It’s Heron nesting season in Malaysia so this weekend we decided to head up to the small town of Sekinchan where large colonies of Black Crowned Night Herons and Little Egrets congregate in large numbers every year.
Last year the roosting trees were perfectly located to facilitate photographing the birds as they glided in to land. But this year the birds have shifted to new tree’s that are not as photo friendly as in the past. Nevertheless it’s a great location still worth a visit.
My best shot of the day is the Little Egret gliding in to land heading today’s blog. It came in to land in what can only be described as the only piece of clear sky between buildings and the nesting tree’s with the early morning sun face on. Fortunately the camera just happened to be facing that direction at the time otherwise I would have missed it. As it was of the five frames shot of the birds approach only this one was worth keeping.
The Night Herons are raucous nesters, constantly squabbling amongst themselves over prime landing and nesting space. Unlike last years roost the branches of the trees chosen this year are very dense so getting good shots of the birds in their nest was quite difficult. One of the best was this one of a female aggressively reacting to the presence of an intruder on a branch next to her nest and the shot below it of an adult feeding its chick.
Catching the Herons as they come in to land is a great challenge. It requires quick reactions and a sense of anticipation which way the birds will approach the tree so as to pre-position the camera lens in the general direction as there are few gaps for clear shots and whatever gap there is so narrow you only have a few seconds to focus and shoot a few frames. Even then it was hard going and the best shots of the Night Herons are these few of them as they landed or were preparing to take off.
The density of birds and nests is so great that any bird making a heavy landing next to a nest results in a rough shaking. Inevitably there has to be casualties in the form of young nestlings tipped out of their nest and the grass below the tree housed a few young birds clearly dazed to be on the ground.
Sadly these birds were destined to die a lonely and painful death. Unable to fend for themselves and weakened by dehydration they are easy prey for prowling monitor lizards and neighborhood cats. It’s a cruel fact of life that not every heron chick born will make it to adulthood, but their look of hope that we would be able to do something to help them as we approached to take their photo was very sad to see.