An interesting aspect of the Malaysian seasonal cycle is the fact that the bi-annual Raptor migration coincides with the harvesting of rice. This exposes the frogs and mice that live in the rice paddy to any eye up high, and provides excellent opportunities for a big eye attached to a camera on the ground. So, with high hopes of a day of good Raptor shooting we headed south to our favorite paddy fields at Sungai Balang.
Arriving just as the early morning sun was rising above the trees we were greeted by a juvenile Lesser Coucal preening and posing on the dead branches of a small bush next to the road. What a fine start to a nice day. So fine this young star deserves the top spot in this weeks blog.
As usual the grasses next to the track round the paddy fields were a magnet for Munia’s and Baya Weavers that swarmed in huge flocks ahead of the car. The weavers are busy nesting. There were so many superb photograph options but we didn’t want to spend too much time on them as the game plan was to get raptors. But anyone wanting to photograph these birds building their nests from close by it’s worth the trip.
It took a while to figure out the best location and direction to try and photograph the raptors. When we first arrived they were circling fairly low, but as the sun got higher and the thermals improved they progressively gained altitude. In hindsight maybe we should not have spent so much time on the Coucal, because by the time we figured the best spot for the Raptors they were already circling too high for great shots.
First up for the camera were some Brahimny Kites which cruised overhead in a broad circle a few times before disappearing back towards the coast.
Shortly afterwards while tracking a group of about four birds a long way off and up in a thermal I was fortunate to witness a close encounter between what I think is a pair of Black Kites.
While I was out in the middle of the paddy Lynette managed to get this superb hand-held shot of a Oriental Honey Buzzard as it passed directly overhead using the 5DII, not usually the best camera for birds. Its a first of this species for us, and one with fantastic under wing markings.
The mangrove mudflats along the coast near Sungai Balang are home to a small number of Lesser Adjutants. These majestic stork like birds are also found hunting the rice paddy fields inland from the coast for small rodents and frogs. They make great use of the thermals to circle the fields before selecting a spot to land. Being a bigger bird they are easier to photograph as they leisurely glide past. I think Lesser Adjutants are ugly birds. But being ugly is not a reason not to photograph them, especially when they fly by almost taunting you to take their photo.
The past few weeks has been exceptionally hot and dry and today was no exception. So after about three hours in the hot sun, we had to call it a day. Once again the paddy fields of Sungai Balang lived up to their reputation as a good bird photo spot. The Coucal shots alone made it worthwhile.
This entry was posted on Sunday, April 1st, 2012 at 5:54 pm. It is filed under Blog Roll, Malaysia and tagged with Bird Photography, Black Kites, Brahimny Kites, Eyes in the Sky, Flying Birds, Lesser Adjutant, Malaysia, Photography, Rice Paddy Fields, Sungai Balang, Top Bird Photo Spot, Wildlife Photography. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.