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.

Shorebirds

 

April 8, 2019    I went to a favorite estuary of mine last week, and was very happy to see Black-faced Spoonbills, (kurotsura-herasagi) there. On this day, there were three. I suspect more will be flying through soon. Along with the Spoonbills, the ever-present Gray Heron, (aosagi) was there, and a new bird for me; the Intermediate Egret, or Plumed Egret, (chuu sagi) in breeding plumage. Very elegant, with his long plumes and newly grown feathers which he was busily preening.

   A Common Sandpiper, (isoshigi) perched in front of my blind for a brief respite from foraging. Some Great Cormorants, also in full breeding plumage were roosting alongside the Spoonbills. They spread their wings of burnished bronze to dry their feathers after diving for fish.

  I may return to see if more Spoonbills are migrating through in the near future. I once saw a flock of seventeen there! They are an endangered species. One reason is due to development which is slowly destroying their feeding/resting areas along their migration routes. I hope they do not go the way of the Japanese Crested Ibis, (toki) which is now extinct in the wild in Japan. (see attachment just below)

https://www.biodic.go.jp/center/spec/toki_e.html

Please click on any image below for a larger view.

 

 

 

 

Thank you for visiting, and I hope you have a great day.

Into the Clouds

March 24, 2019    When I arrived at the top of Kusenbu mountain last Thursday at around 5:00 a.m., the cloud ceiling, (bottom of the cloud cover) was 1000 meters or so. As the camera recorded the coming of dawn, the ceiling gradually  lowered until it enveloped me and the top of Kusenbu. It was cold and rather blustery, so I took a nap in the car for an hour while the camera clicked away. I returned to the tower just before sunrise, but I only got a short glimpse of the sun. At the 13 second mark, there is also a brief glimpse of Venus as she peeks through the scudding clouds. In the time lapse, you can observe a three-hour span in about 90 seconds.

  In the coming weeks, I will be going out more often in the hopes of capturing photos of birds returning or migrating through the Fukuoka area. I plan on going to Yamagami Dam around the beginning of April in the hopes of photographing and recording the song of the beautiful Narcissus Flycatcher, (kibitaki). A favorite bird of mine. I took the video below about three years ago at Hase Dam near Hisayama. I want to do better this year with a different camera and microphone.

 Thanks for visiting!

Revolutions

March 14, 2019

 These are two sunrise time lapses recorded within two days of each other on top of Kusenbu mountain. It is always amazing how each sunset or sunrise unfolds and surprises me with it’s own uniqueness, making my day special.  I hope your day is special too! Thanks for visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sakuradaki Waterfall

March 3rd, 2019

Sakuradaki waterfall, (cherry blossom falls) is about an 80 minute drive from my home in Dazaifu by the national highway. It is located in Amagase, Oita prefecture. If you take the train, it is about a 5 minute walk from JR Amagase  station. The waterfall gets it’s name from the profusion of cherry blossoms along the path to the falls.

  It had been raining through the night, and when I arrived at the parking area, it was  still raining slightly with no wind. A good time to photograph the falls, as the low light allows slower shutter speeds, enabling one to obtain softer water effects without any filters.

  There was not a soul in sight when I arrived at the falls, except one cute,(depending on your point of view) little snail. He seemed to be enjoying the wet weather, and  posed patiently for the camera. I think I may return at the end of March to see the cherry blossoms. Thanks for checking out the site.

Click on the photos above for an enlarged view of the falls and snail.

 

Tenzan Mountain

February 24, 2019

Tenzan Mt. is located in Saga prefecture. At over 1000 meters, it has a commanding view in all directions, as there are no trees on top to impede the view. The trail from the parking lot to the top is well maintained and a relatively easy climb of about 30 to 45 minutes. I arrived at the top at around 4:30 pm. Plenty of time to set up the camera for the time lapse, and then wander around the top with the FZ-200 bridge camera to photograph the setting sun. 

  About 90 minutes later, as the horizon rose up to meet the Sun, it became windier and the temperature began to drop. Watching the gorgeous color changes as the day turned to night was my reward for the slight discomfort. If only the camera lens could capture those colors as well as the human eye. Thanks for visiting this site and feel free to leave a comment.

Please click on the photographs below for a larger view.

Japanese White-Eye

February 8th, 2019      The Japanese White-Eye is one of my favorite birds here in Japan. Also known as the Warbling White-Eye, for it’s beautiful voice, it is a very  common native species here in Japan. This time of year, when the plum blossoms are blooming, you can often find these colorful birds among the flowers. They sip the nectar and eat the insects they find among the petals and twigs. This double duty of pollination and pest control is very beneficial to the plum trees and other flowering trees and bushes they forage upon, such as cherry trees and camellias, for example.

  These particular photos were taken at Kanzeonji Temple; a great place for viewing flowers and watching birds. The Meijiro, (Japanese for White-Eye) were not shy at all this day, and little by little came closer to me. It was thrilling to view them within an arm’s length on occasion. When they are that close to you, you can hear a very soft twittering coming from them. I wonder if it is for letting other White-Eyes know exactly where they are, or could it be they are thanking the tree for the delicious nectar?  Thank you for visiting my site, and have a great Spring.

               (Please click on images for a larger view)

 

 

 

Moon set from Tateishi Mountain

January 23, 2019

 I spent some time on Google Maps deciding on where to take a time lapse of the moon set. I decided to check out  Mt. Tateishi, in Itoshima, on the eastern coast of Kyushu. I wanted to do some reconnaissance  there the day before. The reason being to find the correct location to photograph the setting moon, and also to become familiar with the trail. This would make it easier to set up my gear and also be safer on the following night. And besides, I wanted to enjoy the hike and the views in the daylight.

 Here are a few photos from the day hike and a link to information on Mt. Tateishi.

https://www.welcomekyushu.com/event/?mode=detail&id=9999900052406&isSpot=1&isEvent=

   The following day, I returned in the early morning hours to capture beautiful Luna at about 99% full. She was so bright that I was able to walk the trail without the headlamp on. Breath-taking views were around every curve in the trail, and I must say, I felt as if I was in a dream.
I recommend turning off the lights when you watch the video below, and set to HD 1080p if your computer or cellphone has it.

Some of the stills from that night, taken with a Panasonic FZ200 bridge camera. The Canon 80D was busy taking the time lapse. I chose not to do any post processing with the time lapse photos this time. Just a little brightening on a few of the frames.

I enjoyed this time with Mt. Tateishi and the serene ocean and incredible moon. I hope you enjoyed this little taste of what I experienced. Get out of your house and be one with nature as often as you can. Thank you for visiting my site!

 

Karanno Falls

December 22, 2018  Last weekend I finally managed to get to Karanno Falls after two failed attempts. This time, I used my cell phone navigation app, and I was surprised at how well it worked. Karanno Falls is an isolated area of  Ishigawa, Sawara-ku to be exact, and the road became extremely narrow and rocky as I neared the falls. As a matter of fact, about one kilometer from my destination, the road was blocked off and I had to walk the remainder of the way. After I had walked about 500 meters, I came upon a landslide, which was the reason the road was closed. There was a path around the landslide, and I continued on to the falls. It was still dark, because I wanted to photograph the waterfall in dawn light, as I have no filters for my camera yet. Filters are necessary in daylight if you want to take long exposures to achieve the soft focus effect. Here I was, in the middle of the woods, in the black of night, and I jumped a bit when suddenly my cell phone said, “You have reached your destination.” and sure enough I had.  That amazed me. I descended a path for about 50 meters, all the while the sound of the falls becoming louder and louder. I set up the camera, and waited for the light to increase.

Karanno Falls is also known as Karan Waterfall. The name Karan translates as the beauty of the plummeting waters resembling swirling petals. One other possibility for the name is a legend saying that a holy man called Karan undertook ascetic training by standing beneath the falls.  The falls are 15 meters high and 3.5 meters wide. “Chikuzen no Kuni Zoku Fudoki” (a description of the land of Chikuzen), written by a Confucian scholar of the Fukuoka domain, says that it is the most beautiful waterfall. 

 

 

 

 

                Please click on photos

for a larger view.

The Geminids

December 16, 2018

I had been looking forward to the Geminid meteor, shower, (my favorite) for some months. As usual, I checked the weather report every day. On the peak night, cloudy conditions were predicted, so I decided to go the night before, on the 13th. I drove to Hoshinomura, (Village of the Stars) where the skies are quite dark, and set up the camera on the edge of a large  green tea field up on the side of a mountain with a clear view of the eastern skies. It was a windless night, and quite cold with frost on the ground. There were a few clouds floating by, but for the most part, the skies were good for photography. At around 4 am, after 3 hours of photography, I was thinking about packing up and leaving.  But then the stars Spica and Arcturus suddenly appeared on the horizon, with Venus following close behind, so I decided to leave the camera going another 30 minutes. Occasionally, clouds would pass in front of Venus, making the planet appear larger, like a small moon. Up to that point, I had seen a few good meteors, and suspected I had captured some of them with the camera. Then, a rather large meteor, perhaps a small fireball you could say, shot by Venus, and the camera caught the close encounter!

 

  Note:

 The origin of the Geminids was unknown until 1983, when it was discovered that an unusual asteroid was their mother. All other meteor showers originated from comets. This makes the Geminids rather special, as they are composed of harder and more durable material, thus causing more fireballs and Earth Grazers. They also move more slowly compared to meteors in other showers. The asteroid/comet is called Phaethon, named after the son of the sun god Helios in Greek mythology. I have included a link if you are interested in learning more about this unusual asteroid.

https://www.space.com/42236-weird-blue-asteroid-phaethon.html

Night Clouds & Meteors

November 18, 2018

 I wanted to share a few time lapses I put together over the past few weeks. Both of them were taken at Hoshinomura, in southwest Japan. I had hoped to capture some meteors, but good photos proved to be rather elusive. The night sky is always beautiful and entertaining, with or without shooting stars. For me, it is always a magical and spiritual experience. Thanks for visiting my site.