Friday, May 14, 2010

Mt Faber and a New Camera

Last Saturday, Bryan and I were looking for a convenient place to test out our new camera (a Canon 550 D- very exciting!!).  We needed a place close to VivoCity because we were planning to attend Dr. Gumert's lecture at the National Geographic Store in the afternoon.  We had intended to go to Telok Blangah, but we took a wrong turn on the way from the MRT to the bus, and happened upon a sign for Mt Faber, so we decided to follow that instead. Bryan's below with the new camera, and I'm below, snapping a shot of a pigeon.  Most of the pictures are taken with the new camera, but there are some from the Lumix mixed in.

 Right away we walked into an area with a bunch of changeable lizards, and Bryan enjoyed photographing them.  Having a new camera made the common lizards exciting all over again!

We finally got a photo of some Javan mynas, also known as white-vented mynas.  The Javan myna is an invasive species that was introduced in S'pore in the 1920's.  The species has obviously flourished since then, overtaking the island and becoming the most common bird in Singapore.  They're everywhere, and you can see them as well as hear them- they have a rather loud (some might say obnoxious) song.  They thrive in urban environments, so we see them perched on buildings, eating along the road, and scrounging trash.  I see them on the forest edges too.  In fact one day one of them dive-bombed one of the monkeys!  The bird really startled him, but it had already flown out of his reach, so he just slammed on the ground in frustration. 

There were lots of birds at Mt Faber.  We saw a banded woodpecker, which I've posted pictures of before, and I believe this is a female olive-backed sunbird.

And then we stumbled upon a turtle pond!!!  I know that red-eared sliders are incredibly common, and they're an invasive species that chokes out native turtles.  But that isn't their fault, and they're still really cute.  And who can resist these cuddling turtles?!  People just need to learn not to release them into the wild.  Some of these guys had leftover paint on their backs, making me wonder if they had been released as part of a religious ritual.

Near the turtle pond, we found this hanging bird nest.  I was pretty surprised at its location.  It was in a pretty high-traffic area, right near a restaurant that's in the park.  In fact, you can see the steps in the background.  Despite its unfortunate location, the nest appeared to be undisturbed.  It seems like pretty swanky digs for a bird!  Judging from some photos I saw in the book Pulau Ubin: Ours to Treasure, I assume that it's the nest of a sunbird.

 At a little park area, Bryan spotted a lizard whizzing through the air over our heads!  It turned out to be a Sumatran flying dragon, which I believe to be one of the coolest names in the animal kingdom.  They're called flying dragons because they have a special skin flap (called a patagium) that they spread out, which allows them to glide from place to place.  It was difficult to get photos since the little guy wouldn't stop moving, and he blended in with the tree very well.

These skytrain cars were placed throughout the park, and seemed a bit random to me.

 This next bird is also very common in Singapore, but I think it's a little more attractive than the myna.  The yellow-vented bulbul has a cute little yellow patch right under its tail, which you can glimpse in this photo of it preening.

A little later, we found a pretty butterfly!  This is the Malayan five ring.

I see common sun skinks all the time at Bukit Timah, but the photos with the new camera were much better than the ones I've taken in the past.

Of course, animals weren't the only thing we saw on our walk.  We also stopped to appreciate some plants.  I especially liked these purple and green leaves.  They look like someone applied rouge to them!  The tree with the petite yellow flowers was delightful as well.

Even though we didn't set out for Mt Faber, it turned out to be a great place to get accustomed to the new camera.  We still have a lot to learn-  you might be able to tell that we were having some issues with depth of field and focus, but for our first day, I'd say it went all right!


  1. I'm not sure if this is the same thing, but years ago, when we were out on a boat, we found a turtle trapped in a net (not a slider - this one was a big turtle). A friend with us freed the turtle and wrote the word 'freed/rescued' on the back in white paint in Chinese - apparently this means that no one is supposed to harm/kill that turtle again.

  2. I've heard that turtles are sometimes painted and released as part of religious rituals. The ones that I've seen that are painted here are always red-eared sliders, an invasive species in S'pore which is easily available at pet stores around here.