I had a two-day stop-over in Singapore on a birding trip to Australia. Because of the lack of time and my inexperience in Asia I employed a local guide Subaraj Rajathurai (Raj - e-mail: email@example.com) for one half-day and a full day's birding. His fee includes meals in local restaurants, refreshments, all transport and a superb check-list for use as reference. Raj proved to be an excellent birding companion with humour and considerable knowledge to add to his extraordinary field skills. In the time available I could not have found half the sites or species without him.
A start at 6am when Raj collected me from my hotel, and we went, with driver, to Changi Village for the short crossing to Pulau Ubin. We were joined by Oriental Bird Club secretary Brian Sykes at the ferry. There we explored the village area on foot, picking up flocks of Long-tailed Parakeets flying over, Red Jungle-fowl, Common Flame-back and Laced Woodpeckers, and a migrating Japanese Sparrowhawk.
We then took to cycles, stopping to investigate bird calls, likely habitat and anything seen as we passed. Raj's hearing is well tuned to the local calls and helped us get Straw-headed Bulbul and Abbot's Babbler in the dense secondary vegetation. On reaching the mangrove swamps we used tapes to try and pin down Mangrove Whistler (with success) and Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, which we did not get. This super habitat yielded a small party of birds which included Ashy and Dark-necked Tailorbird, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, Magpie Robin, Pied Fantail and Brown-throated Sunbird. With a little help from Brian I pulled out Common Iora.
A call alerted Raj to Stork-billed Kingfisher, and a stunning Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker added to the fun. A tip-off ended the morning with a migrant and most obliging Ruddy Kingfisher.
Crested (Oriental) Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus White-bellied Sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis L (lifer) Red Jungle-fowl Gallus gallus L Great crested (Swift) Tern Sterna bergii Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis Pink-necked Pigeon Treron vernans L Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda L Asian (Common) Koel Eudynamys scolopacea L Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda L White-collared Kingfisher Halcyon (Todihramphus) chloris Eastern Broad-billed Roller (Dollarbird) Eurystomus orientalis Laced Woodpecker Picus vittalus L Common Flameback (goldenback) Dinopium javanense L Indian House Crow Corvus splendens Large-billed Crow Corvus macrohynchos Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis Asian (Philippine) Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis L Common Myna Acridotheries tristis Javan Myna Acridotheres javanicus L Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica L Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus L Olive-winged Bulbul Pycnonotus plumosus L Abbott's Babbler Malacocincla abbotti L Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum L Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja L
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus L Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis L Himalayan Swiftlet Callocalia brevirostris L Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis L Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala grisola L Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica L Asian Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi L Indian House Crow Corvus splendens Common Iora Aegithina tiphia L Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis L Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis L Ashy Tailorbird Orthotomus sepium L Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis Plain- (Brown-) throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis L Copper-throated Sunbird Nectarinia calcostetha L
Another 6am start had us in MacRitchie Reservoir forest before day-break to get excellent views of Collared Scops Owl and Brown Hawk-Owl. It started to rain as we set off across the golf course, and by the time it finished four hours later I was a little damp. However, we had picked up Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Hill and Javan Myna and stunning views of sparring White-bellied Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites. The forest edge yielded Forest Wagtail, Striped Tit-Babbler and one of my all-time top five birds, Siberian Blue Robin.
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus White-bellied Sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda Collared Scops Owl Otus bakkamoena L Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata L Grey-rumped Treeswift Hemiprocne longipennis L Edible-nest/Black Swiftlet Collocalia fuciphaga/maxima L Little Swift Apus affinis Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis Common Flameback (Goldenback) Dinopium javanense Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus L Large-billed Crow Corvus macrohynchos Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella L Javan Myna Acridotheres javanicus Hill Myna Gracula religiosa L Asian Brown Flycatcher Musicapa latirostris Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia Siberian Blue Robin Luscinia cyane Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica Olive-winged Bulbul Pycnonotus plumosus Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis Striped Tit-Babbler Macronus gularis L Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus L Plain- (Brown-) throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis L
Drying off, we went to Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, a magnificent piece of Singapore tourist attraction. Over brunch we were thrilled by a flock of 45 Oriental Pratincoles migrating through with Himalayan swiftlets.
From the hide, where we were again joined by Brian Sykes, Terek Sandpipers were the top of my wader list (twitched while wringing out saturated socks) while White-fronted Waterhens, a Yellow Bittern and Slaty-breasted Rail added nicely to the growing day-list. Broad-billed Sandpipers, Limicola falcinellus, which had been seen in the morning would have been a close second, but they had left for mud-flats as the tide dropped before we got there.
Once the rain stopped, things started moving with Yellow-breasted Prinia, Zebra and Emerald Doves, Common and Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds starring.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta Great White Egret Egretta alba Purple Heron Ardea purpurea Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis Striated (Green-backed) Heron Butorides striatus Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis L Slaty-breasted Rail Galliallus striatus L Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Common Redshank Tringa totanus Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Terek Sandpiper Tringa cinereus Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum L Pacific (Asian) Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva Little ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaulti Emerald Dove (Green-winged Pigeon) Chalcophaps indica L Zebra (Peaceful) Dove Geopelia striata L Asian (Common) Koel Eudynamys scolopacea Himalayan Swiftlet Callocalia brevirostris L Edible-nest/Black Swiftlet Collocalia fuciphaga/maxima L Pacific (Fork-tailed) Swift Apus pacificus Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata L White-collared Kingfisher Halcyon (Todihramphus) chloris Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus Javan Myna Acridotheres javanicus Asian brown Flycatcher Musicapa latirostris Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier L Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris L Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius L Rufous-tailed Tailorbird Orthotomus sericeus L Olive-backed Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis L
Early afternoon saw us at the Seragoon Estuary searching for Chinese Egret (without success) and debating the local Whimbrels' apparent similarity with other Curlew species. Lesser Coucal and Long-tailed Shrike were in grasslands close to a river thick with White-winged Terns hawking a fly hatch with Pacific and Barn Swallows.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus L Osprey Pandion haliaetus White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea L Common Redshank Tringa totanus White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucoptera Little Tern Sterna albifrons Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia Red Collared (Turtle) Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica L Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis L Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach L Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flavissima
A visit to a sewage settling pond (which by now will have been filled in by the development work going on) produced Cinnamon Bittern and White-browed Crake (found by Brian and giving stonking views). Red-collared Doves were feeding with the local pigeons, watched by Scaly-breasted Munias in nearby tall grass.
A few hundred yards away the grass habitat of long disused settling ponds were most productive with Black-headed and White-headed Munias, Baya and Streaked Weavers, Oriental Pipit, Barred Buttonquail, Pallas's Grasshopper and Oriental Reed Warblers.
Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator L Little Swift Apus affinis Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola) Cisticola juncidis Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis L Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata L Black-headed (Chestnut) Munia Lonchura malacca L White-headed Munia Lonchura maja L Oriental (Paddyfield) Pipit Anthus rufulus L Streaked Weaver Ploceus manjar L Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus L
As the day drew to a close we stopped at Loyang Camp for brilliant performances by the following:
Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri L Tanimbar (Goffin's) Cockatoo * Cacatua goffini L Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala L Asian (Philippine) Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis
Our last stop was in forest near the Botanical Gardens where we had a second Ruddy Kingfisher, Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher and a roosting Changeable Hawk-Eagle.
Changeable Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus L Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus Hill Myna Gracula religiosa Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher Rhinomyias brunneata L
Three hours later I was on an excellent British Airways flight back to London.
In total I had seen 122 species of which 70 were lifers.
GREBES (Podicipedidae) Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis HERONS + BITTERNS (Ardeinae) Little Egret Egretta garzetta Great White Egret Egretta alba Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Purple Heron Ardea purpurea Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis Striated (Green-backed) Heron Butorides striatus Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus OSPREY (Pandionidae) Osprey Pandion haliaetus HAWKS, EAGlES + KITES (Accipitridae) Crested (Oriental) Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis Changeable Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus PHEASANTS, GROUSE, QUAIlS + TURKEYS (Phasianidae) Red Jungle-fowl Gallus gallus BUTTONQUAIlS (Turnicidae) Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator RAIlS, MOORHEN + COOTS (Rallidae) Slaty-breasted Rail Galliallus striatus White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea SNIPE, SANDPIPERS + PHAlAROPES (Scolopacidae) Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Common Redshank Tringa totanus Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Terek Sandpiper Tringa cinereus Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea COURSERS + PRATINCOLES (Glareolidae) Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum PLOVERS + LAPWINGS (Charadriidae) Pacific (Asian) Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaulti GULLS + TERNS (Laridae) White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucoptera Great Crested (Swift) Tern Sterna bergii Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis Little Tern Sterna albifrons PIGEONS + DOVES (Colombidae) Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis Red Collared (Turtle) Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica Emerald Dove (Green-winged Pigeon) Chalcophaps indica Pink-necked pigeon Treron vernans Zebra (Peaceful) Dove Geopelia striata PARROTS (Psittacidae) Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda COCKATOOS (Cacatuidae) Tanimbar (Goffin's) Cockatoo * Cacatua goffini CUCKOOS (Cuculidae) Asian (Common) Koel Eudynamys scolopacea COUCALS (Centropodidae) Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis OWLS (Strigidae) Collared Scops Owl Otus bakkamoena Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata TREESWIFTS (Hemiprocnidae) Grey-rumped Treeswift Hemiprocne longipennis SWIFTS (Apodidae) Himalayan Swiftlet Callocalia brevirostris Edible-nest/Black Swiftlet Collocalia fuciphaga/maxima Pacific (Fork-tailed) Swift Apus pacificus Little Swift Apus affinis KINGFISHERS (Alcedinidae) Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata White-collared Kingfisher Halcyon (Todihramphus) chloris BEE-EATERS (Meropidae) Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus ROLLERS (Coraciidae) Eastern Broad-billed Roller (Dollarbird) Eurystomus orientalis ASIAN BARBETS (Megalaimidae) Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala WOODPECKERS (Picidae) Laced Woodpecker Picus vittalus Common Flameback (Goldenback) Dinopium javanense WHISTLERS AND ALLIES (Pachycephalidae) Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala grisola MONARCH FLYCATCHERS (Monarchidae) Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica Asian Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi DRONGOS (Dicruridae) Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus JAYS + CROWS (Corvidae) Indian house Crow Corvus splendens Large-billed Crow Corvus macrohynchos IORAS (Aegithinidae) Common Iora Aegithina tiphia ORIOLES (Oriolidae) Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis CUCKOO-SHRIKES (Campephagidae) Pied Triller Lalage nigra FAIRY-BLUEBIRD + LEAFBIRDS (Irenidae) Asian Fairy-Bluebird Irena puella SHRIKES (Laniidae) Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach STARLINGS AND MYNAS (Sturnidae) Asian (Philippine) Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis Common Myna Acridotheries tristis Javan Myna Acridotheres javanicus Hill Myna Gracula religiosa OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS (Musicapidae) Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher Rhinomyias brunneata Asian Brown Flycatcher Musicapa latirostris Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia Siberian Blue Robin Luscinia cyane Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis SWALLOWS AND MARTINS (Hirundinidae) Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica BULBULS + GREENBULS (Pycnonotidae) Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier Olive-winged Bulbul Pycnonotus plumosus CISTICOLAS + ALLIES (Cisticolidae) Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola) Cisticola juncidis Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris OLD WORLD WARBLERS (Sylviidae) Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis Rufous-tailed Tailorbird Orthotomus sericeus Ashy Tailorbird Orthotomus sepium Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis BABBLERS (Timaliidae) Abbott's Babbler Malacocincla abbotti Striped Tit-Babbler Macronus gularis OLD WORLD SPARROWS (Passeridae) Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus WAXBILLS + ALLIES (Estrildidae) Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata Black-headed (Chestnut) Munia Lonchura malacca White-headed Munia Lonchura maja WAGTAILS + PIPITS (Motacillidae) Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flavissima Oriental (Paddyfield) Pipit Anthus rufulus WEAVERS + ALLIES (Ploceidae) Streaked Weaver Ploceus manjar Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum SUNBIRDS (Nectariniidae) Plain- (Brown-) throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis Purple-throated Sunbird Nectarinia Sperata Copper-throated Sunbird Nectarinia calcostetha Olive-backed Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja
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