A jewel in the forest: Blue-banded pitta

RotkopfpittaThe departure takes place in foggy twilight. This time the Blue-banded Pitta (Pitta arcuata) is the object of desire. Again we stand twice for a miserable time at the edge of a forest or in the edge of the forest and look down, spellbound. On the second attempt, after about 40 minutes of standing patiently, our guide suddenly whispers “..do you see it? She’s on the stump. And now on the ground.” And indeed the Blue-banded Pitta – surprisingly slim – suddenly stands between leaves on the brownish forest floor at some distance. I immediately shoot with my camera, a Canon R 5, in very poor lighting conditions with 1/20-1/60 sec and automatic ISO setting. My camera is already firing while the others – either handicapped by blindness or a tree trunk – are still searching for the Blue-banded Pitta in the dark forest. Once again, my ability to react and my familiarity with the camera is essential. The Blue-banded Pitta is surprisingly inconspicuous. I had previously switched to manual focus because of the expected difficulties in catching the Blue-banded Pitta in the thicket.

For this I chose the setting for MF (focus) peaking. This means that the focus area – and not just the edges in the focus area – of the subject is colored, which makes manual focusing much easier. I use the sensitivity “High” and the color “Red”. The focus assistant provides additional support when focusing manually. The small box with the 3 triangular distance marks shows whether you are moving the focus ring in the right direction and when the object is in focus. Of course, this only works with lenses that have electronic contacts.

As it turns out, despite these nice helpers many photos are incorrectly focused after all. But a few are quite good. Immediately afterwards, our local guide, Yeo, takes photos of the Blue-banded Pitta from the rear camera display with his cell phone.

“If you have seen Angola Pitta you can close your books” That was the statement of my experienced guide in Malawi in 2006. I saw the Angola Pitta (Pitta angolensis) and have to admit that this sighting increased my appetite for Pittas. There was no question of closing the books. Because then I looked for the Gurney’s Pitta (Pitta gurneyi). This only occurs in a few lowland rainforests in Myanmar and Thailand. Unsuccessful the first time, I reserved the entire early morning for this rare type of Pitta for the second attempt.

But a visit to Borneo was also focused on the Pitta search. I had already seen a Bornean Banded Pitta (Hydrornis schwaneri) a few days earlier in Trus Madi on a steep slope of a shady forest. This Pitta is generally widespread, but sometimes only locally. The main distribution area is above 650 m to approx. 1,680 m above sea level. The Bornean Banded Pitta was until recently treated as a conspecific of Hydrornis guajanus and Hydrornis irena, but was recently taxonomically split off. It differs from the Javan Banded Pitta (Hydrornis guajanus) in its yellow or white neck in males, the absence or presence of a dark blue chest band, a dark brown crown with a yellow stripe over its eyes, and its smaller size.

In order to meet the growing demand for top images of the rarer species of Palaearctic Bird-lens.com 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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