The Malayan Night-Heron is a rare migrant to Peninsula Malaysia. I have had only two previous encounters before this but both were not that rewarding in terms of photography. All that changed when a fellow Penang birder, Seng Chee, informed me (the perks of being helpful and willing to share knowledge and information with other birders) of a tame juvenile at the Penang Botanic Gardens. I used to envy those photographs of the Malayan Night-Herons from Taiwan where the birds will forage confidingly in gardens and parks because the herons that winter here are certainly do not behave like that. Or so I thought. The day after the tip-off, I weaved past the rush hour traffic after work on my trusted iron steed and found myself face to face with the heron on an open grass area on the outskirts of gardens. Please do excuse the language but it was f*#king unbelievable. I never once thought I will ever get to experience an encounter with such a tame Malayan Night-Heron in Malaysia let alone my home state of Penang. And to think I even dipped out on the heron during my vacation in Taiwan a few years back.
Fortunately, there was still some sunlight left in the evening sky and I quickly made myself comfortable on the grass and clicked away. I was as close as possible to the heron without having to reduce my zoom lens. It was a full-framed affair.
It was not the least bothered by my presence. Neither did it care about all the other visitors to the gardens that occasionally strolled past quite close. In fact, I was more concerned about them because I did not want them to accidentally spook my subject away. All the heron cared about was the highly-nutritious earth worms!
At one time, the heron wandered towards me and I had to reduce the zoom of the lens in order to fit the whole bird into frame. It was a good thing I was seated with my gear propped up by my knees because I was trembling with excitement. This encounter will certainly become one of my all-time best. What can better a rare waterbird performing exceptionally well? Life can be truly beautiful at times...
When the light started to fade, I noticed a few Crested Mynas foraging in the vicinity also. I guess they were there all this while but were overshadowed by the heron.
One last image of the juvenile Malayan Night-Heron that graced my home state of Penang with its beauty and grace. I am not a big fan of head shots but I guess I can make an exception for this distinguished visitor. The encounter would have been perfect if it did not take place is such a "public" area. I had to put up with curious onlookers and noisy evening walkers. Most of them do not even notice the bird in front of me. They are just curious of what this bald bloke sitting on the grass is photographing. Once, I even had to stop a human from trying to get closer to the heron in order to get a better shot with his smartphone. On second thoughts, if the heron were to show up in an isolated area, there is a very good chance its presence will have gone unnoticed. I guess nothing in birding and life can be perfect.