Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mata Puteh At Sungei Buloh

I use to love watching these birds in cages in a pet shop while growing up. However, as an adult I prefer to see birds free and in their natural environment. Man kind has destroyed many species and sometimes that are the inevitable accidents where animals are intentionally or unintentionally released back into the wild. The local population of Mata Putehs or Oriental White-eyes are considered feral as the indigenous population died out a long time ago due to the uncontrolled bird trade.Even though they are considered feral, I for one am thrilled to see these birds back in the ecosystem. I came upon a small flock actively hunting insects at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and I proceeded to try to catch these birds through my lens. They are small and they are fast, it was quite trying to follow these tiny birds through a view finder but I did get some decent chances with this flock.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Smooth Otter Family

The sighting of a family of Smooth Otters made my morning trip to Sungei Buloh well worth it. This is my second sighting of Smooth Otters but this time I got to observe a family unit catching their food. Each member held a large fish between their front claws and started eating the live fish head first. I lost the group when my mobile phone rang alerting the family to my presence. By the time, I finished my conversation albeit softly, the group was long gone and I couldn't pick-up their trail again. I hope to spot the family again in the near future and in better lighting condition. It was challenging photographing this family on the water.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shore Birds At Sungei Buloh

I was kicking around the thought of where to go to photograph birds. I had my usual favorite locations. Finally settling on Sungei Buloh even though it was past 8.30 am. The decision to go where the big guns are not at proved to be a good one. I had a haul of birdie photos that I am extremely pleased with.
These are the shore birds that I photographed during the morning before the tide rose again.Doesn't this Little Heron rock? I loved the way it raised head feathers while it hunted for prey in the muck.Not far from the Little Heron was the Great Egret, it hunted in the shallow for its meal and there were other shore birds that blend so well into the muck that one's eyes have trouble picking them up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sampling More From Hong Lim Food Center

Bad weather means that I can't be out chasing wild Singapore so I have been exploring food at the Hong Lim Food Center. It is an old food center which covers two floors on the edge of Chinatown. On the ground floor is a small bakery called Barcook Bakery.This small almost hole in the wall bakery, shares its premises with a fruit stall yet it has a steady queue of customers who come to buy their bread. I got into the queue and placed an order for cream cheese and raisin bread, one of the bakery's top sellers.I had to wait half an hour to pick-up my order but I didn't eat the bread while it was warm. At room temperature the bread was still soft and the cheese still gooey but I didn't think much of the bun. However, I had another for tea. This time I took the extra effort of gently warming the bun in the microwave. Have to say that the warm bun tasted so much better especially if one had it with a cup of coffee.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Rescued Trilobite Beetle

While walking on my usual route, I avoided stepping on what looked like a flatten insect or scorpion that had been squashed under some one's foot. However, curiosity told me to take a closer look as it seemed to have a strange looking skeletal structure much like a Horseshoe Crab turned upside down. The strange looking thing wasn't dead but very much alive. Upon picking it up, I realized that it was some unknown insect that I've not seen before.

My guess was some kind of leaf insect but it turn out that to be an ancient species of beetle that lives in tropical rain forest.

The trilobite beetle lives on rotting wood. These beetles are threatened by degradation of forest habitat, and in some places, also over-collection by collectors.
Trilobites literally have three lobes and one each are a pair of legs. The specimen that I plucked off the walking path is now safely back in an area that is not near a walking route. Follow the Flickr link to see more photos of the Trilobite Beetle.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Making Muah Chee

I always thought that this Chinese dessert, Muah Chee, was a pain to make till I looked at the recipe and realized that it was very simple. Muah Chee is basically glutinous rice flour mixed with water and steamed into a gooey starchy pudding.
Pluck the gooey pudding into bite size pieces and smother them in a peanut, sesame seed and sugar mix. 250 g of glutinous rice flour gave me a plate full of Muah Chee.It was perfect after lunch snack for guests who dropped in after lunch. I plated the Muah Chee into small saucers and topped it with deep fried shallots.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dewy Mornings Can Be Magical

With the evening showers come mystical mornings such as this one. I took a walk with my camera and took random shots of what I was enjoying while walking through the field.
The wild grass flowers along the stream were covered with mist of tiny dew drops and it looked like a page out from some temperate locale.Amongst, the dew covered grass was a peacock pansy warming itself up with its wings spread out facing the sun.Not only was the sun warming up the butterfly, it was also burning off the water hanging in the moist air that gave the field its magical quality.High up in the canopy was a pair of banded woodpecker tap, tap, tapping away at the wood to get at their breakfast.Sometimes look up at the trees as nature has a way of creating lovely designs. Against the clear blue skies they stand out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Portrait Of A Juvenile Flowerpecker

This little bird plonked itself in front of me but it was in an awkward position and too much light around it.Not Flickr quality photos but good enough for a little blogging fun.
The flowerpecker is another favorite bird of mine as they are tiny and oh so cute. This little one is the epitome of cuteness.
What makes it special, is this bird is a fledgling. See how the bird's beak still has the shape of a baby bird's and it is still has a bright yellow in color.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Morning Breakfast In Chinatown

Took a drive down to Chinatown and headed to Hong Lim Food Center for brunch. Settled for Ah Kow Bak Chor Mee but instead of having the usual dried bak chor mee with lots of rice vinegar, opted for a bowl of mee tai mak soup.What makes this bowl so yummy for me is the pork rind that is in the spoon. The stall leaves a container filled with pork rind on the side for the aficionados. Okay, it is not healthy but since when healthy food is this yummy. There's the obligatory sliver of lettuce does that count?It would have been a dream bowl if there were slivers of liver just cooked through in it.

Another Pair Of Kingfishers

I've not seen this species of kingfisher in sometime, partly because I haven't been looking for it. While looking for subjects in a field, I came across a pair hunting together. My guess is another breeding pair with a brood to feed.Like with all kingfishers, this pair has extremely good eye sight and terribly weary of humans. Even with a 500mm lens I still couldn't get close enough. Look at the body language of this kingfisher.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Breeding Pair Of Kingfishers

While taking my cat Ruben for a car ride, I discovered a pair of White-throated Kingfishers breeding not far from my home. Since then I have photographed the pair at their nest site, hunting and soon I hope to see them with their fledglings.
The one above is bird no. 1 and the one below is bird no. 2. I can't tell male from female but the two birds have distinct features. Bird no. 1 is slicker feather wise but its beak is scarred. Bird no. 2 looks younger but it spots a dink at the back of head like it had been pecked on. Its beak is also in better condition.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Improved On Last Year's Photo

I finally got a couple of keepers of the Purple-Throated Sunbird. I went back to the same location and chose to shoot without flash this time. As I had a shorter lens than most, I also had to get closer but I got a shot after waiting one year.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Gamecock And Poachers

I decided to take a walk this evening at Pierce as the weather was so unbearably muggy today. As usual, I grabbed the camera and dumped it into my backpack. I was hoping to see a rare mammal that I had encountered before in the reserve and watch the birds take their evening bath.
Upon parking my car, I headed towards the side entrance to the broadwalk. What do I see strutting towards me, a gamecock. This is the type of bird that is used in cockfights. This cockerel was magnificent, a healthy specimen with glossy feathers and lethal talons.I met a couple of photographers I knew and we had the usual small talk before I went on my way. The forest was still and not a bird song nor any rustling sound in the forest. I soon realized why, when I came across one guy washing in the reservoir and I heard sounds coming from the forest. It didn't take me long to put two and two together - poachers. The one inside the forest was using a catapult. I continued on towards the bay and then turned back only to find two in the forest shooting at something with their catapults. I stole a shot from a distance but it was hard to get a clear photo.As I walked past, one of them came out stuck his catapult in his pocket, and grabbed a cutter from a plastic bucket. The two looked dangerous and I didn't want to hang around to see what they were up to.

The Tiger Shrike

I wouldn't have known that a bird was in the bush if I hadn't heard a soft gentle chirping as the bird moved around feeding on insects. Once my eyes got accustomed to the light and the tangled mass of branches, I picked out the shape of a bird. I found a juvenile Tiger Shrike. This is a shy and often solitary bird that is usually inconspicuous.This bird led me on a wild goose chase but it did give me several decent shots.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Squirrel Antics

This is a mammal from the rodent family that one would see often in the nature reserves. While waiting around for the kingfisher a couple of weeks ago, I started to appreciate these mammals and their antics up in the trees.
I set about photographing these cute and often rambunctious little mammals. I caught this Plantain Squirrel this morning and as if it was trying to make itself invisible as it sat parallel to the branch peeking at me.It then decides that trying to look like a branch isn't going to work and it turns to scamper up the tree.This other squirrel is often found together with the Plantains racing up and down trees. To me the Slender Squirrel is cuter than the Plantain as it is smaller, and has a little button nose with a bar that run over its snout. This little squirrel also have cute little pudgy paws. These squirrels never fail to put a smile or get a laugh out of me. Watching their antics is a great way to relief stress.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Scavengers Clearing Carrion

The air was redolent with the smell of decaying flesh for several days now. However, it was only today that I noticed two large soft-shelled turtles in the bay. My initial thought was great, turtles in the bay but something wasn't quite right. One looked to be bloated and floating lifeless in the water. The other looked to be still and not moving though it still had its natural color on it. It then dawned on me that one was dead and the other may be dying.
I passed the turtles again and this time I noticed a large Water Monitor Lizard swimming in the bay. I knew that the lizard has smelt the smell of decaying flesh in the air. It headed in but to my surprise, it did not go towards the two turtles but further up the bay and onto dry land. I went huh? till it dragged another dead and bloated turtle into view. The lizard ripped the turtle open and filled the air with more bad smell. However, it was fascinating to watch the lizard doing what Nature had designed it to do keeping the environment clean. The smell brought another smaller lizard to the area but the silly fellow ignored the two floaters and went toward the larger lizard and its carrion only to be chased away.
The larger lizard whilst swimming back discovers the two floaters.I have a lot of respect for this lizard as it dutifully went back to the first turtle and finished it off before disappearing out into open water.A friend photographed another lizard, not sure if it was the same lizard, dinning on the floater. When I came back in the evening only one dead turtle was left. It was awesome to have witnessed the lizards at work and to see how efficient they are at keep the environment clean.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Woody Woodpecker

Though common in the forest this woodpecker eluded me yet again. I spotted it on the ground feeding on a clump of dead palm trees. I was foiled by my slowness in realizing that there was a woodpecker in front of me, and the slow AF on my lens. This was the only shot I got of my elusive Banded Woodpecker. Some day....