Hall of the Mountain King

Imagine standing high up on a mountain’s edge surrounded by giant old Bunya Pine trees. The wind gently bending the grass at your feet as you stare out into unending distant dream. No voices or traffic sounds, no vibrating phones. From far away you see something large and black cutting through the vast blue without effort. Thank you to Grieg for inspiring the name of the post.

Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope)

These photos were taken at Toyonogata back in July. A tricky subject. Fast flying and rarely came into range.it/they would totally disappear out of range then zoom by. Not sure if there was just one or a couple. Appeared to be chasing smaller dragonflies. I think the best I can do is identify it as a Lesser Emperor, Anax parthenope. I feel there is a tinge of red at the base of the tail which is different to my references though. I’ve included some so-so images just because they are at slightly different angles.

Hunting Crow

Don’t be fooled into thinking that raptors are terrible and evil hunters preying on the beautiful and weak. The most carnage I have seen in Japan has been by the common Oriental Crow (Nee, Carrion Crow). I have seen them take swallows, bats and this finch. They destroy Goshawk nests, push around Steller’s Eagles and pretty much rule the place. They are very active too.

Taiwan Shioya-tombo (Orthetrum japonicum) and White-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum albistyum)

Here are two more dragonflies I found at Fukushimagata yesterday. The first is smallish but similar to a larger one of the same family, Orthetrum. Both are the same colours. I hope I got the IDs right. I have a book on dragonflies of Japan in Japanese but had to search the web for common names. I guess I should give references, but I’m sure if you search, you will find the same.

The above and below show both male and female Orthemtrum japonicum, Taiwan Shioya-tombo.

Below: The larger White-tailed Skimmer. This seemed less common than the smaller.

Golden Flangetail (Sinictinogomphus clavatus)

Went out hunting for dragons early today at Fukushimagata. Captured three or four. The most striking, I argue, were these beauties. I am being bold, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the are Sinictinogomphus clavatus Golden Flangetails. They belong to the club-tail dragonflies. I mostly identified them by the large club at the end of their tails. A stunning species.

Diamond Firetails

Here’s a new bird for my blog. Photos aren’t so great but nice records nonetheless. These are tiny little Diamond Firetails as seen with Mick and Rod at Girraween back in March, 2019.

Nagaoka Hanabi, August 2, 2019

I remember my father in-law driving me around the streets of Nagaoka. He explained the streets were wider than those narrow lanes in many old villages and towns that were spared from the bombing raids of WWII. He, and his wife-to-be, were school-aged children during World War Two. On the night of August 1st, 1945, Nagaoka was bombed heavily from the air. Leaflets at been dropped in the preceding weeks, warning the city to evacuate because of an impending air raid. Nonetheless, I read that over two-hundred school aged children died that night, and well over a thousand adults. Sixty to eighty percent of the city was destroyed.

Now every year, in the first days of August, many travel to witness a magnificent fireworks display along the banks of the Shinano River that passes through the city. The fireworks celebrate another year of peace, and remind us of those lost to war. Like all our lives, the fireworks are bright and brilliant, and shine for the briefest of time.

We enjoyed a hot evening this year and took the bullet train from Niigata to Nagaoka. I learned what it is like to be a grain of sand passing through an hourglass.

Black Dragons

Dragonflies have been becoming more numerous in Niigata since the start of July. I visited the pond in the park near Big Swan at Toyanogata a couple of times. The weather has been humid but not so hot. I photographed several kinds of dragonflies, but my favourites are the black ones. Depending on the angle they shimmer with various hues. Purple, then green or blue and their movements are very graceful.

Atrocalopteryx arata, Haguro Tombo (Black-winged Dragonfly) Actually a large damselfly.

The beautiful damselfly above is almost 7 centimetres in length. I saw just the one and was lucky to get these shots before it disappeared through the green. It was a very nice encounter indeed.

A more common beauty is what reminds me of the “flutterer” group of dragonflies I saw in Australia earlier this year. There are quite a few “Chou Tombo” or “Butterfly Dragonflies” getting around Toyanogata. I first found them there 11 years ago. Rhyothemis fuliginosa. They are really graceful and make me feel like I’m wandering around in a Tomb Raider video game. See the images below:

Rhyothemis fuliginosa,   Chou Tombo,  Butterfly Dragonfly

Rhyothemis fuliginosa, Chou Tombo, Butterfly Dragonfly

I’ve captured a number of other dragons too, and the season has a long way to go. Let’s hope I get more.