Mt Yamamoto Raptor Migration 2018

Eastern Buzzard

Mt Yamamoto, Ojiya, Niigata, Japan

September 24, 2018

We made it to Mt Yamamoto briefly this weekend and we saw a number of thermals carrying some raptors. There were a heap only briefly between 9-9:45am yesterday morning and I didn't take as many photos as I should have. I was saving my film for more later, which didn't come. Some patchy weather at times too. Anyway, it only happens once a year so good to see it even briefly. In past years, I got more sparrowhawks and occasional falcons but this time I only photographed Eastern Buzzards, Grey-faced Buzzards, and Oriental Honey Buzzards. Maybe the latter will end up on islands off the coast of Western Australia in about a month's time.

Grey-faced Buzzard

Oriental Honey Buzzard

On the Move

Eastern Buzzard
looks young

Sakata, Niigata, Japan

September 19, 2018

I was lucky enough to have a few days off mid-week this week and the weather was much better than the previous weekend. Sunny and warm, but not too hot.

I went to Sakata yesterday and encountered a few raptors on the move: a pair of peregrines, one osprey, usual Black-eared Kites and my first encounter with an Eastern Buzzard for the coming cold months.  It was nice to see them as I think I'll miss seeing the raptor migration this year from Mt Yamamoto.

There are still lots of insects but I spared you from them. Many the same and others I'd have to identify. It might be a good exercise for me on a rainy day but I'm not in the mood today. I walked between rice fields and large numbers of green grasshoppers parted like the sea as I moved. Not good for the farmers I'd say.

I set my camera for j-pegs last week and forgot to reset it back to RAW and although my tired old computer found it easier to edit the files I'm not so excited by green/purple casting and a soapy finish to the images. 

Sorry, I've failed to put subheadings to my images. Maybe I will edit them sometime in the future. I have to attend to a needy, howling dog at the moment.

Buzzin' Raptors

Common Kingfisher

Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

March 9, 2014

Been very quite here in Niigata the last few weeks. On March 1st, I walked around Toyanogata for about 5 hours and got a couple of poor pics of a Great Tit. 

This Saturday, the 8th, was fun for watching raptors buzzing about Fukushimagata. Unfortunately all were a bit out of reach of any decent pictures but I enjoyed seeing something in the sky almost all of the time. When I got there, I saw a goshawk land near some reeds and I stalked the long way around to get up close. Stupidly I was looking left when I stepped out, knowing my subject was to my right and sure enough I watched an adult goshawk disappear along the water bank and didn't get a shot. At that time I stood scratching my head and looked around to see several Eastern Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, an Eastern Buzzard, some Black-eared Kites, and behind me, a White-tailed Sea-eagle all on the wing 360 degrees around me. All were too far but I waited for something to get close. I realised, however, that when I was watching a harrier come closer in front of me, the eagle doubled back and was very close, but into the sun just behind me. It was an afternoon like this. Very windy and the raptors were just hanging around. A twist of a tail and they were gone or would appear without warning.

I realised there were no geese and I only heard some Whooper Swans when I returned on Sunday. Sunday was quieter for the raptors but I found numerous kingfishers calling to each other and flying back and forth and disappearing into the reeds. I worry about this behaviour when I know the locals will set fire to the winter foliage soon. I was assured such fires have no effect on birds etc. People seem to know everything. 

I've been using My D800 with the new af-s 80-400mm VR but feel it's just been too short this year both in Australia and here. The D800 is a full-frame camera so I took out the D300 on Sunday. Wasn't happy with it either. I either have to get a bigger lens or just go smaller to mirrorless systems such as the V1. 

Last year I had a poster of a Nikkor 300mm 2.8 lens on my fridge with the price tag of 521000 yen. I spent my money on the new 80-400 instead. Now I wish I'd gotten the 300 2.8 but the price has increased by about $1500 to 651000. It's just a price increase without any update to the lens. Things are supposed to go up more next month too.

Maybe I should just spend money on a new pair of bowling shoes.

We had a minute's silence at work today for the three year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake. 

The bird observatory is being rebuilt

First Buzzard


Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

September 2013

We've had a long summer this year in Niigata. The last real bird adventure for me was watching the Northern Goshawk fledglings back in June. It has been quiet ever since, so much Australian content has been added to this blog in that time.

I've been trying to find the signs of seasonal migrations but mostly I have just found the lingering signs of summer. I have been searching Fukushimagata, Sakata, Mt Yamamoto, and Junsai-ike the last few weeks and uploaded my findings now. Mostly all the images are summer.

This week has seen the biggest typhoon to hit Japan in ten years and the temperature is dramatically dropping so things should look different in the coming weeks. The buzzard I have posted here is from last Sunday morning and is a sign the cooler months are arriving. I have only seen them in summer high up in the mountains. I also saw a sprinkling of ducks with a dash of distant Bean Geese at Fukushimagta on Sunday.

In the dark hours of Tuesday morning I heard swans flying over my bed. It will be a long winter next.

Fukushimagata, Niigata

Tiny Tortoises



Sakata, Niigata

Giant Tadpoles


Junsai-ike, Niigata

Help needed to identify this chick, please?


Eastern Buzzard




Little Tern


The observatory at Fukushimagata is to be torn down over winter and rebuilt for spring.
Too bad everyone wants to use it at winter the most. I can see the top deck is already being dismantled.

White Wagtail with dragonfly





Too bad about the dirt spots on this one :(

Eastern Buzzard Overhead

Eastern Buzzard

Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

A series of an Eastern Buzzard passing overhead, taken a few weeks ago. I've been seeing a few of these around the past month mostly when I don't have my camera. I'm always happy to see one as it is a bird we don't have in Australia. In fact we don't have any buteos in oz, and anyway it's pretty cool looking.