austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk along the briny beach

I've taken, for me, a record number of pictures in one day. I knew it was getting up there when I wore out my first set of batteries, and then when I filled up the new (512 MB) card I knew it was running away. It turns out the new card holds up to 808 pictures. But since I brought along the other memory card I could keep going until I drained the other set of batteries. The upstate returns aren't all in yet, but I believe today tops out at 860 pictures. Understandably, I'm going to need a bit of time to download and process them all, if nothing else to recharge at least one set of batteries. Pictures and excessively more comments to follow, and I'm sure you understand.

What got me taking so many pictures was a guided tour of Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, a patch of mangrove swamp reserved for wildlife and the occasional tour group. It started at 8 am, as if such an hour on Sunday were possible, and we had a pleasant tour guide happy to point out sights of interest like Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and how the wildlife population includes smooth otters -- and is there such a thing as a day so depressing that knowing there's something called a ``smooth otter'' doesn't bring it some cheer? -- and, recently, a few crocodiles. Only one or two seem to have found it naturally; since then, when the occasional crocodile is found in other Singaporean waters, it's relocated to the wetlands.

We didn't see smooth otters or crocodiles, possibly because of the group behind us. You're warned multiple times at the front gate to be quiet, and there's a warning at the start of the trails, and the guide will warn you every few minutes to be quiet, but still coming up fast behind us was a large group making a level of noise appropriate if they were on the Spinning Blades Of Death Over A Gravel Pit ride at Six Flags In Niagara Falls. Most of what we did get to see were things like tree-climbing crabs (there are some species found only in Singapore), mudskippers, prawns, archer fish (a fish with the startling ability to whine about how the Vulcans are big meany-heads and yet get captured and beaten up every other episode), and squirrels.

While explaining barnacles our guide tried to argue people knew they were molluscs because newborn barnacles look like newborns of other mollusc species. He pointed out that in humans most babies look largely alike, but they grow up to have different sizes, eye color, or -- looking at me -- facial hair. I've been taken to be Belgian before multiple times, but this was my first experience being used as an object lesson in explaining molluscs. Shortly after the mollusc explanation I noticed a meter-and-a-half-long, slender, dark object with a little ball-like edge drifting through the water ... and one of the kids there noticed it too, and soon the group was looking to see if we were lucky enough to see an otter. Unfortunately, it was just a log, but we were excited.

Trivia: Within three years of the 1854 opening of the Camden-Atlantic Railroad there were fifteen stations on the line between Camden and Atlantic City. Source: Boardwalk Empire, Nelson Johnson.

Currently Reading: Hoover Dam: An American Adventure, Joseph E Stevens.

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