The Highs and Lows of Birding -

The Highs and Lows of Birding

The year 2020 just checked in. So what have I accomplished in life? Not much. The camera body feels bulkier, the lens seems to be longer and heavier, the tripod getting more cumbersome to carry... and mind you my patience is thinning with age. Yet the desire to record rarely seen species is the primary reason for me to soldier on.

Last week I heard that a Jambu Fruit Dove had been seen returning to the same fruiting tree 2 consecutive days in Shah Alam. This is a shy bird categorized as "Near Threatened" by IUCN due to habitat loss, so along with its beauty, makes the bird super special:

So I went and, it was easy peazy. I arrived at the fruiting tree in the Botanical Garden around 8 in the morning and the early photographers were already busy snapping pictures. I saw the dove was not as timid, it perched open on a low branch, and all about a dozen of us photographers got our shot.

I thought I was lucky enough to photograph and observe the dove for half an hour, unobscured by twigs nor leaves. Then a friend pointed out another bird on a different branch, which turned out to be a younger bird of the same species. So there it was another prize bird sitting still in the clear.

No doubt that these two doves were an adult and its offspring. The fully developed adult male has white belly and a pink patch on the chest. He seemed to be guiding his son around where and what to eat. Jambu Fruit Doves are territorial and will not tolerate another adult male in his territory.

I got my bonus shot when on two occasions the juvenile Jambu Fruit Dove jumped to the same branch where the adult was sitting. It is always a special feeling to kill any two birds with one stone so to speak, but this time their beauty added even more excitement.

There were a lot of ripe figs on this tree, so the doves did not mind sharing the bounty with other bird species. There were barbets, pigeons, fairy birds enjoying the feast. They came and went, jumped, flew and walked.

This was one of the highest point in my birding experience. Unfortunately the highs are almost always followed by the lows. Walking back 1km towards my car I saw the reserved forest land deteriorating, the taller trees looked sick and have shed their leaves. The canopy is lost, the sun shone directly to the ground. The forest was uncharacteristically quiet. Unhealthy climate? Polluted air? Acid rain? I am not sure if I will see the same forest and its wildlife in two years from now. I will set my expectation low and keep my spirit high.

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