THE OTHER FLIGHTS ON THE GOLF COURSE


After a really long hiatus from photographing hornbills, I’ve broken the “drought” with new set of Oriental Pied hornbill images. Long story but if you prefer not to read about it, too bad, I’m going to share it anyway. The original idea was to add The World’s Lowest Hill location on FourSquare but I stopped way short of that and was justifiably distracted by a score of hornbills that were tree-hopping on the Panaga golf course. It was the largest gathering of hornbills I had ever come across in a single location (I lost count after number 15). For more pictures of hornbills, feel free to use the search tool.

Yup, she spotted me, looked me up and down then ignored me completely. Not entirely a bad thing. How do I know it's a she? I don't.

I inched my way towards these two that were unperturbed by my presence. The afternoon was breezy and the pair managed to sit tight while the palm leaves waved up and down.

One after another, the hornbills took off from the lowly palm trees to reach great heights of the taller trees in the neighbourhood. At this point I heard familiar buzzing noises beetles or cicada fading into the distance. Hornbills regularly feed on small insects including lizards and young birds.

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This photo gives you an idea just how low the hornbills sometimes fly. Presence of humans not a deterrent when they're looking for food.

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A hornbill in flight is always a sight to behold as it glides gracefull through the open skies

One of a number of atrificial nest boxes installed by the Panaga Natural History Society to provide additional nesting opportunities. Because hornbills live among us, the environment today may not be conducive to encourage population growth. Human intervention is sometimes necessary.

“World’s Lowest Hill” entry on FourSquare has to wait another day.

WHEN BIRDS GET TERRITORIAL

If you’re a regular visitor here, you’ll have known the sort of breathtaking mornings I get to enjoy  from my kitchen balcony everyday. But no two mornings are the same and even though the big bright light rises in the same direction each day, the combination of cloud formation, objects in the sky which are usually identifiable ones at this time of the day such as migratory birds flying in unpredictable formation are what makes certain mornings more interesting. If you’ve never been to this area before (Latitude: N4.6132º Longitude: E114.3614º) and have formed an impression from looking at these pictures, I’ll have you know that I don’t wake up with a French window that overlooks a National Geographic horizon nor do I wake up to the smell of freshly ground double-shot Cappuccino either—but if you do, you’ve probably watched too many movies.

Would you believe if I told you I shot these with my 5DII and 70-200mm lens? Yup, there were this near and in fact hover over the roof tops repeatedly and on many occasions made abrupt swoops in the nearby forest. Why they do this I have no idea but they seem to do so in an orchestrated manner and it isn’t as though one of them has a whistle or that they actually indicate to the other egrets—really interesting to watch. I’ve also come to the conclusion that the 5DII’s AI SERVO has one amazing continuous tracking ability that rivals the accuracy of its EOS 1 series sibling.

What excited me this morning wasn’t the egrets flying over my house but rather something I’ve waited for a long while and hence the appropriateness of the title. The last time this happened, it was several months ago when I  saw it for the first time here. There is a particular species of bird that do not like the hornbills at all and in spite of their much smaller size, they are not afraid to get territorial and defend their air space.

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As the hornbill took off looking for food, the fearless one decided to keep an eye …

… and did everything it could to get noticed but to no avail. The hornbill was looking for food and its determination remained unperturbed by what’s going on in the nearby TV antenna.

The little one kept its wings spread out the whole time in protest and disapproval (is this a double negative?) of the enemy.

↓ I don’t know if you would consider this a money shot but it’s hard to imagine the risks I took to get this. I’ve had to out stretch the body off the balcony (my mom who was watering her plants looked up and was really concerned when she reminded me that I wasn’t born with gymnastic abilities).

The female hornbill at the nest would be pleased with this catch. It’s never a good idea to catch a flight overseas and return home empty handed if you know what I mean. Here, a male hornbill seen with a wasabi-coloured Cicada (I could have said green coloured but I guess you get the hint, I’ve not had Japanese food for a while now).

The pursuit continued … until it was out of sight. It has been an interesting 30 minutes or so of my morning.

FOLLOW THE LIGHT

NATURE has always been beautiful. The only question is whether we see it as nature has intended or the way we want to, unnaturally. Regular readers know the number of hornbill photos I have in my archives along with a handful of sunrise silhouettes taken from the vantage point of my kitchen balcony. So yesterday, I noticed my favourite tree was aligned to the morning sun, a rare occurrence, I knew I had only minutes to get my act together. So I got the picture, what next?

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A lonely tree pitched against the sun to create an isolated silhouette doesn’t say much. So I looked in my archives of  recently shot hornbill pictures and found a couple that would work well with this scene. The idea I had in mind was to create a cinematic scene with the Oriental Pied Hornbills and their instinctive flight towards the light. I took two hornbill photos, one from my recent aerial chase shot and another from the archive previously not used. One thing led to another and I turned a regular sunrise into a cinematic sunset.

There’s a thing  called Cinematic Photo Stills and I’m just scratching the surface of what I think adds a different dimension. Let me know what you think?