Out of the Fog

Japanese Sparrowhawk

Mount Yamamoto, Ojiya, Niigata, Japan

September 24 & 25, 2016

I have a sore neck and tired arms. I had been looking forward to the raptor migration all summer long. I had also been browsing bigger and longer lenses to get me a bit closer to the action. I dreamed about big 500 f4s worth more than 10 grand, but considered the Sigma and Tamron 600mm zooms. I thought about the Nikon D500 which just looks gorgeous for birding. In a rush of blood, last Thursday I picked up a Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f5.6. Would 500mm be worth it coming from 400mm? Well, I think so, but just the extra 900 grams did me in. My wife said I just need to build up my strength. She is usually right. I attached the lens to a Black Rapid harness that I already had amongst my gear and it was comfortable enough. Anyway, I took it with two bodies, Nikon D7100 and Nikon D800 to the mountains. Man, was it foggy on Saturday but it lightened up on Sunday. 

Anyway, I'm happy with the kit and the results despite the mist and had a good two days. We mostly saw Oriental Honey Buzzards, Grey-faced Buzzards and Japanese Sparrowhawks.

By Sunday, I realised that the butterflies and dragonflies outnumbered the raptors and briefly had a go at them too. I was sceptical handholding the big lens and wasn't sure I was handling it right, but I was fairly impressed with the results when I downloaded them. Even the dragonflies look ok.

I think I'd be better taking a monopod in the future.

I saw a Facebook page a couple of years ago called Hachi-Kuma. "Hachi" is honey and "Kuma" is bear in Japanese. "Honey-bear" is the Japanese name for Oriental Honey Buzzard. They tracked one from Aomori at the top of Honsho, down through Niigata and onwards to islands just off the coast of north Western Australia, ...and back again!


Grey-faced Buzzard (left) and male Oriental Honey Buzzard (right)

I yanked my camera out of the bag to get this shot just when I arrived on Saturday..they quickly disappeared into the cloud.

Grey-faced Buzzard

female Oriental Honey Buzzard

Saturday...very dull and foggy

Japanese Sparrowhawk

Peregrine Falcon

This feisty Japanese Sparrowhawk (left) really gave the poor, innocent Peregrine Falcon a going over.

Oriental Honey Buzzard


I think this is a Japanese Sparrowhawk. (The head looks large though?)
...there are also chances of Eurasian Sparrowhawks and Chinese Goshawks of which the juveniles are pretty similar.

Luehdorfia japonica are found in the mountains of Japan according to my Butterfly App.