Nature Lover or just greedy photographer?

Many times when I go on my nature jaunts and take bird photos, I have been irked many times by the irresponsible behaviour of some of the photographers. One time in Sungei Buloh, there was this guy who was playing a taped bird call that was so loud that I can hear it from 50 metres away! Another thing that irked me is when photographers go beyond the trail and venture into the forest. Not only are they causing unnecessary stress to the birds but they are also unfairly denying other photographers of a clear shot. So I was particularly happy to read this report that a photographer was fined $3800 for baiting and trespassing. Co-incidentally I think it is the same guy in my earlier blog post.

Are these people nature/bird lover or just photographer? I like to believe that if they are geniune nature lover, they will naturally know how to behave and act responsibly. In this particular case, I think these people are just photographer interested in getting that trophy photo at all cost. So to do that, they have no qualms and will bait the birds, do stuff like tie the legs of the bird to prevent it from flying and cruel thing like putting styrofoam in fish to bait birds. All for the sake of getting a photo which they can post on some Facebook page. And let face it, after all the effort, the photo is still going to be nothing and pales in comparison to those taken by professional. These photographers are a disgrace to the birding community and brings a bad name to the genuine caring nature lover and photographer. 

I hope that people in the community will speak up whenever they see fellow photographers behaving irresponsibly and unethically. And the admin of the various group like Birds, Insects N Creatures of Asia; Singapore Bird Group; Birds Sighting; Wildlife of Pasir Ris and Vicinity to name  a few, will banned these people and not allow them to post their photos on their page. Collectively, perhaps then such unethical behaviours can be monitored and stamped out.

Noisy Children put down

SINKAPORE — The authorities have put down children that had been running freely around Thoming View and Blocks 666 to 888 Sin Ning Avenue, after receiving complaints about the noise they made.

In response to TOOTDAY’s queries — following reports of the move by the media — the People Vetting Authority of Singapore (PVA) said that it received 20 complaints from residents about the children last year, most of them related to noise.

The children were probably from the nearby HDB area, and TOOTDAY understands the children euthanised were not the elite from the nearby private estates and who have been identified as an endangered species.

“The HDB children were humanely euthanised, as relocation options are not available in land-scarce Sinkapore,” said an PVA spokesperson yesterday.

The spokesperson also noted that the authority “conducts surveillance and control operations to safeguard public health and mitigate nuisance issues”.

It would also carry out checks on private residential premises in response to feedback on the keeping of children, to determine if they are kept in accordance with its guidelines.

Under the PVA’s Humane Act, people are not allowed to have more than 10 residents, including children, in private residential premises.

“PVA will take enforcement action on owners who have more than 10 residents. We will also advise owners on responsible ownership, and to adopt measures that would help mitigate noise nuisances caused by children,” said the spokesperson.

TOOTDAY’s interviews with 10 residents at Sin Ning Avenue yesterday drew a mixed response, with seven lamenting the children’s demise, while three felt that the children were indeed noisy.

Polytechnic student Ai Tachek, 18, said he had been hearing the children’s noise since he was a little boy, but they had never bothered him or his family.

“I don’t have any complaints about them,” he told TOOTDAY as he and several friends tried to take a picture of a shouting child perched on a playground.

Housekeeper Wah Chin Sat, 62, expressed disappointment when told of the news, adding: “It’s so nice to see them, with the little toddlers following them. The kindergarten (even) brings their children here sometimes to play with them.”

Ms Love Kee, who has lived in the area for about 20 years, said neither the children nor their noise bothered her. “I think it’s sometimes quite cute to see them. It’s quite like the kampung days,” said the 36-year-old, who works in the real estate industry.

For taxi driver Tan Gin Nak , 63, the children are “quite interesting” and “make the place more colourful and lively”.

However, 63-year-old Ms Buah Tah Han was among those residents who said they were not fond of the children.

“The noise and they run! I can hear them so noisy early in the morning … and obviously I don’t like them,” said Ms Buah Tah Han, who works in customer service.

Expressing similar sentiments, a 71-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Early in the morning, (they are) running, sometimes in the afternoon … I think they should be removed, because they disturb the environment. Sometimes, in the evening, they keep on shouting, making a nuisance (of themselves).”

Although the children did not really bother Ms Boh Chap, 40, she still felt that they should be removed.

“It’s sad to know (that the children had been put down), but I think it’s good to actually put some of them down. If not, the population will get bigger and bigger, and it has to be controlled,” said Ms Boh, who also works in customer service.

The National People Board is also mulling over a similar move, but for a different reason: concerns that the children may interbreed with their endangered neighbours, the elite.

“Growth in HDB children populations increases the potential of interbreeding with the elite from the private estate and will adversely affect the conservation of our elite species,” Dr Atas Lim, group director of NPeople National Biodiversity Centre, told The Straight Times.

Dr Ai So Rick, founding president of the People Society (Sinkapore), said that with rapid interbreeding, the elite human will be reduced and be replaced by lower caste.

NPeople will be partnering the local conservation community to strengthen the protection of the elite..

Dr Lim said: “This includes monitoring the overall elite distribution and population size, studying the extent of interbreeding and managing the population of HDB children.”

Though they may look similar, the elite has a number of distinct traits that set it apart from HDB children. The purebred elite have bigger pockets, whereas HDB children mostly have skinny legs. While HDB children sport grubby clothing, elite children do not.

Elite, unlike HDB children, can read and are quieter. Their noise is pitch perfect and tinkled

The authorities said elite children are known to occur only in private estates.

Ms Cull Or, PVA group director of the human management group, said the authority has received requests to manage the HDB children population due to noise pollution.

“To address these, PVA works with NPeople to conduct surveillance and control operations to safeguard public health and mitigate nuisance issues,” she said.

Last year, PVA received reports from residents of Pasai Ris and Thoming about the noise from HDB children. Due to a lack of relocation options in land-scarce Singapore, the children will be humanely euthanised, Ms Or said.

Those Irresponsible Birders

Since I started doing bird and insect photographs, one of my pet peeves is the irresponsible photographers who are not nature or bird lover but are only interested in taking nice photo at all costs.

Hence we have birders who put styrofoam in fish to keep them afloat to lure eagle to catch this fish so that they can take photo of the eagle swopping down on the fish and disregarding that after the eagle eat the fish, it will also eat the styrofoam which it cannot digest.

Then there are other photographers who catch the chicks and tie them down just to make sure they stay still for a nice shot.

But fortunately people who goes to such extreme are rare or at least I hope.

What irks me more are those who lure birds with baits, play loud bird calls and trampled all over the forest scaring the birds and destroying the forest. Like last Saturday at the Singapore Botanic Garden where photographers were out in force to photo the 3 rare birds.

And this guy who don’t seem to know how to read who has climbed over the railings. And that is despite he having a super long lens and the birds just metres away from the boardwalk. 

Just exactly which part of no climbing over does he not understand? Or maybe he crawl underneath? Whatever it is, such selfish act can only block other photographers and scare away the birds. Worse, it may get Nparks pissed off enough to ban photographers from the area!

Who afraid of Dog & Cat?

This irrational fear of dog and cat. Seriously it leaves me baffled. Sure nobody has to like them if they don’t want to but to fear them?

Look at this cat.How can someone fear a creature that looks so beautiful? And yet many many times I see people especially ladies screaming in shock and fear when a cat walk between their chairs at the food centre.

Look at this dog. Does it look like it will bite anyone? And yet I see people giving dogs like this a wide berth when they pass them by.

So I am highly perturbed when people talk about their fear of dogs and cats. Take this post from the Archbishop  on his Instagram on this stray cat found in their premises. And I quote “Now we are looking for someone to adopt her as some of the staff here are afraid of cats”  What are the staff afraid of? “If anything, it should be the cat that should be afraid of the human considering what it had been through to be in the stage that it had been found..

And these paranoid people about dogs in lifts: “Several families, particularly those with young children, had raised concerns about safety when there were big dogs using the lifts.TNP 3 December 2016. Safety around dogs? So far I have never heard of any body being attacked by a dog in a lift but I have heard of many cases where people have been rob, molested, and attacked by other people in lifts. So maybe we should ban people from taking lift too? 

Fact is most animals don’t attack human being unless provoked. So a cat will only scratch someone if say that person pulls his tail or hit it although I dare say, most time the cat will try to escape first. Dog especially the smaller breed will similarly not bit without provocation. Usually when they go near someone, it is because they are curious and want to be pat. The thing with dog is – don’t touch it unless the owner says it is ok.

But this letter writer takes the cake. Sure there are dog poo around my places and my neighbor’s  dogs bark whenever somebody walk by their door. But dog poo and barking is the least of my problem in my estate. Almost every day, I have to contend with this group of kids dashing up and down the staircase and corridors and in the playground screaming and shouting. Then there are the smoke and noise from a group of people who hang around the void deck every night chatting into the early hours. And the parents and guardians of the children at the playground inevitably leaves behind a lot of litters. Do I then ask for these people to be banned?

When I walk my little dog, I do not board the lift if there is someone already inside. I simply wait for the next lift. And the noise from the kids? Actually I like it very much. The sound of children at play is probably one of the most beautiful sound in the world and we should never ever complain that they are a nuisance. The others I can’t do much but just tolerate it as we do not live in isolation and we got to take the good and the bad that comes from living in a vibrant and alive community.

The thing is, we need to learn to live and let live. Sure we may be inconvenienced at time but that’s life. And if one cannot live with poo, barking, litter and what not, maybe that person should move to a deserted island away from the rest of the world. Oh but wait, there may be wild animals and other creepy crawlies on deserted island and which are definitely worse than dog and cats.

Illegal Fishing at Sungei Tampines

This morning while out running at Pasir Ris Park, observed a man kayaking on Sungei Tampines. Noticed he stopped his kayak somewhere on the left bank near the river mouth and he pulled up a drift net. Went over to take a look. There were 3 men who appeared to have cleared a small patch of the vegetation and set up a rest corner and launch area for their fishing. There were 2 drift nets hung up to dry between the trees. Scattered around were some chairs, boxes and even a hammock.

Drift nets not only catches fish indiscriminately but will also trap the many birds that thrive in Pasir Ris Park that feeds on the fish in the rivers such as the heron, egrets and kingfishers. Even the water monitor lizard and otters can be trapped  in the almost invisible net and will drown.

This is Sungei Tampines flowing out to the sea looking from the bridge between Park A & Park B

Noticed the yellow kayak on the left of the photo just below the vegetation

Crossing the bridge from Downtown East side, the entrance to the clearing is on the right of the bridge and just after the short path on the far left of the photo

The entrance through this small break in the vegetation

Inside the clearing the fishermen has erected shelters and other amenities

There is a net hanging up to dry between the trees. Zoom in on the photo to see it clearly. It just goes to show how invisible the net is and how unsuspecting animals such as otters and monitor lizard can be caught in it. And if it is left hanging at night, bats and other night birds and even civet cats can be trapped while moving through the vegetation.

This has been reported through the One Service app and hopefully swift action will be taken by the appropriate department soon although I am not hopeful knowing how unresponsive our government agencies can be where it does not concern loss of human life

#Nparks #acres #nea#naturesocietysingapore #notodriftnet #keepourottersafe#otterwatchsingapore

Leave Coney Island alone

I was running at Coney Island last weekend, enjoying the rustic feel to it and the lack of concrete and buildings. Sadly this won’t last long because soon the bulldozer will come in and 10% of Coney Island will be taken up by the Outward Bound School for a new campus..

The move to have an OBS on Coney Island mystified me. Is there really a need to site one there and not any other places? So far I have not seen any justification to that. Mr Ng Chun Pin, deputy chief executive of the National Youth Council (NYC), which OBS is part of, said the new site on Coney Island was picked because of its proximity to the mainland, serving as a gateway for new activities. For example, participants may be able to go on multi-element expeditions on customised bicycles, with kayaks or canoes attached, to explore Singapore’s coastal waterways and park connectors. – ST 31 March 2016. That is equally true and applicable if OBS is located at East Coast Park or Punggol Waterway or even Changi Village.

To me, there are better and more accessible sites that can house the new OBS. The OBS at Coney Island will cost a whopping $250 million including $45m to build the basic infrastructure.  This mean installation of water pipes, electrical and communication cables; roads for trucks and cranes to come in. The whole nature of the island will be destroyed. Trees and plants will have to be cut down to make way for the OBS and wildlife whatever little that remained there will be adversely affected by the noise and dirt from the construction.

If what the OBS want is a site that is bigger and close to the mainland and near water, there is an alternative site available just a stone throw from Coney Island. It is this vacant piece of land at Pasir Ris Industrial Park 6. screenhunter_153-oct-15-12-52

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Building the OBS here has a lot of advantages.

Firstly it is on the mainland where there can be public transport making it convenient for people to travel to it, not least for the parents to send and pick up their children

Secondly as the land is vacant, there is no need to cut down trees and chase away any wildlife. No wildlife will be impacted and building and installation of infrastructure will be cheaper and more convenient. As most of the structure for the OBS are man-made – having an open ground will allow the planners to have a free and unrestricted hand in designing the optimum course.

Thirdly the site is still as accessible for water sports and connection to the park connectors with the sea and a convenient jetty just at the end of the field. I also understand there will be a new Park Connector coming up to link the Punggol area to the East Coast and which will certainly have to run through this area.

Last but not least, there is an army camp next to it. The OBS can tie up with Mindef for the OBS trainees to learn from the soldiers. In the event of emergency, the trainees can be treated by the medics there before emergency aids arrives.

So in conclusion, I would like the authorities to re-consider having the OBS campus on Coney Island. There are no value add on top of the inconvenience of having it on the island and it will in fact incur higher building and maintenance cost as compared to one on the mainland.

On the other hand, if we have to build something on it…….