A rare, globally threatened Chinese Egret, and a Grey-headed Fish Eagle preying on a Cinnamon Bittern capped this month’s sightings. A steady stream of migratory birds continue to reach Singapore as the northern hemisphere cools with the onset of autumn. Migratory passerines like flycatchers, Tiger Shrike and the ubiquitous Arctic Warbler begin to be seen on our shores. Resident species continue to be observed, notably the presence of an Oriental Darter at the Singapore Quarry.
On 2 Sep 2018, Subha and Raghav Narayanswamy observed an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster at Singapore Quarry. The next day, Diana Jackson saw the shape of a Darter flying over Rail Mall. These reports rippled across the birding community and drew many to the vicinity for photo opportunities. The bird continued to be seen through September, fishing, swimming and flying at the farther reaches of the quarry. There were also several anxious moments as onlookers sometimes wondered if Grey-headed Fish Eagles perched nearby had any nefarious designs on the more ungainly bird. The bird continued to be seen and photographed on 29 Sep 2018.
As a fitting tribute to the 25th anniversary of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, a rare and globally threatened Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes make an appearance at the reserve on 13 Sep 2018, YT Choong and Deborah Friets were the lucky ones to bump into the elegant egret, and managed to obtain some images which were then identified by Dave Bakewell.
Two Featured Flycatchers
The male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia, also called the Korean Flycatcher, is a visually delightful bird with its contrasting colours of black, yellow and white wing patch. Females and juveniles have somewhat distinct wingbars and a rather distinct yellow rump that separates them from Common Ioras. The species breeds across eastern Mongolia, the Russian Far East, and China from Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Sichuan to the Changjiang valley and is known to winter regularly in peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Java (Wells, 2007:533). It is currently deemed to be of Least Concern by IUCN due to its extensive range range and stable population.
This flycatcher is known to be active at dusk, and hunts mostly at crown-level, much to the chagrin of those who wish to photograph the species, though birds were known to venture down to scrub or in areas overlooking an open space from which birds would perch and aerial-sally for flying insect prey (Wells, 2007:534).
A male was spotted in Bidadari on 2 Sep 2018 by Goh Cheng Teng, followed a female spotted by Ramesh T on 4 Sep 2018, a male and female on 10 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and a male and female on 15 Sep 2018 by Terence Tan. One bird was also spotted at Hort Park on 12 Sep 2018 by Tay Kian Guan, while a female was spotted on 28 Sep 2018 at Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP) by Terence Tan, and another female was seen on 29 Sep 2018 at Kranji Marsh by Geoff Lim.
The less photogenic Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni is sometimes considered a sub-species of the Asian Brown Flycatcher superspecies (Wells 2007:578). A sighting on 7 Sep 2018 at Bidadari by Martin Kennewell represented the first of the season this year, while a second sighting was made on 14 Sep 2018 at Singapore Quarry by Wiliam Mahoney.
Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)
Migratory species encountered within CCNR during September include an Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus on 12 Sep 2018 at Upper Peirce Reservoir by Veronica Foo, the aforementioned Brown-streaked Flycatcher at the Singapore Quarry and a Pacific Swift Apus pacificus at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 14 Sep 2018 by William Mahoney and John Ascher, Daurian Starling Agrospar sturninus on 15 Sep 2018 at Venus Loop by Sandra Chia and a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 25 Sep 2018 by Diana Jackson.
Resident species sighted in this region include the Oriental Darter featured earlier on 2 & 3 Sep 2018 at the vicinity of the Singapore Quarry, a young male Thick-billed Pigeon Treron curvirostra on 11 Sep 2018 at Singapore Quarry by Alan Owyong, a Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera on 29 Sep 2018 at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, a Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex at Lower Peirce Reservoir by Art Toh and Peach Won, up to three Asian Fairy Bluebird Irena puella and a pair of Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata at Hindhede Park by Geoff Lim on 30 Sep 2018.
Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)
SBG yielded one record of a migrating Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis on 22 Sep 2018 by Stuart Campbell, and the resident Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus on 15 Sep 2018 by Geoff Lim and Kozi Ichiyama.
The parks and gardens of Central Singapore hosted migratory species such as the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher on 2, 4 & 10 Sep 2018 as mentioned above. Bidadari held Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus on 3 & 9 Sep 2018 by Oliver Tan and Feroz, respectively; an Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris on 7 Sep 2018 by Khoo MeiLin; the aforementioned Brown-streaked Flycatcher on 7 Sep 2018; an Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis on 10 Sep 2018 by Steven Cheong; and a Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica on 11 Sep 2018 by Terence Tan.
Resident species spotted include about 20 House Swifts Apus nipalensis wheeling above Ngee Ann City at Orchard Road on 11 Sep 2018 by Geoff Lim
A Forest Wagtail Dendroanthus indicus was seen on 2 Sep 2018 at Yishun St 11 by Oliver Tan, while Tay Kian Guan and Ramesh T spotted a Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida at Lorong Halus on 19 and 30 Sep 2018.
The September Ubin survey on 16 Sep 2018 yielded four species of owl – the Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji, the Barred Eagle Owl Bubo sumatranus, the Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu, and the Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo.
An Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei was also spotted on Pulau Ubin on 16 Sep 2018 by Feroz and Francis Kayano Chia. Farther east, Frankie Cheong spotted a Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii and Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus on Pulau Tekong on 17 Sep 2018, while a Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis was spotted at Tampines on 19 Sep 2018 by Lawrence Cher, representing a first for the season.
Migratory species seen in southern Singapore include the previously mentioned Yellow-rumped Flycatcher spotted by Tay Kian Guan at Kent Ridge Park on 12 Sep 2018. Also seen were a Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus at Hort Park on 13 Sep 2018, by Art Toh, and a juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica was seen at Telok Blangah on 26 Sep 2018 by Art Toh.
A resident Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus was reported to be nesting at Wessex Estate on 2 Sep 2018 by Isabellle Desjeux and two eggs were observed, while a Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis was seen at Kent Ridge Park on 12 Sep 2018 by Tay Kian Guan.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) yielded an Eastern-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus on 1 Sep 2018 by Russell Boyman, a first-for-the-season Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia on 2 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, Great Egrets Egretta alba – one sighted on 3 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and four on 4 Sep 2018 by Veronica Foo, Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis on 15, 17 and 30 Sep 2018 (Pary Sivaraman, Deborah Friets & Martin Kennewell, respectively), and the uncommon Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea on 17 Sep 2018 (Deborah Friets). A Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans was subsequently seen on 19 Sep 2018 by Lim Hong Yao.
The only note-worthy resident at SBWR was a juvenile Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus, fed by its host, an Ashy Tailorbird Orthotomus ruficeps, on 18 Sep 2018, spotted by John Marriott.
The area bound by Kranji Marshes, Neo Tiew and Lim Chu Kang also yielded a substantial number of sightings. Kranji Dam yielded a Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida on 9 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell), while Kranji Marshes yielded a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea on 2 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell), 38-50 Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia in the adjacent field on 8 Sep 2018 (Veronica Foo), a Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis on 23 Sep 2018 (Geoff Lim & Kozi Ichiyama) and Pallas’ Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola on 22 , 23, 25 and 28 Sep 2018 by Fadzrun A. (2 birds), Geoff Lim (1 bird), Martin Kennewell, and Geoff Lim & Kozi Ichiyama (1 bird), respectively.
Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course supported species such as the Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis and Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta, sighted on 15 Sep 2018 by Martin Kennewell, and nineteen Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on 19 Sep 2018 by Lim Kim Keang & Veronica Foo. Lim Chu Kang Lane 3 yielded another Little Ringed Plover on 2 Sep 2018 (Kozi Ichiyama and Geoff Lim), Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus on 12 Sep 2018 (Luke Milo Teo), Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea on 15 Sep 2018 (Martin Kennewell) and Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis on 26 Sep 2018 (Dillen Ng).
Other species seen in the west include a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus taken by a Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus at Pandan Canal on 13 Sep 2018 (Chan Yoke Meng & Melinda Chan); and on 15 Sep 2018, two House Swift Apus nipalensis at West Coast Drive (Tay Kian Guan) and a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at Chinese Garden (Dani M Queddeng).
Pelagic Trips along Straits of Singapore
Lim Kim Keang, Alan OwYong and participants of the NSS pelagic trip along the multi-national straits between Singapore and Batam on 22 Sep 2018 hit the peak of the migration of the Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis with 532 birds counted; they also spotted eight Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus, 136 Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus, 18 Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii, 25 Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis, a juvenile Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida, a juvenile Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel, and a single Pacific Swift Apus pacificus. Another private pelagic trip on 30 Sep 2018 along the same Straits yielded a Common Tern Sterna hirundo (Tan Kok Hui et al). Note that these sightings might not be in Singapore waters.
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
DFNP: Dairy Farm Nature Park
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 Lee Van Hien, Siew Mun, Zhang Licong, Terence Tan, Feroz, Martin Kennewell, Art Toh, Herman Phua, Tay Kian Guan, Mahesh Krishnan and Geoff Lim for the use of their photos.
Wells, D. R. (1999). The Birds of Thai-Malay Peninsula. Vol. 1. Non-passerines. London: Academic Press.
List of Bird Sightings in report
|Chinese Pond Heron||12-Sep|
|Charadriidae||Little Ringed Plover||2-Sep|
|Little Ringed Plover||19-Sep|
|Greater Sand Plover||17-Sep|
|Rostratulidae||Greater Painted Snipe||26-Sep|
|Sunda Scops Owl||16-Sep|
|Barred Eagle Owl||16-Sep|
|Buffy Fish Owl||16-Sep|
|Spotted Wood Owl||16-Sep|
|Brown Hawk Owl||30-Sep|
|Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher||23-Sep|
|Amur Paradise Flycatcher||16-Sep|
|Eastern Crowned Warbler||1-Sep|
|Eastern Crowned Warbler||12-Sep|
|Locustellidae||Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler||22-Sep|
|Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler||23-Sep|
|Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler||25-Sep|
|Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler||28-Sep|
|Irenidae||Asian Fairy Bluebird||30-Sep|
|Asian Brown Flycatcher||7-Sep|
|Eastern Yellow Wagtail||15-Sep|