Tag Archives: Gardens by the Bay

Leica’s Birdwalk with Noah Strycker.

Leica’s Birdwalk with Noah Strycker.

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Happy birders enjoying a great morning with Noah Strycker at the Gardens by the Bay. Photo courtesy of Chen Zhi Lin of Leica Camera Asia Pacific. 

Leica Cameras Asia Pacific flew Noah Strycker all the way from Antarctica where he was leading a trip to Singapore on 28 November to attend the Birdlife International’s Gala Dinner. It was only a “48 hours trip”, something Noah was used to when he did his Global Big Year in 2015. He set a new record of 6,042 species in a calendar year. Besides being one of the celebrity guests at the Gala Dinner, he also exhibited his bird photos taken with the Leica V-lux during his Big Year, the sale proceeds going to Birdlife International Conservation Fund.

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Geoff Lim’s low angle shot offering a different perspective of Noah Strycker with Con Foley at GBTB with Ee Ling, Veronica and Alan leading the way.

The marketing team at Leica Cameras Asia Pacific arranged a birdwalk with Noah for their clients and invited members of the Singapore Bird Group who helped Noah ticked the three species when he was in transit in Singapore on December 2015 (Link). They were the Straw-headed Bulbul, Grey Nightjar and the Tanimbar Corella.

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The visiting Common Kingfisher put on a great show for us that morning. Ping Ling crouching for a better shot. Photo: Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong.

We knew that Noah had birded in many wild and exotic places around the world but we doubt if he had ever birded at a man made garden on a reclaimed land right in the middle of a financial hub. So we decided to take him to the Gardens by the Bay on the morning of Saturday 1 December. Con Foley his “go-to-birder” here promised him his lifer, the Ruddy-breasted Crake which had been loitering around the gardens for the past weeks. But he forgot to let the crake know that a celeb birder was coming to see him. So Noah had to settle for the Yellow Bittern as his best bird of the day because of the excellent close up views.

Actually Noah was quite impressed with the bird life at the gardens this morning. We had a good variety of resident birds and a few migrants to show him. They may be common to us like the Asian Koel but they were a treat for Noah.

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I cannot remembered what we were looking at but it was a lup sup bird as far as Con is concerned. Photo: Wong Chung Cheong.

The last species we saw were two displaying Oriental Honey Buzzards before ending up at Leica’s Shop at Marina Bay Sands where Noah regaled us with a slide talk on his adventures of his Big Year. Noah turned out to be a great storyteller and a funny one too.  This was the highlight of the day for most of us listening to why and how he went birding for 365 days almost non-stop often without sleep.

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Noah’s slide talk showing the many friends he made during his Big Year. Photo: Yeo Seng Beng.

Starting on board a ship at one end of the world on New Year’s day looking for penguins to spending Christmas in Australia with the Cassowary before returning to India to mop up 40 odd more species for his record. It was a journey of making friends across the world as much as a personal achievement. The ups and downs were a plenty. Missed flights and being stranded in the middle of nowhere were par for the course. So too were the enthusiastic birders in every continent who never once let him down.

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Seng Beng, Kim Chuah, Ee Ling, Jimmy Chew and Jimmy Lee and Con standing, Fance and Kim Keang seated, having a lunch chat with Noah. Photo: Alan OwYong.

Many thanks to Leica for arranging this special bird walk and Noah for his company and talk. Thanks to Ray Tan and Chen Zhi Lin for making sure we all had a great morning. The sandwich and juice breakfast, bento lunches and Spoonie pins put together by Ginny Pang were much appreciated.

P.S. Noah has written a book “Birding without Borders” about his exploits doing his Big Year. It is a fascinating must read for every birder.  

 

 

 

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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.