Goshawks 2016

Northern Goshawks

Niigata, Japan

June 19, 2016

Mr Honma and I went for a quick look at the goshawk nest this morning. I have been impatiently wanting to check it out but we have been waiting for the chicks to leave the nest.   We were a bit early with two just out of the nest and one still in the nest. I only spent about four minutes to capture the female and chick in the nest. The mum obviously didn't like attention so we left them alone to spend some time getting portraits of a single fledgling about 50 metres away. 

These pics are heavily cropped from the D800.

I also found the Kestrels along the Shinano River with 3 fledglings a couple of weeks ago. I got so-so pics but will post a brief story about them later.

Sakura Along the Shinano River 2016


Shinano River, Niigata, Japan

Sony RX100iii

April 2016

Here are some pics from along the Shinano River in Niigata City taken the last couple of weeks. I have been in gear-head mode. Most of these pics are with the Sony RX100iii. A superb little camera.

I also used my Nikon D800 with Nikkor AF-S 105mm 2.8 VR as well as some shots with Nikon D7100 with Nikkor AF-S 80-400mm 5.6 VR. I also took some nice shots with my Nikon P300 and my iPhone 6! - but I haven't included them just because I can't find the folder I downloaded them to. Don't you hate that? No editing has been done to these pics. I just exported them from Aperture to j-peg at 1024pixels. Not even a watermark this time.

nikon D800 with Nikkor AF-S 105mm 2.8 VR

Nikon D7100 and Nikkor AF-S 80-400mm 5.6 VR

Whoops! This is at Junsai-ike, Niigata.

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!

White-tailed Sea-eagles in Niigata City

White-tailed Sea-eagles (male with the fish)

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan
All photographs February to March 4, 2012

Range: 200 metres. Cropped image:
 Nikon 1 V1, FT1 + Nikkor AF-S 300mm f4 and Nikon 1.4xTC II on flimsy tripod.
Equal to 1134mm

 I've been learning more about White-tailed Sea-eagles visiting Niigata in the Winter months. They're not abundant but they can be found at various locations around Niigata City: Toyanogata, Fukushimagata, and Sakata all have a couple each. It's not easy to get close views however, other than a lucky fly-by. I've had just a handful of such encounters which are usually very fleeting. Usually they're sitting out of reach in the middle of an island (as above) or out in the marshes and wetlands. I guess that's the way big eagles like it.

Anyway with such distances, I experimented with different equipment. I normally don't have good long-lens technique nor handle a tripod well so please don't judge the equipment by these images. On the days I visited the wind was quite strong and the cameras weren't held steady on my cheap flimsy tripod. I guess I should spend a few thou and get a nice heavy Gitzo or such.

Never intended to be a Nikon fanboy but I'm happy with the stuff I've got. Still love my D300 the most.

Uncropped image with the above equipment. I think ok for 200 metres distance.
The background is the park on the other side of the lake about a kilometre away. 

Nikon 1 V1, FT1adaptor with Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm f5.6 VR on monopod.
Equal to 810mm

A nice light combo. I think I'd like to try it on closer, passerine subjects.

Digiscoped with Nikon P300, FSB-8 adaptor, Nikon Fieldscope ED50, eyepiece 40x W DS on flimsy tripod.
Range 200 metres. Sharpened but uncropped.

View of the island in the lake with Big Swan Stadium in the background. Big Swan Stadium was built for the 2002 World Cup. I think England actually played there.
Nikon P300

Nikon D300 with Nikkor 80-400mm VR @400mm
bird on the left is a Black-eared Kite

Nikon D300 with Nikkor 80-400mm @80mm

D300 with 80-400 again.

Nikon D300 with Nikkor AF-S 300mm F4 + 1.4x TCII
Note Big Swan at the top left.

Nikon D300 with 300mm f4 and 1.4TC again, cropped.

The White-tails at Fukushimagata, Niigata, as seen from the observertory. About 250 metres.