Shutterbugs flock to Big Bird Race

Shutterbugs flock to Big Bird Race
Participants tried to spot as many birds as they could during the 24-hour race at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (above), such as milky storks sunning themselves, and a collared kingfisher in the trees. Photography teams had to submit pictures of species they had spotted.

Bird photography in Singapore is taking flight, with more shutterbugs willing to venture into areas like mangroves and cemeteries to snap pictures of colourful plumes and webbed feet.

"When we explore outdoors, we see birds in their natural setting," said 44-year-old Francis Yap, who runs a biotech business. "By photographing them, we can keep the image as a memory."

Armed with a $22,000 camera kit and a lens as long as his arm, the enthusiast ventured into the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Saturday, one of the pioneer participants in the photography category at this year's Big Bird Race - a contest to spot the most species of birds in 24 hours.

The annual event saw 12 teams of two to three competing in three categories - novice, advanced and photography.

Photography teams had to submit pictures of the species, while other teams only had to jot down details of where and when the bird was sighted.

At the prize-giving ceremony at Quality Hotel Marlow on Sunday afternoon, Mr Yap and his team clinched first prize with 76 photographed species.

Winners from the novice and advanced categories were also awarded trophies for spotting 64 and 110 species respectively.

It was the first time in 30 years of the event, organised by the Nature Society (Singapore), that it has hosted a photography category.

"This is to cater to the growing number of bird photographers in Singapore, which has exploded over the past five years due to the advent of the digital camera," said head of its organising committee Alan OwYong, 67. "While bird watchers pay more attention to the records of birds, such as their rarity, photographers enjoy capturing colourful birds and birds in motion."

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