The eagles of Upper Seletar Reservoir

November 29, 2008

Recently, I went to Upper Seletar Reservoir, hoping to find a hornbill. Well, although I did not see the hornbill, I saw many eagles, which I think should be white bellied sea eagles. This is what happened on that day…

I arrived at Upper Seletar Reservoir, hoping to find the Oriental Pied hornbill, but sadly, I did not see it. Anyway, anyone know where can find hornbills? I have been finding them for a long time. I’ve tried Upper Seletar, Changi Village, Macritchie and Botanic Gardens. What time are hornbills most easily spotted?

Okay, back to the story. then, I went up the lookout tower, hoping that I will see hornbills high up the trees. It was then I found that my tripod was so short. It did not even go higher than the railings! That was the first time I was using my tripod so I wasn’t used to it. (That explains why my pictures are so blur and shaky) In the end, I detached the camera from the tripod and started birding.

All in a sudden, I saw something flying towards Mandai Zoo: At the other end of the reservoir. Because it looked a bit dark, my first impression was: hornbill! By the time I looked again, it was too far away. I took a picture, but for some reason, the subject was black, like most of my pictures. I don’t know why it was like that. By the way, I am using aperture priority, so I thought they will auto adjust the photo. When my father reviewed the pictures, he told me that the sky was too bright. The camera sensor sense how much light there is coming in and adjust the amount of light in let in automatically. For example:

If it is very dark, they must let in more light to let the picture look reasonably bright. So, for a high aperture (that means a low number), the shutter speed will still not be that fast. But if when it is very bright, you set a high aperture, the shutter speed will be very fast so it will not take in so much light. So, with a very bright sky and a slightly dark object, the average of this will still be bright. So, the camera will automatically make the shutter speed faster at aperture priority and the aperture lower in shutter speed priority (the two modes I use). So, the picture will come out as: a slightly bright sky and a dark object.

But how do you prevent this?

Just over expose it, of course! So the sky will be very bright while the object will be of average brightness. Problem solved, but there is another problem. How do you over expose? I started trying to figure it out. Just then, I saw another of those “hornbills” fly by. By this time, I saw a flash of white. Looking at how they look, I think they are more of white bellied sea eagles.

Just then, I saw that there was a white bellied sea eagle fishing. They swooped down to get fish, just that it missed. It kept missing for many times, and I did not see it successfully catch any fish. If only the lense could zoom further and I solved the problem of how to over expose it. I guess next time!

Anyway, I read the manual when i got home. You just need to hold the Av button and turn the dial knob.

Although I did not see any hornbills, the trip was very fruitful. I saw the white bellied sea eagle trying to fish and solve the problem of birds that look dark when you play back the picture.