Chin’s Nature Corner

Black Naped Oriole Yellow Vented Bulbul Yellow Vented Bulbul
Philippine Glossy Starling White-vented Myna Magpie Robin
The Papaya Trees

ONCE UPON A TIME, there were several papaya trees growing in my neighbour's garden just across the road in front my house in a Kuala Lumpur suburb. The neighbour, an elderly woman living alone, did not pick the papayas when they had ripened on the tree.
 Her house was a semi-detached unit with a fairly big compound, and she had a gardener who came round about once a fortnight to mow her lawn, trim the tea-leaf hedge, and take care of the garden. She could have got him to pluck the papayas for her but she didn't, and so the fully ripe papayas attracted various species of fruit-eating birds.
 Those papaya trees were growing at the very edge of the garden, right next to
a mango tree that I had planted on the road shoulder some years ago. This made it possible for me to sneak up with my camera and, under the cover of the mango tree canopy, take shots while the birds were eating.
 Normally, I would have preferred shooting butterflies to birds as my camera was equipped for macro or close-up photography rather than bird photography. But the opportunity to shoot these birds was too good to let it pass.
 So I made do. The longest telephoto lens I had at that time was a 150mm and I used it together with a 2X extender (giving me a 300mm) for these shots.
 Well, these photos are nothing to write home about, but I told myself that I have at least a photographic record of the birds that came to eat the papayas. Besides, the entire "episode" told me the story of
how those papaya trees came to be in my neighbour's garden (assuming that she didn't plant them because she was quite indifferent to the fruit).
 It was a nature study lesson on seed dispersal that came alive.
 The birds swallow some seeds along with the papaya flesh and the seeds pass undigested through their alimentary canal. When the birds poop (which they can do on the wing or at rest) they deposit some seeds along with their droppings. That's one way seeds get scattered or dispersed away from their mother plants.
 Those papaya trees have long gone. In fact, the elderly woman no longer lives in that semi-D. The last I heard about her was that she had a fall in the house and fractured some bones. She had to go live with a relative, and the house had been sold off... quite a long time ago.
This page revised on 21 June 2018. Copyright © Chin Fah Shin.