Shake a snake from a tree and a nectar spree… a typical Saturday morning… hehe!

A couple of hours on Saturday at Satay By The Bay in SIngapore today was hot. As in seriously hot. As in “an all expenses paid holiday on the surface of the sun”, kind of hot. But I was rewarded with some nice and unexpected sights and some great opportunities to give the camera shutter a workout.

A39T2024-impThe sunbird youngsters are doing well; I was surprised that I saw so many Brown Throated varieties as opposed to the more common Olive Backed Sunbird.

I managed to observe Brown Throated Sunbirds for quite a while, which was nice. Their wing and tail feathers can clearly be seen to have not yet reached a pristine status and are still in development.


The trademark iridescent feathers on the throat had started to form in some of the juvenile males, but as you can see, that transformation towards splendour remains a ‘work in progress.

A39T1407-impNonetheless they are starting to gain their beauty, that’s for sure. Despite their relative common status, they provide me with much pleasure.

A39T1430-impI noticed one of the birds behaving in a way I hadn’t seen, or perhaps had previously missed, whilst feeding. The bird was physically opening the buds of ginger plants by prising them with the beak, and then slipping that long tongue therein to remove nectar.

A39T1418-impThe Brown Throated Sunbirds happily flitted from bud to bud and plant to plant for one time.

I was reasonably close and my presence did not seem to perturb them in any way.

A39T1446-impI was able to shoot them for quite some time as several males arrived to feed, never together, one after another, as if a pecking order had been put in place and a queue of some sort existed, with birds in waiting in nearby trees or foliage.

A39T1468-impThe female Brown Throated Sunbirds were less prevalent on this day, for some reason. I saw far less and it seems that their development of plumage was far slower, despite, when considering the male of this species, their comparative dull plumage. I thought it odd for such a gender imbalance, overall. Whilst feasting my lens on the Sunbirds I noticed a dark shape move very quickly and then no movement thereafter followed.

A39T1350-impSo out of curiosity I moved my lens away from the birds and trained it on the area where I thought I’d seen movement.

I focused on a Brown Aniole lizard, that was catching some rays for sure, an insect or two hopefully, and using its’ tail to aid balance on leaves of the ginger plant. No trademark flicking of the orange ‘sail’ under the throat was seen, so the creature was neither alarmed nor trying to attract a mate. These lizards came to Singapore via plants that were imported for the Gardens By The Bay project, and since have settled and thrived. I saw White Throated Kingfishers take two of them in the gardens and each time I spotted one of these lizards, I awaited a kingfishers’ plunder; alas, it was not to be. I’d waited in the sun for a while and was pretty hot. Well hydrated, but very hot.

photoI decided to leave the ginger plants for a while and get an Ice Kechang. For those of you that may have not tried one of these delicious ‘Malay Origin’ desserts, they are BRILLIANT if you are hot and need to cool down a little. Basically it’s a bowl of shaved ice, some syrup, some additions of your choice, and a sprinkling of evaporated milk. The one I had, as seen left, is a Sago and Watermelon variety, with added lychees for good measure. Yum!

So once I’d cooled down I ventured out again and noticed some gardeners were looking skywards. One was VERY agitated and making more noise than a Chinese Opera, whilst simultaneously jumping around all over the place as if his underwear had been filled with red ants, that were particularly hungry AND hated gardeners!

A39T2059-impI had to investigate, naturally. And then I saw what all the commotion was about… a Paradise Tree Snake.

The young gardener was talking at the speed of sound, loudly, and making gesticulations that were akin to chopping motions. I have no idea what language or dialect this very agitated and frightened young man was speaking in, but it wasn’t English. I told him to calm down. Apparently this snake was exactly above the area he had been gardening in and this poor guy was somewhat concerned that this snake espied him as perhaps lunch, or maybe he thought the snake was just plain dangerous.

Paradise Tree Snakes feed mainly on geckos  – particularly when those lizards are in tree tops. Coconut trees are a favourite for these snakes. AND, they have a reputation for flying! They do not fly, obviously, but they can manoeuvre their internal organs and manipulate their underbelly to be concave, so that it can ‘ride the wind’. A typical snake lunge / strike is then performed from a tree, and lo and behold – the snake is launched, in the air, using that concave shape to catch the air and ‘glide’. How cool is that?

But this poor gardening fellow was so frightened that his response would be to kill the snake. And I was not about to let that happen. So after taking a quick shot of the snake, I placed my camera and tripod out of harms way, and told the gardener to move back. I approached the tree and shook it vigorously – it was a thin tree, established but young, around 18 feet high. The snake moved to the top of the tree and wasn’t happy – I’m not surprised! I shook this tree over and over until finally, the snake launched itself and glided, thankfully, away from me. It landed around 15 feet away and I ran after it, making as much noise as I could, stamping as I ran between the plants. The snake scarpered. And the gardener was relieved. Naturally. A “big smile”, and a “THANKS!” followed from him. It’s probably wrong of me to admit this, but frankly the gardener was the least of my concerns – I wanted to make sure no harm came to the snake… so Mission Accomplished!

I then went and photographed some more and saw more really cool things. But that’s for my next post…

Happy Days! 🙂


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