Monday, May 12, 2008

Bird life and fat cats

Wanted to blog this before but had no time in previous weeks.

Some weeks ago, we spotted a huge adult owl in the tree just outside our house. Could not see the markings clearly since this was at night and the orange light from the streetlamps were not very helpful either. It looked like it had a white face and chest, big dark eyes and (I think!) brown feathers. It was a huge bird! We stood beneath the tree watching it for a while before it flew off. When it did, we marvelled at its wing span - must have been easily more than a metre across!

It was so rare to see an owl in the open! It flew eastwards but about a week after that, it returned. Must be the same owl - can't be so many owls suddenly flying about like that right?? Unless you're living in Little Whinging of course! The owl perched on the same branch, surveyed us a bit and then flew off towards the west. I wonder where it was going? Reading an article on the Nature Society website about owls in Singapore, I wonder if the owl will also survive long. For it to have grown so big, it must have - but what of the rest of its kind? In this sort of concrete jungle, can it survive? The fact that its spotted in a heavily built-up residential area, nowhere near the central catchment area, makes me wonder - can it survive and adapt for much longer?

Then on a Sunday night after dinner at Bukit Timah Road, just outside Old Holland Road, we saw a glimpse of white in the trees and realised they were not doves but cockatoos! White cockatoos - about three or four of them, perched high up in the trees. They looked like those white cockatoos which are so abundant in Australia. How did they get here??

All of us were so thrilled to see them - we were craning our necks trying to spot them even as the car was moving.

Just about three weeks ago, we were in the car at the CTE slip road leading to Bukit Timah Road near KKWCH when we saw an eagle soaring high above us near Cavanagh Road. Huge wingspan and so majestic as it swooped and glided on the air currents. We figured this one must be nesting somewhere in the nearby Istana grounds, which were appropriately wooded. Not the first time we saw an eagle flying in the city, another time was at the Botanic Gardens - And on my way to Batam a few weeks ago, I spotted a white-bellied sea eagle flying off from Sentosa's fringes - oh, majestic!

What are the odds of seeing an owl and cockatoos flying free in the city? I am still amazed at our luck at seeing these birds fly freely and not at the Bird Park.

And finally, speaking of fat cats (I seem to see them everywhere I go!) I've spotted a few more well-fed (to be polite!) creatures at the HDB flats across from CHIJ Toa Payoh. The other day, to cheer up a crying Caitlin just before school, I stopped to buy her a drink from the minimart there. We spotted a fat cat sitting near the lift, grooming itself. When I came near, hoping to take a picture of it on my phone, it looked up then walked past, curling itself around my calves as it did so. Caitlin said in delight: Ooh it likes you mum! Then it just gave me the usual disdainful and inscrutable look, sat down and continued grooming itself. It did not seem frightened or wary of humans, so I think it must be quite well cared for by the community. One of its ears was tipped - a sign that the cat had been sterilised and released back into its habitat.

That was not the only fat cat we saw in the vicinity - all had an ear tipped - and all were nicely plumped up. I think these community cats here are very lucky - they have found a home which accepts them. So many of their counterparts in other parts of Singapore may not be as lucky.


Rita said...

Pat, got a lot of white cuckatoos in Changi Village lah !

We'd be thrilled to see an owl, though !

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree with your last statement. Just read in the ST about the abused cats found in pasir ris recently. So terrible. :(


Rita, which part of Changi V?

We once had a baby owl on a hostelmate's window (in varsity days). Looked injured. It stayed there for about 2 days, not doing anything at all, not even moving when anybody came near it (but no one tried to touch it, thankfully). Then it just took off. That was probably the closest I ever came to seeing one so close up (Bird Park not included).

Pat, can always call Bird Park to let them know d:)

Momto5 said...

By the time i call Bird Park the owl would have flown off! Check out the Nature Society page for interesting information on owls in Singapore!