Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sg Balang, Hentian Mahkota, & Parit Sagil :: 3rd Nov 2015 ::


So i am back after 3 and half years' silence in Southerwings! I didn't quit of course, just down with some health problems.  Feeling much better now after some cheap medication, so here we go......

I made 2 trips in the last fortnight to one of my fav birding spots (i.e. Sg Balang paddyfields ) and here are the photos..    

Semerah's Nasi Lemak and Curry Puffs 6:30am

The Common Kingfisher is becoming a common migratory species to me nowadays, last year they were sighted on 3 locations just in my home town of Kulai alone. But one would never get tired of shooting them for its gorgeous colours, and a chance to get FIM shots, but after waiting for 6 dives into the stream below with no catch i decided to move on, only to blame myself second later because just 30' ahead, perched silently a species that i have been longing to snap, 







the Japanese SparrowHawk! One quick burst it was gone! Grrrr..... I came back a week later just for this species but she was nowhere in sight.



Japanese Sparrowhawk


As i move on, many familiar species were sighted, Lapwings, Waterhens, Adjutants, Pond Herons, Little Herons, Munias, at least six pairs of BSKs were busy courting and mating. 

Strange that i did not see many raptors in the air though, perhaps the lack of ploughing activity on the paddyfields was the main reason. 

As for wintering species, Blue-tailed Beeeaters were in big number, at least i ran out of fingers and toes to count them. As my friend Ben put it, their number is probably 21!




Pond Heron

 Grey Plover?

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I always get lucky with the Snipes, perhaps I always used the same old method i.e. wait patiently for them to come near as they search for food, rather than shoot on first sight and scare they away. I honestly find the shutter noise loud on D7100 because most of the time i could see their eyes staring at me thru the viewfinder each time i click. What takes the camera makers so long to design a totally silence dslr is beyond me. Go mirrorless?

 Snipe

One of the reasons for my eagerness to visit Sg Balang this time was to try out my new toy or rather new setup which i called "LukiKon", i.e. Panasonic Lumix G7 with Kiwifotos's Nikon G-M43 adaptor couple with Nikon G lens (300mm F2.8 here). 



I took some pics with these setup and set the G7 on silence mode (absolutely zero shutter noise!), immediately i noticed the easily-spooked migrants stare less at me, compared to my usual D7100 + 1.4x500mm F4 setup. One might argue that ambience noise alone should overshadow the camera noise but that is something i don't agree, the birds see us as a threat hence a slight movement with a muted noise is good enough to scare them.

The Kiwifotos adaptor has no electronic contact so correct exposure has to be adjusted manually (Aperture-adjust on the adaptor's ring, SS, and Focus). But thanks god the focus peaking works brilliantly on the EVF so keeper rate is really not much of an issue if subject focus is the main concern. 

The frustration for me was when stopping down is needed, half the time i actually try to adjust the aperture on the camera dial, rather than on the adaptor's ring to get correct expose based on histogram reading in the EVF.  

But like many, i buy the G7 solely for its video quality. Although the D5200 is quite acceptable except lacking in sharpness, so once you crop it loses its quality faster you can imagine.  The G7 UHD video OTOH, is so crisp that even when you crop 50% and output to 1080P, still seems better than on my D7100 or D5200 video.  

The video below was originally shot in 4k UHD, uncropped and downscaled to 720p, freeze the video at 27th sec...  

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and see below pic of the frame from the 4k video! The image is quite decent indeed as long as you have the right shutter speed. And here i am surprised the snipe was able to bend its upper beak as it yawns! Going thru the video frame-by frame in 4K on my 5yo 27" i7 really enables me to see a lot of behavioral details which i don't normally see on still images, unless you spray high fps on every shoot. 




The G7 also has a 4K photo burst mode which allow you to capture 30fps before and 30fps after hitting the shutter, hence it should be useful for some great action shots, unfortunately i haven't got the time to try it out yet this time. Besides, it 's not easy to shoot birds with two different system. 

I will be using the Lukikon setup for the coming trips in Balang and hopefully able to get some great moments to share.

Blue-tailed Beeeater

The Blue-tailed Beeeater are extremely friendly considering that they are migrants. As long as you shoot with bean bag in the car, 500mm with 1.4TC on crop is often 200mm too long!





Despite a local common sight, Yellow Bittern is a tough species to get a full body shot in close range.  Often it is "now you see, and now you don't", popping its head out of the green in nowhere and long gone before you aim for it!  And I spotted quite a few Cinnamon Bitterns too!

 Yellow Bittern

So is the Brown Shrike a local or visitor? Not far from my hometown i get to see them all year round, as confirmed by the fish pond owner. 

Brown Shrike
I dropped by to Hentian Mahkota to check out the waders, something i always do after shooting at Balang in the morning. 

~4-5km from Sg Balang towards Batu Bahat
From the beginning of the video below you can see the beach is just 200m from the above BP-Balang main road, so don't miss this place next time! Just make sure you don't reach here with an empty stomach at noon time because the food stalls only open at 2-3pm.

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After Hentian Mahkota, i spent 30mins in Parit Sagil just to have a look-see before heading home....not a single shot of bird here!





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