26 April 2009
Today it was snowing. All day, heavy slushy wet sleety snow. In late April. Global warming my a*se.
So we didn't go out anywhere today..........I tried redoing some of my photo galleries on my main website but I'm still not 100% happy. The page isn't finished yet, these are made using Rapidweaver. I tried Apples MobileMe but didn't really like the gallery styles there, ditto iphoto. Adobe Lightroom's galleries are great (some are linked on the right) but I can't automatically sync or update them. Should I try SmugMug? Dunno.
Sorry that last paragraph was so boring. The whole of the week has been pretty dull. A very very quiet week, awful weather combined with a busy working schedule meant I didn't get out much. I managed to get up Mt Hakodate again on Friday on the only sunny day of the week, not much around, you can see photos of the day here.
A few summer migrants arriving this week (the first Red Cheeked Starlings and Short Tailed Bush Warblers) but not much happening in the way of photos, except for the chipmunks again. They fulfill the same role as the Nuthatches at Onuma, wild fauna but tame and photogenic and useful for padding out blog posts when there's not much else going on......
Somebody tossed some food to this one, what is it? A lychee?
Lots of Red Flanked Bluetails on the trails but these are turning into a bit of a photographic bogey species.
So, er, that's it. Man U are going to win the Premier League. I missed both Liverpool's recent 4-4 draws (both on in the middle of the night here). Actually I did get up to watch the end of the Champions League game against Chelsea. I woke up and sleepily checked the latest score on my cellphone browser and it was 4-3 to Liverpool with 5 minutes to go! I got up just in time to see Lampard's goal that killed off the tie.........
I hope the weather improves this week, I have 5 days off from Wednesday. The migration season tends to pick up dramatically in the last 3 or 4 days of April so fingers crossed.........
19 April 2009
A Black Woodpecker this morning at Onuma, we came across a pair excavating a nest hole, snapped some shots and moved on quickly(although the birds didn't seem to mind so much). The male was shyer than the female though, so most of the shots were of the female.........
It was a beautiful spring day but the forest was surprisingly quiet. All the resident species were present including the inevitable Tits and Nuthatches.
Also seen today were Mandarin Duck, Goosander, Long Tailed Rosefinch, Siskin, Rustic Bunting and 4 species of Woodpecker.
Some birds were tricky to see.
Otherwise a pretty quiet week again................
On Friday I climbed to the top of Mt Hakodate, it was a beautiful sunny day as you can see from this view from the top. The mountain trails were rather busy and full of retired locals hiking up the modest hill ('mountain' is too grand a term). Despite the mild spring weather and total lack of snow for the last month some of them were kitted out in full hiking regalia and I actually burst out laughing when one woman walked past me in a gore-tex coat and gaiters (it was very bright and sunny, it has only rained once in the last 2 weeks and the forecast is good for several days). I didn't actually see any ice-axes but I'm sure some of them had them in their packs. I swear I went trekking for 10 days in the Himalaya with less gear then these folks used for a 60 minute stroll to the top of a hill that has a road to the top and a tourist cable car...........
Memo to Japanese hikers #1: When walking it is more efficient to hold a conversation with someone next to you rather than shout to someone 50 yards in front or behind.
Memo to Japanese hikers #2: Please leave your stupid f**king radios at home and don't play loud tinny sounding radio shows from a radio dangling from your pack.
Birds? Lots of Red Flanked Bluetail but these were difficult to photograph, darn active little critters........this was the best of a bad bunch.
Other new arrivals included Black Faced Bunting, Siberian Stonechat, lots of Japanese Bush Warbler and Japanese White-eye. On the sea were Rhinoceros Auklet and Black Throated Diver and the usual resident species were much in evidence.......
Other stuff included Long Tailed Rosefinch, Siberian Meadow Bunting and Blue Rock thrush. The last few Crossbills, Bullfinches and Brambling were hanging on in the forest at the foot of the mountain (I actually briefly saw a male Crossbill in the tree opposite my flat a couple of days ago).
The most photographed creature of the day was this, lots of Asiatic Chipmunk live in the forest on Mt Hakodate and you have to admit they are cute.......
And here's a sunset from my balcony tonight........
More bird photos are on my other blog.............which nobody seems to ever look at according to google analytics.
And a familiar view that I have shown on this blog many many times...........but never in sepia tones.
Villain of the week: Yamada Denki for unbelievably crap service.
Disappointment of the week: the fact that Liverpool's season may effectively be over on Wednesday night.
Photoshop thingy of the week: I'm trying to get a handle on the curves thing.
12 April 2009
Good old reliable Nuthatches. A Wryneck at Asabu and a male Black Woodpecker at Onuma were nowhere near as co-operative and the blurry out of focus pictures have already been deleted off my hard drive and memory card........
It was a gorgeous warm spring day and we headed over to Asabu. The Ospreys were already on the nest but as you can see it is a long way off.
A 100% crop a minute or so later reveals the 2 birds on top of the stack.
Asabu is a good place in summer for birds but today there really wasn't much about. The Wryneck and Ospreys were the only noteworthy species. The only singing species was the hordes of Skylark. They were everywhere.
And there were a few Red Breasted Mergansers in the nearby fishing harbours too........
It's been a quiet week in Hakodate, even though the weather has been pretty good I haven't been out so much. My business has picked up quite nicely plus my wife is working full-time so taking pics of birds is taking a bit of a back seat.
I saw the last Crossbill (a flyover male) on Tuesday but there was a flock of 5 in the local park on Monday including this tame individual......
Shame they seem to have gone. The most photographed bird of the year so far in Hakodate this year and I'm already hoping they return next winter (they've been common the last two winters but were absent for the three before yet common the three before that).
Otherwise not much at all. A singing Japanese Bush Warbler on Friday was the first of the year and the lone adult Night Heron was in the same place most of the week.
And groups of Teal have been courting on the local river, here's a male.
The first Bullheaded Shrikes appeared too and a few winter ducks were still hanging on in Kamiso this morning (Scaup mainly).
Bad result for Liverpool against Chelsea the other night and now Man U seem to have uncovered another annoying young south European. Damn.
Another busy week coming up...........
5 April 2009
We were over in the harbour at Shikabe this afternoon. The Black Necked Grebes were still there and most were coming into summer plumage. Personally I think they are beautiful looking birds but my wife doesn't like their red eyes. And she says the worms they eat look disgusting, I have to concur with her on that one.
The above shots were quickly selected and processed, I have a few hundred Grebe shots on my computer to sort through, I'll put the best ones on my other blog in a day or 2.
Spring was very much in evidence today and by late afternoon it was warm and clear with some great views around Onuma.
And this was taken with my cellphone a few days ago.......
The common resident species in Onuma were as photogenic as ever.
Goosander (lots), Smew, Cormorants (I think Great Cormorant but am not too sure) and White Tailed Eagle were other noteworthy species at Onuma..........
A number of spring returnees have been around the last few days. The first Asian House Martin were in Hakodate on Thursday, very early this year. Woodcock at Onuma, Oriental Turtle Dove, Skylark and Mandarin Duck in Hakodate were some other birds recently arrived from the south.
Near my house the Night Herons have returned, well one at least. As skittish as eever, this was the best shot I could manage.
The Crossbills and Bulfinches are still around but in less numbers (as are the Hawfinch and Brambling). I think there are several groups of Crossbill in and around Hakodate. there must have been a real invasion this winter. these were in the tiny park near my flat.
Also in the park were several Bulfinch and I managed to get some shots of them at eye level at last.
I walked down to Mt Hakodate on Friday, a long walk in glorious spring sunshine. Unfortunately there weren't many birds about at all, these turtles were photo of the day.
North Korea launched that missile today, everyone here is pretty jumpy about it. I can't see what all the fuss is about but I do confess I looked skywards several times this afternoon but saw nothing except Gulls.
I stayed up to watch Liverpool last night, thank god Benayoun got that late goal. After England's late goal against Ukraine the football gods are smiling on my teams. Hopefully Vila can get something at Old Trafford tonight. England are looking odds on to qualify, probably with some games to spare. And suddenly the Premiership for Liverpool isn't looking so far out of reach.......
NHK called to apologise after they neglected to credit me for the photos they used on TV last week. Actually I'm a bit embarrassed by the fuss I made (it wasn't such a big deal really was it?) but they said they'll use some of my photos at a later date. Actually I was embarrassed by my own behaviour this afternoon too. I dropped my wallet in a big out of town DIY store. On discovering this fact I went ballistic cursing myself in particular and humanity in general. Of course this being honest Japan someone had handed it in and all the money/cards had been untouched.
Tim Buckley's 'Get on Top' is playing on itunes at the moment. I used to listen to quite a lot of Tim Buckley, good music to accompany a glass or two of whisky. It wasn't good to get stoned to I recall, it got kind of annoying after a while. My stoner days are now long gone, maybe I should pour myself a glass of something before my bath....
RL Burnside has just kicked in now. Kind of wish I could roll a fatty to go with this one. If I were 10 years younger perhaps........
To finish with here's a pic my wife took of me this afternoon, this is what I must look like to a Crossbill.