Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The rarest of the three large herons of Singapore

Took me many trips to one of the few natural coastal sections of Singapore to finally catch a glimpse of this lone critically endangered heron.
NParks estimated that there are only 20 - 50 great-billed herons left in Singapore, which accounts for the degree of difficulty in trying to spot this species locally. 
These majestic big birds live mainly in the southern islands off Singapore, which aren't protected habitat. The southern islands consists of refineries, an island resort and military live firing areas. There is also the added threat of constant reclamation work in the area that destroys even more of their habitat.
There are three species of large herons here - great-billed, purple and grey. They are found in coastal areas but the purple and grey do follow the river systems inland and can be seen in the heart of Singapore's main catchment area. The great-billed however is confined to the coastal areas. 
The great-billed heron is the largest of the three standing at 115 cm. The second is the grey, which is 102 cm tall. The smallest is the purple at 94 cm.
Great-billed heron
Purple heron
Grey heron

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kopitiam that time forgot

Find this old school coffeeshop wasn't easy but I eventually did and it was like stepping back in time. Heap Seng Leong is under a block of old HDB block along North Bridge Road. It's reminiscent to another kopitiam that I used to frequent in an old shop house along MacKenzie Road where the old SBS depot used to stand.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Kampong Lorong Buangkok

Finally, navigated my way to the last standing kampong on the main island of Singapore. Since it was a weekday, most of the houses in the kampong were shut.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Lessons from the CELTA classroom

Decided to explore being a teacher for English as a second language last year. My journey landed me at the British Council where I started taking foundation courses for a Teaching Award.  My first course was how to be an effective tutor, which gave me a view on how things have changed since I last gave private tuition and worked as a relief teacher over 20 years ago.
The way the courses were conducted suited me well as my learning style is a combination of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. I loved the way each session had a context and we were lead into the theme to activate our schemata before the real lesson was woven in. So much so, my first goal was to obtain a teaching award for adults. Ticked that at the end of November 2013.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Changing behavior

It is interesting to read the commentary in TODAY (22 Mar 2014) on "Lack of graciousness is the tip of 'indifference iceberg'". I agree with the writer's view point as many of us are indifferent to things that go on around us.
We live in a society that has just about a sign for everything. Yet people choose to ignore signs and notices such as these :-

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Frogs on my mind

News flash: The live tadpoles and baby frogs sold at pet shops as fish food are of one species of frog - the American bullfrog. 
People who take these into the nature reserves should know that American bullfrogs are an invasive species. Tadpoles and froglets (young frogs) are more harmful as they disappear into the ecosystem. They will live within it eating and growing unseen by most. The local wildlife will end-up on their dining menu. Bullfrogs are indiscriminate feeders, they eat anything they can fit in their large mouths, which will put small birds, insects, fish, reptiles, frogs and mammals at risk. 
They can do the same damage as :-
  • Cane toads in Australia and many other countries
  • Pythons invading the Florida Everglades in North America
  • Snakeheads in the North American waterways
They can wipe out native species.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

End of the road for a 110-year-old Chinese opera troupe

The Sin Sai Hong Hokkien Opera Troupe held its last performance on 4 March 2014. Unfortunately, I wasn't there to document the end but I was lucky enough to have photographed the troupe in 2010 and 2013. 
Sin Sai Hong, the oldest Hokkien troupe, had been performing for audiences in Singapore and  Malaysia for the past 110 years. 
During the heydays of street opera between the 1930s to 1960s, these street performances drew large crowds. Today, these street opera troupes struggle to stay relevant as audience numbers dwindles. Since the government changed its linguistic policy in the 1970s to favor Mandarin, many of us are unable to understand dialects. This also led to a lack of young talent joining the troupes. Sad to see this troupe that was built on three generations of tears and sweat go, but thank you for the memories, and the warmth the performers have shown me even though I could hardly communicate with them in proper Hokkien. For more photos click here