July 31st, 2006

krazy koati

Is it true I can spread my wings?

They've been renovating the Jurong Bird Park, noticeably, replacing the sidewalk entrance into a building next to a McDonald's with a new maze of twisty paths and a Bongo Burger. This will be my last free visit under the Wildlife Unlimited Gold membership I had at the zoo last year, and it doesn't look like they're putting anything in its place, though I notice the stores still have posters outlining the discounts people holding various old cards, including the old ``Friend of the Birds'' card, would get.

I had my tripod, so experimented in the nocturnal birds house. After the snowy owls the exhibits were so dark my camera's display wouldn't show anything. I could set the lens open for 16 seconds, but try guessing at the focus and zoom. But the nocturnal birds will largely stay where they are, so I could try, try again. It seems like most of my successful pictures were of owls but trust me, there are ducks in here too.

The Lori Loft is a huge enclosure with over a thousand loris. When I was there, about 992 were in hiding, so I had to compete with other people trying to photograph or feed the birds. Meanwhile, I learned last week the camera I've had for three years has a manual focus, so I practiced on some kites and eagles. I learned that most of the time I should leave the focus to the camera, even if it can't be trusted with choosing its own ASA. I don't quite get what an ASA is, but I'm better at it than the camera is.

Over by the flamingos, a park worker drove the golf cart-type ... cart ... onto the narrow walkway. The walk was too narrow to scrunch up and let the cart by, and it looked like it was speeding up. But I found a little niche onto which I could leap, and the driver apologized, but I'm still stuck on why he didn't beep sooner.

And then there's the Hawk Walk, a show of tricks performed by raptor-class birds. The first time I went to this, years ago, they had a kite fly low across the entire audience, and this precision flyer hit me on the head. This time they had a different program, including features like calling two terrified children out of the audience (one Korean and one English kid, today), to have a kite fly back and forth between them while the host asked how they felt. (``Nice.'' ``Nice.'' ``Very nice.'' Host: Are you going to say something different? ``No.'') They got to showing off a turkey vulture, who on the last flight forth and back, yes, hit me in the head. I don't have anything against birds of prey; why do they want to hit me? Note in the background a plastic slaughtered buffalo, for setting.

Trivia: The first San Francisco cable car began on Clay Street in 1873. Source: A Crack in the Edge of the World, Simon Winchester.

Currently Reading: The Pixilated Peeress, L Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp.