Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 Raptor Watch

First timers..

Michelle and I had grabbed the opportunity to witness the 2013 Raptor Watch at Port Dickson.
This is an annual bird of prey migration where species like the Oriental Honey Buzzard,  Chinese goshawk, the Black Baza and several other large eagles.
We picked Sunday as our choice day to visit Tanjung Tuan or Cape Rachardo in Alor Gajah, Malacca where its known as a Raptor Watch site.

Happy camper: wrapping up at the end of the session
 This is an annual event organised by the Malaysian Nature Society and is also a crowd-puller. 
There were many visitors at the site which is a critically-acclaimed venue for bird lovers and watchers.
Each year, birds of prey will go on a migration route from Indonesia to Northern China, Mongolia, Russia and Japan before going as far as Northeastern Australia.
Its a spectacle to see hundreds of Raptors circling the air over the skies in Tanjung Tuan. 
And there are at least 25 known migratory species in the area.
After breakfast, Michelle and I took a casual drive from our home in USJ 26 to the Ilham resort in Tanjung Tuan. 
We parked our car there and made our way to the lighthouse which is roughly about a kilometre's hike from the base of the cape.

"Dude, where's your bike?"

I met some cyclists along the way.
Guess they were puzzled as to why we were not cycling on the Raptor Watch day.
To me, its a good break from pedaling our bicycles. 
I swapped my Dahon folding bike for my Canon EOS5DmkIII and EOS7D to capture the Raptors on my trusty Canon EF400mm F5.6L lens.
When I arrived at the lighthouse (which is opened to the public once a year for two days), I met Mr Chan, a folding bike kaki.
He's with the Malaysian Nature Society's birding group and has been watching the Raptors for nearly 45 days.
What dedication! 

Anticipating the arrival of the Oriental Honey-Buzzard
And so they came.. 

Under the stifling heat, the birders made an announcement: "They are here!"
Out there beyond the horizon, the Raptors arrived in flocks.
They soared with the thermal currents high up in the air.
It was a spectacular sight to see these birds taking up the sky...

Buzzards in the sky
An Oriental Honey-Buzzard in flight
The Raptors at the peak of their appearance
A learning experience...

I have never shot a Raptor in flight and the event gave me an opportunity to capture the birds in its full glory.
With my limited resources, I had to make do with a shorter telephoto lens.
And when the buzzards came close, I missed the chance to capture them.
Even with a 1.4x teleconvertor, I couldn't get a close full-body shot.
After waiting for the buzzards to appear again, it was obvious that the wind conditions had pushed them even further away from the lighthouse.
I managed to capture a few shots which I am happy with for my record purposes and am contented with the effort.
It was my first time and with the experience gained, I know what to do and where to wait when these birds arrive again.. 

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