25 November 2008

A year with my lens

A Varied Tit at Onuma last Sunday.

Well it's been a year since I got my 100-400 lens. And if you hark back to this same date last year you'd see I'm taking pretty much identical pictures, the same birds in the same trees even.

There was some nice light at Onuma for an hour or so and the usual species were as tame and photogenic as ever.

The Varied Tits even stayed relatively still allowing me to snap a series of poses.

A Great Tit and a female Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker were also about.

Not much chance for any scenery pictures as the weather soon closed in.......

Pretty quiet around Hakodate, here's a Wigeon and a Hawfinch from the last few days............the Hawfinch flew off before I realised my camera settings were all wrong.

So November 25th was when Franck lent me the 100-400 lens (which I eventually bought the following spring). I've taken approx 20,000 shots in the last 12 months and I'd say 90% were with this lens. I'm now realising the limitations of my 400D but money being the way it is it'll do me another winter for sure.

What else has happened during the last 12 months? Pound sterling has dropped by about 30 or 40% against the ¥. I went back to England for a visit in spring before this happened of course. This time last year I was bemoaning England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008, at least they seem to be sorting themselves out now. Liverpool? Still not the finished article and too many mediocre foreigners. But again better than this time last year. I got a new imac. We got a new fridge and my wife got a new camera. The car started making funny noises and the window on the passenger seat side doesn't open anymore.

My blurb book was too dark so I re-edited the pics and uploaded the revision. In the intervening 3 weeks (since I ordered the original) they changed the postal rates so now it costs $19 instead of $7 to mail it to Japan! I sent an angry e-mail and got the usual automated response which of course just made me angrier. 'It's beyond our control, thanks for your understanding, please contact me if you have any further questions' type crap. Still it's cheap if you live in Europe or North America.

The next 12 months? Why I'll get and rich and famous after I sell lots and lots of books. Perhaps we can actually get the car fixed. Hey you gotta dream.

21 November 2008

Winter begins..................

Heavy snow and subzero temperatures hit Hakodate yesterday, a little earlier than normal.

Just before the snow hit I walked down to the area around Hakodate docks to check if the Brent Geese had arrived (they hadn't). Not much around in the harbour area except these Harlequin Ducks......

The day before I'd been in Goryokakau Park, the Coot was still there as well as several Long Tailed Rosefinch which all flew off every time I got near.

The temperature was a bit higher today so I went back to Goryokaku park. 3 Wigeon were poking around on the moat.

The rest of the time I was trudging through the slush and playing hide and seek with some Buntings. 2 species including this superb male Yellow Throated.

Keeping it company were 2 Rustic Buntings.

So my book arrived. The colours were OK (I calibrated my screen) and the pics are sharp enough but about 50% of the photos are too dark. I guess this means my screen is too bright. Luckily I'd saved all the edited photos so could easily brighten them slightly. Now I have to decide if any of my pics from the last 3 weeks (since I ordered my sample copy) are worth putting in the revised edition. Once I'm happy with the revised edition I'll put it on sale. I've sold 13 of my calendars so far, thanks if you've bought one. The website is only in English I'm afraid, I guess that means no-one in Japan will buy it then.

Looking forward to the finale of the Shield next week. Can't wait in fact. I hardly ever watch TV shows these days but this one has had me hooked these last few years.

16 November 2008

More of the same............

A Varied Tit on my wife's hand at Onuma this afternoon. It was a dark grey day which was annoying as the whole of last week saw quite beautiful autumn weather. My wife whose only current day off is Sunday was not happy.

Birds were almost identical to last Sunday. Still some Rooks ate Onuma but I couldn't find the Daurian Jackdaws. No eagles yet either. This is the last remaining Night Heron on the river a couple of days ago.

Not much else new to report. The Thayers Gull was still present.

And on the beach was this unusual Gull.

Note the yellow legs. I think this is a type of Heuglins Gull but all these recent splits of Gull species have left me somewhat befuddled.

The first snow will probably come next week sometime, the autumn colours were still very nice in Hakodate last week.

A bit of a dull week I suppose. I finished 'How to lose friends and alienate people' which started off well but turned out to be pretty crap by the end. I sold my first calendar (woohoo!). You can check out a preview here. The printing company finally sorted out its' shipping fees. I watched lots of sport last night. Dirk Kuyt is winning me round, the Villa v Arsenal game was pretty good and I followed England's lame efforts in the rugby live on a jerky flash player.

11 November 2008

Why does life have to be so complicated?


So I made my calendar available on the internet for people to buy. The company who print it (Lulu) changed their international shipping rates so now they are absurdly high. There will be economy rates available but it isn't reflected on their website yet. So if you click on the link to the right and get an astronomically high shipping quote just check back later when hopefully the problem will be resolved.

Although I've just used their live help and the poor bast**d at the other end was clueless as to when the economy rates would be introduced.

Lulu? Makes me wanna shout. And not in a good way either.

Anyway. A Carrion Crow on the river yesterday..........

9 November 2008

Lots more winter arrivals

Some Whooper Swans a few days ago on the outskirts of Hakodate. Lots of stuff arriving for the winter now. Around town in the last week the first Scaup, Goldeneye, Wren and Dusky Thrush have all arrived. And so has this individual.

The same Thayers Gull that has been on the local river the last 4 winters. Other Gull species have been arriving too, including this Glaucous Winged Gull on the beach at Kamiso this morning.

11 species of duck at Kamiso now as well as 3 Great Egret a few days ago too. We also went to Onuma twice in the last week and predictably took a lot of pictures of the tame regulars.

I could lie and tell you I didn't tempt them near my camera with sunflower seeds, but I'm too honest for such deceit.

Anyway I couldn't really photoshop those sunflower seeds away.........

A fox was hanging around waiting for some handouts too. Or eyeing the tiny birds that it would never be able to catch........

I was using the lens wide open which meant that although parts of the birds were often out of focus at least the background (bokeh) was nice. Very autumnal.

There were 5 species of Tit at Onuma including the above Varied Tits as well as Great, Coal, Long Tailed and Marsh Tits.

There were a few swans, grebes, ducks and egrets about too and lots and lots of Siskin though of course these weren't so tame.

Lots of small birds in Hakodate last week. Near my place I got Red Flanked Bluetail, Yellow Throated Bunting and lots of Rustic Bunting. This (and the Bluetail too) are one of my bogey species photo-wise. The best I could manage was this.

Here a few seasonal shots to round off.

Bird of the day was this species.

2 Daurian Jackdaw mixed in with the resident Large Billed and Carrion Crow at Onuma. There were also several Rook. Both species are pretty scarce autumn/winter visitors to Hokkaido and someone told us they weer around and we just manged to find them before sunset.

My Calendar finally arrived. You can buy it via the link if you want. A touch pricey for a calendar I agree but I have to say it looks OK. I don't make much profit, if you buy one the net profit will buy me 2 cans of beer. My book should be available soon too and I'll shamelessly plug that when it comes you can rest assured.

Just started watching 'How to lose friends and alienate people' which is pretty funny so far at least.

My other blog is still being experimented on. It'll be updated more often than this one, whether it'll replace this one is yet to be decided...........er I'll think about that later.
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