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.