Monday, 22 June 2009

17&18/06/2009: Air Hitam Dalam (Penang)

I finally found the time to visit the nesting Pittas after a lapse of almost a week. There were only 2 chicks left from the brood of three.

Both the parents were busy feeding the chicks as usual...

On a few occasions, the parents foraged for food quite nearby the nest and that provided me with a few shots of this fascinating species in its natural environment.

Here's a flying shot (after numerous attempts) of the adult bird in flight. Here, it is disposing a fecal sac from the nest.
I returned to the nest the next day and the Pittas were still carrying on their usual routine.

The call of a Ruddy Kingfisher from the boardwalk was too much of a temptation to resist. The short walk to the boardwalk was most fruitful as I managed to capture a few decent shots of this striking kingfisher. As the lighting was rather dim, I was forced to use my external flash.
A Greater Racket-tailed Drongo alighted momentarily near the boardwalk in front of me and I managed to take a shot before it flew back up into the canopy.

A Pied Fantail was pretty confiding today as well...

When I came back to the nest, I saw the chicks moving about the base of the nest. So, I quickly got back into my car to avoid stressing the chicks and took quite a number of shots of these youngsters experiencing life outside the nest for the first time. I found out later that the chicks were already out and about the evening before.

Gradually the both of them moved further into the swamp forest and it did not take the parent birds long to figure out their babies have finally grown up and left the nest. They then proceeded to feed the chicks within the forest. I walked onto the boardwalk to see if I can still locate the chicks and I managed to see one of them among the short grass at the edge of the forest.

As I was heading back to my car, the other chick alighted on the boardwalk right in front of me. I can still remember a juvenile pitta doing exactly the same thing to me at this very location more than 10 years ago. Anyway, I slowly got down as low as possible and took a few shots before it dived down into the undergrowth again.

This whole pitta episode was supposed to be one of the highlights of my birding life. And I guess it still is but there are a number of external factors that made it more memorable. There are several controversies surrounding these nesting pittas among the birding community and I am one of them.

I made a mistake of posting the nesting pittas a bit too early to an email group and I received pretty harsh and strong comments for that. I thought that most, if not all, birders knew about the nest and there was no harm in sharing the locality of the nest. Since, the discovery of the nest, this place was filled with birders and bird photographers from all over. Did my mistake deserve the hostile comments from the other members of the group? Does a minor traffic offender deserve the death sentence? I don't think so. I really regret my mistake and I guess I have to carry this mistake with me for the rest of my life.

I was kept away from the birding scene from mid 2005 to early 2008 due to my work and other personal commitments. When I returned back into the scene, I noticed a significant change - there are now a lot more birders, or should I say bird photographers in the field. I was also made aware that there is now a rift between certain groups in the birding community - especially in regards to nesting birds. I had no idea how deep the rift was until it happened to me. I can really feel the anger and hatred in their comments. I don't blame they for the comments they hurled at me. Perhaps in the past, they themselves were subjected to such treatment.

All I know is that birding is now a far cry from how it was back in the good old days. I took up this hobby because I was fascinated by birds and I love the feeling of escaping from the harsh realities of the real world whenever I'm out birding. I guess reality has managed to crawl its way into the birding world as well. And that's real sad. Birding is supposed to be enjoyed by all. You are supposed to derive pleasure from birding and not grief. I'm taking all that has happened one step at a time. I know it will certainly not damper my spirit or my love for birding. That much I know. It has always been about the birds for me and it always will. I have more than enough of my share of ill-feelings and confrontations in the working world. I really wish that I do not have to face any of those in the birding world as well. But in life we don't always get everything we wish for.


yen said...

I love the photograph of the chick, great follow through

JRandSue said...

Fantastic Blog,love the different colours.
Well captured, I found your Blog on Yen blog he also has a great Blog.

yen said...

Read your article on Jawi, Penang birding experience, great stuff. Please sign on my magazine when we meet (one day). Asking a friend to take to Air Hitam Dalam Sunday 05 July 09 morning, hopefully I can locate the place.

Mun said...

Thanks Yen & JRandSue. Glad you enjoyed my humble posting.

Yen, I hope you had a great trip at AHD.

AMIT said...

Wonderful photos posted.

Alternative energy

Mun said...

Thanks, AMIT