Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Berlayer Creek - Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk

Saturday, 28th April, 2012 ~ Went for a look at Berlayer Creek, a small patch of mangroves in the newly opened Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk which entrance is conveniently located just next to Labrador Park MRT Station.

@Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk

When we arrived at the entrance, my guy took one look & commented that this place gonna need a lot of luck & maintenance to be truly successful. Bordering this pitiful narrow & tiny stretch of mangroves is, on the left, the Keppel Club golf course & on the right, an empty patch of grassland which will be a future residential area with showroom already erected just behind the MRT station.

Berlayer Creek

At the opposite bank, near the coast, a part of Reflections at Keppel Bay, another residential area is near completion.

Reflections at Keppel Bay

Most probably, the current major problem is golf balls. With a golf tee-off point very near to the creek & the direction the ball needs to travel to the hole is parallel to the stretch of mangroves. Quite a few times, we heard the frustrated scream of a golfer followed by the sound of golf ball crashing into the mangroves. If those hellish screams did not frighten the living daylight out of the animals in the creek, the meteorites of golf balls will. It must be pretty exciting, living in a roulette at Berlayer Creek. Perhaps those swamp creatures will learn to cry 'Foul'... eh, I mean 'Fore'. LOL! =P
I remembered reading a write-up about cleaning up Berlayer Creek & the volunteer crew found lots of golf balls. After bringing up the issue with Keppel Club, the crew still found lots of balls in another round of clean up. Frankly speaking, I don't see any effective method can be done to prevent golf balls from entering the creek. I believe Keppel Club did tried their best coz we saw workers, presumingly from the club, crashing into the mangroves looking for lost golf balls.
It can be foreseen that when more nearby areas are in construction or completed, more problems will arise for this little patch of mangroves. It would be a daunting task to preserve this nature enclave. Nevertheless, we can hope for the best or better still, a miracle.

Rant: The recent influx of foreigners is not doing any good to our wildlife. For decades, when a local Singaporean wanna catch something, at most, it would be only fishing in the canal, river, pond or lake. The urban Singaporean doesn't go hunting any more. But those foreigners are different. Many of them were from poor rural area in their country. Their lifestyle is to live off the land & that means eat anything that can be taken or caught, from harvesting plants to trapping animals. My guy had heard stories about foreign workers hunting wild boars in Bukit Timah & trapping for Civet Cats at Kranji. Our government said that we need those foreigners to boost our economy, but I ask, at what price? More people means more housings, schools, hospitals, facilities, etc. More people also means more encroachment into our shrinking nature enclaves. When can we stop before Singapore becomes a wasteland? The greed of human, knows no end...

The start of the coastal walk is at the mouth of Berlayer Creek. It stretches all the way to Keppel Marina. Nothing much to see at high tide. More will be exposed at low tide.

Labrador Coastal Walk

For a small area like Berlayer Creek, I wasn't expecting much, on land I mean. Even if I had the chance of going down to the creek, the thought of those wildly flying golf balls make me cringe. =P
Anyway, at the very least, you will see insects. These creepy crawlies had been on Earth for about 400 millions years & despite human best effort to eliminate some of the species, they are still here, trying their best at annoying us puny human. LOL! =P

A 'X' factor beetle, a Wasp & 2 Flies making out.

Dragonflies ~ Male & female Common Scarlet

Butterflies ~ Dingy Bush Brown & Common Tit

Of bigger animals, we spotted several Plantain Squirrels & a big Malayan Water Monitor Lizard up on a tree.

Tree-climbing Malayan Water Monitor

As of the birds, which we are more interested in, we sighted a White-bellied Sea Eagle nest high above on a tall tree & an unknown bird nest hanging from a bush. We didn't see many species on that very hot, baking afternoon.

Eagle Nest & Unknown Nest

White-collared Kingfisher, a male Common Iora singing its little heart out & an inquisitive little Pacific Swallow landed near to us.

A vain male Pink-necked Green Pigeon showing off on a tree next to us, a Black-naped Oriole had caught a caterpillar for dinner & a Chinese Pond Heron in winter plumage foraging for worms at the grassland next to the creek.

A Brahminy Kite flying high above, a male Olive-backed Sunbird & a skittish Striped Tit-babbler.

Another male Olive-backed Sunbird showing off its iridescent throat patch.

For such a tiny stretch of mangroves, it's amazing that one can still finds so much biodiversity. It's a gem worth preserving. My respect to those people who have the dedication & devotion in trying to preserves our nature spots. And also, tirelessly trying to educate the public, spreading awareness to the perils of nature around us.

Natural Awareness

One cannot be too aloft that there is no more to learn. You cannot sit in your ivory tower & ignore the facts of life. You can't fly so high that one day, you won't fall.

Aloft & Alone

For those just starting out to appreciate nature, Labrador Nature & Coastal Walk is the place to go. It's conveniently reachable by public transport & tame. C'mon, what's a little mosquito bites or suntan? If I can do it, so can you! Even if you do not see much animals, it's still a nice place for a stroll.

Tame Walk

Note: Usually, I won't be in such colorful outfit or in whites when I venture into nature parks or reserves. =P

FAQ: What camera was used for taking those pics in my blog & who shot them?
Answer: Most of the wildlife pics were taken by my guy using a Canon SX30(a 35x superzoom compact camera). The rest were by me using an iPhone, with & without a 10x telephoto lens attached.
FAQ: What camera lens do I need for wildlife photography?
Answer: For small animals or birds, a telephoto or zoom lens with a focus length of 300mm or more. For insects, a macro lens of about 100mm to 180mm will do. We usually don't use flash for it tend to frighten away most animals.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Save The Sharks! No Shark Fin Soup!

Tuesday, 1st May, 2012 ~ My new war cry is "Save The Sharks!"
Attended the SharkSavers event held outside CineLeisure. This event is to encourage people not to eat or serve shark fin soup. At the event, I took a pledge to forgo shark fin soup although for a number of years, I'd stopped eating this particular dish.

Sharks Under Attack!

The pamphlet I received, the video I'd watched or the talks I'd heard at the event only mentioned 'Asians'. I understand that the event organizers had to be sensitive & politically correct.
BUT! This is my blog, my say & I say, cut the bullcrap! To the hell with political correctness & all those nonsense. Lets be honest & frank about this issue.
I live in a multi-racial society & besides the Chinese, never had I seen/heard other Asians having a love for shark fin soup. It is ONLY THE CHINESE who consider shark fin soup a delicacy & more importantly, a prestigious dish, a 'must have' at wedding or business banquets. It's a dish to show off the status of the host due to the reason that shark fin soup began as a dish served only to Chinese emperors & court guests. Today, the Chinese dynasties era was long gone, but this tradition was carried on by the rich & famous, hence expanding the mass killing of sharks just for their fins to cater for the increasing demand as more & more people are able to afford this prestigious dish. The Chinese is the most populous people in the world & whether they are in China or anywhere in the world, they want their prestige shark fin soup! And this is precisely the reason behind the massive decline of sharks population. With 73 millions sharks killed each years just for their fins, it's no wonder one third of the world's shark species face extinction.

Question: Why should we save the sharks?
Answer: Same as why we should not cut down all the trees in this world. We humans, do not know enough yet, of the world's ecosystem to be able to remove 1 organism out of sudden & expect nothing will change. We could not even suddenly eliminate a pest, say... all mosquitoes & hope nothing will happened. SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN! Animals which depend on mosquitoes as food will die off & when the prey die out, their predators will followed very soon. Plants depending on mosquitoes to pollinate will die off. Food chain will be severely disrupted & ecosystem will collapse very fast.
Most natural extinction took a long period of time. Time enough for some other organism to replaced the niche of the extinct. Time enough to create a balance. Extinction caused by modern human, with help of our technologies, happened too fast. Top predators, like sharks, are usually slow producing. We are killing them too fast. Too fast for species to recovered or a new species to take over the role/niche. Too fast for the ecosystem to recover & in the long run, climate might even be effected. THAT will NOT be favorable for the human race... hand in hand, following the Dodos, to hell we all goes!
Therefore, by saving the sharks, we save ourselves. SAY 'NO' TO SHARK FIN SOUP NOW!

Saying No To Shark Fin Soup!

Reasons for not eating shark fin soup other than the reasons stated above are:
Beside the cruelty factor of chopping off the fins & throwing back the still alive sharks to slowly let them drown, there's the health factor ~ harmful mercury in sharks. Tiny organisms took in mercury with their food. Little fish eats them & medium fish eats little fish. In turn, big fish eat medium fish & gets eaten by large fish. Large fish will be eaten by huge fish, the top predator, which includes sharks. What the shark ate includes ALL those little to large fish intake of mercury! And you eating shark fin soup in a fancy restaurant are EATING UP ALL THOSE AMOUNT OF POISONOUS MERCURY!
The joke is on you, eaters of shark fin soup! LOL! =P

Those long dead Chinese emperor's chefs played pranks on their emperor. Not exactly pranks, but if you're the emperor's chef having to come up with all sort of exotic dishes just to please him & his ego, showing off to his guest, you better crack your head to come up with something, anything... before your head is on the chopping board along with your whole family too! Do not underestimate the stupidity or desperation of someone in dire situation! So, with all sort of nonsense & lying like crazy to save your skin, you produced - bear paws/bile(yikes!), tiger penis(eeeek!), bird nest soup(saliva!) & shark fin soup... UTTER NONSENSE FOOD OF NO HEALTH, MEDICAL OR NUTRITION VALUE! By doing those silly food, those ancient chefs got to live another day longer & they have no choice. But you have a freedom of choice! Shark fin by itself have no health, medical, nutrition value & has no taste. Cook or order shark fin soup with all the ingredients, but leave out the shark fin & tell me if it taste any different? There is NO DIFFERENCE because shark fin has NO TASTE! The taste of shark fin soup comes NOT FROM THE FINS, but from the other ingredients like, crab meat, the soup stock(which is usually chicken) & the pepper powder & the vinegar you added! Replacing the shark fin with mushrooms, clams or abalones might even gives you a better tasting & more nutrition dish. So, why eat shark fin? Remember the mercury? Status, you say & you don't care for your health! You want status? Fine! There are more expensive ingredients out there to replace shark fin or you can always add gold leaves to the soup. That will raise your status to heavenly level, literally! =P

We can all do our part in saving the sharks & preserving a legacy for the future generation. Stop the demand for shark fin soup & the slaughter will stop as there won't be a profit in it. You can make a difference on this critical issue. It's just a small sacrifice to pay in the face of a larger benefit.

To learn more or to take a pledge, visit:

Spread the awareness!


*Note: As stated, I'd stop eating shark fin soup for a number of years already. This was due to my guy, my soulmate who had convinced me with many of the points made above. He had forgo shark fin soup a long time ago, long before there is any movement to save the sharks Therefore, this entry is by him as much as it's by me.