Tag Archives: Short-tailed Shearwater

Singapore Bird Report- April 2017. Part 1 Winter Visitors.

We are still getting lots of late migrants passing through this month like the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata, that crashed into a block of flat at Simei Street 5 on 3rd (Low Choon How). This set a new late date for this rare flycatcher.

JPFC Choon How-001

Rare Japanese Paradise Flycatcher that crashed into a flat at Simei. Photo: Low Choon How.

Another rare flycatcher was a female Green-backed Ficedula elisae photographed at the CCNR on 6th by Lim Kim Seng. An uncommon Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki was reported by Martin Kennewell at Hindhede NP on the 14th. Martin also had a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia from Kranji Marshes on 1st.

Kranji Marshes was again the top site for our winter visitors this month.

Other good finds include a Large-hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides on 1st (Richard White), another hawk cuckoo, a Hodgson’s H. niscolor on 2nd (Con Foley), both at Bidadari, a Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda West Coast Park photographed by Johnson Chua on 4th. Lim Kim Keang found one there last November 6th. Could this be the same Kingfisher? Johnson also photographed a lucionensis sub species Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus there the next day. This sub species is rarely seen here as its normal wintering range is in Taiwan and the Philippines.

Brown Shrike Johnson Chua

A lucionensis sub species Brown Shrike photographed at West Coast Park                              by Johnson Chua. Very similar to the adult Tiger Shrike.

A Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka flew into a corridor at One-North Residences on 6th (Alan OwYong) and a Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans from Jelutong Tower on 7th (Marcel Finlay) with another Crow-billed Drongo crashing into an office building at Jurong Island on 18th (Lim Kim Chuah). It managed to recover and flew off by itself. A Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris was reported at the Petai Trail from 7th to 20th by Marcel Finlay. Hard to tell if this is our resident race or not.

Javan Pond Heron Choon How

Javan Pond Heron in early breeding plumage at Lorong Halus by Low Choon How.

Other notable visitors were three Ashy Minivets Pericocotus divaricatus and late Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica seen flying over Kranji Marshes on 1st by Martin Kennewell. Around the ponds, Martin reported that the Black-capped Kingfisher H. pileata was still enjoying the sun on 8th and 19th.  Wagtails were also reported at their respective habitats. Eastern Yellow Motacilla tschutschensis at Kranji Marshes until the 16th (Martin Kennewell) and Forest Dendronanthus indicus at Admiralty Park on 9th (Vincent Lao) and Lower Pierce on 15th and 16th (Martin Kennewell and Marcel Finlay).

Forest Wagtail Vincent Lao

Forest Wagtail on a tarmac walkway at Admiralty Park. Photo: Vincent Lao

Pittas were still coming through and crashing into our buildings. Three different Blue-wingeds Pitta moluccensis were reported on 14th from Kranji Marshes and a Hooded P. sordida from Hindhede both by Martin Kennewell. The one that crashed near to the Commonwealth MRT station on 21st was a Hooded as well (Adrian Silas Tay).


A Grey Nightjar resting at a flower bed at One-North Residences. Alan OwYong.

Other interesting winter visitors reported were a white morph Asian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi along Dairy Farm Loop on 17th ( Tony James),  Siberian Blue Robin Luscina cyane along Petai Trail on 19th (Marcel Finlay) and two Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers Locustella certhiola at Kranji Marshes on 29th (Martin Kennewell).  A returning Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus was seen at DFNP on 14th (Martin Kennewell) and another adult at Jurong Eco Garden on 17th (Siew Mun).

Tiger Shrike Siew Mun

Adult Tiger Shrike photographed at Jurong Eco Garden by Siew Mun.

A few wader and waterbird sightings to report. A Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa at Lorong Halus on 4th (Low Choon How) and maybe the same bird at Farmway 3 on 6th (Lim Kim Seng). A Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola at Kranji Marshes on 8th (Martin Kennewell) and another at Marina Barrage on 16th by Keita Sin. This could be our first record of this fresh water wader at this breakwaters. Frankie Cheong reported a Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes in breeding plumage at Pulau Tekong on 8th. This is our most reliable site for this globally threatened species. Two Watercocks Gallicrex cinerea at the old Grebe pond at Lorong Halus on 7th (Lim Kim Seng). Johnson Chua photographed  an adult male Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus lurking at the Flamingo enclosure at the Jurong Bird Park on 12th. This is presumed to be a wild bird as it had no rings on its feet.

Chinese Egret Frankie Cheong

Chinese Egret at its favorite site at Pulau Tekong. Photo Frankie Cheong 

See Toh Yew Wai and friends took two boats out to the Straits of Singapore on 29th to check on the seabirds that were on their way back north. They came back with the second sighting of the Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii, a record 26 Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris, two Jaegers, Long-tailed Stercorarius longicaudus and Parasitic S. parasiticus and a few Aleutian Terns Onychoprion aleuticus among others. A very productive outing. Some of these sightings may not be in Singapore waters.

Short-tailed Shearwater Wong Lee Hiong

A low flying Short-tailed Shearwater photographed at the Straits of Singapore by Wong Lee Hong. A record 26 of these shearwaters were seen on that day.


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

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

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

A field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. 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 especially Martin Kennewell and Marcel Finlay for their personal lists. Many thanks to LJohnson Chua, Low Choon How, Vincent Lao, Alan OwYong,  Siew Mun, Frankie Cheong and Wong Lee Hong for the use of their photos. Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you find errors in these records.

Singapore Bird Report-May 2016

Most of the winter visitors have left our shores for their breeding grounds in North Asia. Only a few wetland species like the Black Bitterns, Dupetor flavicollis, were still at Gardens by the Bay and Seletar Ponds and Blue-winged Pittas, Pitta moluccenis, at Singapore Botanic Gardens are taking their time to move back. Good to monitor these Pittas during the coming months to see if they stay around.  A Hooded PittaPitta sordida, was released after it recovered from crashing into the Compassvale Secondary School in Sengkang on 3rd by Eugene Ng. Lim Kim Keang recorded a new late date for the Indian Pond Heron, Ardeola grayii, at Pasir Ris Farmway 3 on 8th. Lim Kim Seng reported over summering Little, Egretta garzetta, and 10 Great Egrets, Ardea alba, at Sungei Buloh on 26th.

So the focus was on our breeding residents for our birders and photographers. For a change we will list some of the important sightings on a week to week basis for this report.

Little Tern Seng Alvin

Little Tern in breeding plumage fishing at the Tampines Canal. Photo: Seng Alvin.

Week 1

A pair of Lesser Whistling Ducks, Dendrocygna javanica, found a nice resting place at Seletar Ponds, outside the usual places (Zacc HD 1st). The Little Terns, Sternula albifrons, are raising another brood and have returned to the Tampines Canal on 3rd for small fishes to feed their chicks (Seng Alvin). Lim Kim Chuah got a up close iphone  shot of a dead Western Barn Owl, Tyto alba, at Jurong Island on 4th. It must have crashed into one of the buildings there. Following Kieta Sin’s sigthing of a male Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, at Kent Ridge Park, he and Alan OwYong found a female Violet and a Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonnerati, at the same place on 6th. See Toh and friends went for a pelagic trip to the Straits of Singapore on 7th and recorded 2 rare Short-tailed Shearwaters, Puffinus ternuirostris, and several Aleutian Terns, Onychoprion anaethetus, and Lesser Crested Terns, Thalasseus bengalensis, on their way back north. A Spotted Wood Owl, Strix seloputo, was reported by Art Toh at Keppel Bay on 8th, a new location for this owl.

Short-tailed Shearwater See Toh

Rare Short-tailed Shearwater on migration at the Straits of Singapore. Photo: See Toh Yew Wai

Week 2

Richard White has been keeping a close watch on the birdlife at the Botanic Gardens. He reported the return of the Black-crowned Night Herons, Nycticorax nycticorax, at the Eco lake. They were in breeding plumage. Maybe they will nest there again. The Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis, that went missing from Kent Ridge Park for more than a decade was spotted again during a recce by Alan OwYong. (Keita Sin messaged me that he saw the Kingfisher in August last year right up to this April).  Paddyfield Pipits, Anthus rufulus, were seen nest building at the open field at the Marina Barrage on 14th ( Alan OwYong).

Abbottt's Babbler at the Marsh Gardens at West Coast Park. Photo: Geoff Lim

Abbott’s Babbler at West Coast Park. Photo: Geoff Lim

Week 3.

A family of 4-5  Abbott’s Babblers, Malacocincia abbotti, was very active at the Marsh Gardens West Coast Park when Francis Yap paid a visit there on 17th. These babblers are not that common in the south. Confirmation of the Sunda Scops Owl, Otus lempiji, breeding in Sentosa came when Sarah Chin found an immature at the Tanjong Beach Station on 19th. Another Sunda Scops Owl was reported from Lower Pierce Reservoir by Vincent Lao on 20th. A hard to see White-browed Crake, Ponzana cinerea, was spotted by Lim Kim Chuah during a Bird Group trip to the Kranji Marshes on 22nd.

White-browed Crake LKC

The shy White-browed Crake revealing itself at Kranji Marshes. Photo; Lim Kim Chuah.

Week 4

Atis Banerjee reported a new location for the Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupa, at Tanjong Rhu on 23th. A family of Red Legged Crakes, Rallina fasciata, have been seen at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 23rd (Richard White). They have been regulars there for some years now. The non breeding visitor Western Osprey, Pandian haliaetus, was still hanging around Sungei Buloh on 23rd,(Cindy Yeo). The Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana, made its return to Berlayer Creek with sightings there on 24th by Shirley Ng. James Tann reported the fledging of two Oriental White-eye, Zosterops palpebrosus, chicks at Jurong Eco Gardens on 24th. The resident ernesti race Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, was back at Church Street on 26th May (Lee Ee Ling). Lucy Davis had a pair of Pin-striped Babbler, Macronous gularis, raising two chicks in her garden at Wessex on 26th. A forest specialist, Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, was seen at the MacRitchie Reservoir on 26th (Lim Kim Seng). A Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirollus striatus, at Tampines Eco Green on 27th (Seng Alvin). Four Green Imperial Pigeons, Ducula aenea, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, Great-billed Herons, and White-rumped Shamas, Copsychus malabaricus, were some of the uncommon birds seen during Pesta Ubin day on 29th (LIm Kim Chuah).  Francis Yap reported a pair of uncommon Chestnut-winged Babblers, Stachyris erythroptera, at Upper Seletar on 29th. A family of Ruddy-breasted Crakes, Ponzana fusca, with four fledged chicks were photographed by Paul Thong at Gardens by the Bay on 30th. An important breeding record for this uncommon rail spreading out to the south. Andrew Tann reported them there earlier on 21st.

A family of uncommon Ruddy Breasted Crakes at SBTB. Photo: Paul Thong.

An important record of a family of uncommon Ruddy-breasted Crakes at SBTB. Photo: Paul Thong.


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

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

Craig Robson. A field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. 2000.

This report is compiled by Alan OwYong and edited by Tan Gim Cheong from selected postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank all the  contributors for their records. Many thanks to Lim Kim Chuah, Geoff Lim, Seng Alvin, See Toh Yew Wai and Paul Thong  for the use of their photos.





Singapore Straits Pelagic Surveys – New Seabirds Discovered.

Aleutian Tern 15 May 11 Jimmy 2

Peter Kennerley and Richard Ollington’s 1998 paper on Aleutian Terns ( above by Jimmy Chew) wintering in South East Asia based on sightings of 11 birds in the Straits of Singapore in 1996 prompted the Bird Group to charter a work boat to do a recce trip to find out what other seabirds passed through and wintered at the Straits of Singapore.

Most of our old records of seabirds were from dead specimens collected from the Horsburgh Lighthouse. But due to the high cost and logistics, it took more than a decade before regular pelagic trips were planned.

Pulau JongIndo Pacific Bottlenose Dophins

Pulau Jong a green emerald in the southern straits.    Indo-pacific Dolphins once common.

Colin Poole MD of WCS was the first to organised a series of pelagic trips in the latter months of 2010. This was followed by NParks in December 2010 when they embarked on a year long marine biodiversity survey. The Bird Group supplemented with our Pelagic surveys in May 2012. We completed a total of eight trips.

Southern Islands 6.45 am

Sunrise over Southern islands.

The trips start from the Marina at Sentosa at 6 am as we had to clear immigration at the anchorage so that we can cruise outside the port limits. This can take 10 minutes to hours depending on how many ships were waiting for clearance. Great time to view the sunrise over the southern islands.

Singapore CDB Skyline

The boat will head out to the middle of the Straits and then turn East towards Horsburgh Lighthouse, taking care to stay within Singapore waters. The Singapore CBD skyline with the hundreds of ships at the anchorage is quite a sight. First landmark is the beacon off Batam, a very important navigation aid for the Supertankers. Action normally starts around 9 am when we get close the the yellow buoy off Changi. This is where the Swift and Lesser Crested Terns (below left) rest. From here onwards, Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels can be seen on migration during October. Common Terns (below right) also arrived for the winter.

P1090323Common Tern

It is here that Con Foley and company photographed the Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaegers in 2010. These were later accepted and added to the Singapore Checklist. Three other new species were also accepted by the Records Committee based on the Bird Group’s Pelagic surveys in 2011 and 2012: The Red-footed Booby in December 2012 and the Short-tailed Shearwater & Heuglin’s Gull in Jan 2013.  Aleutian Terns are usually found resting on floating debris, with their tails pointing up. This was where we had our second record of the Red-necked Phalarope, a wader that can rest at sea.

Bridled TerneBridled Tern 

As we get nearer to Horsburgh, flocks of Bridled Terns ( above) come into view. They looked grey from the top and roost on the rocky outcrops around the lighthouse. The population can reach a few hundreds at the peak of the migration season. Other uncommon terns that were recorded are the White-winged, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns mixed with the resident Black-naped and Little Terns.


It will be lunch time by the time we reached Horsburgh Lighthouse. Many ship captains have been waiting for days to see this lighthouse. It means that they will be enjoying shore leave among the bright lights in Singapore soon.. Fishing around the lighthouse is reported to be great as can be seen by the boats from the nearby fishing village. The trip back in the afternoon is normally quiet and most of us will try to catch up on our beauty sleep until someone started shouting ” Terns”.