On 24th February 1990, Volker Konrad encountered and photographed a plover new to Singapore at Changi. He sent his observation, including a picture, to the Singapore Records Committee set up by the Bird Group of the Nature Society (Singapore). The committee identified the bird as a Long-billed Plover (Charadrius placidus). This was reported in the Singapore Avifauna 11(4) that appeared only seven years later.
Subsequently Konrad published his finding, based on the identification provided, in the Oriental Bird Club’s scientific journal, Forktail (2005).
In the December 2006 issue of the OBC’s bulletin, BirdingASIA, Paul J. Leader, a birder based in Hongkong, successfully challenged the identification of the bird. According to Leader, the bird seen in Singapore way back in 1990 was actually a Kentish Plover (C. alexandrnius), not a Long-billed.
Konrad, the birder who sighted the bird at Changi, has so far retracted his published record and according to Birding ASIA, “…the Singapore Records Committee (Nature Society Singapore) now agrees that this record concerns the Kentish Plover.”
Well and good. A mistake has been rectified. There were no ornithologists in the Singapore Records Committee then, only experienced recreational birders. Even if there were, the best of ornithologists do sometimes make mistakes in identification.
It may therefore be a good idea if in future, to avoid mistakes as much as possible, the photographs of rarities reported are sent for their opinions to leading ornithologists overseas who have long experience of birds in Asia.
According to our bird specialist, R. Subaraj, “To put everything in perspective, regardless of the status of local records, the only confirmed Malaysian record is of one at Tanjong Rhu, Pulau Langkawi, on 19th March 1968 (Wells, 1999).
“This far south, many vagrants occur in heavily moulted, winter or juvenile plumages and this emphasises the value of exercising great caution when considering such records. One must always seek advise from those with greater experience and knowledge of such birds!”
Konrad, V. (2005). First record of Long-billed Plover Charadris placidus in Singapore. Forktail 21:181-182.
Leader, P.J. (2006). Comments on the purported first record of Long-billed Plover for Singapore. BirdingASIA 6: 45-47.
Wells, D.R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London.