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
Wallace's hawk-eagle dive thru!


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. 
visit their website: www.northborneosafari.com
Photos: All rights Reserved Cede Prudente © 2014

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Rainforest of Borneo and the Sceneries....



BORNEO ISLAND
With an area of 743,330 (km2) (287,000 sq. miles) is the third-largest island in the world after Greenland 2,130,800 (km2), New Guinea 785,753 (km2) With a population of 19.8million (2012) - the island is divided among three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory. The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak in the north occupy about 26% of the island

The rainforest is 130 million years old, making it the oldest rainforest in the world. It shelters 13 primate species, 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of terrestrial mammals and more than 680 species of resident and migratory birds....
Scientists have discovered more than 123 new species in the Heart of Borneo area during the past 3 years -- an average of more than 3 new species per month
In 2010, new to science was the 'Spectacled Flowerpecker' discovered in the Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bornean Elephant in Sabah, Malaysia



They only occur in the northeastern part of Borneo, Sabah is home to an estimated of 2040 wild Borneo Pygmy Elephants. They prefer low-lying areas where movement is relatively easy, near rivers, with open areas for feeding and socialization, they generally avoid steep slopes. The range of wild elephants in Sabah and Kalimantan seems to be influenced by the occurrence of natural mineral resources.

Unfortunately, as much of the land used for generations by elephants migrating in search of food has been increasingly converted to oil palm plantations, resulting in conflict between man and animal. These endangered elephants are a distinct species found only in Borneo and not, as once thought, a sub-species of the Asian elephant.

For now, the long-term survival of the species will rely on the various Sabah Government Departments, NGO's, Local Community, Tourism agencies and Private Agricultural companies.

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Bornean Gibbon in Sabah, Malaysia



The Bornean Gibbon Hylobates muelleri is endemic to Borneo, and is confined to tall primary rainforest in lowland and lower montane areas.
Gibbons are exclusively diurnal and arboreal, and do not descend to the ground. They travel mostly in trees by swinging from branch to branch via brachiation. This mode of locomotion involves extending their long arms over their head in order to hook their hands onto branches. Gibbons move quickly with long leaps and swings. They are able to cover 3 meters in a single swing and around 850 meters per day. Vocalizations occur between the breeding male and female, and is dominated by the female. This vocalization is important because it helps to maintain the pair bond between the breeding pair and also it helps to establish and maintain the territory.

Gibbons occur in small family groups generally comprising a male, female and their young.Most gibbons produce offspring every 2 to 3 years. Nursing may last as long as two years. Because young typically stay with their parents until they reach maturity. It is thought their life span in up to 25 years in the wild.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands, Sandakan

Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands in Sandakan is Sabah’s First and Malaysia’s largest RAMSAR site of 78,803 hectares. It is recognized internationally as an important wetland area and an attraction for people who find solace in the presence of the wilds and its stunning bird life.  See link here:
The scenic meandering river of  Lower Kinabatangan near Abai village and 
Oxbow lake on the far left  
Location map of Lower Kinabatangan and Sandakan area

Sandakan town and the entrance to the Kinabatangan river on the background

The nearest access to this birds haven is Abai village – an hour’s boat ride from Sandakan harbor.

Ficus tree along the river a favourite perch for Kingfishers
The 'extended arm'  Rhizophora species dominates the mangrove forest here

Passing through the mangrove forest outlining the river banks....


Crested goshawk
Many unique mangrove species, such as Mangrove whistler, Mangrove blue flycatcher and long-tailed parakeets... You gotta be there!
Long-tailed parakeet
Tiger shrike
Mangrove whistler 
Some common sightings are the Wreathed hornbills, the Stork-billed kingfisher, Ruddy  kingfisher and Blue-ared kingfisher, Common Flameback woodpecker, the resident Mangrove Whistler, Scarlet Minivet, Lesser and Greater Leafbirds...

The visitor Lesser adjutant
The 'melancholic singer' Mangrove Blue flycatcher
The stunning Ruddy kingfisher
Changeable -hawk eagle (pale morph)
Mangrove-blue flycatcher
Common kingfisher



 Adding into the excitement is the presence of the Proboscis monkeys and Orangutan

Proboscis Monkey in the nipah swamps
Proboscis Monkey in the nibong palms
Estuarine Crocodile 'lurking' 
Orang Utan feeding on Sonneratia fruit
A rare sight of dominant male Orangutan feeding on nipah shoot 
Fireflies seen along the river
Pitcher plant called Nepenthes ampullaria


Place to stay:
Kinabatangan wetlands resort tucked in the wilderness setting surrounded by lush forest and vibrant wildlife...its colorful garden of pitcher plants and melodious birdlife promises serenity.





Trips to see this place is possible with North Borneo Safari Tours Sdn. Bhd. in Sandakan
Email: inquiry@northborneosafari.com
Tel: +60-89-237525

Cede showing the image captured with the dslr ...

Photo copyright of Cede Prudente© and downloading is disallowed without written permission. All rights reserved 2013© 
www.cedeprudente.com