12 Hours of BIRD Photography in the JUNGLE | A7RIV + 200-600

12 Hours of BIRD Photography in the JUNGLE | A7RIV + 200-600


I mean I could stand here for the rest
of my life and I may never get another photo opportunity like that good morning everybody welcome back to
the channel and welcome to Belize look at this I mean I love snow and
everything but you just can’t beat the jungle it’s gorgeous
so I’m staying at the toucan Ridge ecology and education society field
station in Belize and I’ve been coming here for the past three years this is
where I got my first internship it’s where I got my first field job and it’s
where I started my youtube channel over a year ago so I love coming here it’s
one of my favorite places in Belize and since I’ve been here so long I’ve gone
birding on the property over 300 times so I know where things like to hang out
and one of the main places they love to hang out is this orchard here so if
you’re wondering why I’m in an open habitat is because light in the jungle
doesn’t get sufficient until around like 9 or 10 o’clock if it’s a bright Sun so
I’ll start the day off in the orchard and then towards the middle of the day
when the Sun gets a little bit brighter I’ll head towards the jungle and try to
do some photography in there and then towards the end of the day when the
lights getting lower because it dips below the mountains pretty early I’ll
just come back out and I’ll do some photography in the orchard so wish me
luck stay tuned hopefully we find something good all right so it’s been pretty quiet in
the orchard this morning but I think I just figured out the reason why right in
front of me is a massive Maley apple tree and it’s currently producing fruit and
there’s a saying in the tropics if you want to find the birds follow the fruit
and for good reason you have a lot of fruit eating birds coming into these
trees but at the same time there’s a ton of insects so you get a bunch of insectivores coming to feed off of the insects that are feeding on the fruit so
it’s just one location that if you stand for you know an hour two hours you can
get 30 40 species if you’re lucky and with a tree to this size and what the
amount of fruit it produces it’s definitely possible right now it’s a
little bit early I remember when I was here two years ago it was at the peak of
fruiting and there was just so much a ripe fruit up there we would just sit
here in the morning and just watch all the birds go in and out so it’s really
fun right now there’s maybe about twelve or so species that I counted all right
so it’s starting to get pretty sunny out I think I’m gonna head into the jungle
and start doing some jungle birding if you’ve seen my previous video on tips
for forest bird photography I talked about eco tones and the edge effect and
here at TREES they have an awesome orchard so most orchards that you can
think of it’s usually just apple trees or just orange trees just limes whatever
but here they have a mix of different fruits so what that means is throughout
the year they always have something fruiting or flowering which is great for
wildlife and they’ve also stopped mowing the grass usually in most orchards that
you see all the grass is perfectly cut throughout the entire orchard but here
what happens is the only most certain patches for little paths throughout the
orchard and the rest is just tall grass and when you allow grasses to grow and
go to flower and seed you attract way more insects in a way more birds so even
in your backyard if you wanted to find a way to increase biodiversity in your
yard just stop cutting your grass or at least stop cutting it in certain areas
because that helps so much so they have this awesome orchard that attracts a lot
of wildlife and right along the edge of the entire orchard there’s this
beautiful jungle habitat and what you see behind me if you walk in maybe 30
seconds or so you get this awesome little river behind me pretty much
everything a bird would need or anything pretty much any animal would need could
be found in this small vicinity and I’ve seen almost 250 bird species on the
property and what’s interesting is that pretty much well over 90% of them I’ve
seen either in the orchard or in the vicinity of the orchard throughout my
time here so it’s definitely interesting you know you
get this idea that you want to Trek deep into the jungle but the reality is most
of the birds aren’t there most of them are on the edge of the forest and in the
orchard so if I’m going into the jungle I pretty much know I’m targeting forest
specialists or I’m targeting mixed flocks and I’ll talk a little bit about
mixed flocks later but for now I’m gonna start heading into the jungle and see
what we can find so I just hiked into the jungle about a
kilometre or so and one of my main strategies when I’m in the jungle is to
just find one bird it doesn’t really matter what species it is but so long as
I can find one bird there’s usually other birds along with it a lot of birds
especially the insectivores they like to travel in these mixed feeding flocks and
sometimes you get 5, 10, 15 species in the same flock which is awesome but what
happens is they gather in these flocks because they like to move around the
jungle throughout the day and kick up as many insects as possible and obviously
the more you have in the group the better the success rate is the more
insects you’re kicking up so if you can find a mixed flock that’s probably one
of your best chances to get a lot of great photos during the day and you know
it’s not really anything systematic you can’t say oh there’s gonna be a mixed
flock here they just always move throughout the jungle so you kind of
have to move around a lot I haven’t found any mixed feeding flocks yet today
but I’m gonna keep looking I’m gonna keep doing the trails and in about an
hour or two I’m gonna start heading back to the orchard to get that nice
afternoon light all right so I just ran up top real
quick to get some water and I also photograph the Violet Sabrewing at the
hummingbird feeder right next to the cabins and in my opinion I think the
Violet Sabrewing is one of the most gorgeous hummingbirds in the world
purple is just such a rare color in birds so seeing an entire hummingbird
that’s almost entirely purple it’s pretty impressive but it’s actually kind
of annoying when it’s near the feeders because it’s so large that it just
dominates the feeders and it just scares everything else away but still really
beautiful species and that kind of gave me an idea when I was in Ecuador I spoke
to you guys about the white-whiskered hermit when I photographed it there but
Belize has two species of hermit and one of them is the long-billed hermit who
loves to feed on this ornamental ginger plant so here’s an ornamental ginger
plant and this is when its open this is what the long billed Hermits go for they
have some other pods on here that are closed right now but when the flowers
are open this is what they like to go for and you can pretty much guarantee
that any of them that are open they’re gonna get visited at some point by a
long billed hermit and what’s really interesting is that they visit these
flowers on a loop so if you see they visit a specific flower and you record
the time at two o’clock you can just wait till they visited a second time and
that’s pretty much the time interval that they’ll visit these flowers so the
time can vary quite a bit I have timed some hummingbirds here coming every five
minutes to the same flower so as a photographer that’s awesome you can just
sit there and know that every five minutes you’re gonna have a chance to
photograph a hummingbird going to a flower but then there’s some individuals
that come every 30 40 minutes and those are obviously a little bit longer but at
least you can time it and know when the action is gonna happen so I think I’m
gonna visit one of these flowers and just hang out for a bit there’s clouds
coming in but they’re kind of broken up so there’s Sun peeking through every so
often so the light isn’t great at some times but the overcast is awesome so I’m
just gonna set up and hopefully get some hummingbird shots
stay tuned alright so I’m in position flowers right behind me the long-billed
hermit visited about 10 minutes ago so now I’m just waiting for him to do a
second loop so I can time it I think though once these clouds break and I’m
gonna have pretty much full Sun for a bit I think I’m gonna be in a pretty
weird angle over here so I might actually move over to the other side
right behind me that’s their wetland so I might go onto that side and shoot it
this way because I think the sun angle is gonna be a little bit nicer but
either way I looked at it you get pretty much really nice subject separation from
the background so it should be a nice shot either way but now I’m just waiting
at a time out his second loop and we’ll see what we get so I just
clocked the hummingbird in at 36 minutes which is a little bit long but whatever
I’m still gonna set up and try to get a nice photo but what just happened was
crazy so I set my camera up and I pre focused on the flower that the hummingbird
was going to and just a few minutes later a little yellow butterfly came in
and started going towards that flower so I decided to take a few test shots
because I thought it would be really cool if at some point the butterfly was
on the flower just as the hummingbird was coming in and when I was reviewing
them I didn’t notice anything weird but when I looked up the butterfly was just
there and it was just flailing its wings were flapping like crazy and I was kind
of confused as to what was happening so I took a few test shots and then zoomed
in and there was a praying mantis that grabbed it from the flower so I looked
back on my other photos and if you look on the left here you can see this sneaky
goose just slowly moving in from the side and he just waited there and the
butterfly went to the right flower and he just snagged it and what’s insane is
right now the praying mantis is eating a butterfly right next to the flower that
the hummingbird was visiting so I have the potential to get a hummingbird
flying to the flower while a praying mantis eats a butterfly that’s insane so
I’m setting up for that now I want to quickly run over and just take a few
photos of this praying mantis but I don’t have my macro lens so I’ll
just use the 200 to 600 but oh my god if I can get this shot I will be over
the moon I just came back and I fired off a bunch
of shots and I think I have one I’m looking on the back of the LCD screen
here and I think there’s one that works but I think I can do better I’m just
waiting for him to come back now but time is kind of against me this praying
mantis is eating the butterfly obviously so he’s down to one wing and the rest of
the body he already ate the head and the other wing so I can maybe get two if
I’m lucky more sequences of the hummingbird coming back but I think I
have one more shot to get this so here’s the photo that I got from this sequence
and I’m going to try to do better on the next one but yeah maybe like 45 minutes
or so till the Sun sets so fingers crossed I get another shot. Let’s see what
happens He just came back and I think I got it oh
my god like that I mean I could stand here for the rest of my life and I may
never get another photo opportunity like that this is like I’m speechless and
this you know the picture itself is not perfect like there’s some things that I
would like to change if if by chance the praying mantis was holding the butterfly
a certain way so you can actually see the butterfly wing that would have been
awesome but you know I can’t complain this is insane and and to me this is
just what the jungle is all about you can have this really obvious thing
that’s happening right in front of your eyes like a hummingbird visiting a
flower but it’s the things that are going on in the background the struggles
for life and death is just so cool and and to be able to capture that into one
photo I’m extremely grateful that I was able to do this oh my gosh I went a
little bit further out but I think I’m actually gonna do a tight crop on this
because I really want you to be able to tell that there’s actually the praying
mantis and the butterfly in this shot I think like looking at it from further
away from my camera it kind of loses its effect a little bit but once I zoom in
it yeah definitely it definitely works a lot better I’ll have to see when I
actually edit it but that’s I don’t know I’m speechless that’s just amazing oh I
love the jungle okay so I’m gonna keep going the praying mantis is pretty much
done its meal I have about an hour left or so in my 12 hours of birding so I’m
gonna try to take advantage of this last light that’s hitting me now
stay tuned hopefully I get some more stuff if not I’ll see you in the next
video, happy birding

23 thoughts on “12 Hours of BIRD Photography in the JUNGLE | A7RIV + 200-600”

  1. So cool Stefano, very good shots! I love watching your excitement in the video, sometimes I feel the same. Very good opportunity to be able to fly to South America. The jungle looks awesome.

  2. Hope you enjoyed this video! It definitely was one of my most memorable moments in nature. Thank you for watching!

  3. Wow..ur excitement is contagious… really loved the humming bird+mantis+butterfly pic…what a moment to capture…
    Expecting to get my a7r4+200-600mm by this march..your vlogs has been inspiring … looking forward for more

  4. Amazing video loved it. I love mountains and jungle it's like heaven for me the smell, views, calls something I can't explain you know right, it's like a secret door or place always surprises you with something rare. Also as a birder you have so many tasks to do and as a photographer, you have many more tasks to do. Here in India, the mighty Himalayan mountains are the best over 600 spices have found in different places, altitude, the habitat it's the most beautiful thing.

  5. Impresionante reportaje Stefano, un lugar para disfrutar por la variedad y calidad de las aves, gracias por todo y saludos desde España.

  6. Do you have any trouble with focusing BIF with this camera lens combo? I find it’s just not as sharp as my old Nikon D750 and Sigma 150-600 mm. Saw posts from other birding photographers complaining the same problem.

  7. The old adage about the harder you work the luckier you get, could not be truer here. I know how hard you worked to get this shot. I am a huge fan!

  8. So are you liking Topaz?

    The shot of the hummer and the praying mantis with butterfly was great (as were the other shots too) 😃

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