Tag Archives: Great Slaty Woodpecker.

Singapore Bird Report – May 2018

As the remaining migrants made their exodus back to their breeding grounds, and residents nest and raise their broods, the most exciting news for May was the return of the Great Slaty Woodpecker for a period of about eleven days. The Great Slaty Woodpecker was first recorded in Singapore in 1904; a specimen was collected from Woodlands. The last two sightings, unconfirmed, were reported from Changi in the 1970s, and the bird was thought to be extinct, until this month’s sightings. 

2 GSW,, 110518, CC, Fryap

The Great Slaty Woodpecker photographed at the MacRitchie Reservoir area by Francis Yap on 11 May 2018.

The Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus was first reported by Ted Lee, when he sought for help to identify an unusual bird photographed at around 2:15pm on 2 May 2018 near the summit of Bukit Timah Hill. Dominic Ng subsequently spotted the bird during the early morning hours of 4 May 2018 near the location where Ted first saw the bird. Others visited the Hill on 5 May 2018, and were rewarded by the bird staying within the vicinity of the summit until late evening. The woodpecker was then seen on the hill on the morning of 6 May 2018. It was sighted around MacRitchie Reservoir on 11 May 2018, and was last seen on the afternoon of 12 May 2018.

Report on Migrants

Sightings of migrant species continue to be reported. A Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus was seen at Satay by the Bay (SBTB) on 1 May 2018 by Veronica Foo, who also heard a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis calling at the carpark behind the church at Dempsey Hill on 4 May 2018. Several late departure dates were noted this month. Fadzrun Adnan’s report of an Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei on 5 May 2018 represented a new late departure date for the species; later than previous records by one week. Lim Kim Keang’s sighting of a Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 6 May 2018 represented a new extreme date; the Great Knot’s last recorded departure date was 14 March.  Another new late departure record was made by an Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus seen at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) by James Lambert on 6 May 2018. Amin’s report of a White Wagtail Motacilla alba in the Aljunied Canal on 17 May 2018 was an extension of more than a month.  Vincent Lao’s report of a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) on 28 May 2018 represents an extension from a previous record of 2 May; one was earlier spotted by Richard Davis on 1 May at SBWR.

3. WWT

The White Wagtail photographed at the Aljunied Canal by Amin on 17 May 2018.

Reports on Residents

There were several nesting reports of resident species. Khoo Meilin reported an active nest of a pair of Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala at Chinese Garden on 4 May 2018 and another at Lorong Chencaru, on 8 May 2018, where the chick was seen calling from its nest hole. Mark Nelson Valino photographed a Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus with two chicks at Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) on 14 May 2018. Lawrence Eu reported a Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera engaged in nest-building activity in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) on 12 May 2018, while Khoo Meilin observed a Striated Heron Butorides striata nest with two chicks on 19 May 2018 in Bishan Park near the Grub Café and a juvenile Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus was seen by Doreen Ang at Burgundy Drive, a first for the area. On 23 May 2018, Edwin Choy reported that one Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus chick fledged from a tree at Pek Kio Market.

4. LTNJ

The Large-tailed Nightjar with a chick at the Singapore Botanic Gardens; photographed by Mark Nelson Valino on 14 May 2018.

Resident species included a male Barred Button Quail Turnix suscitator and Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca spotted at Bidadari by Amin on 6 May 2018.

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) yielded a Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris feeding on yellow figs at the summit (4 May 2018 by Stuart Campbell), several Greater Green Leafbird Chlropsis sonnerati (4 May 2018 by Lim Kim Keang), and a Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu (5 May 2018 by Geoff Lim and Kozi Ichiyama). A Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus was sighted on 23 May 2018 near Singapore Quarry by Peter Ding Chu Teck.

5 BBQ

The Barred Button Quail photographed at Bidadari by Amin on 6 May 2018.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) had reports of a Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii (17 May 2018 by Con Foley; 24 May 2018 by Art Toh) and Cream-vented Bulbuls Pycnonotus simplex (19 May 2018 by Martin Kennewell and 20 May 2018 by Fadzrun Adnan).

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The Ruddy-breasted Crake photographed at Bidadari by Amin on 6 May 2018.

Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) yielded an Asian Palmswift Cypsiurus balasiensis (1 May 2018 by Fadzrun Adnan), Lesser Green Leafbird Chloropsis cyanopogon  (18 May 2018 by Martin Kennewell and 26 May 2018 by Con Foley, Tan Kok Hui and Danny Lau), a Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii (23 May 2018 by Martin Kennewell) and a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus (27 May 2018 by Lim Kim Chuah).

 

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The Violet Cuckoo photographed at JEG by Jesse Tan on 28 May 2018.

In the west, Jurong Eco-Garden yielded another Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus (28 May 2018 by Jesse Tan), and a Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting (10 May 2018 by Luke Milo Teo).

In the east, a female Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus was spotted at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin (6 May 2018 by Lim Kim Seng and Lim Kim Keang), while about 16 Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica were seen at Pasir Ris Farmway (27 May 2018 by T. Ramesh).

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Lesser Whistling Ducks at Pasir Ris Farmway on 27 May 2018 by T. Ramesh.

Two Black-naped Terns Sterna sumatrana were seen feeding together with Little Terns Sternula albifrons at Pasir Ris Park (17 May 2018 by Luke Milo Teo). In the north, Veronica Foo heard a Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha calling at Seletar End on 31 May 2018, a new record for this location.

On a separate note, the Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis was reported at several locations – Tampines Eco-Green (25 May 2018 by Alvin Seng), SBWR (27 May 2018 by Art Toh) and Seletar End (31 May 2018 by Veronica Foo).

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The Savannah Nightjar at the Tampines Eco-Green on 25 May 2018 by Alvin Seng.

Lim Kim Keang sighted a Cinereous Bulbul Hemixos cinereus, a non-breeding visitor at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 6 May 2018. Records occur mainly in the year-end to early part of the year, previously up to 5 April. They are probably the result of  post-breeding dispersal of this species resident in Malaysia.

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A pelagic survey led by Francis Yap and See Toh Yew Wai on 5 May 2018 along the multi-national Straits of Singapore yielded 6 migrating Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel Oceanodrama monorhis, along with 3 Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris, 19 Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus and 1 Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica. Note that some of these sightings might not be in Singapore waters.

Short-tailed Shearwater

A Short-tailed Shearwater at Singapore Strait on 5 May 2018 by Francis Yap

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
JEG: Jurong Eco-Garden
KM: Kranji Marsh
PRP: Pasir Ris Park
SBG: Singapore Botanic Gardens
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
SBTB: Satay by the Bay
TEG: Tampines Eco-Green

This report is compiled by Geoff Lim and Alan OwYong, and 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 Amin, Alvin Seng, Francis Yap, Jesse Tan, Khong Yew, Mark Nelson Valino and T. Ramesh for the use of their photos. 

 List of Sightings in the May 2018 Bird Report

Date Species Location
Anatidae
27-May Lesser Whistling Duck Pasir Ris Farmway
Ardeidae
19-May Striated Heron Bishan Park
Rallidae
6-May Ruddy-breasted Crake Bidadari
Turnicidae
6-May Barred Button Quail Bidadari
Scolopacidae
6-May Great Knot P. Ubin
Laridae
17-May Black-naped Tern PRP
Columbidae
5-May Jambu Fruit Dove BTNR
Cuculidae
1-May Chestnut-winged Cuckoo SBWR
23-May Banded Bay Cuckoo DFNP
28-May Violet Cuckoo JEG
28-May Chestnut-winged Cuckoo SBWR
Strigidae
23-May Barred Eagle Owl BTNR
Caprimulgidae
25-May Savanna Nightjar TEG
31-May Savanna Nightjar Seletar End
Apodidae
1-May Asian Palmswift DFNP
Alcedinidae
10-May Blue-eared Kingfisher KM
Megalaimidae
8-May Coppersmith Barbet Chinese Gardens
17-May Red-crowned Barbet CCNR
Picidae
2-May Great Slaty Woodpecker BTNR
4-May Great Slaty Woodpecker BTNR
11-May Great Slaty Woodpecker CCNR
Psittaculidae
23-May Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Pek Kio Market
Pittidae
4-May Blue-winged Pitta Dempsey Hill
31-May Mangrove Pitta Seletar End
Tephrodornitidae
6-May Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike P. Ubin
Laniidae
1-May Tiger Shrike SBTB
Monarchidae
5-May Amur Paradise Flycatcher BTNR
Pycnonotidae
4-May Black-crested Bulbul BTNR
6-May Cinereous Bulbul P. Ubin
20-May Cream-vented Bulbul CCNR
Phylloscopidae
6-May Eastern Crowned Warbler BTNR
Timaliidae
12-May Chestnut-winged Babbler CCNR
Chloropseidae
4-May Greater Green Leafbird BTNR
18-May Lesser Green Leafbird DFNP
Ploceidae
21-May Baya Weaver Burgundy Drive
Motacillidae
17-May White Wagtail Aljunied Canal

 

 

 

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Bird Records Committee Report ( May 2018)

Bird Records Committee Report (May 2018)

By Lim Kim Seng. Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee.

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Booted Warbler Iduna caligata at Kranji Marshes, 10 Dec 2017, Singapore’s first record and the second for Southeast Asia. It stayed till March 2018. Photo by Adrian Silas Tay.

The Records Committee continues to receive records of new bird species to the Singapore List and rarities. This report updates the findings of the last 12 months up to May 2018.

 New Species

Six new bird species were added to the Singapore List, bringing the total number of species to 403. The updated official NSS Singapore Checklist 2018 edition (2) here.

They include the following:

Little Stint Calidris minuta

An adult and an immature seen and photographed at Tg. Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 Sep 2017 by David Li was the first record for Singapore.

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Little Stint at Check Java by David Li.

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina

A lone bird seen and photographed at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 9 Oct 2017 by George Presanis was the first record of this sedentary species for Singapore. It was not seen subsequently despite some observer effort.

294A Verditer Flycatcher.

Verditer Flycatcher at Dairy Farm Nature Park by George Presanis.

Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi

A female seen and photographed at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 2 Dec 2017 by Oliver Tan was the first record for Singapore and Southeast Asia. It was last seen on 10 Apr 2018.

Gim Cheong

Indian Paradise Flycatcher at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve by Tan Gim Cheong.

Booted Warbler Iduna caligata

One was first photographed but not identified by Fadhil, an NParks staff, at Kranji Marshes on 4 Dec 2017. On 10 Dec 2017, several observers including Adrian Silas Tay, Richard Carden, Martin Kennewell, Francis Yap and Lim Kim Chuah also saw and photograph the mystery bird. Eventually, a close study of its features, habits and vocalization revealed this to be Singapore’s first and Southeast Asia’s second record of this species.  It was last seen on 23 Mar 2018.

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis

A female seen and photographed at Chek Jawa Coastal Boardwalk, Pulau Ubin, on 4 Mar 2018 by Roger Boey was our first record for this species.

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Female Ruby-cheeked Sunbird taken by Roger Boey at Pulau Ubin.

Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus 

A female photographed near the summit of Bukit Timah on 2 May 2018 by Ted Lee and subsequently seen and photographed by several other observers on 4 and 5 May 2018 was the first recent record for Singapore. It was last seen near the Treetop Walk at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 12 May 2018. This species was previously assigned to Category B.

Kwong Yew

Great Slaty Woodpecker at Bukit Timah Hill by Kwong Yew.

 Rarities

The following eight rarities were accepted.

Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus

An individual photographed at Sungei Buloh on 18 Oct 2017 by Con Foley, Danny Lau and Tan Kok Hui was a noteworthy record of this rare non-breeding visitor to Singapore.

White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus

An individual photographed at Henderson Waves on 19 Oct 2017 by Keita Sin was our second record. Another photographed here on 31 Oct 2017 again by Keita Sin was the fourth while yet another photographed at Jelutong Tower on 25 Oct 2017 by Francis Yap was our third record.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

A bird photographed at Henderson Wave Bridge on 26 Nov 2017 by Francis Yap was our third record for Singapore. The only other records were from Tuas View Lane by Martti Siponen on 14 Nov 2010 and Keita Sin, also at Henderson Wave Bridge, on 17 Nov 2016.

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis

An individual photographed at Changi on 26 Nov 2017 by Adrian Silas Tay was our third record. Our only previous records were from Changi Coast by Tan Gim Cheong on 21 Nov 2007 and Lower Seletar Dam on 16 Dec 2016 by Yip Peng Sun.

Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina

A female photographed at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 28 Nov 2017 by Veronica Foo and Marcel Finlay was our second record. Another female photographed at West Coast Park on 3 Jan 2018 by Stuart Campbell was our third record.

Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx macutalus

A female photographed at Fort Siloso, Sentosa, on 23 Dec 2017 by Esther Ong was our second record. It stayed till the end of the year.

Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykulii

An adult photographed at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 19 Jan 2018 by Meena Vathyam was our second record. It was last seen on 28 April 2018.

Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster

An individual photographed at Singapore Quarry on 18 Feb 2018 by Richard White was the first from this locality and our fourth record overall of this rare non-breeding visitor.

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus

A female seen and photographed at Jelutong Tower on 20 Jan 2018 by HB Thio was our fourth record. Another seen and photographed by Lim Kim Seng at Chek Jawa Coastal Boardwalk, Pulau Ubin, on 6 May 2018 was our fifth record.

Annex 1

In addition to the above, we have also received further records of Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii in the Singapore Straits on 29 Apr 2017 and 6 May 2017 from Lau Jiasheng. These two records were confirmed to be outside Singapore waters and are assigned to Annex 1. To date, we have no records of Bulwer’s Petrel in Singapore. Annex 1 is for species occurring near to but outside Singapore, e.g. birds occurring in the Indonesian and/or Malaysian side of the Singapore Straits.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thanks the following observers for submitting their records for review: Roger Boey, Stuart Campbell, Marcel Finlay, Con Foley, Veronica Foo, Danny Lau, Lau Jiasheng, David Li, Geoff Lim, Lim Kim Seng, Esther Ong, Alan Owyong, George Presanis, Keita Sin, Tan Kok Hui, Oliver Tan, Adrian Silas Tay, Meena Vathyam, Richard White, Francis Yap and Yip Peng Sun. Special thanks go to Dave Bakewell for help in unravelling the identity of Little Stint and Indian Paradise Flycatcher based on submitted evidence. Finally, thanks are also due to my fellow committee members for their expertise in the deliberation process:  Alfred Chia, Kenneth Kee, Lim Kim Chuah, Lim Kim Keang, Alan Owyong, Dr Frank Rheindt, Tan Gim Cheong and Dr Yong Ding Li.

Thanks to Adrian Silas Tay, David Li, George Persanis, Tan Gim Cheong, Roger Boey and Khong Yew for the use of their photographs.

Reference

Lim, K.S. (2009). The avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore.

 

Return of the King.

Return of the King

Lim Kim Seng

Every once in a long while, we get really lucky in life. For birders and bird photographers alike, it would be encountering a species that nobody has seen before. It sounds impossible in urban Singapore but it actually happened.

On 2nd May 2018, Ted Lee found it even if he did not realise the importance of his sighting. He posted his photo of a Great Slaty Woodpecker (GSW) on Facebook and every Singapore birder and bird photographer was stunned! It was a bird that had been thought lost to our forests, a bird so scarce that nobody had seen it before in Singapore. Alan Owyong calls this the sighting of the decade. Yes, it was really spectacular in the sense that this really was a totally unexpected, out of the blue sighting.

IMG_9809 BTNR

2018 has been an exceptional year so far for rarities with a string of super rarities turning up – Band-bellied Crake, Booted Warbler, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, and now this. The GSW takes the cake because it was supposed to be extirpated. Our rainforests have been well surveyed and nobody had even come close to a sighting of this legendary behemoth of a bird. It is also noteworthy as the largest living woodpecker species in the world since two larger species, Imperial and Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, both from the New World, are supposed to be extinct or on the verge of extinction.  It measures up to 50 cm in length from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail and weighs a maximum of about half a kilogram. The GSW is an awesome bird especially when seen close up.  It has a big head, big eyes, a narrow neck, a very long chisel-like bill and a stiff, long tail. Overall, it is clothed in dark grey with just a bit of buff on its throat. Males differ from females in having a broad, bright orange malar stripe.

The GSW has a wide global range being found in the Indian Subcontinent south of the Himalayas and southern China south to Southeast Asia as well as the islands of Borneo, Java and Sumatra. It occurs in deciduous and evergreen forests usually below 600 m but can range as high as 2000 m in some parts of its range. Due to its preference for old trees, it is most regular in old growth forest but has also been seen in plantations, mangroves and swampy forests. As such, it is rated as globally vulnerable by IUCN due to the large scale loss of old growth forests in the region in recent years.

IMG_9825 BTNR

In Singapore, the GSW has not been seen since 1950. There were unconfirmed sightings in the 1970s but none since. There are however specimens in the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum including an individual collected in Woodlands in 1904, so it was originally here.

After the report by Ted Lee on 2nd May, I had expected to see birders and bird photographers climbing up the 163-m Bukit Timah to seek the GSW the very next day, on 3rd May. I happened to be leading a group of students on a field trip there and spent some time looking for it near the summit. No luck for me and everyone else who tried that day! To add to my misery, I injured my right knee while descending the hill.

On 4th May, more people tried but most were disappointed as they missed the bird except for Dominic Ng who got there around dawn and managed a photograph of the GSW. I was down at nearby Dairy Farm Nature Park where the most interesting bird was a pair of Greater Green Leafbirds. The pain in my right knee grew and I had to go for acupuncture to relieve it.

IMG_9798

On 5th May, which was a Saturday, I was taking a break from birding and relaxing at home but any hope of peace was shattered very early on. My mobile phone kept beeping as whatsapp messages started from 7.00 am. The GSW was back and in view! My phone was still beeping three hours later. GSW still here, reported Kenneth Kee. I had some errands to do and only managed to get to Bukit Timah around noon. I bumped into Felix Wong as he was driving out, the smile on his face sufficient to tell me that he had seen the bird. The climb from the foot was very steep and I was careful not to push too hard, mindful of my knee injury. Sweat was pouring down my back as I huffed and puffed up the hill, each step seemingly harder than the last. Thankfully, I met Toh Yuet Hsin who was also keen to see the bird and we managed to reach the spot where the bird was last seen in good time.

Amongst the half a dozen people there toting binoculars and cameras was Low Bing Wen. He told me that we had missed the GSW by about 10 minutes and that it was probably still around. I scanned every branch carefully but couldn’t see anything. At 12.40 pm, some relief. The GSW called but despite anxious minutes passing by, we could not see it. The minutes ticked by. Nothing! A Chestnut-bellied Malkoha was a welcome distraction until someone shouted, “Woodpecker!” at 1.14 pm. I moved as fast as my injured legs could carry me and stood behind the group of people staring up a thick Shorea curtisi tree. A panicky few seconds passed before I laid my eyes on this giant woodpecker. It was about 15 metres up the tree, perched on a small branch and hammering away, searching for grubs. Elation was replaced by the frantic rummaging of my camera bag and I squeezed off shot after shot.

More people were coming up the hill and they soon showed happy faces as each had their own communion with their holy grail.

At 1.48 pm, we had the GSW in view for over half an hour, an eternity for a rarity, and I was satisfied at last. I had squeezed off 99 still frames, taken two short videos and also made a 30-second recording of its whinnying call. Job done, I descended the hill even as more people seeking this bird huffed and puffed their way up the hill. I heard that the bird was present most of that day and probably over 100 people had seen this mega rarity by then. This was a really special moment in Singapore birding, the return of the king of woodpeckers, and easily the ornithological event of the decade!

All photos by Lim Kim Seng.