Tag Archives: Little Green Pigeon

Singapore Bird Report-March 2016

The star bird of the month had to be the pelagic Brown Booby, Sula leucogaster an unexpected non-breeding visitor that is playing a cat and mouse game with us at the Johor Straits. It was first seen on 21st by Choo Tiong Whee, Lee Van Hien and Benny Lim fishing off Platform 1 on 21st March.Link. Our last record was in 1982. It was still around  on the 9th.


Brown Booby flying over the Johor Straits taken on 21st March by Choo Tiong Whee.

Adding to the excitement, Francis Yap posted a photo of a male Little Green Pigeon, Treron olax, taken from his favorite Jelutong Tower on 16th. Our last record for this rare non-breeding visitor was in 2004.

Little Green Pigeon FYap

First photo record of this rare non breeding visitor, the Little Green Pigeon in Singapore by Francis Yap.

March was the height of the Spring migration for most of the passerines as can be seen from the reports from our Central Forest, Bidadari and  Tuas South. Species reported from Central Forest include a Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, photographed by Adrian Silas Tay on 3rd, a Ruddy Kingfisher, Halcyon coromanda, heard calling and 3 Blue-winged Pittas, Pitta moluccenis at the MacRitchie Boardwalk  and an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceryx erithaca, at Prunes Trail on 7th by Yong Yik Shih.

Over at Bidadari, a Large-hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides, was sighted by Lena Chow on 5th. It stayed for only a few days. Another Cuckoo, the Hogdson’s Hierococcyx nisicolor, was photographed by Francis Yap on 13th. Flycatchers include an incei Asian Paradise, Terpsiphone paradisi, reported by Low Choon How, 3 male Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Ficedula zanthopygia, by Lim Kim Keang  both on 17th.

The patch of leguminous trees at the open fields at Tuas South continued to offer a rest stop for returning migrants. Blue-winged Pitta, the rare Japanese Paradise, Terpsiphone atrocauda, and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers were reported by Low Choon How on 20th.

MHC Seng Alvin

A juvenile Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo making a rest stop at Pasir Ris Park. Photo: Seng Alvin

Other migrant passerines reported were a flock of 10 Oriental Pratincoles, Glareola maldivarum, at Gardens East by Daniel Ong and Lawrence Cher on 5th, and at CCK Cemetery on 20th by Lee Van Hien, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, at the SBTB by Eric Wa on 8th , one more Blue-winged Pitta and a Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida, at the Singapore Botanic Gardens by Richard White on 16th and 23rd respectively and a roosting Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka, reported at Venus Loop by Atish Banerjee, new for that location.

Non-breeding visitors like the Cinereous BulbulsHemixos cinereus, were seen at Chek Java: a flock of 25 by Lim Kim Keang on 16th, a lone bird on 30th by Lim Kim Seng and another at Jelutong Tower on 6th by Lim Kim Chuah. A juvenile Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx Fugax was photographed by Seng Alvin at Pasir Ris Park on 31st.

Barn Owl Atish Banerjee

March is also the time for courtship, mating and some early nesting for many of our residents. The Tanjong Rhu Western Barn Owl, Tyto alba, paid a brief visit to the SBTB on 4th (Atis Banerjee’s photo left) and a Red-legged Crake, Rallina fasciata, was photographed there on 5th by Khong Yew. We had two reports of the hard to see Barred Button Quails, Turnix suscitator. Roger Boey photographed one over at Butterfly Hill at P. Ubin on 7th and Lim Kim Keang was lucky to see two crossing his path at Lorong Halus on 23rd. Staying at Halus, Lawrence Cher shot a reclusive Painted Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, on 23rd. The most exciting resident was the Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, first photographed flying over Neo Tiew Crescent on 18th by Nicholas Tan and Cindy Yeo and later at the Western Catchment shores by See Toh’s boat group on 26th.

Lesser Adjutant Nicholas Tan

The Lesser Adjutant flying over Neo Tiew Crescent on 18th. Photo: Nicholas Tan.

Within a month of opening, the Kranji Marshes came alive with many of marsh residents reappearing. Low Choon How was the first to report the Common Moorhens, Gallinula chloropus, on 8th, followed by the Black-backed Swamphens, Porphyrio indicus, and White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea, found by Alfred Chia during the NSS walk on 20th, and the wintering Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea,  during AWC on 27th by Lee Ee Ling and Lena Chow. Another Watercock was also seen at a canal at Neo Tiew Lane 4 on 25th by Alan OwYong and Lim Kim Keang.

Remaining at Kranji Marshes, Lim Kim Keang reported a flying Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhyncus, on 29th and a large flock of 130 Long-tailed Parakeets, Psittacula longicauda, flying over on 26th was photographed by Richard Lim

Moorhen Richard Lim

Common Moorhens are returning to the new Kranji Marshes. Photo: Richard Lim

Other notable residents was a Straw-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus zeylanicus, reported by Vincent Lao at King’s Avenue on 19th during his weekly cross country rides. James Tann found a fruiting fig at Bukit Brown and counted 15 uncommon Thick-billed Pigeons, Treron curvirostra, feeding there. A good record especially on the numbers. Andrew Chow posted a video of 3 Chestnut-winged Babblers, Stachyris erythroptera, taken near to Jelutong Tower. They are more visible and vocal during mating.

Thick-billed Pigeon James Tan

A male Thick-billed Pigeon from a flock of 15 photographed at Bukit Brown by James Tann.

We still have small pockets of shorebirds waiting for the right time to fly back north. Six Bar-tailed Godwits, Limosa lapponica,  were seen on 16th by Lim Kim Keang, and three Chinese Egrets, Egretta eulophotes, on 30th by Lim Kim Seng, both at Chek Java, a lone Grey-tailed Tattler, Tringa brevipes, was reported by Lim Kim Seng at SBWR on 29th and a late returning Great Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, flying west to east along the Johor Straits on 19th identified from a photo by Arman AF.

RBE Leslie Fung

Juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle over Springleaf Park. Photo: Leslie Fung.

Some raptor reports: Two Peregrine Falcons, Falco peregrinus, both japonensis were seen this month, one at Bishan on 14th reported by Lena Chow and the other photographed from Eagle Point on 20th by Francis Yap. An adult Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, was photographed by Lee Li Er at Kent Ridge Park on 25th. Tan, and a rare juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle, Lophotriorchis kienerii, was photographed flying  over Springleaf Park by Leslie Fung, on 31st. Tan Gim Cheong will be posting a full raptor report for March in the coming days.


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. 

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong 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 Choo Tiong Whee, Francis Yap, Atish Banerjee,  James Tann, Nicholas Tan, Richard Lim, Seng Alvin and Leslie Fung for the use of their photos.

SBWR – Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves, SBTB– Satay by the Bay,  AWC – Asian Waterbirds Census



Threatened, Endangered, Going, Gone?

The current Singapore Checklist published in 2013 has 385 species based on species classified under Category A: i.e. species recorded in an apparent wild state in Singapore in the last 50 years. If you go through this list you will find that many of our resident species have actually not been seen for quite some time. We fear that many of these ‘missing’ species may have died out in their last stronghold due to habitat loss and other factors associated with small populations (e.g. disease). The good news is that some of the species that we thought we have lost like the Buff-rumped Woodpecker and Barred Eagle Owl were spectacularly rediscovered in recent years, although this does not guarantee that their populations will persist in the long time. In this article, we highlight a number of species in Singapore’s checklist that have not been seen in the last decade and more.

Many of these ‘lost’ birds can still be found at the Panti Forest Reserve just across the Causeway in Johor, Malaysia. We are lucky to be able to showcase these eight species brilliantly documented by Con Foley at Panti Forest, and hope that they will be seen here again some day.

WoodpeckerWhitebellied Con Foley1. White-bellied Woodpecker. Dryocopus javensis

A large, rare woodpecker that is distinctive both in appearance and call, the White-bellied Woodpecker is also the second largest woodpecker in the Old World, after the Great Slaty Woodpecker. Like the possibly extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker of North America, this is no doubt the Holy Grail of birdwatching in Singapore! The last confirmed record was from the Canopy Walkway at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve where one was heard on 24 July 2005, almost ten years ago. The last stronghold of the White-bellied Woodpecker was the Central Catchment Forest where most of the sightings were reported. One exceptional record was on 30 September 2001 when three males and one female were seen on a Terentang tree at the CCNR (Alfred Chia, Kenneth Kee & Alan OwYong). This is the largest single count for this woodpecker to date. Subsequent sightings involved a single male around the Sime Road area and MacRitchie Forest. Outside the Central Catchment, one bird was seen at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in the mid-1990s, and a stray individual was reported at the Mount Pleasant and Gymkhana areas in the early 2000s. There have also been unconfirmed records of single birds in remnant patches of woodlands in Tuas and Marina South. Large woodpeckers need large areas of relatively undisturbed forests to forage almost wherever they are found. We may have lost this woodpecker as a result of forest fragmentation and unless this is reversed the chances of this woodpecker returning to our forest is nil.

There was this note from Jon Chan of an unconfirmed sighting in 2013. He wrote: “Found out one of my buddies, Gabriel Kang, fellow Sunburnbrother and spotter, found a White Bellied Woodpecker at Rifle Range Rd on 6 Feb ’13 at 11.15am’. He heard the call first, suspected something amiss, stopped the car, and It flew past him on the road. Described it as crow-size but with a woodpecker’s behaviour. “

PigeonLittlegreenmale Com Foley

2. Little Green Pigeon. Treton olax

The Little Green Pigeon is the rarest of four green pigeons known from Singapore. Surprisingly this species was considered to be common in the 1960s by birdwatchers from the Royal Air Force Ornithological Society (Tweedy 1970, RAFOS 1968). Most of the recent records were from 1986 to 1990 when either singles or two birds were seen at Pulau Tekong and Upper Seletar, Upper Peirce, and Nee Soon in the Central Catchment Forests (SINAV). But sightings dwindled to only two records in the mid-2000s, a male on 17 October 2004 (SINAV 4.5) and a female reported two days later at the Jelutong Tower during the Bird Race that year. So far, we have no sightings of this species for more than a decade. Hopefully a stray from Johor will make it to our forests in the coming years since green pigeons are known to disperse widely for fruiting trees. Birdwatchers are encouraged to keep a lookout for this species at fruiting figs in and around the Central Catchment.

CuckooshrikeLesserfemale Con Foley

3. Lesser CuckooshrikeCoracina fimbriata

This very rare resident has only been recorded in Pulau Ubin and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Unfortunately, the forests there is unlikely to sustain its survival in Singapore.  Recent records from Bukit Timah was a male seen on October 1986 (BGNB Spet/Oct 1986) with the last record of a female at the same location on 4th January 1998 (K.S. Lim, SINAV 12.1). (Lim Kim Seng reported another female flying over Jelutong Towers on 14 October 2013). A report of a purported Lesser Cuckooshrike accompanied by a photograph in 2014, turned out to be the Black-winged Cuckooshrike (a species not in our checklist). The 2013 sighting gave hope of a comeback but we may have to accept that this species is now most likely extinct in Singapore.

BabblerMoustached Con Foley

4. Moustached Babbler. Malacopteron magnirostre

Our rarest babbler ‘came back to life’ when ornithologist Chris J. Hails from the Parks and Recreation Department (the predecessor of today’s National Parks Board) found a remnant population at the Seletar Catchment in 1983.  A census in 1986 found six birds in two locations within the Central Catchment forests. Lim Kim Chuah also reported seeing a pair of Moustached Babblers with two youngs, proving that the birds successfully bred. Breeding was recorded in 1984 and 1986. However their numbers appear to have declined thereafter, with only one bird sighted in 1987 and this became our second last record (SINAV 1.6). The last record was in June 1994, when one bird was sighted at the MacRitchie Catchment (K.S. Lim 1988). Subsequent surveys did not produce any sightings and we think that this babbler may already have gone extinct.

.SunbirdPlainmale Con Foley

5. Plain Sunbird. Anthreptes simplex.

The Plain Sunbird lives up to its name with its drab olive-green plumage, which makes it very similar to female sunbirds of other species if poorly seen. We have only one acceptable record of a male seen at Senoko on 25 January 1986 by Lim Kim Seng (BGB 2. Lim, K.S. 1989e). The last sighting of the Plain Sunbird was an unconfirmed record from Rifle Range Road in 2006 by Yong Ding Li and Ong Kiem Sian. Plain Sunbirds may have been overlooked in the past and dismissed as a female of other sunbirds but birdwatchers looking for this species should note that the males with their bluish patch above its bill are very distinctive.

SpiderhunterThick-billed Con Foley

6. Thick-billed Spiderhunter. Arachnothera crassirostris.

We had given up on this rare Spiderhunter and thought that it has gone extinct until one was seen again along Island Club Road in November 1989 (SINAV 3.11; Lim K.S. 1989j), almost 70 years after the last sighting. There were three more records after this, a) 23 October 2005 at Jelutong Towers during the Bird Race (SINAV 19.4), b) 2 birds at Nee Soon on 11 March 2006 by Albert Low and, c) an individual at Sime Road on October 2007.  There was another report by at Sime Forest by James Heng after the 2007 record but this was not confirmed. Due to these recent records, there is hope that a small population may still persist undetected in the Central Catchment Forest.

.MinivetScarlet Con Foley

7. Scarlet Minivet. Pericrocotus flammeus

Most of our records for this minivet were from the Bukit Timah Nature Reserves. The first record was in 1986 and the last in September 2001 by Yong Ding Li and Ong Kiem Sian at the Rock path. Out of a total of some 30 records, the largest number seen involved four birds. Alan OwYong recorded a pair on 3 December 1994 during a survey along Jungle Fall trail. There were only two records outside Bukit Timah, with a few unconfirmed sightings along the Sime Road area. In the 2000 Bird Race, a female was seen at MacRitchie forest by many groups, shortly after a White-bellied Woodpecker showed up! Being a vocal canopy feeder that occasionally join mixed flocks with bluebirds, Blue-winged Leafbirds and Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (Yong D.L. in litt.) based on observations at Bukit Timah, Scarlet Minivets should be easily seen if they are still around.

.FalconetBlackthighed Con Foley

8 Black-thighed Falconet. Microhierax fringillarius

The last stronghold of the Black-thighed Falconet was in Ulu Sembawang where four sightings were reported between 1979 and 1986, all by Lim Kim Seng. They disappeared when the forest there was disturbed and eventually developed. The last record was an adult at Sime Road Forest on 7 October 1990. There were four more records from 1992 to 2005 from Sime Road, Loyang and Bukit Batok Nature Park by various observers but unfortunately most of these records could not be confirmed. The best place for this raptor to show up may actually be in Pulau Ubin or Tekong, since falconets are still reasonably common in parts of Malaysia, occurring even in logged forests.

All records were taken from The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009, Vanishing Birds of Singapore Lim Kim Seng 1992 and Yong Ding Li’s article in Nature Watch Vol 7 No 1. 1999. Many thanks to Con Foley for the use of these hard-to-get photographs from his extensive Panti Forest Collection and Yong Ding Li for editing the draft and adding in several unpublished records.