With an alias like 13seaeagle, you can expect nothing but the sharpest and keenest of eyes from birding enthusiast and Canon Singapore staff Jerry Loei. Known for his astounding photo treasury of birds, he brings to light the surprising array of avian wildlife on our little island and fosters a community that respects these beautiful creatures.
Bird photography enthusiast Jerry (far right) also loves to show foreign friends the local birding scene, seen here at Punggol Barat, Singapore!
Hi Jerry! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I currently work at a field office, servicing equipment as an engineer and technician, so I’m only able to practice nature photography in my spare time, after work and during weekends. Growing up, I’ve always had an affinity with nature – I loved watching wildlife documentaries on TV, and even had songbirds and fish as pets.
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/250s | ISO 800
Tell us a little bit about your photography journey so far.
When I started photography, my main subjects were portraits of friends and event shots at birthday parties. Then as I grew older, I explored night photography. I didn’t venture into wildlife photography as I thought there wouldn’t be many wild birds or animals in a city like Singapore.
Canon EOS 70D | F8 | 1/250s | ISO 1600
How did you get into bird photography?
In 2012, I spontaneously decided to bring my point-and-shoot camera, a Canon PowerShot SX20 IS, to Lower Pierce Boardwalk. By chance, I stumbled upon a group of nature photographers gathered around a tree, pointing at something. When I asked about it, one photographer kindly shared with me the Red-Crowned Barbet nesting spot they had discovered! I was fascinated to see the parent birds bringing food to their chicks. That’s how I got started on wildlife photography. From there, the rest is history.
I love shooting birds because they are so beautiful – plus you can spot them everywhere, and I’m not just talking about mynahs and pigeons here.
Canon EOS 70D | F5.6 | 1/60s | ISO 1600
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/40s | ISO 100
What are some challenging aspects of bird photography that most people may not know about?
I would say it’s about finding bird location and spots. I first tried joining different Facebook groups, but realised that they are quite exclusive and only share their secret shooting spots with their buddies.
So I started my own Facebook group in 2012 called “Birds, Insects N Creatures of Singapore”. As it grew, fellow nature photographers suggested expanding the group beyond Singapore. It then became “Birds, Insects N Creatures of Asia” (BICA). Now, it has 17,000 members sharing their collections and information freely, including location and spots. We discuss the do’s and don’ts of nature watching, such as avoiding flash photography and minimising movement and noise when approaching wildlife.
Oriental Scops Owl (Grey Morph, agitated)
Canon EOS 70D | F5.6 | 1/25s | ISO 1600
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/2500s | ISO 100
What camera equipment do you use for your bird photography, and why?
I’ve tried different bodies and lenses, but I find that Canon serves me best. It’s fast, accurate and has a good colourful output. So far, my faithful Canon EOS 70D has served me well, except during low lighting conditions, which everybody faces, unless you’re looking at a flagship camera body.
Brown Hawk Owl
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/30s | ISO 640
What makes for a great bird photo?
Nature photography at its best is when you can capture wildlife in their natural routine or behaviour, such as birds catching their food or feeding their young. During this, maintain the focus on their eyes. It must be the sharpest point in the image. That will bring life to your shots.
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/500s | ISO 640
Where in Singapore do you like to go to for birding?
All of our nature reserves and parks are great for birding. Some that I frequent are the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Lower and Upper Pierce Boardwalk, Kranji Marshes, Ang Mo Kio and Bishan Park, Gardens By the Bay, Bukit Timah Hill, Telok Blangah Hill and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves.
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/80s | ISO 400
Thanks to greenery everywhere in Singapore, you can even spot birds at HDB estates – I once photographed a Blue-winged Pitta at a playground in Hougang.
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/125s | ISO 800
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/200s | ISO 100
We understand that you love taking photos of migratory birds. Tell us more.
Migratory birds from the north are here from late August till April yearly. You can spot rare species and it’s very exciting to see one. They come to us instead of us taking a plane to find them. And it’s free!
Russian Band-Bellied Crake
Canon EOS 70D | F4 | 1/250s | ISO 640
How do you do your research and what are some of the important things to note?
I do my primary research online about the behaviour and prefered habitats of migratory birds. Local birding Facebook groups are also useful for finding tips and information on the migration patterns of birds.
Rusty-breasted Cuckoo (Cacomantis sepulcralis)
Canon EOS 70D | F8 | 1/400s | ISO 1600
What is your most memorable birding experience?
I encountered a Pin-tailed Whydah indulging in a courtship display at Punggol Barat Island, which left a deep impression on me. The male, during breeding season, will grow a very long tail, and will fly and dance in mid-air to impress the female during courtship.
A male Pin-tailed Whydah dancing in courtship to impress a female.
Canon EOS 70D | F10 | 1/640s | ISO 1000
Any advice for aspiring bird photographers?
My advice for aspiring bird photographers is to invest in a reliable camera body. Also, join a local Facebook birding or nature watch group and share your best shots!
Canon EOS 70D | F5.6 | 1/2000s | ISO 320