Tag Archives: Sakhalin Leaf Warbler

Singapore Bird Report – December 2018

The Eurasian Wigeon reappears in Singapore after 31 years! December marks the end of peak annual migration season, and the year-end holidays. As holiday makers make their way to colder climes, birds continue to stream into Singapore, yielding surprises like the Eurasian Wigeon, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, and the Oriental Scops Owl duo.

wigeon

Photograph of the Eurasian Wigeon at Kranji Marshes on 23 December 2018 by Alan Ng.

Eurasian Wigeon 

On the morning of 23 December 2018, an Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope was spotted within the confines of Kranji Marsh by Martin Kennewell. This remarkable sighting represents one of only two records of the Wigeon in Singapore; the last being an immature female associating with Whimbrel flocks in the ponds, mudflats and mangroves around Sungei Buloh between December 1986 and February 1987. It also underscores the importance of the Kranji freshwater habitat in supporting wetland species sensitive to human activity.  The closest known breeding territory for the bird is in Mongolia, although the species occurs throughout Asia and southeast Asia. Although listed as being of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, this species is sensitive to human activity and faces pressure from habitat loss and hunting (Birdlife 2017).

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Eurasian Wigeon at Kranji Marshes on 23 December 2018 by Martin Kennewell showing the duck in the natural environment.

Cotton Pygmy Goose

While many were still reeling from the appearance of the mega-rare Eurasian Wigeon, news of a scarce Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus arriving at Lorong Halus on Christmas Eve rippled across social media. The last known appearance of the dimunitive duck in Singapore took place on 15 February 2016 at Satay by the Bay’s main pond; as the 2016 occurrence turned out to be a one-day bird, many birders and photographers abandoned their Christmas Eve plans for the afternoon to descend on the ponds of Lorong Halus. They were not disappointed as the bird continued to stay through Christmas till the end of 2018.

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Photograph of the Cotton Pygmy Goose at Lorong Halus on 29 December 2018 by Lim Swee Kin.

The Cotton Pygmy Goose is found across India, southern China, southeast Asia, parts of Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. Listed on IUCN’s Red List as being of Least Concern, research is still needed to better understand threats and conservation issues regarding the bird (Birdlife 2016).

Oriental Scops Owl

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The rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 10 December 2018. Photo taken by Lee Chin Pong

To the delight of many birders, the grey and rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus surnia returned to the trees adjacent to Wallace Centre at Dairy Farm Nature Park (DFNP). On 5 December 2018, Lim Kim Keang spotted the rufous morph, which was joined by the grey morph on 9 December 2018. On 19 December 2018, David Tan reported the collection of a dead rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl from the vicinity of Eng Neo Avenue, an area abutting the CCNR. The bird may have crashed into a window before landing into a water feature, where it was subsequently retrieved from.

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A portrait of the grey morph Oriental Scops Owl at Dairy Farm Nature Park. Taken on 13 December 2018 by David Fur.

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A dead rufous morph Oriental Scops Owl obtained from the vicinity of Eng Neo Avenue on 19 December 2018. Photograph by David Tan.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve

As expected, reports of migrants dominate in the month of December. Apart from the reports of the Oriental Scops Owl and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers Phylloscopus borealoides, a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae was observed just before Jelutong Tower on 17 December 2018 by Oliver Tan. Just before the year ended, a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida appeared at the foot of Bukit Timah hill on 30 December 2018, as reported by Chin Yee Hong.

Central Singapore

A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was sighted at Bishan Park on 10 December 2018 by Ng Kian Chye. An unhappy report on 30 December 2018 was made by Nicholas Chiam, who found a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor that had expired at the base of Cathay Building along Dhoby Ghaut; a casualty from possibly colliding with the building while in flight. An uncommon Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni was photographed at Gardens by the Bay on 26 December 2018 by Ng Wei Khim.

Northern Singapore 

Apart from the Cotton Pygmy Goose reported on Christmas Eve and described above, Halus Wetland Centre also yielded a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla, which was spotted on 27 December 2018 by Alfred Chia, and subsequently photographed over the next few days by an assembly of photographers searching for the goose. A Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was reported from Rivervale Cresent on 4 December 2018 by Jeff Long.

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Photograph of the Baillon’s Crake at Lorong Halus on 30 December 2018 by Lim Swee Kin.

Eastern Singapore

A rare Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides was reported to be in a basement carpark at Haig Road area on 29 December 2018, by Martin Kennewell. Another Hooded Pitta was reported from Simei Block 147 on 6 December 2018 by David Tan. Arising from the Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus reported in November, several interesting species were reported from the vicinity of Changi Business Park. These include a Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus reported on 5 December 2018 by Melinda Chan, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus on 8 December 2018 by Lim Kim Keang, a White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis on 11 December 2018 by Joseph Lim, and a Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni on 13 December 2018 by Stuart Campbell.

Further afield, a Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola and Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus were seen on Pulau Tekong on 19 December 2018 by Frankie Cheong, while a pair of Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeons Treron fulvicollis and another Jerdon’s Baza were spotted on Pulau Ubin on 30 December 2018 by Diane Campbell.

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Photograph of the Short-toed Snake Eagle at Changi Business Park on 8 December 2018 by Chan Yoke Meng.

Southern Singapore

A Common Buzzard Buteo buteo was seen at Holland Road on 1 December 2018 by Art Toh, a first for the location. Arising from a fruiting fig tree at Telok Blangah Hill Park, several species of birds were reported from the location, including a Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea on 5 December 2018 and a Zappey’s or Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis or C. cyanomelana on 12 December 2018 by Anthony Nik and Jeremiah Loei, respectively. These were first for the location as well. A House Sparrow Passer domesticus was spotted at Gardens by the Bay on 23 December 2018 by Anthony Nik.

Western Singapore

A juvenile Grey-headed Fish Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus spotted at Chinese Garden on 8 December 2018 by Loke Peng Fai. An Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca was reportedly seen on 15 December 2018 at Harvest Lane by Lim Kim Seng. The Eurasian Wigeon described above was seen at Kranji Marsh on 23 December 2018 by Martin Kennewell, while a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was spotted at the same Marsh on Christmas Day (25 December 2018) by Art Toh. Boxing Day (26 December 2018) birding yielded a Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves for Feroz, while an Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus was seen at West Coast Drive on 28 December 2018 by Tay Kian Guan. Finally, we received delightful news of a male Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis with three chicks at Kranji Marsh on 30 December 2018 by Hongxun.

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Watercock on Christmas Day (25 December 2018) at Kranji Marshes. Photo by Art Toh.

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler

Birders and scientists acknowledge that Phylloscopus warblers represent one of the most difficult species to identify. The Pale-legged and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers are cases in point as both are remarkably similar, in fact they were previously considered conspecific, i.e. same species.

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Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, 14 Janaury 2019, photo by Koh Lian Heng.

Pale-legged Leaf Warblers largely come from northeast Asia, and spend their winter months in southeast Asia. Sakhalin Leaf Warblers are found from the Sakhalin Island, down large swathes of Japan, as well as along coastal China from Weihai to an area the south of Xiamen. Wintering records of the species sparsely dot places in Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia. As it stands, only the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler is in the NSS bird checklist, the Pale-legged has yet to be recorded.

In 2014, a team of Singapore birders comprising Lim Kim Keang, Francis Yap, Yong Ding Li, Albert Low and Con Foley worked with NUS scientists to firmly establish the species as a rare accidental visitor to Singapore (Yap, et al, 2014). Then, Lim Kim Keang heard a Leaf Warbler calling in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve; conventional wisdom suggested that this was probably a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler. However, analysis of the recorded calls and comparisons with the known calls of the two species in question showed that the bird was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, as the calls were at a frequency lower than that of the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler.

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Detective work by our Singaporean birders. Extract of sonographic records from Yap et al, (2014) showing how the calls of the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler may be distinguished from the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler by distinct differences in their frequencies.

On 27 December 2018, when several high-frequency calls were heard by Lim Kim Chuah while jogging around MacRitchie Reservoir Park, several birders ventured to determine which Leaf Warbler species that was. Their effort revealed that up to three birds were calling within an area measuring about 500m by 250m. Detailed examination by Yong Ding Li of one of the calling birds revealed that it was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.

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Sonogram of the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on 31 December 2018 (Yong, 2018).

Photographing the birds proved harder as they tended to be more furtive and often skulked in the darker sections below the canopies of trees, as well as descending to the darkened forest floor to forage. Several photographers managed to obtain decent photos, to reveal a bird that superficially resembles the common Arctic Warbler, but has distinguishing marks such as pinkish legs and a conspicuously long buffy eye-stripe that extends almost to the nape. The bird’s skulking behaviour, as well as its propensity to descend to the ground level, contrasts greatly with the canopy-loving Arctic Warbler.

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Sakhalin Leaf Warbler at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, 15 January 2019, demonstrating that the warbler’s propensity for the cover of the canopy. Photo by Koh Lian Heng.

References

BirdLife International 2017. Mareca penelope (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22680157A111892532.  http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22680157A111892532.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016a). Nettapus coromandelianusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22680090A92842427. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22680090A92842427.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016b). Phylloscopus tenellipesThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22715324A94448249. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22715324A94448249.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

BirdLife International (2016c). Phylloscopus borealoidesThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22715329A94448458. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22715329A94448458.en. Downloaded on 23 January 2019.

Robson, C. (2005) A field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. London: New Holland.

Wells, D. R. (2007) The birds of the Thai-Malay peninsula, 2. London: Academic Press.

Yap, Francis & Yong, D. L., Low, W. B., Cros, E., Foley, C., Lim, K. K.  & Rheindt, E. F. (2014). “First wintering record of the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.” Phylloscopus borealoides in South- East Asia, with notes on vocalisations. BirdingAsia. 21. 76-81.

Yong, D.L. (2018)  Audio Recording XC448228 of Sakhalin Leaf Warbler on 31 December 2018. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/448228.

Abbreviations:
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, and edited by Tan Gim Cheong. It is 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 Chin Poh, David Fur, David Tan, Martin Kennewell, Ng Alan, Lim Swee Kin, Koh Lian Heng and Art Toh for the use of their photos. 

 List of bird sightings in report

Family Species Date
Anatidae Cotton Pygmy Goose 24 Dec 2018
Eurasian Wigeon 23 Dec 2018
Ardeidae Cinnamon Bittern 10 Dec 2018
Great Egret 2 Dec 2018
Accipitridae Jerdon’s Baza 13 Dec 2018
Jerdon’s Baza 30 Dec 2018
Short-toed Snake Eagle 5 Dec 2018
Imperial Eagle 15 Dec 2018
Grey headed Fish Eagle 8 Dec 2018
Common  Buzzard 1 Dec 2018
Rallidae Slaty-legged Crake 29 Dec 2018
Ballion’s Crake 27 Dec 2018
Watercock 25 Dec 2018
Charadriidae Grey Plover 19 Dec 2018
Rostratulidae Greater Painted Snipe 30 Dec 2018
Scolopacidae Terek Sandpiper 19 Dec 2018
Strigidae Oriental Scops owl 5 Dec 2018
Oriental Scops owl 19 Dec 2018
Columbidae Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon 30 Dec 2018
Cuculidae Chestnut-winged Cuckoo 8 Dec 2018
Hodgson’s Hawk cuckoo 30 Dec 2018
Pittidae Hooded Pitta 4 Dec 2018
Hooded Pitta 6 Dec 2018
Hooded Pitta 30 Dec 2018
Dicruridae Ashy Drongo 2 Dec 2018
Phylloscopidae Sakhalin Leaf Warbler 27 Dec 2018
Sturnidae White-shouldered Starling 11 Dec 2018
Turdidae Eye-browed Thrush 28 Dec 2018
Muscicapidae Brown-streaked FC 26 Dec 2018
Ferruginous Flycatcher 5 Dec 2018
B&W/Zappey’s FC 12 Dec 2018
Green-backed Flycatcher 17 Dec 2018
Passeridae House Sparrow 23 Dec 2018
Motacillidae Forest Wagtail 26 Dec 2018
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Singapore Bird Report – February 2018

STBabbler, 21 Feb 18, Venus, Alex Fok, crop

A brilliant capture of a Short-tailed Babbler under the dim lighting at Venus Loop, 21 Feb 2018, by Alex Fok

A rare Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis that flew over from Bukit Batok Nature Park must have made the day for Francis Yap when he looked out the balcony of his new apartment on the 8th. At nearby BTNR, the rare Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides found last month was still there at the Cave Path on the 3rd (Martin Kennewell). BTNR also harboured a Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane on the 26th (Richard White). Another rarity, an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster was seen at Singapore Quarry by Richard White and on 18th. This was the second record for this location and could well be the same bird seen at the Bukit Gombak Quarry on December 2016.

At Singapore Botanic Gardens, the very rare Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii continued to be present throughout the month, even attracting birders from overseas! An Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina on the 4th (Khong Yew) heralded the arrival of the Lunar New Year. On 18th, Alan OwYong recorded a Van Hasselts’ Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana, possibly a first for the locality. On 24th, Richard White found a female Cinnamon Bittern.

OHT, 120218, SBG, Terence Tan, crop

Orange-headed Thrush, a fitting welcome for the Lunar New Year, at SBG on 12 Feb 2018, by Terence Tan

In the Central Catchment, a Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae, possibly the same bird recorded last month, was recorded on the 4th by Michael Noble. Also on 4th, Subha & Raghav Narayanswamy recorded a little jewel, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca (black-backed race). On the 7th, Francis Yap had the good luck of seeing two species of pittas, a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida and a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis. The next day, Oliver Tan also got lucky with a Hooded Pitta. On the 17th, Martin Kennewell found a Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps. On 20th, along the Rifle Range Link, Veronica Foo recorded a Siberian Blue Robin, a Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris and two Abbott’s Babblers Malacocincla abbotti.

At the fringes of the Central Forests, Veronica Foo found a Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus and a Siberian Blue Robin at Windsor Park on the 1st. Art Toh recorded a Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji at Lower Pierce on the 4th. Short-tailed Babblers Malacocincla malaccensis were recorded by Vincent Lao at Lower Pierce on the 10th and at Venus Loop on the 18th by Alex Fok. Venus Loop also held a Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupu on the 17th (Art Toh & Peach Won). Yong Ding Li reported that a rare Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was seen at MacRitchie by visiting Chinese birders on the 16th. Hindhede Park held a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka on the 17th, outside Rainforest Condo, and another two were recorded at the Rail Corridor on the 18th (Richard White).

Pulau Tekong held a rare Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes and a Rufous-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis on the 21st (Frankie Cheong). During a survey of the marine areas south of Singapore on the 22nd, Alan OwYong recorded four Great-billed Herons Ardea sumatrana, one at Raffles Marina, two at Pulau Salu and one at Terembu Bembang Besar. At Pulau Hantu, he managed to find the Mangrove Whistler which had eluded others previously.

Great-billed Heron caught Copperband Butterfly Fish, 220218, Pulau Salu, Lester Tan

Great-billed Heron caught a Copperband Butterfly Fish, 22 Feb 2018, Pulau Salu, by Lester Tan

Pulau Ubin continued to deliver amazing records: a very rare Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea on the 9th came from Jojo and Jen (reported by Roger Boey). A few days later, on the 12th, Wang HengMount photographed a Black Kite Milvus migrans over Pekan Quarry; on 13th, Keita Sin found two Cinerous Bulbuls Hemixos cinereus and on 18th Lim Kim Chuah saw a Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha. Also, on the 4th during an NParks survey, notable records included a Crested Serpent Eagle (Tan Ju Lin), Blue-rumped Parrot Psittinus cyanurus (Yong Ding Li), Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata (Lim Kim Keang) and Brown-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa williamsoni (Keita Sin). Also, Jacky Soh found a scarce Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus.

At Pasir Ris Park, Seng Alvin photographed a White-headed Munia Lonchura maja on the 5th, while Feroz Fizah found a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectens on the 6th. At nearby Lorong Halus, Lim Kim Keang counted 37 Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica on the 24th, a pretty high number, and Alfred Chia found them still there on the 25th; Geri Lim saw a number of Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni on the 6th, estimating 8-10 birds but was unsure if they were all of the same species, while Ramesh Thiruvengadam had one on the 7th at Changi Business Park, which also held a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus on 25th (also by Ramesh). At Tampines Eco Green on the 17th, Marc Ng found a Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor while Feroz Fizah photographed a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus on the 22nd.

Plaintive Cuckoo, 220218, TEG, Feroz Fizah

Plaintive Cuckoo at Tampines Eco Green, on 22 Feb 2018, by Feroz Fizah

A Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola was seen at Seletar on 4th (Wang HengMount) and on 6th (Luke Milo Teo). At nearby Seletar Aerospace Drive, Lim Kim Keang found a Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus on the 9th. On the 20th, an Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum was seen at Seletar end (Gerald Chua) and on 27th, Martin Kennewell had a Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator at Piccadilly Seletar.

A Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea put up an appearance at West Coast Park on 9th (Art Toh). Richard White reported that his friend photographed a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus at Holland Village on the 17th. At Woodlands Drive, also on the 17th, Kannan A. found a Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris. Down at Telok Bangah Walk, Alan OwYong encountered a Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus on the 26th. At Bishan Park on 26th, 27th and 28th, Martin Kennewell found five Asian Palm Swifts Cypsiurus balasiensis flying low.

Satay by the Bay held a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus on 9th (Thana Sinnathamby) and a Eastern Barn Owl Tyto delicatula on 19th (Deborah Friets). On owls, Heather Goessels found a grey morph Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia on the 14th at Mimosa Walk.

Watercock, 180218, KM, Goh Cheng Teng, crop

Watercock at Kranji Marshes, on 18 Feb 2018, by Goh Cheng Teng

Kranji Marshes continued to hold good birds. The vagrant Booted Warbler Iduna caligata was recorded throughout the month. On 18th, a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea was recorded by Goh Cheng Teng and Keita Sin, while Tanvi DG had a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis. On 25th, Martin Kennewell recorded secretive species such as the King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis, Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla, Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis and Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago. On the 26th, Adrian Silas Tay found a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia. And on the last day of the month, Martin Kennewell recorded a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis sepulcralis, Watercock, Plaintive Cuckoo, Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola.

For breeding-related records, Felix Wong was at Changi Business Park on the 10th when he saw two pairs of Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea and witnessed the mating, followed by courtship feeding (female prodding the male for food, and then fed by male). A Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis was building its nest at Ang Mo Kio Town Park on 18th (Alan OwYong). On the 24th, Felix again witnessed another courtship feeding, a male Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus regurgitating yellowish liquid to feed a female at a potential nest hole at Whampoa. Richard White reported a newly fledged chick of the Buffy Fish Owl at SBG in late February and another at SBWR on 27th, which Khoo MeiLin photographed a day earlier.

BFO, 260218, SBWR, Khoo Meilin

A young Buffy Fish Owl at SBWR, 26 Feb 2018, by Khoo Meilin

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
SBWR: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
This report is compiled by Tan Gim Cheong and Alan OwYong 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 Terence Tan, Alex Fok, Lester Tan, Feroz Fizah, Goh Cheng Teng and Khoo MeiLin for the the use of their photos.

Singapore Bird Report – January 2018

Band-bellied Crake, 190118, SBG, Meena Vathyam

January’s mega find, the Band-bellied Crake, at Singapore Botanic Gardens on 19 Jan 2018, by Meena Vathyam

The string of rarities continued to show up and provided for an eventful January. The bird of the month is without doubt the Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii, found by Meena Vathyam at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) on the 19th. Thanks to her, many birders managed to see this mega rarity as their lifer. It is only the second record for Singapore after the first occurrence in 2014. The bird continued to be observed at the same small patch of vegetation for the rest of January and is probably still wintering there.

Green-backed Flycatcher, 310118, Dillenia Hut, Fryap

Another rarity, the Green-backed Flycatcher, at Dillenia Hut on 31 Jan 2018, by Francis Yap

On the 20th, See Toh Yew Wai found another rarity at the Jelutong Tower – an adult male Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae; Francis Yap found one at the junction of Sime Track and Rifle Range Link on the 26th; and Martin Kennewell also photographed this species 100m up the junction, on Rifle Range Link, on the 28th, likely the same individual. Elsewhere, Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo found another individual at Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd. Francis Yap also recorded an individual at Dillenia Hut, CCNR on the 31st. Another rarity was a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides found at BTNR on 27th by Lau Jia Sheng and Tan Kok Hui.

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, 200118, Jelutong, Thio HB

A rare non-breeding visitor, the Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, at Jelutong Tower on 20 Jan 2018, by Thio Hui Bing

The non-migrant rarities for the month included a Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus, the 3rd record for this non-breeding visitor, found by Martin Kennewell, in the company of Richard Carden and Thio Hui Bing, at Jelutong Tower on the 20th. Additionally, Thio Hui Bing and Lim Kim Seng also recorded two individuals of the locally rare Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps on the same date & locality.

At Pulau Tekong, Frankie Cheong recorded an uncommon Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii and a flock of over 20 Marsh Sandpipers Tringa stagnatilis on the 3rd; and on the 20th, he recorded the Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea, Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis and Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta. A Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius was also recorded at Pulau Tekong on 3rd by Frankie Cheong, and two birds at Kranji Golf Course on 4th by Luke Milo Teo.

Two Lesser Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna javanica were recorded at Kranji Golf Course on the 4th and 14 of these birds at Marina Bay MRT on the 10th, both by Luke Milo Teo. Also at Kranji Golf Course, an Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis was recorded on the 5th by Alan OwYong;  and a White Wagtail Motacilla alba on the 6th by Luke Milo Teo. A Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica was recorded at Kranji Golf Course on the 5th by Alan OwYong and at Bulim on the 6th by See Toh Yew Wai.

White-rumped Munia, 270118, SBG, Goh Cheng Teng

White-rumped Munia, at SBG on 27 Jan 2018, by Goh Cheng Teng

Alan OwYong recorded a sub-adult Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor at West Coast Park on the 3rd. Earlier in the morning Anthony Nik and Stuart Campbell photographed two unusual female flycatchers there. One was a Blue and White/ Zappey’s Flycatcher and the other had yet to be identified. Veronica Foo found another Hodgon’s Hawk Cuckoo at Bambusetum, SBG, where she also spotted the White-rumped Munias Lonchura striata, on 21st. The munias were present throughout the rest of the month feeding on seeds. A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus was recorded at SBWR on the 20th by Gautham, while a Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was found at Telok Blangah Walk on the 22nd by Mark Nelson Valino . At Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd, a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus was recorded on the 23rd by Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo. On the 24th, an adult Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris was recorded at Hindhede NP by Alan OwYong.

Lester Tan photographed a Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala in flight at Jurong Street 22 on the 3rd, identification made possible by its tails feathers which were spread. This encouraged Alan OwYong to attempt to photograph snipes in flight and he managed to photograph a probable Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura at Bulim on the 15th.

A Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata was recorded by Luke Milo Teo at Turut Track on 4th, and by Alan OwYong at Kranji Marshes on 5th, and was still there on the 28th during an NSS outing. Another was photographed in flight at SICC Golf Link on the 5th by Francis Yap. On the 27th, Vincent Lao found an Oriental Dwarf (Black-backed) Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca at Lower Pierce Reservoir.

A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus was recorded at Bedok Central on the 5th by Eileen Ruth; another at Bulim on the 6th by See Toh Yew Wai; and another at Neo Tiew Lane 3 on the 14th by Alan OwYong. At Bulim on the 7th, Alan OwYong found a Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus, an uncommon migrant. At Lorong Lada Hitam on the 23rd, a Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis was found by Lim Kim Keang and Veronica Foo.

 

Greater Painted Snipe, 140118, Bulim Avenue, Pary Sivaraman

Amazing flight views of a Greater Painted Snipe, at Bulim Avenue on 14 Jan 2018, by Pary Sivaraman

At Bulim on the 6th, See Toh Yew Wai recorded 6-8 Greater Painted Snipes Rostratula benghalensis, a Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps, Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis, and Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia. On the 7th, Adrian Silas Tay found 4-5 Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea. The Greater Painted Snipes were still around on the 14th, photographed by Pary Sivaraman.

Two Baillon’s Crakes Porzana pusilla were found by See Toh Yew Wai at Bulim on the 6th, while David Tan reported another found inside an apartment at Tampines on the 11th, and Goh Cheng Teng found another of this scarce migrant at Turut Track on the 14th.

Blue Rock Thrush, 080118, Labrador Villa Rd (private pty), Art Toh

Blue Rock Thrush, at Labrador Villa Rd on 8 Jan 2018, by Art Toh

Art Toh had a lucky encounter with a Blue Rock Thrush Monticola soltarius at Labrador Villa Road on the 8th. He also found a Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis at SBG on the 18th. The next day, on the 19th a Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida was recorded at BTNR by Looi Ang Soh Hoon.

Martin Kennewell reported seeing around 50 White-shouldered Starlings Sturnia sinensis feeding on Bottlebrush trees at Seletar Club Road on the 16th. A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka was recorded at NTU on the 22nd by Luke Milo Teo, and another at Bidadari on the 27th by See Toh Yew Wai. At DFNP on the 24th, an Orang-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina with a deformed (crossbeak) bill was found by Laurence Eu.

At Marina Barrage on the 18th, Pary Sivaraman recorded 12-15 Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus and 10-12 Swinhoe’s Plovers (dealbatus subspecies of the Kentish Plover). At nearby Marina East Drive, Lee Chuin Ming redorded a Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis on the 21st; while Feroz Fizah found a Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii at Changi Coastal Walk on the 22nd.

Abbreviations:
BTNR: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
CCNR: Central Catchment Nature Reserve
NSS: Nature Society (Singapore)

NTU: Nanyang Technological University
SICC: Singapore Island Country Club

This report is produced by Tan Gim Cheong and Alan OwYong 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 Meena Vathyam, Francis Yap, Thio Hui Bing, Goh Cheng Teng, Pary Sivaraman, and Art Toh for the the use of their photos. 

Singapore Bird Report – November 2014

Yellow-eared Spiderhunter FY

A very rare resident Yellow-eared Spiderhunter at Dillenia Hut by Francis Yap.

The Central Catchment Forest was the center of attention this November with the appearance of  four mega rare resident species. The Yellow-eared Spiderhunter was spotted (FY) feeding on a flowering Eugenia tree near the Dillenia Hut on 20th. It was last seen 8 years ago at Rifle Range Link (YDL). Two days later two rare flowerpeckers, the Thick-billed and the Yellow-vented followed the spiderhunter out to check on a flowers on 22nd (DL,LJS,TKH). It was good to know that they are still around in our central forests besides Bukit Timah NR. Even the rarely seen Lesser Green Leafbird was attracted by the flowers. It came out on the 23rd together with the larger Greater Green Leafbird giving us (LKS, LKK, AOY) a few brief views.

Thick-billed FP See Toh

Another rare resident the Thick-billed Flowerpecker at Dillenia Hut by See Toh Yew Wai.

Elsewhere there were many notable sightings include a Gull video swimming at the main pond at SBWR on 7th (LeC). Unfortunately it was too far away for a proper id. An irruption of over 200 Ashy or Cinereous Bulbul was seen over at Chek Java on 4th (LKK,WT). We are still looking for answers as to where they come from. They were later reported all over the island throughout the month. The first Common Kestrel was seen over Tuas South on 1st (LC) with more sightings in the following days. A Greater Spotted Eagle over at Tuas on 13th (AOY) was the third sighting of the year. The Japonensis Peregrine Falcon returned to the CDB on14th (LEL) after a year of absence.  A very rare non-breeding visitor the Streaked Bulbul was seen feeding with the Ashy Bulbuls at Canterbury Road on 13th (LKK). Two days later another two were photographed at Tuas South Ave16 bush (FY) and another on 23rd at the same area (LJS). The rare Japanese Paradise Flycatcher passed through at Bida on 28th (FY,STYW). A surprise Green Broadbill was seen feeding at East Coast Park on 27th (STYW) and 28th. This former resident is now extinct. The Records Committee will have to deliberate on its status.  And right up to the last day, an Oriental Darter was seen at the Ketam Quarry, Ubin (AL). Will this find help to determine the status of one seen in August at the Seng Chew Quarry?

Green-backed FC Alan Ng

Rare migrant Green-backed Flycatcher, male, at Bidadari by Alan Ng.

Bidadari remains the top spot for incoming migrants while we had some surprises from Tuas South.

First the migrants at Bidadari. A juvenile Oriental Cuckoo seen on the first two days of the month (AL) could very well be the same cuckoo reported last month. A passing Black-backed Kingfisher was a good find on 1st (BQ) followed by a late Dark-sided Flycatcher on the 2nd (AR) and 20th (KLH). An early Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo was photographed on the 8th (AR). This was followed by another Hodgson’s at SBWR on the 15th (LKK).  The Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoos are normally seen towards the end of November. Female Mugimaki Flycatchers made their land fall on the 12th (FY) followed by a few males later on. They were still around at the end of the month. The long awaited Hooded Pitta appeared on 24th (LKK). An Eye-browed Thrush on 27th (LKS) was the first for the season while a male Green-backed Flycatcher was seen on the same day (AN). A skittish uncommon Malayan Night Heron was reported on 28th (STWY), rounding off with a Eastern Crown Warbler on 30th (KLH)

Streaked Bulbul See Toh

A very rare non-breeding visitor Streaked Bulbul at Tuas South by See Toh Yew Wai.

Over the skies at Tuas South we had a few surprises. A Brown Hawk Owl was photographed flying over on 1st (LCH). Could this be the northern migrant race of Boobook that is not on our Checklist. A Eurasian Curlew on 7th (TGC), a Black-capped Kingfisher on 9th (STYW) and flocks of Oriental Pratincoles were still coming in with 12 on 13th (AOY) and 73 counted on 15th (LCH). Three Little Ringed Plovers flying pass on 16th (STYW). A single Black Drongo at Tuas Avenue 9 on 20th (RA). The bush in the middle of the open field at Tuas South seems to be the preferred land fall for the passerine migrants with at least two Malayan Night Herons seen on 21st (FY) and 28th (LCH). A juvenile Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo on 22nd (LKS, AOY). STYW photographed his Streak Bulbul here on the 23rd after being alerted by LJS.

Reports from other parts of the island include a warbler was mist-netted at the Ecolink on 8th by NParks team (CYF, DT) and appeared to be the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler. Blood samples are being analysed.  Flocks of migrating Fork-tailed or Pacific Swifts were seen all over the island,  40 over Kent Ridge Park feeding on flying termites on 4th (AOY), 50+ thermaling over Telok Blangah Hill on the 9th (AOY). A juvenile Rosy Starling was seen together with the Glossy Starlings at Kent Ridge Park on 10th (FY).  It stayed for a few days. A first winter male Blue and White Flycatcher was reported at Tampines Eco Park on 11th (JA) and later a female on 21st (SA). The White Wagtails of both Leucopsis and Ocularis races were seen at Seletar Dam on 14th (GP). A Green-backed Flycatcher was photographed at Bishan Park on 23rd related by YDL.  The Reed Warblers are back with the Black-browed  seen at Bishan Park on 23rd (JL) and the Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler at Sengkang Wetlands on 27th (AC). A first of the season Black Bittern was seen at Bishan Park on 27th (LKS).

Pomarine Jaeger FY

Probable rare Pomarine Jaeger at the Straits of Singapore by Francis Yap.

The only pelagic trip to the Straits of Singapore on the 23rd was organised by STYW and the lucky day trippers photographed a probable rare Pomarine Jaeger and a Common Tern besides the usual Swift and Lesser Crested Terns.

The casualties continued to mount as expected. A Lanceolated Warbler crashed into a window at Sengkang Square on 9th, recovered after resting, but was eaten by a House Crow much to DT dismay. A Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, first winter male found dead at Jervios Hill on 14th.  A Black Bittern found dead at Jurong West on 16th and a dead Cinnamon Bittern, probably a migrant at NTU Building the next day. The globally threatened Brown-chested Flycatcher was also a casualty crashing into a flat at Woodlands Ave 8 on the 26th (KK). Meanwhile over at Jurong Island, LKC nursed back to health a Blue-winged Pitta that crashed into his office on 22nd but was not able to save a Hooded Pitta that was found dead on 24th.

A comprehensive Raptor Report for November will be published by Tan Gim Cheong at a coming date.

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore Lim Kim Seng 2009.  Edited by Francis Yap. Bird crashed records are from David Tan. All other records were taken from postings in the various facebook, bird forums and individual facebook pages belonging to Francis Yap (FY), Seng Alvin (SA), Rey Aguila (RA), See Toh Yew Wai (STYW), Lim Kim Seng (LKS), Lim Kim Keang (LKK), Wellington Tan (WT), Lau Jiasheng (LJS), Lawrence Cher (LC), Lena Chow (LeC), Ben Quek (BQ), Low Choon How (LCH), Aldwin Recinto  (AR), Tan Gim Cheong (TGC), Chung Yi Fei (CYF), David Tan (DT), Danny Lau (DL), Tan Kok Hui (TKH), Janice Ang (JA), Koh Lian Heng (KLH),  George Persanis (GP), Jimmy Lee (JL), Kennneth Kee (KK) and Alan OwYong. Many thanks for your records..