Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ethics in nature photography

Just thought i share a personal experience recently on the need to be more in tune with your passion of capturing nature in action (be it photography or even birdwatching with your bin's)  and the need to be sensitive to nature.

While taking a leisurely walk in Pasir Ris Park, i came across a group of photographers (5 of them) with their tripods and camera's positioned underneath a tree. On closer inspection, they were taking photos of a Black-naped Oriole nest ! ,just 2 meters above ground and 1 meter from this group.

Nature Photographers

Black-naped Oriole nest (18x optical zoom from 2 meters away)

My initial excitement soon disappeared, when i realised their proximity and constant use of flash especially by one of the photographers was the cause of the distress calls from its parent's observing the events unfolding on a nearby tree. I was, for a few minutes guilty of adding to the bird's distress although i did not use flash but my proximity to the nest didn't help.

I told the photographers about the bird being alarmed, but i guess the need to get that "shot" of its parents returning to their nest was more important. I backed away and even after 5 minutes, its parents did not return to the nest. I hope the chick was not too hungry and that the parent ,did not abandon the nest.

I did some research after coming home and got to understand more on the need for a code of ethics for nature photographers and birdwatchers alike and people to be educated on it. There is no black-n-white answer and in some areas pretty subjective. But i do know in most time, our common sense must prevail. I am no angel in  this matter as well. What i do know is i have learned from it.

Some reference sites you can read:(last accessed: 27th Mar.2011)

Nature Photographers' Code of Practice, The Royal Photographic Society, Nature Group
Nature Photographers Ethics page, Nature Photographers
Ethics in Wildlife Photography, pg 3, Discover Wildlife

My key takeaway quote i thought i share, (from the Nature Group of The Royal Photographic Society)

There is one hard and fast rule, whose spirit must be observed at all times
"The welfare of the subject is more important than the photograph"

Red Jungle Fowl spotted in Pasir Ris Park

We were taking an evening stroll today (26th Mar) at Pasir Ris Park to check out the herony at Sungai Tampines when we heard the distinct call of the red jungle fowl (Gallus Gallus )across the river. Using our "bins", my wife spotted it first.

After finishing our observation, we decide to cross the bridge and walk along the Park Connector on the side of the Escape Theme Park (Wild Wild Wet).

Minutes later, we were rewarded with close-ups of a solitary male red jungle fowl making a quick dash along the shrubs. I managed to catch some shots of it too. Just thought i share with you too !

Male Red Jungle fowl
I have seen many of this fowls in Ubin, Adults male and female and it's chick. But i am always pleasantly surprise to see them in mainland Singapore, especially in areas frequented by humans. Pasir Ris park is indeed crowded at times with cyclist, joggers and groups of people headed for their chalets or picnic by the beach.

See also: Red Jungle fowl in Ubin

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Raptor Watch 2011 at Tanjung Tuan, Port Dickson

Raptor Watch is a yearly event organised by the Malaysian Nature Society(MNS) with the intent of creating awareness of the spring migration of raptors back to its breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere and most importantly the need to protect and preserve the "pit stops" the raptors take in their journey back.

Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve was identified as one of the pit stops along this migratory route whereby the raptors after making a sea crossing from Sumatra, Indonesia, "rest" and catch the next thermal before heading further north.

This year's event was held on March, 12-13 but the migration itself happens for a month or two. The best time to catch site of hundred's of raptor's flying overhead is between 11am -5 pm and most importantly a clear hot day where thermals allow birds to climb higher without the need to exert additonal energy.

Getting there
From North-South Highway E2, take the Port Dickson(PD) exit. (you are not really going to PD but a place called Teluk Kemang). You will take another expressway called the Seremban-Port Dickson Expressway,E29. At the end of the expressway is a roundabout. Make a left. You should see a huge Chinese Temple on your left.  You are now travelling on a trunk road. Signs to look out for is either Hutan Simpanan Tanjung Tuan or PNB Ilham Resort. If you go during the Raptor Watch event itself, there will be signs leading you there.

What to do  and what we saw
Plenty ! There are booths selling merchandise such as t-shirts pins, books, etc. Co-organisers booth offering the latest "bins", scopes, etc. There are also booths that help create awareness of the need to protect the environment and what each and everyone of us can do our little part in that goal. MNS also organised public talks as well as a nature walks to the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve and a mangrove walk. Definitely something for everyone.

The main reason is of course raptors itself. Any this year, we were not disappointed as there were plenty of them. Spotters at the Tanjung Tuan lighthouse counted 9,614 on Mar 12th alone !

I managed to see lots of Oriental Honey Buzzard, the resident white-bellied sea eagle, two Grey-faced Buzzard and 1 Peregrine Falcon.

While taking a walk up the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve, i saw a Dusky Leaf Monkey and up the top of the lighthouse, i managed to spot a Turtle too !...As i said, something for

Some of the raptors we came to see

People and the activity booths

Bright sunny day at Raptor Watch 2011

Dusky Leaf Monkey at the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve

Oriental Honey Buzzard catching a thermal

Food around that area (i excluded Port Dickson and focus on places nearby Teluk Kemang)
For a simple breakfast, I personally like the nasi lemak at a wooden shop before turning into PNB Ilham Resort/Hutan Simpanan Tanjung Tuan. For food by the beachside, KM13, Jalan Pantai, Teluk Kemang, Port Dickson has a wider selection of Malay food.
Night time seafood dinner ? Well -you can try:
Weng Yin Seafood Village
Lot 4132 Batu 9, Jln Pantai
012-6281660 /06-6627559