Tag Archives: Zappey’s Flycatcher

Singapore Bird Report – November 2020

by Geoff Lim & Isabelle Lee,
Tan Gim Cheong (ed.)

A Flurry of Flycatchers


Narcissus Flycatcher at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 19 Nov 2020. Photo by Tan Gim Cheong.

Among the electrifying news this month were a flurry of flycatchers visiting our shores. This year, we had several reports of several Blue-and-White Flycatchers, Cyanoptila cyanomelana, more so than the Zappey’s Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cumatili. The former comes from the southern Kuril islands, Japan, the Russian Far East and NE China, and typically migrates through SE Asia, the Greater Sundas to the Philippines (Clement & Marks, 2020), while the latter originates from Central and East China, dispersing during migration to SE Asia and the Greater Sundas but scarce in N. Borneo (del Hoyo, Collar & Marks, 2020).

While this is purely conjectural, it is possible that the November’s weather patterns that brought several C. cyanomelana to Singapore also brought a female Narcissus Flycatcher, Ficedula narcissina, into Dairy Farm Nature Park on 19 Nov 2020 and reported by Alan OwYong. Birders would be more familiar with the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Ficedula xanthopygia, whose males superficially resemble the males of the Narcissus Flycatcher, except that the later has a yellow eyebrow. Females are harder to identify. Prior to this sighting, there were only two previous confirmed records of a female each at in the lush greenery of Bidadari in Dec 2015, and Dairy Farm Nature Park in Nov 2017.

This rarity breeds mostly in Japan; and would overwinter in the Philippines and N. Borneo (Clement et al, 2020), a biogeographical distribution quite similar to the Blue-and-White Flycatchers.  Hence, the La Nina of 2020 may have contributed to the dispersal of these “Japanese” birds, which typically overwinter in the Philippines and N. Borneo, to our part of the Greater Sundas. More research into this phenomenon would be needed.

Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR)




Rufous-bellied Eagles tumbling over DFNP on 25 Nov 2020. Photos by Isabelle Lee.

The heart of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve continued to attract species such as a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Cyornis brunneatus, which was reported on 3 Nov 2020 from the Lower Peirce Reservoir Park by Oliver Tan.  A juvenile Besra, Accipiter virgatus, was photographed on 10 Nov 2020 along Mandai Track 15 by Roger Boey, while an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ceyx erithaca, was seen at Venus Loop on 11 Nov 2020 by Oliver Tan and on 12 Nov 2020 by Lee Yue Teng. The fringe park also yielded a Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, on 13 Nov 2020 which was reported by Terence Tan. Over at Jelutong Tower, a Pied Harrier, Circus melanoleucos, and a Brown-backed Needletail, Hirundapus giganteus, were spotted by Martin Kennewell on 20 Nov 2020.

Few brave souls would venture to climb to the summit of our tallest hill, but those who did, like T. Ramesh, would be rewarded with a sighting of rarities like eight Silver-backed Needletail, Hirundapus cochinchinensis, which he saw circling above the hill on 18 Nov 2020. Hindhede Nature Park, which forms part of the Bukit Timah foothills, yielded a Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola soltarius, which lurked amongst the rocky crags of the disused quarry on 24 Nov 2020 and discovered by Martin Kennewell.

EB Thrush, Geoff

Eyebrowed Thrush feeding in a mulberry tree in DFNP on 22 Nov 2020. Photo by Geoff Lim.

Dairy Farm Nature Park continued to show its strength in hosting sensitive migratory species. Other than the Narcissus Flycatcher spotted on 19 Nov 2020, a host of other flycatchers were spotted, including a Mugimaki Flycatcher, Ficedula mugimaki, on 19 and 29 Nov 2020 by Ho Siew Mun and Leong Kai Kee, respectively a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica, on 20 Nov 2020 by Khoo Mei Lin, a Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, on 22 Nov 2020 by Lim Kim Chuah, a Zappey’s Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cumatilis, on 27 Nov 2020 by Dennis Lim, and a Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, on 30 Nov 2020, towards Singapore Quarry by Norhafiani A Majid.  Two species of thrush were also reported, an Eyebrowed Thrush, Turdus obscurus, on 20 Nov 2020 by Low Chong Yang, and a Siberian Thrush, Geokichla sibirica, on 21 Nov 2020 by Swee Peng.

Siberian Thrush, Geoff

Siberian Thrush feeding in a mulberry tree in DFNP on 22 Nov 2020. Photo by Geoff Lim.

Just off the Park at the vicinity of Jalan Asas, an adult and juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle, Lophotriorchis kienerii, were seen resting in some tall Albizia trees. The two birds were subsequently seen tumbling over Upper Bukit Timah Road on 25 Nov 2020 by Isabelle Lee.

RBE big, Isabelle

Juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle over DFNP on 25 Nov 2020. Photo by Isabelle Lee.

Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)

BnW, Geoff

Blue-and-White Flycatcher at SBG on 14 Nov 2020. Photo by Geoff Lim.

There were notable sightings of various species of paradise and regular flycatchers at SBG. A Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone atrocaudata, was seen on 10 Nov 2020, by Oliver Tan, which was followed by the sighting of one Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cyanomelana, on 14 Nov 2020 by Kwok Tuck Loong, and two males on 16 Nov 2020 by Isabelle Lee. Subsequently, a Green-backed Flycatcher, Ficedula elisae, was spotted on 20 Nov 2020 by Jade Neo along the Red Brick Path, SBG, and on 26 Nov 2020, within the grounds of the Healing Garden, also by Jade Neo. Apart from the flurry of flycatchers, a Crow-billed Drongo, Dicrurus annectans, was seen on 14 Nov 2020, by Khoo Mei Lin.

Northern Singapore

A Blue-winged Pitta, Pitta moluccensis, was reported on 19 Nov 2020, from Woodlands, by Khoo Mei Lin.

Eastern Singapore

Visitors to Pulau Ubin reported the sighting of a Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, on 11 Nov 2020, by Yap Bao Shen; a Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica, on 6 Nov 2020, at the Chek Jawa Wetlands by Martin Kennewell; a mixed flock of male, female and juvenile Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis, on 25 Nov 2020 at the Living Lab by T. Ramesh and others, as well as a White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, on 30 Nov 2020 by Peter Wong.

Over at Changi Business Park, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus, was seen on 28 Nov 2020 by Andy Lee.

Southern Singapore

Raptor watchers who lingered along the southern ridges spotted species such as a Besra, Accipiter virgatus, on 9 Nov 2020 along Henderson Waves by Wong Wai Loon, a Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus, at the same venue on 10 Nov 2020 by Tay Kian Guan, a Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni, on 11 Nov 2020, at Telok Blangah Hill Park by Tan Gim Cheong, and a Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo, 15 Nov 2020, along Henderson Waves by Tan Kok Hui.

Sanderling, 151120, MED, Lim Joseph

Sanderling at Marina East Drive on 15 Nov 2020. Photo by Joseph Lim.

Two Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrida, were spotted on 8 Nov 2020 along Marina Barrage by Kwok Tuck Loong, and a Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, on 29 Nov 2020 along East Coast Park by Leslie Loh. Visitors to the breakwater along Marina East Drive reported seeing a Sanderling, Calidris alba, on 11 Nov 2020 by Art Toh; and a White-faced Plover, Charadrius dealbatus, on 15 Nov 2020 by Leong Kai Kee. Wang HM photographed a Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus flying together with a Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus at Marina East on 30 Nov 2020.

A Black Bittern, Dupetor flavicollis, was spotted on 30 Nov 2020, skulking within the grounds of the Gardens-by-the-Bay East, by Kwok Tuck Loong; while a dark morph Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, was spotted on 28 Nov 2020, on the island of Pulau Hantu, by Derek Wong KM.

Western Singapore

Observers at the Jurong Lake Gardens reported the presence of a Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea, on 11 Nov 2020 (Cheong Khan Hoong) and a Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, on 27 Nov 2020 (Terence Tan).

Further afield, an Eastern Marsh Harrier, Circus spilonotus, was reported on 8 Nov 2020 from Jurong Eco-Garden by A. Fadzrun, a Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, was spotted on 7 Nov 2020 at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) by Chew Ser Teck, to the delight of everyone who wanted to see this colourful but rare kingfisher. Two days later, a resident Buffy Fish Owl, Ketupa ketupu, was seen within the Reserve’s grounds on 9 Nov 2020 by Terence Tan; a Caspian Tern, Hydroprogne caspia, was seen on 17 Nov 2020 on the mudflats of Mandai by Yeo Suay Hwee; while a Sand Martin, Riparia riparia, was seen on 21 Nov 2020, hawking over the fields at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane by Pary Sivaraman.

Sand Martin, 211120, NTHL, LJS

Sand Martin at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on 21 Nov 2020. Photo by Lau JiaSheng.

Visitors to the farthest west reaches of Tuas spotted a Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, on 14 Nov 2020 (Martti Siponen) and a juvenile Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor, on 30 Nov 2020 (Francis Yap).

Sand Martin, Zacc HD

Sand Martin at Neo Tiew Harvest Link on 22 Nov 2020. Photo by Zahidi Hamid.

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.

Many thanks to Zahidi Hamid, Joseph Lim, Lau Jia Sheng, Tan Gim Cheong, Isabelle Lee, and Geoff Lim for allowing us to use their photographs.


Clement, P. and J. S. Marks (2020). Blue-and-White Flycatcher (Cyanoptila cyanomelana) version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, (eds). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bawfly2.01.

Clement, P., del Hoyo, J., D. A. Christie,  N. Collar and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Narcissus Flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina) version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S.M. Billerman, B.K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg (eds). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.narfly.01.

del Hoyo, J., N. Collar, and J. S. Marks (2020). Zappey’s Flycatcher (Cyanoptila cumatilis) version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, (eds). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.zapfly1.01.

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

2017 Year in Review. Part 2. Other Visitors.

The discovery of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus at Sentosa by Tuck Loong and Esther Ong on 23 December had to be one of the birding highlights of the year. Another was the sighting of a female Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina that stopped over for 3 days at Dairy Farm NP on 28 November by Veronica Foo and Marcel Finlay. Two sightings of the vagrant White-throated Needletails Hirundapus caudacutus over the Henderson Wave on 19 and 31 Oct by Keita Sin and one over Jelutong Tower on 25 Oct by Francis Yap ( Cover photo). The cuckoo and flycatcher were only our second records for these species, while the needletails were our second, third and fourth records.


Asian Emerald Cuckoo feeding on Tussock Moth caterpillars at Sentosa was                      only our second record.

Other rare visitors include the Asian House Martins Delichon dasypus, seen thrice, 11 March at Kranji Marshes by Martin Kennewell, 19 October at Henderson Wave by Keita Sin and 24 November over Jelutong Tower by Francis Yap. Two Yellow-browed Warblers Phylloscopus inornatus, one at the Bukit Timah Hill summit on 18 January by Francis Yap and the other at Sentosa on 24 November by Lim Kim Chuah. A Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica was photographed by Khong Yew at Dairy Farm on 25 November and a Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus on 3 January at Pulau Ubin’s Butterfly Hill by Keita Sin. A ‘summer visitor’, the Austral Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis duly arrived on 27 May at Seletar end when Francis Yap went to look for them.

Dean Tan

Siberian Thrush from Dairy Farm. Photo: Dean Tan

A good number of rare and endangered flycatchers were sighted during the year. The globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus was recorded at Jurong Island and even Sungei Buloh WR and its usual haunt Bidadari between 30 September and 7 November. The non-breeding Brown-streaked Flycatchers Muscicapa williamsoni came over between August 13-26 and were spotted at Pasir Ris Park, Jelutong Tower and Portsdown Road.

brown-streaked-fc-18-8-17-prp-francis-yap (2)

Brown-streaked Flycatcher, a non-breeding visitor comes over usually in July and August. Photo: Francis Yap.

Laurence Eu gave us an early arriving Green-backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae when he photographed one at Dempsey Hill on 7 September, 10 days ahead of the previous extreme date. There were five more sightings of this flycatcher all at the Central Catchment Forest up to 6 April. Low Choon How had a new late departure date for the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata on 3 April at Simei. Other sightings of this flycatcher was at Belayer Creek on 24 October by Laurence Eu and a female bird at Bidadari on 12 and 18 November. Rounding up was the Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis, a recent split from the Blue and White. A first-winter bird was photographed by Khong Yew at Dairy Farm NP on 21 November, with Dave Bakewell providing the identification.

Zappey's Khong Yew

A first winter male Zappey’s Flycatcher from Dairy Farm NP. Photo: Khong Yew.

Other notable visitors for the year were the Black-capped Kingfishers Halcyon pileata, a photographers’ favourite, recorded at Kranji Marshes, Marina Barrage, Neo Tiew Lane 3 and West Coast Park between 20 October and 21 December; and Grey Nightjars Caprimulgus jotaka on 3 November at Satay by the Bay (Christina See), and one at Bukit Batok on 2 December by Lena Chow. Both were new for the sites. They were also recorded at Bidadari, Chinese Gardens, Rifle Range Link, One-north and AMK Park.


A low roosting Grey Nightjar at the Chinese Gardens by Looi-Ang Soh Hoon. The species was seen at six other places. 

A dead Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida found at Toa Payoh on 20 November was the first for the season. Over at Seletar end, Goh Cheng Teng reported the Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus on 25 November. The confiding Lanceolated Warblers Locustella lanceolata were present at Seletar end on 10 March and Tuas South on 29 Oct as per entries in ebirds by Martin Kennewell and James Lambo respectively.

Complied from the monthly Bird Reports for 2017 by Alan OwYong, edited by Tan Gim Cheong. Reference: Lim Kim Seng, The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009. Many thanks to Alan OwYong, Dean Tan, Francis Yap, Khong Yew and Looi-Ang Soh Hoon for the use of their photos. 



Bird Records Committee Report ( May 2017)

By Lim Kim Seng
Chairman, Nature Society (Singapore) Bird Group Records Committee.

Red-billed Starling

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.

New Species
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 Rob Arnold

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.

Singapore Bird Report-November 2017


Goh Cheng Teng 2

Only our second record, the female Narcissus Flycatcher taken at Dairy Farm NP on 29th by Goh Cheng Teng showing the mottled breast and the brownish upper-tailed coverts.

The star bird of the month was the Narcissus Flycatcher, Ficedula narcissina, a female, photographed on 28th at DFNP by Marcel Finlay and Veronica Foo. It stayed over for the next 2 days long enough for some great photos to confirm its ID. This will be our second record once the Records Committee completes its review. A second record for Sentosa was a female Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius, photographed by Jan Tan at Resorts World Sentosa on 2nd.

Terence Tan 4Another first for Gardens by the Bay when this rare Northern Boobook made an overnight stop over there on 8th. Photo: Terence Tan.

Other rarities for the month include a Northern Boobook, Ninox japonica, that stopped over at Satay by the Bay (SBTB) on 8th. Terence Tan was there to capture its one day stay. A very rare passage migrant, an Asian House Martin, Delichon dasypus, was very well captured by Francis Yap with Fadzrun Adnan from the Jelutong Tower on 24th.

francis yap 2

A composite flight shot of the Asian House Martin, a very rare passage migrant flying over Jelutong Tower well captured by Francis Yap 

Sadly pittas continued to collide into our buildings this month starting with a first for the season Hooded Pitta, Pitta sordida on the 20th. Lee Tiah Khee found the carcass at Toa Payoh. Another was found dead on 23rd by David Tan at Raffles Institution. Mabel a resident at Novena found an injured Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis, on 22nd. It survived. But not the one that Michael Leong found at Parry Road on 23rd. Lim Kim Chuah had a dead Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Cyornis brunneatus, at his office on Jurong island on 7th. We can ill afford the loss of this globally threatened species. David Tan picked up a dead Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis, after it crashed into North Vista Primary School. A Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx fugax, crashed into a service apartment at Wilkie Road on 2nd (Yvonne Tan). Even our resident was not spared. A dead Changeable Hawk Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus, was picked up at Clark Quay by Asri Hasri on 25th after it crashed into one of the high rise buildings there.

Grey NJ Christina See

Eye-level shot of the Grey Nightjar, a rare winter visitor at the Satay by the Bay by Christina See.  This is the first record for this location. 

Many of the rare winter visitors were recorded in different parts of the island during the month. The best way is to list them by species for easy reference.

  1. Dark-sided Flycatcher, Muscicapa sibirica : Kent Ridge Park on 1st by Mogany Thanagavelu, Admiralty Park on 2nd by Luke Milo Teo, PRP on 7th by Zhang Licong and Bidadari on 11th by Richard White.
  2. Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka : SBTB on 3rd by Christina See, AMK Park on 12th by Tey Boon Sim and Bidadari on 20th by Khong Yew. Most number recorded in a single month.
  3. Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea : Bidadari on 3rd by Frankie Lim and a juvenile at at Healing Gardens at SBG on 23rd by Laurence Eu. Richard White reported one at BTNR on 11th and another at RRL on 23rd.  
  4. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca : Lentor Ave on 6th by Katherine Yeo after colliding with a building, another at Sentosa found dead by David Tan  and one found dead at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music on 11th by Shawn Ingkiriwang (picked up by David Tan).
  5. Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata : Lower Peirce Boardwalk on 3rd by Basil Chia, a juvenile at Bidadari on 12th by Pary Sivaraman (identified by Dave Bakewell) and a third from Tuas South on 17th by Alfred Ng. 


Pary Sivaraman 2

A juvenile Japanese Paradise Flycatcher at Bidadari by Pary Sivaraman on 12th November. We may have overlook this plumage before. It stayed until 18th.

  1. White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis : All were reported around Seletar Crescent area. Francis Yap on 19th and Alfred Chia on 22nd with three birds.
  2. Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus: 5-6 birds over Jelutong Tower on 24th by Francis Yap and another at DFNP on the same day. Goh Cheng Teng had a flock of 20 birds circling over the northern part of Changi Coastal Road. The last for the month was at RRL on 29th by Stuart Birding.
  3. Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus : Bidadari on 3rd by Sam Ng and another at SBG on 25th by Gautham Krishnan.
  4. Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus : Bidadari on 2nd by Looi Ang Soh Hoon, Chinese Gardens on 3rd by Ben Choo and a dead bird at Pasir Ris on 26th by Lim Kim Chuah.
  5. Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus : Pulau Ubin on 4th by Yong Ding Li and Nigel Collar, and at SBTB on 5th by Kozi Ichiyama.
  6. Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx nisicolor : Pulau Ubin on 4th (Yong Ding Li and Nigel Collar) and Pasir Ris Park on 25th by a friend of Deborah Friets.

Some of the single sightings of rare migrants reported for the month include a lugens White Wagtail Moticilla alba, at Sembawang on 6th (Fadzrun Adnan), Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina, at SBG on 7th by Lim Kim Chuah, a juvenile Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis, at Yishun on 8th by Khoo Meilin, Crow-billed Drongo, Dicrurus annectans, on 11th and a Siberian Blue Robin, Larvivora cyane, on 14th both at BTNR by Richard White, Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus, perched on the fence of Seletar Airport on 19th by Goh Cheng Teng, Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata at Kranji Marshes on 19th by See Wei An during a NSS Bird Group Walk and a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola, at Sengkang Wetlands on 21st by Francis Yap.

francis yap 5

Had to be the most open and clear shot of this sulker, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, taken at the Sengkang Wetlands by Francis Yap.

The Eastern Crowned Warblers Phylloscopus coronatus, were still coming through. Thio Hui Bing reported one at Windsor Park on 22nd. Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki (Stuart Birding) and Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone affinis, (Marcel Finlay) were still visiting Bidadari on 20th. A Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus, was expertly picked up by Adrian Silas Tay on 25th at the Seletar end.

Zappey's Khong Yew

Zappey’s Flycatcher identified by the blue patch on the breast, taken at Dairy Farm NP by Khong Yew.

The rush to Dairy Farm Nature Park was sparked off by Zhang Licong’s alert of a 1st winter male Blue and White/Zappey’s Flycatcher on 24th. This was followed by a 1st winter Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis two days later. Dave Bakewell pointed to the small blue patch on its breast. An Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus, together with a rarer Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica, a passage migrant were seen feeding on the fig tree behind the Wallace Center on 24th and 25th respectively. Both male and female Mugimaki Flycatchers Ficedula mugimaki, and a Jambu Fruit Dove Ptilinopus jambu, (Kozi Ichiyama) were also seen feeding there on 26th. Veronica Foo had the only adult Blue and White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana there on the 28th.

Dean Tan

The rarer Siberian Thrush making a short stop over at Dairy Farm NP. Photo by Dean Tan. 

In the air, more interesting migrants were seen passing through. Flocks of 20 Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica, on 1st (Alan OwYong), a Needletail spp on 6th (Frankie Cheong), both over Henderson Wave at Telok Blangah Hill. Keita Sin reported one of the largest flock of 70 Oriental Pratincoles Glareola maldivarum, flying over Kent Ridge Park on 15th.

As for our residents, Yong Ding Li showed Nigel Collar the Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha, at Pulau Ubin on 4th. A King Quail Excalfactoria chinensis, was reported by Martin Kennewell at Kranji Marshes on 5th. He also had a Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, there on 12th, two very good finds for Kranji Marshes. Green Imperial Pigeons Ducula aenea,  were still foraging at Changi South, with reports from Tan Eng Boo on 21st and James Tann on 22nd. A not so common sight nowadays was a flock of hundreds of White-headed Munias Lonchura maja, seen flying at the Tuas Grasslands on 5th by Low Choon How. They used to be very common there in the 90s but most of the open grasslands have been developed.

The only shorebird of note to report is a Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, seen flying to Chek Java on 30th by Tay Kian Guan. As for the raptors, we had an Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus and Amur Falcon Falco amurensis, two very rare vagrants during the last week of the month. These and other raptors will be in the full Raptor Report coming out soon.

Location abbreviations: SBG Singapore Botanic Gardens, DFNP Dairy Farm Nature Park, RRL Rifle Range Link, SBTB Satay by the Bay, AMK Ang Mo Kio and BTNR Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.


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, Terence Tan, Francis Yap, Christina See, Pary Sivaraman, Khong Yew and Dean Tan for the the use of their photos. Please notify alan.owyong@gmail.com if you find errors in these records.

Singapore Bird Monthly Report – November 2015

Slaty-legged Crake LKC

The very rare winter visitor and passage migrant, Slaty-legged Crake, made land fall at the restricted Jurong Island. Photo: Lim Kim Chuah.

With many parts of Singapore receiving above average rainfall over the month of November, it was no surprise that sightings of many rare migrants followed suit as they sought shelter from inclement weather. Highlights for the month include an adult male Zappey’s Flycatcher Cyanoptila cumatilis at Bidadari on 2nd (FYAP), at least two Northern Boobooks Ninox japonica at Tuas on 9th, a Besra Accipiter virgatus photographed flying over Sisters’ Island on 13th (JS), a Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus, and an Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus, both flying over the Botanic Gardens on 16th and 17th (RW), and a Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides at Jurong Island on 21st (LKC).

Zappeys FC Zacc

Male Zappey’s Flycatcher (left) formally treated as a race of the Blue and White Flycatcher. Photo: Zacc HD.

Both the Zappey’s Flycatcher and the Northern Boobook are currently not in our Checklist. The Zappey’s Flycatcher is split from the Blue-and-White Flycatcher while the Northern Boobook is a migratory species from East Asia that was split from the Brown Hawk Owl. The Records Committee is reviewing these records for inclusion under Category A. There are less than five confirmed records of the Besra as it is difficult to separate from the Japanese Sparrowhawk in flight. In addition, this is only our 6th record of the Slaty-legged Crake in Singapore, with the last two individuals recorded at Bedok and Lower Pierce respectively.  We have only two previous records of the vagrant Grey-headed Lapwing, on 11 October 2007 and 5th Nov 2011 both from Sungei Buloh. The Asian House Martin is a rare passage migrant with sporadic records over the years. These records are now with the Records Committee for deliberation.

Northern Boobook LCHand the current record is under review by the Records Committee.

Ninox spp with its tear drop streaks photographed at Tuas is waiting for acceptance as the migrant Northern Boobook. Photo: Low Choon How.

Other noteworthy sightings for the month are lengthy and include a Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus at Turut Ponds on 1st (SRN), a Sand Martin Riparina ripanria and Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurthythmus at Tuas on the 1st (LKK & TJL), a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocauda at Bidadari on 2nd (FYAP), a breeding plumaged Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa flying over the Botanic Gardens on 2 November (RW),  a Greater Spotted Eagle, Aquila clanga over at Tuas South on 4th ( KLH) and 11th (FYAP), a Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus, at Bidadari on 6th (JT), a Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes at Pulau Tekong on 14th (FCh), a Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus over at Punggol Island on 14th (ZHD),  White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis at Tuas on 15th (STYW), Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, at Tuas South (STYW) and Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata, at SBWR on 16th (LE), an Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus at Chinese Gardens on 17th (PT) and a White Wagtail Motacilla alba, at Punggol Barat on 29th (STYW).


First Winter male Mugimaki Flycatcher at Dairy Farm NP.

Additionally, a fruiting tree at Dairy Farm Nature Park was a magnet for many migratory birds. Reports indicate that at its peak there were at least 6 Siberian Thrushes, Geokicla sibirica (CKS), in various plumages present at the tree. An Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus was also photographed feeding at the tree with them on 25th (ANg) while a first winter male Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana was showing regularly towards the end of the month, having been first sighted on 23rd (FL). It was joined by a Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki, which was first reported at Dairy Farm on 21st (VNg).

Other regular winter visitors reported over the month include a subadult Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides, that crashed into Shuqun Primary School on 2nd ( SC), another Large Hawk Cuckoo, a juvenile, at Jurong Island on 20th (FW), Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccenis at Bidadari on 4th ( KY), the largest one day count of 894 Oriental Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhyncus over Tuas South on 9th (TGC), Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus at Bidadari on 14th (VL), Yellow-billed Egret Mesophoyx intermedia at SBWR on 16th (LE) and a Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis at Gardens by the Bay on 21st (JC).

We also had several reports of non-breeding visitors throughout the month. A Cinereous Bulbul, Hemixos flavala was recorded at P. Hantu on 1st (RT & Co), an Osprey Pandion haliaetus over Punggol Island on 14th (ZHD), two Crested Serpent Eagles Spilornis cheela over at Kent Ridge Park on 21st (AOY & KS) and a Streaked Bulbul Ixos malaccensis at Dairy Farm on 28th (AC).

References: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng, 2009. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-east Asia. Craig Robson. 2000. A Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore. Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. 2013.

This report is compiled from the postings in various facebook birding pages, bird forums and individual reports. Some were not verified. We wish to thank the following contributors for their records. Francis Yap (FYAP), Jacky Soh (JS), Richard White (RW), Lim Kim Chuah (LKC), Subha and Raghav Narayenswany (SRN), Lim Kim Keang (LKK), Tan Julin (TJL), Frankie Cheong (FCh), See Toh Yew Wai (STYW), Chan Kai Soon (CKS), Philip Toh (PT), Vincent Ng (VNg), Alan Ng (ANg), Frankie Lim (FL), Zacc HD (ZHD), Laurence Eu (LE), Felix Wong (FW), Kwong Yew (KY), Tan Gim Cheong (TGC), Vincent Lao (VL), Johnson Chua (JC), Robin Tan (RT), Alan OwYong (AOY), Keita Sin (KS) and Alfred Chia (AC). We wish to thank Zacc HD, Lim Kim Chua, Low Choon How and Alan OwYong for the use of their photographs.