Oriental Plover in Singapore

The Oriental Plover (Charadrius veredus) also known as the Oriental Dotterel is a long-legged, medium-sized plover. Its breeding range covers southern Siberia, through northern and eastern Mongolia and into north-eastern China. Post breeding season, it migrates southwards to the Greater Sundas and Australia. En-route it may pass by Hong Kong, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, the Philippines and parts of Southeast Asia.

In Singapore, it is considered a rare winter visitor/passage migrant. Since 1985, there have only been 5 records of this species locally. The most recent one was from October 2012 at a small strip of beach with an area of mudflat next to Seletar Dam.

On the early evening of 1 October 2012, I stopped by this area, en-route to check out a migratory Black-backed Kingfisher that normally bathe in the late evening at Lower Peirce. I had some time to kill. As I was checking out the beach inhabitants, two birders that I did not recognise came over and told me they think they have seen the Oriental Plover and needed me to get some photo evidence. I asked them to show me where the bird was and through their scope I could see a very distant and tall plover. I rushed back to my car to get a longer lens. Standing beside them, I managed to get a few shots. Then I decided to climb down from the roadside to the beach proper to get a closer view. Unfortunately during my descent, the plover flew off. So I went back, reported the sighting with small record shots to show. The next day, many birders came to try their luck, but the plover did not show up. I chalked that up as a lucky lifer, being at the right place and at the right time.

Two weeks later, on 13 October 2012, a thunderstorm occurred in the afternoon. This was during peak migration period in Singapore, and I thought it will be good to go out and find some migration fallout. As the beach was nearby, I went there to check things out again. From my cursory check, I noticed a taller bird than the typical Sand Plovers. Immediately it occurred to me that it was probably the same Oriental Plover I had seen previously!

This time around, it was closer, and as it was still drizzling, the plover did not fly off and I made my way down the beach and approached way closer than the first time around. The pictures below are from that sighting. The plover stayed throughout the evening and for the next few days. This permitted quite a number of people to view this rare visitor to our shore. Who would have thought a small strip of beach would yield this and many more species of migratory birds?


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