Friday, April 1, 2011

Things We Find in the Woods Part Seven

While Bryan's mom was visiting, we completed an epic tour of Singapore's nature spots, and we ended up seeing some pretty neat stuff along the way. Over the first weekend she was here, we set a new record in the snake-spotting game: THREE in two days! The paradise gliding snake at Chinese Garden that I posted about earlier, and TWO Oriental whip snakes, one each at Bukit Timah and Sungei Buloh. Neat, huh?
Bryan's nature photography skills are getting better and better! (B. Timah)
A different Oriental whip snake, at Sungei Buloh a day later

Also at Sungei Buloh, we spotted this sweet little white-breasted waterhen. These birds are very common in Singapore, and we see them frequently at Sungei Buloh and Chinese Garden.
I like the red blush-like spot on their beaks

Speaking of Chinese Garden, on our way home from the Chinese Garden MRT station one day, I spotted this unusual bird in a tree next to the sidewalk. I was excited by spotting a bird I'd never seen before, and quickly got out my camera. In my haste, I only managed to take one blurry picture before the bird flew away. But it was good enough for identification purposes: it's an Indian cuckoo!
Unexpected wildlife spotting

In keeping with the cool bird theme, here's a pretty olive-backed sunbird we saw gathering nectar from a bird of paradise flower one sunny afternoon at Chinese Garden.
So delicate

OK, one more bird before I move on to something less feathery. Here's a racket-tailed drongo Bryan spotted at MacRitchie one afternoon. I like these birds- obviously their tails are impressive, but I also like those beady red eyes.
Sometimes Bryan forgets and calls it a "durango"

On our most recent trip to Sungei Buloh we struck it lucky and saw an otter! It was nice because it meant that Kathy got to see the otter in all their adorableness.
Smooth otter

We also saw something else very exciting- a juvenile estuarine crocodile!!! We've seen crocs there a few times, but never such a little one. It was pretty special.
Doesn't he look as cool as a cucumber? A really scaly cucumber?

And of course, the ubiquitous Malayan water monitor.
This water monitor is also a juvenile.

Speaking of lizards, how about this cute common sun skink Bryan photographed at MacRitchie?
I think skinks look like snakes with legs.

While we're still thinking about lizards, Bryan and I have been seeing a lot of Sumatran flying dragons lately- on Pulau Ubin, in Kent Ridge Park, and at MacRitchie. Sadly, I even saw a dead one on the sidewalk outside Singapore General Hospital recently. It's strange that we've seen them several times in the past couple of months, because in the previous year we've only seen them once or twice. Maybe our wildlife spotting skills are improving by leaps and bounds, or maybe we just happen to be spending more time in flying dragon territory. Either way, we've enjoyed watching these fascinating creatures.
Male dragon

A few fun facts about flying dragons:
          1) You see those wrinkly flaps along the side of the lizard in the photo above? That allows him to spread out his skin and form a flat surface, which allows him to glide through the air like a paper airplane. The skin that he spreads out is called the "patagium".
           2) Male Sumatran flying dragons (like the one in the picture above) have blue heads, while the female's is a more bland gray and black.
          3) Another sex difference: the males have large, bright yellow throat flaps and the females have small, mottled blue ones.
          4) Sumatran flying dragons are also known as common flying dragons.
          5) Flying dragons are awesome. Disagree? Then you probably haven't seen this movie.

OK, out of lizard land and into the plant world. I am captivated by this photo Bryan recently took on Pulau Ubin, of a tree covered in sharp spikes. I've rubbed up against these things in the jungle before and they're about as vicious as they look. I think he did a good job of capturing their bristly essence.
Sending out a strong "Don't mess with me" vibe.

OK, I leave you with my absolute favorite thing that we find in the woods (or along the roadside, or foraging through the dumpster, or climbing on some unfortunate soul's clean laundry). The long-tailed macaque! Here are Catherine and Arwen, in the midst of an intense grooming session.
Catherine doing some serious grooming.
Arwen returning the favor
Arwen's one of the oldest monkeys in the group.

OK, that's all for now, but we've been seeing lots of interesting stuff lately, so hopefully I'll have more to share soon!


  1. Bryan is a great photographer! And so are you! The snake pictures are great! All of the pictures are!

  2. Thank you! Bryan and I have gotten a lot more interested in photography since moving to Singapore, and I really think he's come a long way! I have less patience for it than him!