Monday, February 19, 2018

Disgiscoped female Stonechat

In general, when digiscoping, if you can see the whiskers near the bill, you know you are doing something right. And with small birds like chats, if you can see the cryptic whiskers (not sure of the technical name) on the nape, you know you are onto a winner! [Click the pics, you will see what I mean]

Friday, February 02, 2018

Ural Owl, eastern Hokkaido

We saw two Ural Owls during five days in Hokkaido. This bird was 'staked out', roosting in clear view in a hollow in what appeared to be the biggest tree in its forest. I think it looks like a happy, fat baby! The second bird was a rather fresh roadkill, which had been hit crossing low over a road and was still in good condition. Tragic.

Steller's Sea Eagles, eastern Hokkaido

The Steller's Sea Eagle is one of the greatest birds of the World. When Jo and I were in Hokkaido in the 1990s they were not at all hard to find and we got magnificent views of plenty of birds, especially in the east of the island (though they are also in the west, pretty near Sapporo). But those were the days before digital cameras, and we didn't have the equipment to do any justice to photos of them. Times have changed, and Steller's Sea Eagles are still easy to encounter (possibly less localised around Rausu and the eastern Shiretoko coast than they used to be), and with a combination of great light, close birds and even some discarded fish, the photographic opportunities are grea (even before February's big freeze). Here are a few of my best efforts of action shots. Doubtless there will be more to follow... I love 'em! Incidentally, the juvenile in snow was taken at sunset in a blizzard, near the Blakiston's Fish Owl stream just outside Rausu, Shiretoko.

Red Fox, eastern Hokkaido

We saw plenty of Red Foxes hunting by daylight in eastern Hokkaido. There was also abundant evidence in the form of tracks in the snow, of many more. They seem cuter, cleaner, fluffier and bolder than UK foxes. This particular individual was hanging around one of the east coast fishing harbours where we were trying to photograph sea ducks and gulls. It didn't seem at all bothered by us as it nosed around and occasionally pounced into the snow.