It’s a long time since we were last at Kuala Selangor, so this week we decided to head there and see what we could get. Unfortunately no sooner had we entered the park than the early morning sun was blotted out by some menacing black clouds and it started to rain. Fortunately we managed to make it to a small shelter before the wrath of the Rain Gods let loose on us. But by the time we finally made it back to the car park an hour and a half later it was still raining and we were soaking wet.
Seeing it was still early we decided that rather than just heading home we would drive north to the small town of Sekinchan where last year we found a roosting tree that was home to a large colony of Black-crowned Night Herons. The great thing about this particular heron nest location is not only the fact that you can get close, but its easy to position for the best light which at first was very dull, but as the hours passed the sun came out facilitating higher shutter speeds and better color.
The tree itself was a hive of activity with birds constantly arriving and leaving their nests. A strong onshore wind from the sea meant that the birds had to make a steep gliding descent before crash landing into the top branches of the tree. It didn’t take long to figure out that the best shots were going to be those taken in the final few seconds before the birds landed. This is when their feathers are spread for maximum effect and manouverability.
Of course with the strong wind, no two approaches and landings were the same except for the fact that the aim of every bird, like that of commercial pilots was to get down in one piece. Its not only fascinating to photograph. Just to watch the landings is incredibly interesting.
Craig Robsons Field Guide to the birds of SE Asia informs us that the birds legs are red during the breeding season and that the juveniles are a streaked brown. This is confusing because there were a few numbers of a large streaked heron which I presume to be a female night heron in breeding plumage, but now I’m not so sure. So if there are any experts out there who can clarify things I’d appreciate an email.
As midday approached it started to get very hot and the flights in and out of the nests slowed down significantly. However what was very interesting to observe was that while some birds were carrying nesting materials others were arriving with mouths full of water, obviously to hydrate the young.
So, all in all today was an interesting day and one that was well worth the early drenching. If we had not have got wet, we probably would have driven home and missed the chance to get the shots we ultimately came away with. So, maybe the Sun God was smiling on us after all!