Tag Archives: Nesting

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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First documented record of the successful nesting of the Red-legged Crakes, Rallina fasciata, in Singapore,

By Mike Smith.

Introduction:

The Red-legged Crake Raliina fasciata is an uncommon resident in NE India, across mainland South-East Asia, Philippines, Borneo, Sulawesi and the Sundas. Singapore and West Thailand are the two places in its range where they are more easily seen. The northern population migrates and winters to South East Asia. On 13 June 2003, a Thai birder Prapoj Rukruenreang posted a set of a nesting Red-legged Crake with at least 4 eggs in it which he took at Kaeng Krachan N.P. The nest is built on a grassy base on the ground with dry leaves and small twigs spread on top of it.

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Besides earthworms the Red-legged Crakes also take insects from the ground

In Singapore, they are an uncommon resident and winter visitor found in forest edges and nature parks away from swampy places. It was once considered rare until a family was seen bathing at the drain next to Tyersall Avenue and its vocalisation known.  The first breeding record was from Hume’s Heights where an adult was seen with three chicks on 16th January 1985. Families with chicks have since been seen in various parts of the Singapore Botanic Gardens and nearby Bukit Brown for the decade or so but not the actual nesting. The breeding season is in January, March, May to July and September based on sightings of the adults and chicks. In mid October, I chanced upon a nest at the Singapore Botanic Gardens with eggs in it. This is the first documentation of its nesting in Singapore.

14th October 2017.

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Four of the five off-white eggs that I chanced upon at the Helliconia Gardens when I was photographing the sunbirds.

I was photographing the sunbirds at the Helliconia Gardens at the Botanic Gardens when I chanced upon a nest with five off-white eggs in it. They must have been laid a day or two ago according the the workers there. The eggs were left unattended and no crakes were seen around the nest that day. So I was not sure if it belonged to the Red-legged Crakes. The bush is about 2 meters away from the concrete path where visitors to the park frequently used. Surrounding this bush are groves of various species of Helliconia plants.

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The nest is built on the inside Fire Bush less than 2 meters from the walking path but well hidden from sight by the Helliconia groves.

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The nest is about knee high from the ground. You can just see the Crake sitting on the well hidden nest in the Fire Bush. 

These groves of Helliconias provide an ideal place for the adult crakes to forage safely under cover. From one of the videos, they were seen picking out earthworms from the ground in between the stems of the Helliconia plants.

The Nest:

The nest itself is an untidy collection of dead leaves from the plants nearby piled on top of each other forming a depressed center for the eggs. The Helliconia leaves made up the majority of the leaves. The stem of one of the leaves can be seen sticking out of the nest giving it an unfinished look. In between there were small twigs and other dry plant material. It is about 25 cm long and 25 cm wide and 4 cm thick. It is not built on the ground but about knee high on the branches of a Fire Bush Hamelia patens, a path side ornamental plant.. At the center of the nest a few very small twigs seem to be used to give support to the eggs.

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The nest is made of piles of dried leaves and small twigs on the Fire Bush, an low ornamental plant commonly used for edge landscaping.

The nest can only be seen if one steps a little inside the flower beds and not from the path. The Helliconia plants cover any line of sight from the other side. This is the first description of its nest in Singapore and very different from the one in Thailand. It would appear that they will use whatever nesting material that is available nearby and adapt the position of the nest to the location.

The nearest water is the Symphony Lake about 30 meters down the slope. On the upslope is the service and visitors road by the side of the Rain Forest.

On October 15th I saw a crake on the nest and knew it was active. I spent about 60 hours monitoring the nest over the next 19 days.  Another five hours were spent by a birder friend when I was away for a few days. (I later found out that another birder, Roberta Cheok was also monitoring this nest at around the same time on her own).

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First saw the Red-legged Crake on the nest on the 15th October and knew that it was active.

For the first couple of days the nest was sometimes left unattended but from October 18th there was always a parent incubating the eggs. Both parents were involved in the incubation, one would be on the nest and the other foraging nearby undisturbed by human traffic. They kept totally quiet facing either the path or into the undergrowth but were alert to what was going on around them. A monitor Lizard was seen sniffing around but left the eggs alone, as did a squirrel.

During this period I got a great video of an adult stamping up an earthworm from the ground near the nest. After letting it wriggle around it pecked at it and gobbled it down. Earthworms seem to be a major part of the diet but I also saw crakes eating insects and a video by Lena Chow shows a small snake being eaten. The choice of nesting around the Helloconia groves may be due to the availability of the earthworms under the soft soil. On 28th October, a very hot afternoon of 33 degrees my birder friend saw a parent standing in the nest over the eggs possibly fanning the eggs with its wings maybe to regulate the temperature. Its bill was open as it was also trying to cool itself. It did this for over half an hour and did not sit on the eggs during the whole time.

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3rd November. First saw a crack on one of the eggs on the 20th day of monitoring.

On the afternoon of November 3rd,  the 20th day since I first came across the nest and eggs I saw a crack on one of the eggs. The parent was pecking around the egg, I wasn’t sure if it was trying to assist. About an hour later the first chick hatched and popped up its head to greet the world before snuggling under the parent.

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Red-legged Crake nesting at SBG with the first chick just hatching.

I later found that a second chick hatched at 5 pm. The worker said that he found the first chick on the ground and put it back to the nest at approximately 3pm. My birder friend went by at around 6pm to take a look. At first there were no signs of the chicks but it appeared briefly as a small black furry ball. At around 7 pm in failing light, the parent bird was observed to be pecking frantically all round the nest. After a few minutes of pecking, it suddenly flew out of the nest in a hurry. On closer inspection, he saw a swarm of large black and brown ants had invaded the nest most likely attracted by the remains of the eggs. They were all over the nest and eggs. Three eggs remained unhatched with one empty shell.

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The nest was invaded by ants a few hours after the first two chicks hatched. Both parents and chicks escaped leaving three eggs unhatched.

The chicks must have got out with the parent as none of them were in the nest. Past literature suggests that crake and hen chicks are precocial and were able to fend for themselves once hatched. This has to be nature’s way to save them from predation since they nest so close to the ground.  Soft calls presumably from the parent can be heard nearby. The parent maybe trying to gather the chicks together in the dark. Who would have thought that a small ant is the biggest threat to their nesting?
Next morning November 4th I found two hatched eggs in the nest and one egg on the ground. There were no chick carcasses. The parent were not in the nest but were scurrying around nearby. It would seem that the last three eggs hatched between 7 pm last night and 9 am this morning. I have no idea what happened to the chicks. I hope that their survival instincts got them to retreat to the deeper forest cover up the road and do their foraging there until they are big enough to fend for themselves.

Conclusion:

From this single nesting observation I was able to make a few interesting and perhaps new information about their nesting nesting behavior that may help with its conservation.

  1. Based on the information from the worker and the time I found the nest, it took at least 22 days for the first chick to hatch. As I cannot find any literature on the incubation period, this has to be the most accurate available.
  2. Our breeding period ends in September. This October/November nesting at best extends the period or may set a new “out of season” date for this crake. This then brings into question if this is a breeding visitor and not a resident?
  3. Crakes are known to build their nests on the ground, This one is about knee high. It could be that the surrounding ground is too exposed and the crakes adapted by building in on a low bush instead.
  4. We know that the chicks are precocial and that they were ready to be own their own a day or two after hatch. In other words they can be fully fledged in that short time. But from my observations the chicks were able to act within hours after hatching. For sure the first two chicks will not survive the ants attack if they do not jump off the nests barely few hours after hatching.

Photos: Mike Smith of AsiaPhotoStock.com

References:

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

A note on Red-legged Crakes (Rallina fasciate) in Singapore. May 2017 Marcel Finlay.

‘Notes on the Distribution and Vocalizations of the Red-Legged Crake (Rallina fasciata) in Singapore’ – Singapore Avifauna Volume 23 No 4 (Nature Society Singapore Bird Group, 2009)

Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore by Lim Kim Seng. (Nature Society (Singapore), 2007)

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

Vanishing Birds of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. Nature Society (Singapore) 1992.

A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Malaysia and Singapore by Morten Strange (Periplus, 2002)

Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson Asia Book Co. Ltd 2000.

www.Birdlife.org

www.eBird.org

https://singaporebirds.com)

https://singaporebirds.blogspot.sg