The above article by Wing Chong, past chairman of the Bird Group, was first published in Lianhe Zaobao on 12 Feb 2016. Below is a translation of the article.
‘It rained for more than three hours that Sunday afternoon. The sky was still gloomy when the rain finally stopped. It was breezeless and humid and very uncomfortable to stay indoors. So, I picked up my camera and decided to go for a walk at the nearby Japanese Garden.
The fresher, post-rain air lifted my spirits. Just as I entered the gardens, I was drawn to movement in the Ixola (Ixola coccinea) bush. A Yellow-vented Bulbul was busy feeding around the bush. I stopped to take a second look. She would first perch motionlessly on the ixola, before suddenly springing vertically upwards, catching the insect in midair, and making a beautiful twist before dropping back to the bush. These motions were repeated many times in seemingly erratic directions, and reminded me of a graceful ballet dancer. I suppose I was a little late to the show, as this performance didn’t last long.
Happy that I had managed to click a few shots, I proceeded towards the lotus pond to check out the lotus flowers. As I was passing a small pond I was attracted by another set of actions. On a Lagerstromia speciose, two Yellow-vented Bulbuls were also busy feeding. I sat on a rock to watch the show with the grayish sky as the backdrop. The rhythm was a bit erratic but the movements were quite similar. The bulbuls would first perch motionless on the tree, looking into the air, like dancer waiting for their musical cue. The insect that flew up was like a music note that triggers the dancers’ action. Suddenly one of them would take off followed by the other. Sometimes both of them might take off almost simultaneously. The beautiful moves comprised of take offs, twists, mid-air freezes and graceful landings. It looked just like a ballet duet except each star had his own routine, without coordination with the other. The show went on and on for 15 minutes.
As the sky got darker the dance came to an end. The dancers were tidying up their ‘dance costume’ on the tree top when I decided to leave them. As I turn, I realized that I was not the only audience of the show. An elderly couple stood right behind me. Judging from the expressions on their faces I presumed they had also enjoyed the show. We exchanged smiles as I walked by.’