Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Amazing Flying Pintails

Northern Pintails

Hyoko, Niigata, Japan

January 24, 2015




Here are some flight shots I took last weekend trying out the Nikon D7100 and AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm VR. I don't know if the af is as good as the D800 but I'm getting old and these pics made me sentimental. I remember visiting the Birds Australia Library back in the early 90s, and a kind and patient man named David Eades kindly showed me articles written by the great American photographer, Brian Wheeler on how to photograph birds in flight. I still only had a manual film camera and only seemed to get a keeper once every three months but was desperate to take better pictures. I still remember David's and Brian's advice and I'm grateful. I think it is not so difficult for everybody to get such pics these days. Then, we never imagined today's amazing cameras.





uncropped





Monday, January 26, 2015

Rockets

Hyoko, Niigata, Japan

January 24, 2015


Saturday was supposed to have poor weather but a sunny morning saw me grab my gear and head to Hyoko for the afternoon. I was only there for 80 minutes but I took about a thousand pics. 

It was very exciting for a raptor nut such as myself with peregrines stirring up the ducks farther over behind the trees you can see in the above landscape. 

It was so exciting I went back again yesterday and saw what I believe to be the same two Peregrines  from the day before, an adult and the below young one.

Lots of families take their children there to buy rice husks and feed the ducks and swans, hence there are many birds attracted to the place and it is a wonderful place for photographers.

Sunday was pretty dull but I'm pretty happy with the action shots for dim conditions with my new Nikon D7100. The landscape at the top was with my D800 and 25mm lens.


A young Peregrine Falcon

as it flew over on Saturday

At the back of Hyoko many wild ducks mostly Eurasian Teal and Mallard were stirred up by an adult Peregrine on Sunday, January 25.


Where's the falcon?

-If you look just above-right of the centre you can see the out-of-focus adult Peregrine moving left.

I could only see the falcon when it rose above the landscape!



If you go down from the "J" in Jenkins you can see a male Baikal Teal heading left.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day of the Two Trillers

White-winged Triller

Wyreema, Queensland, Australia

September 28, 2014

7:28am


According to Wikipedia, a 'Triller" is a small kind of cuckoo-shrike found around Asia, Australia and some Pacific Islands. Australia has two, the White-winged Triller and the Varied Triller.

I first encountered a Triller in Toowoomba around the end of the last century. I found a small black and white bird laying on the ground in a suburban front yard. It was alive but obviously out of it when I picked it up. It was underneath a large, lone tree but far away from windows or streets. Sadly it passed away in my hands in just minutes. I identified it as a Varied Triller and I have always been puzzled as to what had happened to it. It was far from its natural habitat. I suspect it was a victim of land clearing. 

Time went by and on September 28, 2014, Michael Atzeni and I encountered a White-winged Triller at the Wyreema poo ponds, at around 7:30 in the morning. Mick and I had a nice morning birding for a couple of hours. Later in the day, I was stir crazy, and family and I went for a look at the scenery at Prince Henry Drive. I abandoned my family to the car when I saw Fairy-wrens and finches in the grass and lantana. (Of course, just for a minute as any birder would say) As I approached the small birds a black and white bird flew out in the open right under my nose. I managed just a couple of shots before the camera's shutter revealed it had gone. It was a Varied Triller. Two birds in the bush on the same day! Australia's two Trillers.


White-winged Triller

Wyreema, Queensland, Australia

September 28, 2014

White-winged Triller

Wyreema, Queensland, Australia

September 28, 2014

White-winged Triller

Wyreema, Queensland, Australia

September 28, 2014

White-winged Triller

Wyreema, Queensland, Australia

September 28, 2014

White-winged Triller

Wyreema, Queensland, Australia

September 28, 2014

Varied Triller

Prince Henry Drive, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

September 28, 2014

3:15pm

Varied Triller

Prince Henry Drive, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

September 28, 2014

3:15pm

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Oji-ro and JPW

White-tailed Sea-eagle
"Oji-ro washi"

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan

January 10, 2015


Enjoyed a late morning at Toyanogata with Mr Honma. He kindly showed me where to see the lone White-tailed Sea-eagle and I was very happy to get such close views despite lots of branches and twigs between us and the subject.

We also saw plenty of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a couple of Japanese Woodpeckers and a number of the Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers. Quite a few Great Tits and Mallard out on the water.

Thank you Mr Honma. A very satisfying outing.




Finally some sun

Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan







Monday, January 5, 2015

Sunny and Dull


Fukushimagata

Niigata, Japan

Nikon D800

December 28, 2014



Welcome back to this blog for a new year.

After whinging on Phil’s blog that I had to work on Christmas Day, I then had 9 days off over New Year. (Sorry for the whinge, Phil).

Of those 9 days, just one; Sunday, December 28th, was fine and even sunny. All the other days were plagued with heavy winds and rain. -Not even decent snow, which I find more bearable to be out in.

SUNNY: On the sunny day, I went to Fukushimagata and wandered about ankle deep in very white, clean snow. The bright sunlight reflecting upon it really made for nice lighting, especially when birds flew overhead. The one thing that didn’t excite me however was that it was quiet for birds. All the accipiters and harriers of past weeks had gone as well as many of the waterbirds that I guess had attracted the raptors. 

I did see a single White-tailed Sea-eagle sitting in a tree across the wetlands but it was far away and only visible with binoculars. Hence, December 28th was good for a healthy walk in nice scenery but not exciting for bird pics.

Then the week was very bleak and miserable. Perfect for DVDs and fluffy slippers. When Friday, January 2nd arrived we headed to the shops for the Japanese New Year Sales. After about a year of considering it, I bought a Nikon D7100. Exciting, huh? I got a nice deal and the kind staff at Yodobashi Camera gave me some cool presents; not one, but two real Nikon bags. Expensive accessories when you have to pay for them. I am very pleased. 

I still love my D800 but there are times and places when and where I just don’t need full-frame, such as vast wetlands and kestrels along the Shinano River. I always just felt too far away with a 400mm lens on full-frame and almost always used crop mode. I realised a golfer doesn’t meander around the course with a single club so I am happy to expand my kit. I’ve read many nice things about the D7100. I’d looked at it often but was nervous of its small size and light weight. I came to the conclusion that people don’t complain that their iPads are getting smaller and more light weight.

According to my weather app, Saturday was supposed to be sunny but again the light was poor and and small but windy snowstorms were again more common than birds. I still went out for a walk with my new camera….

DULL: I went to Toyanogata and meandered ‘neath dark trees without any good bird chances. Finally near a waterway I sighted a very pale thrush-like bird and struggled to get it focussed in a very “twiggy” bush. I set the focussing system to single-spot focus but the bird flew out the back and I never saw it again. I was enjoying listening to music with earphones connected to my phone and shrugged the chance away as I stumbled onto a walk-bridge. I looked upstream and immediately picked up a peregrine in seventh gear and accelerating coming right at me. No time to think about camera settings, just point and shoot! …..Messed up! What an idiot! What was I doing? Dreaming about the place for hours just to mess up a fleeting chance. I guess there are lessons to be learned. A rough test for a new camera; a speeding peregrine in poor light, with the camera set to single-spot focus and earphones pulling at my ears as music fogged my mind. It’s such rare chances I want a responsive camera setup for. I just wasn’t expecting it first up. I probably won’t get such a chance again for some time.


I continued around Toyanogata for another couple of hours but snowstorms outnumbered photo opportunities. I know times are quiet when I spend time photographing corvids. Still happy to have time off and get fresh air. Will have to be more serious when I set out again.



Greater White-fronted Goose

Bean Goose

The new observatory at Fukushimagata. Very open. Not really a "Hide"

Black-eared Kite
Looks nice with the light beaming upwards
(above and below)


Grey Heron 
(Above and below)



There were many dinosaur footprints about the place.



Carrion Crow

The light reflecting up from the snow even brings out the details of crows.

A mix of Geese

Great Cormorant

Another dark bird that looks attractive with the light reflecting upwards

Peregrine Falcon

First pictures with Nikon D7100 (cropped)

Photographic Tips: Don't use single-spot focus! or Bose SoundTrue in-ear  headphones when trying to photograph birds in flight.

(The headphones are great otherwise)

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan

January 3, 2015

unedited and uncropped


Brown-eared Bulbul
Toyanogata
(above and below)


Bean Goose

Toyanogata

Japanese White-eye

Toyanogata

DULL: Black-eared Kite

Carrion Crow

Toyanogata...time to go home