Monday, March 29, 2010

My Thailand Trip - Part 4

Day 3 of 6, we started the day early. 5 am was the morning call and at 6.30 am we were on the road to the newly found habitat of the Pied Kingfisher. We decided to skip the hotel morning breakfast buffet and opted to stop by the 7 eleven to pick up some coffee and bread on the way to the location. 
Upon arriving at the location, we saw 4 to 5 Pied Kingfisher hovering or hang around exactly the same location that we last saw it yesterday evening. The sun was raising behind us, it was the frontal light on the subject. Since the light condition was on the perfect condition and I would not need a very high ISO, I decided to shoot with my 7D. Furthermore the 18 mp sensor would able to retain more detail should I need cropping. 
Pied Kingfisher 

It was a very productive morning photo session, I managed to get many species of lifer for shooting at along this small trail leading through a large paddy field.
Little Cormorant

A pair of Asian Pied Starling


Indian Cormorant

Bronze-winged Jarcana

Female Asian Golden Weaver

Plain Prinia

Plain-backed Sparrow

Red-collared Dove

At about 11 am, we completed the morning photo session. It was a mission accomplish at Ayuthaya. We decided to head to Khao Yai.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Thailand Trip - Part 3

Day 2 of 6, my primary target for the 2nd day was the Pied Kingfisher at Ayuthaya. Ayuthaya was the old capital for the Kingdom of Thailand. It is about 1 1/2 hour to the north of Bangkok. However before we headed to Ayuthaya, we had to visit the airport again to pick up my traveling partner, Markus, who arrived a day later then me. 
We arrived at the destination at about noon. My bird guide Mr Par immediately went to survey the target site. He got information that a pair of Pied Kingfisher was sighted frequently hanging around our target location at the river bank. He wanted to set up some natural perches at the river bank and 2 hides few meter away from the perches for me and Makus to hide and photograph the Pied Kingfisher. 
Preparing the hide
After finished setting up the hides, Mr Par told us to break for lunch. Furthermore, he wanted to leave alone the hide for a few hours and let the subjects became familiar with the newly elected hides. Otherwise, the subjects may be too skittish to perch near the hides.

Thai food is really fabulous and delicious.
 Here are the famous rice noodles and deep fried mushroom

At about 2 pm, we were back inside the hides. It was a hot and sunny day. I was sweating heavily inside the hide. I kept scanning the perch few meter in front of my hiding location hoping that the Pied Kingfisher perched there. Hmm..... but the target refused to fly near our target location, something not right ! After 1/2 hour of waiting, the Streak Bulbul stopped by the perch.
Streak Bulbul 

Another 2 hours gone, we decided to move the hides further up the river bank. We thought that the hides were too obvious and had alerted the Pied Kingfishers. At about 5 pm, we spotted the Pied Kingfisher at the opposite side of the river bank. The subjects were too far away for a good record shot. I decided to wait for another 15 minutes, if the Pied Kingfisher refused to return then I shall move to the paddy field to shoot the Asian Openbill. Another 10 minutes passed, I was about to pack my equipment, suddenly I heard a loud shrill of "chirruk, chirruk, chirruk" sound. Makus alerted me that the Pied Kingfisher is near, I scanned the target location, I saw a pair of Pied Kingfisher perched on a twig. I triggered the shutter of my 1 D mk IV, the camera was shooting at 10 frames per second. After a series of shots, I checked the image at the LCD screen, I realized that the targets were rather small size due to distance away from my hide. Without hesitating, I mounted the EF 800 IS with the 1.4 TC, "he.. he.." luckily I was using the 1 series body, I can reach further with the TC and also maintaining the center point autofocus. The following are the series of photos captured:
The first sighting of Pied Kingfisher

After finishing with the lifer shots of the Pied Kingfisher, we felt we have gotten the target that we were here for, we moved to the paddy field to photography the Asian Openbill.

Contrasting to the Pied Kingfisher, there were abundant of Asian Openbill at the target location. The sun was about to set at the horizon. It created a orange color "last light".
An Asian Openbill hovering above the nest

Some flight shots of the Asian Openbill

Photo-taking the Asian Openbill. There were many perching at the tree.
During the shooting of Asian Openbill, my bird guide met a local villager who gave some valuable information that he always see a group of Pied Kingfisher hanging around at the another end of the paddy field. The villager was so kind to give us the direction. We decided to head for the direction to search for the target before the sky turned dark.
As we were approaching the paddy field, we spotted a few Pied Kingfisher hovering above a river. We were quite excited that we had found a new habitat of the Pied Kingfisher. 
A Pied Kingfisher successfully caught a fish from the river

Unfortunately, the sun has set at the far side of the horizon. The light source was not in the perfect condition for further shooting. We decided to come here first thing in the morning.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Thailand Trip - Part 2

After spending about 3 hours at Phuttamonton Park, I moved to photograph Gulls at Bang Poo. It is about 1 hour by car from my previous location. Upon arriving at the pier at Bang Poo, I was stunned to see so many gulls at the shore. Occasionally, the gulls will fly off from the shore at instant to grab the food being fed by the visitors. The place is very noisy with wave of wave of call of Gulls.
I planned to get some fly shots of the gulls, so I setup my 7D and mounted it with the 70-200 F4 IS. On the hand,  for normal shot, I relied on my 1 D mk IV with EF 800 IS. 
My guide told me that there were 2 main species of gulls here, the Brown Headed Gull and Black Headed Gull. Many of the Gulls were in breeding plumage.  I had difficulty in identifying the gulls as there all looked alike. I am going to put up the photos here and whoever know the ID of the species, kindly provide me the ID of the species by replying at the comments section. Your help is very much appreciated.
Photo 1:

Photo 2:

Photo 3:

Photo 4:

Photo 5:

Photo 6:

Here are some flight shot :

Responding to the food feeding by visitors

A lonely Bar-tailed Godwit at the last light moment

Thanks for viewing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Thailand Trip - Part 1

On 12 to 17 of March, I embarked on a bird photography trip to Thailand. Prior to departing to Bangkok on the 12 of March, I was in a dilemma on deciding to cancel my trip as the "Red Shirt" was going to stage a mass demonstration in Bangkok. After consulting with my bird guide and friends in Bangkok, I decided to go ahead with the trip.
I bought along with me 2 camera bodies ( 1 D mk IV and 7D) , 3 lens ( EF 800 IS, EF 70-200 F4 IS, EF 17-40 L) and 2 tele-converters (1.4 x and 2 x). All the primary gears fitted nicely into a Think Tank Airport Security roller bag. This bag is cabin size compliance so I  did not encounter any problems in fitting it into the overhead compartment.
Upon arriving at Bangkok, my bird guide Mr Par bought me to the Phuttamonton Park. It is located at the outskirt of Bangkok city at the Nakom Pathom Province. The park is covered with open woodland and under the tree canopy are water ponds and gardens.
My primary target here is to photograph the Indian Roller. After searching through the park, we managed to find a pair of Indian Roller perching at a tree trunk.

Indian Roller

My other "great catch" at the park are:

    Coppersmith Barbet

Racket-tailed Treepie

Olive-backed Pipit (The subject looks blur due to massive heat-wave from the ground)

Black-capped Kingfisher

Thanks for viewing.