Sunday, February 21, 2010

She saved the day...

Of late it is becoming a trend.
An undesirable trend.
A worrying trend.
It worried me that we have wasted the day.
It worried me that we would go home empty handed.
That's the worst part.

Of late, the morning part of the day would be spend walking, walking and walking most of the time.
Except for the small birds that always did the high fly over, the park is quiet.
Quite. Hmmm, this word is kind of a standard word nowadays.
Not a good word. Really not good.

On Friday night, hubby told me that he wanted to go inside the Mempening Trail.
Considering the less activities of the birds in the morning part, I decided to follow him.
I don't really like to go deep into the trail.
My feet are not that strong. And I don't really have the stamina to go up and down. If it's a flat trail, I'm all game.
"We walk slowly ok" that's what I told hubby.

And what a walk in the jungle that was.
It was a long walk.
Long and quiet walk.

After lunch I told hubby that I would root myself at my favourite spot, the river.
I told him that I would not be doing any more walking.
I just wanted to sit there and wait for the birds to come to me, I told him in jester.

By 2.30pm, the frustration started seeping in.
One word came to mind.
A dreadful word.
Not a friendly word.

Then I spotted the Indigo Flycatcher. A pair of them.
I was hoping that they would come down to bathe.
Unfortunately they decided to dash my hope and flew away.
Feeling a bit crush, I suddenly heard the Borneon Stubtail calling.
I rushed over to the nearby underbrush and I saw it. Not it, but them.
I hid behind the big fallen tree and tried to get a shot.
Too small, too fast, too bushy and too dark.
Then all of a sudden, another movement surprised me.
It was the female White-Browed Shortwing.
I was caught by surprise.
She was just in front of me and we looked at each other.
Then suddenly a treeshrew passed in front of her.
I momentarily lost my concentration.
Thinking that she would have fled, I turned again quickly to try and locate her and to my surprise she was still there.
There's the Borneon Stubtail.
There's the White-Browed Shortwing.
"Concentrate on what you want and forget about the others"...I remembered what hubby told me.
The choice is very clear.

White-Browed Shortwing (Brachypteryx montana)...
My first photos after acquiring the Canon 40D from hubby...
Terrible composition...
Difficult shots...

It would have been a dreadful day...
But she saved the day...
At the nick of time...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crimson-Headed Partridge (Haematortyx sanquiniceps)...

The commonest my foot! Well, don't mind that, that's just frustration talking...

Self : “The commonest partridge in Forest at Kinabalu National Park Headquarters”…they said it’s the commonest at the Headquarters!…How come we don’t see it always…like the Indigo Flycatcher, or the Borneon Flowerpecker or the Jungle Flycatcher…
Hubby : Maybe because they are commonly heard around here…
Self : Okayyyyy...

Obviously I did not do my reading and not until I read "A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Mt Kinabalu by Hitoshi Nakayasu, Shigeru Asama and Alim Biun"...the distinctive loud calls of this partridge are heard around the Park Headquarters every morning, but the bird itself remains on the ground and seldom emerges from the dense undergrowth. In addition, is shy, and thus rarely seen...only then I go easy with myself.

But still. That did not stop my annoyance from biting hard on me. The fact that the Crimson- Headed Partridge is a montane endemic to Borneo did not pacify my disappointment rather it aggravated my annoyance more. If I did not chance upon it I would not be dissatisfied with myself that much.

But I did stumble upon it.
Not once.
Not twice.
But four times.
Not one partridge.
But a pair of them.
Would you blame me then for being annoying with myself?

First encounter...October 2009...
I was on the trail alone. I normally would not follow hubby to look for the Whitehead Trogon.
I saw something came up from the riverbank.
I zoomed my camera to the max.
It disappeared just as fast as it appeared.

Second encounter...
I was not on the trail.
I was waiting for the Whitebrowed Shortwing.
Suddenly it appeared out of nowhere.
But the undergrowth was just too thick.
I only got very blurry undistinguished photo.
I deleted it.

Third encounter...December 2009...
I was on the trail again...alone.
Suddenly I saw it from afar...facing towards me.
Again I zoomed my camera to the max.

I was taking my eye off the view finder when something popped up in front of me.
Another one just came up from the riverbank.
"No wonder" I thought...the other one might be waiting for the partner to come up.
I was shaking with excitement...I kneeled down.
My forefinger was trembling while clicking at the shutter button.
I became lightheaded.
Did they see me? Please don't see me, I prayed...
I think they did see me...But still they did not fly away...
I then tried my very best not to spook them...

The one in front of me started to move towards the other one.
I stooped and followed as slowly as I can.
They just can't stop moving.
And I just can't stop long enough to get a good and steady shots.

Hubby : You should push your ISO to 800...
Self : I just could not remember anything...everything went out of the window...
Hubby : You must remember that if you want sharper shots...

Fourth encounter...January 2010...
We decided to look and wait for the partridge.
Hubby was behind me when I heard him, "ppsssttt"...
I turned around and saw him pointing to his left.
My God! There they were, walking and skulking right next to us.
We took our position and started to crouch, waiting for them to come closer to the trail.
They would have noticed us by then but still they seemed to take their own sweet time looking for food.
I started to back off, zooming my camera in and out.
It was mighty difficult to get a clear shot what with the bushy undergrowth.

I was backing off when I saw it coming my way.
I stopped when I felt my heel on the edge of the riverbank.
There was nothing else I could do but clicked my camera.
I felt like it smacked right in front of my face, that was how close it was to me.

I guessed he thought that we were too close for comfort and make a detour.
It turned around and went back inside the bush.
By then, taking shots is pretty impossible.
We followed for a while until they decided to hop onto the trail.
This is the only good shot I could take.
It irked me when I did not see hubby taking shots at it.
"Why are you not taking photos" I said..."I was videotaping it" was his answer...

I'm still not satisfied...
I'm still looking out for them...
I'm waiting for them to turn up...

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Lifer Indeed...Tawny-breasted parrotfinch...

Last saturday...6 Feb 2010...

Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!
Not again.
Four phrases.
Constantly playing in my mind, over and over again, like a broken old record.

I was so very afraid that it would be a repeat of last week, it looked like it.
Quiet. Windy. Chill-to-the-bone-breeze. Quiet. Quiet. Quiet. And quiet.
Geez! I even managed to doze off. Not once tho. But a few times.

It was slightly past 12.30 noon when I rang hubby to bring him to lunch. That's considered quiet early. Well, I mean what better to do than have lunch when one has not even fire a single shot since after breakfast. At least I have something to think about. Get the mind to work a bit. Like, think what shall I have for lunch. Talk about pathetic, wooohhhh.

I have the mind to bring hubby home considering the situation. I was not in a jolly mood I'm afraid. That's what the quietness and the chilliness do to oneself. It gets on one's nerves. We just finished lunch and I was arranging my lines to hubby when I turned my head to the right and saw a familiar face.

I could feel my gloomy face broke into a wide smile. I nudged hubby, "It's Encik Alim". We quickly shook hand with him and then I headed off straight to our car. I needed to get something from the car. I have this unfinished business with Encik Alim. unfinished business...I forgot to get his autograph for his book...I had brought it with me a few times not knowing that I would met up with him one day...I am very proud of this book...proud because without his assistance and knowledge, this book would not have materalized...a fitting contribution I guessed for our local of the pioneer in this is always a pleasure to hang around with the hanging around with our Birder friend get to learn get that extra eyes and ears...;)

...'checklist updating', that's big..."How I wished I could update you with something out of the ordinary Encik Alim, that would really be something" came to mind when I read his autograph...

I was standing next to hubby when he pulled out the book to look at what Encik Alim's has scribbled when I heard a sound. A faint sound. Then from the corner of my right eyes, I saw something drop on the rock. My first thought was that it was a fallen leave. A deceiving movement. Deceving coz one would thought that it's a bird. We have that most of the time as a result of the strong wind.

I did not take my eyes off the spot tho and then no sooner I saw something moving...

Self : Hey, there's a bird...
Hubby : Where, where...
Self : (pointing my camera)...on the it the shortwing (talking to myself)...
Hubby : Where, where...
Self : Oh my God! Oh my God! It's green...It's green...can you see it...can you see it...

Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch (Erythrura hyperythra) - female

First Appearance was playing hide and seek with us...poking it's head behind the rock...

...I followed her from the other side of the stream...I was praying very hard...'don't fly off'...'don't fly off'...'stay put'...'stay put'...

...kept on hopping from rock to rock...

Self : What was that...
Hubby : Parrotfinch...
Self : Category?
Hubby : Not sure...

We just could not wait to get our hands on the guide book. We lingered for a while hoping for it to make another appearance. But we only heard her call.

While making our last round before going home, I decided to go back to that spot. I was waiting for the Indigo Flycatcher, if I'm lucky I would get it bathing yet again was what I was thinking.

I sure did not expect to hear that new familiar sound again. But I did and I heard it twice before quickly unlodging my backpack to the ground and stay very still. I squint my eyes to get a better view and there she was, right before my eyes.

I kneeled and started gunning the shutter button. I took my BB out and rang hubby. He did not answer. I called again. Still he did answer. And still he did not call me back. And when he did call, I gritted my teeth answering him. I was angry coz I wanted him to be there to get the photo. His lens is much more reliable than mine was. His hands were much more steadier than mine were.

Second Appearance

We were on our way to KK to get me an external drive on Sunday when hubby sms Encik Alim on our find...I was behind the wheel when hubby read Encik Alim's return message...

When Encik Alim said the bird is very rare...
...I was grinning from ear to ear...
When Encik Alim said no one has photograph it yet... grin went right to the back of my head...
I am still you know...