Trus Madi Forest Reserve as homestad of Bulwer’s Pheasant

One of the heart stopping birding moments I remembered was hearing the calls of the the majestic, if elusive, Bulwer’s Pheasant (Lophura bulweri) A beautiful Pheasant that has long eluded many birders. A single male emerged Bulwer’s Pheasant appeared right in front of our hide at the Trus Madi montane forest of the Crocker Range in Sabah. This elusive, Pheasant showed up in the arena of a shady wood on a steep slope. We sat side by side in a dark hideout that barely has slots for camera lenses. We’ve been waiting for a good 4 hour. There she is: the beauty. The Bulwer’s Pheasant makes one full-frame shot after the other possible just a few meters from the hide.

I decided to photograph it with a Canon EF 400mm f/4.0 DO IS II USM lens on a Canon EOS R 5. In the darkness of the forest, this time a powerful autofocus, short exposure times and a sure eye for the photographic moment was not the prioritiy as it is normally in flying objects. But in this case, too, I could hardly focus my camera on the Pheasant standing and walking just a few meters away from us. This time, the bird was so close that the right angle to the moving bird, anticipation of the next steps and the right exposure times (not too long, not too short to avoid high ASA) was crucial. In low light I shot at 1/10-1/60 sec and auto ISO. My Canon R 5 had some trouble focusing in the dim light with erratic movements. This was made more difficult because the contrast was low and the target moving with fast changes in direction. I could not believe my luck, being so closed to such a stunning looking pheasant. The birds dark purple speckled body contrasted perfectly with its snow white tail. I was savoring every seconds of its presence until it got spooked and ran away. Fortunately it came back – followed by a female (which far more drab in plumage) after a while and I had another round of less frantic shooting. This time I used my Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens on a Canon EOS 5 Mark III. With this camera I tried exposure times between 1/60 sec and 1/8 sec.

Bulwer’s Pheasant is locally common in the remote montane hill forest of northern Borneo. But you will need to be to the right place, lots of patience and a dose of good luck to see one as their numbers are low and they are reluctant to show in the open. Since 1998, there are only a few entries in ebirds with records from Poring, Danum Valley, Maliau Basin. Thus the opportunity to try it in a location like at Trus Madi with a hide and a regular feeding program, should not be missed. In so far, it is very good, that the site is under proper management by the owners of the camp, a group of passionate nature lovers.

The hide is not only good for Bulwer’s Pheasant, but was home to the otherwise elusive Bornean Banded Pitta Eventually (Hydrornis schwaneri) and the Dayak Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis montanus) as well.

In order to meet the growing demand for top images of the rarer species of Palaearctic has specifically made trips to remote places. Additionally every chance is used, if a rare bird is around the homeground. This to do everything to ensure excellent photos of the Birds of the Western Palearctic . The yield of pictures also of rare Western Palaearctic birds is very good. There are other nice images of birds, that you will find behind the tab “Picture Shop“. Just give a notice if you need a picture of a bird which is not online

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