Friday, May 10, 2013

Adventures in the Backyard

I look up from my morning coffee and spot a brown bird on a branch of the custard apple tree. My heart goes thump-thump-thump as I reach for the camera, switch it on and focus the lens on the bird. Alas, it’s only a dead leaf moving in the breeze.

The above has happened more times than I can remember. Other women get intoxicated at the sight of shoes and handbags. I get excited when I see new birds in the backyard. I’ve even tied a bird perch—a dead branch—to the fence behind the house to entice the birds to drop by and rest a while. I realize that family and friends think I’m somewhat crazy when they know I take countless pictures of the same birds. But I only want to take the perfect shot and there’s nothing crazy about that. Or is there? 
Brown-throated Sunbird

Female Sunbird

Long-tailed Shrike

The neighbour seems to think I’ve gone over the edge too. He saw me pointing my camera at his backyard the other day. (There were birds in his jackfruit tree.) He went out to his yard to have a look-see and shook his head when he saw there wasn’t anything extraordinary lurking there.

This interest in taking bird pictures started a couple of years ago. It began when I saw beautiful bird pictures posted on Facebook by Glen, a former student and who’s now a skilful photographer. (Thank you, Glen!)

Being bound to the house with only a babbling baby to talk to—and books for grown-up ‘company’—tracking the backyard visitors and taking their pictures have become an entertaining diversion. It is almost like going on an adventure every time I step out the back door! One good photo makes my day and if I fail today, there’s always tomorrow—I pray and hope!

I’ve bought a bird guide book for reference and have learnt the names of the frequent visitors.


While I was having breakfast several days ago, a Fantail flew and landed on a branch of my lime tree. This bird is a rare visitor unlike the Bul-Buls which are always around. I immediately handed Baby to Mr. Hubby.

 “It’s the bird!” I said. “It’s the bird I’ve been waiting for!” A Fantail never stops moving. It makes little hopping motions as it flies from fence to branch to tree-top and, therefore, is not an easy subject to photograph. (I discovered that this particular Fantail has a mate and probably they have built a nest in the neighbour’s  pokok nangka because they seem to be always there.)
Red-headed Tailorbird

Another rare visitor I’ve managed to photograph is the tiny Tailorbird. Searching for this bird among the leaves is difficult despite its very loud cries. I rushed out when I heard it in the backyard recently. I scanned the trees and bushes. Eyes left, right, up and down. The bird sounded so near but I couldn’t locate it. I noticed it only when it was leaving the bird perch which was right in front of me. Then it was time to kick myself.
Brown-throated Sunbird

Yellow-vented Bul-bul

Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker

Collared Kingfisher

Sunbirds (male and female)

Ever since I started looking for the birds I noticed that many species do come to the backyard although this neighbourhood is really part of a concrete jungle. I guess I’m lucky I could step out the back door and go for an adventure. All I need is a camera—and a mosquito repellent patch.

Come on! Lets go wait for those pretty birds!

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