All posts by iflybecauseican

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.


November 27th, 2020 Last week’s time lapse of the Leonid meteor shower taken over two nights at two different locations in the area of Hoshinomura, in Yamemachi, Japan.

Be safe everyone. Go hug a tree.

Ushikubi (Cow’s Neck) Dam

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 Toi)

October 23, 2020

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.

Click on link below to view the video.

Encounter with a crested kingfisher

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.

Various Images of September

September 21, 2020

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.

A little Vaudeville

Thanks for visiting!

The Perseids at Mt. Kuju

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!

Link to Makinoto

Thank you for visiting. Be safe everyone.

Nocturnal Dreams

July 24, 2020     It has been an extremely rainy rainy season, especially for the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan. We have had continuous cloud cover for practically two weeks it seems. This has prevented me from seeing or filming the beautiful comet Neowise. I did manage to make a short time lapse of the Moon and Venus rising together when the clouds parted for a few hours. This was before Neowise was to become so prominent in the skies.


    Yesterday I was thinking, if you can’t beat the constant rainfall, why not join it? So this morning I drove to Gotono Falls, figuring the cataracts must be humongous, and I was not disappointed. I wanted to film the falls in the early morning hours without any artificial light. The video only hints at the awesome power of the water. I could feel the vibrations through the big boulder I was standing on. 

Thanks for stopping by. Be safe everyone.



June 29, 2020        I drove to the easternmost point of Kyushu last weekend to take advantage of the (almost) new moon and the dark skies. That point happens to be at the end of the Tsurumi peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean. Here, there is the Tsurumisaki Lighthouse and an observation deck with a 360 degree view. It was here that I wanted to take a panorama shot of the Milky Way.

I arrived after a five hour drive at around 4:00 pm, giving me plenty of time to explore the Lighthouse and observation deck area and compose the shot before night set in. I decided on the observation deck, and it was here that the short sunset time lapse was taken. As I was waiting for the stars to appear, a raccoon dog, or tanuki as it is called here, appeared below. It obligingly looked up at me when it heard the shutter click, and then vanished into the trees at the edge of the clearing. As darkness began to settle over the landscape, the wind began to pick up, so I walked down to the road that went to the lighthouse.  It was here that I found shelter from the wind, along with a clear view of the lighthouse. Most importantly of all, the location would allow full view of the complete Milky Way, whose arch stretched over the horizon from north to south.

  In the panorama of the Milky Way, there is a green glow to the clouds off in the distance. After searching the internet, I was unable to come up with a clear explanation for the phenomenon.

  The panorama is composed of 16 individual frames edited and then stitched together in Lightroom.



 I hope you get out to enjoy the summer nights and see the Milky Way for yourself. Now is the best time to see the core of the Milky Way in the northern hemisphere. Check out DarkSiteFinder (link below) to learn more, and also to locate dark skies in your area. Be safe and thanks for checking out my site.

When is Milky Way Season?

One Morning at Citizen’s Forest Pond

May 1, 2020

You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.” – Henry David Thoreau

I again followed Thoreau’s advice yesterday morning, and sat myself down on a convenient cement seat, next to a pond. Ponds are a great place to observe the creatures that either reside there, or visit for food, water, and rest. Citizen’s Forest Pond, nestled at the foot of Shioji mountain, was created when a small stream was blocked by a dirt embankment. Cement blocks were stacked on both sides,  but the rear of the pond was left unimpeded. Here, various water plants grow, creating a safe haven and food source. Birds, mammals, frogs, snakes, fish, and insects have taken to Citizen’s Forest Pond, even though it is of modest size. It is nestled up against woods on one side, and a walking path on the other. A two meter high hedge separates the path from the pond, providing privacy for the animals. Here, I noticed a small gap where I sidled through. Low and behold, I found the aforementioned seat. Here, I sat undetected for hours as the people passed by on the other side of the hedge, oblivious of my presence.  Leaving some hours later, Thoreau’s observation was again confirmed. Sit for even one hour quietly. Inhabitants will emerge from hiding. 





The Asian Softshell Turtle photo was taken at a different location, (Mikasa River). This is an invasive species, but due to it’s popularity as a food delicacy throughout Asia, and reduction of habitat, it was put on the ICUN  ‘vulnerable’ list of endangered species in 2016. 

Thanks for visiting!