Big Year 2018
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-rumped Munias 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