A walk around 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.

Steller no Cry

At 59cm, Large-billed Crows (also known as Jungle Crows, Thick-billed Crows or Japanese Crows) are 5 centimetres bigger than Australian Ravens. In this movie we see them harass an adult Steller's Sea-eagle. We can see and hear the eagle cry-out at one point. Sadly, I just used the Nikon 1 V1 in-built mic with settings for wind reduction so the sound is soft. When I was standing there, it was quite loud and clear. The movie was taken on February 21, 2015 in Niigata, Japan.

I'm sorry, it's not really a nice movie so to cheer you up, below is a photo at a restaurant I recently visited in Niigata City, Japan. 

Jack Be Nifty

Peregrine Falcon harassed by Large-billed Crow

Nagaoka, Niigata, Japan

February 14, 2015

Last week I took a movie of a Steller's Sea-eagle being bothered by Large-billed Crows. This week it was a Peregrine's turn.

Actually I was lucky to get these shots and would have missed the falcon if the crows hadn't cried out.

We visited Nagaoka and I took a brief walk near the Shinano River and I was excited to spot a White-tailed Eagle in the distance with my binoculars. I was engrossed in the eagle and ignoring everything around me, when I heard the crows behind me. I spun round to see them chasing an Eastren Buzzard then pass it off to move onto this Peregrine. Again, raptors everywhere. Nice for an hour's birding.

I'm pleased with my D7100 thus far. It caught on to the birds quickly despite their speed. If I had a concern it's the buffer. It's supposed to take 6 frames a second but the buffer seems to be full just after 3 raw shots. It's a nifty little camera though, at half the weight of the D800. I guess I have to be choosy when to take the shots.

Return of the Great Ice Eagle 2015

Steller's Sea-eagle

Niigata, Japan

February 7, 2015

There were about four cars there when Mr Honma and I arrived about 8:30, but about four and a half hours later when we were leaving we counted 20 or more (Not including the ones that had come and gone and were about to arrive) 10 along one narrow dirt road and some 12 along another.

In between the cars were large Italian tripods holding up huge Japanese camera lenses. The subject that lured us all sitting quietly up on top of a large power-line tower. An adult Steller's Sea-eagle. As every year passes it seems the act of capturing images of their presence is growing more popular. We get just a few as they make their way from the north in search for food, but they are certainly celebrities here.

We, in blogland, are spoiled by the images we see every year from Stu's Hakodate Birding Blog up north. They are few here and only for a short time.

It was a fine Saturday and I too, stood at a tripod, ignoring I needed a toilet break and a mouthful of water. For more than four hours we didn't move. Only when the eagle wagged its tail or moved its head did oohs and ahhs sound and the chatter of camera shutters echoed about me.

Looking at it so high up just doesn't excite me as a photographer but I don't take for granted the opportunity to be here and see such a beautiful bird. I tried using my V1 attached to my little Nikon ED50 scope on took quite a few videos and have tried to present a sample here. I hope you like them. They are not perfect but it's one small step to share the experience. 

Mr Honma and I left before the eagle and I'm sure we missed something exciting!

Shake it!

Bothersome Large-billed Crows

Stretch it!

And...just one more stretch!

Kestrels and Crows

Common Kestrel 
also known as Eurasian Kestrel

Niigata City, June -August 2012

Been lucky enough to know of kestrels living and nesting at a cement factory along the Shinano River in ever since I've been here.  This year they raised just two but other years I have photographed them with 4 or maybe 5. I don't remember exactly although it seemed to be a huge family in the past. (I'll have to find my old photographs) I'm guessing the smaller number this year is due to the eradication of trees along the river -less habitat for food. Also in the past I'd seen them with mice or voles but this year only sparrows for prey.

I just visited them four or five times throughout the summer and got these pics. On the last visit they had been overtaken by both Carrion and Large-billed Crows but they showed great courage trying to chase the much larger birds away. The photos were dull and taken well after 6 in the evening. They're also usually just a bit too far for my 400mm lens to reach and I don't want to go on to the private property.