I have been living in Western Japan now for some time now, where I own and operate an English school. I am an amateur bird photographer, and this site is primarily for sharing my photos and love of birds with others. I also enjoy cycling, playing the piano, and woodworking. May the wind always be at your back and below your wings.
February 16, 2021 One of the harbingers of spring in Japan are the blooming of the plum blossoms. If the weather is fine, the plum trees typically start blooming around the middle of January, and usually reach full bloom (mankai) from the middle of February.
Two species of birds that enjoy sipping nectar from the blossoms are the Japanese white-eye (Meijiro), and the Brown-eared bulbul (Hiyodori). Important pollinators of the plum tree, as most insect pollinators are not active yet.
These images were taken at Tenpai Lake.
The nimble Japanese white-eye often feeds upside down.
The Brown-eared bulbul also can feed inverted, but is not nearly as nimble as the White-eye, as the following video shows.
February 9, 2021 Last Sunday morning, I went to Wajiro estuary in Hakata Bay. I was lucky to see some Oystercatchers (Miya kodori). A rather rare transient in this area. Common Shelducks (Tsukushigamo) were also there. Like their name suggests, they are common. They forage in shallow water by upending and head-dipping, but mostly by moving their bills back and forth through the water (scything), or by dabbling and digging on mudflats. I observed a few of them feeding in a style I have never seen before. They were stamping their feet rapidly, apparently to bring up prey to the surface of the mud. Other ducks do this on land to cause earthworms to come out of the ground. Perhaps it mimics the vibration of the rising tides, to bring up the small mollusks and other invertebrates that feed in shallow water.
As it was rather cloudy, I rode the bike back to where I had parked the car (no parking around Wajiro) at Tataragawa, about 7 kilometers away. When I arrived, the sun had started coming out from behind the clouds. I noticed the same small group of Black-faced Spoonbills I had photographed the weekend before (previous post) and took a short video.
They afternoon of the same day. Some images taken at Homan river near my home. A Pale Thrush (Shirohara), Common Kingfisher (Kawasemi), and Rufous Turle Dove (Kijibato) taken during the golden hour.
February 2, 2021 There are at least eight important coastal areas along the Ariaki Sea in Fukuoka prefecture that provide shelter and food to many animal, plant, and bird species. Hakata Bay also has estuaries and tidal flats that are equally important. These tidal flats (higata) are important stopovers for resting and feeding for many bird species during migration, and are also wintering grounds for some.
One such bird is the Black-faced Spoonbill (Kurotsura-Herasagi). Over the past ten years, I have noticed an increase in their numbers at Tataragawa Estuary, which is also one of their wintering grounds. Recently I learned through the WBSJ (Wild Bird Society of Japan) that the nationally protected Wajiro Tidal Flats area six kilometers to the east, has been extended to encompass Tataragawa Estuary.
These areas are vital to the preservation of many species. Unfortunately, these refuges are not permanently protected. Rather, their protection status is extended by the national government for ten year stretches. It is a constant battle for organizations, such as WBSJ, the Audubon Society, and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) to watch over and preserve these delicate habitats.
Thank you for visiting my site, and may the wind always be under your wings!
P.S. Check out post of April, 2019 for a close up view of the black-faced Spoonbill.
November 10, 2020 Last week, I spent two windless mornings at Ushikubi Dam. The first morning, fog was rising from the surface of the lake, making for an interesting composition with a lone Little Grebe (Kaitsuburi). In the photo of the lake, the trees on the left are part of a small island. While I was sitting on the shore, a small flock of Chinese Bamboo Partridge (Kojyukei) flew from the island to the trees on the right. Perhaps they spend the nights on the island to avoid predators? (I saw feral cats; see photo). I returned a few days later, hoping to photograph them repeating the same behavior. Sure enough, they did, but the photos were blurry. Ah shucks!
Soon after though, I was fortunate to see a Crested Kingfisher (Yamasemi) land in a tree about 70 meters away. They are so regal-looking with their crown of feathers. Later, a pair of Siskins (Mahiwa) landed in a small (Alder?) tree just behind me. Preoccupied with extracting seeds from the small cones, I was able to approach within three meters. The Daurian Redstart (Joubitaki) in the photo chased them away a few times, but they returned after a few minutes and continued eating the seeds from the cones. Eurasian Coots (O ban) were hanging out near the shore, also quite approachable. I also photographed a new species for me. An Eyebrowed Thrush ( Mamichajinai).
It was on this morning, the 9th, while drinking a coffee in a nearby park, that I learned from my cell phone that Biden had been announced President Elect by the television networks! I cycled the whole way home with a big grin on my face.
Toimisaki Cape in the southeast of Kyushu, is noted for it’s incredible ocean views, lighthouses, and national park, where the endangered and protected wild horses, (Misaki-uma) roam freely.
I chose it for the above reasons, as well as the dark skies. I mainly wanted to photograph the Orionid meteors which were scheduled to peak on the 22nd. Due to partly cloudy skies that day, I went on the night of the 23-24, which turned out to be clear of clouds, but rather windy. I set up the camera on the leeward side of a hill, which blocked out most of the wind.
In the middle of the night, a small group of horses paid me a visit, snorting and neighing on occasion as they continued grazing around me. It was this grazing that kept the hilltops mostly free of bushes and trees, affording fantastic views in all directions. I watched an incredibly bright Venus come up in the East. I left just before sunrise, feeling rejuvenated from the fresh air and salty breeze. The female Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the gallery below, is a drawing I entered in the Migratory Bird Contest, (# inktobird) on Instagram.
October 10, 2020 Last Tuesday was a beautiful morning, so I grabbed the camera and cycled to Tempai Dam lake. A few days before, I had caught a glimpse of a Crested Kingfisher,(Yamasemi) so I was returning in hopes that it was still hanging around. I arrived just as the rising Sun was bathing the clouds in glowing orange. I set up at the same spot where I had photographed the colorful Mandarin Duck, (Oshidori). See December post, 2015.
For the first hour or so, there wasn’t much activity, except for a lone bullfrog, (ushigaeru) just below me warming up in the morning rays. Then, I heard the call of a Crested Kingfisher just before it landed on a limb just up and to my left. I could see it partially through the branches and leaves about ten meters from where I was sitting covered with camo cloth. I had to take the camera off of the tripod to get it in the viewfinder. The shutter clicked as I took the first picture, and the bird immediately looked directly at me. I guess it could see the lens poking out of the camo and perhaps my eyes, which was the only part of me visible. Thinking it would fly away soon, I took a few more pics before it did so, but then it returned and landed on a different branch closer and with less foliage blocking the view. I couldn’t believe my luck! I suppose it was curious about me and the strange shape I presented covered by the camo cloth. It peered at me intently for a while, and then started preening. It didn’t seem to mind my presence anymore, even with the shutter clicking away. Eventually it flew off, so I packed up my stuff, said farewell to the bullfrog, and gave thanks for this fantastic encounter.
Thanks for visiting. Get out and enjoy Mother Nature.
This September has had an unseasonable amount of rain, and a typhoon, so I haven’t been able to get out as much as I wanted. Last week, the weather took a turn for the better, so I spent a few days at a pond where I was able to observe and photograph some of the inhabitants. Also, last night there was a gorgeous, waxing crescent moon.
August 16, 2020 The Perseid meteor shower is one of the best shows that the night skies put on every August. For me, there are few things as enjoyable as lying back on a reclining chair or blanket and watching for meteors. The excitement of not knowing when or where a meteor will flash into view is what keeps me up late into the night, along with the hope of capturing a fireball or bolide (exploding meteor with a super bright flash) with my camera.
This summer, I drove to Makinoto Pass situated on the north slope of Mt. Kuju. At an elevation of 1330 meters, it provides a commanding view, and also clearer skies and cooler temperatures. I went on the night of the 13-14th as the previous night (the peak) was partly cloudy. Makinoto Pass has two observation points. I first set up my gear at the more popular higher point , but people would come and go with their bright lanterns or headlamps on their way to the top of Mt. Kuju, so I moved to the lower platform. Here, there was no one; just a cute fox who poked it’s head out of the underbrush for a brief moment to check me out. I stayed until around 2:30, when mountain fog came rolling in from the southwest ending the show, but not before I saw and captured some incredible shooting stars!