Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gunung Pulai II :: 30th Oct 2010

G. Pulai II is just about 20km from my town and I reached here shortly before 6pm today in a last min decision hoping to see some owls. The distinctive calls of the Barred Eagle Owls were heard at three locations, but they were not sighted

So I ended up taking some scenic shots around here and took a slow walk to a nearby fish farm to seek my luck.

                                          The Pulai II Falls

   initially i thought these were resort chalets when they
                                          were built last year, but now they looks like some
                                          training camp to me.

Just as I rest my gear here for a breather, a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was already waiting for me diagonally across the pond. WBSEa are large birds but they are extremely shy. Anything closer than 200’ you would see them acting on alert watching your every move.

                                          This is the actual shot without crop

White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
Helang Siput * 

 @ almost 100% cropped.

And i made an attempt to get closer but just one quick shot it flew off! :(

 Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense)
Belatuk Pinang Kecil * 

And I was surprised to see a lone Tiger Shrike in Gunung Pulai II too!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kg Langsat :: 26th Oct 2010

I visited Kg Langsat for the fifth times yesterday in two weeks, I told myself I have enough of the OP Hornbills, I would shoot anything except hornbills! I wanted migratory waders, nothing more.

But the hornbills seemed friendly and able to recognize my car, hard to believe, for 2 hours I couldn’t see any other species except the 3 hornbills! They followed me hopping from tree to tree and I was wondering if I had a puncture or flaming fire from my exhaust that needed immediate attention.

Barred Eagle Owl (Bubo sumatranus)
Burung Hantu Jalur * 马来鵰鸮マレーワシミミズク

I finally gave in and stopped my car to snap at them near to a grocery store, and in just after 6-7shots, I was shocked to see this gorgeous Barred-eagle Owl perched low quietly on a nearby tree gazing at me!  

The Owl was close to the trunk of another tree and hard to spot against strong back light, and I must have drove past it more than 5 times without spotting it. Time to get my eyes checked I guess!

" What took you so long to find me!!"

The Owl is probably a juvenile of few months old. I have seen adult BEOs before and their sizes were twice as large. But fearing that it would fly away i decided not to remove my TC, so all the shots here almost full frame @ about 20' distant, except the first pic of the headshot abv taken when i first spotted it.

The folks here are friendly, despite i was shooting in the middle of the only main road, they would slow down the cars while driving towards me, waiting for me patiently with smiles while executing MLU mode. 

But if you spot an Owl in my hometown don't shoot in the middle of the road though, for you are likely to be ran over a few times before you know it. 

So the owls perched at the same spot for an hour, and I was a bit exhausted from the steaming heat of the tarmac, I packed my gear and ready to go to the Jetty for Nescafe and one of the kid, who accompanied me during the shoot said the owls had just flew off, to a lower perch across the road!

So, a few more shots, but it was dark at around 6pm and i had to dialed in at iso6400 for 1/125s f8 shots, and now i realized my fav shots  (below) were all taken from the 2nd perch..

And thanks to the 3 hornbills!

One of my favorite fruits when I was a kid was Jackfruit. So when I asked a farmer if he could sell me 5kg, he giggled and told me politely “These fruits are not for sale” I was surprised while drooling over it, then he giggled again and added “I don’t sell them, and how many do you want, I will go get the ladder and pluck a few for you!” 

Interesting Note: Jackfruits are the largest fruits to grow on trees!

More Here - Jackfruits

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Panti :: 24th Oct 2010

I always believe if you reach your destination with a lot of  birds show up before you, that would be a lucky day with few lifers. Phenomenon like this normally those rusty spare CFs would gratefully get their turns before noon.

But I was so wrong yesterday! When I reached Panti at 8am, my pet bird (a fully grown up CHE now) greeted me at the gate, 2 Crimpson-wing woodpeckers were busy pecking at mid-storey near the car park, and half a dozen of Hill Mynas were roosting at a tree barely 30’ from me. Tiger Shrikes were at the usual spot again seemingly begging for a portraiture shot at eye-level.

I didn’t fire a shot for I was late for an appointment with a rare species 3kms away. Halfway down the trail a gorgeous Black-caped Babbler was sighted just 2m away on my left, It was too close I couldn’t get it as I need a min of 10’ for my 500mm lens. It would have been be a lifer on my sensor then.

Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma)
Sepah Puteri Dada oren  * 橙腹啄花鸟オレンジハナドリChim sâu ngực xá

Then a huge bird waive came, a couple of pigeons, flowerpeckers, and probably the whole population of Olive-winged Bulbuls! A few quick shots and on seeing nothing special I went for my target, but unfortunately for hours it didn’t show up.

Little Green Pigeon (Treron olax)
Punai Siul  * 小绿 * チビアオバト

Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus)
Merbah Belukar * 橄榄褐アカメヒヨドリ

And for the rest of the day, nothing was seen along the 8km bunker trail.  I checked my CF card and realized only 30 shots were fired. So it looks hard to beat my last year's record of 6 fired on a miserable Buff-vented Bulbul.

Not so bad after all!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kg Langsat :: 20th Oct 2010

Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala)
Takur Akar * 赤胸拟啄木鸟ムネアカゴシキドリCu rốc cổ đỏ

My 2nd visit to Kg Langsat yesterday got me the opportunity to photograph the Coppersmith Barbets finally, a species that has long being in my wanted list. I have seen them many times in the rural area, but often without my gear. This pair arrived as i was setting my gear up for the hornbills at the Jetty.....

Weather was hazy and the hornbills did not arrive as speculated, so instead of waiting  i went hunting for them. Kg Langsat is a very small village indeed, from start to end is less than 2km with houses along the sides. So in 30mins i have already made 6 return trips. The folks here are friendly,  always eager to assist and just yesterday some of them already called me by my name and asked if i have got what i wanted -  portraiture of the hornbills! 

An hour later I spotted 2 perching quietly and low near the beach, unfortunately 6 wandering dogs stopped me from getting nearer to them. Folks were telling me those barking dogs never bite! But i treasure my flesh,  so i waited , hoping those dogs would leave before the hornbills.

A young lady stopped her scooter hurriedly and said " Unlce Poh, follow me, follow me, quick quick!", Before i could ask why and what, she has already gone far, signaling me to follow. 

And by the time I reached, 8 Oriental Pied Hornbills were roosting on  a tree silently!

The hornbills all seemed to be in some kind of ritual, perching quietly tilting their head up slightly, giving me the  feeling that they were doing some kind of secret communication with their extra terrestrial counterparts. 

Before noon, I have already got what I wanted, and back to the Jetty for food and a cup of hot Nescafe before going home.

( RM6.50, you get mee-bandung with 4 medium-sized prawns, its 
strong prawn paste sauce may not be everyone's liking though)

 (fisherman's son, was just "jalan-jalan" when i asked what he was looking for)

( the cat at the Tomyam Seafood Restaurant.)

( OK, if you go Kg Langsat for the first time, the moment you see 4 goats on your left, turn right is to Jetty! :) )

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kampung Langsat :: Oriental Pied Hornbill

17th Oct 2010 Sunday

Weather looked extremely gloomy when I set out my journey at 6am. And I was disappointed too when I realized my fav bitter-cot soup restaurant  at Senai was closed for business on sunday's morning for no apparent reason, so I proceeded to Kg Langsat  hungrily craving for food, and the Oriental Pied Hornbills of course.

By 6:40am I reached Kg Langsat via the newly-built Senai-Pasir Gudang Expressway, Here I found the delicious nasi-lemak serves in the traditional way, and after consuming 2 pkgs, somehow I felt really satisfied and the overcast weather was suddenly not much of concern. 

According to the folks at the village, the hornbills could be seen everyday but their timings are unpredictable, they usually appear around the Jetty area early in the morning, and sometimes, return in the late afternoon roosting at trees next to the seafood restaurant, and those trees were just around 15' tall with open branches (no leaves)!!

Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris)
Burung Kelingking * 冠斑犀鸟 * キタカササギサイチョウ * Cao cát bụng trắng

( this mynah, obviously not impressed with my presence, 
gave me a stern look while i took its pic.....)

6 OPHBs were seen in this tree behind the green-coloured house. But the perch was high, around 30’ and they were playful and surprising active for such big birds. Crows, mynah came roosting on this tree were constantly being chase away by the hornbills, and 2 squirrels were seen pecked by the hornbills mercilessly. 

Two of the hornbills were busy following the crows around to the nearby trees, and would peck at the crows if they perch.

The hornbills didn’t stay long, after just 20mins, they flew further to the trees along the coastal line and unfortunately, beyond access by foot. 

( On my way out of Kg Langat for lunch, I saw this gorgeous Green
 Imperial Pigeon,strangely with its mouth open all the times )

By noon, I paid a visit to the Kg Langsat's Crocodile Farm, no sign of birds except crocs and I was stuck "roosting"  here for more than an hour due to the heavy rain.

( Entrance fees is RM4, according to one worker, Crocs are fed 3-4 times per week, 
with raw chicken meat)

On my way back to the Jetty, two White-bellied Sea Eagle were sighted roosting at the mangrove forest, and another big bird that I couldn’t ID with bino, perched on a stick almost 70m away  Attempts to gain access by the dirt road at the construction site almost got my vehicles stuck at some of the potholes, which obviously were softened by the heavy rain earlier. So I have to be contented with my distanced shots earlier.

On close examination at home, I was thrilled to learn that I’ve got another great lifer here, an Osprey. a migratory species I have never seen before. 

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Helang Tiram * 鱼鹰 * ミサゴ * Ó cá

Hoping to catch the hornbills again, back at the Jetty, a lone sandpiper was seen foraging at the mudflats with a Collared Kingfisher roosting nearby. A lone Grey Heron at the beach, and the fisherman was laying trap nest hoping for a good catch tomorrow, no sign of the hornbills, but i wasn't complaining....

Everything seemed so peaceful here, and I ordered a cup of Nescafe at the Seafood restaurant, snap some shots, a bit of walking while drooling over the scenic views of Kampong Langsat, forgetting the hornbills completely.....

(view from the Tomyam Seafood Restaurant)

( the Jetty )

In fact the only "noise" I heard was the laughters from the fishermen's 3 kids, yelling at me happily "Take our pics! Take our pics!"

Geographically, Kampong Langsat is just opposite S'pore's Changi Airport across the straits and the Observation Tower could be seen with the naked eyes. Big birds were seen ( surprising close ) surging to the sky every 2-3 mins interval! Quite an amazing sight indeed.