Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Painted Button-quail

Painted Button-quail

Lockyer Valley, Queensland, Australia

December 31, 2013

Here are some so-so pics of a Painted Button-quail taken on December 31, 2013, with Kay and Kevin Williams, and Michael Atzeni. Quite a beautiful little quail and I wish I'd gotten better shots. So many pics were way out of focus (Back focus issues) I always have a problem with focussing on ground objects with the D800. I have to study it more. 

I had planned to go out here in Niigata yesterday but awoke to rain and it's even darker and wetter today. Through the week I'd seen many raptors flying past me when I was out on business so I was keen to get out with my camera; however, it's nice to reminisce about Australia on Australia Day.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Steller Niigata 14

Steller's Sea-eagle

Niigata, Japan

January 18, 2014

Photos with Nikon D800 Nikkor af-s 80-400mm VR and TC 1.4Eii
(Don't use the teleconverter!)

Gee, it was hard heading off to work this week. (After a holiday in Australia) It was minus 2c on Tuesday but a close encounter with an adult peregrine flying the direction that I'd come cheered me up. The sky behind it was dull but I could clearly see it's white chest and faint bars and even the yellow of the cere. I wanted to turn around and follow it. Too bad I had my work bag and not my camera.

I called Mr Honma on Wednesday night to catch up on Niigata bird news and learned that a Steller's Sea-eagle was first recorded for the season on January 8. It seems to be a good date for Steller's in Niigata, as I recall my first ever encounter being on January 8, 2005 at 3pm. I think the date has popped up a few times since when talking about these eagles in Niigata. 

Mr Honma and I headed out at 7am on Saturday morning (yesterday). Who would want to sleep in minus degrees with a blizzard forecasted? Anyway we found it where reported, and where one has been reliably found in years past. Terrible views really sitting high up on electrical towers. 

I knew it would be sitting up high and at a bad angle so I decided to prepare the Nikon 1.4Eii teleconverter to extend the Nikkor af-s 80-400mm VR lens I got last April. According to my calculator it gave me a reach of 560mm. I guess, lesson learned; I will not use the combination again as I am disappointed with its handling and the results. All the photos in this post were taken with the combination. I couldn't really tell if it was focussing as it is so quiet. It would seem to focus but I wasn't confident it was completely focussing. I was happy with the reach but once I downloaded the images they looked soft and many were not focussed. 

There were a hand-full of photographers in the fields surrounding the tower. The best shots being the rare chance of getting it once it flew. The first time it went away from me and I got my classical going away shots. We followed it to another tower where it was obscured by the steel of the tower. Not exciting at all but we stood and waited for another 90 minutes for it to take flight again. During that time I watched around me and could see pigeons flocking in the distance and heard several crows as the deterred a Northern Goshawk from getting closer to the pigeons. The goshawk was then replaced by a a peregrine which was also set upon by the crows. All too far for photographs. Eventually the eagle took flight again and again it was away from me. 

About ten minutes after we'd lost sight of the eagle, we had walked back to the cars and were packing our gear when I looked over Mr Honma's shoulder to see the eagle heading straight to us. I had wanted to remove the teleconverter from the camera the whole time but had failed to bring caps or something to put it in, but now there was no time. The eagle passed over us lowly but with some pace. I really didn't need the converter as it was so close and I gritted my teeth as I struggled to focus. The camera was set to full frame mode (FX) but there are many unfocussed results of the flyover. It could have been so nice just with the bear lens. I guess I'll just have to go back.

The blizzard had started when we found the peregrine. I think it is the same individual that I'd posted back in 2012 and claimed it as a possible Peale's Falcon. Anyway, it is not a typical Japanese Peregrine.

Peregrine Falcon

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Immortals Rock Isle

Pacific Black Duck

Toowoomba Japanese Gardens, Queensland, Australia

January 7, 2014

Nikon Coolpix S9100

Some photos taken at the Toowoomba Japanese Gardens with a borrowed Nikon Coolpix S9100. I was a little frustrated with the focussing but I just took a lot of pics until I got them right. It's a little super zoom and it was pretty handy carrying it in my pocket.

Australian White Ibis

Domestic Duck

Little Black Cormorant

Australian Magpie

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Down and Around the Lockyer on the Last Saturday of 2013

Cattle Egret


Queensland University, Gatton Campus, Queensland, Australia

A week late posting this, but enjoyed a big day out with Rod Hobson who kindly took me down and around the Lockyer Valley on Saturday, December 28, 2013. It was overcast to start the day but we quickly commenced our day with a Black Falcon of which we had two sightings. 

Rod was determined that we would find more raptors and we even went up through the Great Divide to Wyreema and Cambooya in hope for a Spotted Harrier but we only saw a couple of kestrels as the skies became quiet once blue, so we turned around and went back down to the valley where we got a Spotted Harrier with our eyes but I failed with the camera near Grantham.

Still, it was a remarkable day with the Lockyer Valley proving it is a special place for birding. 

Thanks, Rod.

(Disappointed that I can only input 200 or less characters for the labels/contents on Blogger so I couldn't list all the species pictured in my contents!)

Royal Spoonbill

Magpie Goose


Superb Fairy-wren


Comb-crested Jacana

Black Falcon

Royal Spoonbill

Magpie Goose (Above and below)

Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Royal Spoonbill

Interesting sight: Glossy Ibis (landing), Australian Shoveler (left) Spoonbills, Australian Wood Duck (centre) etc.

Another view of several birds including Black-winged Stilt and Australian Pelican

Sacred Kingfisher

Freckled Duck is a rarity here (Above and below)

Whistling Kite

Black Kite (Australian)

White Bellied Sea-eagle

Lake Clarendon

Pink-eared Duck (flying behind) and Eurasian Coot (foreground)

The ducks were nervous with the sea-eagle circling overhead