Kim Seng which now constitutes the first record for Singapore. This record had been listed in Category D for wild species where possibility of escape or release cannot be excluded. (Link1)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Jv. by Martii Simponen

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Jv. by Martii Simponen taken at Tuas.

2. Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus: an immature seen and photographed at Tuas on 14 Nov 2010 by Martti Siponen. He did not know that it was an Eurasian Sparrowhawk at the time until some friends of his saw it in his collection a few years later. We had several reports of this accipiter but the evidence presented was not sufficient for confirmation. An unconfirmed report of a female at MacRitchie Reservoir on 23 Jan 2001 had been listed  in Category F for species regarded as doubtful due to possible of mis-identification.

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Oriental Darter taken at Bukit Combak

3. Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster: One seen at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 26 June 2006 by Graham Langley. There were also two subsequent records that were accepted, from Bukit Gombak, in August 2014 from Jean-Marc Chavatte, Lee Tiah Khee and Alan Owyong, and Pulau Ubin in July 2015 from Francis Yap. These are the second and third records for Singapore.

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Northern Boobook at Tuas South. Photo by Low Choon How.

4. Northern Boobook Ninox japonica: a specimen in the LKC Museum mislabeled as Ninox scutulata and collected in Singapore in Nov 2000 is the first record for Singapore (Sadanandan et al 2015). There were five subsequent records in Oct 2013, Mar 2014, Nov 2014 and Nov 2015 (2 records) that are accepted as the 2nd to 6th records for Singapore. Alan Owyong, David Li and Low Choon How were the observers but it was Alison Wilson’s 23 March 2014 dead specimen’s DNA confirmation that put this difficult species on the Singapore List.

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Narcisus Flycatcher, female, taken at Bidadari. Photo by Hio John.

5. Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina: a female reported at Bidadari Cemetery on 2 Dec 2015 by Robin Tan, Alan Ng, Hio John and See Toh Yiew Wai.(Link5)

Scarlet Breasted Flowerpecker by Jimmy Tan

Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker taken in Panti. Photo by Jimmy Tan

6. Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker Prionochilus thoracicus: 1 seen on Pulau Ubin by Yong Yik Shih, Ng Chay Tuan and Elizabeth Rothwell.

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Richard’s Pipit taken outside Singapore by Michelle and Peter Wong.

7. Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi : One seen at Khatib on 19 Oct 2015 by Angus Lamont.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore 2009. Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. Asia Books Ltd 2000. Text copied from Lim Kim Seng’s Records Committee Report 2015.  Many thanks to Martii Siponen, Low Choon How, Hoi John, Jimmy Tan and Michelle and Peter Wong for the use of their photos.