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Tundra Swan

Hyoko, Niigata, Japan

November 10, 2018



Well, I went to Hyoko a couple of times in the last month. Nothing new to report, but it's nice to see the same things in each season. After I watched a drone attacking the swans last month I have now photographed a number with cardboard structures around their necks but decided to leave them off the blog. 

I have found it hard to make new exciting finds to post frequently enough and heard that Google may restructure their free social services and I feared this blog may one day vanish. 

I'm grateful that I was able to start this blog and keep it going for 9 years, but it is a little hard to keep it interesting. I have also tried to start websites to show off some kind of portfolio but found it difficult to link the two. I have decided to buy a domain and see if I can manage a place where I can blog and display photos. It's not too posh and I haven't done much with it yet but I think I will post on it in the future. I will allow this site to be dormant for a while. Maybe I will come back in the future.

I've really enjoyed seeing other blogs from around the world and I hope they keep on going but it is also hard for me to keep up with my visits. Thank you to Google and my Followers who have supported me all this time. I'm especially grateful for the time you took to comment. I got a new magazine from Birdlife International yesterday and understand our birds need our continued support. I will do my best.

My new address is russelljenkinsstoopfiles.com

I will try to do some blog posts on it from time to time but maybe not so often. Please visit if you ever have the urge to see some birds from Niigata and surrounds.

Thank you again for your visits and may you find the birds you are looking for!










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Tundra Swans being chased by a drone.

Hyoko, Niigata, Japan

October 21, 2018

I guess a good stick and a rock were once smart devices in human history. Now everyday I can side step walkers looking intensely into something in their palms. 

Today we stopped off at Hyoko just for half an hour but it was enough time to see a drone menacing swans on the rice-fields at the back. We also spotted a remote control zero fighter diving at them.

Could anybody tell me if this would be some kind of intended management by some kind of administrators, please? I have other photographs showing that the swans were startled.

A few times the drone came near and I was wishing I had a nice hardwood boomerang in my holster. The year before last we had a close encounter with a Steller's Eagle and our quiet attempted approach was drowned out by one of these buzzing above us. The eagle soon departed.











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Bewick's Swan
(Tundra Swan)

Hyoko, Agano City, Niigata, Japan

October 6, 2018


Last night's local news was pretty exciting. They announced that the first swans arrived at Hyoko just before sunrise on Thursday. There were birders with tripods, scopes and cameras there to greet them. I wasn't there but, welcome back!

I went there today. There weren't so many and I saw some that looked pretty tired and hungry. I hope they will find food soon and fatten up before winter. It was a beautiful day with another typhoon approaching and I believe it got up to 30C. Strange to look at winter birds under brilliant warm sunshine.

I found a cross of winter birds and summer birds. A young cuckoo baffles me as well as some ducks. There are many brown ducks with different shaped heads and facial expressions. I fear, I'm a failed birder. I am often disconfident with my choice of words. Please help me, Stu.







Intermediate Egret

Grey Heron


Common Cuckoo

Juvenile



Perplexing Gadwell or Square-headed Pintails?

Mallard

(female)

Pintail?




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Northern Pintail

Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

September 30, 2018


Well. It's that time of the year again. It's exciting to see so many ducks arrive at Fukushimagata. Many Pintail went overhead without landing but in front of me were thousands of Common or Eurasian Teal. I visited last Sunday too, but there was only one single teal then. How a week has changed things. Raptors were on the go, but I failed to get any decent shots. Two peregrines, three goshawks. I could see a spectacular adult goshawk sitting out in the middle of the water but it was way out of reach of my lens. When it moved, so did the ducks and I totally lost sight of the raptor in the crowd. Hopefully some exciting months ahead.

I only stayed a short while as a felt the wind building its power behind my back. I decided to get home before the typhoon got here. I feel sorry for all those birds that have travelled far only to arrive in time for a typhoon.





























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Eastern Buzzard

Mt Yamamoto, Ojiya, Niigata, Japan

September 24, 2018


We made it to Mt Yamamoto briefly this weekend and we saw a number of thermals carrying some raptors. There were a heap only briefly between 9-9:45am yesterday morning and I didn't take as many photos as I should have. I was saving my film for more later, which didn't come. Some patchy weather at times too. Anyway, it only happens once a year so good to see it even briefly. In past years, I got more sparrowhawks and occasional falcons but this time I only photographed Eastern Buzzards, Grey-faced Buzzards, and Oriental Honey Buzzards. Maybe the latter will end up on islands off the coast of Western Australia in about a month's time.


Grey-faced Buzzard



Oriental Honey Buzzard














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Eastern Buzzard
looks young

Sakata, Niigata, Japan

September 19, 2018


I was lucky enough to have a few days off mid-week this week and the weather was much better than the previous weekend. Sunny and warm, but not too hot.

I went to Sakata yesterday and encountered a few raptors on the move: a pair of peregrines, one osprey, usual Black-eared Kites and my first encounter with an Eastern Buzzard for the coming cold months.  It was nice to see them as I think I'll miss seeing the raptor migration this year from Mt Yamamoto.

There are still lots of insects but I spared you from them. Many the same and others I'd have to identify. It might be a good exercise for me on a rainy day but I'm not in the mood today. I walked between rice fields and large numbers of green grasshoppers parted like the sea as I moved. Not good for the farmers I'd say.

I set my camera for j-pegs last week and forgot to reset it back to RAW and although my tired old computer found it easier to edit the files I'm not so excited by green/purple casting and a soapy finish to the images. 

Sorry, I've failed to put subheadings to my images. Maybe I will edit them sometime in the future. I have to attend to a needy, howling dog at the moment.


























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Common Yellow Swallowtail

Papilio machaon hippocrates

(male)

Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

August 2018


Well, away from festivals and birds I have been searching for a new quarry for summer. I have been slowly getting some images of the summer insects. It is difficult. I have watched many butterflies and dragonflies shoot by me and I stood helpless to respond. I have mainly only photographed those that have landed near me.

Today's post is just a sample, and as often is the case, I may not post all the images I have attained. 

Baby steps for today, as it is time consuming to search through, edit and identify the images I have collected. I think it is worth some effort when I look at the results. They are quite stunning creatures when we stop and look.


Japanese Copper

Lycaena phlaeas

(female)

Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

August 2018

Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan

Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

(female)

Painted Lady

Black and White Citrus Longhorn

Anoplophora chinensis (Forster) or Anoplophora malasiaca (Thompson)

Tainai, Niigata, Japan

August 2018

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Pseudothemis zonata

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan

August 2018


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Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri

Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan

August 1, 2018


Got off to a flying start for the summer vacation on August 1st. We rocketed up to Aomori Prefecture for the opening night of their Neputa Festival. For 200 years, communities have brought their giant lantern floats to parade them through the streets of Hirosaki. We were so lucky to get a hotel room for the night and front row seats right in front of the judges.

We were lucky to have a clear summer night and enjoy the lanterns escorted by tribes of huge taiko drums and flutes.



















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Goosander
(European)

or

Common Merganser
(American)

(Mergus merganser)

female

Shinano River, Niigata, Japan

July 21, 2018

Thank you to the members of Kantori, Japan for help with identification.
You give social media a good name.


After some quiet weeks for the birds, lots of action unfolded all of a sudden. Japan has been having an increasingly horrid heatwave. In Niigata, the temperatures have been 5-7 degrees higher than the usual averages. At 11pm on Friday night it was 27c outside. Although many in Australia think that temperatures below 40 aren't worth complaining about, there is something about the asian air pressure/humidity that makes 30 unbearable. I feel like I need to wind down the window even when walking along the river. There just isn't that thin dry air that supplies oxygen.

I became aware yesterday, that after months of few gulls, I sighted hoards of Black-tailed Gulls along the sea and up and down the Shinano River. I waited till late in the day to go out with my camera. After an hour or so of watching the gulls go back and fro, I was mumbling to myself and drawing circles in the air as you do, when I noticed a clump of tail feathers above me spiralling down to earth. Several other single feathers on either side of me also fluttered slowly to the ground. I looked upwards expecting to see a peregrine charging off, but the sky was quiet and empty. The feathers  were small, sparrow or finch sized, and I shuffled through the grass looking to inspect them. As I drew closer to the river's edge, I disturbed a larger bird from vegetation in the water. I first thought it was a Great Crested Grebe, which I often find throughout the year, but my eyes soon made it out to be some kind of merganser. I took several pics as it went out away into the river and it finally disappeared.

After so much quiet, it seemed surreal to have so much drama in a few moments. At first inspection on the back of my camera I thought it was a Scaly-sided Merganser, but went I downloaded the files, I felt more that it was a female Red-breasted Merganser. Anyways, I posted some images on Kantori and the kind people gently taught me it was a Goosander. I guess it is still a kind of merganser. I've only ever seen a handful of mergansers and only in icy conditions in January and February in Japan. It is an exciting find in the city in summer for me. It is also amazing how helpful social media can be when we stumble with our field-guides. Gone are the days of waiting a week for my film to be developed and sticking the slides in a box under my bed.

As for the gulls, I could see various patches of the river bubbling with movement below the surface. This morning I went out early to find them still crowding and diving into the river. The prey almost looks like some kind of eel. What do you think?








Feathers that twirled to the ground from the above

Black-tailed Gull














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