Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 Raptor Watch

Better late than never...

An Oriental Honey Buzzard soaring close to the Cape's lighthouse
I have been following the Malaysian Nature Society's Raptor Watch since 2013. Never had any luck getting a close-up shot of a bird of prey in flight. Well, until now that is.
Learning from previous experiences, I'd say that I did not rush all the way from my home in Subang Jaya to Port Dickson, which is roughly about 160km on a return trip.
After doing all my chores in the morning, I took a drive down to Seremban. But like Murphy's Law, things can go wrong.
There was an accident near Nilai and traffic was at a crawl for at least 20km. I wasn't phased at all and inched slowly towards the exit to Port Dickson.
Now, the interesting part was this: instead of using the Teluk Kemang coastal road, I can bypass this by heading straight to the Port Dickson polytechnic which is very near to the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve.
By the time I reached the junction, my stomach was already rumbling. 

Hitting the road
Lunch break near Cape Rachardo
I made a pit stop near Top Seafood Restaurant near the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve. Ordered a plate of fried vermicelli and endured the oily and awful meal. At RM6.50 with a glass of hot Chinese tea, I can't complain. I had to carbo-load for the 1.6km hike up to the lighthouse at the entrance of the Forest Park. And I am hauling about 5kgs of gear on this journey.

My equipment: A full-frame DSLR and an APS-C mirrorless camera

Hiking up to the lighthouse

A T-shirt painter along the route

Raptor awareness merchandise
As expected, the event was packed with people. Parking was rather limited. But lucky for me, I found a nice spot. After locking up the car, I started humping my gear uphill. It was a straight push towards the lighthouse. I must say that my daily physical training has helped a lot as I hiked up the hill without any issues.

Birdwatchers scanning the skies with their photographic equipment
Unlike previous years, access to the lighthouse was granted by the Maritime authority. I made my way to the viewing area and snapped a few shots of the birds that were hovering on top of the treeline.

Buzzards circling the treeline
Flying close to the lighthouse
A fine specimen
Enduring the heat
The weather was excellent for raptors because they need the thermals to assist them to glide in the sky.
Compared to previous years, the 2016 Raptor Watch was awesome. I guess it's pure luck as some of the birds of prey flew really close to the lighthouse.
I snapped away with my camera and long lens and as the day got hotter with lesser birds in the sky, it was my cue to hit the road. 
It took me about an hour and a half to reach home from Tanjung Tuan as I drove non-stop. Back in my room, I downloaded the photos and worked on post-processing a couple of decent shot to share with my friends. I hope next year's Raptor watch would be even better and if the timing is right, I will make another trip.
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