Wild Bird Photography in the Philippines – Scaly Breasted Munia

One of the most common beautiful bird you will encounter in the Philippines is the Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata). It can almost be found anywhere in the Philippines. This species can also be one of the easiest to photograph considering that it is often close to human habitation. Where there are rice fields, you are guaranteed to see this bird.

Below is a photo I got in one of our sorties in San Juan, Batangas. I was patiently waiting for waders on a nearby pond when a few meters from where I hide, this fellow showed up. It probably got curious by my presence that it stayed a while and allowed me to get a bit closer and have some shots that I like.

Shooting Disclosure

  • Gears:
    Canon 50D, EF 400mm f5.6L, Manfrotto 755X + Gimbal Head
  • Settings:
    Shot @ 400mm, f5.6, 1/50″, ISO100, Spot-Metering, Auto White Balance, Aperture-Priority, Cropped 16:9 to 3.2MP, RAW
  • Others:
    Some very minimal sharpening and color vibrancy adjustments in Photoshop

On a mid-day harsh light, I usually go ISO100 to avoid getting a very fast shutter speed so more light gets captured with the sensor shutter being opened much longer. With ISO100, I also avoid some unwanted noise and it enhances the creaminess of background blur. Though it is hard to pull off and increasing the risk of getting a blurred shot, I prefer to shoot around 1/40 secs to 1/200 secs as I almost always get better color in this range (provided I am on a sturdy tripod). I just don’t know the technical reason but I suspect, the more time I allow the camera to absorb light, the better the output I got. This is why I always try to bring down ISO to as much as I can for as long as the shutter speed is within my prefered range. By constant practice, blurring cause by shake and slow shutter speed can be avoided. The bird allowed me to focus on its eye as it gave me a nice glance as shown in the photo. I also got lucky that it perched on a really photogenic decaying branch with a good greeny background from the distance.

The bird gave me a few shots but the above photo is the one I like most. It flew the moment I attempted to get closer.

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