Working hard to impress the girls

Filed in Digital Hunter, Entertainment Ind., Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the Day, WorkTags: ,

It will be a busy week with "They're Playing Our Song" rehearsals every day, TVB dubbing tonight, TVB filming on Tuesday night and Wednesday night, and a special appearance at the Mongrel Adogtion function at the City University on Friday.

But the weekend was a break and a welcome one.

Sunday morning, noting the wonderful weather and hearing the sounds of the local white wagtails (just one pair) which I have not yet been able to photograph, I grabbed my camera and went outside. As I left our gate, I noticed the flicker of a bird on a nearby flowering bush. As I walked over, the bird saw me and left but the sunlight was perfect and the bird or other birds were sure to return if I sat still. So for the next hour and a half, I knelt as steadily as I could in front of the flowering bush. Nothing came!

Then in the afternoon as I was returning from grocery shopping with my wife, we passed the same bush and I immediately noticed a sunbird in the bush. I was a little concerned at first because there appeared to be a yellow lump on its back. It was either injured or it had some flowery object stuck to it. I had my camera and asked my wife who doesn't like waiting without a definite deadline to continue home on her own; just a few steps away.

I've been trying to get decent photographs of the local sunbirds (again, just one pair) for more than a year. They're extremely difficult to photograph because they're very small; around two inches long; and they never stay in one place for longer than one or two seconds; extremely hard to photograph.

This time in spite of the now far-from-ideal sunlight, I was lucky and managed to come home with a few very nice photographs; not perfect but good enough until next time. As I was photographing the sunbird in the bush, I soon realised that he was courting a nearby female and that the yellow object on his back was a special feather reserved specifically to show off to any attractive girls that he became interested in. The feather is normally hidden beneath his other back feathers which is why I've never seen it before.

So without further ado, here are a selection of the photographs I came home with. Note: all of the images have been cropped. Time issues and location didn't allow me to get the positioning I would have preferred in each photograph.

Male Sunbird on Fence

Fork-tailed Sunbird (male) 叉尾太陽鳥

(Aethopyga christinae)

Date: 4 February 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

The male sunbird is a very colourful bird. Personally, I believe Hong Kong's sunbird is related to America's humming bird. They're very similar in size and shape.

If you look closely at the middle of his back, you will see the bright yellow of his courting feather.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

For yet another photo of this sunbird, click here.

Female Sunbird

The girl that he was courting. For just three seconds, she flew over to a flower less than 4 feet away. I was able to get two photographs of her in that time. One was blurred. One was near perfect making me one very happy photographer.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

Male Sunbird Courting

The male sunbird in his courting pose, showing as many colours as possible including the special yellow feather in his back, the red in his chest and two deep blue stripes down each side of his chest. It takes a lot to impress the girl.

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9 Responses to “Working hard to impress the girls”
  1. Fiona says:

    Kwok Wing,
    I envy you for being able to live in a money driven high paced country like HK, and at the same time able to find quality time to enjoy life and pursue hobbies of photography, bird watching & looking after the kids.
    I was wondering why you added some post notes to your previous post lol... yes my comment is meant to be a compliment. It is indeed different working on a quality play as opposed to the very commercialised lower quality TV series. The hardest part of following your dreams is probably not getting there, but the sacrifices you have to make.

  2. Tora_cat says:

    Thank you for introducing such beautiful birds to me.

  3. 藍氏家族 says:

    河生你今次D雀仔相很很很........精彩呀!

    有人叫我請問你今次D相是用甚麼lens影的?你是否換了新相機或新lens呀?

    Btw,我們全家人預祝你舞台劇演出成功。Ganbade!

  4. 河國榮 says:

    Tora,

    my pleasure. with any luck, I'll get some nice photos of another extremely attractive (and shy) bird that lives in this area, the blue magpie.

    Sapphire (藍太?),

    I've been using a Canon 70-300 IS DO for quite some time now (usually in manual focus mode). when photographing birds, it's almost always at the 300mm position (i.e., 420mm on my camera). I'm still using the Canon EOS 350D. I

    thought about getting the 5D but the Full Frame would actually make it harder for me to photograph birds because I'd lose the 1.6x multiplier. I will probably upgrade to the 400D later in the year.

    ideally, I'd like to get the Canon 400 IS DO but it's not cheap. together with the 1.4x and 2.0x extenders, I could really get some nice photos. conversely, bird/animal photos taken with a lower focal length have a more personal feel to them. when the focal length gets really long, I feel more like a private detective or a paparazzi than a nature-loving bird photographer.

    but the play comes first and I'd better begin today's routine of vocal training, dancing, etc asap before going to rehearsals this afternoon, before going to TVB tonight, before… ;-)

    regards,

    Ho Kwok Wing

  5. Sheryl says:

    The third photo is particularly beautiful. You mentioned it's been cropped but nonetheless, I like the (cropped) framing. And that bird sure looks like it's giving its all. :)

  6. Julie says:

    Hello Greg, I love the photos that you post on your blog, they are so delightful and so professionally taken.
    I too love bird watching, I'm lucky that I get to see many different types of them by where I live, in Parc Versalle. In the opposite Mui Shue Hang park, you always find photographers trying photograph birds and insects. I love hearing them tweeting and guess what they'e saying to one another. Once I laughed my head off when my dog jumped out from the bush and gave the bird on the tree quite a fright, that they all decided to drop bombs on my dog, well, you can guess what they're loaded with can't you......

  7. Christ Follower says:

    Many Hong Kong actors and actresses claim to be artists but what they are doing is far from artistic. However, you are artistically inclined in both your work and your pastimes. Thanks for sharing with us pictures of these beautiful birds, which I think are the masterpieces of our Divine Lord, the supreme artist.

  8. anf says:

    I really like your photos, they captured the birds' essensce really well.
    Also, have fun rehersing your drama, I'll see you when your show starts!

  9. wengchun says:

    i'm impressed with your work on these birds. it is not easy to shoot sunbirds but with practice and understanding of their habit, you have found the way to shoot them. congrats! regardless of what equipment, most important is your understanding of the bird behavior and how to approach the subject.