Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Brown Hawk Owl in Bukit Timah

Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox scutulata)

A very rare sighting for us to have the priviledge of viewing this owl.
Actually my objective was to sight Colugo and thus our venture into the forested area in the evening.

Colugo it was not, but a chance sighting of a pair of Brown Hawk Owl delighted us, just the same.

Alas, it was evening, and my camera was on auto ISO mode, and pushed the ISO rating to 3200, and thus the noise that you see in the pictures below.

Owl is especially adapted to night flight, and have extreme keen eyesight and hearing. But on this occasion, this pair of Brown Hawk Owl was extremely obliging that they "hang" around to ensure that we have good pictures of them.

Like all birds of prey, their eyes are in front providing them with good binocular visions to gauge the distance to their preys, and at the same time to avoid obstacles once they take off.
In order to hunt effectively at night, the owl's eyes are designed such that it is like a barrel, it has no eye ball, but a continuous elongated tube. Thus the owl cannot rolls its eyes and can only look ahead. (Thus the impression that the owl is staring at you).

To make out for its inability to roll its eyes, the owls neck is made up of 14 vertebrae in the neck, double that of the human . With that many vertebrae, the owls can turn its head 270 deg. This you can see in the last picture, where it was taken from the owl's rear and the owl is still looking at me.

Its wings are also very special, in that the leading edge of the wings are made up of smaller feathers that will smooth out the air flow, and thus dampened any noise that may arise from its flight.
At time to assist them in gauging the target or to observe the surroundings, the owl can "move"its head sideway. In quick succession of these movement, it would have captured enough information on the distance, obstacles to avoid and branches to land.

Ninox scutulata obvious marking is on the face, it lackes the indentation like most owl, and thus this species is aptly named Brown Hawk because of its appearance. Another marking on its face is the whitish mark running between both eyes, and down to the beak. Bit obvious in the last picture abve.

You can see another picture of this majestic bird in

Monday, June 9, 2008

Spring - Renewing of Lives

For a person who lives in a non-seasonal condition, I simply have no idea the transformation that the 4 seasons undergo.

There is a Chinese saying "Spring arrives and 100 Flowers Bloom", this must be lost in most of us who has no opportunity to fully appreciate this saying. Well, I have a first hand encounter as I went through Autumn, then Winter and Spring in Detroit, and managed to capture the transformation of this tree.

In Winter, the tree is barren. (end Jan 2008)

But with the first sign of thawing and warm, the flowers started to bloom, turning this same tree White. (5th May 2008)
Finally, the petals dropped, and the leaves started to bud. (14th May 2008)
Final transformation, the tree is now covered with leaves. (18th May 2008)

The transformation varies from tree to trees (species to species). This Sakura (Cherry tree) was still in the flowering stage, and the leaves have yet to bud.

For the evergreen, new shoot of needles were also coming out.
Indeed, when the word Spring is coined, it definitely has connotation to indicate that
"Lives are springing back".