Monday, October 24, 2011

Sg Balang 15th/16th Oct

I actually received a friendly "hate mail" from one of my followers - "now that i am hooked with your blog, but you have quit without notice, not fair! :) "

To make thing short. i sent a pic (attached at the bottom of this entry) without words in which he replied humorously "OK, i will buy the remote controller from you, only if you agreed to continue writing for your blog!"

Hey, that is not fair!

I actually make two trips to Sg Balang recently, first was on the 8th and the last was a two day's trip on the 15th and 16th.

8th Oct

Weather was not so kind to me, in fact it started to drizzle on my arrival early in the morning, and the first five sspecies below were the only species i took within an hour before thunderous shower came in. :(

Common Kingfisher - this is the 3rd year i have sighted and captured their images of this migratory species in Balang hence it looks like the CKs are a common sight here afterall during the winter season. 

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Raja Udang * 普通翠鸟 * カワセミ *  Bồng chanh  *  
Martin-pêcheur d'Europe * rybárik riečny * Obyknovenny Zimorodok * 

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
Helang Tikus *黑翅鸢 *トビ * Diều trắng
 Élanion blanc * luniak sivý * Дымчатый коршун  * เหยี่ยวขาว 

Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)
  Helang Ekor Cabang * 栗莺 * シロガシラトビ  * Diều lửa
 Milan sacré haja brahmanská * Браминский коршун * เหยี่ยวแดง

The heavy rain had forced me to make an unscheduled trip to Parit Jawa, ~15km north of Sg Balang along the western coastline, a town famous for the spicy and sour Assam Fish, not really to my liking though as, personally, i prefer the 'thick sauce' version generally found in the southern Johor! Oops!

Weather was excellent in Parit Jawa, so i quickly set up my recently purchased low hide, just to see how close i could get to those "non-Hakka" waders! No kidding, non-Hakka because we never seems to have a close relationship. Perhaps my friendly face resembled the notorious poacher from where they came from....

Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)
Kedidi Sereng 翘嘴鹬 * ソリハシシギ  * Choắt chân màng bé
  Chevalier bargette * brodník sivý * Morodunka * นกชายเลนปากแอ่น  

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Kedidi Kaki Merah  红脚鹬 *  アカアシシギ   *  Choắt nâu
Chevalier gambette  *  kalužiak červenonohý  * Travnik, Травник นกทะเลขาแดง

Not so bad after all, even hundreds of mud-skippers were wriggling just a few feet from me happily! And I spend much time observing them, wondering what they feed on and their behaviour, and it seems all the time they were looking for each other in the mud to pick a fight! Lovely creature indeed.

Out of curiousity, i took this shot, and nope,
it doesn't come closer with the hide....

Micky, who helped buy this hide from the 
Land of Smiles, should have at least 
told me in advance that it doesn't 
come with a ventilation fan..:(

15th/16th Oct 2011

It's an "old habit die hard" for me , that i must "da-bao" (takeway food) 2 pkgs of Nasi Lemah at the town of Semerah while on my way to the paddy fields of Sg Balang. For 60sens a pkg, this has to be the cheapest breakfast on earth! And the lady stall owner always give 2 extra curry puffs FOC, knowing that i come to patronize her stall yearly from 100km away!

Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus)
Burung Tempua  * 黄胸织雀 キムネコウヨウジャク *  
 Tisserin baya * pletiarka baja Ткач-байя * นกกระจาบธรรมดา

There were 9 of us on this 2-day trip and quite a few species we captured. The highlight, however, must goes to the flight shots of the Barn Owls. 

Yipee Yipee Doo!

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Jampuk Putih * 仓鸮  * メンフクロウ * Cú lợn lưng xám
 Effraie des clochers  * plamienka driemavá * Sipukha * นกแสก

We were extremely excited at first sighting the Barn Owls at the Palm trees while we were having lunch under a shade. But no one was able to get the shot as the owl was skittish, until hours later it ran out of patience and decided to test our 'gong-gong' photographic skills by circling us a few times.....

I was glad to have equipped the D3s with 328 and it must be the very first time that i fired continuously for mins, filling up the 4-sec 36 shots buffer several times!


 Superimposed img, @ 9 frames/sec, and Micky was right below the owl
in the last three shots.......pointing his 70-200mm up.

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
Helang Tikus *黑翅鸢 *トビ * Diều trắng
 Élanion blanc * luniak sivý Дымчатый коршун * เหยี่ยวขาว 

Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)
Pucung Bendang  栗苇鳽 *  リュウキュウヨシゴイ * Cò lửa
 Blongios cannelle *  buciacik škoricový นกยางไฟธรรมดา *   Oхристый волчок  

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva)
Rapang Kerinyut * 金斑鸻 * ムナグロ * Choi choi và
Pluvier fauve * kulík krátkochvostý * นกหัวโตหลังจุดสีทอง * Азиатская бурокрылая 

Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Kedidi Kuning

Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
Rapang Minta Duit  肉垂麦鸡 *  インドトサカゲリ * Te vặt
Vanneau indien * cíbik lalocnatý  * นกกระแตแต้แว้ด  *   

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus
  Ruak-Ruak * 白胸苦恶鸟  * シロハラクイナ   *  

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smymensis)
Pekaka Dada Putih   白胸翡翠  * アオショウビン * Sả đầu nâu
  Martin-chasseur de Smyrne * rybárikovec hnedohlavý 

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) 
   Kedidi Kayu * 林鹬 * タカブシギ   *  Choắt bụng xám 
    Chevalier sylvain kalužiak močiarny  * นกชายเลนน้ำจืด  * Fifi  

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Kedidi Pasir 矶鹬  * イソシギ *  Choắt nhỏ   
Chevalier guignette  kalužiačik malý  นกเด้าดิน Perevozchik

And this, Japanese Sparrowhawk?

Japanese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter gularis)

Field Reports!

And this is what most birders have been waiting for instead of looking at at my crappy shots:

Species sighted/captured recorded in the last trip

Lesser Adjutant - 20+
White-bellied Sea Eagle - 2
Brahminy Kite - 12
Oriental Honey Buzzard - 2
Barn Owl - 2
Black-winged Kite - 6
Japanese Sparrowhawk - 1

Purple Heron - 30+
Pond Heron - 50+
Little Heron - 6
Cattle Ergret - 8
Little Ergret - 5
Cinnamon Bittern - 20+
Yellow Bittern -2
White-breasted Waterhen - 20+
Red-wattled Lapwing - 30+

Common Moorhen - 1
Watercock - 2
Whistling Duck - 1
Swinhoe's Snipe - 6
Wood Sandpiper - 20+
Common Sandpiper - 5
Marsh Sandpiper - 1

Paddyfield Pipit - 20+
Yellow Wagtail - 30+

Blue-tailed Bee-eater - 50+
Brown Shrike - 30+
Prinia - 10+
Common Kingfisher - 2
White-throated Kingfisher - 20+
Baya weaver - 100+

Not forgetting the all season locals, hundreds of Mynah, spotted Dove, Munias etc 

Infield dirt road condition:

Generally I will rate the condition very good compared to the previous years. The main perimetrical road is well laid with crusher run so you can actually drift your Lamboghini w/o the spoiler kits to your heart content, 

The three exits/entrance are perfectly passable to all vehicles!

Areas where I marked 'X'. ignore them if you drive a Hummer or Big-foot, and where I marked 'W', ignore them if your precious 15yo Corolla is about to get a fresh coat of paint, or scrapping your car tomorrow.

Where i marked "M", muddy of course but still passable unless you are a 'gong gong' driver who venture into the dirt road for the first time in your life. The trick is don't stop while maneuvering at the muddy area, engage L or L2 and drive thru slowly. Remember, car wash is cheap in Batu Pahat, and getting stuck in the field and have your vehicle tow out easily cost you RM200 or more.

And lastly, going Sg Balang without a bean bag is like going to the loo for a big one w/o toilet paper. Get a large sofa pillow, anything that can cushion your lens at the window will help a great deal, because as much as 90% of your shots will be shot from the window, and a camouflage fabric covering your window will help a great deal too. 

So, should I go now?

Raptor BIF
By the time i write these, the farmers should be starting to plough the land now for replantation. This process will usually take about one month for the estimated 800acres of paddy field land. Best time to go if you are dying for a raptor diving/feeding shot. 

Don't write to me asking for precise location, just locate the noisy tractor in action, and the circling of raptors in the air over a specific spot is a good sign.

Get a proper hat that cover both sides of your face and neck and use sun tan lotion, this is not the time to dress for good look doing leisure walk, showing off your Piaget watch at Orchard Road. You may have to stand under the hot sun for hours to catch the right moment. Plenty of fluid intake will save you from taking MC too, unless you hate your boss like me!

Micky, Micky, Micky....
And this guy pictured below will go to Heaven! We heard the cries of the puppy while enjoying our delicious 'nasi lemah', and Micky rushed out to save the puppy, which was drowning up to its nose in the mud.

Oops, let me re-phrase that, we all ran to rescue, but Micky just ran faster than us....... 

I actually have the video footage showing the puppy stretches its hand (its leg i mean) when Micky bends down for the rescue... touching moment indeed! 

And we all love Micky of course, for his cooler box mostly. I was told that he will bring his mobile ice-grinding machine to make icy cold fresh Jian-Lut (chendoh) with the extra large indonesian red beans for us in the coming trip! *muah muah* Micky!

We shoot non-feathered species too!
The evening of 15th was fun indeed, we joined some of my Batu Pahat friends for photoshoot in the local park. Yeap, we shoot anything under the Sun, i.e XMMs too!

And of course, much like shooting birds, to make your pic 'pop', besides lighting and angle, you need to click at the right moment.....

 My godness! In broad daylight?. AND don't attempt 
this shot if public stoning is commonly practiced in your country!

Look at her satisfying smile...

The gorgeous model, JieRu 

And thanks to the hospitality of Andy Siam, who chauffeured us around to enjoy some nice scenes of BP, and the sumptuous food at the Swimming Pool Restaurant!

Desmond Soe, risking his life by 
volunteering first to drink the 1000years-old 
recipe herbal tea....from Mars i guess.

Micky, took more than 30mins to finish the 
gremlin juice..... and i tried too, lets not 
talk about the taste......

Andy in blue @ the Swimming Pool Restaurant.  


And my little precious, arrived shortly after the BERSIH event..... the main reason why i have been busy for the last few months! 

A boy, healthy and fit like a mud skipper!

Time to cook and wash diapers now, so see you guys in.... err    another two years?