Blue-eared Kingfishers

Image created on September 16, 2013 at the Singapore Zoo, with Canon EOS-5D Mark III and Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS with Canon EF 1.4x Extender III. ISO 3200, f/8, 1/80s, Evaluative metering + 1/3 EV.

People usually go to a zoologic garden to watch the lions, the monkeys or the elephants. The Singapore Zoo is something however unique: it sits in the middle of Singapore’s biggest nature reserve: the Central Catchment. Beyond the animals visible at the Zoo, there are plenty of visitors enjoying the offered facilities and an infinite supply of free food normally destined to the host of the zoo but which make the joy of these other opportunistic creatures. There are big malayan monitors and other lizards of all sort and there are birds, hundreds of birds residing in Singapore or visiting during the migratory season. Sightings of such animals spread quickly within the Singapore community of nature lovers. These days one of the major hot spots in Singapore is a family of Blue-eared Kingfishers which has elected domicile close to one of the ponds of the zoo.

Blue-eared Kingfisher (f) (Master)

Female Blue-eared Kingfisher, Canon EOS-5D Mark III and Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS with Canon EF 2.0x Extender III. ISO 2000, f/10, 1/100s, Evaluative metering + 2/3 EV.

Blue-eared Kingfishers are rare in Singapore, they are said to be resident by some and migrants by others, and they always claim a high attention level. Not only are they shy, small and quick but they enjoy the tropical forest where light is as rare as this bird. It makes it quite a challenge and attract big and fast lenses. These days usual visitors of the zoo can opt either to watch the zoo’s animals or to observe two legged mammals with their big guns shooting a small bird that many will not spot, beyond watching on the back screen of one of the cameras.

Blue-eared Kingfisher (young m) (Master)

Young Male Blue-eared Kingfisher, Canon EOS-5D Mark III and Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS with Canon EF 2.0x Extender III. ISO 2000, f/11, 1/40s, Evaluative metering + 1/3 EV.

I was able to see both the mother and a juvenile male (the female can be recognised by her bicolour beak, whilst males have a fully black beak and juveniles have the tip of the beak of whitish colour). In all cases I’ve edited the image with Photoshop after some simple image optimisation in Aperture. I’ve extracted the bird from the image, applied noise correction using Nik Software Dfine 2 on the image, I used Nik Colour Extractor on the bird. I used a mask on the bird to merge it with the noise corrected background to maximise details whilst reducing noise in the darker area. Finally I applied some limited sharpening and added a tad of vibrancy to the images.

This was a great opportunity to shoot a beautiful bird and meet up many of my birder friends of Singapore. A great community where ideas, experience and knowledge are shared: a big thanks to you guys!

Blue-eared KingfishersChristian C. Berclaz
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14 comments on "Blue-eared Kingfishers"

  1. Christina See

    Nice shots, great written article…like this part …”to observe two legged mammals with their big guns shooting a small bird that many will not spot, beyond watching on the back screen of one of the cameras.”….lolz XD

  2. Eng Boo Tan

    Great shots you have. Nice meeting you

  3. Yu-kyung Whang

    Wonderful shot! Wondering how much perseverence, patience, and preparation using complex, expensive, long and heavy equipment it must have taken to capture this moment so well 🙂

    • Christian C. Berclaz

      Thanks Yu-Yu-kyung! Actually it is easy: follow all the birders who are hunting the same bird, try to anticipate (not the bird but rather where the other photographers will want to place their camera) and shoot as many pictures as your camera can in the hope that in the lot, one will be worth keeping… (In that particular shoot I came back with about 800 images with about 10 worth keeping and 3 decent worth sharing…)… Equipment does indeed help a lot though there are a few tricks/experience that can be used to make the shoot a success 🙂

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  5. Yu-kyung Whang

    Wow, how precious those few selected images are.

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