Milky Way Rising

March 23, 2018   Last weekend, the weather was clear, so I drove to where the light pollution was not so bad. Up on the mountain, it was a bit windy, but I found a place that was sheltered from most of the wind up next to an abandoned shed, where I could point my camera to the southeast where the Milky Way would rise. At around 1:30,  it’s edge began to emerge from the top of the dark treeline. The camera’s built in intervalometer proceeded to take about 350 photographs as soon as I depressed the shutter. I sat down in the chair I had brought, covered myself with a warm blanket, and sat back to enjoy the show. 

  After about three hours, with my feet becoming numb from the cold, I called it a night. Wiped off the frost from my camera bag, loaded my stuff into the car, and drove down the mountain, back to civilization and my warm bed.

The joy of plum blossom viewing is only surpassed by the viewing of the cherry blossoms here in Japan. The plum blossoms emerge about a month before the cherry blossoms, and wherever there are plum trees blooming, one can often find the beautiful Japanese White Eye. With their lilting songs and olive green colors, they are truly one of the harbingers of spring. I found many of them in among the plum trees that line the path through the Citizen’s Forest next to the foot of Shioji Mountain. They sip the nectar and eat the insects that begin to appear as the days get warmer.  Ubiquitous as they are, I never tire of watching and photographing them.

              (click on images for full-size view)

 

Waders and divers, mostly.

March 4, 2018   

I spent a lot of late winter around rivers and estuaries, primarily looking for wintering water birds. I found a small flock of Black-faced Spoonbills (Kurotsuraherasagi) wintering at Tataragawa estuary.

black-faced spoonbill, kurotsura-herasagi

A Ruddy-breasted Crake returned to the same stretch of Homan River, near my home. I was able to get a better photograph of it this time using a blind. They are quite secretive, generally foraging only in the morning and evening, usually near reedy areas where they hide during the day.

This winter I photographed four species of water birds I have never seen before. I include them here. Smew (Mikoaisa), Oyster Catcher (Miyakodori), Eurasian Curlew (Daishiyakushigi), and Shelduck (Tsukushigamo)

Some Tufted ducks (Kinkuro Hajiro) coming in with landing gear down. This photo, and the Smew photo were both taken at a large pond fittingly named Duck Pond on Shikanoshima Peninsula.

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This weasel (itachi) was trying to catch some Japanese carp from a small pond up on Yasukougen. (If you look closely, you can see it licking it’s chops in anticipation!) I couldn’t catch it in the act, but I heard a big splash as the carp dashed off from under the boardwalk. The weasel came up empty-pawed and bounded off over the hill.

    Last, but not least, a waterfall (Gotono Falls, in a previous post) about an hour drive from my place.  It was a rainy day, with not a soul in sight.

click on images for a larger view.