Madagascar – Critters – Birds!

Alright, before we get into the feathered fun, I just want to say thanks to the people of WordPress.com for featuring me đŸ™‚ it made me very happy. ta.

Anyways, moving on. As it turns out, I still have AT LEAST three more of the critter posts to do after this one! I hope you’re as pleased about that as I am. đŸ™‚ As to what they are, you’ll just have to wait and find out!

Aves

Madagascar has a multitude of birds, a number of which are found nowhere else. Whole genera in fact. Amongst the most famed perhaps are the Paradise Flycatchers, Terpsiphone mutata. These beautiful birds were actually very common around camp and up in Montagne d’Ambre. It was great to see and hear them flitting about. The males are spectacular. Unfortunately however, I only got shots of the females, and these have been quite heavily cropped. I really missed the 300 out there.

Terpsiphone mutata

Russet

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/2.8

Backlight

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/320s f/2.8

Herro?

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3

Shadows

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/2.8

One of my favourite birds however is the Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, Ceyx madagascariensis. It is elusive, small, but friendly and very cute. We got extremely lucky one night at camp, and found one sleeping just above the path. Then later in Montagne d’Ambre one of the members of the group noticed that others had walked right by one. It was a unique opportunity to shoot a fascinating and difficult to find species at very close range:

Ceyx madagascariensis

Sleeper

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/8

Zzzzzz

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/5.6

Earthbound Fisher

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3.0

Red Bill

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3

In Montagne d’Ambre, we also got to see the Amber Mountain Rock Thrush, Monticola erythronotus. These are common, small birds, but their level of comfort with humans is impressive.

Thrushy

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/2.8

By far the most enchanting moments however were spent with owls. Much like the kingfishers, it seems the owls have very little experience with humans. They’re not sure how to react. They’re also rather common. They afforded me some of my favourite pictures from the whole trip, and a special photographic moment I will never forget:

Madagascar Scops Owl, Otus rutilus

Distant

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3.2

Perched

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3.2

Closer Still

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3.2

Whoo?

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3.2

Mr. Owl

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3.2

Portrait

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/3.2

Out of the Dark

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/30s f/3.2

And in Montagne d’Ambre, again we got a short opportunity to do some owl shots. Same species, just a grey-er morph. The bright spot in the background is the moon. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to shoot again with a smaller aperture.

Owl in the Night

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash Unit @ 1/60s f/2.8

Wahey, and that’s it for the birds. We saw dozens more species, but the absence of a nice long lens meant that they could only really be appreciated by sight and through binoculars. None quite so stunning as the Blue Vanga. But sunbirds aplenty and such like. Next time, I’ll bring the monster and do it right. Promise.

Next time on Shutters and Technicalities, Frogs!

Hope you enjoyed, and are looking forward to the froggies. I am.

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One comment on “Madagascar – Critters – Birds!

  1. Jim Lapka says:

    Mark:
    You are a genius and whiz at photography. Well done; Keep up the good work. The birds of Africa and regions thereof are stunning in color but it takes a master at catching them in unique poses as you obviously are capable of.
    Years ago I heard that National Geo. uses very good film and often have bits left off of large rolls that they use and one can purchase them. Have you ever tried this option?
    Thanks for sharing your photos with family who have friends like us and e can enjoy the fruits of your loving patience to get these amazing pics.
    God bless.
    Uncle Jim Lapka

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