10 years on....

Sea-eagles off the shore of Rausu, Shiretoko, Hokkaido, Japan

February 25, 2006


Ten years ago today I enjoyed a boat ride off shore of Rausu, Hokkaido, Shiretoko, Japan. My photos are looking old now but I'm still grateful for the experience.


At 10:20am on February 25, 2006 this adult Steller's Sea-eagle passed by me at the back of the boat. This is frame 1.

This is the second frame. My heart got sucked up into my throat as my camera lost focus.

Pentax *ist DS and Pentax AF ED 400mm f5.6

I'm sorry to bore you. I know by now you know this is still my favourite picture. This is the third frame. I gritted my teeth and the camera just recaptured focus as the eagle passed.This is unedited and uncropped.

The last frame of the encounter. There was no going back.

White-tailed Sea-eagles feeding.

Oji-ro and JPW

White-tailed Sea-eagle
"Oji-ro washi"

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan

January 10, 2015


Enjoyed a late morning at Toyanogata with Mr Honma. He kindly showed me where to see the lone White-tailed Sea-eagle and I was very happy to get such close views despite lots of branches and twigs between us and the subject.

We also saw plenty of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a couple of Japanese Woodpeckers and a number of the Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers. Quite a few Great Tits and Mallard out on the water.

Thank you Mr Honma. A very satisfying outing.




Finally some sun

Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan







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

Big Eagles Japan



This is to announce the availability of my new book, Big Eagles Japan. (Actually, my wife's too -she took some of the pictures at Shiretoko and actually arranged to whole trip)

It's not just something I did overnight and I'd like to explain more through he following timeline:

2003  I developed an interest in Syllabus Design for ESL and I've always wanted to publish my photographs and realised it would be nice to incorporate my photos in beautiful materials for ESL. 

2005 and 2006    I began collecting swan pictures and visited Shiretoko.  I bought expensive software and  began making posters for schools I visited in Niigata. 

2006 - 2008   I was well into my project, then called "Swans and Eagles for the Communicator". At one stage I had over 360 pages and very red eyes. I had to cut it right down for a meeting at a publishers in Australia in 2008. Even with just 80 pages I was told that to self publish it, it would cost $20000au. I was drained and put it on a shelf.

2009    I started this blog.

2012   Still with the book files all over my computer, I decided to have another look into publishers last year and discovered Blurb. I decided to cut the original idea down into two different but related books. So I've finally finished the last draft. 

I'm sorry to my patient followers who must be tired of my same old Shiretoko pictures but this book was my original plan. I started this blog when I was tired of thinking about publishing my book. I am so happy I did, however. I really enjoy the visitors it gets and it's great to share here. 

That is not to say that the book is old or tired. I think I may never better my pictures from Shiretoko in February 2006 and I have carefully constructed the books. I hope both the books are exciting and interesting to ESL/EFL users and to native English speakers. (It is in British English, however)

I am happy that I have a Japanese friend who is helping his grandchildren with their English studies and he thinks my materials are great for Japanese children. I have friends in Oz as well who are excited to show white swans and snow to Australian children. 

Big Eagles Japan is available and an eBook for Apple devices and in print. I have made three print versions available: Be sure to check if there is Blurb in your country before you pay for postage!! It is available internationally however.

Softcover and plain paper about $35, (American dollars)

Hardcover with the best proline photographic paper and linen cover and high quality end sheets. For the collector! About $75 big ones.

and Imagewrap with nice lustre paper. I think this is a nice durable version for children - $54.

I hope both of the books are great introductions to the world of ornithology. If whoever reads this new one finishes it, then runs around their home flapping their arms about like a big eagle, I have succeeded. 

Please let me know your ideas and thoughts. I look forward to them.

I have also had an exciting encounter with a waxwing and will post about it soon. 

Russell.








I have a question..

White-tailed Sea Eagle

Rausu, Shiretoko, Hokkaido, Japan

February 25, 2006


What do you think these eagles are doing?

This is from my Shiretoko trip seven years ago. They are on the ice-floe in the sea. I noticed eagles sometimes sticking their beaks into the ice.

I'm not sure if the ice is fresh water or just frozen sea-water..

I'm grateful for your ideas.


Steller's Sea-eagle