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