Storming


There’s a delicious storm outside.

the sky is red
the rain falls in torrents
and the wind comes in gusts against the window panes.

if only storms at this hour meant

you could stay up to watch them
forehead pressed against cool glass
untamed rivulets separated from your fingertips by centimeters

when that becomes temptation too much
perhaps even go outside for the full taste
being in the heart of magnificence
feeling pelting drops of water on your skin and in your hair and eyes
getting soaked and chilled to the bone

and not go to work tomorrow.

Instead, I shut my windows tight
so that nothing gets wet.
close my curtains
so I can’t see the lightning.
The thunder is muffled and far away.

and be thankful, I suppose, I can shut out the storm
turn out the lights
snuggle under the covers
warm, dry and oblivious in my modern cave
and try to go to sleep.

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Early Morning Nature Jog


The weather this morning was lovely and cool, so I went for a jog, and along the way I saw…

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A White-collared Kingfisher with it’s striking coat of blue. (A really awesome shot of it taken in the Singapore Botanical Gardens here.)

arkive.org

A couple of Brahminy Kites soaring in the air together. At the right angle they really look EXACTLY like the ‘stick birds’ we’re taught to draw as kids, you know that flattened ‘m’ shape? If you ever see an eagle soaring in the sky, its more likely than not this fella. Or perhaps the White-bellied Sea Eagle, especially if you’re near water.

ozanimals.com

A male Olive-backed Sunbird with his iridescent dark blue throat. Sunbirds are the Old World version of hummingbirds. One difference is that they can’t hover, or don’t hover as well as hummingbirds and so need a ‘landing perch’ when getting nectar from flowers.

flickriver.com

Quite a number of brilliant yellow Black-naped Orioles. I usually see them in pairs. Their flight is pretty to watch. x)

Heard and saw some white parrots flying overhead, but I don’t know what they are. Cockatoos? Looked a bit small for cockatoos. Maybe some Tanimbar Corrella? Which is actually also a kind of cockatoo oops, just not the kind most thinnk of when they hear ‘cockatoo’. There used to be a pair that always visited the tree outside my old house in commonwealth. Don’t know if they were what I saw today, but have a picture anyway. x)

A very cute little baby sparrow of some sort, hopping in the path in front of me.

en.wikipedia.org

Heard but didn’t see the Asian Koel with it’s distinctive call. It’s a kind of cuckoo, which means it is also A PARASITE. :O Cuckoos are really evil. We watched a video of them in class and its AMAZING(ly evil) how the new born baby cuckoo chick will push out the other eggs in the nest, how they manipulate the duped foster parents into feeding them more, and how they can grow SO FAT to like, three times the size of the foster parents, taking up the whole nest, AND STILL GET FED. D: D:

Okay, now I have to find the video for you. Hold on. Here you go. It’s not the one I saw, but it shows almost the exact same thing.

And of course the usual suspects:

treknature.combirdorable.combirdforum.netpbase.com

The Javan Mynah (which is EVERYWHERE, as compared to the Common Mynah, which is ironically nowhere near as common), some Eurasian Tree Sparrows, the Spotted Dove (which looks too similar, especially from afar, to the Zebra Dove) and many bubbly Yellow Vented Bulbuls.

Also saw a bunch of swifts/swallows/swiflets doing their thang, which is aerial feeding, which is when they swoop around and around continuously eating insects as they fly.

Most excitingly, I saw the Variable Squirrel again! This is the second time I’ve seen it. It’s quite distinct from the squirrel that we’ve been seeing all our lives all over the island, which is the Plantain Squirrel. (Or sometimes the Slender Squirrel).

In primary 3, my classroom was on the second floor and there was a rain tree directly outside our classroom window. I remember the episodes whenever a squirrel was spotted running through the branches: overly enthusiastic girls pointing out at the window going, ‘Squirrel! Squirrel!’ as the more excitable ones jumped out of their seats and raced to the window. A class affair. XD I can imagine the teacher rolling her eyes. XD

Anyway. The variable squirrel is apparently not native to Singapore though. Which is bad, because you never know how it may affect native fauna. It’s introduced from Thailand. Ah well. It’s still cute.

Did you know that there used to be a giant mliky coloured squirrel in Singapore? That apparently got EATEN to (local) extinction?! D: These humans. Eat everything that moves. The Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel, which is now most likely extinct in Singapore.

The picture in that link doesn’t do it justice at all, so here, have a picture:

Obviously, since I was jogging at that time, these pictures aren’t taken by me. (I wish they had been! That would be awesome.) Click on the pictures to go to where I got them from, and click on the name of the animal to find out a little more about it.

Most of these animals (minus the two squirrels and toe corrella) are really common in Singapore so if you haven’t seen them before, the next time you’re out and about keep your eyes peeled and I’m sure you’ll spot them all sooner rather than later. x)

After my jog I did take a walk around with my camera though, so I might make another post with pictures that I actually took. Mostly of plants though. Plants don’t fly away.

Well that was a very, very brief Singapore Common Wildlife 101. Hope you enjoyed that as much I as enjoyed catching glimpses of these creatures today! :D

The big, small and wondrous


 Chameleon picture: Brookesia micra, a new species, one of the world's smallest reptiles

Hold up your finger. Now imagine the chameleon on it. 8D
Now hold up your hand, and imagine the stick insect. 8D

From chameleons smaller than your finger tip to insects bigger than your hand. Gotta love this world of ours. XD

Boom de yada, boom de yada, boom de yada boom de yada!

Click on the pictures to go to the articles where I got them from. More articles about the chameleon here. WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE STICK INSECT HATCHING. It is freaky and a tad gross, like a squishy insect being blown up like a balloon. But you have to watch it.

Branching Trees and Nature Parks


New ATCs! :D First and second experimenting with my newly bought paints and third reverting to my more familiar medium of colour pencils haha. I’m sorry they’re all blue. Maybe I’ll make more in all colours.

Shall accompany these nature-themed ATCs with some nature-themes good news: Coney Island, off Punggol in the north-west, will be home to Singapore’s ninth nature park!

A Nature Park is better (conservation wise) than a regular “Community Park” I suppose, but it’s not a Nature Reserve, so it probably doesn’t receive any proper protection. I’m slightly amused by this line, which is obviously supposed to make the place sound very natural and full of exciting wildlife: “Lush vegetation covers nearly 90 per cent of the island. Wildlife species that have been spotted there include the white-bellied sea eagle, a large bird with a considerable soaring range.” You can spot the white-bellied sea eagle in MacRitchie, no need to go all the way to Coney Island.

Not that it’s not exciting to see the white bellied sea eagle haha. But apparently you can also see “birds of prey such as the native grey-headed fish eagle, and jerdon’s baza, a rare migratory bird.” so that sounds pretty awesome! :)

I think I love the wind the best


I think I love the wind the best,
The way it blows against your face.
How it wraps around your body,
Like a lover’s warm embrace.

Whispering sweet nothings,
Or roaring loudly in your ear.
A gentle breeze, so cooling.
Or strong gales you almost fear.

Rustling high up through the leaves,
Or swirling ’em around the ground.
Close my eyes for more wind please,
A smile comes from my frown.

Whipping through now-tousled hair,
Even lifting skirts and dresses.
Playfully scolding: why give so much care?
to prim and proper appearances.

Smells and feels like freedom,
Imagine lifting off your feet.
Carried over kingdoms,
And soaring over streets.

Gusts of love and hope all jumbled,
Feeling safe yet oh-so-small.
Both comforted and humbled,
By the gentle power that touches all.

I think I love the wind the best,
The way it brushes away your tears.
How it envelops all of your body
The way a lover holds you near.

Eggfruit Tree


I was walking along Jalan Lekar yesterday morning (If you’ve ever been to the ACRES headquarters you’ll know where that is) and noticed that the road was lined with these trees that were filled with these gorgeous bright yellow fruits. So many in the trees, and also on the floor, yellow blobs of varying degrees of squashed-ness. They resembled mangos, slightly. I found it surprising that it’s such a conspicuous fruit but I had never come across it before and no idea what it was. Maybe I’m just ignorant, probably my mum will know it. She didn’t.

Some searching using NParks’ Flora&Fauna online data-base and I’m pretty sure I’ve found a match: Pouteria campechiana, also known as Eggfruit Tree, Canistel, Amarillo, Yellow Sapote, Sapote Borracho, Zapote. O_O That’s a lot of names.

One possible clue as to why neither my mum nor I know this plant: It’s probably not a fruit that people eat.The NPark’s data sheet says it’s edible (but usually not ‘raw’ apparently), but it can’t be very tasty since the trees were filled with ripe fruits untouched by birds. Even the semi-squashed ones on the floor were left alone, no ants.

That’s what the tree looks like. Not very distinctive, especially as a picture. But if you pay attention to the the bunches of leaves sticking out at the top and the sides, you might notice this:

The leaves comes in… um, elongated bunches at the tip of branches. There’s probably a proper term for this.
This one is not a Singapore native either. It’s native to Central America and Mexico.

Squashed fruit! The flesh is quite dense and dry. Resembling, says NParks, the yolk of an egg or pumpkin flesh.

Next plant will be a native, I promise!

Border by shoe-fly on DeviantArt.

Desert Rose


I thought it would be nice to feature random plants you can find in Singapore. I’m under the impression that your average Singaporean under 50 wouldn’t even be able to identify 5 common plants that they see everyday, unless they have a specific interest in plants. (If my impression is wrong though, feel free to correct me! I’d be glad to be wrong. :D) I think that’s kinda sad, this stuff should be part of our general knowledge.

Not that I’m totally guiltless and an expert on plants. I probably couldn’t identify all the plants in my mum’s garden, so I guess that’s a good place as any to start. From my garden:

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Adenium Obesum, common name desert rose or impala lily.

It’s native not to Singapore but Africa. The base of the stem tends to be quite thick (with stored water) and this is called the caudex. I remember a lecturer saying that the Chinese like this plant because of it’s fat stems, which symbolise prosperity, haha. The sap is milky and poisonous (to protect it’s water store!), so if you see white stuff, don’t touch!

Searching on google images shows desert rose plants with HUGEEEE caudex(es?). Pretty cool. I’ve never seen anything close to those in Singapore though, so it’s probably a different subspecies. Or maybe it’s simply because those in Singapore have no need to store so much water haha.

They don’t really look like roses, but have a really awesome vibrant pink colour. Pretty! x)

Photography by me, border by shoe-fly on DeviantArt.