Tag Archives: nature blog

Colour popped barbets, bittern and cuckoo… yahoo!

“Colour popping” is a term coined to describe a photograph that has had its’ natural background desaturated, and thus monochrome, leaving the subject ‘popped’… here are some recent shots with post processing treatment accordingly… respectively, a Lineated Barbet, Lineated Barbet “fly-by”, Yellow Bittern and Banded Bay Cuckoo… all Singapore in recent weeks…

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Happy Days 🙂

 

Joy in the Park, a sunset lark and stars after dark… great fun!

Having “reccied” the park previously, we thought it would be nice to revisit, stay overnight at the local inn (within the park itself) before heading to Margaret River region, shoot birds in the daytime at the park, catch the sunset at Two Rocks and maybe try and capture the starscape at the park that evening.

A39T7555-impThe first bird that really caught our attention were, unsurprisingly, Galahs.

I love the pink and grey colour combination of these birds and hoped to capture them with wings open and crests standing. Despite their commonality, they gave me much pleasure as it is not usual for me to see this bird – there are no such species in Asia, that’s for sure. It was early morning and ducks were in flight aplenty, though at distance.

A39T9192-impI kept my camera settings ready for BIF shots and was happy to see a flock of Grey Teal come into view, though not very close by any means. Those trademark, giveaway teal coloured wing bars gave away the species readily, but then a small group of Pacific Black Ducks winged their way onto the water.

A39T7349-impI was able to shoot these too and was astounded at how pretty the wing bars were – teal coloured too, though far prettier than the Grey Teals. What a lovely surprise that was!

A39T8963-impA White Headed Stilt proceeded to put on a show for me, posing nicely. There were plenty of them though in the main were at distance, so it was nice to see and shoot one a little closer.

A39T9275-impWhen it then proceeding to have a scratch and a stretch, this provided for some less than typical stilt shots…

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At one point a whole bunch of waders and ducks in the distance took to the air en masse. Evidently something had caused them to be disturbed and it was some time before I could figure out what may have done this. Then all became clear and eventually this gorgeous raptor came reasonably close to me, against an unruffled sapphire sky… a Whistling Kite had flushed the alarmed birds, and what a beauty it was too!

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Accommodation for the evening had been arranged at the Yanchep Inn and apparently there’s three levels of accommodation, including one that’s a tad ‘more luxurious’. I opted for that one and was glad I did… if that was luxurious, I shudder to think what the others would have been like. The important thing, though, was to be there.

During lunch at the Yanchep Inn we ate outside. This action alone seemed to provide an alarm call for some of the local birds, who were extremely awake and aware to the presence of humans and the offerings that may follow.

A39T8150-impA few birds came either up close or remained on the periphery, in nearby trees and grass, so see what scraps may be made available. Red Wattlebirds seemed to be everywhere. Pretty aggressive too, as they seemingly drove all but crows away when anything in the way of food had been seen.

A39T7769-impAustralian Ringneck parrots came from far and wide and initially took up situ in nearby flowering trees, proceeding to remove colourful buds and leaves with verve.  At this point we were having coffee after lunch and an Australian Ringneck came close and landed on a chair.

A39T9486-imp I thought nothing of it as there were no morsels to provide anyway as all the meal was finished. This didn’t deter the parrot who simply hopped onto the table and grabbed a tube of refined sugar from the saucer of the coffee cup. I was very surprised but didn’t expect the parrot to be able to do much with a sealed tube of sugar. How wrong was I?!!! He opened the tube with consummate ease and proceeded to enjoy the sugar with careless abandon. I had to chuckle at seeing this.

A39T8866-impI noticed a flash of white on the grass and caught sight of a Little Rosella. I’d seen a few earlier but as they were perched high in trees and against a sky background, couldn’t shoot them clearly at such distance.  This time proximity was less of an issue and aside from having a white bird lit by a brilliant sun (never a winner for bird photographers), I was able to capture this fellow.

It was time to make our way out of the National Park and visit Two Rocks, a nearby location where we thought an ocean backdrop may provide a nice sunset shot opportunity, if we were lucky. It wasn’t a long drive so we left late in the afternoon.

Two Rocks was a rock structure upon which many cormorants had come to roost. Shooting into the falling sun didn’t provide chances to capture them in detail and in any event, it was the sunset I wanted to shoot most of all. Landscape photography is totally new to me and I’d just acquired a new Canon L series 16-35mm f4 landscape lens as the reviews it had received were excellent – apparently this lens is reportedly sharper that the more expensive f2.8 version. I’d also equipped myself with Lee graduated Neutral Density filters and Circular Polarisers, along with all the lens adaptors. Had absolutely NO IDEA how to use all these properly, and figured the experimentation would be fun. It was…

A39T8536-impWe arrived at Two Rocks as the sun was beginning to leave us for the day, illuminating one of the rocks (shot at distance) with a 500mm lens – not exactly the typical landscape set up one might expect!

A39T8539-impI set up the landscape gear and proceeded down to beach level, with the main subject for the sunset foreground already being cast into shadow, revealing the cormorants atop. The sun began to descend quickly and whilst there were no cloud artefacts in the sky to bring greater depth and focal points to the shot, the sky took on beautiful changing hues as each minute passed. I decided to change the perspective of the shot and defocus the gap between the two sets of rocks, bringing into view more of the ocean and the wake of the incoming waves. It was a real “first attempt” at a landscape shot using the tools of the trade and I was desperately trying to recount the articles I’d read and videos I’d watched in order to get a nice rendition of the beauty before my eyes.

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I’d seen many shots taken of Two Rocks before and invariably the sun is depicted setting to the right of the rocks. Personally i liked the view above better, shot a little wider, and with the light from the ebbing sun and the lines from the tidal wash drawing you into the rocks themselves. Like I said, it was an experiment. I envy those that can “just see” the shot without much thought. I have to think a lot, which tells me that I either do not have much artistic ability, do not really know what I am doing with landscape photography, or maybe both. My money’s on both… LOL. Nonetheless, the shot above, whilst the foreground is a little underexposed, is pleasing to my eye. I simply lightened the rock artefact and haven’t changed the colouration or photoshopped the shot to death. A simple ND filter was used to balance the exposure disparity between the shadowed foreground / beach and the highly illuminated sky. It’s pretty much is how I saw it at the time. And it was, beautiful.

After dinner we thought we’d try and shoot “Milky Way” type starscapes at Yanchep National Park, where we were staying. I’d never tried this before, either. All I had done was read some tutorials and watched a few “do’s and dont’s” type videos, and had written key pointers down in the Notes section of my iPhone. After all, how much can any one person remember?

My darling kept reminding me that foreground subjects and artefacts were every bit as important with starscapes as with general landscape photography. And I forgot what she said. So I had lots of shots in the viewfinder of distant tree horizons and a starry sky. It felt bland, empty, lifeless. Nothing was drawing me to the stars when I looked at the shots. And then I remembered what she said – at exactly the point when she said “this bare tree may make an interesting  foreground” … haha. Oops. SO with notes and phone in hand, camera settings were adjusted to give base points for shooting, with experimentation to follow from there. It was a first try, so I had low expectations. But upon reflection, and given I’d never done, nor seen anyone else do this type of photography before, I was very happy what the “noob in me” had managed to capture…

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Sure it could have been better. Yup it would have been nicer if those ambient lights on the horizon, presumably from Yanchep town, had not been in the shot (i couldn’t figure out how to cause a general area power failure and NOT get arrested, LOL). But as a first attempt? I like this. I’m VERY happy with this to be honest. Not because it’s a wonderful picture, even though it’s pleasingly eerie to me. But because of the experience. Coordinating with my darling to make sure we shot at the same time and didn’t introduce any light to the scene at all. Taking note of things around you. Having your headlamps reveal kangaroos foraging in the darkness.

And perhaps most of all? Because this is a type of photography I will now do again in the future. Whenever I see a foreground subject that is distinctive I’ll consider “what if I shot the stars above this?”

A new concept. A new genre. A new challenge. And enthusiasm rekindled anew 🙂  .

Happy Days 🙂

 

What? I’m going to be a father again? You gotta be kidding me!..

On Saturday I went to Pasir Ris to practice BIF (Bird In Flight) photography, and after a couple of hours my camera shutter was not exactly getting worn out. In fact, it was about as likely to be engaged as Britney Spears at a Mother Of The Year convention.

After a little while, I began to hear whistles. Quite a few whistles. And to be honest, I paid little heed to this, not having won any ‘world’s most attractive man’ awards. But some frantic waving caught my eye from an observation hut around 350 metres away. I trained my lens and saw a few birding buddies, beckoning me to join them. So the tripod and gear was duly slung over the shoulder, and off I went.  When I got there it became apparent why I was being beckoned.

A39T0265-impNot just for the camaraderie (thought that in itself was enough reason to go join the group), but because an Oriental Pied Hornbill was perched nearby, and providing much food for my bird photographer buddy’s camera sensors. Cool. 🙂  . Happy Days!

So I set up my gear and began to delight in the Hornbill’s coy movements and preening.

I shot the Hornbill quite a few times but in all honesty, it wasn’t THAT close and it was sunbathing. The light was pretty harsh which meant it was difficult to render much detail in the shots I could take from my position. Nonetheless it was great to catch up with a few birding buddies and have a ‘chinwag’.

A39T0353-impIt wasn’t long before I noticed,  some distance away , that a pair of Blue Throated Bee-Eaters were feeding on what seemed like a bounty of various insects. Apologies for the clarity of these shots, taken against a bright sky background, and at distance (not a winning scenario for crisp shooting). I trained my camera on them for a little while, whilst trying to ignore the fact that it was way past lunch and I was getting very hungry. A Coppersmith Barbet joined them soon after, which I told the birders as they were still happily snapping the Hornbill.

A39T0379-impThe Barbet wasn’t content, evidently, with these Bee-Eaters sharing its’ perches, and took an aggressive stance.

A39T0381-impI decided to train my lens on the scene, in anticipation  of the Barbet getting aggressive. Sure enough it decided to cause both Bee-Eaters to take flight and return to a perch they had occupied earlier, much farther away.

Many of the birders saw this fast sequence of events, though I don’t think anyone else captured this. In any event, I said my goodbyes and headed back to the bridge across the Tampines River,  for a final ½ hour and to see if the Stork Billed Kingfisher would return. I’d promised myself that I  would go and eat after that. I set up my tripod and all on the bridge and one other bird photographer was present.

photoI heard a chirping. A loud chirping. It seemed near but I couldn’t locate the source of it. Finally I saw a recently fledged sunbird in-between the wooden slates of the bridge railing and some orange netting that local authorities had placed there. The bird seemed distressed and I could not locate either of its’ parents. I picked the young bird up and returned it to sanctuary in a nearby hedge. It seemed comfortable and continued chirping.

photo 4I thought it would be fine and returned to my camera set up. Merely a few moments later I heard chirping again and observed the young sunbird flying towards me. I stood still. It came to rest. On my shoulder! LOL. My goodness. So now I was to become a father again??? The other photographer was kind enough to take a few shots with my iPhone, which are shown here. not good quality, obviously, but nonetheless a record of the event.

I took the sunbird in my open palm and walked. Then stopped. Awaited the fledgling to chirp, which it incessantly did. It took me around 10 minutes of walking and stopping, covering an area of maybe 50 square metres, before the youngsters’ chirps were answered. I placed the sunbird carefully into a bush, and its’ mother was in the top of this plant. The sunbird flew back onto my hand. The mother came down the bush to examine the proceedings. But made no sound. Just watched. Very carefully. Gingerly. I placed the bird back a further 3 times, and each time it flew back to me, landing on each hand and an arm. Still I placed it back in the bush. And FINALLY, ‘mum’ called to its’ youngster. The youngster immediately acknowledged the mother… both were reunited.

Whilst this was going on, i couldn’t carry my photography gear with me, so I didn’t get to shoot them both together; by the time I went back with it, they were both gone.  but mum and youngster were reunited, so I was happy. Mum had probably taken the fledgling for lunch. I thought it was time I did the same. So off I went… resplendent with a smile that stayed with me, for quite some time. I’m smiling even now, as I am typing this. I feel very fortunate that this bird ‘took to me’. Animals often do, and I am always grateful for this. They say that creatures can sense whether a human means them harm or not. This fledgling sunbird seemingly felt I’d take care of it. Smart bird, despite its’ immaturity. It could have picked few better people, to transfer it back to its’ mum. 🙂  .

I’m glad it chose me. The bridge has joggers and cyclists passing over it regularly. I couldn’t leave the bird there. It could have been harmed. Killed even. And with the regular human traffic travelling in a variety of ways, ‘mum’ wasn’t going to come and rescue its’ chick. So I thought it best to plan a reunion. I’m glad I did 🙂  .

Happy Days. 🙂

Twas a nice morn in Tuas, that took a Tern for the better…

A few days ago I received a Facebook message. From a good birding friend in SIngapore. And with a map too. I was enlightened “there are Terns in Tuas that are feeding their young… not so easy to find, but great for Bird In Flight (BIF) shooting!” I felt sad. Because typically when I hear something like this, work commitments can’t be simply subordinated to provide time to grab the photography gear and RUN! And last week, I didn’t have the luxury of dropping work commitments for even the briefest period. Too much to do and with unsurprising reality, too few hours to do it in. So running towards these terns, was not a happening thing.

wanted to run. But alas, no. And for those of you who have met me, you’ll recognise that my ‘frame’ is not particularly accustomed to running 🙂  . I’d pretty much given up on the idea of going to photograph these Little Terns, and fully expected that the birds would have left already, by the time the weekend came and I could get out there to shoot them. Oh well. “There’ll be a next time”, I thought.

Yet whilst looking at SIngapore birding posts on Facebook yesterday, a buddy of mine had posted that he had been shooting these Little Terns. I messaged him and he confirmed that earlier that day, he’d taken these photographs. THEY WERE STILL THERE! Sadness ‘terned’ to excitement in a nanosecond. And Tuas twas the place to be on Sunday morning. Yehey! my mind began to fill with anticipation. I could get my turn to shoot a few terns. Some aerial shots of Terns making their aerial turns. Perhaps see the chicks. Possibly they’s be getting fed. Maybe they’d be taking turns. I guess my mind was ‘terning’. So off to Tuas on a Sunday morning… I knew this would be interesting.

UntitledThe location of these birds in Tuas wasn’t exactly in a ‘mainstream’ location. If there was an airport in this place, its’ airport code would be ‘MON’, an acronym for Middle Of Nowhere. And I fully expected my GPS (Global Positioning System) device to change its’ meaning in Tuas to Generally Pretty Stumped. And I was right. It was stumped. It had as much chance of getting us to where we needed to go, as having Stevie Wonder drive us there in a Comfort Citicab. Turn after turn after turn, to find a tern, which turned out in the end, with assistance from the cellphone and google maps. We got to the recommended place.

There was much activity. Plenty of photographers. But things took a tern for the worse. The Terns had gone. Chicks had fledged. No feeding activity. Oops. But anyway I thought I’d chat with a few fellow bird photographers and they remarked that maybe in a different place in Tuas, we could have more luck.

A39T0485-impSo after getting directions, off we went. On the away back to the car, I saw a Black Shouldered Kite. And then another, perched on a fence at some distance. I didn’t get really clean shots, but nonetheless, It was nice to see 🙂  .

We arrived at the spot which, thankfully, was made clearer because some photographers were leaving. I knew some of them and they confirmed the birds were still there. Around 450 metres away. In open(ish) ground. SO off I went, taking care to watch the floor to make sure a Tern chick wasn’t inadvertently trodden on. They’re very well camouflaged, you see. Think albino Polar Bear on a glacier, and these chicks will blend in better than that.

A39T0597-impFinally we found other photographers that had their artillery like long lenses trained in all manner of directions. But facing downwards. So I guessed that the chicks were still in situ and I prepared to photograph them.

A39T0927-impI guessed that the parents would come to feed the chicks and waited with anticipation, scanning the sky for a Little Tern with a fish in its’ beak. The first parent arrived within my view fish-less and landed a few yards away from the chick.

A39T0939-impThe chicks chirped merrily and it seemed to me that the chicks were doing their level best to stay out of the sun that was now warming Tuas with some vigour.

A39T0964-impThe parent and one of the chicks made their way towards each other, and unison.

The chick proceeded to plant itself under the parent, and avoid those nasty sun rays. I have to say that this scene is way beyond ‘cute’ and reflects a bond that’s joyous to see, and a delight to shoot.

 

A39T1217-impI thought I’d try my hand at BIF (Bird In Flight) photography. The parents were airborne much of the time and displayed their aerial agility with consummate ease.

A39T1048-impTime after time the parents would swoop and dive, with turn after turn, omnipresent and ever interested in their chicks, and possibly the veritable throng of photographers within proximity.

A39T1029-impI was trying out a recently purchased video head on my tripod, so aside from the obvious pleasure of watching these majestic birds, I had the chance to shoot them on the wing and put the new video head through its’ paces. I had appointments later that day, so knew time was not elastic and maybe 45 minutes shooting was all I had left.

A39T1040-impUnruffled by the pressure of time, I merrily tried over and over to track the birds in flight, letting off a burst of shots when I thought focus had been achieved… a somewhat ‘hit and miss’ affair at best, and I hoped above all hopes that perhaps I’d had a few lucky terns.

A39T1118-impAgainst a reasonable sky and with EV pushed upwards 1 stop, the 1DX trademark ‘machine gun’ shutter was unleashed. I turned up the shutter speed in Tv mode to 1/4000 of a second, given the brightness and given the ease with which i could keep ISO levels, and ensuing noise, to a minimum.

A39T1216-impQuick checks in the LCD screen told me little, as no sooner had I started to check, than further opportunities to shoot presented themselves. I was having a blast, at last. I guess it was my tern to have fun this morning 🙂  . The time to leave quickly raised its’ ugly head and with much disappointment, the reality of exit was dawning upon me.

A39T1258-impI didn’t get to see the parents return with fish to feed the youngsters. I took a few more shots of the parents whilst grounded, and hoped in my last few minutes that a fish bearing parent would return.

A39T1269-impAlas this was not to be. Nonetheless, I had a great time shooting these gorgeous birds and observing the boundless accuracy with which they ply their wings in the breeze, maintaining a hovering position for a few seconds, before changing direction so fast that their ability to ‘corner’ could be likened to electricity.

Time to go 😦  .  But a lovely adventure. Twas a morning in Tuas. And I got my turn, tern and terns. What a great start to a Sunday, and indeed a new week.

Happy Days 🙂  .

Beauty in sight, but sadly low light…

If you have been following my posts, you’ll know how much I love kingfishers.

A birding friend and guide was kind enough, when I was recently in Malaysia, to show me a kingfisher that I’d never seen before. We drove and drove, somewhere on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, but the exact place I couldn’t tell you where it was. Our subject to be photographed was a Rufous Collared Kingfisher, that was nesting at the time.

It was made clear that there were no guarantees that this bird would still be there; some bird photographers had been going to some lengths to get close to this bird, and the nest, even to the point where the bird may have been disturbed. It was also pointed out  that this bird would most likely not venture out into sunlight, as it is a “forest” riverine kingfisher; thus light levels for photography were expected to be very low, given its’ preferred perches and late afternoon approaching all too fast.

8D3A9192 - Version 2I’d just added to my photography equipment… a video head had been added to my tripod, to bring greater stability to my camera and recently acquired long lens. Additionally, I’d also recently gotten a lens and camera body support railing system, to minimise camera shake. This was the first time I was getting to use these ‘early birthday presents’. I was full of anticipation to see this beautiful bird for the first time. I was also eager to put this new gear through its’ paces.

After almost 3 hours there had been no sign of either the male nor female bird. I was wondering whether those photographers that had been ‘stretching  the boundaries’ and seeking those ‘record shots’, may have caused the bird to abandon the nest. I hoped they hadn’t caused this tragedy… I’d heard of recent instances in Malaysia where other birds had suffered this fate 😦 .

At 5.35pm the light was leaving us quite quickly. The perch we knew these birds would frequent had been left bare for several hours.  Then finally she came.

A39T3980-impA female Rufous Collared Kingfisher. In low light. VERY low light. There are light sources above her high in the canopy, but no direct light was reaching this bird.

I had done all I could do to make sure everything was stable and I could thus minimise the impact of such poor lighting. The tripod was planted and weight was hanging from the middle to provide even less movement. I’d locked down my video head. Lens and camera stability rails were fitted and locked down. I’d attached a cable release to make sure there was no vibration from pressing the shutter button. I’d locked the mirror inside the camera “up” so that wouldn’t cause vibration either.

A39T3948-impThe shutter speeds I was getting and general Exposure Settings (EXIF) were very challenging to say the least… ISO2500, f9, 1/13 of a second and focal length 700mm.

Boy is that a SLOW shutter. That’s VERY low light readings. The bird moved position a little, but the male still did not come and join her.

A39T3974-impI tried different things to get better shots. I wanted to increase the shutter speed. I could have done… reduced the aperture was possible by at least a stop. But this bird is quite rounded, rotund in stature, and then depth of field would be further reduced and more detail would be lost. If I increased ISO then this might help, but NOISE would surely be introduced even more than I was expecting at ISO 2500.  The shot above was taken at ISO1600, f5.6, and at 1/10 of a second… light was falling fast.

A39T3946-impI tried to shoot more as the bird again shifted on the perch. I was excited as it may have been that the male would join her. But alas no.  This shot was taken at ISO2500, with f9 and at 1/13 of a second.

I couldn’t get that ‘super sharp’ image. Not without more light. Not without firing a flash. And not without moving a LOT closer to the bird. I chose none of these options. Better to let the beauty have some peace. Better to settle for a decent shot, rather than a fabulous one under these circumstances.

My stabilisation system worked. In fact, at these shutter speeds, it ROCKED. I got to see a beautiful creature. Got to photograph her too. The male remains a quest. But I’m more than happy.

SO low light hampered proceedings. But the low light did not stop them. I’ll go back at some point in the future and shoot the male too. And get better shots of the female. But as of now, I’m privileged to have been with this bird on this day.

Happy Days :).

No light, No Camera, but at least I got some Action!

A few days ago i wrote i was disappointed with the shots I’d gotten of the Blue Throated Bee-Eater. And I was. Hoped to go back and shoot the bird again. And I thought that might be today. but looking outside of the window after sunrise this morning, the weather’s not great. Not raining. But not bright – and to shoot birds in flight (BIF), you need light and plenty of it. Oh well. But I have been looking through the images I shot in the fast hour I spent visiting this bird the other day.

AaAnd I feel a little better now about the outputs from the shots I took.

They’re not Nat Geo quality. They’re not going to win awards (and I don’t enter competitions anyway – I have some way to go before I believe i am a good enough photographer to do that 🙂 ). And the set up for these pics, if I am honest, was not the best it could be.

aBut they’re decent enough images to show you. They’re decent enough for me to look at and bring a smile to my face.

They tell a story. My story of wanting to shoot and then being able to shoot this bird with a more decent background.  The birds’ story… how it flies, hunts, lands and then diligently takes food to the nest.

And considering this bird and its’ beauty, I like this story . In fact, I love it.  Some of the images may well be a little “noisy” because of the high ISO’s, but I guess I did still ‘get the shots’.

A39T8226-impAT least I managed to capture ‘some of the action’.

And I have some shots of this bird now, that I’ve waited to shoot for an awful long time.

Even at a focal length of 700mm, this bird remains small in the frame when it has been shot. So cropping images 100% is a ‘no choice’ type image post-processing action and when you do this much cropping, noise on the images will multiply as sure as a different type of noise will multiply if you enter a school playground at ‘morning break time’. It is what it is.

A39T8331-impI may get the chance to go back and briefly shoot some more frames of this bird. I am really busy this weekend though, so come Monday, the opportunity may have gone.

If I can still go capture some more images, then that will be a mighty fine thing. And if I cannot, then  I at least got to shoot a might fine bird already. Do I have “That Shot To Die For”? Not yet. But it’s possible. Maybe before Monday. Maybe next breeding season. Maybe somewhere else entirely. But whichever… “That Shot” is still possible…

Isn’t that exciting? The quest, as ever, continues…

Happy Days 🙂

 

What a morning – birds young and birds new, birds followed and birds blue…

It was my birthday recently and for that birthday, my darling spoiled me rotten. I got a whole load of new bird photograph equipment and whilst I knew about some of it, the rest was a TOTAL surprise.

8D3A9192 - Version 2I had the chance to pick up this surprise equipment (video head for my tripod and camera body / lens stabilisation railing system) from a Malaysian based bird and landscape photography guide, photographer and online retailer – Liew WK.  Great guy and over the course of a few days had a great time with him. I am happy to now call him a friend and seriously respect what he does and the passion he has for it.

I was invited to join an informal group on a trip to Genting Highlands in Malaysia, just for a few hours,  to ‘put my new gear to the test’ and at the same time shoot some mountain bird species I had never seen before, let alone photographed before. Great people in this group and made more new friends… Happy Days :).

I followed the group to the place we were going to be shooting and had some excitement (my first time to not only try out the gear but also to shoot mountain birds in Malaysia – the chances were that most every species I’d see, would be a first for me – a ‘lifer’). I set the equipment up in a position I was advised would give good visibility and shooting opportunities. And I didn’t have to wait long before birds started to arrive…

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Very pretty – this one shot at distance… the others were almost under my nose!

Firstly, within 3 feet of me  came the prettiest little bird, and it was at eye level, in bushes to my left. I just smiled. The lens I had was as you see above, ‘not exactly a short telephoto lens’ – and I could have shot this little bird with a 70mm lens very easily, it was that close. A 500mm prime lens was a little over the top for this job :).

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You can see why this birds’ “AKA Name” is the Spectacled Laughing Thrush

Next came, according to the other birders there, “predictably”, the laughing thrushes. I’d seen a couple of those species before, in Singapore and also in Central Vietnam. But these were a first for me.

3So whilst others may have thought that this bird was less than interesting, I merrily snapped away, enjoying seeing these for the first time.   Yehey!AND, I was getting to give my new gear a ‘workout’ too, so all was well :).

LN2Next came one of the bluest birds I have ever seen in my life. It was stunning. Not rare. Just STUNNING.

A whole family of these beauties showed up. On the left here is the male, AKA “Dad”. I was thrilled to be able to shoot this bird up close, and then his mate came…

LN3She was less vibrantly coloured, as if often the case in the  world of birds, but nonetheless she was pretty.

She was a little slighter than the male, as is to be expected.

LN5After around 5 or so minutes, a merry chirping led my ears and then my eyes to see the youngster in this group.

Looks like a male and with the “full blue” regalia yet to be complete, this mottling of browns with such rich blue is very beautiful indeed. I think the juvenile is probably the prettiest of them all, and that’s very unusual as juvenile birds rarely can compete with adults when it comes to plumage and colour.

LTS2I was as “happy as Larry” with these species so far. What a treat for me! Then a bird I had seen earlier, which despite its’size had been displaying much agility to feast on moths, showed up on a perch. Nice! And to make sure the moment was enjoyed fully, another of the same species, a Long Tailed Sibia planted itself on the same perch. How accommodating! 🙂

The other birders in the group left to go to other places, but I thought I’d hang around for a while.  I didn’t shoot any more species in this place, but i still enjoyed seeing ones I had seen already, and I happily clicked to my heart’s content.

Later that day, we descended from the mountain heights; still within the hills, but not as high. What we saw there was very special… but that’s for another post, on another day.

So new equipment was tested and much appreciated. New friendships were commenced, And new species had been seen, and photographed, in an extremely nice place. I’ll go back there in the future, I’m sure. After all, I know of more exotic species that can be shot there, if you’re lucky. And if I’m really lucky, maybe some of my new friends will be going too.

Happy Days 🙂