Sunny and Dull


Niigata, Japan

Nikon D800

December 28, 2014

Welcome back to this blog for a new year.

After whinging on Phil’s blog that I had to work on Christmas Day, I then had 9 days off over New Year. (Sorry for the whinge, Phil).

Of those 9 days, just one; Sunday, December 28th, was fine and even sunny. All the other days were plagued with heavy winds and rain. -Not even decent snow, which I find more bearable to be out in.

SUNNY: On the sunny day, I went to Fukushimagata and wandered about ankle deep in very white, clean snow. The bright sunlight reflecting upon it really made for nice lighting, especially when birds flew overhead. The one thing that didn’t excite me however was that it was quiet for birds. All the accipiters and harriers of past weeks had gone as well as many of the waterbirds that I guess had attracted the raptors. 

I did see a single White-tailed Sea-eagle sitting in a tree across the wetlands but it was far away and only visible with binoculars. Hence, December 28th was good for a healthy walk in nice scenery but not exciting for bird pics.

Then the week was very bleak and miserable. Perfect for DVDs and fluffy slippers. When Friday, January 2nd arrived we headed to the shops for the Japanese New Year Sales. After about a year of considering it, I bought a Nikon D7100. Exciting, huh? I got a nice deal and the kind staff at Yodobashi Camera gave me some cool presents; not one, but two real Nikon bags. Expensive accessories when you have to pay for them. I am very pleased. 

I still love my D800 but there are times and places when and where I just don’t need full-frame, such as vast wetlands and kestrels along the Shinano River. I always just felt too far away with a 400mm lens on full-frame and almost always used crop mode. I realised a golfer doesn’t meander around the course with a single club so I am happy to expand my kit. I’ve read many nice things about the D7100. I’d looked at it often but was nervous of its small size and light weight. I came to the conclusion that people don’t complain that their iPads are getting smaller and more light weight.

According to my weather app, Saturday was supposed to be sunny but again the light was poor and and small but windy snowstorms were again more common than birds. I still went out for a walk with my new camera….

DULL: I went to Toyanogata and meandered ‘neath dark trees without any good bird chances. Finally near a waterway I sighted a very pale thrush-like bird and struggled to get it focussed in a very “twiggy” bush. I set the focussing system to single-spot focus but the bird flew out the back and I never saw it again. I was enjoying listening to music with earphones connected to my phone and shrugged the chance away as I stumbled onto a walk-bridge. I looked upstream and immediately picked up a peregrine in seventh gear and accelerating coming right at me. No time to think about camera settings, just point and shoot! …..Messed up! What an idiot! What was I doing? Dreaming about the place for hours just to mess up a fleeting chance. I guess there are lessons to be learned. A rough test for a new camera; a speeding peregrine in poor light, with the camera set to single-spot focus and earphones pulling at my ears as music fogged my mind. It’s such rare chances I want a responsive camera setup for. I just wasn’t expecting it first up. I probably won’t get such a chance again for some time.

I continued around Toyanogata for another couple of hours but snowstorms outnumbered photo opportunities. I know times are quiet when I spend time photographing corvids. Still happy to have time off and get fresh air. Will have to be more serious when I set out again.

Greater White-fronted Goose

Bean Goose

The new observatory at Fukushimagata. Very open. Not really a "Hide"

Black-eared Kite
Looks nice with the light beaming upwards
(above and below)

Grey Heron 
(Above and below)

There were many dinosaur footprints about the place.

Carrion Crow

The light reflecting up from the snow even brings out the details of crows.

A mix of Geese

Great Cormorant

Another dark bird that looks attractive with the light reflecting upwards

Peregrine Falcon

First pictures with Nikon D7100 (cropped)

Photographic Tips: Don't use single-spot focus! or Bose SoundTrue in-ear  headphones when trying to photograph birds in flight.

(The headphones are great otherwise)

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan

January 3, 2015

unedited and uncropped

Brown-eared Bulbul
(above and below)

Bean Goose


Japanese White-eye


DULL: Black-eared Kite

Carrion Crow

Toyanogata...time to go home

Bulbul in the Shadows

Brown-eared Bulbul

Junsai-ike, Niigata, Japan

May 26, 2013

Nikon D800 AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm VR handheld

Click on the image for a closer view!

 Got these pics last weekend. Very quiet as most of the spring migrants have gone. It seems we're now left with the summer regulars. I've posted these photos because I'm happy to see green after a long grey winter. I'm also pretty happy with the work my D800 does in the shadows. I usually take raw but the originals of these are j-pegs. I've sharpened a couple as I didn't focus them properly to start with. 

Golden Week 2013 post 1

View at an inlet up along the Shinano River Niigata, Japan

April 20, 2013

The first two pics were taken last week but hopefully this is the first post for this year's Golden Week. We just had a three day weekend with Monday off. Two more work days for me til we get a big four days off. Hope the weather will let me do another Golden Week post in a few days.

Japanese White-eye

Junsai-ike, Niigata City, Japan

April 27, 2013

Brown-eared Bulbul

Junsai-ike, April 27

Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker

Junsai-ike, April 27th.

Tulips alongside the Shinano River, Niigata City late afternoon April 27th.

Tortoises on the Rocks (UPDATED)

Brown-eared Bulbul

Junsai-ike, Niigata, Japan
May 13, 2012

Nikon 1 V1 + FT1+ Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm VR 

UPDATE: Thank you to IsuzuGeek and Mick Atzeni for confirming that these ‘turtles’ are Red-eared Sliders. I was happily greeted to the new day (May 16th) with a comment from IsuzuGeek (check below) and an email from Mick (with links to this and ...this). I was excited to find out what they are, but a little disappointed to find they are an introduced species. (They are from the United States). Anyway, I have been able to add Red-eared Slider to my TAGS on this blog and have been given a flag to further lead me. I have found this link to a webpage on TURTLES of Japan and found their Japanese name is “Mississippi-Aka-Mimi-Game”. (Is that easy to say in a sentence?) Of puzzlement to me however, was that they are “Turtles”. They looked like Tortoises to me! I learned when I was a kid that “turtles had flippers and tortoises had claws”……This is apparently of the Australian view and dialect and differs to both British and American definitions for colloquial use, as outlined at this Wikipedia page. Other pages I found give cloudy definitions of ‘turtle vs tortoise’. It’s good to keep learning. What I thought of as a mediocre post as been a nice lesson for me. Thanks again, Mick and IsuzuGeek and to all who keep me honest in viewing this blog.

Original post below:

What do birdwatchers do on Mother's Day? Why, go birdwatching of course!
Had another quiet birding outing yesterday, this time at Junsai-ike. I failed getting a male Narcissus Flycatcher and was told about the presence of a female Mugimaki Flycatcher but didn't see it. All the birders we met talked of the quietness for birding. I think there were birds around but they were high up in the canopy. The air was cool but the sun warm. 

All of these pics were with the Nikon V1, FT1 adaptor and the Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm VR. Actually, I enjoyed this light weight combo and think the results are pretty ok. Nice for a walk in the park. 

Last week I walked past a couple of children admiring the green-coloured trees. It is a pretty time now with bright green plants and purple flowers and fine days. Maybe just 4 more months and the green will go away again.

Red-eared Slider

Original post: I'm sorry I don't know what this tortoise is. 

...with Moorhen

Azure-winged Magpie


Above and below: Brown-eared Bulbul

My best Bush Warbler pic for the day.