by Geoff Lim, Isabelle Lee
& Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)
Not one but five spectacular species were reported in a hitherto quiet month of June. Read on to find out more!
The first surprise find for June was a Black Magpie, Platysmurus leucopterus, on 9 June 2021 at Hindhede Quarry by Vinod Saranathan. Vinod reported that its “weird raucous call” gave it away when he saw it at 6:40pm that day. Another birder, Kenneth Chow, reported seeing the bird at 4:30pm, which he thought was a “strange crow with dirty wings” at the quarry area, and at 5:20pm when he thought it was a Greater Coucal.
While the community was reeling from the appearance of the Magpie, a hitherto unexpected find in the form of a Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler, Macronus ptilosus, was made on 15 June 2021 around 2pm at the Upper Seletar Reservoir Park by Lawrence Cher. Lawrence was at the park looking for butterflies to photograph that afternoon as June was relatively quiet in terms of interesting bird life, when he noticed several Pin-striped Tit-Babblers and Chestnut-winged Babbler calling in the background. The birds were popping in and out from view as they foraged, when one popped into the open. Lawrence managed to obtain one clear photo from the series taken; he had thought that it was a Chestnut-winged Babbler until post-processing revealed that it was a different babbler species.
The third report to take the community by storm was the appearance of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Ardenna pacifica, a seabird more likely to be encountered in the seas and oceans, than at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, as reported by William Khaw on 23 June 2021. The bird was apparently found at one of the apartment blocks of the housing estate that morning, and brought to the park by an unknown person. Concerned parties alerted ACRES, who collected the bird that evening. While the shearwater appeared to be far from any body of sea-water, these birds travel across long distances and may well have been in transit across our island when it possibly came into contact with one of our tall concrete structures. Unfortunately, the bird expired shortly after its rescue.
A Green Broadbill, Calyptomena viridis, was discovered on 27 June 2021 along Jalan Batu Ubin, Pulau Ubin, by Adrian Silas Tay and Jerold Tan. The bird continued to remain visible for the rest of that Sunday, and was seen for subsequent days. According to our records, the bird was last reported in 1941 as a resident and thought to have been extirpated ever since. So, where did this Green Broadbill, a former resident come from? That was a question venerable birder, Alan Owyong, asked and an excerpt of his social media post is reproduced here:
It is always a difficult question to answer especially if the species is being sold in the pet shops in Singapore or a popular caged bird. On 27 November 2014, one was photographed at East Coast Park and another was photographed a month later on 25 December at Pulau Ubin. These were assigned to Category [D] but were reassigned to Cat A in 2020 and listed in the 2021 Checklist. [I was reminded of one heard at Nee Soon in 2002.]
The Green Broadbills can be nomadic and are known to wander afar in search of fruits. The continuous forest cover at Pulau Ubin must surely be a welcome sight for those birds that fly over from the forest of southern Johor.
This Green Broadbill should be the same bird spotted on 11 April 2021 along the same stretch of road. [On] 28 June, we noticed that the Green Broadbill flew to a MacArthur’s Palm by the roadside to feed on the young green palm fruits. Most broadbills are insectivorous. But the Green Broadbill is [mainly] frugivorous and feed on berries, figs and small fruits. This may be the reason why it stayed around the same area for the past three days.
Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)
Within the core CCNR area, a Barred Eagle-Owl, Bubo sumatranus, was spotted on 5 June 2021, along Rifle Range Link (Lim Kim Chuah), while on the same day a single Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps, was seen along the same track (Lau Jia Sheng). Visitors also spotted Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax, on 15 June 2021 (Max Khoo), and heard a Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythroptera, on 19 June 2021 at Mandai Road Track 7 (Tan Kok Hui). From Jelutong Tower, two Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus were spotted by Yap Bao Shen on 3 June 2021, as well as two Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, (T. Ramesh), and a pair of Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, (Chan Mei Yee) on 20 June 2021.
Fringe parks abutting the CCNR yielded good forest species such as the Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, seen at Hindhede Nature Park on 10 June 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, a Red-crowned Barbet, Megalaima rafflesii, spotted on 20 June 2021 at MacRitchie Reservoir Park by Marcel Finlay. At Thomson Nature Park, a Short-tailed Babbler, Malcocincla malaccensis, was recorded by Fitri Adnan on 20 June 2021, and a family of White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, with two fledglings were recorded by Khong Yew on 30 June 2021. A Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, was spotted at Hindhede Nature Park on 21 June 2021 by Raghav Narayanswamy.
There was much rejoicing over the sighting of a juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, together with adults at Goldhill Avenue. One sighting of the juvenile eagle was on 19 June 2021 by Matthew Teng. More reports of the confirmation of a successful nesting can be found in this link.
Central Singapore also yielded the afore-mentioned Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Ardenna pacifica, which was reported on 23 June 2021 at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park by William Khaw, Art Toh and others. On 13 June 2021, Ash Foo found a pair of Striated Herons, Butorides striata, at their nest at the same park.
The Lorong Halus Wetland continued to support the Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, which was spotted on 15 June 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, who also saw an Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, at the same location. On 24 June, 2021, Yeong WaiKai found a male Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, sitting on its nest.
Further afield, a Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, was reportedly seen at Sengkang Riverside Park/ Sengkang Floating Wetland on 21 June 2021 by Vilis Lu. At Punggol Barat on 4 June 2021, Keith Hutton found a Large-tailed Nightjar, Caprimulgus macrurus, nest with two eggs.
Pasir Ris Park continued to support a diverse range of residents, including the single Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, spotted on 4 June 2021 by Danny Khoo, and on 9 June 2021 by Low Zhi Hao, a pair of adult and two juvenile Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, on 15 June 2021 by Mae Wong, as well as reports of a Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea, a Tanimbar Corella, Cacatua goffiniana, and an over-summering Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus, on 22 June 2021 by Shuna Maekawa.
At the nearby Tampines Eco Green, a Rufous Woodpecker, Micropternus brachyurus, was reported on 22 June 2021 by Lim Kim Keang, who also reported the presence of two Asian Golden Weavers, Ploceus hypoxanthus.
Pulau Ubin continued to dazzle with reports of the Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis, spotted on 12 June 2021 by Lim Kim Chuah, a Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Hemipus hirundinaceus, on 21 June 2021, at the Chek Jawa Wetlands by Jeff Tan, and the spectacular Green Broadbill, Calyptomena viridis, on 27 June 2021 at Jalan Batu Ubin, discovered by Adrian Silas Tay and Jerold Tan.
On another northeastern island, Frankie Cheong found a small colony of 20-30 breeding Little Terns, Sternula albifrons, with some 8-10 chicks hatching around mid-June; later on a single stilt was seen on 25 June 2021, and then he reported 4 stilts, which appeared to be an interesting mix of at least one Pied Stilt, Himantopus leucocephalus, (which was the fifth exceptional species for the month) and one Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, on 28 June 2021.
Over at Gardens by the Bay, two House Swift, Apus nipalensis, were reported on 6 June 2021 by Yip Jen Wei, while two species of raptor were reported on 20 June 2021 – a single Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Nisaetus cirrhatus, and a Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, by budding birder, Kaeden Sim, who also saw the Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca.
On 20 June 2021, Abegale Queddeng witnessed a snake catching one of the Sunda Pygmy Woodpeckers, Yungipicus moluccensis, that tried to defend their nest, and on the next day Kelvin Ng found the remaining parent still attending to the nest. Kelvin also spotted a fledgling Olive-backed Sunbird, Cinnyris jugularis on the same day. Then on 23 June 2021, Jayden Woo found a Yellow-vented Bulbul’s, Pycnonotus goiavier, nest that held two chicks.
A stone’s throw away, albeit not too literally, a Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronii, our resident plover, was reported on 12 June 2021 at Marina East by Low Zhi Hao. Across the waters, an Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto javanica, was reported on 22 June 2021 at Millenia Tower by Yip Jen Wei.
Visitors to Sentosa were serenaded by up to two Chinese Hwamei, Garrulax canorus, reported on 21 June 2021 by Norhafiani A Majid. Meanwhile, along the waters of the Southern Islands, a Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, a Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, and a Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana, were seen the day before, 20 June 2021, by Raghav Narayanswamy.
Sungei Buloh Weland Reserve was visited by, not one but eight spectacular Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, on 14 June 2021 (Ester Gerber), while a pair of Copper-throated Sunbird, Leptocoma calcostetha, were reported on 21 June 2021 (Kieran Kwek). On 12 June 2021, Lee Chin Pong found a Common Tailorbird, Orthotomus sutorius attending to two chicks in a nest. At the nearby Kranji Marsh, a male Pied Triller, Lalage nigra, was seen feeding a chick in its nest on 13 June 2021, by Philip Ng.
Over at the popular Jurong Lake Gardens, a cryptic Barred Buttonquail, Turnix suscitator, was seen on 8 June 2021 (Jared Tan), while the regular Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus ichthyaetus, was seen on 21 June 2021 along the Ulu Pandan Park Connector (Norhafiani A Majid), where a pair of Golden-bellied Gerygones, Gerygone sulphurea, were observed to have mated on 17 Jun 2021 (Richard Lee), and on 20 June 2021, David Chan photographed a Golden-bellied Gerygone feeding a Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, that had already left the nest.
Other species noted in the west included a Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, on 6 June 2021, along Jalan Murai, (Marcel Finlay), a Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos, on 20 June 2021 at Greenleaf View (Lynn Tan), as well as two Long-tailed Parakeet, Psittacula longicauda, and three Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus, both on 22 June 2021 along Holland Plain (Lynn Tan).
This report is compiled/written by Geoff Lim and Isabelle Lee, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. We are grateful for the birders and photographers whose postings in various Facebook birding pages, bird forums, individual reports and extracts from eBird make up this report. This compilation is not a complete list of birds recorded for the month and not all the records were verified. Rarities would be assessed by the Records Committee.