Brunei Darussalam


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.
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.
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.

Brunei Darussalam


bruneitimes_hornbills_24042009read this story on BT online

MENTION Seria town and the first thing that springs to mind is probably oil. The oil town is many things to many people who live and work here. Go beyond the obvious and explore deeper, you’ll find another name that’s just as common as it’s used and associated with Seria-hornbill. We have Hornbill School, Hornbill Apartments, Hornbill drink that’s served in Panaga Club and of course, the beautiful and graceful Oriental Pied hornbill birds that are a daily feature of our skies from dawn to dusk. Perhaps it is these iconic birds that these establishments and drink have been named after but whatever the real reason behind them, I’m delighted to see them each and every time they fly by. So much so that my daughter has developed hornbill spotting habits every time we’re in the car.

As with most mornings, the piercing cries of the hornbills penetrate the house as they go about their usual business, going from tree to tree, hopping from branch to branch and transiting on TV antenna. These pair were spotted right at the power station right across from Shell refinery. It’s amusing to see one pecking the spot light as it sees a mirror-reflection of itself thinking there’s another one of its kind. read more

Pictures published in the BT column was taken from Hornbills in Flight 2.

Brunei Darussalam


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.

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.