Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You don't look for hornbills, they find you

My hornbill sighting luck has been pretty bad until recently. After countless trips to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve with the start of migratory season, the resident pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills took pity on me. Instead of teasing me with their calls through an impenetrable tree line, the pair flew out into the open at the main bridge. They even sat there long enough for me to capture photographs of the pair in light rain. Woohoo!!! My luck with the hornbills have changed.

Three hours later as I lugged my gear to exist hide 1C, I was greeted by the same pair of hornbills in the hide. The male was perched on the trash bin while the female sat at the window. As luck would have it, the camera was on the wrong setting for the male bird inside the hide but I did get the female nicely framed in the window.
The male hopped out of the hide but he was still too close. Here's when you need to be flexible and improvise or lose the opportunity completely. I zeroed in the best features of the bird as it sat briefly.
In the old days, Singapore had three species of hornbills - the Rhinoceros Hornbill, the Helmeted Hornbill and the Oriental Pied Hornbill. The first two species are locally extinct, while the Oriental Pied was only re-discovered in 1994 on Pulau Ubin. These Oriental Pied Hornbills are part of the Oriental Pied Hornbill Conservation Project that was launched in 2005. The project sort to understand, conserve and reintroduce this species back to Singapore. Needless to say the project has been a success, and today you can see them on Pulau Ubin and in many parts of Singapore (if you are lucky).


Vera said...

Great photos! What a beautiful bird!

Shirls said...

Thanks Vera. To think that they were almost lost in our march towards redevelopment. It was fortunate that they are making a come back.

Many of us (Singaporeans) who love nature are spending lots of money going elsewhere for eco-tourism these days.