Tag Archives: Violet Cuckoo

Singapore Bird Report – July 2017

We have several very early migrant sightings this month. Is it due to global warming? Maybe the birds are more sensitive to the changes than us.

Wood Sandpipers Goh Cheng Teng

Composite photo of a Wood Sandpiper flying over Jurong West by Goh Cheng Teng. First migrant shorebird to arrive this season.

A Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus was photographed by Francis Yap with Keita Sin at Jelutong Tower on 19th, two weeks earlier than the previous early date. Keita Sin did better when he came across a Pacific Swift Apus pacificus flying across Punggol Barat on 22nd, more than a month from the last early date of 3rd Sept. On 16th, Goh Cheng Teng photographed a Wood Sandpipers Tringa glareola flying over Jurong West. This is 2 days ahead of the previous early arrival date. Four days later Alan OwYong flushed another Wood Sandpiper from a wet patch at Bulim grasslands. On the same day and place, Ben Choo photographed a female leucopsis White Wagtail Motacilla alba at the canal there. The jury is out if this is over summering or early arrival as the previous early arrival date is 9th September 2016 (Richard White, Marina Barrage).

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Ben Choo’s shot of a female White Wagtail in breeding plumage at a canal at Bulim raise the question of its arrival or over-summering status.

The sighting of the Wood Sandpiper prompted Francis Yap to stake out Seletar Dam and he was rewarded with shots of Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and Little Egrets Egretta garzetta there on 24th. A day later, three Common Redshanks Tringa totanus were reported by Robin Tan and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos by Lim Kim Seng, both at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

ABFC Thio

The first passerine migrant spotted by Thio Hb at the Kampong Java Park on 20th. Photo: Thio Hb.

On 26th Francis returned to Seletar Dam and notched up two more new arrivals. Three Lesser Sand Plovers Charadrius mongolus and a Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, normally the harbinger of the start of the migrant season. But it was beaten by an Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris photographed by Thio Hb at Kampong Java Park on 20th. Our previous early arrival date for this flycatcher was 9th August. Fadzrun A. shot a flock of 46 Lesser Sand Plovers at Kranji Dam on 31st. The migrating shorebirds have arrived!

FYAP

First Lesser Sand Plovers of the season from Seletar Dam captured by Francis Yap

We ended the month with a Watercock Gallicrex cinerea crashing into the Beach Villas at Resort World Sentosa on 31st. Tan Kok Yeang was kind enough to send us the photo. The injured bird was handed over to Nparks. This is a new addition to Sentosa but we had record of this migrant arriving as early as 8th of July. We can expect a busy month ahead as more migrants will be making landfall at various parts of the island.

 

1-Watercock Tan Kok Yeang

The injured Watercock that crashed into the Beach Villas at Sentosa. Photo: Tan Kok Yeang.

Our residents put up a good show as well. The most unexpected sighting was a rare Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea turning up at Marina East on 30th, a first for the south.  We had very few mainland records as this is a mangrove island dweller. We had to thank Mike Hooper for this record.  Koh Liang Heng followed up the next day and found it at the same place. The Mangrove Pittas Pitta megrahyncha were reported at Pulau Ubin and Pasir Ris Park on 8th and 17th respectively ( Willie Foo and Lim Kim Keang). The Blue-winged Pittas Pitta moluccensis were heard calling at the Bulim Forest by Wing Chong and James Tann and at Choa Chu Kang Cemeteries by Martin Kennewell both during the Mid Year Bird Census on 8th. They may be nesting but no nests were found so far.

Mike Hooper

The rare Mangrove Whistler photographed at Marina East by Mike Hooper on 30th. 

An Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris was seen at Gardens by the Bay by Veronica Foo on 27th, a surprising first for GBTB. From one Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica to ten at the Lorong Halus ponds on 17th was the welcome news from Lim Kim Keang. We continue to receive records of House Swifts Apus nipalensis over the months. Three birds were seen at the East Coast Parkway near Fort Road by Lim Kim Chuah on 14th. Signs that this species maybe making a comeback.

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The juvenile Greater Green Leafbird at Dairy Farm is a good indication of the successful breeding of this uncommon species.

The other good news were sightings of juveniles of some of the uncommon species, confirming their breeding success. A Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati juvenile was photographed feeding on a White Mulberry Tree at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 15th. We do not have any breeding records for this leafbird and this is only the second record of a juvenile.

A young male Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus was seen being chased by an female Sunbird at Jurong Eco Garden on 18th. Lim Kim Keang also reported seeing the same there a few weeks earlier. Over at the Lorong Halus ponds, a pair of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis were seen feeding a juvenile on 25th. All the three above records came from Alan OwYong. The last young bird reported was a Red-legged Crake Rallina fasciata photographed at Pasir Ris Park on 31st by Seng Alvin, a first for the park.?

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This young Violet Cuckoo was being chased around Jurong Eco Garden by a female Sunbird.

Finally two non-breeding visitors were reported this month. A Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela was seen perched at Science Park 2 on 13th by Francis Yap and a pair of Black Hornbills Anthracoceros malayanus at Sentosa flying towards Siloso on 30th seen by Colin Richardson, a visiting birder (posted in ebird, reported by Martin Kennewell). This hornbill was recently added to the checklist based on the records from Pulau Ubin, where one was seen by Adrian Silas Tay on 22nd.

References:

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, 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 Goh Cheng Teng, Ben Choo, Thio Hb, Francis Yap, Tan Kok Yeang and Alan OwYong for the the use of their photos. Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you find errors in these records.

 

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Singapore Bird Report – March 2015

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An adult Malaysian Night Heron at the Jacob Ballas Children Garden by Craig Williams.

On the 2nd we have the third sighting of the Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Meiglyptes tristis, when Lim Kim Keang videoed one at Bidadari Cemetery. This is a non-breeding visitor that was seen twice at the Sime Forest before it was accepted into the 2003 Checklist. This has to be the standout bird of the month. Not to be outdone, Lim Kim Chuah managed to photograph a Pied Cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus, at Lorong Halus on 15th. This is the second record for the year for this non-migratory cuckoo in Singapore.  It has yet to be accepted into the Checklist as there were question marks on its origin after the first sighting. Kim Chuah also reported that Robert Teo told him that an Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, was seen at the Pekan Quarry at Pulau Ubin on the 31st. This Darter was first reported in August 2014 by Jean-Marc Chavette at another disused quarry at Gombak. According to Robert Teo, this Darter had been seen at the Ketam Quarry last November during Ubin Day. This species is now pending acceptance into the Checklist.

Large Hawk-Cuckoo

A juvenile Large Hawk Cuckoo at Bidadari by Francis Yap.

This March is noted for the returning of the migrant cuckoos, four species were recorded with the rare Large-hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides, being the most sighted, which is quite a surprise. Bidadari Cemetery on 9th by Frankie Lim, Pasir Ris Park on 12th by Lim Kim Keang and Lorong Halus by Tan Eng Boo on the 18th. An Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus,  was photographed at Pasir Ris Park by Seng Alvin on 9th, Squared-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris, at Bukit Timah NP by Seetoh Kin Meng on 4th and a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, at Seletar by Yong Yik Shih on 22nd. Resident Cuckoo species include a male Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, videoed singing at Wilton Close on 12th by Lucy Davis. We think that this is its mating call, the first time we got it on tape.

Yellow-browed Warbler by Surin Kumar.

An uncommon Yellow-browed Warbler captured by Surin Kumar at Kembangan.

Other migrants on the way back include the two rare Wagtails, Forest, Dendronanthus indicus, at Lower Pierce Boardwalk on the 4th by Lee Van Hien, White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, at Lorong Halus on 7th by Lim Kim Seng. Two warblers, Yellow-browed, Phylloscopus inornatus  on a fig tree at Kembangan photographed by Surin Kumar on 15th and two Eastern-crowned Warblers, Phylloscopus coronatus, at Sime Forest on 30th by Lim Kim Seng. A single uncommon Sand Martin, Riparia riparia, was seen hawking insects by Lim Kim Keang also at Halus on 15th. A Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida  at Sime Forest on 25th by Francis Yap. Three Daurian Starlings, Sturnus sturninus was seen at Kent Ridge Park during ABC on 22nd by Alan OwYong. The adult Malaysian Night Heron, Gorsachius melanolophus, that was first reported last month returned to the Jacob Ballas Children Gardens on the 12th. Craig Williams was there to capture it.

Javan Pond Heron

A Javan Pond Heron is breeding plumage taken at Farmway 3 by Francis Yap.

The pond herons at the Farmway 3 drain have started to assume their summer plumages. Francis Yap photographed both the Javan and the Chinese Pond Herons, Ardeola speciosa and Ardeola bacchus, there on the 15th. We have only one record of a non-breeding visitor the Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu. A male was photographed by Diana Jackson at Bidadari on 17th.

Notable resident species reported were a Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 1st by Robin Tan, a Sunda Scops Owl Otus lempiji and a Brown Hawk-Owl, Ninox scutulata, on 4th by Shunda Lee at the MacRitchie Boardwalk. A Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, at the Durian Loop on the 7th and the Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus, at Kent Ridge Park on 22nd both by Alan OwYong and a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamoneus at Lorong Halus on 28th by Francis Yap.

Spotted Wood OwlCinnamon Bittern

The Pasir Ris Park young Spotted Wood Owlet and a Cinnamon Bittern from Halus by Francis Yap.

Breeding and post breeding records were evident with the sightings of an adult and juvenile Crested Goshawks, Accipiter trivirgatus, at Pasir Ris Park by Aldwin Recinto on 6th. Pasir Ris Park was also the breeding ground for our Spotted Wood Owls, Strix selopotu, where a pair of young was attracting hordes of photographers. The parents of a pair of Laced Woodpeckers, Picus vittatus, at the same park had to be happy with the successful fledging of its youngs. A pair of Changeable Hawk Eagles, Nisaetus cirrhatus,  was also preparing for a family at Mount Faber. Laurence Eu found a pair of Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds, Orthotomus sericeus building a nest at the Singapore Zoo on 4th.

Migrant raptor species reported were a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni over at Halus on 1st by Lim Kim Keang, a Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis, at Pasir Ris Park on 12th by Alan Ng, a hunting Peregrine Falcon, falco peregrinus, over at One-north Park on 13th by Alan OwYong and an adult female Japanese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis, over at Punggol Barat on 24th by Joseph Tan.

There is only one reported casualty for the month. A juvenile Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus crashed into a HDB block at the Bukit Timah area on the 20th, from David Tan.

Reference: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. 2009. Edited by Francis Yap. The above records are taken from the various bird FB groups. pages, reports and forums.  Many thanks for your postings. Thanks to Francis Yap, Craig Williams and Surin Kumar for the use of your photos.

Violet Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus)

Violet Cuckoo
(Male Violet Cuckoo taken at Jurong Eco Gardens, October 2013. Photo by Alan OwYong)

We are fortunate to have all the four SEA species of the Chrysococcyx Cuckoos in Singapore. Unfortunately there was only one record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo C. macutalus ( Upper Seletar 31 May 2006 TKC) and the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo C. basalis is a rare summer visitor from Australia and hard to find.

The most common is the Little Bronze Cuckoo ( C. minutillus) which can be found in the country side. That leaves the uncommon Violet Cuckoo, the subject of this blog.

The male is one of the most striking looking cuckoo and a poster bird for many photographers. It has a glossy dark purple back with a barred underside contrasting with a bright orange bill.  Like all cuckoos, they depend on foster parents to bring up their youngs, Sunbirds are the main host parents. Our resident species are mainly found in the central core forests supplemented by winter visitors during the migrant season. They look the same but prefer open woodlands and forest edges.

Violet Cuckoo
(Female Violet Cuckoo taken at Neo Tiew Lane 2 in August 2013. Photo by Francis Yap)

Most of the time you will hear the loud sharp whistle before you see them flying high up across the sky.  If you are lucky you may see one perched on the highest dry branch of a tall tree. So when Lee Van Hien posted a photo of one he shot at eye level at the Jurong Eco Gardens, the birding community went into an overdrive. The Cuckoo found a small patch of Leea indica that is infested with caterpillars its favorite diet. The feeding takes place in the morning apparently up to 10 am. The last time ( apart from Francis’s sighting) this Cuckoo was seen so low was at Pasir Ris Park on January 2008 where many of the great photos were taken.

Ref: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009.