Tag Archives: Great-billed Heron

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.

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Yishun Dam and the returning Shorebirds.

Text and Photos by Mohamad Zahidi. 1st Oct, 2016.

There are a few places in Singapore we can go for shorebirds but I chose Yishun Dam as its close to where I live. For the shorebirds that flew thousands of miles from their Arctic breeding ground, the rich sand banks and mud flats provide a great refueling stop and a natural habitat to document them.

august-06Some of the early migrants to Yishun Dam. Small numbers of the Lesser Sand Plovers were seen.(6 Aug 2016).

c-august-15Increased in numbers in the following week. (15 Aug 2016)

I normally spend few hours playing the ‘waiting game’ under the hot sun and try to scan that area for some lifer or uncommon shorebird. The birds there also tend to forage for food at Khatib Bongsu and at some smaller island nearby.

img-20160825-wa0001Shorebirds shooting at low tide under the hot sun at the Yishun Dam. Photo: AlanOwYong

 

This year I am so determined to see the uncommon Greater Sand Plover. During my last Pelagic Trip in May, I was asking around about this Plover which I dipped during my unofficial Big Year in 2014. FrancisYap and See Toh suggested that I should go visit YD frequently in the month of Aug so that I can have a better chance to see the Greater Sand Plover there. 

september-22Lesser Sand Plovers at the sandbank. Background is the shoreline of Khatib Bongsu.

I finally decided to visit Yishun Dam (sandbank) somewhere in late July in order to see some early migrants with my birding kaki, David Tan. We ended up finding the Great-Billed Heron which Alan OwYong said was a new record for Yishun Dam (sandbank). The Western Osprey also made a brief appearance towards the end of our morning session there.

c-july-23Great–billed Heron adjusting to a new standing position. (23 July 2016)

a-july-23
Western Osprey was seen hunting for fish (23 July 2016)

b-july-23Western Osprey dropped its catch in mid-air (23 July 2016)

The news that a Great Knot landed in Yishun was sent to many by Francis Yap on a Saturday morning while I was at work. It attracted many photographers and avid birdwatchers to Yishun Dam again. It was time for me to get some new shot of this globally endangered star bird. There was a chance of getting the Greater Sand Plover as well.

a-august-15

b-august-15Great Knot was seen flying with the Lesser Sand Plover (15 Aug 2016).

Finally, on 22 August Lawrence Cher alerted us about Greater Sand Plover spotted in Yishun Dam. I was eager to go down asap but only managed to do it on 26 Aug 2016 despite the haze that morning.

aug-26Greater Sand Plover foraging along the shoreline (26 Aug 2016)

september-17-1Spotted another Greater Sand Plover at the sandbank. (17 Sep 2016)

Yishun Dam is a perfect place to see these great shorebirds and really hope that it will not be lost to development. I would like to thank Singapore Bird Group for the invite to write this article.

Below are some of my collection of birds taken recently at Yishun Dam.

september-22Common Sandpiper with baby cobra in threat posture (22 Sep 2016)

b-sep-22A pair of Pacific Golden Plover (22 Sep 2016)

a-sep-22Terek Sandpipers foraging on sandbank. (22 Sep 2016), Their numbers are in decline over the years.

oct-5-2014A juvenile Yellow Wagtail was spotted catching insects at Yishun Dam (5 Oct 2014)

sep-28-2014-1Ruddy Turnstone (28 Sep 2014)

oct-23-2013Close-up shot of Ruddy Turnstone (5 Oct 2013)

Reference: A Naturalsit’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited 2013.

Singapore Bird Report-July 2016

All the excitement came during the last 10 days of July. On the 19th, a few days after its extreme date, Laurence Eu photographed a Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Muscicapa williamsoni, a rare non breeding visitor, at Lower Pierce Boardwalk.

BFC Laurence EuBrown-streaked Flycatcher, a rare non breeding visitor at Lower Pierce. Photo: Laurence Eu.

The record that we were waiting for came on the 26th when Lim Kim Seng spotted three Lesser Sand Plovers, Charadrius mongolus, at the Lower Seletar Dam. On the same day Danny Khoo photographed a Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, at the Marina Barrage. Three days later, Frankie Cheong reported three Whimbrels, Numenius phaeopus and 30-40 Lesser Sand Ploversat the southern part of Pulau Tekong. On 30th Francis Yap brought news of the arrival of our first passerine migrant, the Barn Swallows, Hirundo rustica, at Punggol Barat and two Common Greenshanks, Tringa nebularia, at Seletar Dam. This heralded the return of the wintering shorebirds to Singapore. Bring out your scopes, the migration season is going its way. Last year the first waders arrived on the 1st August. Another sign of climate change?

Mangrove Whistler Seng AlvinA rare appearance of the Mangrove Whistler at Pasir Ris Mangroves captured by Seng Alvin.

But the bird of the month had to be the sudden one day appearance of the rare resident Mangrove Whistler, Pachycephala cinerea, at Pasir Ris Mangroves on 29th (Eric Bronson & Seng Alvin). Most of our past records were from Tekong and Southern Islands. The last mainland record was at Changi Cove in 2014.

King Quail Family Millie Cher

The proud King Quail parents showing off their family of five chicks over at Punggol Barat. Photo: Millie Cher.

As expected during the tail end of the breeding season, records of fledglings came in from all over the island. The most welcomed was a family of rarely seen King Quails, Excalfactoria chinensis with five chicks over at Punggol Barat. Joseph Tan Kok Beng reported the fledgling of two Crested Goshawk chicks, Accipiter trivirgatus, at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 3rd and 6th. This is the second family of Crested Goshawks to have successfully raise a family there in the same season. Over at Burgundy Drive, Doreen Ang reported two juvenile Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots, Loriculus galgulus, seen with two adults feasting on her neighbour’s mango tree on the 7th. On the same day, she also reported a juvenile Thick-billed Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, at Lorong Sesuai. Good to know that some of our uncommon residents are doing well.

BCHP Doreen AngTwo juvenile Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots feasting on the mango with their parent. Photo: Michael Toh.

Over at Pulau Ubin, Yap Wee Jin reported the fledgling of the White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus on 9th. Lim Kim Keang reported the  nesting of the Olive-winged Bulbul, Pycnonotus plumosus, on 14th and three dependent Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, juveniles on 28th.

SWO Ria TanBoth parents with the newly fledged Spotted Wood Owls at Woodlands. Photo: Ria Tan

A second record of a successful nesting of the Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, this season came from the Woodlands area with Ria Tan’s posting on 26th. One fledgling was seen with both parents. Like the earlier nesting at Cashew they were also using the Bird Nest Fern as nest. On 26th Laurence Eu photographed a Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostris, looking after a juvenile at Dairy Farm Nature Park. We are have not documented an active nesting of this forest species yet.

Sunda Scops Owls

Parent with two juvenile Sunda Scops Owls at Lower Pierce. Photo: Alan OwYong

Following the sighting of the Sunda Scops Owl, Otus lempiji, at Lower Pierce last month by Vincent Lao, we found two juveniles with a parent there on the 5th (Alan OwYong). Two days later Johnny Chew came across three Sunda Scops Owls at Telok Blangah Hill. Lim Kim Keang photographed an adult with a juvenile at Mandai Track 7 while Subha and son Raghav reported one adult together with a Brown Hawk Owl, Ninox scutulata, at Hindhede Nature Park, on the 16th. This has to be the largest number of breeding Sunda Scops Owls in a month.

Square-tailed Drongo FYapThe drama of a Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo being chased by a Olive-winged Bulbul over the Central Forest captured by Francis Yap. This bulbul may have caught the cuckoo red-handed trying to replace its eggs.

Other notable sightings include an Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Dicaeum trigonostigma, at Burgundy Drive near Bukit Batok NP, on 4th (Doreen Ang), a resident Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, being chased by a Olive-winged Bulbul was superbly captured by Francis Yap from the Jelutong Tower, a male Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, a first for Sentosa on 8th (James Tann). We have yet to determine the status of this individual. Mark Nelson Valino photographed a Black-crowned Night-Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital pond on the 16th. Edwin Choy recalled seeing four adults and two juveniles there. Daniel Ong confirmed that they were there since the beginning of the year. Lets hope these choosy herons will make this place their permanent home as their numbers have not increased much over the years.

GG Leafbird James TannFirst record for Sentosa, a male Greater Green Leafbird may be an escapee. Photo: James Tann

We had two mainland records of the White-rumped Shama, the first at the Durian Trail on the 15th by Kerry Pereira and a calling bird at Upper Pierce Reservoir on the 23rd (Reuben Braddock).

Lim Kim Seng reported a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonnerati, and another Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo at the Central Catchment Forest on the 17th. This is our resident race that is quite vocal around this time of the year. A few uncommon Glossy Swiftlets, Collocalia esculenta, were seen flying over the Hindhede Quarry on the 19th by Alan OwYong. Zacc photographed a lone Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, at the Seletar Dam on the 23rd. As far as we know this is the first record for the area, indicating the spreading of this uncommon resident coastal heron. 

Reference:

Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009 Nature Society (Singapore). 

Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. 2013. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited. 

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected 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 Laurence Eu, Seng Alvin, Millie Cher, Michael Toh, Ria Tan, Alan OwYong, Francis Yap and James Tann, for the use of their photos.