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.


























Cormorants in the Rain

Great Cormorant

Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

December 20, 2017


I've learned living in Niigata, that if you don't go out in the rain, you just don't go out. 

I think there are three possible cormorants to see in Niigata, but I just call them all "Great Cormorants". I must study the ones by the sea more carefully.







A walk around Fukushimagata

Fukushimagata

Niigata, Japan

May 15, 2016


 It was early summer out there today. I went for bit of a walk around Fukushimagata. Didn't really find anything new. The bird of the day was "Grey Heron". They were everywhere. Also spot-billed Duck and Mallard. A small sprinkling of egrets and other small herons but I didn't take any pics. 

I also saw Oriental Goldfinch, Oriental Reed Warblers, sparrows, Chestnut-cheeked Starlings, and Black-eared Kites. I realised today that I haven't seen Ospreys here for a least 3 years now. They were always here before that during summer. I think the trees are less now.




This Large-billed Crow didn't like me walking near its nest.








Sunny and Dull


Fukushimagata

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
Toyanogata
(above and below)


Bean Goose

Toyanogata

Japanese White-eye

Toyanogata

DULL: Black-eared Kite

Carrion Crow

Toyanogata...time to go home

Curious Cormorants


Grey Heron arrives behind an Eastern Great White Egret (I hope)

Sakata, Niigata, Japan

November 23, 2013

Looked for birds on Saturday morning at Sakata and again at Fukushimagata briefly yesterday afternoon (Sunday). 

At Sakata we saw lots of Great Cormorant, Spot-billed Duck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal and Whooper Swan but didn't get any better pics than the two here of Grey heron and Great White Egret. To be honest I'm complacent around Egrets as there are heaps in Niigata and in South-east Queensland where I do most of my birding, so I don't really study one from another so I hope I called this one ok? We also saw distant raptors, being, Northern Goshawk (young one), Eastern Buzzard, Eastern Harrier, and Black-eared Kite. Plus some sparrows.

Fukushimagata listed 1600 Bean Goose and 1600 Whooper Swan on their noticeboard for the day. We also heard we missed a single White-tailed Sea-eagle seen earlier in the day. I had a nice view of a young Northern Goshawk sitting in a tree with an Eastern Harrier but my camera was too weak for a decent shot. A guy with a 500 f4 showed me his LCD screen leaving me a bit envious. Anyway I had a good look through a scope.  "L"

Actually the forecast for yesterday was for rain in the morning but it was a pearler all day so we had a nice unplanned outing.

Happy to see the cricket going along as I expected as well.




I'm guessing the "white-bellied" cormorant is a juvenile.
It looked larger and different to the others but I'm assuming all are Great Cormorants.
Reminds me of Pied Cormorant from home.
Wish I could get closer and it was sticking its face into itself so much.

Fukushimagata, Niigata.

November 24, 2013



Bean Geese


Above and below: typical afternoon views of Fukushimagata.