Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Mountain Cicada and a Bear Hawk

Finally had a rainless Sunday to do a bit of birding this week. The first in almost a month. A friend and I went to an area of the northern outskirts of Niigata in the hope of finding a Crested Kingfisher. We'd seen them in the same area back in summer but failed to get photos. They're very lively and shy birds. The first few hours were very quiet but I enjoyed sitting by a river surrounded by Autumn colours. The air was fresh and it was especially nice to enjoy the sunshine. We gave up on the area that we waited at for most of the morning and decided to drive upstream to see if we'd have better luck. Sure enough I spied two on the opposite bank of the river. Unfortunatley, I opened the car door and they flew further up stream. The chase was on and we eventually got a couple of record shots. The Japanese name for "Crested Kingfisher" is "Yama-semi" = Mountain Cicada.

Crested Kingfisher = Yama-semi = Mountain Cicada

At one point, I had given up in the chase for Yama-semi photographs. They were too far away for my kit. My friend had a more powerful tool that he was setting up as they were far but still visable. I stood helpless on the side of the road as I waited for him but I casually scanned the skies in case something appeared (as my habits dictate). I had seen a couple of very high Black-eared Kites and Common Buzzards in the warm morning air so I thought I might see a goshawk or a falcon if I was lucky and, sure enough there she blew!! More than I'd hoped for, though very, very high! A species with one of the coolest of Japanese names for birds, a Bear Hawk = "Kuma-taka". Spizaetus nipalensis. (A Mountain Hawk Eagle, also known as Hodgson's Hawk-Eagle). It was too high to get good photos but Im happy to get some records. The last one I saw was back in August 2007 and I didn't get any pics. Actually, I have seen several but I have only taken one other photograph from a moving car. The best encounter was when I was cameraless in a business meeting in a village nestled in the mountains. I was facing someone who was talking to me and I saw a Kuma-taka fly right past the window! It was spectacular! -Like a metre long goshawk with beautifully barred wings and tail with a background of snow. I suddenly became deaf and wanted to run out of the office and up the hallway howling but thankfully some kind of reality set in and I pretended to focus my interest back to my business partner. Well, I think I appeared to anyway. I hope I'll get closer shots next time. The same with Yama-semi.

A Common Buzzard resting in the sun.

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