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.
This photo of a female osprey was taken at Tataragawa estuary on the same day as the common greenshank ,(post of 10/04/15). They are relatively common in these parts, and can be found far inland as they follow the rivers upstream.
10/04/15 Today I went to Tataragawa estuary in Imazu where I go each spring in hopes of seeing the endangered black-faced spoonbill as they migrate through Kyushu. I didn’t expect to see them today as it was a month too early. I saw a few osprey (misago) and some common sandpipers (isoshigi) among others. The common greenshank landed just in front of my position behind some bushes, and I enjoyed watching it wade about in seach of crabs and other small creatures for five minutes or so. It flew off with a high-pitched “chiu chiu chiu!” . It was my first time to see this elegant species.
My first post! Thought I would provide a short comment on the owl on my front page. It is a Ural owl, which is called fukuro here in Kyushu,Japan. It was being mobbed by some crows near a shrine which was surrounded by huge oaks and camphor trees. They flew off after ten minutes or so and the owl, whom I dubbed Hiyoshi, (after the shrine) remained at this location for about two weeks. I was able to take many photos , but I think the best was this one taken on the first day we met.