30 August, 2009

Testing 1 ,2 ,3, Testing!

29 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor

I haven’t been doing any birding over this Puasa month but the itch to press the shutter release button is constantly there. So I have been doing some testing with the Nikon D90/ Nikkor 80-400mm VR f4.5-5.6, in the backyard to see their limits and explore new opportunities they offer.
I set myself a new objective being ‘to shoot  primarily with the available natural light’ so yesterday  Ilyas and I went to Kemensah , the spot where we shot the Rufous Collared Kingfisher to do an hour of  actual field tests.

Things couldn’t have been much better;  gloomy and overcast sky,  and it started to drizzle when we were preparing the equipment, just the right condition to test for a probable worst case scenario!


I shot these in Aperture priority and overode the  given shutter speed to about 1/160s by pushing down the EV to about -2, f7.1, ISO800. Noise was a  problem. This lens has an attitude that it will not deliver a sharp image below 1/125s and  at f5.6.


The camera was setup such that it was able to capture the shots without the aid of a flashgun   but I actually  used a flash, set to almost the minimum with diffuser dome fitted to give some sparkle to the eyes. I checked that there were no difference in the level of exposure even with the flash.

_DSC0546_filtered   Spectacled  Bulbul and a mouthful of berries

The birds were certainly cooperating today- a good thing since we didn’t have much time and energy.

I find that the results were more than satisfactory. The colour/ tones of the birds were more natural and the details of the eyes ( no silver/red eye)  turned out better.

_DSC0545_filtered _DSC0554_filtered

A backlit Black-Headed Bulbul at about 40ft.


I will definitely be trying  more of this.The outcome would have been better in good weather.

Things you have to do to squeeze every single ounce  of performance from  this lens which I don’t think those with longer and faster lenses need to bother. Maybe one of these days I will wake up to find a Nikkor 500mm f4 on my door step!





29 August, 2009

2 Bulbuls

8 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor


1. An Olive-Winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus) perched on a flowering bamboo . Reminds me of a malay wedding ceremony!


2. A Cream-Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus simplex) with
beautiful white eyes.

28 August, 2009

Adult Black–Headed Bulbul

8 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor








I’ve never had the opportunity to shoot this bird so close like this one. This adult Black–Headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps) local name:  Merbah Kepala Hitam, Burung Siam landed on a branch 8ft from the top of my head. Unlike most that I’ve seen, she seemed very curious, probably wondering what I was doing and wasn’t easily spooked.

Earlier post of the juvenile bird.





27 August, 2009

Rusty-Breasted Cuckoo

16 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor




She’s a messy eater! This Rusty-Breasted Cuckoo (Cacomantis sepulcralis) local name:  Sewah Dada Oren, had bits and pieces of a caterpillar around the beak.


26 August, 2009

White-Rumped Munia

16 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor


A White-Rumped Munia (Lonchura striata) local name: Ciak Tuli busy collecting nesting material. 


25 August, 2009

Female Greater Green Leafbird

16 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor


_DSC0178 A female Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati) local name: Burung Daun Besar. She’s probably a youngster . Appropriately named, she could have passed herself off as a leaf had she sat still._DSC0182_filtered


24 August, 2009

Female Whiskered –Tree Swift, Perfect Landing

16 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor
Fasten your seatbelts. 
Flight WTS 001 (Hemiprocne Comata Air) making her final  approach at Bamboo  Twig airport. 

23 August, 2009

Juvenile Blue-Eared Barbet

16 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor


This tiny barbet had me puzzled. She’s about the size of a Coppersmith barbet , but she didn’t have the streaks on the breast and the facial markings. What could it be?

Again this place has revealed another gem with this juvenile Blue-Eared Barbet (Megalaima australis) local name: Takor Akar. Being a juvenile the colours, especially around the face are not fully developed yet. _DSC0308

This fruit is a favourite of most Barbets.

A tinge of blue and the black collar have already appeared at
the throat. Hopefully I will get to see the adult bird soon.

22 August, 2009

Adult Red-Bearded Bee-Eater

16 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor









We came across a juvenile Red-Bearded Bee-Eater during one of our  earlier trips to Kemensah so we were always hoping to see the adult bird. 

We decided to try a new trail to see what we could find and as we were going up a slope, my son spotted a bird flying in from behind a clump of bamboo, it was this adult  male Red-Bearded Bee-Eater (Nyctyornis amictus). Quite a sizeable bird compared to the non-bearded species.




Notes on Photography:

Lately I have been shooting using Manual settings and I find that it yields better results than Aperture or Shutter Priority since I have more control over the shutter speed. I need to achieve at least 1/125s  with my lens ( even with VR on) to get anything useable.

This bird was about 50ft away from us.






For these shots I experimented using the max EV of +5 which enabled me to shoot at higher shutter speeds (between 250-400)   f8, iso 400, VR off, on tripod , RAW format, TTL flash with extender. I’ve noticed a tremendous jump in clarity when freezing motion becomes  that much easier even when shooting under the canopy.

The Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch ( a constantly moving bird)   onwards had been shot using these settings. Thanks to my brother Rosman for the settings.

I find that the setting doesn’t work very well when a Teleconverter is used since you lose too much light (at least 1 f stop with a 1.4x TC). The TC plays havoc with the contrast, colours, noise and  the overall sharpness of the RAW image.

Try it and let me know if it works.

21 August, 2009

Juvenile Indian Cuckoo

16 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor

We saw a bird  flew in and landed on a small tree in front of where we were standing. At the time we were busy concentrating on another bird. Fortunately she stayed in the area long enough for us to get some photos. She’s a juvenile Indian Cuckoo  (Cuculus micropterus).
Delicious caterpillar  for lunch.


This rather confiding Cuckoo kept calling and hopped from
branch to branch and came so close as if she wanted to
follow us . 




20 August, 2009

Chestnut-Bellied Malkoha

15 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor


A  Chestnut-Bellied Malkoha (Rhopodytes sumatranus). 


19 August, 2009

Orange-Backed Woodpecker

15 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor




Lifer 4: A  female Orange-Backed Woodpecker (Reinwardtipicus validus).  A pair of them were on the same tree but the male was hidden behind the trunk. Quite a large woodpecker (30cm).

18 August, 2009

Buff-Necked Woodpecker of Kemensah

15 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor




Lifer 3: A Buff-Necked Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tukki).  She stopped on this tree to rest for  one  minute.


17 August, 2009

Dark-Throated Orioles of Kemensah

15 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor





Lifer 2: Was on the wrong track in thinking that it’s a Bulbul. Finally managed to ID this bird as a female Dark-Throated Oriole (Oriolus xanthonotus). She was part of a bird wave that came at about 9.30am.















Luckily the first bird I saw this morning (16/08/09) was this male Oriole. These complement the photos of the female that had been taken a day before nicely.


16 August, 2009

Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch- one upside down birdie!

15 August 2009, Kemensah, Selangor

Feasting on a small spider . She swallowed the spider whole.

In the upside down position

It was an excellent day of birding with 4 beautiful lifers.

Lifer 1: A Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) on her feeding round. She’s one difficult bird to keep track, she just kept moving non-stop. There were 2 Nuthatches at different locations in Kemensah today.