Wetlands hors d’oeuvres and more to observe… 90 minutes until the hunger pangs kicked in :)

Took a few days annual leave recently and decided to head out to Lor Halus, Singapore. I’d planned to be there the whole day but somehow the hunger gremlins gained hold at one point and hunger pangs needed satisfying.

I love Lor Halus. It’s like the place in Singapore that Forrest Gump’s mum would go to if she was into bird photography, a box of chocolates in tow. “You never know what you’re going to get” when you visit Lor Halus. So off I went, with no real preconceived ideas as to what natural bounty et al, might await.

A39T7354On the way into Lor Halus I DID expect to be greeted by one, or more, of Halus’s sentries… the birds that seeming stand tall, ever watchful from their perches and guardians of all they survey.

Sure enough, several White Throated Kingfishers were seen in small trees along the roadway, seemingly omnipresent and always vigilant.

I walked around the pools next to the main entrance this day, which I do not usually do. I’m unsure what possessed me to go take a look there, but in any event, I did.

A39T3207-impI noticed what I thought was  Little Tern diving in a nearby pool, so I hurried over to try and grab some of the action. I only managed 3 shots of this bird and the one here was the best of them. The bird didn’t hang around after that and I saw it diving in distant pools, never to return to where i was near. Oh well…

A39T8000-impNot much else was visible save for some nice water lilies.

One happened to have been happily used as a perch by what I believe is a Scarlet Skimmer dragonfly, and quite a nice pairing they make too. So the visitor centre part of Halus was left behind and off I went towards the famed dam and surrounding ponds.

A39T7576-impI decided to make a bee line for the ponds. No sooner had I arrived than a male Golden Backed Weaver was seen, with his carefully prepared torn off strip of foliage, to use for nesting purposes.

I thought I’d try and follow the bird along the pond, but with a camera, long lens and tripod to schlep, this wash’t possible.

A39T8763-impSoon after I saw a male perched (same bird?), and watched eagerly where he flew.

Off to the nest he flew and I quietly began to set up my tripod and camera equipment, to fire off a few shots of these pretty birds.

I’d seen males put on quite a vibrant ‘mating show’ previously, as the male seeks to attract a mate. A previous blog posting recounts this.

A39T7859-impSure enough, this male was also in ‘mate attraction mode’ and proceeded to visit a newly formed nest.

Again  the repeated and energetic flapping of the wings revealed those beautiful yellow shades of the underwings, and a yellow tinged outer wing respondent with the most gorgeous shades of brown and olive green.

A39T7561-impA nearby female, meanwhile, seemed unimpressed by all this ritualistic show of feathers, and then took flight. She’d clearly already made up her mind as to what nest, and mate, was her choice.

Much to my surprise, the male I had been watching briefly joined her and they flew off together. It seems the male had ‘gotten his mate’ and was now looking for another. What a cheek 🙂 !

A39T8773-impI left the weavers and deeded to go have a wander.  I noticed a water bird diving in a different part of this pool, and chose to await the re-emergence from beneath the surface. I thought I recognised the bird but wasn’t absolutely sure, then a little while later, a Little Grebe (or Dabchick as we all know them in the UK), made an appearance at distance. It was several minutes before this bird’s diving adventures brought it sufficiently close to photograph it.By this time I was getting hungry and decided to leave Halus for the day and go get a bite of lunch before going to shoot elsewhere.

A39T8777-impI’d almost reached the road when I saw a familiar shape. A lovely shape, and I have to say one of my favourite bird shapes.

A long tailed shrike was perched a little above longish grass and was carrying nesting material. I was keen to shoot the bird, as left, but was equally keen to see where the nest might be. I’ll never know; the bird flew deep into a wooded area which had no path laid out into it. So thinking of all manner of ‘nasties’ that may have been along that path, I decided to not follow the bird. You know what i mean by ‘nasties’, don’t you? Just natural  minor nasties. Like Cobras. Or Spitting Cobras. Trivial creatures like that 🙂 .

A39T8822-impOff I went walking back to the car, leaving he Shrike in peace and potential nasties undisturbed. I’d packed down the tripod and removed the camera from it, when some Baya Weavers showed up.

A39T8804-impThey were near too, so I thought I’d shoot them ‘handheld’, despite my 500mm prime lens causing suitable reason from me to utter audible groans and for my arms, after a while, to shake a little.

A39T7950-impNonetheless, I managed to get a few decent shots away and was very happy to have been around to see a mother weaver feeding her hatched fledgling. Happy Days :).

It seems some food had been left on the floor to feed dogs. I have no idea who’s dogs these were, they may have been wild as far as I know,  and all I saw were puppies periodically emerging to eat bread, dog biscuits and drink water that someone had left for them.  Once the dogs had disappeared, then the weavers would move in. the mother shown above was feeding the fledgling morsels of dried white bread.

All that feeding made me feel hungrier, so without further adieu I went in search of an early lunch. The afternoon was reserved for practicing BIF Birds In Flight photography, and that’s for a later posting.

But the brief trip to Lor Halus? As ever, a pleasing appetiser. Several species and Mrs Gump’s ‘box of chocolates’ were savoured fully. I may well have not known what i was going to get, but what was offered was definitely satisfying for all but the sweetest of teeth.

Happy Days 🙂

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