Thursday, October 8, 2015

Portrait of a Blue Rock-Thrush

This female migratory bird has become a temporary resident in a certain area along Bued River very near the junction of Kennon Road and Manila North Road (aka McArthur Highway).
For the second time this season,  it allowed me a portrait session. Light wasn't ideal, as the bird was perched in the shade and the distant foliage was sunlit. I had to do some meticulous post-processing to lift the shadows and pull back the bright background. The back-to-the-camera pose shows some interesting feather pattern, while the open bill and catchlight are welcome bonuses.
Blue Rock-Thrush (Monticola solitarius, migrant, female)

Habitat - Rocky exposed slopes, road cuts, and along rocky streams and rivers. 

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, October 8, 2015, Canon 7D + 400 2.8 IS + 2x TC II,
800 mm, f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/200 sec, 475B/516 support, manual exposure in available light, near full frame resized to 800x1000

Monday, October 5, 2015

Zebra Dove in full speed flight

Called "pagaw" or "turokutok" in my native Ilocos, this common, garden-variety dove is about 8-1/2 inches in total length. Its second name in our vernacular is probably derived from its call. It's found in most Philippine islands.

This individual zipped by while I was waiting for birds in flight along Bued River. My hand held BIF combo (1D MIV and 400 5.6L) had no trouble locking its AF on the target given the plain sky background. A short 10 fps burst allowed me to select a frame with a photogenic wing position, while the 7 am morning sun provided good quality illumination.

Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata, resident)

Habitat: Common in open country, cultivated areas and gardens. 
Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, October 6, 2015, 1D MIV + 400 5.6L,
f/5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A reunion with the Golden-bellied Flyeater

I can't go out to bird as often as before, so I haven't seen this tiny bunch of feathers (4 inches total length) in a long time. Every now and then though, I hear its distant, unmistakeable, loud song.
This individual was silently flitting from branch to branch in the mango tree at my mother's backyard while I was staking out the newly arrived Brown Shrikes. I tried for many minutes to catch it in my viewfinder, but its perpetual motion made worse by its tiny size and the low light under the canopy made acquisition and focus very tough.
I was of course stubbornly persistent to catch it, and in the end I was allowed a brief 8-fps burst. With the 400 2.8's IS, I can use a shutter speed of as slow as 1/20 sec at static birds, but I pushed my Tv to 1/125 sec to have a chance of freezing the active target. This meant using ISO 1600 on the ancient, "noisy" 7D. One shot in the burst turned out sharp enough, and I was rewarded with a heads-up pose, with the wide open 800 mm combo doing a good job in melting the busy background.

Golden-bellied Flyeater (Gerygone sulphurea, resident)
Habitat – Open country, second growth, mangroves and even in residential areas.
Shooting info - Baroro, Bacnotan, La Union, September 21, 2015, Canon 7D + 400 2.8 IS + 2x TC II,
800 mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 1/125 sec, 475B/516 support, manual exposure in available light, major crop resized to 800x640.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The colorful Blue Rock-Thrush

For the past couple of weeks, I've been noticing this beautiful migrant hanging out in a certain area along the Bued River. But each time I tried to get near the bird, it flew away before I can acquire it in my viewfinder.
This afternoon's stalking session turned out differently, to my pleasant surprise. The bird wasn't so shy today.... perhaps it has settled in and became more familiar with people going around its territory? I got within full framing distance while it was perched on a mound of river gravel, with distant foliage as background (this melted nicely given the thin DOF of the wide open 400 2.8 IS + 2x TC). The afternoon light (around 3:25 pm) had started to turn golden and this enhanced the colors of the bird's plumage.
I wish the bird will give me more shooting opportunities, particularly with a photogenic perch, in the coming weeks and months, before it goes back to its breeding place overseas sometime in May.

Disclosure - no pixel was thrown away in the making of this image, as it is an uncropped full frame. :)
Blue Rock-Thrush (Monticola solitarius, migrant, female)

Habitat - Rocky exposed slopes, road cuts, and along rocky streams and rivers. 
Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 22, 2015, Canon 1D MIV + 400 2.8 IS + 2x TC II,
800 mm, f/5.6, ISO 160, 1/1250 sec, 475B/516 support, manual exposure in available light, uncropped full frame resized to 800 x 533 pixels.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Brown Shrike dives for prey

They're back. These migratory birds we call panal in Ilokoslovakia.
After crossing the South China Sea without a stopover (nearest point between the south coast of China and Luzon island is over 600 km), they arrived in our islands emaciated, with torn feathers. Hence, it's no surprise that for weeks after their arrival, they feed like crazy, as if eating will go out of style tomorrow.
Their favorite meals are easy-to-catch, tender, juicy invertebrates. But these migrants are so numerous, and easy prey can be depleted fast. So flying insects are also fair game, especially in the early morning.
I caught this female when it hawked a tiny insect in mid-air, as the sun was just rising beyond the Bued River and the Cordilleras in the east. It was quite distant, so I had to crop heavily down to actual pixel view (aka 100% crop).
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus, migrant, female)

Habitat - Common in all habitats at all elevations. 
Shooting Info - Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 18, 2015, 1D MIV + 400 5.6L,
f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/1600 sec, hand held, manual exposure in available light, processed 100% crop.



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