Friday, June 6, 2014

David Attenborough’s Conquest Of The Skies

The journey in search of the unique flyers and displays of Borneo's wildlife.
From the deep forest, into the dark chambers of gomantong caves of Sabah to the coastal wilderness of Sarawak. Below are photo essay of challenging work behind the scene and some spectacular species found!

Great respect to the legendary Sir David Attenborough, his energy, his passion, his love of the natural world inspired myself and many others around the world... May God Bless you always....
See you again in Borneo!
Heartfelt thanks to Colossus Productions and Scubazoo for the trust and absolute experience.

From the steaming rainforests of Borneo to the frozen fossil beds of China, the arid canyons of Spain to the cloud forests of Ecuador, this series spans the globe to explore the story of how the flying animals came to conquer the skies. In Conquest of the Skies, Attenborough travels back in time to unravel the astonishing 300-million-year story of how these animals first appeared, and then evolved into the huge variety of aeronauts that fill our skies today.

Cede with Sir David Attenborough and Anthony Geffen at the location in Gomantong caves
Rope rigggers inside Gomantong caves 
Venture into deep guano chamber 
Venture into deep guano chamber 
Sir David into the deep Gomantong caves

Rope Rigging, a serious business!
Paul and Me! 
Dive of the Blue-eared kingfisher

Simon and Cede at dusk, shoots the exodus of bats at Gomantong caves
Wallace's hawk-eagle 'bat buffet'

Colugo or flying lemur gliding into the darkness of the forest of Bako Park 
Spectacular glider of the Bornean jungle!
close encounter of Colugo
Racquet -tailed drongo and its 'bizarre' extended tail

500mm and Nikon D3s was used to shoot 'Bats and Raptors' in flight

Photos: All rights Reserved Cede Prudente © JUNE 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bat-hunting Raptors of Borneo

The Bat Hunters of Borneo

Featuring the raptors of Gomantong Cave
Bat hawk and the Wallace's hawk-eagle

Visitors come to Sabah never miss to visit the limestone Gomantong Cave of Kinabatangan, just few kilometres from downtown Sandakan. The cave is famously known for its edible bird nest, for its wildlife, and simply for its historical value and a classic on its own. Definitely for wildlife photographers and birders!

The cave and where it sits has been one my favored location for years, a reliable place for capturing my raptors images specifically the Bat hunters. With my gears packed, we start hiking before dusk to a place where I could settle to position my equipments and wait...
Bat Hawk (Macheiramphus alcinus) and Wallace's Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus nanus) are my usual targets that appear on their usual hideout at their usual hour synchronizing the emerging of millions of bats from the cave and into the open sky where the most spectacular game would happen.

The Nikon D800 and D3s, Nikon N1 with my prefered 500 mm lens hooked to a Gitzo tripod, positioned at the edge of a 200 metres high cliff! was a challenge and the fading light makes it even complicated for photography... While on wait, I start taking profile shots of these great raptors while they are still perched, with their bright eyes piercing the fading light in all directions for a target.

The Bat Hawks and the Wallace's hawk-eagle are usually silent during the day, sitting motionless in the nearby large tree like a black statue except for its small patches of white on its throat and belly of the Bat Hawk. 
Considering that my subject will strike its prey at any moment from now, I have to find a stable ground where I could freely move for my composite shots then rapidly switches the capture mode to video and the countdown starts. Through the lens I am witnessing the race for survival where bats are flying at its greatest speed, running away for its dear life when these hunters are presumed to be nearby but unmistakably the predators are faster when they are determined to feed their tummy to survive.

The Bat Hawk appears completely black in the low light of dusk similar to the flight silhouette of a large falcon. 

With prey on sight, it maneuvers its 95-120 cm wingsspan to get a perfect balance and rapid acceleration from behind its subject with its sharp talons readily positioned not to miss the snatch. 

The catch will then be swiftly transferred to its small but sharply arched beak and swallows it whole in the air. It never descends to the ground for prey but will relentlessly pursue its quarry into the cave.
Wallace’s Hawk Eagle on the other hand, measuring 46 cm in length has its own preference of maintaining a lookout perched bolt upright on an unobstructed bough at some high points.

Bat exodus between 6pm - 6.45pm
Peregrine falcon
Wallace's hawk-eagle spot on!
Brahminy kite bat galore!

Tourist witnessing the bat exodus 
Wallace's hawk-eagle armed with sharp talons on teh attack!
Peregrine falcon display

Target on sight, it swoops down, makes the strikes, and carries the prey in its talons back to its perch.

There on its perch it enjoys its meal, and here I am completely appreciating the moment, looking at how this amazing natural phenomenon is performed.
(For optimal viewing, watch on 1080 HD)

With a number of great images and video clips, the surrounding gets colder and darker. The bat hunters settle for the night and I need to pack my gears, hike back and call it a day.

Equipment used for the shoot are Nikon system, the D800, D3s, Nikon 1, TC1.4, and two primary lenses, the 500mm and 300mm. The video clip was largely taken with the Nikon 1 for its reach, with the 500mm lens with TC 1.4 is equivalent to 1900mm and the high definition quality.

Sincere appreciation to all crew and to North Borneo Safari Sdn Bhd. for organising the logistics and permit. 
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Photos: All rights Reserved Cede Prudente © 2014