Sunday, December 29, 2013

Halus 21Dec13

JS and Danny went to Halus to try turning Black-browed Reed Warblers into Manchurians, but to no avail.
Halus 16,18Dec13

From Con


This morning the weather was fine, I arrived before 9 am and stayed until Noon. Only 3 Black-winged Kites, and a pale morph CHE came any where within photography distance. No sparrowhawks seen.


Today the sky was again blue, at least to start so I decided to give another try at Halus. Arriving at 9:30 am I stayed until just before Noon.

Only 1 sparrowhawk was seen, very high in the sky. This is already 100% crop. I make this out to be an adult male Japanese Sparrowhawk missing a finger due to moulting.

The only other raptors was 1 pale morph CHE and 2 juv Brahminy Kites.

By the way, large groups of photographers are still going after the Pied Cuckoo!
Halus, Pulau Punggol 14Dec13

From JS

Today, we continued with our search for the Pied cuckoo. Starting at the old Lr Halus moorhen pond, I was distracted by the calling reed warblers while the others went to search for any sign of the cuckoo. Without my recorder and playback, I was only able to phish out the Black-browed Reed Warblers (4 in total). There were several other skulkers calling and one appeared to be a darkish-crowned black-browed.. Without playback and recorder, I was unable to do more than what I have done. However, the site showed some promise as amongst the cattails, there are some phragmites, the preferred vegetation of the Manchurian Reed Warbler. Since neither of us had any success, we wanted to move on to another site but being temptingly close to the dam, we decided to give another go at the access road.

That decision turned out to be right. Upon arrival, my father spotted the Streaked Weaver amongst the Baya Weavers and I was duly rewarded with a back view of one streaky individual that stood out from the other weavers by its intensely streaky head and inobvious supercilium. (On hindsight, what I thought I saw was a yellow-fronted canary on last Saturday was in fact the Streaked Weaver...) That's going to be no. 300 for me... Then, the Pied Cuckoo was still not showing. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait much longer before Kok Hui and my father spotted the bird flying in, opposite of the bare tree. As usual, Con had to be away - to get his chair. Fortunately, being on the wrong side of the access road of its favorite bare tree, the bird couldn't resist the temptation and appeared again - much to our delight - on its favorite bare tree. Now, everybody was satisfied with both the views and the photos. Mission accomplished, time for early lunch or...

Pied Cuckoo at Serangoon Tidal Gates ©Tan KH

Just as the access road was temptingly close to Lr Halus old ponds, the bridge was temptingly close to us and we had to do some raptor-watching. Ever since development had started at Pulau Punggol and Changi Cove, the bridge at Lr Halus has become our next prime raptor-watching site. The odd-looking Jap Sparrowhawk that we saw three weeks ago was the starter. Last week, the appearance of 3 Jerdon's Bazas reminded us that Cove was not the only site to see this species on migration. This week, we were hoping was something nice to go along with our Pied Cuckoo. The first raptor that we saw was a sparrowhawk that Chaiyan later helped to identify as a Shikra. "Tail length longer than wing base, spotty streaks, hindneck much darker than headsides."

Shikra? ©Lau JS

As the bird had flown above the bridge, we gave up waiting at the toilet and proceeded to the bridge. About 10 minutes later, we spotted two sparrowhawks chasing one another. The victor stayed in the air while the loser went into hiding. Circling above the treeline, the victor showed us its underparts and upperparts. Based on the underparts, the bird appeared to be a typical juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk - with an unusually long tail. However, when it showed us its upperparts, its uppertail stood out immediately - 5 dark bands! To make matter more complicated, the bird had an unusually long 6th outer primaries that gives it a "6-fingered" appearance. Hmmm...

Japanese Sparrowhawk ©Lau JS

But, before our minds could wander, 4 sparrowhawks took to the sky. Again, what appears to be the same bird chased the other sparrowhawks away in different directions. This is becoming more exciting. Alas, I was only able to photograph one bird... sigh...

After all the excitement, a lone Oriental Honey Buzzard, and a couple of Savanna Nightjars and snipes entertained us before we finally heeded Con's alarm and went for lunch. The failure to get a shot on all the 4 accipiters and reed warblers was a real party popper for me. Otherwise, all of us had our lifers in the form of the skittish Pied Cuckoo.

Due to trip preparation, Kok Hui did not join our afternoon birding. Just my father and I, we decided to do some car-birding at the cemeteries and Neo Tiew. Maybe it was due to the dark clouds or the drizzle, we did not see any migrant. The sole noteworthy bird was a pair of Asian House Martins seen near Gemala Rd. Unfortunately, just when I had identified the bird by its white underparts, all-dark head (excluding throat) and forked tail, there was a jam behind our car and we had to move on. The two birds did not appear again when we returned to look for it. What a miss... Seeing that the birds were less than willing to appear, we called it a day. The day ended just it began for me.

Summary of raptors seen pm 14/12/13:

Lr Halus
1) Black Baza (7)
2) Oriental Honey Buzzard (1)
3) Chinese Sparrowhawk (1)
4) Japanese Sparrowhawk (>3)
5) Shikra? (1 immature)
6) White-bellied Sea Eagle (2)
7) Brahminy Kite (>2)
8) Black-winged Kite (1)
9) Changeable Hawk Eagle (1)

Other noteworthy birds seen: Pied Cuckoo (1), Streaked Weaver (1), Black-browed Warbler (4), Savanna Nightjar (>4), Pintail/Swinhoe's Snipe (>4)

CCK Cemetery
1) Black Baza (9)
2) Changeable Hawk Eagle (1)
3) Brahminy Kite (>2)

Other noteworthy bird seen: Asian House Martin (2)

Satay by the Bay 08Dec13

From Danny

Visited Satay by the Bay today. Despite the overcast weather, it was still good location for photo taking. The introduced or illegal entry lizards were everywhere. There were at least two Oriental Reed Warblers showing well. Had a lucky top flight shot of an OHB. He was mobbed by the resident House Crows.

Oriental Reed Warbler

Male Oriental Honey-buzzard

Juvenile Brown Anole - an introduced species. Read this for more info.

Halus, Pulau Punggol 7Dec13

From KH

A Pied Cuckoo was photographed at the Tidal Gate area on 4 Dec 2013. Hence, Con, Danny, JS and I followed the lead to search for this bird. There were many other hopefuls around too, but we all ended up disappointed...

As is ritual now, we headed to Halus bridge for late morning raptor watch. It was great to see our first Jerdon's Bazas (three of them) for this season.

After lunch, Danny, JS and I went to Pulau Punggol, but all we got was sunburn!
Pulau Punggol 1Dec13

From JS

On Sunday, my father and I went to Pulau Punggol for our afternoon birding. There was nothing new. The sole interesting migrant sighted was a flushed snipe. Otherwise, it was very quiet. It appears that the place has become a new hangout for the bikers and construction workers. Besides the overgrown vegetation, increased human activities may have ruined the site and I am keeping my fingers crossed on having another great year for this site. Probably another lost site...

Here's the summary of raptors seen:
1) Chinese Sparrowhawk (2, including 1 adult male and 1 subadult male)
2) Osprey (2)
3) White-Bellied Sea Eagle (1)
4) Brahminy Kite (2)
5) Black-Winged Kite (1)
Cairns and Tablelands 6-20Nov13

From Con

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Changi, Halus, Pulau Punggol 23Nov13

From JS

Today, we welcomed Con back from Down Under. However, the weather in the morning was not cooperative. With persistent drizzling, the only birds that showed well were the half a dozen of Ruddy-breasted Crakes and Slaty-breasted Rails. For inexplicable reasons, Changi was void of migratory raptors except the skittish sparrowhawks and 3 Common Buzzards! Feeling letdown by the weather, we decided to have an early lunch. By 11am, we were sitting at Loyang Canteen having lunch.

After a nice chat over lunch, Kok Hui, my dad and I headed over to Lr Halus to continue birding. Upon arriving, we immediately spotted some raptors (namely an OHB, 2 Brahminy Kites and a Japanese Sparrowhawk) thermalling in the sky. What a great start!

Next, an accipiter flew overhead and started circling above us. It appeared to have 6 fingers, but this is an artefact of moulting. It is a Japanese Sparrowhawk.

This time it was an immature Malayan Night-heron trying to cross the reservoir below our noses - but to no avail. It landed on one of the Sipoh Ayer that was lining the water edge. Since our interest was on raptors, we put off any attempt to find the heron.

Soon, we realised that the raptors were not going to come in, so we decided to search for the heron. Unfortunately, the bird was so skittish that it flew off when it saw us. There goes our heron... With interest in reed warblers, we decided to walk to the dam. Stopping us in our track was another fly-by Japanese Sparrowhawk.

Kok Hui decided to head back to the bridge to look out for more raptors while my father and I continued to the dam. Alas, all of us did not see any other noteworthy, identifiable bird. Seeing our not so good fortune with the raptors changing, we decided to go with the momentum and headed over to Pulau Punggol. As a result of the continuous disturbance to the casuarina forest, Pulau Punggol only hosted a flock of Black Bazas and a pair of Ospreys. The Booted Eagles seem to have stopped using the place as its wintering ground.

The only noteworthy bird at Pulau Punggol was a pale Sand Martin that was flying the swiftlets above the pond. Otherwise, the site has lost its charm.

In short, our choice of sites covered both the future and the past. Changi and Pulau Punggol are going to be histories while Lr Halus has much to offer in terms of raptor-watching in the future.

Here's the list of raptors seen:

Changi Cove
1) Common Buzzard (3, including one dark morph)
2) Black-winged Kite (2)
3) Accipiter (2)

Lr Halus
1) Japanese Sparrowhawk (3)
2) Peregrine Falcon (1)
3) White-bellied Fish-eagle (2)
4) Grey-headed Fish-eagle (2)
5) Changeable Hawk-eagle (1)
6) Oriental Honey-buzzard (1)
7) Black Baza (6)

Pulau Punggol
1) Black Baza (10)
2) Brahminy Kite (2)
3) White-bellied Sea-eagle (2)
4) Osprey (2)

Bidadari 20Nov13

From Danny
Got a few hours off, went to Bida this morning. Plenty of Flycatchers (Ferruginous, AB, Brown-chested), Indian Cuckoo, CW Cuckoo, Ashy Minivets but no Chinese Blue FC.

Missed the Von S Bittern in the afternoon. The area pretty wet, not suitable for KH's sandals.

Brown-chested Jungle-flycatcher

Variable Squirrel
Tuas 17Nov13

From GC

Had 48 OHBs and 7 Jap Sparrowhawks today at Tuas South Ave 16

Weather: steady wind from North, 95% cloud cover

1047H 12 OHB & 7 JSH (by LCH) , north of site , head E

1130-1200 Lunch

Weather: steady Wind NNW, cloud cover 100%

1212H 24 OHB, diectly overhead, head ESE
1229H 12 OHB, south of site, head S

1246H rain drop felt
1350H very slight (steady) drizzle, END
Tuas 16Nov13

From JS

Having had a great raptor-watching session at Tuas last Saturday, we decided to back to Tuas and without afternoon commitment, Kok Hui could wait out any migrating Short-Toed Snake Eagle. The morning was blue sky and we started off at the usual timing. 7.15am is not the best timing for raptors, so we had breakfast before doing a bit of birding at the grasslands. Alas, no Lanceolated warbler. Instead, we were entertained by a juvenile female Besra harassing the swallows and swiftlets

and another accipiter who decided to begin its migration early.

Back to the field, we had the company of 7 other birders/photographers (including the mayor of Tuas, Low Choon How, and his wife) and other niceties such as the female Common Kestrel, an immature Peregrine Falcon and a Barn Owl! Becoming more of a norm, I tried to turn the Barn Owl into an Eastern Grass Owl, unsuccessfully. Nevertheless, seeing an owl in the day is always a bonus.

While we did see some different raptors from last week, we failed to see the Short-Toed Snake Eagle or the Greater Spotted Eagle. Actually, the morning was very much slower than last Saturday and the only reason that I could think of is that the birds are too busy counting the number of people on the ground, so when the number decreased to 4 (us and See Toh), the flocks came in.

Here's the count after Choon How had left:

1.10pm - 78 Oriental Honey Buzzards and 9 Japanese Sparrowhawks
1.15pm - A flock of 11 Japanese Sparrowhawks
1.35pm - 1 Japanese Sparrowhawk and 2 Oriental Honey Buzzards
2.30pm - 11 Oriental Honey Buzzards seen thermaling beside the food court at Tuas
Tuas 9Nov13

From GC

An awesome day for raptor migration at Tuas it was.

We had an incredible 713 OHBs on migration!

Plus 2 rarities - The extremely scarce SHORT-TOED SNAKE EAGLE (look at the size difference compared to the Brahminy Kite that was mobbing it)

and a rare juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle (also mobbed by a resident - a Black-winged Kite). Thanks to Lau Jia Sheng for sounding the alert on both counts!

Keeping vigil from 8am+ till 1.35pm were a great bunch of raptor watchers. Thanks for the company ! And for helping to count!

The weather was fine. The wind was still before 11am and then a gentle breeze from the West to Southwest. That seemed to be when the migration started to get going.

713 OHB (over a 2-hr period from 11:35 am to 1:35pm). We had various groups of 60+, 70+ and one group of 99.

There were also:
19 Japanese Sparrowhawks
11 Chinese Sparrowhawks
7 Black Baza in a flock
7 UNid accipiters
Tuas 7Nov13

From GC

Yesterday, there was rain and no raptor migration was detected over Tuas.

With good weather this morning, the birds seemed eager to continue on their migration.

The vigil started at 10:45am and the first OHBs were a flock of 5 which flew quite low at 11:05am, thermalling to rise up to make up for the height lost during the 8km sea crossing from Johor and then moving easterly.

The second flock of 18 OHBs came in at 11:28am, and moved south-southeast along the spit of reclaimed land.

Excitement came in at 11:40am, starting with a flock of 30+ OHBs which came in from the west and started to thermal over the grassland. More continued to pour in and thermal, the flock (or kettle) size ranged from 5 to 40 birds. At one point in time, around 100 was visibile in that patch of sky, thermalling - what a sight. This continued until 11:45am. By then 161 birds were counted in this stream of birds over a 5 minute period.

Total count for OHBs stood at 184 (including the earlier flocks of 5 & 18).

Attached is a photo of a flock which I managed to fit into a frame.

Plus photos of 2 individual OHBs which flew quite low.

And a photo of one of the Brahminy Kites which provided distraction during the lull period from 12-1pm.

Also attached is a map of the flight path over Tuas, where did they launch from in Johor - Tanjong Piai?

Tuas, Kent Ridge 6Nov13

From GC

Saw the female Common Kestrel at end of Tuas South Ave 5 on 061113 morning 1100 hrs. unfortunately, couldn't stay to get more shots due to some testing of military equipment there.

And a Japanese Sparrowhawk at Kent Ridge Park at 1400 hrs.
Pulau Punggol 3Nov13

From KH

Like last year, we did the Annual Raptor Watch at Pulau Punggol. Four volunteers (Alvin Yeo and friend; Tan Chee Keon and wife) counted at Pulau Punggol with Con, Danny and I.

Common Buzzard
Brahminy Kite
Chinese Goshawk
Booted Eagle
White-bellied Sea Eagle
Black-winged Kite
Japanese Sparrowhawk
Changeable Hawk Eagle
Black Baza
Unid. Accipiter
Unid. Raptor

Booted Eagle from Con.

Male Chinese Sparrowhawk from Con.

Juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk from Danny.

Changi 02Nov13

From Con
Female Indian Cuckoo

Male Red Avadavat?

From JS

Female Pied Harrier flying high

Saturday, December 7, 2013

BTNR 29-31Oct13

From JS on 29 Oct

I climbed 150m to our highest hill to find migrants. No fruiting trees but the summit was nonetheless alive with singing Crimson Sunbird and whistling Asian Fairy-bluebird. Not expecting anything out of the blue, I spent the next 2h from 9-11am waiting for raptors. Here's my sightings:

Raptors seen
1) White-bellied Sea-eagle (1)
2) Crested Serpent-eagle (1)
3) Brahminy Kite (1)
4) Japanese Sparrowhawk (3)

Other migrants seen
1) Asian Brown Flycatcher (1)
2) Tiger Shrike (1)
3) Siberian Blue Robin (1)
4) Brown-backed Needletail (2)
5) Red-rumped Swallow (2)

From JS on 30 Oct

Again, I took the trouble to climb up to the summit. Unlike yesterday, I had Con to share my misery. We did not see the Brown-backed Needletails.

Instead, Con got his photos of some House Swifts while I had a satisfactory view of a male Lesser Green Leafbird. The wait for my lifer was over. Con nearly had a double but we only manage to locate a pair of gorging Blue-winged Leafbirds. Gorging is the word because the mistletoe plants on the fringes of the main fig tree were fruiting. Besides the green birds, we saw 5 bulbuls and many irritating flowerpeckers. No notable migrants though.

In the sky, we saw a couple of Pacific Swifts, House Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows and as many swiftlets as the noisy crowd below. The only migrant raptor we saw was a Chinese Sparrowhawk. The usual raptors, including 5 Brahminy Kites and 2 White-bellied Sea-sagle, appeared later in the morning.

Today was an unusual day for Con because he had a plausible chance of hitting his year-end target of 290 by seeing 3 lifers. In the end, he had one while I had one too. Still a good morning birding I guess....

Summary of raptors seen today
1) Chinese Sparrowhawk (1)
2) Brahminy Kite (5)
3) White bellied Sea-eagle (2)

Pacific Swift ©Con Foley

Male Blue-winged Leafbird ©Con Foley

From JS on Halloween 31 Oct

Con and I decided to re-visit the summit to have another attempt at the Lesser Green Leafbird. However, birding was entirely different from the previous morning. The fruiting mistletoe did not attract the crowd until after 9am. Additionally, the sky was emptier. Even a night could make a real difference during migration! Nevertheless, we saw 4 elusive leafbirds, including a pair of Blue-Winged Leafbirds, and a couple of Arctic Warblers and Red-Eyed Bulbuls. Migrant-wise, we had a Tiger Shrike and a Fork-Tailed Swift. Not an eventful morning though.

Here's the summary of the raptors that we saw:
1) White-Bellied Sea-eagle (1)
2) Oriental Honey-buzzard (2)

From Con on Halloween 31 Oct

Jia Sheng and I were at BTNR summit again today.

There were only a few scary birds. Again several leafbirds put in an appearance but the only photos I could get just show they are leafbirds, I can’t get any more detail than that..

Then Jia Sheng noticed a warbler and tried to turn it into a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, but from the photos I got it seems it is an Arctic Warbler.

There were a lot fewer swifts today.

So over all nothing too scary.

Arctic Warbler ©Con Foley
Mt Faber 27Oct13

From Danny

We missed this on Saturday. Seen this male OHB on Sunday, 27 Oct'13 off Henderson Waves.

Japan 27Sep-10Oct13

From Yamane

I report you about my Raptor Watch in Miura Peninsula in Sep. and Oct. I visited 2 place in the peninsula, Inamuragasaki and Takeyama. The map is shown as follows.

*The black arrows is the routes of Raptors’ migration.
  Date:    27. Sep.  6. Oct.  7. Oct.  10. Oct
  Place:    Inamuragasaki  Takeyama  Takeyama  Takeyama
1 Chinese Bamboo Partridge   -   *   *   *
2 Oriental Turtle Dove   *   *   *   *
3 Oriental Cuckoo    -   *  -   -  
4 Pacific Swift   26    -   *  -
5 House Swift   -   -    -    *
6 Pacific Golden Plover   -   -   -   *
7 Osprey    1   1   2   1
8 Oriental Honey Buzzard  14   1   1   6
9 Black Kite    *   *   *   *
10 Japanese Sparrowhawk  1   -    1   -
11 Northern Goshawk   -    1   1   1
12 Grey-faced Buzzard   276   -    39   250
13 Common Buzzard   1   3   2   3
14 Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker  -    *   *   *
15 Japanese Green Woodpecker  -    *   *   *
16 Eurasian Hobby   -   -   -    2
17 Peregrine Falcon   -    1  -  -
18 Carrion Crow   *   *   *   *
19 Jungle Crow    *   *   *   *
20 Varied Tit   -    *   *   *
21 Japanese Tit   -    *   *   *
22 Barn swallow  -     *   *   *
23 Red-rumped Swallow   4   -   -    *
24 Brown-eared Bulbul   *   *   *   *
25 Japanese Bush Warbler  -    *   *   *
26 Long-tailed Tit   -    *   *   *
27 Arctic Warbler   -   -    *  -
28 Japanese White-eye   *   *   *   *
29 Blue Rock Thrush   *  -   -   -   
30 Narcissus Flycatcher   -   *   -   - 
31 Grey-streaked Flycatcher  -    *   *   *
32 Brown Flycatcher  -   -   *   - 
33 Blue-and-white Flycatcher  -   *  -   -
34 Eurasian Tree Sparoow  *   *   *   *
35 Olive-backed Pipit   -   -   -   *
36 Meadow Bunting   -    *   *   *

Time : 7:00~12:00 (7:00~15:00 only on 7. Oct. )
On 7. Oct., no migration in the morning. But, around noon, we found 2 GFB migrators, and we continued the observation. because of the special weather condition. Basically the migrations stopped until noon. Because of wind direction, it changes around noon usually.
“*” means we don’t count the numbers.

OHB 27. Sep. Inamuragasaki
OHB 7. Oct. Takeyama

GFB 7. Oct. Takeyama
Eurasian Hobby 7. Oct. Takeyama

Common Buzzard 7. Oct. TakeyamaBlack Kite 6. Oct. Takeyama

Common Buzzard 6. Oct. TakeyamaThe observation point at Takeyama