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Bird List Revision for June 2018

The third revision of the Singapore Bird List for 2018 is now available at our website. The downloadable list (in Excel format) is available HERE.

There is one new species added in this revision, the Great Slaty Woodpecker. Previously considered to be extirpated from Singapore, with 2 unconfirmed sightings at Changi in the 1970s. A female woodpecker was photographed at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on 1 May 2018. The woodpecker was seen again feeding near the summit from 4-6 May 2018. A female (probably the same bird) was photographed at Central Catchment forest (along the pipeline trail) from 11-12 May 2018.

A white-rumped storm-petrel was also observed and photographed at a distance on a pelagic survey on 12 May along Singapore Strait. It is likely to be a Wilson’s Storm Petrel, but because of the distance involved, a conclusive ID cannot be obtained without totally ruling out other white-rumped storm-petrels. Hence the decision to withhold the inclusion of this species into our checklist until further sightings are reported.

Pelagic Bird Survey at the Singapore Strait – 5 May 2018

On 5 May 2018, a boat with 10 birders/bird photographers boarded from Marina Cove, Sentosa and headed towards the eastern part of the Singapore Strait up until closer to coast of Pengerang, Malaysia.

The weather was fine, and we expected we should see a mixture of the usual resident seabirds as well as some spring migrants on passage. Early May should bring us some Swinhoe’s Storm Petrels and Short-tailed Shearwaters. Our hunch proved correct.

The Short-tailed Shearwater is listed as a rare passage migrant for Singapore, and we were glad to see 3 of them in this trip, with a close view of a pair quickly flying past our boat.

Short-tailed Shearwater at Singapore Strait

The Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel is a reliable and common passage migrant at the Singapore Strait. We expected bigger numbers to show up, but we did manage to see at least 6 birds.

Distant shot of Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel at Singapore Strait

What was unexpected was an appearance of a faraway Gull-billed Tern, which was a bonus bird. Unfortunately, it was only seen by a few people on board.

Distant shot of a non-breeding Gull-billed Tern at Singapore Strait

Other terns seen were the usual Black-naped Terns, Lesser Crested Terns, Greater cRested Terns, Little Terns and Bridled Terns.

A pair of Bridled Tern at Singapore Strait
A juvenile Bridled Tern at Singapore Strait
Lesser Crested Tern at Singapore Strait
A Black-naped Tern lit by the warm glow of the morning sun. Photographed at Singapore Strait

Here is the table of the bird count for the trip:

Bird Name Count
Short-tailed Shearwater 3
Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel 6
Bridled Tern 19
Little Tern 30
Gull-billed Tern 1
Black-naped Tern 2
Greater Crested Tern 2
Lesser Crested Tern 29
Tern sp 10
Swiftlets sp 6
Route for the Pelagic Bird Survey – 5 May 2018

Bird List Revision for April 2018

The second revision of the Singapore Bird List for 2018 is now available at our website. The Excel format of the list is available HERE.

There is one new species added in this revision, the Indian Paradise Flycatcher. A single bird was reported by Feroz Fizah at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 23 March 2018 and seen the following day and week. Once its identity was established, Oliver Tan managed to retrieve from his photo archive an older record at the same location on 2 December 2017. Presumably, the bird was wintering in the vicinity the entire season.

Indian Paradise Flycatcher at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in March 2018

With this addition, our Singapore bird list now stands at 400 species. Eleven years ago in 2007, the Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore (2007 revised edition) by Lim Kim Seng listed 364 wild bird species being recorded in the country. Subsequent additions and removals resulted in a net gain of 36 species. In other words, we have had a net increase of 10% in the total number of wild bird species recorded compared to 2007. If current trend continues, we can expect addition of an average of 3 new species a year.

Part of reason for this rapid addition of new species into our list can be explained by advancement in the field of bird taxonomy resulting in splitting of what used to be one species into multiple newer ones. A key example is that in the past, the Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher, Amur Paradise Flycatcher and the newly included Indian Paradise Flycatcher were once lumped together as a single species, the Asian Paradise Flycatcher.

Another important reason is the increasing number of birders and bird photographers in the field over the past decade. There are simply a lot more people in the field looking for birds these days compared to merely a handful in the past. The relative affordability of camera systems play a big part in the increase of number of bird photographers, and a greater awareness of our environment contribute to more people taking up the hobby as well. These days, our nature reserves, parks and gardens are teeming with people participating in all sorts of outdoor activities (including birding), increasing the odds of finding rare birds in our midst.

Lastly and more speculatively, climate change may have affected bird migratory patterns causing unexpected vagrants to turn up. Three of the vagrants newly included in our checklist, the Booted Warbler, Indian Paradise Flycatcher and Jacobin Cuckoo are migratory birds that normally winter within the Indian subcontinent. It will be interesting to see whether there will be a measurable increase in the frequency in which such vagrants turn up in our tiny island in the future.

Visitor numbers for singaporebirds.com for January 2017 to March 2018.

On a different note, the number of website visitors for the site have steadily increased as seen from the graph above. We are averaging around 600 page views from 130 visitors on a typical day for the month of March 2018. Of which, about 66% of the page views are from Singapore IP addresses, meaning that a large percentage of our visitors are local readers looking for bird information. It seems we are reaching our target audience as intended.

We are glad that there have been sustained interest in this website’s content, despite the recent lack of regular updates. Thank you once again for your continued support!

Bird List Revision for January 2018

The latest revision of the Singapore Bird List is now derived from IOC World Bird List Version 8.1.

Changes are as follow:

  1. Addition: Little Stint– Two birds at Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin on 21 September 2017 by NParks (David Li, Jacky Soh and Fadhli Ahmad)
  2. Addition: Verditer Flycatcher – A single bird photographed by George Presanis at Dairy Farm Nature Park on 9 October 2017 is the first confirmed record of the species.
  3. Addition: Booted Warbler– Single bird at Kranji Marsh reported on 10 December 2017 by Martin Kennewell and Richard Carden. An earlier sighting on 4 December 2017 of an unidentified warbler by Muhd Fadhil of NParks was subsequently confirmed to be the same bird.
  4. Taxonomic change: The local subspecies of the “purple swamphen” complex (subspecies viridis) is now treated as a subspecies of Grey-headed Swamphen instead of Black-backed Swamphen.
  5. Taxonomic change: Crow-billed Drongo‘s scientific name is now changed to Dicrurus annectens.

The latest list can be found HERE.

Bird List Revision for August 2017

We are pleased to publish the latest revision of the Singapore Bird List to include taxonomic changes based on the latest IOC World Bird List version 7.3.

The changes are:

  1. Replacing Glossy Swiftlet with Plume-toed Swiftlet due to split of the Glossy Swiftlet species complex (Rheindt et al. 2017)
  2. Change of genus name for Garganey and Northern Shoveler from Anas to Spatula (Gonzalez et al. 2009)
  3. Change of genus name for Gadwall and Eurasian Wigeon from Anas to Mareca (Gonzalez et al. 2009)
  4. Family Scolopacidae (sandpipers and snipes) resequenced to follow Gibson and Baker (2012)

The latest list in Excel format can be found HERE.

Bird List Revision for June 2017

We have revised our Singapore Bird List with the following changes:

The changes are:

  1. Addition: Ruby-cheeked Sunbird – 2005 record from Martin Kennewell
  2. Addition: Green Broadbill – 2014 records from Pulau Ubin (Keita Sin) and East Coast Park (See Toh Yew Wai)
  3. Deletion: Western Marsh Harrier
  4. Taxonomic change – Himalayan Cuckoo from Oriental Cuckoo

The downloadable bird list in Microsoft Excel format has also been revised for clarity, printability and accuracy.

A brief sampling of regional bird checklists indicate error rates ranging from 0.9% to as high as 5.5% (sampling English Names and Scientific Names only). A high proportion are typo errors, followed by outdated taxonomy for Scientific Names. To avoid such issues, we have minimised manual typing and linked our list directly to the latest IOC list for every records.

The latest list can be found HERE.

Pelagic Bird Survey to the Horsburgh Lighthouse – 29 April 2017

In the early morning of 29 April 2017, 2 boats with 10 birders/bird photographers on board each set off from Marina Cove headed towards Horsburgh Lighthouse. The lead boat “Boon Teik” was followed closely by its sister boat “Popeye“. This is the second trip organised by See Toh Yew Wai with mainly contributors to the Singapore Bird Project. The first trip was documented previously in this blog here.

Here is the summary of the bird count for both boats.

Bird Name Boon Teik Popeye
Aleutian Tern 2 5
Black-naped Tern 4 15
Bridled Tern 26 >16 excluding Horsburgh birds
Lesser-crested Tern 21 44
Little Tern 2
White-winged Tern 3 1
Parasitic Jaeger 1 1
Long-tailed Jaeger 2
Short-tailed Shearwater 26 13
Bulwer’s Petrel 1 1
Pacific Swift 4 2
unID shearwater 1 4
Black-nest Swiftlet many at Horsburgh many at Horsburgh

As you can see, the count for both boats differ rather significantly due to the presence or absence of some star birds. This despite the fact that the boats were hardly 50 meters apart most of the time. As we have discovered previously, the scanning ability of the participants greatly affect the outcome of what was seen or missed. For instance the Long-tailed Jaegers were seen only on Popeye and the Parasitic Jaegers seen by both boats were reported at different location. Likewise the Bulwer’s Petrel was mainly noticed by the Boon Teik’s participants and only glanced through by most of the Popeye’s photographers.

Long-tailed Jaeger at Singapore Strait. Photo Credit: Goh Cheng Teng

The star bird of the trip was of course the Bulwer’s Petrel, the second sighting of the season. It is likely the same bird seen previously in November 2016. The Short-tailed Shearwater numbers were very encouraging too. A yet to be identified shearwater also proved to be exciting, but it was quite a distance away and the photos proved rather inconclusive to ID so far. The sightings of the Long-tailed Jaegers and Parasitic Jaegers were also of significance and they were in their breeding plumage with their tail projections seen.

Bulwer’s Petrel at Singapore Strait. Photo credit: See Toh Yew Wai
Short-tailed Shearwaters at Singapore Strait

The biggest stars to most of the participants were not birds though. A small pod of 3 Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphins swam around both the boats at Horsburgh Lighthouse delighting us all.

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin at Horsburgh Lighthouse

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