Monday, July 04, 2011

Don't Shoot Until You See the White-eyes

My wife, Cynthia, is my birding partner. More often than not she would also carry a camera to take pictures of the birds we see. However, whenever we meet new people in our bird photography trips, she would almost always introduce herself as my "director". I am the cameraman and she would be the one to tell me what to shoot, when to shoot, where to shoot, what angle, how often......well, you get the picture (pun definitely intended).

It was pretty much the same scenario during our recent trip to Kota Kinabalu. On our very first birding day, we were up early. We were standing at the terrace behind our suite looking at the fruiting tree which was now slowly being illuminated by the rising sun. To our delight that particular tree soon became a center of avian activity. We observed some sort of a pattern wherein a flock of birds would come, feed on the fruits, then move on. A few minutes later another (or probably the same) group would repeat the whole routine. Without fail, the first birds to arrive, the leaders of the flock, so to speak, would be the Black-capped White-eyes - tiny olive-green birds with black-caps and white-eyes, of course.

With my camera gear now on place, I aimed my long lens at the general direction of the said fruiting tree. We waited for the next wave of birds to come.

"Don't shoot until you see the white-eyes", my director-wife instructed me. I'm not sure if she was even aware of what Colonel William Prescott told his soldiers in the battle of Bunker Hill ("Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes") but what she just said sure made me laugh I almost missed the white-eyes.