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The Black Drongo (aka: My Enemy)

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Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

This is the Black Drongo, or Dicrurus Macrocercus. It’s a bird that’s fairly common in South East Asia. Even though it’s called “BLACK” Drongo, he’s not actually black. His plumage is a dark shade of blue.

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

There’s a very specific reason why I refer to this specific bird as “my enemy”. They tend to disappear during Winter, probably hiding from the cold and wet weather. Then in Spring they show up again and they just behave like all other birds, flying around, catching bugs and doing all sort of birdy things.

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

Then Summer comes, and their true, evil nature is finally revealed. Drongo use Spring to find a mate, then lay their eggs when the weather starts to warm up. While their eggs are in their nests, Drongos become extremely territorial, attacking EVERYTHING that approaches their defended area.

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

Dogs, cats, other birds, humans…no one is safe from their ageless anger. I’ve seen them killing a small sparrow mid-air ( ;_; ) just because he was flying in the wrong neighborhood.

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

They have the extremely annoying habit of chasing bicycle riders. Every single time I ride in an area with Drongo nests, I can be sure that I’ll eventually hear an extremely loud screeching behind me, followed by a bird repeatedly attacking my helmet. These birds are the main reason why it’s important to always wear a helmet, I’ve seen people going back home with a bleeding head after a Drongo attack.

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

They’re pretty hardcore. And their nesting time is approaching. No one will be safe.

On a positive note: last year the first typhoon of the season hit our region very early, and many Drongo nests were destroyed in the process. Sweet revenge. The skies had been quiet(er) ever since.

 

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Bird(s) is the word(s)

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Kingfisher

Mandatory background music to appreciate this post:

Lontan Lake ( which sounds INCRESDIBLY SIMILAR to “Dragon Soup”) is a very convenient location for me to enjoy a short bicycle trip then fool around a lake and take some pics.

Kingfisher

It’s still early in the season for flowers and weird/huge insects, but birds are available all year long. These first two pics show a Kingfisher resting on a tree while scanning the lake below. It’s amazing to see how similar the Kingfisher in Taiwan looks compared to the European one. They’re the same kind of bird, but considering the distance I was expeting them to look somehow different.

I’m no bird expert, so I have no idea what most of these are. I can recognize some cranes and, OF COURSE, the Ibis. I mean, my nickname is Random IBIS. Even if the origin of that nickname has nothing to do with the bird, I simply have to know what they look like. There are some Ibis (Ibiss? Ibises? Ibsisai?) in Taiwan, but I couldn’t find any by the lake. I often see them around rice fields. The bird in the image above MAY BE an Egret, which is the same family as Ibis birds, but it was a bit far away so I honestly can’t tell.

While I was resting under a tree, waiting to spot birds flying around, a bird landed on the tree right next to me:

Landing

Landing

Landing

Landing

Landing

Landing

Seconds after finding a comfortable position on the branch, he dropped a deuce the size of a BigMac. Nature is always amazing.

There are more pics on my Flickr page:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/107755637@N06/with/32847089714/

This was my first proper outing with the Canon 70-300 L lens. 300mm is a bit short for birds (all these images are cropped pretty heavily) and the 6D’s autofocus system is not ideal for the job, but I managed to take some pics I like. Other lenses would be better for birds in flight, such as ne of the 150-600 zooms from Tamron/Sigma for the extra reach, or Canon’s 100-400mkII. Unofortunately they’re quite bulky and heavy, and the Canon is also painfully expensive. For general use I’ll gladly stick with the 70-300 L, and I hope that one day Canon will release a cheap 200-500 or similar lens.

 

 

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A weird looking swallow

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Probably not a swallow

This is the period when swallows start to show up in Yilan and get ready to prepare their nests. They’ve been flying around for a few days now, looking for a mate and a safe place to lay eggs in the coming future.

More likely to be a swallow

It’s a great period for them, the warming weather leads to gazillions of mosquitoes breeding in the now floodes rice fields.

More likely to be a swallow

Needless to say, packs of swallows attract the interest of larger birds. There’s a fair amount of birds of prey in Taiwan, including many species of eagles, buzzards and such. Some of them live in the proximity of rice fields and live off small mammals, lizard and such, while close to the mountains there are larger birds.

Now this is the part where I’m supposed to reveal the species of the bird in the first image and explain what it does for a living. I have no clue.

It’s a falcon-eagle-buzzard looking flying thing, and it was smaller than the large eagles I see when I head to the mountains. I’ll update the post when I find out what it was.

On a technical note: taking pictures of swallows is a bloody pita. The falcon eagle thing was cool, it came flying in my direction in a straight line and I was able to take several shots before it steered away. Swallows on the other hand look like they’re on drugs ALL-THE-TIME. All images are very heavy crops because 300mm for birds is a bit too short, but I don’t see myself getting a longer lens in the near future.

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A shotr cycling trip to Turtle Island (Toucheng)

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Last weekend the weather was…well…it sucked less than usual, so we took our bikes for a 45kms trip to Toucheng beach, in front of Turtle Island.

The GoPro was mounted on my helmet and the lens got foggy due to my sweat -_- Also, it’s an old model and the battery lasts next to nothing, so instead of taking a proper movie I made a timelapse. It looks a bit weird during the ride, but I like the moving clouds on Turtle Island at the end.

Baby Dragonfly

Today a baby dragonfly was having some rest on one of the lemon trees in my balcony. Swallows are back and will start nesting soon, tough time for flying critters.