Happiness


Japanese Green Pheasant

Shinano River, Niigata City, Japan

Last week



My plan to photograph all the gull species along the Shinano River was totally missed as summer has arrived and the best time for gulls here is March/April. I wanted to especially have a closer look at the Black-headed Gulls that pass through at that time. I think the numbers vary year to year. I will have to wait until next year to see them again.

Other news was seeing the peregrines mating on a building near the prefectural office back in March.  I didn’t think much of it to be honest as I’ve seen them doing it in before but nothing came of it. I think they practice birth control. 

I had a heavy heart when listening to Mr Honma talk with his friend about the peregrines at the prefectural office. They seem to be expecting great things from the falcons this summer but I heard that both of them found kestrel remains beneath the peregrine eyrie. I was alerted to this as it’s just about kilometre away that I have been watching kestrels raise young every summer since 2005. I have been visiting the cement factory a couple of times a week since early April but found everything was quiet there. Last Saturday afternoon had a small change when I found a single kestrel sitting atop a rusty tower. It stayed for just a minute before flying off up river and out of sight. I thought it may have just been a visit of nostalgia. 

The next morning was fine so I went back. Everything was again very quiet for about 15 minutes until a crow arrived at a nearby factory. The radars must have been switched on out of my view as suddenly a pair a kestrel fighters emerged from the cement factory and bravely warded the menace away. The fighters returned to their base flurrying their wings down and proclaiming that this is their territory. “Ye, be warned!”


Maybe signs of happy days ahead.






Black-headed Gull

Shinano River

End of April, 2014




Peregrine Falcon

Niigata Prefectural Office

Japanese Bumble Bee

Junsai-ike, Niigata





* UPDATED* A new bird for me. I was told, this thrush was called "Akihara".
I looked it up and found it was called, "Brown-headed Thrush" in English.
My pictures look different to my guides, however. >>
*Stu, from Hakodate Birding has identified it as an "Eyebrowed Thrush"
Thanks Stu!


Blue-and-white Flycatcher

Junsia-ike, Niigata

Eastern Crowned Leaf Warbler

Junsai-ike

Golden Week Birds Niigata 2014


I guess this is a female Narcissus Flycatcher

Junsai-ike, Niigata, Japan

May 3, 2014


Don’t let these beautiful birds fool you, I’ve been rather miserable for the last week. We had a nice start to the four day Golden Week holidays last Saturday morning, arriving at Junsai-ike before 8:30am. It was nice sitting beneath the blooming trees but most of these photographs were taken in about a 20 minute period just after 1:30pm when I could see small insects coming out of the trees and bringing the birds. 

We went to a nice restaurant that evening and my nose began to run.

I don’t remember the two middle days of the holidays but I did lots of sneezing and couldn’t sleep well for a blocked nose. 

Tuesday was the last day of the holidays so we went back to Junsai-ike for more but I got only a single shot of the Blue-and-white Flycatcher sitting on a small waterfall just 5 minutes after we arrived - the final picture in this set, which I have framed for you.

We sat, walked and watched again to about 1:30, but no more birds appeared. In the meantime my cold was becoming unbearable with sneezing and shivers and running nose. I took off my glasses and gasped to see them coated in yellow, sticky, dusty, pollen. Time to call the holidays to an end. I realised, it wasn't a cold.



Blue-and-white Flycatcher

female

Blue-and-white Flycatcher

male



Narcissus Flycatcher

male

Eastern Crowned Leaf-Warbler


Blue-and-white Flycatcher

male

May 6, 2014

Black-faced Bunting

May 6, 2014

"Oruri" - "The Colour Earth" Junsai-ike, May 6, 2014

Golden Week 2013 post 3


Narcissus Flycatcher

Junsai-ike, Niigata, Japan

May 4, 2013


 This is the final installment for Golden Week 2013. It is raining now and I have to iron my socks for tomorrow. 

Actually we had nice weather the last few days and I saw some nice birds, animals and places. Also ate and drank heaps. There are quite a few flycatchers about at the moment, though shy for the camera most of the time. Saw quite a few Blue-and-Whites but they stayed higher up in the canopy than Narcissus. Both species seen at Junsai-ike and Toyanogata for the record.



Great Spotted Woodpecker

Junsai-ike

May 5, 2013

Eastern Crowned Leaf-Warbler

Junsai-ike

May 4

Blue-and-White Flycatcher

Junsai-ike

May 4

Red-eared Sliders

Junsai-ike

May 4 and 5


Asian Brown Flycatcher

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan

May 6

Children's Day Celebrations

Kamo, Niigata

May 4


Siberian Chipmunk
Actually, this was at Lisu-Koen which is a fenced enclosure with lots and lots of Lisu running about the place.

"Lisu" = Squirrel, but I think they are chipmunks.

(Should have claimed it was wild)

Kamo-yama Park

May 4

Kamo-yama Koen (Park)
and below..

May 4










The Polite and Social Birder.

Blue-and-white Flycatcher

Usually, well at least in the old days, I used to go out looking for photographic subjects alone, however in recent years I have discovered the benefits of social birding, both in Australia and Japan. It’s just in the last year in Japan that I have been going out looking for birds with an elder “Birding Friend”. It’s interesting how my bird list has increased through “word-of-mouth-know-abouts”. My birding friend meets someone who knows someone else who sighted a something in a particular place. I have discovered the residences of Long-eared Owls and Northern Goshawks in city parks as well as new places that are often regarded as places of interest for migrants or other natural features.


Blue-and-white Flycatcher


This approach certainly has its benefits however, there are behavioural or cultural adaptations required to my usual methods of observation and photography. That is, when we go to an informed place of interest, we are not the only ones there. There are usually troops of bird photographers preceding us. This is good in that we can get live updates on what’s been seen recently in the area (There is no surprise in finding something special) and enthusiastic picture takers kindly insist on showing us what they have recorded on their digital screens. It’s interesting to see the latest of Japanese birding technology being used in the field. I enjoy looking at the various scopes, cameras and lenses.



Above and below: Blue-and-white Flycatcher in flight.


The funny thing is what to do when a subject of interest appears. Everybody shuffles into formation. Of course there are better positions than others, depending on lighting, backgrounds and angles. I often find I’m more interested in watching the photographers in action than the birds and I don’t really feel comfortable with trying to move into a position. Does my big head get in the way of someone’s lens or will I trip over a tripod and send a million yen, nano-coated, 600mm lens bouncing on the ground? Most people rush into a row ‘uplight’ but I tend to stand back ‘downlight’ in the open. The problem is, I don’t seem to be getting any good pics from such outings.

Eastern Crowned Leaf-Warbler.
(post-edited: Name changed Thanks to observations by Unravel. See comments below)

I guess I have to enjoy the advantages of new discoveries, (both of nature and culture) but adapt and develop new approaches and techniques with my camera.


Above and below: Japanese Grosbeak


It's nice to see new birds. All photos taken on Sunday, April 4 2010, at Junsai-ike, Niigata, Japan.