Camera online

Capturing natural beauty | Borneo Online Newsletter

Daniel Lim

It’s easy to overlook and miss some of the many wonders lurking in the immediate surroundings that many take for granted, from the lush nature found deep within the rainforest to the sweeping vistas of bustling city centers.

Among those things that easily slip the eye are the birds that flock to the garden. They are a sight to behold, especially with the wide variety of bird species that can be found in the Sultanate.

This has caused many people to go out of their way to search for rarely spotted bird species on city streets and deep in the rainforest as part of a group of birdwatching enthusiasts. .

I met such an avid birdwatcher, who has been doing this hobby for almost a decade. His name is Husini bin Bakar, also known as “Kantalensa”.

He recently gave a presentation on the joy of birdwatching.

Retired from the oil and gas industry, Husini began birdwatching and photography in 2012.

“It was by chance that I started as a bird photographer. When I went to Wasan with some friends, we took pictures of birds with our cameras,” he said of how his interest in bird watching developed.

A pair of black and red Broadbill. PHOTO: BRUNEI PRESS
Husini bin Bakar poses with his book. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM
The Borneo Bristlehead and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha. PHOTOS: BRUNEI PRESS

At the time, when trying to capture less whistling ducks using a regular lens, he said it produced less impactful photos than what he actually saw.

“Because the lens was so short, the ducks looked very small. That’s when I realized the ability to zoom in with a camera was important,” he said.

“Usually what we perceive from afar as normal birds, when taken up close with a capable lens and camera, can turn out to be quite interesting.”

Some of the fascinations he highlighted included different features and feathers, which first attracted him to birdwatching.

As the number of bird watchers is quite small, Husini and a group of friends formed the Brunei Wildlife Photography Club (BWPC), joined by other like-minded people.

The group actively posted photos not only of birds but also of other animals in the Sultanate.

“We go out every weekend, because everyone is working during the week, and taking pictures of birds,” Husini said.

The group’s formation eventually led to government agencies supporting the cause, with the first Bird Race held in the Sultanate in 2014.

“The Bird Race is a competition where you are given a specific time to identify bird species and the time required to spot them. Taking pictures is a way to identify them without getting too close,” he said.

Not only does the race promote the hobby, he said, it also provides a way to record and categorize various bird species and disseminate information on how to correctly identify bird species. and their names.

He said: “The challenge is knowing which bird you are looking at. To help other birders, we provide books and resources to help them identify species.

“Back then, we didn’t have software like Google Lens, like we do now, where we can upload a photo and easily identify the bird.”

Some of the hurdles to birding include acquiring the right camera, the weather, and the persistence needed to be in the right place at the right time to capture the shot.

“I think the hardest part of birding is finding the birds themselves. You have to be patient. You may spot a particular species of bird in a particular place one day, and when you come back the next day it may have flown away. It’s very unpredictable,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Husini and many avid birdwatchers continue to do their best to find and capture different species of birds in their natural habitat with their cameras.

For them, the moment of spotting a particular species of bird is what drives them.

Having seen and photographed over 345 species of birds in Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, Husini still actively travels to remote areas in Belait District to hunt more with his camera.

In addition to the BWPC, there are many birding groups such as the White-Crowners birdwatching group, of which Husini is also a member.

Husini enjoys helping others get started in the hobby.

“When friends need help identifying birds they’ve captured with their smartphones, I share photos from my recordings and give them the details.”

The COVID-19 pandemic may have suspended birdwatching activities, but interest has never waned, especially among foreign enthusiasts, who want to learn more about the different types of birds in the Sultanate.

Husini is the author of a book Colorful Feather: Selected Birds of Brunei and Borneo, printed by Brunei Press Sdn Bhd and available in bookstores nationwide.