Sunday, March 25, 2012

yellow-bellied returns?

My dad was telling me he saw some birds hovering around the nest.

I was about to take it down to deconstruct it, or maybe to put it on a weighing machine just to see what sort of featherweight nest could hold up to 3 yellow-bellied sunbirds at any one time. After all, it was going to end up being a sad reminder (and rather useless ornament) left hanging on the clothesline.

I didn't think much of it, except that perhaps there could be other birds which might have taken a fancy to the nest. Some might even regard it as free accommodation.

Just the other night, in the evening, I noticed that was indeed a yellow-bellied sunbird sleeping in the nest! I really couldn't believe my eyes. Surely this cannot be the same mummy sunbird, nor even either of the babies that were just beginning to fly a few weeks ago.

Since I'm no bird fan, I couldn't tell the difference. I guess, it's like how some Westerners would label us Orientals as "Chinese", or "Japanese" or "Korean", just as a broad term. Vice versa for us to tell an Ivorian from a Kenyan or even a Black American, just by looks.

This time I made sure I wasn't going to miss out on some of the things that escaped my observation the first round. True enough, there were already 2 tiny eggs in the nest. Birds sure have it easy, don't they - just a few days and plop, 2 eggs come out, just like that!

Will definitely try to find a way to take a picture of eggs with diameter as small as my pinky fingernail, or at least some shots that would be different from the ones that have been posted. >.<

Thursday, March 22, 2012

yellow-bellied flown away

I was away the previous weekend helping out at the Raptor Watch 2012. Since I was not entirely feeling well, decided not to stay over as planned and got a ride from one of the volunteers back on Saturday itself.

As it was my first time at the annual Raptor Watch, I was quite excited about all the activities that were organised. Alas, since I was helping out with some CSR activities for the firm, I was kinda stuck at the booth for most part of the day.

It had been quite hot and humid, which was just the weather the birds needed to make the crossing over the Straits of Malacca. But unfortunately, not the most ideal for someone recovering from cold and cough.

I was surprised myself that I went straight to bed as soon as I reached home, not even thinking of getting a bite or even a quick bath! >.< This must have been one of the rare times I actually listened to my body.

I was awakened the next morning by some unusually noisy chirps. To my delight I found that the baby sunbirds, which by then had almost grown to adult size, were busy learning how to fly!

I saw daddy sunbird with one of the babies perched on the electric wire outside a neighbour's house. The other baby was still in our backyard, hopping along the metal frame that held the roof trying to ready itself for another round. Was quite sure mummy sunbird would be in the vicinity as well.

Even though I was still a little groggy, I decided to go back to bed to see if I would recover faster by getting a bit of more rest. In my head I had wanted to wake up and try to snap some shots. Alas, as half-expected, they had already flown off by late afternoon.

They were nowhere to be seen. I thought the parents must've taken them for a spin, showing the babies the neighbourhood with their newfound skills. I was kinda hoping they would return, but learnt that the nest was not going to be able to fit all of them anyways.

How apt that the phrase "empty nest syndrome" was coined for such as this. I didn't have anything to do with their birth nor their growth, safe for a cheeky attempt at trying to feed them while their parents were away (!), but through my days working from home I found myself growing fond of them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

that internet fast

For the past few weeks or so, I have been unexpectedly occupied with proposal work for a prospective client, and trying to recover from an annoying bout of cold and cough. Yes, it just had to happen during my birthday week.

I couldn't wait to have my part of the proposal done with, and to recover enough to go back to my late nights - just so that I could catch up with the other part of my social life.

To be honest, I was on a deliberate Internet fast, or more specifically, FB, Twit & Blog fast for about a month after CNY. It was a personal vow that I wanted to do because I had somehow missed out on a proper reflection period when everyone else was doing theirs. Not because it's a norm to do one before the new year is ushered in, but there were just too many times I had put off doing it for the past year.

So it wasn't a reflection per se, but also spending time with God, and thinking and praying about the things that matter most.

I think this must be how detox feels like - to flush out the things that have kept me sluggish, to focus on what was good for my soul, and to try to use that period to inculcate good habits that I hope will be sustainable for the coming months. Well, ideally it should be for life, but I'd like to take it a little step at a time.

With the exception of my student days, I've never read so many books in my adult life combined. I must have had at least 5 books on my bed or table at any one time, many more waiting to be read. Managed to finish some really good ones, journalled on most days, and felt like I was discovering something new with each reminder.

Even though I shouldn't ask for my early Tokyo days to be replicated, nor have that circumstance materialise in my current situation, I try to wake up thanking God for another brand new day and go to sleep appreciating what He has helped me gone through.

I guess He kinda answered my prayer by allowing me to have this time in between projects. I enjoy the luxury when I get to work from home (like catching glimpses of the sunbird family), the flexibility of running errands from last year's list, catching up with life and doing a lot of pondering in between.

Then I realise there were a few habits I was trying to foster all at once - waking up early to pray, reading His Word first thing in the morning, be mindful of Him throughout the day, posting the day's ODB title in Japanese on my company's IM, journal at least once a week, continue reading a spiritually nourishing and/or intellectually stimulating book, etc.

Then this proposal work came in, I got hit by the bug that was going around the Klang Valley, and things got busy and krazy again. Long hours and weekend work started to remind me of my previous project, and soon I got tired and didn't do some of the things I had diligently set out to do when I was "fasting".

So I reminded myself that perhaps I was trying to achieve too many at once, and given a different set of situation, I should be more flexible in what I was trying to do in a day.

I think for most part, I've learnt quite a bit during that time, even if a lot of it were reminders of things I already knew. Like being thankful in all circumstances, trusting in Him even though I don't know the reasons, and being obedient.

I fear somehow this period will not last long, well it shouldn't because it will not look good professionally! So I'm cherishing it while it lasts, and hoping I get to discover more of Him along the way.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

yellow-bellied on paper

I initially drew this when I thought the shots I took didn't really show what the actual bird looked like. Even if you zoomed in, it would be quite blurry. Of course you can always google and find a million better shots than mine.

Anyways, that's my take of the yellow-bellied sunbird. It looks kinda round and plump. You can take it as a cartoony cute version of the real thing.

Since the mummy sunbird only returns to the nest at night to sleep, it would have been impossible for me to get a good shot of that. So I thought why not draw it out, easier to explain.

Imagine the below as a cross section of the nest seen from the side, with the dotted lines to mark the space inside.

The drawing on the left is what I think is how the mummy sunbird slept, and prolly a week later, with the little eggs just below her.

The one on the right shows what would be her sleeping position after the birdies started hatching and growing and taking up space in the nest. Her body is pushed upwards because before, I could only see her head in the nest, with the beak sticking out. Now, I can see her body even without standing on the stool!

You must be thinking, poor babies, squashed by the mummy sunbird, not able to breathe. (>.<)

Friday, March 02, 2012

yellow-bellied growing up

So it's been 2 weeks already, and it's amazing how fast babies grow. Those who are parents can attest to this, though human babies take much longer to mature, of course.

Although when I climb on the stool to get a view of the nest I get to see the babies, it's not the same when I have a camera. The past few days they have been snuggling at the bottom. No yawn, no beaks.

I can't believe I've been whispering to them, trying to get some sort of reaction out of the babies. I was so intent on doing that, that I didn't realise the parents were watching me! That's the daddy sunbird with its shiny metallic breast, usually the one feeding the babies.

There was once he kept chirping, maybe to get the attention of the babies, thinking I'm their predator. Even the mummy sunbird, shown above, flew over. So I decided to climb down the stool and lay low.

Daddy sunbird was understandably apprehensive, so was flying to and fro for a bit until it sensed that the coast was clear. I noticed it had some bits of green in its beak, which looked like strips of grass for food. Not wanting to scare the family anymore, I had to stand really still while hoping my wild snaps would produce some usable images.

This was the best I could get of the sunbird flying towards the nest. How many times I wished I had those equipment the National Geographic guys use to get their prize-winning shots.

Just when I took some shots of it flying and feeding its young, it returned to the clothesline again. This happened a few times, until I decided to leave them to feed in peace.

One afternoon I was delighted to notice some colour and movement in the nest. I realised the young ones have grown up! They must be at least twice the size when I saw them last week. Earlier I could only see their beaks and a bit of the head.

This time, I even managed to snap a considerable part of their body. There's bits of yellow showing on the breast. They're on their way to becoming full-fledged yellow-bellied sunbirds.

Note : You can click on any of the images to get a better view. I particularly like the last one of the baby sunbird half peeping out. That's the best shot I can get given that my trusty D5000 is not meant for macro shots, and me balancing on a stool without a tripod.