In Otter Disbelief

They come in a shout, a brief cry of astonishment – something emerging from the water, sleek and brown and running across a small island before slipping back in with barely a ripple to form gravestone to their presence. We blink and it is over. The one picture I manage to snap is ridiculously over-exposed; not even one body is visible. A field of white.

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I sigh. I have waited to see otters for years, it feels. The Bishan 10 did not abandon my Facebook feed for several weeks. Articles of residents complaining at Sentosa perplex me: what does one care for a few fish with the pleasure of having otters in your backyard? (The thousand-dollar price tags of said fish, of course, are of little consequence.) Even in Valparai, someone studying otters kept pointing out places to me: oh, I saw them here once. Oh, I saw them there.

I am a little frustrated. And now I have seen them, and it is hardly enough.

Continue reading “In Otter Disbelief”

Is That Owl You Got?

I am utterly and unapologetically in love with owls. Especially owlets.

I think this is our natural bias towards cute animals showing, but honestly? In the case of owls, I couldn’t care less. I will chase an LBJ (little brown job; birder slang for nondescript little bird) across the woods but if there’s an owl, I’m dropping everything and running. Just. Everything about them.

Everything.

A Tit-Blue Sky

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A Blue Tit peeks out from behind blossoms, a brilliant blue sky behind. Honestly – who could resist the chubby little face?

Fair of Face

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Ok, so this photo may or may not have been taken over a year ago. In my defence: #TBT. Or #TBM. Whatever.

Still, this remains one of my most treasured moments from our trip to Kenya.

Continue reading “Fair of Face”

Through the Fields

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In honor of the Monday looming upon us, here is a dog running through the fields, away from its problems (namely, the photographer pointing a scarily large lens at it for documentation purposes only), as no doubt all of us feel like/will feel like doing tomorrow morning.

We encountered this lil’ fellow while chasing what actually was a kestrel and, not, like my last post, a peregrine falcon. This was, however, still in Spain, though no longer in the mountains and rather hugging the beautiful, beautiful coastline. (Costa Brava, anyone?) So many raptors. Seriously, we saw at least twenty every hour, and the most unfortunate thing was that you cannot, in fact, stop your car in the middle of the highway because oh my god that eagle is suspiciously large and is that gold I see on its wings? (Even more unfortunately is that that isn’t a thing that actually happened. Even though the possibility you saw a golden eagle is much better than not seeing any feather of one at all, which is what happened to me.)

Ah, such problems. But nothing, really, like a Monday.

Bright-eyed and Soggy-tailed

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On a recent walk to Sungei Buloh we stumbled across this Plantain Squirrel who apparently hadn’t scurried away to shelter as fast as we had in the downpour of five minutes earlier.

The Golden Rule

Now, the golden rule of life is that to make something cute, you make it fluffy. You only need to look at a panda and the crowd of people surrounding it to prove that. (Pandas are a debatable topic with me. I’ll address that later.) Other examples include but are not limited to kittens (Internet, why you so obsessed with them?!), bunnies, and teddy bears.

Basically, fluffy baby=cute. So when I heard that the Spotted Wood Owls at Pasir Ris Park (a bird I’d been wanting to see for ages!) had had a chick, I was determined to get there. This meant driving a whole 40 km there and back, which is a LOT in Singaporean terms.

As soon as I got there, I was greeted by a group of photographers clustered around a Coppersmith Barbet, an absolutely stunningly beautiful bird that I’ll talk about in more detail in a later post. Repeated interrogation (the silver rule is never distract a birder from his/her object) revealed that to find the owls, I would have to walk further inside and look for the second group of photographers. Which I did.

However, I also found a grown man telling a tree, “Baby.”

Seriously. He was repeating, over and over, “Baby, baby, baby!” and making clucking sounds with his tongue. However, examination of his viewfinder showed that he was not addressing the tree, or the leaves, or the grass, or even the other photographers, but instead the Spotted Wood Owl chick, who I had nearly walked right past– because it was right over my head.

I’m not going to say anything more. Here’s the picture.

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Pose for the picture!

Wait a moment. I am. (Going to say something more, that is. Thank you if you had the decency not to laugh at that frankly terrible joke.)

The chick was behaving like a baby, and in the manner of all babies, it was restless. It stretched its wings a few times (no good pictures unfortunately!), looked up and down and here and there and right at me, too, as the above picture demonstrates, leaned up and down, and basically did everything except sleep like a normal owl. And then there was its coat of fluff.

In other words, it was adorable.

I should like to interrupt this broadcast, though, to say a few words on respecting nature. The photographer I mentioned earlier, the one who was “baby”ing the owl: well, he was doing that so the owl looked at him and he had a good picture to post on Facebook. Yay. Except it’s not. By doing that, any possibility of rest for the already restless baby disappeared. For the sensitive hearing of owls, I’m sure it was like having a bulldozer blaring in their ears. Please don’t do that. Stay quiet. Be respectful. Take a few pictures and go. Let them rest. They need it.

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Somewhere in the sky…