The first ever country record of the Tundra Bean Goose was reported by fellow bird photographer Alex Loinaz April last year at Candaba wetlands. This single individual became a superstar overnight among local birders, and I was fortunate to catch it in flight over one pond in the wetlands.
This large goose (roughly 30″ length and 60″ wingspan) breeds in northern Europe and Asia. It winters further south in Europe and Asia, and has reached the Philippines in 2010 with this record.
Tundra Bean Goose (Anser [fabalis] serrirostris, migrant)
Habitat – Rare in wetlands, this individual being the first record in the Philippines.
I was shooting surfers at San Juan, La Union, Philippines, last February 2011 when the sun got so low there wasn’t enough light to freeze the waveriders. Seeing no clouds obstructing my view of the South China Sea, I quickly mounted 2.8x worth of TCs to get a bigger sun.
It would appear as if an H-Bomb had exploded to the west in this shot taken just as the setting sun was about to touch the horizon. The two spots in the center of the sun’s disk were sunspots no. 1161 and 1162.
I was waiting ready with my big birding glass for the supermoon to rise above the urban horizon last March 19th. But the heavens were not cooperating – cloudy skies made it impossible to shoot highly detailed captures of the lunar event.
On the brighter side, such bad seeing also gave the opportunity to get an unusual, perhaps eerie-looking moonshot. 🙂
Although this young grasshopper stayed motionless atop a leaf, my hand holding was introducing some camera movement and that was messing with the precise placement of focus for one-shot AF.
I switch to spot AI servo for this shooting condition to mitigate my hand holding movement. The Canon 7D’s ISO 800 RAW files clean up pretty well while retaining good detail when converted with the latest ACR .
A business trip to La Union on April 2010 brought me within striking distance of this interesting town of Pangasinan province, where a restaurant built over a fishpond serves the best grilled catfish I’ve tasted so far.
The bigger reason though for my visit wasn’t the tasty catfish, nor the little fat crabs and juicy oysters.
I’ve discovered a few years back that this is one spot where a few Brahminy Kites linger for hours feeding on the contents of the fishponds. Of the 5 or 6 times that I’ve been there, the raptors always showed themselves. I talked to the local folks and they confimed the daily visit by the Kites.
So, in between bites of good food, I shot bursts at the fish-eating raptors in flight.
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus, resident)
Habitat – Open areas often near water, and also in mountains to 1500 m.
I’m always amazed at the size of the Grey Heron. When I see a flock of these birds in the air, they look like a squadron of small planes flying in formation. These migratory waterbirds have the largest wingspan (1.78 m) of all the feathered subjects I’ve photographed so far.
Among Philippine birds recorded in the past and at present, the only ones with a larger wingspan are the Sarus Crane (2.20 m), Spot-billed Pelican (2.13 m), Great-billed Heron (1.90 m), and our national bird the Philippine Eagle (1.88 m) – all these behemoths I have yet to see afield.
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea, migrant)
Habitat – Uncommon in wetlands.
In the fast-paced world of raptors, large size doesn’t always translate to might.
I was on a routine visit to the Coastal Lagoon at Manila Bay to check out the water birds when I saw four Ospreys fishing at mid-morning. With the light already too harsh for shooting good photos, I settled on filming the Ospreys as they repeatedly dove into the water to try to grab some fish. Here are some footage of one of the Ospreys dive-fishing.
Suddenly out of nowhere, a Peregrine Falcon appeared and started harassing and chasing the larger raptors! The larger birds’ wingspan is about 1.35 m while that of the smaller bird is circa 0.915 m. The Falcon zeroed in on one of the Ospreys and literally flew circles around the larger bird, not unlike a jetfighter buzzing a heavy bomber. I was awe-struck with the spectacle, but I had enough presence of mind to switch my gear to a flight-shooting mode from filming mode.
One frame from a long burst miraculously got both birds within the DOF, but this was more due to a happy accident than a result of my shooting proficiency.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus, migrant)
Habitat – Associated with water both along coast and inland.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus, resident/migrant)
Habitat – Wide variety of habitats, from along coasts to high mountains.
In bird photography, like in many other things in life, timing is everything.
A common migratory bird, perching uneventfully atop a bamboo pole by a fishpond, was pushed off-balance by a sudden gust of wind. The Canon 7D’s sensitive shutter button, almost instantaneous AI servo AF and 8 fps burst allowed me to grab an interesting frame from what was an ordinary looking scene moments before.
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus, migrant, breeding plumage)
Habitat – Bays, tidal flats to ricefields.
Ranging in most major Philippine islands (except in Palawan and Bohol), this endemic bird is not very difficult to find in forest and edge at various elevations.
But it’s quite small (113 mm total length) and very active, hence a tough customer to photograph well. Likewise, its contrasting plumage presents a daunting exposure challenge.
This bird doesn’t only look elegantly good, its song and call are very pleasing to the ears as well.
After trying for years to get a good capture, I finally got close to this bird at Mt. Data, with sweet late afternoon sunlight as bonus.
Elegant Tit (Parus elegans, a Philippine endemic)
Habitat – Common from lowland to montane mossy forest.
For over half a decade, I’ve been visiting the Cordillera mountains in Northern Luzon to get a close glimpse of this uncommon, now becoming rarer, endemic shrike. This species ranges at high elevation in Luzon, Mindoro and Mindanao islands.
I had several encounters prior to this capture, but none as close with good detail and pleasant background. I was walking on cloud nine for many days after this birding sortie.
Mountain Shrike (Lanius validirostris, a Philippine endemic)
Habitat – Uncommon in montane forest (clearings and edge) above 1000 m.