Monday, February 2, 2015

Pygmy Swiftlet in flight

This swiftlet surely deserves its name ("pygmy" and the suffix "let" both denote smallness). The bird's total length is a microscopic 3-1/2 inches (88 mm). It is endemic to the Philippines and can be seen flying low in groups over forest, clearings and nearby areas. Found in most major Philippine islands, the small size, well-defined white rump and whitish belly are diagnostic.

I got a few shots of these little spitfires recently over Bued River, near the boundary of La Union and Pangasinan provinces.
 
In flight, these birds are not easy to catch - their tiny size and erratic flight behavior while hunting for insects make them a challenge to acquire and keep in the viewfinder. The mostly darkish plumage strains the camera's AF system and makes exposure difficult. I've to time my bursts when the bird is banking so its underparts or back are illuminated well. 
 
My DSLRs of choice for this tough job are the 1D MIV and 5D MIII - the large viewfinder and wider angle of view (compared to my 7D)  make subject acquisition and tracking much easier, while the high pixel density captures enough detail even in extreme crops. The robust AF system and fast frame rate also help a lot.
 
For glass, my venerable, battle-scarred 400 5.6L gets selected because of its light weight (I've to hand hold to keep up with the erratic flight vectors), and fast AF, especially when the focus limiter is set to the narrower range.
 
This species becomes my 278th photo-lifer. :)
 
__________
 
Pygmy Swiftlet (Collocalia troglodytes, a Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Fairly common, smallest swiftlet in groups flying low over forest, clearings and logging
roads (total length = 3.5 inches)

 
Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, February 6, 2015, 5D MIII + 400 5.6L, 400 mm, f/5.6, ISO 800, 1/2500 sec, hand held, major crop.
1500 x 1000 version


 
Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, January 27, 2015, 1D MIV + 400 5.6L, 400 mm, f/6.3, ISO 800, 1/2000 sec, hand held, major crop.

 
Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, January 27, 2015, 1D MIV + 400 5.6L, 400 mm, f/6.3, ISO 800, 1/2000 sec, hand held, major crop.


1500 x 1000 version






 
 
 

 

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