Tanjung Tuan Revisited

Entrance to Tanjung Tuan forest reserved

Entrance to Tanjung Tuan forest reserved

Once again I went to Tanjung Tuan to capture that elusive shot that I longed for, a bird in flight frozen sharply at the right moment with good composition and pose.  Also at Tanjung Tuan I had the opportunity  to shoot the birds in flight from above instead of at ground level.

I was early this time and I was hoping to see them coming in droves but then one other problem cropped up.  Depending on the wind direction, the raptors would not definitely came to land spot on at Tanjung Tuan.  It would at times be further up north or down south but since they came in many batches in between intervals some would most probably came to land at Tanjung Tuan.  Patience was a  prerequisite factor and all that I had to do was wait.

Naxy, one of the Malaysian Nature Society volunteers

Naxy, one of the Malaysian Nature Society volunteers, looking over the horizon for raptors approaching land

Meanwhile there were many swifts flying around at the top of the hill and at times just at an arm’s length away.  These seemingly fickle-minded small birds were hard to shoot and they did not perch instead they fly non stop from and back to its nests.  It was almost impossible to lock on focus.  Small, fast flying, dark (except for the white underbelly) and turning any which way in flight was a challenge to shoot, no pun intended.  With the 24-105mm lens set at its maximum focal point, I set the focus point to about one and half metre and blasted away at those birds that were swooping by, again no pun intended.  Going by the large number of shots, I should get a handful that should be good, and I did.  That and a batch of raptors that did came right on to Tanjung Tuan made my day even though the elusive shot was yet to be gotten.

sw3

raptor 2

raptor 1

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Raptors Watch 2013 at Tanjung Tuan

Raptors Watch 2013 event by the Malaysian Nature Society

Raptors Watch 2013 event by the Malaysian Nature Society

It is the time of the year for the flight back to the north.  The Malaysian Nature Society just had its yearly festival-like event called Raptors Watch, a combination of scientific study as well as nature awareness about the birds and its habitat to the general public at large on the 9th and 10th of March this year at Tanjung Tuan, Malacca.  Birds of prey from as far away as Siberia making their trip back to the north and Tanjung Tuan happens to be in their flight path.

Tanjung Tuan Lighthouse, the oldest in the Malaysian Peninsula

Tanjung Tuan Lighthouse, the oldest in the Malaysian Peninsula

Volunteers and researchers observe and count these high flying birds to keep track of the species and population numbers.  The general public gets to know them better and be aware of their natural habitat.  As for nature photographers, time to work the shutters.  The best time to watch is said to be between 10.30 am to about 1.00 pm and it depends on the weather.  These birds are not marathon flyers and they need the thermal column to aid them to fly over from Sumatra crossing the Straits of Malacca to the west coast of peninsula Malaysia.  This was my first time being present at the MNS Raptors watch and I arrived at Tanjung Tuan late and almost at the tail end of the prime time.  As a result, I did not have the opportunity to shoot the birds flying low at close range at the top of the hill just next the oldest lighthouse in peninsula Malaysia, the Tanjung Tuan Lighthouse.  It was just a day trip, but since the migratory season is still on, I might be back soon.

Raptors rising with the thermal

Raptors rising with the thermal

For the record, some of the birds of prey that can be observed at Tanjung Tuan are Japanese Sparrowhawk, Chinese Goshawk, Black Baza, Osprey, Grey-face Buzzard, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Oriental (Crested) Honey Buzzard, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle plus local residents the Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

The festival-like event

The festival-like event

Pre-U students of SMK Munshi Abdullah, Malacca

Pre-U students of SMK Munshi Abdullah, Malacca

Note:  I would like to again thanks the kind guy who handed me back my Sigma 150-500mm lens hood. Unknown to me, it had disengaged while I was walking out of the event compound.  Sigma needs to redesign the locking mechanism.  I lost my first hood when it decided to jump into the sea while I was in a ferry lowering the camera after shooting at the terns that were flying behind the stern.