16 March 2007

I wish I had an expensive camera

Not a lot of birding the last couple of weeks and this photo from last week shows why. After almost no snow in Hakodate since early January winter finally decided to kick in during the second week of March. The snow was pretty heavy and made driving a bit too tricky to venture out into the sticks. Because there was no compacted ice on the pavements as per usual in winters here the snow quickly became slush. Actually I haven't had use of the car much this month anyway so all my birding has been on foot or by City Tram.

Last Wednesday (the 14th) I went to Yunokawa and had a surprisingly good day's birding. Bird of the day was a Northern Lapwing. The same species that we have back in Europe but it's rather scarce in this part of the world (it was new to my Japanese list). I remember the first one I ever saw on a family holiday to my grandparent's caravan in the Lake District sometime in the late 1970's. It seemed kind of exotic at the time until I saw tens of thousands of them all over the place. Here the lone individual looked exotic again.

Also around of interest were Buff Bellied Pipit, Japanese Wagtail, Brown Dipper, Pintail, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Rustic Bunting, Bohemian Waxwing and Long Tailed Rosefinch, Marsh and Varied Tits plus the usual Ducks and Grebes on the sea. No photos I'm afraid. I took my small Kowa Scope and lightweight Slik tripod and my digiscoping gear (plus adapters this time) but couldn't get onto any of these birds on time (it wasn't the kind of place where I could just carry my Scope around at the ready. As a dirty foreigner I get enough stares from the locals anyway). If I'd had a decent DSLR around my neck though................just look at some of the pics on Sato-san's blog linked to the right. Mo-San and Carmo's blogs also have some great pics. All from DSLRs.

Digiscoping is fine as far as it goes. I can set up my larger Scope and tripod near the car in places like Kamiso, Onuma and Yakumo and fire off some acceptable shots. But on the hoof it's impossible or impractical to carry around that gear. Will my next big purchaase be a new MacBook or a DSLR plus lens?

Here's the best I can manage with my small crappy Nikon compact digicam in situations where a decent pic may be possible if the right gear were to hand. An adult Black Crowned Night Heron on the river near my flat this lunchtime. Heavily cropped and zoomed. Now if I'd had a DSLR............

The Thayers Gull was still around last week. Kingfisher and Hawfinch too. Common winter birds like Dusky Thrush and Daurian Redstart would make great photo subjects if I had........

Liverpool for the Champions League? Hope so. Will England make a balls up in Israel? Hope not. England not to get humiliated in the Cricket World Cup? I'm quietly confident they won't.

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