Friday, December 29, 2017

Garden bugs at 20x slow motion

The flow of life among bugs in our backyard appears to be more interesting if seen at a slower pace, say at 5% of normal motion speed.



Filmed in available light using a Sony RX10 Mark IV at Paranaque City, Philippines, December 29, 2017.

Focal length = 220 mm (600 mm equivalent), 1/1000 sec, f/5.6 - f/10, ISO 400, manual exposure, hand held, AWB, 1824x616-480 fps capture automatically upressed to 1920x1080-480 fps in-camera, then post-processed to 720/23.976p (20x slomo).

Music - "Fireflies and Stardust" by Kevin McLeod, incompetech.com (royalty-free).

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Little Heron in flight

This is a common water bird, though it's not often that I see it flying in the open. It normally takes to the air in a low trajectory, making it a tough target to catch given the short flight and the featured background. 

With the plain sky behind this BIF, it was fairly easy for the 7D MII to capture the subject in the air.



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Little Heron (Butorides striatus, resident/migrant)

Habitat - Exposed coral reefs, tidal flats, mangroves, fishponds and streams. 

Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, December 6, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/7.1, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 6 MP crop resized to 800 x 533.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Whiskered Tern in good light

This species is one of the most common migrants to our islands, but I haven't gotten tired of photographing it, particularly when light is golden and the background is photogenic.

This individual was flying low over a fishpond. One frame in a short 10 fps burst managed to catch the water bird in a good wing position, with the eye contact and catchlight as bonus.

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Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus, migrant, non-breeding plumage)

Habitat - Bays, tidal flats to ricefields. 

Shooting Info - Sto. Tomas, La Union, Philippines, November 28, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/7.1, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 6 MP crop resized to 800 x 533.

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.
 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Lesser Coucals of San Manuel (Pangasinan)

A wide grassland, criss-crossed by dirt roads, located near the San Roque Dam at San Manuel (Pangasinan) has one of the denser population of this species I've seen. 

An irrigation channel from the dam runs in the middle of this unpopulated area, and surrounded at both sides by tall cogon grass. The thick vegetation, abundance of surface water and lack of human inhabitants make the place an ideal habitat for many grassland avi-fauna. Most of the area is accessible by car, hence birding is quite convenient as well.

Here's a couple of captures of this skulker taken this morning during my second visit to the place in as many days.

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Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis, resident)

Habitat - Grassland and open country. 



 Shooting info - San Roque, San Manuel, Pangasinan, Philippines, July 6, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, 1/2000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 640, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 450.


 High-res 1600 x 900 version




Shooting info - San Roque, San Manuel, Pangasinan, Philippines, July 6, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, 1/2000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A quail fight in the middle of a dirt road

Like two wrestlers, these two female quails were locked in combat in the middle of a dirt road when I chanced upon them at the grasslands of San Manuel, Pangasinan.

Light was coming from up front (note the shadow of the bird at left), rendering the subjects severely backlit. Nevertheless, I immediately squatted to lower the shooting angle, and took some insurance shots. I was planning to backtrack and circle around the combatants from a good distance until the sun is behind me. Unfortunately, a motorcycle rider came along the dirt road and the fighters got spooked. I had to make do with the insurance shots I managed to capture earlier.

I did some major exposure surgery during RAW conversion and post processing to mitigate the backlighting. Too bad that such action weren't captured under better light!

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Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator, both female)

Habitat - Drier grassland and scrub, often seen along highways or on dirt roads. 

Shooting info - San Roque, San Manuel, Pangasinan, Philippines, July 6, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, 1/1250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, uncropped full frame resized to 800 x 533.


And here's the original exposure as captured, before exposure recovery in post process - uncropped full frame resized to 800 x 533. 




One of the combatants is body slammed onto the jagged rocks of the dirt road.

Shooting info - San Roque, San Manuel, Pangasinan, Philippines, July 6, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, 1/1250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533. 

High-res 1500 x 1000 version


When the fighters got tired, they took a breather, staying relatively inactive while locking beaks. Both appeared to be unhurt in the melee - each one flew in a different direction when the motorcycle rider  came barrelling by their combat arena.

Shooting info - San Roque, San Manuel, Pangasinan, Philippines, July 6, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, 1/1250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The heavens were on fire over Bued River last night

The long, hot summer has ended in our islands, and the migratory birds have flown back to their breeding grounds. Gone are my favorite flying subjects, but the rainclouds have started to visit with increased regularity and the night skies have become much more interesting and photogenic. 

Here's a couple of images from my first lightning hunt of the season. On this particularly humid night, the air was so still that almost all leaves of trees along Bued River were unmoving, and were rendered sharp even with a long exposure of 30 seconds. I got lucky with my choice of manually set focus distance - the nearby foliage and the far away lightning bolts were in reasonably good focus even at f/4.

The corner-to-corner sharpness of the EF 16-35 f/4 IS continues to amaze me. This little zoom has the highest satisfaction-to-cost ratio (STCR) among all lenses I've used so far. The big whites, and the 400 DO II, are stellar but their high cost drags down their SCTR.

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Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, June 13, 2017, Canon 5D MIII + EF 16-35 f/4 L IS,
35 mm, f/4, ISO 160, 30 sec, manual exposure in available light, Uniqball UBH45/455B support, cropped in the vertical to fit 16:9, resized to 800 x 450.




Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, June 13, 2017, Canon 5D MIII + EF 16-35 f/4 L IS,
35 mm, f/4, ISO 160, 30 sec, manual exposure in available light, Uniqball UBH45/455B support, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Monday, June 5, 2017

'Tis the amorous season once again

Not much BIF opportunities lately because of the mostly overcast skies this onset of the rainy season. But the sun briefly showed itself this morning beyond the high Cordilleras, and this allowed me to get a snapshot of this nest-builder.

Yes, the breeding season for endemics and residents has begun. This coincides with the explosion of  growth of various plants, and abundance of insects and invertebrates, nurtured by the life-giving water from the heavens. It seems that the breeding clock of birds is calibrated such that their instinct to mate and build nests happens during times when there is an abundance of food.

I look forward to a new generation of avian subjects in a couple of months. 

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Red Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica, resident)

Habitat - Open country or lawns. 

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, June 6, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 19.70 m. distance, major crop resized to 800 x 533. 
  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Butterfly in flight

Sometimes, the birds are hesitant to take to the air over Bued River.  So I try to capture any other creature that flies. 

I wish though that I got this one earlier in its life cycle, when its "plumage" was more pristine and photogenic.


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Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 24, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 11.00 m. distance, major crop resized to 800 x 533


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Sunbird's full wingspread

Not as sharp as I'd like (there's probably a combined dose of camera shake, slight misfocus and subject motion in the shot), but it's not often that I get these little critters in flight. They're too small (about 4-1/2 inches total length), with a very erratic flight pattern, and more often than not stays in the air only for a few seconds. 

I wish evolution has taught this species to fly a straighter trajectory, so it's much easier to acquire and keep in the viewfinder. But then, that would make them easier to catch by airborne predators (e.g. - shrikes) too, and would've threatened their chances of surviving and evolving into such a microscopic thing of beauty.

Hmmm.... I take my wish back, and would just try harder in catching a better BIF shot. 😉

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Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis, resident, female)

Habitat - Common lowland sunbird.


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 16, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 15.60 m. distance, major crop resized to 800 x 600.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A ruined daytime moonshot

I was trying to get me a nice daytime moonshot this morning, but this darn bird kept getting in my line of fire.  😀

Kidding aside, I started with an Av of f/11, but the moon was still way out of focus. I was about to dial in f/16 and f/22 for a deeper DOF, but the bird flew away before I can execute the adjustment. On the next similar opportunity, I'd start shooting with an aperture as small as the lens would allow.

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Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier , resident)

Habitat: Common in gardens, urban areas and grasslands but not in mature forests. 


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 15, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/11, 1/500 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 27.20 m. distance, cropped and resized to 800 x 533.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Red Turtle-Dove in early morning flight

These friendly neighborhood doves are usually active over the Bued River in the early morning. I captured this individual about an hour after sunrise - when light was already bright enough to allow a fast motion-stopping shutter speed, yet still remaining golden and soft to yield pleasing colors.

The AF speed and tracking accuracy of the hand held 7D MII + 400 DO II combo didn't disappoint. Nearly all the frames in a long burst were in precise focus, and I chose this one over the rest because of the upwing position and the good eye contact.

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Red Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica, resident)

Habitat - Open country or lawns. 

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 10, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, 19.70 m. distance, major crop resized to 800 x 533.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Bee-eater trying a different menu

Despite its name, this resident bird's diet is not limited to bees. I've seen it hawk many types of insects in the air, including dragonflies like this one in the photo. I suppose the bird-namers chose "bee-eater" for brevity. It's indeed awkward to call this one a Blue-tailed Dragonfly-eater

These birds often fly high over the Bued River early in the morning to catch their breakfast. I had to mount a 2x teleconverter on the 400 2.8 L IS to get a bit closer. Even then, I had to crop massively. 

The AF speed of the combo is still pretty decent, but initial subject acquisition and tracking through an angle of view of 1,280 mm (800 mm x 1.6 crop factor) is very  tough for me. I was very lucky to get and keep this one within the frame at all.

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Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus, resident)

Habitat - Open country usually associated with water along rivers, marshes and ricefields.

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, May 2, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 f/2.8 L IS II + EF 2x TC III,
800 mm, f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400 (pushed +1 stop during RAW conversion), approx. 49.70 m distance, manual exposure in available light, 

475B/516 support, major crop resized to 800 x 600.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Call of the Red-keeled Flowerpecker

This short footage features the call of this tiny Philippine endemic. The 7D MII's on-board microphone did a good job of picking up the sound from over 20 meters away, even with a lot of background noise. The background noise was filtered out during post process to isolate the call.

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Red-keeled Flowerpecker (Dicaeum australe, a Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Canopy of forest, edge and flowering trees.

Shooting info – Bued River, La Union, Philippines, April 23, 2017, EOS 7D Mark II + EF 400 f/2.8 L IS + EF 2x TC II + EF 2x TC III,
1600 mm, f/14, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, WB manually set at CT = 5000K, 1080/59.97p capture processed to 720/23.976p, sound recorded by the camera’s on-board mic,  Manfrotto 516/475B support.


A couple of playful Sparrows

Just a short footage of two young sparrows trying to outpeck each other.

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Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus, resident)

Habitat - Common in virtually every inhabited island of the Philippines.

Shooting info – Bued River, La Union, Philippines, April 23, 2017, EOS 7D Mark II + EF 400 f/2.8 L IS + EF 2x TC II + EF 2x TC III,
1600 mm, f/14, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, WB manually set at CT = 5000K, 1080/59.97p capture processed to 720/23.976p, Manfrotto 516/475B support.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

White-throated Kingfisher in flight

There are quite a few birds I've observed along the banks of the Bued River that I'm dying to get in flight - Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, Cinnamon Bittern, Coppersmith Barbet, Colasisi, and the Collared and White-throated Kingfishers.

On this early morning birding walk, I got one of my most wanted birds-in-flight. I wish I caught it with the wings in downstroke position so the colorful topwing feathers are visible, but I'm happy to take whatever BIF card nature deals me. 

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White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis, resident)

Habitat - Clearings, along large streams and rivers, and in open country. 


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, March 30, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, approx. 15.6 m distance, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lowland White-eye in flight

The tiny size (4 inches total length) and very erratic flight behavior of this bird make it one tough subject to catch in the air. I was very lucky this morning to capture it in good light, in full wing spread, at the banks of Bued River.

I actually got it near the edge of the frame, so I have to extend the blue sky canvas a bit at the left to strengthen the composition. The 7D MII + 400 f/4 DO II combo managed to place the focus accurately on the unpredictable target, even when using the AF points at the extreme left.

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Lowland White-eye (Zosterops meyeni, a near Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Second growth, scrub and gardens. 

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, March 25, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, approx. 11 m distance, manual exposure in available light, hand held, small crop resized to 800 x533 . 





Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Crested Myna's Body English in Mid-air

This bird was on a flight path heading straight to my position along the bank of Bued River. Then  it saw me pointing a big, white metal tube in its direction. Thinking perhaps that I was a threat, the bird quickly tried to change course, and I caught it in the  middle of an interesting-looking body twist.

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Crested Myna (Acridotheres cristatellus, resident)

Habitat: Open country and agricultural land. 


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, March 8, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533. 
     


Friday, February 17, 2017

Pygmy Swiftlet in good light

Aside from its very small size (3-1/2 inches total length) and erratic flight behavior, what makes this bird tough to catch in mid-air is its dark plumage - a difficult job even for the 7D MII's excellent AF system. In addition, one has to be extremely lucky with the direction of light to illuminate the dark face well.

This Valentine's Day, I saw a few of these microbirds flying around Bued River. It took many tries and misses before I managed to get one sharp, with the light angle just right to bring out the bird's dark features.

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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 14, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 f/4 DO II,
400 mm, f/5.0, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, hand held, major crop.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Stripe-headed Rhabdornis

I have not done a lot of forest birding in the last few years, so I was extremely delighted to see this endemic bird perched  low at Subic last weekend. 

I initially had a naked 400 DO II mounted on the 7D MII, quite short for such a subject whose total length is just a bit over 6 inches. Just the same, I took insurance shots before quickly mounting a 1.4x TC III, and taking more shots. Fortunately, the bird stayed long enough for me to change the 1.4x TC III to a 2x TC III. This time, at 800 mm, the bird filled the frame well enough.


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Stripe-headed Rhabdornis (Rhabdornis mystacalis, a Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Lowland forest and second growth. 


Shooting Info - Subic rainforest, Zambales, Philippines, February 11, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + EF 2x TC III,
800 mm, f/9, 1/320 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Full framing a Philippine Woodpecker in golden light

I got quite close to this micro-jackhammer feeding at a low tree branch  in Subic rainforest this weekend. Formerly called Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, it's the smallest Philippine woodpecker at about 5-1/2 inches in total length.

Light was golden and sweet at just past 4:00 pm, and the hand held 400 f4 DO II at 560 mm was enough reach to fill the frame with the small subject. I used AI servo AF to maintain precise focus on the active forager and to compensate for my hand holding movement. Of the many 10-fps frames that I shot, at least one caught the bird while it paused pecking for a split second.

No pixel was harmed nor thrown away in this full frame capture.

_____

Philippine Woodpecker (Dendrocopos maculatus, a Philippine endemic)

Habitat - Smallest Philippine woodpecker, common in lowland and montane forest and edge,
in understory and canopy.

Shooting Info - Subic rainforest, Zambales, Philippines, February 11, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II + EF 1.4x TC III,
560 mm, f/6.3, 1/640 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, uncropped full frame resized to 800 x 533.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Large-billed Crow in flight

Certainly not the most colorful nor the prettiest one in our islands, this black bird passed near me while I was enjoying the early morning sun along the banks of Bued River. Its wing beat above the horizontal plane, massive bill and larger size are diagnostic, separating it from the smaller Slender-billed Crow.

My camera's exposure settings were manually set for birds with midtone plumage, so these captures were underexposed. I had to push the exposure by one stop during RAW conversion. Luckily, the favorable direction of light (morning sun at my back) provided decent illumination on its head area, as well as parts of the wing and body.

_____

Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos, resident)

Habitat - open country.


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, February 7, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.
 High res 1500 x 1000 version 

Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, February 7, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.


Shooting Info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, February 7, 2017, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II,
400 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 320, manual exposure in available light, hand held, major crop resized to 800 x 533.


 

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