One of the best moments for a bird photographer is when you see a bird you have never seen before. When it is an endangered species, it is even more rewarding. I was lucky to see a flock of black-faced spoonbills a few years ago, and I was able to take many photos of them as the were preening and feeding in the shallows of the mud flats. The next year I returned to the same area in March during low tide but I didn’t see any in the area. I sat down to have my morning coffee and bread, and was just soaking up the sun and sights when a small group of spoonbills flew in from around a bend in the estuary’s bank and landed pretty close to where I was sitting partially hidden behind some small trees and bushes! What an exciting moment for me! I very, very slowly raised my camera to my eye and took the closeups you see here. At first they turned their heads towards me when they heard the click of the shutter, but after a few minutes, they didn’t pay any attention to it’s sound. I did not move for a few hours until they flew off and landed on a small island in the center of the estuary. I feel so fortunate to have seen these beautiful and rare birds so close up. It will forever remain a cherished memory.
1/27/16 It was so cold and snowing heavily when I went to Homan River. The snow was falling so quietly, it felt like I was in a dream. I was hoping to catch a bird in slow motion flight, and a beautiful great egret (dai sagi) answered my silent wish. As I was walking along the river, the great egret flew off away from me, but then turned back heading into the wind and snow. Towards the end of the video, it flew up into the white expanse of snow and sky and vanished.
January 16, 2016 I happened across the dream-like night scenes of John Atkinson Grimshaw set to a gorgeous rendition of Clair de Lune on YouTube one night. Though this blog is ‘mostly birds’, I will on occasion, add posts that concern some of my other interests, and classical music is one of them.
This video was created by Jorge Bennett-Limnio,(a composer, painter, and poet living in Panama) who gave me permission to post this on my blog site. If you enjoyed this, please check out his website: jorgebennett.com
1/11/16 An update on the turtle dove nest, (post of December 20). Happy news! The turtle dove pair successfully laid and hatched both eggs! The squabs, (what baby pigeons and doves are called) are both healthy and doing well. Here, they are about one week old. Now the major concern is if they will be able to avoid predators, (crows, magpies, and cats, etc.) and fledge successfully.
I often see the common kingfisher,(kawasemi in Japanese) as I walk along the local river with my dog. They stay year round, as long as the river doesn’t freeze over. I have never seen that happen all the years I have lived in Fukuoka, Japan. This is a male.
These crows were harrassing a calico cat, (tobi mi-ke in Japanese) for about three minutes by approaching from behind and acting like they were going to peck it’s tail, but they never did. The cat just ignored them, but was propbably upset because all the mice and birds were alerted to it’s presence.
1/1/2016 This beautiful bird, a male Daurian redstart, or joubitaki in Japanese, is the first bird of the new year for me. They are common winter visitors here in Japan, and allow you to approach quite closely sometimes. They twitch their tails up and down frequently which adds to their chipper personality.
This is a favorite bathing spot for many birds. Today a European tree sparrow bathes near a green sandpiper. Earlier, a white wagtail, (hakusekirei) perhaps, and an oriental greenfinch, (kawarahiwa) enjoyed a bath in the same location.
12/29/15 The green sandpiper is a cheerful bird, constantly bobbing it’s tail as it searches for small invertebrates. I often see it along the river near my house gleaning for small prey along the banks. In this video, I added the call of the green sandpiper to the sound track. You can hear it as a cheerful “piyo piyo piyo piyo”!
12/20/15 I watched a pair of oriental turtle doves, (kijibato) making a nest in a firebush tree right next to our house last week. They will nest year round in warmer temperate climes on occasion, and nesting is occurring farther north now due to warming climate trends. I will be watching to see if she lays any eggs.
12/07/15 I went back to Tempai Dam last week and found the Mandarin ducks were still there. I made a natural blind from branches near their roosting site, and then returned the next morning. I got myself in position behind the blind as the sun was coming up. Most of the ducks flew off just as I was about to take a picture, but this lone male returned after about an hour and began preening. Wonderful and exciting being this close to such shy birds.
November 29, 2015 Yesterday was a cloudy day, but the weather report called for no rain, so Tabi, (our dog) and I went for a walk. As always, I had my camera with me even though the light was relatively poor for photography. As we were walking our usual route among the rice fields towards Homan River, I spotted a bird of prey a few hundred meters away perched on an electric pole. As I was trying to get closer to see if I could identify it, it took flight and headed my way, landing on another pole very close by. It was a common kestrel, (chougenbou) which I sometimes see around here, but I had never seen one this close before. I was happily surprised it didn’t fly away, even after tying Tabi to a guardrail and walking around it’s perch to take different shots. It made occasional, short forays every five minutes or so, each time scattering a large group of oriental greenfinches, (kawarahiwa) and Eurasian tree sparrows, (suzume) who were foraging in freeshly plowed under rice fields that had been harvested a few weeks ago. This pattern lasted for about an hour, but I never witnessed the kestrel press home an attack on a small bird, which they sometimes eat if they kind can’t find their normal prey, small mammals. I gave Tabi her usual jerky stick for being such a patient and understanding pal, and we headed home.
Today I was at Tempai Dam. Found a quiet place under some trees by the water pretty well hidden by the hanging branches. There was no wind this morning, and then the sun chased the clouds away. Perfect conditions for photography. After about an hour passed, three different species of diving birds passed within 10 meters of my position, with about a 10 minute interval between each appearance. It was like watching a parade! Each bird had different color eyes, and it was the first time for me to see the beautiful green eyes of a great cormorant. I saw some Mandarin ducks , so I will go back this week to see if I can get close enough for a good picture. They are so shy.