Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pulau Punggol, Changi 23-24Dec12

From JS

Here's my raptor sightings for the past week's birding:

23 Dec - Pulau Punggol
1) Brahminy Kite (3)
2) White-bellied Sea-eagle (1)
3) Booted Eagle (1 pale morph)
4) Chinese Sparrowhawk (h)

24 Dec - Changi (LP270)
1) Brahminy Kite (>8)
2) Black-winged Kite (3)
3) Oriental Honey Buzzard (1)
4) Black Baza (5)
5) Common Buzzard (2)
6) Changeable Hawk Eagle (1)

Changi (Cove)
1) Brahminy Kite (>2)
2) Black-winged Kite (2)
3) Oriental Honey Buzzard (1)
4) Pied Harrier (1 Adult Female)
5) Eastern Marsh Harrier (1 Male)
6) White-bellied Sea Eagle (1)

BTNR 18Dec12

From JS
I would like to share three rare bird sightings, namely Plain Sunbird, Chinese Blue Flycatcher and Finsch's Bulbul.

The following is a not-so-brief account of the birding that I had today:

Without informing my parents, I decided to go birding today as it was raining for the whole of yesterday at where I am staying. With Dave's Tioman trip still fresh in my mind, I am not crazy to be hoping for a fall-out due to a day of raining. Pulau Punggol would be a good place to start. However, after my chat with Francis last night, it seems that the day's rain was restricted to the West. A fall-out would be unlikely. Sneaking out of house and paying for a taxi ride is so unlike my style of birding, so I decided to look foolish and bird at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. With the last report on the summit's "fig buffet" coming more than a week ago and having checked the site on last Friday's afternoon, I must be foolish to do so again today.

Having always envied people's ability to spot thrushes, I made sure that I have a chance to do so today. Alas, I had a lady following me when I was climbing up the Summit Path. Since I am already at the summit, I decided to do some swift-watching. Great, there is one House Swift flying many circles around me. As the minutes past, there was increasingly more bird activities. Soon, I recorded a pair of Blue-Winged Leafbirds, a pair of Blue-Crowned Hanging Parrots, a male Crimson Sunbird, a handful of Orange-Bellied Flowerpeckers, a pair of GRT Drongoes, an Asian Drongo Cuckoo, a trio os Pin-Striped Tit Babblers, at least 3 Arctic Warblers and 2 Asian Brown Flycatchers. The goody though came in the form of a passing Asian House Martin, my third sighting in Singapore. Interestingly, the time that I wasn't doing swift-watching was also the time that I spotted something that is different from the House Swift...

At 9am, I decided that enough is enough and left the summit with 6 House Swifts circling overhead. From the summit, at the first bench along the main road, I found a pair of pigeons. Soon, more came in after a series of whines. While the summit fig tree had stopped figging, it turns out that another fig tree, which is located 10-20m below the summit one, was in fruits. It is nice to see fat gorging Thick-billed Pigeons but seeing more than 5 can be a bore. Thankfully, I had something different in the form of an Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker and a female Blue-Winged Leafbird. What I did not expect is a female Eyebrowed Thrush. Closer to lunch time for the birds, another 3 thrushes and 2 blue-crowned hanging parrots came in behind another 8 pigeons. Unfortunately, the thrushes and the parrots left before I could take a look at them. Having spotted a thrush at BTNR on my own, my mission is accomplished by then. It is about time to head elsewhere.

By 10am, the forest was, surprisingly, birdier, making it seems like eternity to reach the entrance. I was hearing many bird calls. Unfortunately, most of the calls are probably from our local mimicry master, the GRT drongoes, which I heard imitating the Changeable Hawk-eagle on last Friday. In the presence of so many drongoes, I decided to focus on spotting the birds themselves, ignoring the calls. As a result, I found myself two mixed flocks. The earlier one had a male Plain Sunbird, a male Chinese Blue Flycatcher and a Kamchatka Leaf Warbler while the latter produced a Finsch's Bulbul or a pair of them.

What a day!

Moral of the story: The best place to find rare birds is still the forest.

Well, I guess I did have some sort of a fall-out after all...

Here's my raptor sightings for the past week's birding:

14 Dec - Bukit Timah Hill, Summit
1) Oriental Honey-buzzard (4)
2) Brahminy Kite (2)

Mt Faber, Poyan 16-17Dec12

From Con at Mt Faber on 17Dec

Since Mt. Faber is close I went over for about 1.5 hours this morning. No sign of the ashy drongo, there was dollarbird on the tree instead.

A changeable hawk-eagle flew past a couple of times, once with nesting material. I couldn’t see where it took the nesting material and I didn’t search the old nest area to see if it was there. But it’s nesting somewhere close by.

Briefly a pale morph Changeable Hawk-eagle perched on the bare tree, just unfortunately blocked by a branch in front.

From Danny at Mt Faber on 16Dec

Took a walk around Mt Faber this morning as the weather was cooling. Seen from afar, a dark morph CHE perched on a familiar tree just beyond the slope side garden (recall Ashy Drongo) off Mt Faber Point. On arrival, it started to drizzle, then the bird wave started around the tree right at the end of the park. The rains started but I was sheltered below the tree as waves of Striped Tit-babblers, Bulbuls (Yellow-vented & Olive-winged), Crimson Sunbirds, Arctic Warblers, Greater Racket-tailed Drongoes and the distinctive grey morph Ashy Drongo swooped in & out diving for insects. Seen and heard the ASHY calling the distinctive 2-note "wu-wheez" amidst the chorus around me.

After 15 min the rains stopped, as I stepped away from my shelter, the birds were still at it even though the CHE was just on the bare tree about twenty feet away oblivious to the wild party (probably already finished breakfast). Then it suddenly quiet down, looking up saw the shadow of a tiny raptor, as it swooped low and circled twice, the streaks & barring on the underpart and wing shape was an unmistakable juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk. After it flew off, one White-throated Kingfisher flew in with its Alarm calls signalling all clear and time for me to move on. What a beautiful Sunday morning.

Recently came across a male Grey Nightjar sleeping high on a tree branch at Mt Faber. Usually consider a dour, drab looking bird, he does have a colorful underpart.

From Danny at Poyan on 16Dec

On Sunday eveing, I dropped in to Poyan to look for any duck. Too bad live firing was going on but at the pond next to guard house, the Blue-eared Kingfisher was around feeding, caught two big fish while I was around. On the way out the Buffy Fish-owl was still around at the flooded end of the Malay cemetery, likely going to breed soon.

Buffy Fish-owl

Blue-eared Kingfisher

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pulau Punggol, Changi 15Dec12

From KH

Danny, JS and I started at Pulau Punggol for the Baillon's Crake and managed to get it. The Black-winged Stilt is still around. We were surprised to see a pair of Little Grebes. Some Lesser Whistling Ducks are still around. There were also at least 3 Pin-tailed Whydahs in the vicinity. Other than these, there were nothing unusual.

Baillon's Crake ©Lau JS

Moving on to Changi, nothing out of the ordinary was noted.

Oriental Honey Buzzard at Changi ©Lau JS

Female Chinese Sparrowhawk at Changi ©Lau JS

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pulau Punggol 13Dec12

From Con

Baillon's Crake
Pulau Punggol, Changi 8Dec12

From JS

Although I didn't have any sleep at night, I am really fortunate to be able to join all of you in today's birding. Of late, the popular site is Pulau Punggol with star birds in the form of a Small Pratincole and a Black-Winged Stilt. The latter is certainly not as rare as the former but it was still 292 for me. Hoping for a lifer, we started at Pulau Punggol before heading over to Changi and finally, ending the day at the former site. The only possible reason to be back at the same site on the same day is the need to verify the sighting of a potential lifer.

Black-winged Stilt ©Tan KH

Starting at Pulau Punggol, we decided to walk the entire perimeter of the pond to find (hopefully, not flush) the small pratincole or any newcomers at the pond. While the Small pratincole was no where to be found, I had some poor quality photos of a medium-sized wader (larger than the Common Sandpiper). The wader was flushed from the grasses along the pond by a photographer and it flew over us, towards Seletar Airbase. Scanning the pond for signs of disturbance by the photographer, my bins was focused on the right patch of grass where the wader took off like a snipe ie upright position with dangling legs. In fact, its head resembled that of a snipe except for the shortish bill. Unlike the flushed Common Sandpiper, the wader had a multiple-notes, wader-like call, "kiu" (sounds like "Q"). Unfortunately, the lighting at 8 am wasn't ideal and my camera mode dial was in the wrong position - I fluffed my shots. However, from my camera viewfinder, I noted the bird's heavily marked breast, contrasting with its clean white belly. Due to the less-than-ideal lighting, the other observation that I could make was when the bird was flushed, it looked like a snipe, when it was flying towards me, it looked like a pratincole and when it flew parallel to me, it looked like a Pectoral Sandpiper that I saw in New Zealand. Maybe the bird has multiple identity?

Moving on, we had a short raptor session at Changi. Maybe due to the cloudy weather, we did not see any thermalling raptors, making do with sightings of them perching in the casuarina forest. Still, the number and diversity of the raptors seen were meager. Other noteworthy sighting were 2 Large Hawk Cuckoos.

Spending the afternoon at Pulau Punggol, again, we struggled to find lifers in the pond but we enjoyed several sightings of raptors, including an adult male Chinese Sparrowhawk trying to catch the swiftlets and a thermalling pale morph Booted Eagle. While the day could be better with more lifers, I am just happy to be able to join all of you in the field. Tired and sleepy, here's the summary of today's raptor sightings:

1) Black-Winged Kite (>2)
2) Changeable Hawk Eagle (2)
3) Chinese Sparrowhawk (2)
4) Japanese Sparrowhawk (2)
5) Black Baza (2)
6) Common Buzzard (2, including 1 dark morph)

Pulau Punggol
1) Booted Eagle (1 pale morph)
2) White-Bellied Sea Eagle (2)
3) Changeable Hawk Eagle (2)
4) Brahminy Kite (>5)
5) Black-Winged Kite (1)
6) Osprey (1)
7) Black Baza (1)
8) Chinese Sparrowhawk (1)
9) Peregrine Falcon (1)

Mystery wader (likely Wood Sandpiper) ©Lau JS



From Con

I don’t think there is any doubt this is a Large tailed Nightjar. I guess some show white on the throat and on the tail more readily than others ....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pulau Punggol 5Dec12

From Con

I went this morning, and Ashley Ng was there as well as the ladies who got stuck in Changi Cove. The ladies said they were able to get close to the bird and showed some photos on point and shoot camera. The ladies left and Ashley and I were looking for the Small Pratincole, it took quite a while to find it.

The bird is actually quite approachable as long as you move very slow and stay low (in other words crouch down).

Not many other birds there, the ducks were there and at least one little ringed plover, some wagtails, egrets but no oriental pratincoles.

From KH

I went in the afternoon from 3-4 pm. The bird was there and so was a yellow car and 2 other birders (Sutari and Jimmy Chew).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Changi, Bidadari, Pulau Punggol 24Nov12

From JS

Here's the summary of the raptors seen during our morning birding at Changi:

1) Black Baza (>20, including a flock of at least 20 birds perched on the casuarina trees)
2) Common Buzzard (>2 - we counted two birds performing their runway sentry duties but there may have been another individual hunting inside Changi. Since we only saw a maximum of 2 at any given time, I suppose one individual could have skived inside Changi before returning to its duty.)
3) Oriental Honey Buzzard (>2 - our highest count for any given time was the 3 birds (an adult dark morph and 2 juvenile pale morph) thermalling in the sky together with 2 Brahminy Kites. Subsequently, we had another sighting of an adult dark morph. May be the same bird, so we will stick to 3 birds seen.)
4) Unid raptor (3, might be Jerdon's Bazas)
5) Chinese Sparrowhawk (>3, including 1 juvenile male)
6) Accipiter (2)
7) Brahminy Kite (2)
8) Black-winged Kite (>2)
9) Changeable Hawk Eagle (>2)

Juvenile pale morph OHB

Juvenile pale morph OHB with immature Brahminy Kite

Juvenile pale morph OHB with adult male dark morph OHB

1 of 3 unid raptors (Jerdon's Baza?)

From KH

After Changi, Danny sent JS to Bugis. Danny joined Yamane and I at Bidadari for the Oriental Cuckoo hunt. We did not see it, but got a juvenile Ferruginous Flycatcher, 1 first-winter male Mugimaki Flycatcher, 1 Asian Paradise Flycatcher, some Ashy Minivets, some Arctic Warblers, 2 Indian Cuckoos, 1 Drongo Cuckoo, 1 Black Baza, 1 OHB and the other common birds.

After Bidadari, Danny and I went to Pulau Punggol. The raptors seen were 1 Osprey, 3 Black Bazas, 2 WBSEs, 3 Brahminy Kites and a calling CHE. At the freshwater pond were 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Common Sandpipers, 5 snipes, 1 Intermediate Egret, 2 Little Egrets.

From Yamane

Here's the summary of the birds seen during my birding in Singapore.

22 Nov. Thu.
1. JLN Tenaga 8:30~9:00
1) Black-naped Oriole
2) Spotted Dove
3) Common Myna
4) Brown-throated Sunbird
5) Eurasian Tree-Sparrow

24 Nov. Sat.
1. Changi 7:00~10:00 cloudy
Danny, Jia Sheng, Kok Hui, Alan, Lim Kim Keang, Alfred Chia, Yamane
1) Collared Kingfisher (voice)
2) Lesser Coucal
3) Swiftlet sp.
4) Spotted Dove
5) Black Baza
6) Oriental Honey Buzzard
7) Common Buzzard
8) Black-winged Kite
9) Brahminy Kite
10) Chinese Sparrowhawk
11) Changeable Hawk Eagle
12) House Crow
13) Black-naped Oriole
14) Ashy Minivet
15) Pied Fantail
16) Crow-billed Drongo
17) White-shouldered Starling
18) Purple-backed Starling
19) Red-whiskered Bulbul
20) Yellow-vented Bulbul
21) Zitting Cisticola
22) Common Goldenback at the carpark #7.

2.Bidadari 11:00~12:30 cloudy
Danny, Kok Hui, Yamane, Rey Aguila, Wong Lee Hong, Ding Li, other many birders & photographers
1) Dollarbird
2) Indian Cuckoo
3) Drongo Cuckoo
4) Black Baza
5) Oriental Honey Buzzard
6) Black-naped Oriole
7) Ashy Minivet
8) Asian Paradise Flycatcher
9) Mugimaki Flycatcher
10) Ferruginous Flycatcher

25 Nov. Sun. 14:00~ rainy
1) Oriental Cuckoo

Changi, Pulau Punggol 17Nov12

From JS
Today, my father and I decided to do our "ritualised" annual one-day raptor species count. The plan did not really change much over the years. It was still the "morning at Changi (CC) and afternoon at Pulau Punggol (PP)". The main differences for this year's count are the absence of KH, Con and the Jerdon's Baza. While the weather played a part to disrupt the count, my father and I are clearly short-handed at Changi in spotting the birds, missing a couple of middle-storey skulkers that may have been a Jerdon's or two. Additionally, the "discovery" of a shallow freshwater pond (with water and freshwater waders) at Pulau Punggol distracted us from our intent.

The sole plus point at PP is seeing the white wagtail which I missed at Bishan last year.

Here's the summary of the raptor count:

1) Black-winged Kite (CC: >2, PP: 2)
2) Brahminy Kite (CC: 1)
3) Oriental Honey Buzzard (CC: 3, including 1 adult male pale morph, 1 juv rufous morph and 1 juv pale morph)
4) Common Buzzard (CC: 3, including 2 pale-morph and 1 dark-morph)
5) Black Baza (CC: >10, PP: 3)
6) White-bellied Sea Eagle (CC: 2, PP: 3)
7) Changeable Hawk Eagle (CC: 3)
8) Osprey (PP: 1)
9) Chinese Sparrowhawk (CC: 2, including 1 immature female)
10) Japanese Sparrowhawk (CC: 1 juv female)

Other noteworthy species:
CC - Juvenile Rosy Starling (Seen only by Kim Keang), Ruddy-breasted Crake (1)
PP - Little Ringed Plover (5), Wood Sandpiper (>7), Common Sandpiper (>4), Oriental Pratincole (5), White Wagtail (3)

Besra: Bottom, Side and Top views.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bidadari, Rifle Range 13Nov12

From KH

Went to Bidadari for a final try of the Japanese Paradise-flycatcher and managed to nailed it around 10:30 am, just 1/2 hour before I had to leave! Con and Danny were also there, and got this lifer as well.

There was a Ferruginous Flycatcher at a low perch and about 10 Black Bazas roosting in the trees at Bidadari. Earlier, on the way to Bida, I saw an Oriental Honey-buzzard at Hougang. And Danny was at Rifle Range and found these Cave Nectar Bats.

Changi 10Nov12

From JS

Attendees: Danny, JS, KH

Below is the summary of the raptors that we saw at Changi.

1) Black Baza: >32 (Separate sightings: flock of 8 perched, flock of 3 perched, flock of more than 15 thermaling birds, flock of 6 approaching in flight, flock of >4 hiding birds)
2) Common Buzzard: 2
3) Chinese Sparrowhawk: 3
4) Japanese Sparrowhawk: 2
5) Oriental Honey Buzzard: >9
6) White Bellied Fish Eagle: 1
7) Changeable Hawk Eagle: 2
8) Black-Winged Kite: >2
9) Brahminy Kite: >2
10) Unid Small Raptor: 8 (Thermaling)
11) Unid Large Raptor: 1 (Thermalling with unid small raptors)

Other noteworthy sightings:
1) Hawk Cuckoo (1)
2) Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo (1)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pulau Punggol 4Nov12

From KH

Counters: Danny Lau, Tan Kok Hui
Helpers: Jacky Soh, Seetoh Yew Wai, Terry & Jane Heppell, Chee Wei Lin, Yoke Kheng, Wai Yin.

Here's the count. With 11 species (7 migrants, 4 residents), this site should definitely be included as one of the key sites next year. Not to mention good shelter from the sun and free seats!

Time 9-10 10-11 11-12 12-1 1-2 2-3 3-4
Black Baza 23 4 7 5
White-bellied Sea Eagle 3 1 1 1 1
Chinese Goshawk 1
Black-winged Kite 1 2
Booted Eagle 1 1 1
Brahminy Kite 1 2 2 1 2
Japanese Sparrowhawk 2
Changeable Hawk Eagle 2 1 1
Oriental Honey Buzzard 6
Peregrine Falcon (japonensis) 1
Osprey 2
Unid. Raptor 2

Part of a kettle of 12 roosting Black Baza.

Black-winged Kite

Juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle

Dark morph Booted Eagle: underparts (left) and upperparts (right).

Juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk (left) and Peregrine Falcon japonensis (right).

Bidadari, SBWR 3Nov12

From KH

Con, Danny and I started at Bidadari, still hoping to get the JPFC, but we failed in our mission, yet again. In terms of raptors, we recorded 3 Black Bazas and 1 OHB. The rest are the usual birds, like Asian Drongo Cuckoo, Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo, Arctic Warbler, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Tanimbar Corella, etc.

Next, we went SBWR for the Chinese Egret and sure enough it was at the breakwater. There were also the usual waders. After lunch, Con left. Danny and I continued to search for waders, but instead got the Chinese Egret much closer at Hide 1C. Here are some write-up and photos from Danny:

From Danny

Together with Kok Hui were at Sungei Buloh following the report of Chinese Egret. We were fortunate to spot the Chinese Egret early afternoon at Hide 1C, instead of the typical aloof behaviour, the bird did for brief period stay close with the Little Egrets offering opportunities for relative comparison.

Refer to photo below, three id features are apparent, namely the bi-colour bill of the Chinese (yellowish two third basal end of lower mandible), the loral skin/patch in term of colour/width and the leg colours.

As Kok Hui put it aptly the loral skin/patch for the Chinese is narrower especially near the eye as in photo below, the loral skin of the Chinese from base of upper mandible curved and narrowed towards the eye. There are subtle differences in the bill shape and length between the two Egrets, however, it is difficult to apply (at least for me) in the field.

Another interesting Egret was seen at Hide 1C and we both agree it was a Little Egret of subspecies nigripes (synonymous with immaculata) with yellow loral skin and blackish feet with shades of greenish yellow probably due to moulting to non breeding, traces of breast breeding plumes are visible in photo below.

While reviewing the movies I took of the Chinese Egret, realised the bird have two type of preys namely small fishes and the rods like sea slug/worms.

Cambodia 24-31Oct12

From Con

From Danny

Our trip was arranged by Sam Veasna Center, a non-profit NGO providing eco-tourism services, founded and supported by WCS and Birdlife for about ten years. Combination of geographical factor and rainy season, the country has a distinct wet and dry seasons. During the wet raining season, water from the Mekong flows into Tonle Sep, the largest fresh water lake in SE Asia, turning it into an enlarged body of water (including submerged forests around the lake) and during the dry season, water flows back into the Mekong, the lake return to its shrunken size. This unique season extends to its dipterocarp (quite a mouthful for me) forest to the northern plain of Camdodia where two uncommon Ibis species reside and breed. The fish eating Giant Ibis breeds during the flooded season and the White-shouldered Ibis which feeds on large worms during the dry season (evolution or mutual survival?).

The farmers turned local guides had been educated/enticed with monetary rewards over time to observe and report nesting activities of the Ibises, most of them were traditional egg hunters and poachers (from our perspectives at least) not too long ago. We got to view and photograph the WS Ibises well from a distance as the local guides knew their roosting grounds. We did not expect to see the Giant Ibis as they had completed breeding and dispersed, however, we did try to look for them. During a breakfast break in the rice fields, three Giant Ibises flew past us, both of us were elated, busily trying to have good views and take some shots. When we turned around, the locals were crouching among the rice stalks so as not to distract the skittish and much loved Ibises. They were hunters/poachers not too long ago. Over at the flooded forest around Tonle Sap, local farmers/rangers have constructed more than twenty tree-houses or platforms where they stay overnight for a period of days (work in shifts during peak nesting period) to observe, record and protect breeding nests.

White-shouldered Ibis

A typical nesting tree with breeding Oriental Darters occupying the top half of the crown and the Indian Cormorants the bottom half (size, evolution or height phobia?), in the background the Spot-billed Pelicans started gathering for their breeding cycles, with each passing day the numbers doubled !

A view from the tree-top house, notice those tree crowns above water, the depth of water can be as deep as 10 meters. We missed the chance to spend a night on the tree-top - I guess we city folks would love to sleep on a tree-house.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bidadari, SBWR, Pulau Punggol, Coney Island 26Oct12

From KH

Following the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher sighting last Sun-Thu, I headed to Bidadari hoping to tick this bird off. Alas, only managed to get two of its cousin, Asian Paradise Flycatcher. The Black-backed Kingfisher we saw during the bird race was also gone, while the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher that we missed was present. In fact, there were two of them! How did we miss them during the race??

Other notables were an immature Chinese Goshawk, 6 OHBs, 5 Drongo Cuckoos, 1 Indian Cuckoo, 1 Crow-billed Drongo, Ashy MinivetsFlycatchers (Asian Brown, Yellow-rumped), Arctic Warblers.

Seetoh came and reported the Chinese Egret was still at SBWR. But by the time I reached SBWR, the bird was nowhere to be found... Nevertheless, it was nice to record 50 Red-necked Stints at Hide 2D. There was also a Broad-billed Sandpiper. Raptor-wise, there were only 1 dark morph Changeable Hawk Eagle and 2 adult White-bellied Sea Eagles.

How many stints can you see here? Hint: one of them is not a stint.

Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpiper in direct size comparison. Also note difference in bill length and shape.

Broad-billed Sandpiper showing upperwing and tail pattern. Also note the split supercilium and kink in bill.

At Pulau Punggol, a Japanese Sparrowhawk was roosting, an adult Brahminy Kite was thermalling and most importantly, the Booted Eagle is back! This sets the early date back by 11 days (from 6 Nov). The dark morph Booted Eagle was gliding with an avian prey in talon and with a bulging crop. It must be keeping the remains for dinner!

Dark morph Booted Eagle with avian prey.

Finally, at Coney Island, there were hardly any birds. Nevertheless, there was a roosting Chinese Goshawk, 1 Black Baza flying away, 3 Brahminy Kites (2 adults, 1 juv.) and 2 White-bellied Sea Eagles (1 adult, 1 juv.).
Singapore Bird Race 20-21Oct12

From KH

Danny, JS and I formed Team Drongos to participate in this year's bird race. Con joined Seetoh's team, as the team size is limited to a max of 3 this year.

The race started on Sat 5 pm at SBWR and ended Sun 5 pm at Dairy Farm, so we arrived early at SBWR to recce. When we reached, the weather was good and the birds (waders and egrets) were around. However, when the race started at 5 pm, it started pouring! All teams were stuck at the Main Hide for about 1 hour. Fortunately, we ticked off all the waders and egrets seen earlier, except Bar-tailed Godwit and Intermediate Egret.

When the rain was lighter, our team took the opportunity to escape to Seletar Dam. Along the way, we ticked off some common bird. The surprises were 2 Changeable Hawk Eagles and 3 Grey-headed Fish Eagles along SLE.

At Seletar Dam, The plovers (Oriental, Malaysian, Greater Sand) were all MIA. We only ticked off Terek Sandpiper and 3 common birds. By now, the sky was dark and we were off to Seletar West to tick off some night birds, namely Savanna Nightjar and Black-crowned Night Heron. Then at Lower Peirce, we only got Large-tailed Nightjar. No owls for the night. We ended the night with 30 species. Not too bad considering how bad the weather was.

The next morning, we went Rifle Range for the forest birds and managed to salvage two owls. A Collared Scops Owl perched at eye level calling, making it an easy target. Almost immediately after that, a pair of Brown Hawk Owls started calling high up in the tree and soon they flushed, making them another easy tick. We waited at Jelutong Tower for the morning fly-bys. There were swallows and swifts for picking, as well as Blue-winged Leafbird, bulbuls (Red-eyed, Olive-winged) and others. In total 20 species were counted from the tower within less than 1 hour.

We took the boardwalk to the reservoir and got 3 birds from the boardwalk but none from the reservoir. We should skip it next time... On the way back to Rifle Range, we managed to tick off Ashy and Crow-billed Drongo. The former got us the Bird of the Day award! A fruiting tree drew in a Red-crowned Barbet and an Asian Fairy Bluebird. We also got Greater Green Leafbird and Striped Tit Babbler to round up our forest league. Dark-necked Tailorbird and Short-tailed Babbler were heard-only, so they never made it to our list. There was also supposed to be a Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo (seen by other teams).

Our next stop was Bidadari. We got 10 more bird here, including Black-backed Kingfisher, Drongo Cuckoo and Lineated Barbet, but Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher was MIA.

Next up was Halus for the terns (Little, White-winged, Whiskered) and Little Grebe. We ticked off 14 birds in total. Prinia called, but did not show. We missed the Rosy Starling and Streaked Weaver. Soon it started pouring and our exploration of Halus was shortened. Fortunately, we have covered most of it.

At Pasir Ris Park, we braved the rain to tick off Spotted Wood Owls (1 adult, 1 juv.). We stopped for lunch at Changi Village and ticked off Rock Pigeon only, because the target birds here had been ticked off elsewhere. At Changi Beach, we got our Oriental Magpie Robin. The pickings were thin with 1-2 birds per site! Fortunately, our next destination was Changi grassland. There should be some good birds here. Indeed, we ticked off 9 birds within 1 hour including Ruddy-breasted Crakes, a Chinese Goshawk, a male Eastern Marsh Harrier and the usual residents.

By now it was 2 pm. With 3 hours to go, we made a decision to head for NTL2. On the way, a single Purple-backed Starling mixed with Asian Glossy Starlings along Loyang Ave made 99; and the Intermediate Egret we missed at SBWR seen when entering SLE made 100. Guess what our 101 bird was. It was Eurasian Tree Sparrow along Kranji Industrial Estate. At Kranji NSRCC, Yellow Wagtail and Little Ringed Plover made up 102 and 103, respectively. By now, it was getting harder and harder to add birds.

Nevertheless, the decision to go NTL2 turned out fruitful. We got 11 more birds by 4 pm. These included the target birds, Purple Swamphen and Common Moorhen, as well as bird like Emerald Dove, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Indian Cuckoo and Red-whiskered Bulbul. Black-browed Reed Warbler called, but did not show.

Finally at Dairy Farm, we heard the Straw-headed Bulbul, but no tick. Fortunately, at the entrance of MOE Adventure Centre, a Laced Woodpecker made 115 for our list. Other teams that arrived later got Eastern Crowned Warbler right at the entrance, but by this time JS and Danny were tallying the numbers, so this bird did not make it to our list too.

So after 24 hours of hard work in bad weather, we came in third behind the second team (LKS, CC with 116) and the winning team (LKC, YDL, LBW with 120).

Our biggest misses were Brahminy Kite and the munias.

Here's a reconstruction of our list:

No. Species Location
1-12 Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Pacific Golden Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Pink-necked Green Pigeon SBWR main hide
13-15 Common Sandpiper, White-breasted Waterhen, Oriental Pied Hornbill SBWR entrance
16-20 Javan Myna, Spotted Dove, Asian Glossy Starling, Black-naped Oriole, White-bellied Sea Eagle Kranji
21-23 Yellow-vented Bulbul, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle SLE
24-27 Little Heron, Barn Swallow, Common Myna, Terek Sandpiper Seletar Dam
28-29 Savanna Nightjar, Black-crowned Night Heron Seletar West
30 Large-tailed Nightjar Lower Peirce
31-33 Collared Scops Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Rifle Range
34-52 Red-rumped Swallow, Pacific Swallow, House Swift, Fork-tailed Swift, Glossy Swiftlet, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Dollarbird, White-throated Kingfisher, Blue-winged Leafbird, Red-eyed Bulbul, Olive-winged Bulbul, Crimson Sunbird, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Large-billed Crow, Arctic Warbler, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Hill Myna Jelutong Tower
53-61 Banded Woodpecker, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Common Iora, Ashy Drongo, Crow-billed Drongo, Red-crowned Barbet, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Greater Green Leafbird, Striped Tit Babbler Rifle Range
62-71 Black-backed Kingfisher, Drongo Cuckoo, Tanimbar Corella, Oriental White-eye, Common Goldenback, Lineated Barbet, Brown-throated Sunbird, Olive-backed Sunbird, Collared Kingfisher, Tiger Shrike Bidadari
72-85 Little Tern, White-winged Tern, Whiskered Tern, Little Grebe, Yellow Bittern, Purple Heron, Pied Fantail, Baya Weaver, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Paddyfield Pipit, Red-breasted Parakeet, Common Kingfisher, Zebra Dove, Common Tailorbird Halus
86 Spotted Wood Owl Pasir Ris Park
87 Rock Pigeon Changi Village
88-89 Oriental Magpie Robin, House Crow Changi Beach
90-98 Ruddy-breasted Crakes, Black-winged Kite, Chinese Goshawk, Red-watted Lapwing, Red Collared Dove, Lesser Coucal, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Long-tailed Shrike, Asian Koel Changi grassland
99 Purple-backed Starling Loyang Ave
100 Intermediate Egret SLE
101 Eurasian Tree Sparrow Kranji
102-103 Yellow Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover Kranji NSRCC
104-114 Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Parakeet, Pied Triller, White-crested Laughingthrush, Emerald Dove, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Indian Cuckoo, Red-whiskered Bulbul NTL2
115 Laced Woodpecker Dairy Farm

Friday, October 26, 2012

Singapore Strait 13Oct12

From Geoffrey

Probably the worst day we have ever had for birds.
  1. Great Crested Tern 30
  2. Lesser Crested Tern 1
  3. Whiskered Tern 1
  4. Barn Swallow 4
  5. Swiftlets >100
  6. Brahminy Kite 1

Dolphins – I thought there were at least three in the first pod, and at least 8 in the second pod (but could have been more), giving at least 11 and maybe up to 15 when the two pods joined up at about 08.20.

Definitely the best day we have ever had for these guys!

From KH


From Con

Left: Lesser Crested Tern. Right: Whiskered Tern

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
Mt Faber 7Oct12

From Danny

Bought the camera on Saturday evening from Iphoto but remote sensor not available. Tested out this morning at Mt Faber car park C. Refer to attached pic. of the female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, pretty skittish and high just below canopy. Pretty neat camera, but still getting used to it. Just realized I did not shoot in RAW. The camera is much lighter, brighter and so far within 5X zoom no need for increasing my scope magnification. Much to test out.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Changi, Pasir Ris Park, Serangoon Tidal Gates 06Oct12

From KH
Danny and I recced a couple of places today, namely Changi, Pasir Ris Park, Serangoon Tidal Gates, Sengkang Floating Wetland, Pulau Punggol and Seletar Dam. However, it started raining when we reached the last two locations, so no birds were recorded there.

At Changi, the whistler was apparently gone. Nevertheless, the sparrowhawks were in. We recorded a juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk and an unid accipiter (too high up).

Juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk at Changi

Next at Pasir Ris Park, the Spotted Wood Owl couple was in, but they flushed as soon as you point at them.

At Serangoon Tidal Gates, we dipped at the Malaysian Plover, but had 43 Little Terns and 13 White-winged Terns. We missed the Whiskered Tern sighted at the Halus bridge as we didn't go over. There were lots of Baya Weavers and a pair of Golden-backed Weavers, but no Streaked Weaver identified.

Baya Weavers at Serangoon Tidal Gates

Finally, at Sengkang Floating Wetland, there were no reed warblers, nor bitterns.

1. Grey Heron 5
2. Red-wattled Lapwing 2
3. White-bellied Sea Eagle 1
4. Black-winged Kite 3
5. Brahminy Kite 1
6. Changeable Hawk Eagle 1 pale
7. Japanese Sparrowhawk 1 juv
8. White-throated Kingfisher 3
9. Common Goldenback 2
10. Rufous Woodpecker 1 female
11. Spotted Dove >50
12. Zebra Dove >50
13. Pink-necked Green Pigeon 2
14. Red Collared Dove >10
15. Red-breasted Parakeet 2
16. Swiftlet spp.
17. Lesser Coucal 3
18. Golden-bellied Gerygone 1 heard
19. Brown Shrike 2
20. House Crow >20
21. Black-naped Oriole >10
22. Pied Fantail 1 heard
23. Common Iora >8
24. Asian Glossy Starling >20
25. Javan Myna >50
26. Common Myna 2
27. Pacific Swallow >5
28. Barn Swallow >5
29. Yellow-vented Bulbul >15
30. Zitting Cisticola 1
31. Yellow-bellied Prinia 1 heard
32. Common Tailorbird 1
33. Baya Weaver >30
34. Scaly-breasted Munia >20
35. White-headed Munia >10

Pasir Ris Park
1. Red Junglefowl 1 male
2. Common Sandpiper 2
3. Collared Kingfisher 1
4. Sunda Woodpecker 1
5. Oriental Pied Hornbill 1 female
6. Asian Koel 2
7. Spotted Wood Owl 1 pair
8. White-breasted Waterhen 1
9. Golden-bellied Gerygone 1 heard
10. Black-naped Oriole 1
11. Common Iora >5
12. Asian Brown Flycatcher 1
13. Yellow-vented Bulbul 2
14. Ashy Tailorbird 1 heard
15. Arctic Warbler 1
16. Olive-backed Sunbird 1 male

Serangoon Tidal Gates
1. Common Sandpiper 1
2. Little Tern 43
3. White-winged Tern 13
4. White-bellied Sea Eagle 1
5. Changeable Hawk Eagle 1 dark
6. Dollarbird 1
7. Swiftlet spp.
8. Long-tailed Shrike 1
9. Black-naped Oriole 1
10. Purple-backed Starling 1
11. Yellow-vented Bulbul 2
12. Sooty-headed Bulbul 2
13. Eurasian Tree Sparrow 2
14. Baya Weaver >30
15. Golden-backed Weaver 1 male, 1 female