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Reflection

At this very moment, I am staring at blank space thinking, what do I want to do? Where do I see myself in 5 years? What do I want to achieve?
 
My answers to those questions: I don’t know.
I don’t know if I should feel sorry for myself and cry my eyes out or start figuring out what I want to do about it. I want to get up and budge but it seems like I’m stuck.

Our trip: Pasir Ris Park

2 days of bird watching and it’s not enough. Ever since we started this passion of ours, we have been researching for places to go, reading on the different species found in different areas and even Instagram hopping from one profile to another, in hoping to find a good spot to encounter new species.

After an intense discussion while on the way home from the Singapore Botanic Gardens, we decided to venture out to the Eastern side of Singapore and explore the area.

As usual, we woke up at 5 am in the morning and made our way down to the East. Grabbed a quick bite at McDonald’s’ and we made our way down to the entrance of Pasir Ris Park. The last time we were here, we focused on macro photography because we were given the opportunity to use a 100mm macro lens.

While making our way in, we could hear the sound of the birds filling up the surrounding. The first thing we saw while walking in were a few professional photographers were ready at their chosen spot around the pond, waiting for the right time to snap a photo. After we found a spot, we did the same. The first bird that flew in sight was the Asian Pied Fantail. Sadly, I wasn’t able to capture it fast enough. My partner managed to get it though. He was elated when he reviewed the photo. Damn, it was stunning.

Waited for a while more and we managed to get this:

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The Pacific Swallow is a fast flyer and feeds on insects, especially flies, while airborne. – Wikipedia

Yes! It is the Pacific Swallow. I was so excited when I saw it was on the bench just beside us. I tried to zoom in as much as I can, and since I don’t have a stable hand, that explains why the image is not as sharp as i imagined it to be. I regained fast though when I saw a Spotted Dove perched itself on a branch right in front of us.

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The Spotted Dove is common around human habitation and can easily be seen in parks, gardens and agricultural areas. – birdsinbackyards.net

I was fast enough to capture quite a number of this bird. As I was busy snapping it, my partner went over the other side and try to capture an image of a monitor lizard. While snapping the reptile, a tiny bird just flew into his frame and he quickly moved his lens towards that bird. He was smiling from ear to ear when he saw it. Want to know what species of bird that he encountered?

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Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in Singapore

It’s call is too distinct that we know at that moment that it was the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker. Got a few good shots and I’m pretty satisfied with the final piece. After a short rest (boy, the morning sun was really strong and we were perspiring), we walked further into the park. And guess what, another species of Woodpecker sound out its presence. We looked around and we saw the Common Flameback. This one that we saw is the male.

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A few hours later, the female Common Flameback decided to make its presence known to us.

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Other species that we encountered include: Olive-backed Sunbird, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pied Thriller, Zebra Dove, Black-napped Oriole, Borwn-throated Sunbird and the Magpie Robin.

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Pied Thriller
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Black-napped  Oriole
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Brown-throated Sunbird
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Olive-backed Sunbird.
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Stork-billed Kingfisher
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Zebra Dove.
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Yellow-vented Bulbul

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Blue-throated Bee-Eater
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Striated Heron
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Grey Heron.

As usual, I’m sure there are more species to be found but we did try to search it hard enough. We know of an owl perched somewhere in the park but we couldn’t seem to locate it. Maybe better luck next time!

 

Want to know where we will be heading this weekend? Stay tuned to hear from our trip!

 

 

Our Trip: Singapore Botanic Gardens

After 7 hours of going around Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves, we decided to revisit the location, but this time, at 7 am. As the saying goes “the early bird catches the worm”, we wanted to be there as early as we can so that we will be able to get more sighting of birds when they are looking for their morning meal.

However, we were quite disappointed because we were not able to get any shot (probably because our eyes are not sharp enough due to lack of sleep). We tried out luck again at the Little Heron Deck and guess who greeted us? It’s the Plantain Squirrel!

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This noisy little creature is known for adapting in forested and urban areas. It has an olive-brown body and tail, reddish brown underbelly and black and white stripes along its body.

We were hoping to spot Herons perched on the tree branches right in front of us but I guess we were not in luck. Came across more Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Mynas. We made a few rounds around the reserves and saw the same Saltwater crocodile, Zebra Doves and Golden Orb Spiders.

We also encountered a White -breasted Waterhen waddling around the pond.

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The White-breasted Waterhen are commonly found in the Southeast Asia region and near freshwater. They are also a Crepuscular creature, meaning there are mostly active during twilight.

After spending 3 hours in Sungei Buloh, we decided to rest and try out our luck over at the Singapore Botanic Gardens using a 150-600mm lens.

Upon reaching the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is located at 1 Cluny Road, we were greeted by an Oriental Pied Hornbill. Sadly, we were not prepared. I am pretty sure that the next time we make our visit again, we will be greeted by it again and I’ll make sure that I will get a snap of it.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is one of the three gardens to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! This 158-year-old tropical garden covers an area of 74 hectares and houses the largest orchid collection of 1,200 species and 2,000 hybrids. Want to go to a park that closes late at night? Here is the place to go! The garden is open at 5 am and closes at midnight. Fact: It is the only garden that opens at the mentioned timings every day!

After setting up our camera, the first species we came across was the Red Junglefowl. I was amazed at how shiny its feather were. Just as I was about to snap a picture of the male, the female Junglefowl appeared. In my opinion, it is not as flattering as the male, but it has its own unique features. Take a look at them:

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The female’s plumage is typical of this family of birds in being cryptic and adapted for camouflage. She alone looks after the eggs and chick. She also has no fleshy wattles and a very small comb on the head. – Wikipedia.
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The Red Junglefowl was first domesticated at least five thousand years ago. Their species has been found across Southeast Asia and on several Hawaiian Islands.
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Look at how its feather shimmer.

After spending about half an hour getting used to the lens, we made our move towards the Swan Lake. That is where this we came across this graceful Black Swan.

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The Black Swan is known to be an ornamental bird in the 1800s, but have escaped and formed stable population. – Wikipedia.

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And lastly, the last capture of the day was… the Magpie Robin! Cute isn’t it?

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Used to be in abundance in Singpaore, the Magpie Robin’s population was swept out when the Myna came over and terrorized the city. Singapore managed to find the last few of its kind over in Pulau Ubin. With proper breeding and conservation, its population stabilizes and was released back in the wild.

There are more species to be found in the Singapore Botanic Gardens but due to time constraint and the huge number of visitors on that day, we only managed to come across those few listed above.

Our Trip: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Last weekend was filled with lots of sound of nature. From the buzzing of the bees to the sweet melody from the birds, I definitely enjoyed every single moment of it. It was tiring, but it’s worth every drop of sweat.

My partner and I started off the long weekend at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve which is located at 301 Neo Tiew Crescent. We’ve been there a couple of times but was the first time that I brought my own camera with a newly bought lens; Tamron 70-300mm. I was so excited because it has been a while since I went out to do something that I love. We did further research on the location and tried to explore the variant of species that are found there.

Started the day at 10 am on a Saturday. We were supposed to reach at 7 am to catch the window period when the birds are out but due to unforeseen circumstances, we reached much later. To our surprise, we managed to spot quite a number of species roaming around the park. In fact, we encountered more than what we anticipated.

We made our way to the Little Heron Deck and that was where we saw this beautiful Dark Glassy Tiger. This butterfly, also known as Parantica agleoides, is commonly found in Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserves and Pasir Ris Park.

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The Dark Glassy Tiger can be identified by the presence of the longitudinal streaks in the forewing cell, in contrast to the transverse streaks for the Blue Glassy Tiger.

While on the deck, I managed to spot a Yellow-vented Bulbul, flying from branch to branch around the area. It was pretty hard to get a shot of this lively bird. After a few attempts, here is the final product:

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Apart from it’s ‘bubbling’ call, the Yellow-vented  Bulbul is known to have taken very well toward modernization.

And of course, for those who have been to Sungei Buloh, will know of the famous Estuarine crocodiles that reside in the river:

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Also known as the Saltwater Crocodile, this creature can grow up to 8 metres long!

The crocodile is not the only reptile that we encountered that day.

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The Changeable Lizards are commonly found in mangroves and coastal vegetations.

We spent almost 7 hours there and decided to call it a day. Overall, we were not that satisfied as we know that they are more species to be found at Sungei Buloh but we were happy that we were able to get pretty decent shots for our collection of photographs.

To end this post, here is a couple of Zebra Doves, which is commonly mistaken for its cousin, Peaceful Dove (commonly found in Australia):

The Love of Photography

 

My passion for photography is something that I was pressured into at first. This incident happened 7 years ago, when the hype was pretty intense in Singapore. My friend was telling me about how photography was in the coolest hobby and I should invest getting a camera. Normally, if I am not certain about something, I will tend to read up on it first. Not much, just briefly. (And that is why I am always in trouble, lol). But this time, I literally stepped into a camera shop, looked for the latest model and bought a Sony DSLR Alpha 550. The salesperson didn’t have to pitch to me and I was pretty insistent on getting that model. At that point in time, I received a 50mm lens as a free gift.

I went out with that camera right away and start snapping for photos. I don’t know the basics of photography; ISO, Aperture, HDR, Shutter speed, Macro etc. I was too ignorant back then to even bother to read up on it. I shot everything in Auto mode. After about 2 months, I placed the camera in my cupboard, left untouched.

Years went by, I began to explore the wonders of photography through social media and it was just fitting that I got a job as a Forensic specialist, where one of our scope is to take photos of crime scenes. During the first 4 months after getting the job, we were put through a series of photography classes; teaching us all about the art of photography. Yes, forensic photography is different but the fundamentals are the same. While working there, I was given a Canon EOS 60D, and that was when the fire starts to burn furiously.

Coincidentally, I met partner at that point in time. A very driven and artistic individual, my boyfriend also has the passion for photography but flamed out years ago. Though he does occasionally snapped stills using his mobile phone and it still looks amazing. He used to own a DSLR as well. After we got together, we found this common interest we have and decided to rekindle the flame.

To me, photography is not just a hobby to pass time, but it also serves as an activity that both of us are committed to and spending more quality time together. 🙂

 

Light up the sky!

Last weekend, I got an opportunity to use a digital DSLR for my photography weekend. I did not take much though because I am not used to using a camera without a viewfinder. Nevertheless, I managed to get some pretty good ones. I do realized that the photos turned out to be grainy, probably due high ISO.

From 4th to 27th March, art installations will be lighting up the whole of Marina Bay, Singapore. These installations are created by artists all over the world and there are about 20 of them. I did not cover the whole of Marina Bay area but managed to get some pretty good shots.

I would definitely want to fill my weekends with lots of colorful photos to share with everyone. Let’s see where will I go this week. 🙂

 

 

Jaipur – The Pink City.

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Where do I begin? India is one of those countries that you have to visit at least once in a lifetime. But once you make that virgin trip to India, I’m pretty sure that you will want to come back again.

Based on contrary beliefs, India is just stunning. I don’t even know why people will leave out India in their list. This country has everything that will light up your life. Take Jaipur for example, despite bustled with people and having to listen to the non-stop orchestra piece from the honkings of their motor-vehicles, it has a lot of ancient architectural buildings all around the city.

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One good example will be the Ajmeri Gate that is located at the entrance of the main city of Jaipur. This piece of huge art was built in 1727, when the Ruler King of Amer decided to make Jaipur his city. He ordered 8 gates surrounding the city, 6 of which were for his people and the other 2 gates, for his kingdom. This 280 year-old piece of architecture still stand strong and has become one of the tourist spots in Jaipur.

I don’t have much photos to share for this trip except for those that I’ve posted earlier. My phone camera is faulty and I do not have a DSLR with me for now. So readers, please make sure you utilize your camera because India is out of this world. However, I would emphasize that you should keep an open mind coming here. One valuable lesson that I’ve gained from past travels is that to not have expectations when traveling. Clear your mind and go with it. But remember, plan and research! That is the most important of all.

Travel India – An experience of a lifetime

If you decide to go to Rajasthan, India, take a look at this piece of article. 🙂

When Shah Shoots

agra_002 Sunset view of Taj Mahal

Back in 2014, I made a personal goal to visit the 7 wonders of the world before I die. It wasn’t until late last year I set about planning the first destination, Taj Mahal in Agra, India. To kick start this goal, I planned just so I would reach the steps of Taj Mahal on my birthday, 11th February 2017.

Planning a trip to India needs ample time, preferably 2-4 months in advance especially if you are on a backpacking trip or budgeting. Train bookings across cities and states start as early as 3 months and they get filled up fast. Visas are a pain to process and a rejection letter will not indicate why you were rejected, making you reapply and paying the administration fee again! You are better off booking hotels online as they are cheaper when you get deals from Booking.com or…

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A dedicated post.

I’m going to take a break today from posting my wonderful photos and dedicate this post to the man that I love, my partner.This man has not only educate me a lot about life, he has also transformed me to become a better person.

When I met my boyfriend for the first time, (it was at a gig; he’s a saxophonist btw), I felt the connection and an energy so strong that I know that I couldn’t ignore. I was standing at the corner of the road while my friends greeted him. My friends knew him from way back when they were in an orchestra together. I was then introduced to him. I just smiled and shook his hands. At that moment, I know that he is the one. Yes, it may sound like any love story where A meets B and fell in love at first sight, but this is definitely different.

I stayed for the whole set and I was just staring at him. Everything around me was a blur and my eyes were set on him while he is playing his sax. I felt like he was serenading to me. (Ok, now it sounds more and more like a fairy tale). The show ended and we bid farewell. But before we parted, my friends decided to take a photo with him and pulled me in.. And there you go, the very first photo of us.

The next day, after hours of pondering whether I should add him on Facebook, I mustered up my courage and click on it. I was harping on it for so long because I am not sure how things were going to be. Yes, I am an overthinking kind of guy. Not to mention, adding the fact that I have a very low self-esteem, it just makes my brains go berserk. I added him and waited patiently. A few minutes later, my request was accepted.

Things fell into place. We got connected right away and getting to know each other was smooth. We shared about our past life and I couldn’t be much happier because it goes to show that he is willing to open up about his personal life, which is quite a private and sensitive topic to some. We found out a lot of each other. We have our differences, no doubt on that, but being in a relationship is all about knowing each other’s flaws and seeing them pass all that.

But one thing that I want to highlight in this post is that he filled up the void that I had all these while. My partner has been there to educate me about compassion, family, friendship, trust, responsibilities, and love. He is the one who has been constantly reminding me that life is more than just living your life day to day but is also all about taking in what nature has to offer and not to take things for granted. He showered me with love despite the fact that I can be a pain in the ass sometimes. He loves me for who I am and he never complains. There’s nothing more that I could ask of him. (Sometimes, he will say that it feels like he is babysitting me. LOL!)

Spending our time together in front of the monument of love, Taj Mahal, on his birthday is the best highlight of our relationship. To achieve that level of love, dedication, loyalty and trust, I am proud that we made it this far. We are planning to travel around the world, visiting the other wonders of the world, and discover their mysteries together. I couldn’t be happier to discover the world with the one I love.

To my love: I am happy that I’ve finally found the one guy that fits into the puzzle of my life and I know that I’ve filled up that void in you as well. Thank you for being the loving and great partner that you are. Stay amazing and loving always. We shall continue to unlock the milestones in our relationship and continue to be the awesome partners that we are.Love you dear.

 

Chand Baoli Step Well @ Abhaneri, Rajasthan, India.

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This beautiful architecture was built between AD 800 and AD 900 by King Chanda of the Chauhan Dynasty. This stepwell served as a containment area for water as the state of Rajasthan is known to be extremely dry with little rain.

Interesting fact: At the bottom of the well, the air remains 5 to 6 degrees cooler than the surface!