spunktitud3

Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun


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Photography -Cable Ski Action at Singapore Wake Park

Wakeboarding shots at Singapore Wake Park
I had the pleasure of trying out the new Olympus OMD EM-1 MKII over the weekend at the Singapore Wake Park. It was love at first sight – the continuous shooting at up to 18 frames per second sequential shooting with precision C-AF Tracking was AMAZING. I had so much fun. Now I can go to the safari armed with a very lightweight and EM-1 MK II and a 300mm f4 + 1.4 teleconverter (equivalent to 840mm of goodness!) Did I mention it has a weatherproof body as well? :) #inmyshoppinglist #superwant

Wakeboarding shots at Singapore Wake Park

Wakeboarding shots at Singapore Wake Park

Wakeboarding shots at Singapore Wake Park

Wakeboarding shots at Singapore Wake Park

Wakeboarding shots at Singapore Wake Park

Wakeboarding shots at Singapore Wake Park


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Photography – Crested Goshawk

Crested GoshawkThe Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) is a bird of prey from tropical Asia, and the only resident and rare accipiter in Singapore.

There are 11 subspecies of goshawks, with the one in Singapore being indicus whch has the widest range from north India east to China and south to Singapore. Know as Helang-Sewah Berjambul in Malay or 凤头鹰 in Chinese, this bird of prey is found in tropical and warm subtropical areas. The Crested Goshawk can be identified by its short crest, yellow eye-rings, 6 fingers, short wings when perched, thick tail bands and thick tarsi.

Crested Goshawk

This bird is a female who recently found a liking for a particular tree branch just outside my friend’s flat. The crested goshawk inhabits deciduous and evergreen forests in humid lowlands and foothills, and have been sighted in nature reserves and parks in Singapore, so I guess the loss of their habitat has gradually forced them to come to housing estates. This particular female bird was teaching its baby goshawk, which came earlier in the morning, how to hunt.

The crested goshawk preys on large insects, small birds, small mammals (such as fruit bats, rats) and reptiles. It surprises its prey by diving from its perch. We have seen it coming back with rats or blood on its beak.

Crested Goshawk
And she blinked at me. Somehow she reminds me of a Marvel Hero like this. Well, as long as I don’t look like food to her I am fine with the attention. The crested goshawk is small compared to most other raptors, measuring 30 to 45 cm in length and weighing about 350 grams. The female goshawk is slightly larger weighing around 550 grams. The wingspan is 50 to 80 cm. The male has a dark brown crown with a grey head and sides, black moustachial and throat stripes. The female goshawk has brown plumage. Its call is a high-pitched tone.

Crested GoshawkGlad I managed to see this pretty raptor (I have decided to name her Bunny – inspired by the first photo). Hope she and her baby will continue to co-exist well with urban Singapore.

Information source: Singapore Raptors

Photo of the Day – A Peek into Bhutan the Land of Happiness

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Bhutan Landscape


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Bhutan – Catch sight of a real-life mythical creature at Motithang Takin Preserve

Takin-x03bAt Motithang Takin Preserve in Thimphu, you will find an interesting animal with the head of a goat and body of a cow. Its creation is linked to local mythology dating back to the 15th century.

Takin-x01The wildlife preserve is located 15 minutes drive outside of Thimphu city, and about 40 minutes by car from Paro. Motithang was originally a mini-zoo which was closed because the King of Bhutan felt it was improper for a Buddhist country to confine animals. The animals in the zoo were released, but the gentle takin which have long been domesticated, didn’t leave the area and ended up roaming the streets of Thimphu in search of food. The 8.4 acre wildlife reserve was thus set up as a place where the takin can roam safely.

Takin-x02Our furry friend trying to masquerade as the mythical creature. So cute!

Takin-x03The wildlife preserve is mostly fenced up with some openings where visitors can take photos and get a clearer look. Otherwise, the privacy of the takin is highly protected.

Takin-x03aAs I gazed into the far woods where the creatures were peacefully grazing, I was quite sure I would never know how they really looked like in real life.

Takin-x03bSo you can imagine my uber excitement when a curious takin made its way down the woods and came near us. I could feel a tingle going down my spine! What an amazing creature, I had never seen anything like it before. My Bhutanese guide proudly told me, “Because it is so special, that’s why we name it as our national animal. It is unique just like Bhutan. ”

Folklore has it that a Tibetan saint by the name of Drukpa Kunley, popularly known as “The Divine Madman” was requested by the Bhutanese people to conjure a miracle before them during one of his religious lectures. The saint agreed to do so provided he was given a whole cow and a whole goat for lunch. After eating both the cow and goat (what a huge appetite!), the saint put the head of the goat on the skeleton of the cow and with a snap of his fingers, the animal sprang up and came to life. The animal was then given the name dong gyem tsey (takin). Since then this animal has been a common sight in the high hills of Bhutan. Because of this magical creation with highly religious association, the animal was named as the national animal of Bhutan on 25th November 1985.

Takin-x03cIn a more realistic context, the takin (Budorcas taxicolor whitei), also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, is listed as a vulnerable species of goat-antelope native to Bhutan, India, China and Tibet. Adult takin have a golden yellow and brownish coat while calves are black in colour.

Takin are found from forested valleys to rocky, grass-covered alpine zones, at altitudes between 1,000 and 4,500 m above sea level. They are found in small family groups of around 20 individuals, although older males may lead more solitary existences. In the summer months, herds of up to 300 gather high on the mountain slopes. Salt is also an important part of their diet, and groups may stay at a mineral deposit for several days. So you may chance upon a herd of takin licking on rocks, taking in the salt found in the rocks.

Takin-x04Rather than localised scent glands, the takin has an oily, strong-smelling substance secreted over the whole body which keeps them dry. This is likely the reason for the swollen appearance of its face (I must have takin genes too). Due to this feature, biologist George Schaller likened the takin to a “bee-stung moose” although research has found it to be more related to sheep, mehhh.

When in danger, the takin will give an alarm call that resembles a cough and the herd will retreat into thick bamboo thickets and lie on the ground for camouflage.

The only confirmed natural predator of takin is the snow leopard, and opportunistic Asiatic black bears and gray wolves. Humans pose a greater threat to the takin, although poaching is thankfully not common.

Takin-x03dThe preserve is also home to some sambar and barking deer. It takes only about 30mins to walk the small reserve, but it’s also the only place where you can see the takin (unless you are prepared to hike up the mountains and pray to catch sight of one). Coming face to face with the takin was a surreal experience especially when you hear of its mythical origin, so I would recommend dropping by the reserve for a visit.

Motithang Takin Preserve
Opening Hours: 9:00AM to 4:00PM; Tue-Sun
Admission Fee: Bhutanese/SAARC national/adult Nu 10/30/50
More of my travel adventures in Bhutan

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