Birders to the montane forests of northern Borneo pay more attention to the Whitehead trinity of Broadbill, Trogon and Spiderhunter than the other bird species named after another ornithologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck.
The three Whiteheads are rarer which made their quest more rewarding. John Whitehead, an English explorer and naturalist was the first documented person to scale Mount Kinabalu. He also was the first collector of the Whitehead Broadbill and had 10 bird species named after him.
Coenraad Temminck, a well known Dutch ornithologist and zoologist was the first director of the Leiden Museum of Natural History. He inherited a large collection of bird specimens from his father who was a good friend of Francois Levailant, another well known French ornithologist and wildlife collector.
There are 20 birds and 14 mammal species named after Temminck. During our trip to Tras Madi, Sabah in June, I added the Temminck’s Babbler,Pellorneum pyrrhogenys, to my list of two species i.e. Malaysian Eared Nightjar,Eurostopodus temminckii and Temminck’s Sunbird, Aethopya temmickii. I missed Temminck’s Stint at Sungei Balang by an hour.
The Temminck’s Babbler is found in the sub montane forests of Borneo and Java. There are four subspecies with the ones in Borneo having a grey face instead of the brown-grey face of the Javan subspecies.
The Temminck’s Sunbird on the other hand can be found in the lower montane and lowland forests of Peninsular Malaysia, West Sumatra and Central Borneo. The nearest population to Singapore is at the Panti Bird Sanctuary but not often seen. It looks like the Crimson Sunbird with its reddish head and back but the Temminck’s has a silvery white belly and a red upper tail compared to the greyish underbelly and dark tail.
Reference: Eaton, Rheindt et al. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago. Wikipedia.
The Crocker Range has remained my last birding destination in Sabah for some time. When news that the elusive Bulwer’s Pheasant had been seen at the montane hill forests at Trus Madi Forest Reserve, I started to do some serious planning and waited for the borders to open.
I got in touch with David Tseu, a long time nature guide based in Kota Kinabalu, through the recommendation of friends.
A 4 days trip was arranged and together with Wilson Leung and his wife Theresa Ng, a first time birder, we scooted to Kota Kinabalu on the 13 June 2022.
Wilson arranged an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Express where the ceiling to floor windows look out to a forested hillside. A Blue-throated Bee-eater and flocks of Asian Glossy Starlings were ticked off. A stay at KK will not be complete without a seafood dinner. We chose the Crab House at Sabah Suria and shared two large crabs and grouper soup for RM 230.
David met us the next morning in his spacious 4WD and drove towards Tambunan with a break for breakfast at Gunung Alab Motel, a popular rest stop. The road was winding but thankfully the morning traffic was light.
We reached the Borneo Girl Jungle Camp inside Trus Madi Conservation Area in time for lunch after surviving a 90 mins bone shaking ride on the bumpy gravel logging track for the last part of the journey. Jimmy Chew and his partners have slowly expanded the camp, providing nature lovers with clean, comfortable but basic rooms. The nights are cold as we are at 1,400 meter asl. The big surprise for me was the food here. It was the best Hakka/ Cantonese cooking I ever had in all my jungle birding trips. Sweet and sour kampong chicken for dinner and double boiled Shiitake Mushroom soup for the next evening.
The weather forecast was for thunderstorms for the whole of our stay, but thank god the weatherman was wrong. We had only 2 hours of heavy downpour during our entire stay. Best of all, our birding was not disrupted by the usual morning and evening misty foggy weather.
We did all the birding along the old logging track near the camp. It was easy pleasant birding amidst the cool montane forest. Many of the endemic species that can be seen at Mt. Kinabalu Park are found here. A playful flock of Brown Fulvetta, part of a mini bird wave, greeted us the first morning. The endemic Charlotte’s Bulbul was preening away. It looks exactly like the Peninsular lowland Buff-vented Bulbul as it was a recent split. Theresa alerted us to a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills flying across the valley. It was quite a sight! The Buah Cherry trees and the hibiscus plants at the camp are frequently visited by the Bornean Leafbirds, Red-throated Barbets, Bornean Bulbuls and Temminck’s Sunbirds. Always a treat to be able to photograph such rare birds without too much hard work.
There are several hides along the trail not far from the camp. We spent both mornings and afternoons in two of them. We were extremely lucky to see and photograph all the species we came to see.
Top of the list was the majestic Bulwer’s Pheasant, a most sought after endemic that had eluded many birdwatchers for a long time. A lone male showed up on the third afternoon. These are most probably the first photos of this pheasant taken in the wild by any group from Singapore. Next for me was the Bornean Banded Pitta and the Dayak’s Jungle Flycatcher. The bonus were a family flock of 14 Crested Partridges and the Temminck’s Babblers. Lifers for all of us.
Besides the birds, there were many interesting mammals to keep a lookout for. David’s acute sense of the jungle got us the endemic Red-leaf Langur, Whitehead’s Squirrels and Masked Palm Civet.
The ever changing views of drifting clouds across the mountain ranges and green valleys are just breathtaking. Sunrise and sunsets were even more spectacular. Unfortunately the nights were overcast and we missed seeing the Milky Way.
The day’s action did not end after dinner. We were not prepared for the hundreds of moths and insects when we went to check out the four insect screens set up on a ridge near the camp. None of us have ever seen so many moths, beetles, cicadas and other weird and wonderful insects in our life. From the tiniest to palm size, the moths came in all shapes and colors. We had a great time perfecting our macro photography on them. We could not get enough of this and spent all three nights hoping to see some rare lunar moths, but none showed up.
We left the camp after breakfast on the last morning and made our way back to the Gunung Alab Substation for the Red-breasted and Crimson-Headed partridges, both endemics. They proved to be more co-operative and came out within the first hour. The damp bamboo forest is their preferred habitat.
A family of Snowy-browed Flycatchers also took up residence here and it was nice to see the different plumages of the juveniles and females.
There was enough time to pay a visit to the Mahua Waterfalls about 20 km from Tambunan to do some last minute butterfly photography Some of the endemic butterflies including the Rajah Brooke and the Green Dragons can be found there. Wilson and Theresa booked an overnight stay at the resort outside the waterfalls and we bade them goodbye as David drove me to the airport for my evening flight home.
It had been a very successful and lucky trip, a memorable one as well, We got all our target birds, thanks to David’s local knowledge and experience. We recorded a total of 58 birds ( 14 endemics), 21 butterflies ( 2 endemics), 8 mammals ( 4 endemics), 1 reptile and hundreds of moths and insect species. We were blessed with good weather for all the four days. A big thank you to the staff at the camp for the delicious food and help.
Checklist Trus Madi Conservation Area, Sabah. 14-17 June 2022
Guide: David Tseu
Participants: Alan OwYong, Wilson and Theresa Leung.
Crested Partridge ( Family group of 14 )
Bulwer’s Pheasant (Male).
Little Cuckoo Dove
Asian Emerald Dove ( on way out)
Black and Yellow Broadbill.
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha ( photographed by Theresa)
Plume-toed Swiftlet ( nesting at Mt. Alab Motel)
Crested Serpent Eagle. ( one perched, another in flight)
Barred Eagle Owl
Rhinoceros Hornbill ( pair flying in the valley)
Golden-naped Barbet ( Heard)
Bornean Banded Pitta. ( Both male and female showing at different times)
Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike
Ashy Drongo (Bornean)
Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher ( Seen by Theresa)
Crested Shrikejay (Seen by David)
Mountain Tailorbird (Heard)
Yellow-bellied Bulbul ( seen by David)
Sunda Bush Warbler
Oriental Magpie (Black)
Dayak Blue Flycatcher (Family)
Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher
Snowy-browed Flycatcher ( Family group of 4)
Little Pied Flycatcher
Black-sided Flowerpecker ( photographed by Wilson)
We called off the Big Year 2020 when the government declared a “Circuit Breaker” in April. Birding was put on hold for the next few months, except around our homes and the balcony. Most of us spent our time doing hard disk birding on our laptops “Social distancing ” became the new buzz words.
The pressure was off but some of us continued keeping a list of our sightings for the year. We just carry on with our own safe birding. Even now we all have our masks on. I am glad to end the year with 208 species. I thought that it will be interesting to blog on what happened during the year and how we cope with the pandemic.
The highlight of 2020 for me was the six SG lifers which I did not count on. I made a big mistake of choosing to take an afternoon nap instead of rushing to SBWR for the mega Gadwall tick, only our second record since 1989. Ah well you cannot win them all.
The year started wonderfully well in January with a Slaty-legged Crake sheltering at a most unusual place, a small stripe of plants at a Punggol Central apartment block. This rare winter visitor was a lifer for many of us, me included. A second lifer was an out of the blue appearance of the White-cheeked Starling, an East Asian species, feeding at the open grassland at Seletar end. Other rare winter visitors seen in January were the Red-throated Pipit roosting at Turuk Track for a week and an Orange-headed Thrush hiding in the dark undergrowth at Dairy Farm Nature Park.
This was followed by two lifers in February, the Brahminy Starling at the Jurong Lake Gardens (JLG) thanks to the Records Committee upgrading it to Category A and the Chinese Blue Flycatcher inside CCNR. The second record of the Tiaga Flycatcher at West Coast Park and a Watercock at JLG made this a busy month.
In March, many of the photographers was mesmerised by a shining male Asian Emerald Cuckoo feeding on the Tussock Moth caterpillars on a Ficus tree behind Ghim Moh estate, a teaser just before CB.
We all took a breather for a good part of the mid-year and restarted in September with an elusive resident, a Barred Buttonquail at the grasslands at Jurong Lake Gardens.
By November, we were cranking our necks to the skies over the Southern Ridges eagerly awaiting the arrival of the migrant raptors. I missed the super rare Eurasian Hobby over at Henderson Wave, the prime spot for raptor watch, but was compensated by Grey-faced Buzzard over at Kent Ridge Park and a Greater Spotted Eagle. A rare Rufous-bellied Eagle was hunting over the forest at SG quarry. Most of us were delighted to get photographs of this raptor, even though it was a plain looking juvenile.
The heavy December rains flooded a large part of the open fields off Marina East Drive, transforming it into a temporary wetland for the migrant waterfowls. Watercocks, Baillon’s Crakes, Pheasant-tailed Jacana and the rare Grey-headed Lapwing could not resist the aquatic buffet being offered there.
Over to the north, the open fields at Harvest Lane was welcoming Sand Martins in November followed by the rarer Asian House Martins. A pair of the shy resident White-browed Crakes found refuge at the low-lying waterlogged farmland there. This may be the last season for us to bird there as all the plots are being developed into high tech farms.
My nemesis flycatcher arrived at Dairy Farm NP in November. It was the Narcissus Flycatcher, a female, a most sought-after lifer by many. I missed this rare migrant flycatcher by a day at Bidadari. The prayers of the bird photographers were answered a month later when a stunning male Narcissus Flycatcher turned up at the SBG Healing Gardens in December. First time a male was recorded in Singapore.
My last lifer of the year was a Chestnut-cheeked Starling, a vagrant. I was photographing a flock of Daurian Starlings at the Grandstand in early December and found one with a patch in its cheek. I, Ho Hua Chew and Alfred Chia went back the next morning to try and find it. By a stroke of luck, Alfred was able to scope an adult among the hundreds of Daurian Starlings roosting in an Albizia there.
It had been an eventful year to say the least. The birding community here was mindful of the pandemic and observed the rules when birding. A few national firsts were recorded. My thanks to many of my friends for the alerts and assistance in finding many of the rarities. Let us continue to cooperate and enjoy watching our feathered friends in 2021.
I am sure that many of you like me had a super busy November chasing the many rare migrants that arrived here on their way south.
The highlight of the month for me had to be the female Narcissus Flycatcher that made landfall at Dairy Farm NP on 19th. I dipped on the past sightings at Bidadari and the last one here. As with the previous year, more gems like the Siberian and Eye-browed Thrushes dropped by to feed on the White Mulberries at the park.
Most of us spent the first week getting roasted at Henderson Wave hoping to catch some rare raptors coming through. The lucky ones hit the jackpot with a juvenile Eurasian Hobby. I had to be contented with a Peregrine Falcon, Greater Spotted Eagle and a Jerdon’s Baza.
When news that some marsh terns were seen foraging off the Marina Barrage early in the month, many of us got great shots of the White-winged Terns flying over. A short walk to the granite sea wall rewarded me with some wintering Kentish Plovers although I was not able to find the recently split White-faced. Two Sanderlings were also wintering there.
Once again the Healing Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens was attracting many of the migrant flycatchers with a myriad of insect life there. All the three paradise flycatchers, including a white-morphed, were keeping us busy. I was happy to redo my male Blue and White Flycatcher here.
This may be our last season to bird at the open farmlands at Neo Tiew Harvest Link as all the plots have been sold. A few snipes were feeding at a wet patch at the end of the road. One was confirmed as the Common Snipe. Over 350 Pacific Golden Plovers were using the dry open spaces as their high tide roost. Up in the air, Marsh Harriers came and went on the same day, but a few Sand Martins stayed around to feed with the Aerodramus Swiftlets.
My year list is just below average at 190 partly because of Covid. I still hold up hope of reaching 200 by year end. Bring on December!
If you have an afternoon to spare when you are in Sandakan, do take a 2 hours drive out to the Gomantong Caves and see for yourself the natural spectacle of mass exodus of bats leaving the caves in endless streams.
Spirals of Wrinkled-lipped Bats streaming out of the Gomantong Caves at dusk.
Every evening since recorded history, more than a million bats, mainly Winkled-lipped Bats leave the Gomantong Caves in never ending spirals into the night skies. This awesome sight can last well into nightfall. The bats will spend the night feasting on insects all over the countryside before returning to the cave to roost before dawn.
Another drama is waiting to unfold. It will be a life and death encounter over the killing skies of Gomantong.
Meeting the colony of bats side on, the Bat Hawk is built for the kill.
The resident Bat Hawks and the Rufous-bellied Eagles have been spending the day resting up for this moment. It is a buffet not to be missed. The larger Wallace’s Hawk Eagles and smaller Peregrine Falcons will wait nearby for their turn as there is no need to rush and fight for such an abundance of food.
Cropped photo of about 300 bats in a single frame.
The Bat Hawks are specialised bat predators. With folded wings they will slice into the colony of bats, twist their bodies upright, push their talons up front and try to snatch at any of the bats that come close to it. Once in a while it will miss catching one or the bat somehow managed to wriggle out of its grasp. But it will be a matter of time before the Bat Hawk gets its talon on one. It will tear and eat it on the wing to save the trouble to coming back for another.
The Bat Hawk locking on to a bat with its talons by twisting its body backwards.
The Rufous-bellied Eagle is less agile. It will have to fly into the cloud of bats several times before getting hold of one. The smaller Peregrine Falcons are known for their speed and they use it to good effect. They will thermal higher up above the colony of bats and then dive down for the kill. Their success rate is almost 100%.
The adult Rufous-bellied Eagle had to make several dives before catching one.
On the day of observation, the Wallace’s Hawk Eagle was the less interested and did not join in the killing frenzy. It perched nearby watching the spectacle even as the bats were flying directly overhead. Maybe it had its fill or was just waiting for its favourite species to appear.
The Wallace’s Hawk Eagle perch just below the colony of bats waiting for the right time to hunt.
I was ecstatic to be able to witness and capture this life and death drama, mother nature’s wonder, over the killing skies of Gomantong.
Reference: John MacKinnon and Karen Phillipps. A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo.
The Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus, is a long distance migratory wader that breeds in the Arctic Tundra and spend their winters on the tropical waters off Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines and Borneo. The females are more brightly colored than the males and takes no part in raising its young, a reversal to the norm.
Part of the main flock of 11 Red-necked Phalaropes that spend their winter at sea.
It is an accident visitor to Singapore with a winter bird seen at the Tuas flooded grasslands from 16-25 November 1994. This was my only national first record.
We have to wait for another seventeen years before another was seen foraging in the Straits of Singapore on 17 April 2011 during a NSS Pelagic Survey. Coincidentally I was on board on this trip.
The lobed toes of the right feet that helps them to paddle themselves on water can be seen in this photo.
On 8 October 2016, Frankie Cheong photographed a moulting juvenile to winter plumage at a freshwater puddle at the reclaimed land at Pulau Tekong, our second land record.
In flight the upper white wing bar stands out.
Last Saturday 28 September 2019, we came across a floating flock of 14 juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes again at the Straits of Singapore, north of Batam. My hattrick! This is the first multiple sighting of this vagrant.
They were busy feeding among the floating sea grasses, paddling around in small circles with their lobed feet. This unique habit helps to stir up the marine invertebrates up to the center for easy pickings.
Our first multiple sightings as all the past three were single birds.
With this record and hopefully more in the years to come, we may be able to reclassified their status from vagrant to a rare winter visitor.
Reference: Wild Bird Society of Japan. A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2009.
My target was 100 species for January to kick start my fifth Big Year. A certain Mr. K. had a 100+ on the first day (hats off to him), so it should be easy peasy. Wrong! I was not even half way by mid month. Lim Kim Seng initiated the first Big Year in 2014 as a friendly competition to see how many species we can see in a calendar year. It turned out to be a case of who was the first to find the rarer species and share it with the rest as soon as possible. Meals and outings with wives and girlfriends were often interrupted when a mega rare bird turned up.
Nice of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo to stay over the New Year.
The key to a good start was to tick off the rare visitors before they made their way back and chase down the hard to find residents. First thing we did was to tick the Asian Emerald Cuckoo before the caterpillars were gone. It may not be coming back anytime soon. The erratic Chinese Hwamei may not be around for long, so getting it was a bonus. I was a day late and dipped on the rare Yellow-browed Warbler, one of the rarer visiting tree warblers. Well you cannot win them all. The Booted Warbler looks like it will be included in the 2018 Checklist and may not be coming back anytime soon. So ticking it early is a no brainer! The bonus at the Kranji Marshes was the super sensitive Black-capped Kingfisher.
The Booted Warbler is getting use to our presence. It often flies down to the lower thicket to forage giving us a chance of getting open and topside views like this.
I revisited Kranji Marshes on 27th to celebrate Jimmy Chew’s birthday with the rest of his friends. Ended up with a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and a hard to find resident Greater Coucal at the car park.
This Yellow-rumped Flycatcher is on its way back north but decided to drop over the Kranji Marshes for a rest.
Things were looking better after a visit to the flooded grasslands along Bulim Avenue. In one morning, we had a Von Schrenck’s and Cinnamon Bittern, Greater Painted and Common Snipes and a Watercock, thanks to Goh Cheng Teng, Lester Tan and Adrian Silas Tay. I don’t have many of these last year.
A Swintail Snipe over Bulim Grasslands. A Swinhoe’s Snipe was shot there last month by Lester Tan.
A few days later, I returned and was very surprised to find a Black Kite resting in the open field, a species I have not seen for over 20 years.
A rare Black Kite thermaling over Bulim on a hot morning. It was seen flying past a few days later. A lucky find!
I went to chase the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo at the Learning Gardens, thinking that it would be an easy tick. But it turned out to be my jinx bird. Luckily all was not lost. A of small flock White-rumpedMunias were feeding on the dried bamboo flowers at the Bambusetum. These are rare residents but its wild status is not certain even they are the correct sub species found here.
Are these wild munias or released birds? At least they are the right sub species.
Then Meena Vathyam got us a global rare tick in the form of a Band-bellied Crake by the Symphony Lake. This is only our second record.
A great opportunity for those who missed the first record to get this globally rare crake at the Helliconia Gardens, thanks to Meena Vathyam.
As I will traveling, I will be ending the month today at 108 species with a Drongo Cuckoo at Hindhede Quarry. Thank you all for your sharing the news and the alerts with me. Welcome to the Big Year and Happy Birding all!
May be a resident Drongo Cuckoo taken at the Hindhede Quarry.
Ref: Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing Co, 2013
The clumps of short trees behind me are the so call Microforests of Nanhui. They are on the leeward slopes of the seawall. In the background are the inner mudflats where shorebirds use as their high tide roost.
If you are on a short business trip to Shanghai I would strongly recommend that you take a morning or a day off and head for Nanhui at the mouth of Hangzhou Bay for some great birding. Situated at the extreme south-eastern part of Shanghai, many birders considered this place as one of the best birding sites in China. Besides providing high tide roost for migratory shorebirds at the inner mudflats, clumps of forests on the leeward side of the seawall provide refuge from the strong winds for migratory passerines. These are the Microforests of Nanhui famed for attracting many of the warblers, flycatchers and thrushes on the way south during the migratory season.
Unlike our rain forests, the microforests of Nanhui is rather sparse with one or two species of trees and low scrubs almost the prefect habitat for birding.
The clumps of microforests are well spread out along the length of the inner seawall. You will be looking down at the birds as you walk along the road at the top of the seawall. It is so much more comfortable then cranking your neck to look for birds here. We saw many bird photographers shooting from inside their cars as they cruised along the road. The birds do not have a large area to fly to and will stay inside the same patch once flushed. It is almost like birding in an open aviary. The great company of Jimmy Chew, Tan Gim Cheong, Doreen Ang, Lim Kim Keang, Samantha Ang and Tan Ju Lin, made this another great birding trip for all of us. Many thanks to Alfred Chia for planning the trip and Tong Menxiu for finding the birds for us. Looking forward to more birding trips to come!
Black-winged Cuckooshrike is rather skittish but after a while it got use to our presence. Very similar to the Large Cuckooshrike but smaller, it breeds in southern China and Indian Sub-continent.
Rufous-tailed Robin is quite common often staying very close to the ground. They will come close to you if you stay still.
A head on view of the Yellow-browed Warbler, one of the most common leaf warbler here. The other leaf warblers were not easy to identify as they were not calling.
There were more male Mugimaki Flycatchers around than females. Most come down to eye level for shots like this.
Female Blue and White Flycatchers are rather drab.
We passed through Tiaozini on the way to Rudong. The forest on both sides of the long quiet road at Tiaozini was a magnet for passerine migrants. We enjoyed a very productive morning here as it was the only time when we had the sun out for most of the day.
This Northern Hawk Cuckoo looks very much like the Hawk Cuckoos that visits us in the winter. It may turn up here one day.
The other cuckoo species that we came across is this Lesser Cuckoo. It breeds in Indian Sub continent Tibet and parts of China, winters in E Africa and visits Indochina. I will have a hard time separating it from the Himalayan.
Blue and White Flycatcher is always a great bird to have on your sensors especially the male. The Zappey’s occurs in China as well.
This looks like one of those feeding station shots with this female Daurian’s Redstart holding on to what looks like a meal worm, but it was actually something it found on its own. We did not do any baiting.
Orange-flanked Bluetail ( female) breeds in Siberia in the Taiga forests and winters all the way south to Northern Thailand.
References: Liu Yang, Yong Ding Li and Yu Yat-tung. Birds of China. John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd.
I last visited Fraser’s Hill eight years ago. Not much have changed except that more and more buildings are left to rot. This was rather depressing. The overall weather is definitely warmer. Global warming or over development? Bird life was disappointing as well. We encountered only two mini bird waves during our three days there. We did not see some of the commoner birds like the Green Magpie and the Niltavas. The Cutias and the Brown Bullfinches had gone for good long ago. At least we got to see the endemic Malayan Partridges, a species that was legendary difficult to see and get to meet some lovely couples there.
This pair of cute Rufous-browed Flycatchers can be photographed with a handphone.
A once impossible birds to see is now a matter of waiting at the right place.
The call of the Fire-tufted Barbets is always welcoming for visitors to the Hill Forests.
Long-tailed Sibias may not be that colorful but are still delightful birds to photograph.
Bronze Drongos do not need the long rackets to stand out.
I was told that there are two species of Glossy Swiftlets at Fraser’s Hill. This species will very soon be renamed.
A good portion of Bidadari near the Mount Vernon side have been cleared and fenced up. A really sad and sorry sight. Fortunately the studio hillock and the forest facing Bartley Road are still intact. Last Friday Lim Kim Keang went down to Bidadari to see if any of the passerine migrants are still dropping by. They were!
The Albizias at Bidadari are very important in giving shelter and refuge for many of the returning migrants.
He saw an Eastern-crowned Warbler, an Asian Brown and a female Yellow-rumpedFlycatcher. Zacc was there to photographed a sizable flock of Daurian Starlings on a bare tree. Despite his best efforts inside a light room, he cannot find any with a chestnut cheek, Good try Zacc.
The next day Richard White had better luck. He came back with three more flycatchers. A juvenile Dark-sided, a Ferruginous affectionately dubbed “Iron Boy” and the globally threatened Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher. His shot of the day was a Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo, a non-breeding visitor.
When word got out, birders and photographers were out in force crisscrossing the forest looking for more migrants on Sunday. I went down and joined them to find out if the remaining green patch is still “birdable”. The HDB will leave the hillock untouched. Will this be big enough for the migrants to spend the winter here? I hope so.
The Tiger Shrikes, all juveniles and the Asian Paradise Flycatchers were every where. Invariably we were all asking if they are Amurs or Orientals. The split was recent and the literature are still being defined. But safe to say that the ones we saw are mostly migrants.
We added a first winter Crow-billed Drongo and an Arctic Warbler to the list on Sunday. This was a great start and I am sure we will be getting more dropping by in the coming weeks. Do pay Bidadari a visit before more trees and greenery are being cleared.
Reference: Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beafoy Publishing Ltd. 2003.