Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A star was born

A little star was born on 25 Feb 2010, slightly over 4 months from the time its egg was laid on 22 Oct 2009 in the land of Singapore, by a mother star tortoise in a tiny green garden in the west part of this tiny country.

It was a long and patient wait, incubating this little star in an artificial incubator carefully watched over by 2 adoptive parents, one of whom has the hobby of incubating all kinds of eggs and seeing them hatched. This little star was the first out of a batch of 7 eggs laid.

Have a look at its little beak and flippers trying to get out of the egg shell. It took 2 whole days to get to this stage.

   Trying out its first flipper,what a beaming smile! 

  Leisurely stretch of its head out of shell


In total, 7 days would be needed for it to completely get out of its shell, a painstaking process to the on-looker. The baby flapped its flippers and stretched out its head now and then, took lots of rest in between, and its frequent inactivity sometimes seemed that it has forgotten that it has been born. The baby is in no hurry, and neither should we humans, to get it out of its shell.

Once out of its shell, it lost no time to try its legs out, and began its first stretching exercise.


Isn't it glad to be born. Shed of the shell, its home for 4 long months.

Its first baby steps stretching its legs on its first walk on earth.

Then it began its first taste of food, and it was ferociously hungry!

Yum-yum, enjoying my first taste of a juicy cherry tomato!
 Pardon my slurping. It is just too delicious.

Its name is Kuah Lei Xiang Kang, which means " happiness and health' in Chinese. It brought joy to all in my family, as he was born during the 15 days of the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2010.

Isn't it wonderful to see the creativity of our Father God. It is instinctive for the baby tortoise to hatch itself, no one need to tell it what to do to be born. Today this new life is scuttling around in its little home. It weighed only 15 gm at birth.

I am looking forward to more babies from this hatch of 7 to complete its family.

For the laying of the eggs, please read my next post on Egg Laying. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rhododendron Tree

Most people know Rhododendron as compact low-growing shrubs with beautiful clusters of showy white, pink or dark-red flowers.

But the Rhododendron has species which grow as large trees of height 30 m ( 90 ft ) tall, in forests at altitudes of between 2,500 and 3,000 m or more.

When trekking in Nepal in Dec 2009, I encountered them when trekking through forests on the Ghandruk-Poon Hill trek ( about 3000-3400 m) , where they densely grow as the sole tree species. Their gnarled tree trunks and surface roots speak of their longevity, having witnessed years of snow-fall, frost and countless trekkers who passed through.

At other times, they may dominate the understorey beneath a canopy of taller trees as we traversed in the shady slopes of gorges with rushing rock-bed rivers.

Their size came about in the wild due to the abundant moisture available during the monsoon season, as well as the water from melting snow during spring time in February and March.

Many will take quite a few years to reach flowering. At least fifty years is needed for a tree rhododendron to reach its optimum form. During spring, charming 'candlesticks' are formed by the erect young leaves.

Trees are blanketed with silver wiry "spanish moss" on the sunny tops of hill ridges.


Rhododendron trees blooms in Mar-April in Nepal, so I did not get to see the spectacular sight of their blooming.

The red Rhododendron or Rhododendron arboreum which is called 'Lali Gurans' in Nepali, is the national flower of Nepal.

Rhododendron leaves are light green when young, darker when older.