Notes of a short trip to Singapore and Tioman Island, December 25-31, 1996

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Weather, travel and accomodation

The last week of December is about the end of monsoon season. Temperature varies between, say, 33 during a sunny day and, say, 20 during a fresh night. The first two days we had some heavy showers in the morning. Remaining days were dry but most of the time cloudy.

Rain is not a real problem, ofcourse. However the monsoon weather makes the sea too rough for the ferries and in particular the local boats of Tioman which connect the various villages. As a result some of the cheaper accomodations in villages (Paya Kampong for instance) at some distance of the airport of Tioman were closed. This year a big and expensive resort seemed to be the only available accomodation at walking distance south of the airport of Tioman. This airport can be reached from Kuala Lumpur as well from Seletar Airport in the north of Singapore by flights in the morning and early afternoon.

On Tioman one has to walk, ofcourse, or take a boat. In Singapore public transport is easy and frequent. Taxis are abundant and fairly priced. There is plenty of reasonable accomodation near Changi airport as well as in the center of Singapore: a desk at the airport helps to make reservations.


  • Birds of South-East Asia (King, Woodcock and Dickinson, Collins Field Guide, 1993 reprint of 1975 edition)
  • A field guide to the water birds of Asia (WBSJ, 1993)
  • The Birds of Singapore (Clive Briffett & Sutari Bin Supari, Oxford University Press 1993)
  • Birds: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore (M. Strange and A. Jeyerajasingam, 1993)
  • Maps of Singapore and Malaysia from The Perry-Casta,Aq(Beda Library Map Collection of the University of Texas.
  • The first book and the last two I could buy at Changi, the main airport of Singapore in the big bookshop of WH Smith in the taxfree zone. Having to buy your guidebooks at such a last moment is not a good idea, by the way. Proper preparation for such a trip ideally should involve a priori studying of checklists of the areas one will visit and memorizing the characteristics of birds and areas where to find them some decent time before departure... Especially the Briffett book is a good buy in combination with the guide of King. The first gives lots of information about Singapore: where which birds can be found together with a practical ample annotated list of common birds and a complete checklist for Singapore based on the checklist for South-east Asiaprovided in the guide of King. I found that the guide of King is a bit tricky for direct use in the field: the pages with pictures of birds are rather clumsily spread though the book, and pictures (of 850 species) are not given for all 1198 species listed in the text. One has to familiarize oneselve with the book before going to the field.

    List of birds seen at Tioman, December 25-31, 1996

    Names as in Birds of south-east Asia.
    1. Frigatebird Fregata
      About 900 Frigatebirds roosted every night on Renggis island on the west side of Tioman island between the kampongs Paya and Tekek, or in less romantic coordinates opposite the Berjaya Resort south of the airport. Already one hour before sunset the first birds gather high in the sky behind the island, taking care not to get close to the Tioman Island. Some make spectular dives. There is no feeding, and the birds shy away from the White bellied sea eagles. They land on the island just before full darkness. The birds seem to roost in the trees. The number of bird is hard to estimate: at and after sunset groups of birds still seem to arrive. Just before sunset at least 900 birds were soaring high above Ringgis Island. I could not tell which Frigatebird species: most likely the majority consist of Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) with some Christmas Frigatebirds (Fregata andrewsi). A telescope would have been useful.
    2. Purple heron Ardea cinerea
    3. Javan pond-heron Ardeola bacchus
    4. Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis
    5. Pacific reef egret (dark fase) Egretta sacra
    6. Great egret Egretta Alba
    7. Plumed egret Egretta intermedia
    8. Little egret Egretta garzetta
    9. Cinnamon bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
    10. Spoonbill spec Platalea
    11. Brahminy kite Haliastur indus
    12. White-bellied sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
    13. Japanese sparrow hawk (?) Accipiter gularis ?
    14. Changeable hawk-eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus
    15. Black-thighed falconet (?) Microhierax fringilarius
    16. White-breasted waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
    17. Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
    18. Green imperial pigeon Ducula aenea
    19. Spotted dove Streptopelia chinensis
    20. Scops-owl Otus Tooh... tooh... tooh...
    21. Edible-nest swiftlet (?) Collocalia fuciphaga
    22. House swift Apus affinis
    23. Common kingfisher Alcedo atthis
    24. Black-capped kingfisher Halcyon pileata
    25. Collared kingfisher Halcyon chloris
    26. Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
    27. Barn swallow Hirundo rustica
    28. Pacific swallow Hirundo tahitica
    29. Red-rumped swallow Hirundo daurica
    30. Asian house-martin Delichon dasypus
    31. Black-naped oriole Oriolus chinensis
    32. Indian myna Common myna
    33. Philippine glossy starling Aplonis panyensis
    34. Scarlet-backed flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum Note: I did not claim any particular birding excitement here as suggested in this link... Tioman is just a nice island.

    List of birds seen at Singapore 31, 1996

    Names as in Birds of south-east Asia.
    1. Purple heron Ardea cinerea
    2. Little heron Butorides striatus
    3. Chinese egret Egretta eolophotes
    4. Great egret Egretta Alba
    5. Little egret Egretta garzetta
    6. Yellow bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
    7. Cinnamon bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
    8. Osprey Pandion haliaetus
    9. Brahminy kite Haliastur indus
    10. White-bellied sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
    11. Japanese sparrow hawk (?) Accipiter gularis ?
    12. Changeable hawk-eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus
    13. Black-thighed falconet (?) Microhierax fringilarius
    14. Peregrine falcon Falcus peregrinus
    15. White-browed crake Porzana cinera
    16. White-breasted waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
    17. Common moorhen Gallinula chloropus
    18. Lesser golden plover Pluvialis dominica
    19. Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
    20. Spotted redshank Tringa erythopus
    21. Common redshank Tringa totanus
    22. Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatlis
    23. Common greenshank Tringa nebularia
    24. Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
    25. Pink-necked pigeon Treron vernans
    26. Spotted dove Streptopelia chinensis
    27. Peaceful dove Geopelia striata
    28. House swift Apus affinis
    29. Common kingfisher Alcedo atthis
    30. White-throated kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
    31. Black-capped kingfisher Halcyon pileata
    32. Collared kingfisher Halcyon chloris
    33. Blue-tailed bee-eater Merops philippinus
    34. Barn swallow Hirundo rustica
    35. Pacific swallow Hirundo tahitica
    36. Black-naped oriole Oriolus chinensis
    37. House crow Corvus splendens
    38. Large-billed crow Corvus macrorhynchos
    39. Common myna Acridotheres tristis
    40. White-vented myna Acridotheres javanicus
    41. Philippine glossy starling Aplonis panyensis

    Finally, below the list of the Chrysomelidae I have collected at Tioman Island for the entomologist Ron Beenen, a friend of mine in the Netherlands. He can be reached by electronic mail at the address (This is a shared address: please use the subject header: Message for Ron Beenen.)
  • Agasta formosa
  • Theopea impressa
  • Theopea nigricollis
  • Monolepta nigripes
  • Dercetisoma concolor
  • Nisotra gemella
  • Chabria angulicollis
  • 1 sp. from genus Aplosonyx
  • Also a Laius riedeli Evers, according to Dr. Evers.

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    Last modified: October 13, 1998.
    Fer-Jan de Vries,