Saturday, November 18, 2017

Double rainbow over Bued River

We were treated to an uncommon natural spectacle recently - a double rainbow over the Bued River in the late afternoon. A light rain shower conspired with the low angle of the sun to produce a double geometric splash of colors in the heavens. My color-blind eyes can't fully perceive the splendor of the rainbow spectrum, but my engineering mind was orgasmic in seeing two perfect, concentric arcs in the skies. 

The duration of the amazing scene was very brief, as the rainclouds were racing fast to the east and the atmospheric conditions that made this phenomenon possible were changing rapidly. Fortunately, it lasted long enough to allow me to set up my gear and take a few snapshots under the light rain.

Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, November 15, 2017, Canon 5D MIII + EF 16-35 f/4 L IS, 16 mm, f/8, ISO 100, 1/100 sec,
manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533 pixels, with perspective correction.
 


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Welcome back, Ms. Blue Rock-Thrush!

I've seen this female foraging in a certain part of Bued River since about a month ago, but it was too shy when it newly arrived. Recently, it shed away some of its shyness, and  it got easier to approach. Perhaps, it has become accustomed to its new environment, as well as the two-legged, upright creatures walking around.

This late afternoon, it perched on a gravel mound nearby. It stayed there for while, allowing me to rush to my camera bag and assemble my birding rig. The skies were partly overcast, so lighting was on the flat side. Nevertheless, the photo opportunity was most welcome, as this was my first shot of this migrant this season. Wishing that I can get even closer, with golden lighting, in the next few days.

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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, November 4, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 640, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Little Egret tries to evade the 7DII's AF, didn't work

I was traveling yesterday along NLEX from Manila to La Union when I decided to make a short detour to Brgy. Paralaya, Candaba (Pampanga) to check out the water birds. The skies were overcast, resulting into flat lighting, but that didn't dissuade me at all from making the side trip.

Unfortunately, there were not a lot of birds in the area at this time and I decided to leave after a few minutes of scouting. Before I could dismount the lens from the camera for packing, this white bird came flying straight towards my position. I started tracking it in my viewfinder, firing off short bursts as the subject got nearer.

At the last minute, it noticed me and immediately executed an evasive maneuver. It wasn't successful in evading the sticky focus lock of the 7D II though. I was able to bring home a small consolation prize for the two hour detour from my scheduled route.

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Little Egret (Egretta garzetta, migrant)

Habitat: Coastal marsh and tidal flats to ricefields. 

Shooting Info - Candaba, Pampanga, Philippines, October 20, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 800. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My favorite mountain bird: Citrine Canary-Flycatcher

This tiny feathered creature is hands down among my top favorite highland birds. It's easy for me to fall in love with this subject - it looks so cute, its colors jump out even to my color-blind eyes, its call is pleasant sounding, and its less shy demeanor makes it easy to approach. 

Likewise, its preference to perch on a clean branch often for quite long moments allow me to sometimes change vantage points for a better background, or a more favorable direction of light. It is only about 4-1/2 inch long (from tip of bill to end of tail), so I had to get really close to fill the frame.

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Citrine Canary-Flycatcher (Culicicapa helianthea septentrionalis, endemic race)

Habitat - Understory usually in montane forest. 
 
Shooting info - Elev. 1526 m ASL, Camp John hay Eco Trail, Baguio City, October 1, 2017, 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 2500, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.



And here's an old video footage where the call of this bird was recorded:



Monday, October 2, 2017

The (less colorful) female Narcissus Flycatcher

I actually saw both the male (more colorful) and female of this species during a quickie birding walk along Camp John Hay's Eco Trail last weekend. However, the former confined itself inside the thick undergrowth, and the images I got of it were just of documentary quality, not fit for web posting.

The female was less shy and it perched quite close to me, allowing me to fill the frame despite its small size of just over 5 inches. Though its plumage is less impressive, the capture was a welcome one - it's my first time to see it in the wild.

The available light in the undergrowth was very low, and I've to push my ISO to 2500 to expose the subject well enough. I wish the background was a bit cleaner, but I was at the edge of steep slope and couldn't move to a better vantage point.
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Narcissus Flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina, migrant, female)

Habitat - Rare in forest, second growth and mangroves. 

Shooting info - Elev. 1526 m ASL, Camp John hay Eco Trail, Baguio City, October 1, 2017, 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 2500, manual exposure in available light, hand held, uncropped full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A reunion with some mountain birds

After months of no serious birding, I found some time to drive to Baguio and try my luck at Camp John Hay's Eco Trail. I walked the slippery path down to the small stream, and encountered a bird wave along the way. Light was very low under the canopy of pine trees so I had to shoot at high ISOs. 

I had a blast trying to focus at the small birds in dim lighting - just a couple of hours of birding allowed me to meet quite a few montane feathered friends again. 

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Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis, migrant)

Habitat - Variety of forest types at all levels and elevations.  

Shooting info - Elev. 1526 m ASL, Camp John hay Eco Trail, Baguio City, October 1, 2017, 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 2500, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.


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 Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni, resident, female)

Habitat - Forest canopy or understory and edge, montane forest down to 800 m. 

Shooting info - Elev. 1526 m ASL, Camp John hay Eco Trail, Baguio City, October 1, 2017, 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 2500, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.


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 Mountain White-eye (Zosterops montanus, resident)

Habitat - All forest types above 1000 m. 

Shooting info - Elev. 1526 m ASL, Camp John hay Eco Trail, Baguio City, October 1, 2017, 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 2500, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533. 


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 Mountain Verditer-Flycatcher (Eumyias panayensis, resident, male)

Habitat - Mountain forests above 800 m. 

Shooting info - Elev. 1526 m ASL, Camp John hay Eco Trail, Baguio City, October 1, 2017, 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 1250, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Brown Shrike in flight

I've never touched my birding gear for a couple of months because I'm deeply engaged in non-photo activities of late. 

This Sunday morning however, the incessant calls of these newly arrived migrants forced me to open my camera bag and take out my long-unused rig. I was hoping that the birds have already recovered from the long migration flight - their torn feathers have improved and they have put on more weight, making them more photogenic.

This season's Brown Shrikes in the neighborhood seem to be less shy than usual. They actually don't mind me being around, and they transferred from perch to perch very close to me. I had to adjust the focus limiter of my 400 DO II to the nearer 3.3 m setting to allow focus to work at the shorter distance. The wider range has the disadvantage of slower focus speed, and it took me a good part of the morning to catch one in its short flight between perches.

There was a slight motion blur at the pixel level due to my jerky panning, but the image is nearly sharp enough when resized for web posting. Looks like I got hooked again (as usual), and I look forward to more fun-filled mornings ahead trying to catch these visitors in the air.

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Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus, migrant, male)

Habitat - Common in all habitats at all elevations. 


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, September 24, 7D MII + 400 f/4 DO II,
400 mm, f/5.0, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, hand held, manual exposure in available light, major crop resized to 800 x 533.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Butterflies with the EF 70-200 2.8 IS II

While waiting for the migratory birds to arrive next month, I try to keep my reflexes in shape by shooting these things of beauty as they flutter around my mother's garden.

My go-to lens for catching these delicate creatures is the EF 70-200 2.8 IS II - its close focusing ability, framing flexibility and fast AF make this zoom well suited for the job.

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Shooting info - Baroro, Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines, August 12, 2017, Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 70 - 200 f/2.8 L IS II,
200 mm, f/4, ISO 200, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533. 
  


Shooting info - Baroro, Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines, August 12, 2017, Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 70 - 200 f/2.8 L IS II,
200 mm, f/4, ISO 200, 1/1600 sec, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.
 

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