Tuesday, 19 March 2013


White-breasted Woodswallows

Cairns International Airport, Queensland, Australia

October 2012

Also excited today as my book Big Eagles Japan is now in Apple's  iBookstore!

You can see it here: Big Eagles Japan iBookstore 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing

Niigata, Japan

February 28, 2013, 5:38pm.

ISO 27807  f5.6 1/250 +1, fill-flash handheld

Nikon D800 Nikkor 80-400mm VR

I've yearned to see waxwings for years. I recall seeing their pictures when I was young in Australia and considered them as exotic species of the northern hemisphere. I've known they are in Japan and every year I have seen their beautiful portraits posted on blogs around the world. I saw one in March 2009 when I was walking along a busy street. It was sitting on a Mercedes-Benz waiting its turn in a feeding frenzy among sparrows at a bird feeder alongside someone's home. I didn't see it again.

On the evening of February 28, this year, I was walking my dog after work and looked up and my eye caught this guy sitting in a small cherry tree in the middle of a busy road on one side and a pedestrian path on the other. It was a small environment and I had imagined to see such things I'd have to be in a beautiful garden. Far from it.

I remained composed and allowed my dog to continue her venture. We sniffed at everything; around posts and taps, newly planted tulip beds and just plain grass. I thought the bird would be long gone when I returned half an hour later with my camera. (The dog satisfied but wondering why I fled after dropping her inside the door).

The above picture was taken after 5:30pm and the sun was long gone. I pumped up the ISO beyond anything I'd used before. All the pictures had strong back lighting. I used the camera's built-in fill-flash for the top pic which brought out the eye more and illuminated the colourful waxy parts. 

It stayed for a few days but I didn't manage better pics. The last time I saw them was Monday, March 4. I went out with the camera before the dog but there was no sign. Of course, when I returned with the dog and no camera, I saw him again in the same tree. He called out and two more came. They were interested in vines beneath the trees with orange berries. I haven't seen them again. None yesterday and rain today.

Disappointed with the background roof in the top shot and have processed all with Topaz De-Noise. 

March 2, 2013 3:14pm ISO 1800 in the same tree.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Big Eagles Japan

This is to announce the availability of my new book, Big Eagles Japan. (Actually, my wife's too -she took some of the pictures at Shiretoko and actually arranged to whole trip)

It's not just something I did overnight and I'd like to explain more through he following timeline:

2003  I developed an interest in Syllabus Design for ESL and I've always wanted to publish my photographs and realised it would be nice to incorporate my photos in beautiful materials for ESL. 

2005 and 2006    I began collecting swan pictures and visited Shiretoko.  I bought expensive software and  began making posters for schools I visited in Niigata. 

2006 - 2008   I was well into my project, then called "Swans and Eagles for the Communicator". At one stage I had over 360 pages and very red eyes. I had to cut it right down for a meeting at a publishers in Australia in 2008. Even with just 80 pages I was told that to self publish it, it would cost $20000au. I was drained and put it on a shelf.

2009    I started this blog.

2012   Still with the book files all over my computer, I decided to have another look into publishers last year and discovered Blurb. I decided to cut the original idea down into two different but related books. So I've finally finished the last draft. 

I'm sorry to my patient followers who must be tired of my same old Shiretoko pictures but this book was my original plan. I started this blog when I was tired of thinking about publishing my book. I am so happy I did, however. I really enjoy the visitors it gets and it's great to share here. 

That is not to say that the book is old or tired. I think I may never better my pictures from Shiretoko in February 2006 and I have carefully constructed the books. I hope both the books are exciting and interesting to ESL/EFL users and to native English speakers. (It is in British English, however)

I am happy that I have a Japanese friend who is helping his grandchildren with their English studies and he thinks my materials are great for Japanese children. I have friends in Oz as well who are excited to show white swans and snow to Australian children. 

Big Eagles Japan is available and an eBook for Apple devices and in print. I have made three print versions available: Be sure to check if there is Blurb in your country before you pay for postage!! It is available internationally however.

Softcover and plain paper about $35, (American dollars)

Hardcover with the best proline photographic paper and linen cover and high quality end sheets. For the collector! About $75 big ones.

and Imagewrap with nice lustre paper. I think this is a nice durable version for children - $54.

I hope both of the books are great introductions to the world of ornithology. If whoever reads this new one finishes it, then runs around their home flapping their arms about like a big eagle, I have succeeded. 

Please let me know your ideas and thoughts. I look forward to them.

I have also had an exciting encounter with a waxwing and will post about it soon. 


Friday, 1 March 2013

White Swan Japan in iTunes United States

Don't remember if I mentioned that White Swan Japan is available as an eBook for Apple devices such as iPad, iPod and iPhone. It is only available at iTunes in the US for $4.99. I'm sorry but it's also just in British English. I'm thinking of doing a US version later.

I have also been working on the sister project, "Big Eagles Japan".. It is currently being printed and I will announce it when I publish it publically in the next few weeks after I check the "t's" and "i's. I'm excited about both projects and am so grateful to Blurb for making such things possible. (It is only British English as well)