Monday, July 29, 2013

The Jewel at the End of the World

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Went to the lake to get this picture. At this time of year the tracks down to the shore are about 30cm wide and you walk through a tunnel created by 3 meter tall grass and plants on both sides. At the end is always a sheltered fishing spot with nobody around in the middle of the week. These are the only places where I am guaranteed to find a large variety of dragonflies I can photograph close up. My favorite place in the summer. Though with the mozzies out in force I’m usually weak with loss of blood by the time I stagger out!  This one though was worth all the sweat, toil and loss of my vital bodily fluids ;)

Like trekking through a jungle!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dragon Play

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The temperatures here have suddenly soared with the sultry heat reaching the mid thirties and in some places looking like it might breach 40C in the next few days. This means the dragons have come out to play. I've seen several species around that I haven't caught sight of in several years, including the beautiful creature above known here in Japan as a cho tonbo. Roughly translated as a butterfly dragon. Strangely, they're also a lot easier to capture on film this year. Usually it takes a lot of patience to wait for them to land, but on my expedition of a couple of days ago both the cho tonbo and the yellow dragonfly below kept coming back to the same perch in the grass near the river. This was great for me as I got some good shots, and unfortunately also good for the mosquitoes that got to feast on all my exposed parts at will :(

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Redstart Surprise


Part 6 of the winter birds of Japan.

Went out on a photo safari with Prof. Ewan today to a nearby wildlife preserve that has a large lake that attracts a number of winter birds. We saw a dozen wild swans, which we hadn't seen around here in previous years. There were an equal number of blue heron and numerous cormorants and ducks, most of which were too far away to get good photos of with our limited equipment. It was a good day though, out in the cold, enjoying the fine weather and getting some exercise. The big surprise was waiting for us on the way back though. Riding bicycles we nearly ran over what I thought was a sparrow hopping about the road, but a splash of orange caught the eye, and we dropped everything when we found ourselves eye to eye with this redstart. We'd been hoping to get a good image of one since late autumn when we caught a glimpse of another in the neighborhood, but this was a pure piece of luck : )

Small white dots are a group of swans.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Egress of an Egret

Part 5 of the winter birds of Japan.

Throughout the year we have many kinds of egrets and herons in the ponds and paddy fields not far from where I live. Usually, these birds have a very wide safe zone so it's quite difficult to approach near enough for us to get a good image with the limited telephoto lenses we have on our camera. However, as we get deeper into winter and food becomes harder to find these birds become less wary and it's possible to get close enough to get some decent shots. Professor Ewan was surprised a few days ago when one dropped down into the pond not 15 feet away looking for something edible, and the same thing happened again to both of us today in almost the same spot. Spent five minutes taking multiple shots without trying to move a muscle :)

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Christmas Kingfisher

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Part 4 in the Japan winter avian series.

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
A kingfisher in a bare tree.

No kidding! I actually got my first good photo of one of these beautiful creatures at about the same time last year. Since then I have been searching off and on all year, and then on Christmas morning I was walking round the local pond and this one just plopped down in front of me! I must have been on Santa’s nice list ;) In the last few weeks I've been able to discover where it is nesting so hopefully I'll get a few more good images along with Prof. Ewan who is doing quite well himself at finding this particular bird.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Get Yer Frog on a Stick

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Third in the Japan winter avian series ;)

Watched a nature program with my son about a Japanese bird called a ‘mozu’ – shrike in English. It is a very small raptor that eats insects, small frogs and lizards and has the interesting habit of spearing its prey on sharp sticks to snack on later. Anyway, with his usual optimism, my son said, ’Let’s go look for a mozu tomorrow.’ I was a bit doubtful as we live in a built up area. However, ten minutes after we started walking round the local park we found a biggish insect speared on a stick. Two days after that we found the bird itself. Very difficult to approach, but with a bit of patience managed to get a few decent shots. So what did I learn from this? It’s fun having a son, positive to the core and untouched by any feelings of doubt at all : )

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Neverending Search for Grub(s)

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Second in what will be a Japan bird mini series. 
It’s the season of birds over here. Meaning, it’s cold but no where near as cold as the north of Japan and Asia so we get a wide variety of stopover species, just when there are no leaves to hide in and the predominant color of the landscape is dun. This makes it almost ridiculously easy to pick out small birds which would otherwise be camoflaged and is great for photographers. Saw these Great Tits (In Japan, Shijuukara) searching for grubs in the nearby pond. Took little notice of me as they were all busy getting theirs. Had the luxury of being able to choose my shots for a change : )