By Lim Kim Seng
Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee.
Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus at Gardens by the Bay, 30 Nov 2013, Singapore’s second record. A review of records was prompted by a discovery of another bird at Tampines Eco-Green in Dec 2015. Photo by Daniel Wee.
The Records Committee continues to receive records of new bird species to the Singapore List and rarities. This report updates the findings from the past 12 months.
Five new bird species were added to the Singapore List, bringing the total number of species to 397. Two are splits. They include the following:
Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus.
An individual photographed by Daniel Wee at Gardens by the Bay on 30 Nov 2013 and another photographed at Tampines Eco-Green by Alvin Seng on 27 Dec 2015 follows an earlier record by Lim Kim Seng from Lorong Halus on 25 Dec 1993.
Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
A single individual reported and photographed by Tay Wei Kuan at Lorong Halus on 4 Dec 2013 was the first for Singapore. There were several subsequent records from the same site.
Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus at Lorong Halus on 4 Dec 2013, a first record for Singapore. Photo by Tay Wei Kuan.
Black Hornbill Anthracoceros malayanus
A female photographed by Robin Arnold on Pulau Ubin on 23 Dec 2016 was subsequently seen by several observers. This species was first reported by Francis Yap at the same site on 23 Jul 2015. It is believed that this species may have invaded Singapore from nearby Johor.
Black Hornbill taken by Rob Arnold taken at Pulau Ubin on 23 Dec 2016.
Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis
This is a recent split from the “Asian Paradise-flycatcher” complex as proposed by Fabre et al (2012) and Andersen et al (2015) and accepted by IOC. We now have evidence of its occurrence in Singapore although exact dates are still being investigated. We prefer to use the name, “Blyth’s” rather than “Oriental”, as the latter is geographically misleading. This polytypic species breeds in mainland Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago, and birds appearing in Singapore are likely migrants from Peninsular Malaysia or Thailand.
Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei
This is a recent split from the “Asian Paradise-flycatcher” complex as proposed by Fabre et al (2012) and Andersen et al (2015) and accepted by IOC. We now have evidence of its occurrence in Singapore although exact dates are still being investigated. This monotypic species breeds in northern and northeast Asia and winters in Southeast Asia.
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana
This is a recent split from the “Blue-and-white Flycatcher” complex as proposed by Leader & Carey (2012) and accepted by IOC. We now have evidence of its occurrence in Singapore although exact dates are still being investigated. This species breeds in northern and northeast Asia and winters in Southeast Asia.
Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis
This is another recent split from the “Blue-and-white Flycatcher” complex as proposed by Leader & Carey (2012) and accepted by IOC. We now have evidence of its occurrence in Singapore although exact dates are still being investigated. This species breeds in northern-central China and winters in Southeast Asia.
Annex 1 Species
Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii
One reported in the Singapore Straits on 12 Nov 2016 by Lau Jia Sheng was the first record from these waters. However, GPS coordinates show that the bird was seen 4.3 km outside of Singapore’s national boundaries. It is therefore assigned to Annex 1. 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.
The following eight rarities were accepted.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
One of subspecies lugens photographed at Bishan depot by Vincent Lao was the first record of this taxon in Singapore. The other subspecies currently accepted are leucopsis and ocularis.
Red-footed Booby Sula sula
One photographed in the Singapore Straits on 12 Nov 2016 by Francis Yap was 2.5 km outside Singapore waters. This record is assigned to Annex 1.
White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis
A bird seen flying over the Pan-Island Expressway on 13 Feb 2016 by Alfred Chia has been our first record for many years. This species is thought to be extirpated and this individual is more likely to be a transient rather than an undetected resident.
Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris
Three birds reported in the Singapore Straits by See Toh Yew Wai on 7 May 2016 were our third record for Singapore.
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Two birds photographed on Pulau Tekong on 1 Oct 2016 by Frankie Cheong were our first record for many years.
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
One bird photographed on Pulau Tekong on 8 Oct 2016 by Frankie Cheong was our third record and the first from this locality.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
A bird photographed at Henderson Wave Bridge on 17 Nov 2016 by Keita Sin was our second record. Our only other record was reported at Tuas View Lane by Martti Siponen on 14 Nov 2010.
Amur Falcon Falco amurensis
A female photographed at Lower Seletar Dam on 16 Dec 2016 by Yip Peng Sun was our second record. Our only other record (also a female) was reported at Changi Coast by Tan Gim Cheong on 21 Nov 2007.
We would like to thanks the following observers for submitting their records for review: Robin Arnold, Frankie Cheong, Alfred Chia, Lau Jia Sheng, Vincent Lao, See Toh Yew Wai, Alvin Seng, Keita Sin, Tay Wei Kuan, Daniel Wee, Francis Yap and Yip Peng Sun. Thanks to Daniel Wee, Rob Arnold and Tay Wei Kuan for the use of their photos. 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 Yong Ding Li.
Andersen, M.J., P.A. Hoster, C.E Filardi, and R.G. Moyle. 2015. Phylogeny of the monarch flycatchers reveals extensive paraphyly and novel relationships within a major Australo-Pacific radiation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 67: 336–347.
Fabre, P.-H., M. Irestedt, J. Fjeldså, R. Bristol, J.J. Groombridge, M. Irham, and K.A. Jønsson. 2012. Dynamic colonization exchanges between continents and islands drive diversification in paradise-flycatchers (Terpsiphone, Monarchidae). Journal of Biogeography 39: 1900-1918.
Leader, P. & Carey, G. (2012). Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis, a forgotten Chinese breeding endemic. Forktail 28: 121-8.
Lim, K.S. (2009). The avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore.