Saturday, February 28, 2015

GIF of the Week: The Visiting Swan Goose

bird, Anser cygnoid, GIF

It seems our migratory guest has departed Kin Town.

Whether it flew back to China, Northern Japan or, Russia is an unknown.

Sometimes, these birds just move to another spot on the island.

Why not ?  They are here for winter vacation.

Whenever I run across a critter, I have never seen before, I take plenty of photos.

The more angles you see it from, the easier it is to make a positive identification.

Before, I do my end of the month review, I look for images to throw away.

Hah.  Hundreds of this bird are getting recycled.

 8 photos were saved to create this motion GIF of the bird twisting its neck around.

For those interested in learning more about the Swan Goose, there are some good links:

The Swan Goose is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Redlist

Related Posts:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bird Photo: Pause and Reflect

bird, egret, reflection

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Pentax F4 300mm

Exposure: f/5.6   1/640   ISO 100

Location: Kin Dam, Okukubi River, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time: FEB 2, 2015  2:34PM

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sunflowers in February

flower, plant, sunflower

It was windy and a bit cloudy.

So, I singled out one flower and bumped the camera up to ISO 400.

sunflower field

Then, I backed up and went wide angle to show the mountains in the background.

sunflower field and walkway

A Sunflower Festival is scheduled to take place here, this weekend.

Not wanting to mingle with the crowds, I probably will go somewhere else.

More about this event in Kitanakagusuku, Okinawa: Himawari Matsuri

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Scattered Sunshine and Flowers in Nothern Okinawa

cherry blossoms, tree, flowers

On Mt. Yaedake there are very few cherry blossoms remaining.

sakura blossoms, Mt. Yaedake

So, one tree was selected for some experimental photography.

flowers, cherry tree, blossoms

Then, it was time to get off the mountain and visit Ogimi to check on the iris fields.

sign, bilingual,birds, flowers

It was nice of the folks in Kijoka to post this bilingual sign.

Entering the iris field area, things were looking pretty green but, no flowers were visible.

Driving around the entire valley turned out to be a good idea.

iris field, flowers

Way, way, way back in the fields, we spotted some flowers blooming.

iris blossom, flower

This iris was singled out for some experimentation, too.

Cherry blossoms will probably be all gone in another week or two.

The purple iris plants are starting to blossom but, wait another month, would be my guess.

For a day in February, I can't complain about the weather.

Where else do people get scattered sunshine and flowers, this time of the year ?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wildlife Photo: This Bird is a Genuine Turdus

Pale Thrush



It is found in eastern Asia and, is a member of the Turdidae family.

The scientific community named it Turdus pallidus.

bird, Pale Thrush

These birds come from Russia, Korea and China, visiting Okinawa in winter.

Up until the last Century, people used to eat Pale Thrushes.

Well, they must have gave up eating them and switched to faster food.

The birds aren't listed as endangered or, even threatened as a species.

They are Listed as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

That's nice to know, in case that Kentucky Chicken place goes out of business.

The most informative reference, I could find was written by Nicole Bouglouan.

She tells you everything you'll ever need to know about these creatures.

For example, the sounds they make:

"Tuck-tuck" or "chuck-chuck when it calls.

When it flies, it says, "tzeee" a lot.

If you spook one, it makes a long, "seee" noise and a bunch of quacks, like a blackbird.

It also, sings, "Tuvee-tulee-tulee-tuvee" or, something like that.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose (Anser serrirostris) Visiting Okinawa

Bean Goose in field

Near the Kin Town Water Potato Fields



More than likely, if this is truly a Tundra Bean Goose, it will leave next month.

Most migratory birds spend the months of November through March in Okinawa, then depart.

bird in flight

Sometimes, identification is made simpler with images of the bird in flight.

Bean Goose, wings spread

Colors and patterns on the wings and tail feathers help with ID.

Tundra Bean Goose flight

When this bird takes off, to fly, it moves really fast.

Wings spread, tail feathers, Bean Goose

So, plenty of images showing tail feathers, were no problem at all.

Bean Goose flying

I wish some scientist, would come along and confirm, we have a Tundra Bean Goose.

They could have any one of my photos of the wild thing.

Wouldn't the one with the pink house, look nice in a scientist's office ? 

Related Post:

Wildlife Images: Swan Goose

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Culture Photo: Lunar New Year Visit to a Shrine

Hakugindo Shrine, sabani, visitors

Sabani Boat Teams at Hakugindo Shrine



Those gathered at the shrine have just sailed and rowed their sabani boats through Itoman Port.

They are addressed by the Mayor and other officials before entering the shrine.

Once inside, they make offerings and pray for safety and success.

This custom is performed in Itoman City, Okinawa at the beginning of the Chinese New Year.

Friday, February 20, 2015

10 More Photos of the Osprey in Flight

Never Get Tired of Watching These Birds



Another morning was spent at the Okukubi Dam in Kin Town.

Just about every day this week, I took a walk around the dam with a camera.

bird, osprey, wings up

There are a few of these birds living nearby and, they fly over the dam, occasionally.

Pandion haliaetus, bird, sae hawk

When they circle above the water, they are looking for fish.

osprey in flight

The critters aren't necessarily going to pose for a cameraman.

bird, sea hawk, flying

Catching the sun, lighting-up the bird's eye, can be challenging.

bird, ospery flying, blue skies

Today, the sun shined and the bird flew through some clear blue skies.

flying osprey, bird, wings down

Usually, when one of the ospreys, sees me, it quickly disappears.

bird, ospery flying, wings up

They probably don't expect to see old men in pine trees.

osprey flying, wings down

So, that's where, I was hiding.

osprey bird in flight

The bird put on a fairly good show and, I'm glad I was there watching it.

fish hawk, osprey, bird, flying

This series of images were taken in less than one minute.

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Pentax F4  DA 300mm

Exposure: f/6.3   1/2000   ISO 200

Date and Time: FEB 21, 2015  11:41AM

Location: Kin Dam, Okinawa, Japan

Bird Photo: Osprey on the Move

Pandion haliaetus, bird, flying

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Pentax F4  DA 300mm

Exposure: f/7.1   1/1250   ISO 200

Location: Kin Dam, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time: FEB 20, 2015  2:34PM

Thursday, February 19, 2015

First Iris Blossoms of 2015 Spotted in Kin Town

purple Iris flower

Coming back from a long morning of photography, I discovered this.

It was windy and, flowers weren't on the schedule but, I had to take a shot.

The 300mm lens was on the camera for bird photos but, it worked for this quick snap.

It's usually March or April before we get to see these purple iris blossoms.

Somebody planted the things in the park at Okawa Spring.

Maybe, we'll start seeing these beauties, year round, right here in my hometown !

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle Flying in Attack Mode

bird in flight

Sashiba (サシバ) in Japanese


 These birds were being driven to extinction at one point in history.

Some people figured a powerful raptor must be good for your health so, eat them.

Others, collected the feathers and hides for good luck charms.

And, some folks even trained and used the birds for falconry.

Thousands of these birds were being shipped to Japan until the 1980's.

Environmentalists from Taiwan and Japan put an end to trading this species.

An excellent reference -- Birding in Taiwan

When the Legs Come Forward



raptor, bird, diving for prey
 The raptor is zeroing-in on a meal.

The victim could have been a lizard, frog, snake or, furry critter.

Let's hope it was a Mongoose.



 More About the Butastur indicus




Bull-headed Shrike -- Interesting Little Bird

Perched on a Wire



Not the preferred location for a wildlife image but, it had to be done.

This bird was something, I had never noticed in Kin Town before.

So, I shot it.

bird,Bull-headed Shrike

The identification wouldn't be made with any books I have.

Luckily, Shawn Miller came through with the nomenclature and, a Latin name, too.

The scientific crowd would call them Lanius bucephalus.

The bird likes to catch bugs, frogs, small mammals and, even other birds.

And, impale them on barbed wire or, a thorn, for eating !

Learn more at Bird Research News

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bird Image: Striated Heron at Okukubi Dam in Kin Town

Butorides striata, Little Heron, bird

This Little Heron seems to be a regular visitor to the spillway at Kin Dam.

Traveling around the entire dam, this shot was taken on the way home.

Several photos of Buzzard Eagles and Osprey were taken, as well.

This just happens to be a favorite, because the bird stood still for the shot.

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Sigma 50-500 at 500mm

Exposure: f/16   1/250   ISO 200

Little Heron, Mangrove Heron, Lava Heron and Green-backed Heron are common names.

Its scientific name: Butorides striata

Friday, February 13, 2015

Wildlife Photos: Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle

Migratory Visitor to Okinawa



This bird spends the winter months on island and leaves around March.

They come from northern areas like Russia, China or, mainland Japan.

bird, Buzzard Eagle perched

Also called Frog Hawks or, Buzzard Hawks, Butastur indicus, is their Latin name.

They will eat snakes, frogs, lizards, bugs and, small animals.

This bird was kind enough to put on a little skit for the camera.

So, plenty of extra shots were take to create this GIF.

Today, I discovered a site called, Global Raptors Org and, it's a great reference.

Working to conserve birds of prey in nature, is what they are all about.  

Checkout their Global Raptor Information Network

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Little Heron Reflection

On the Bank of the Okukubi River



This had to be a favorite photo from today's nature walk.

The Little Heron (Butorides striata) posed perfectly.

bird, Striated Heron, river reflection

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Sigma 50-500 at 500mm

Exposure: f/11   1/125   ISO 100

Date and Time: FEB 12, 2015   2:30PM

Learn more about this bird, also called Striated Heron at ARKive

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Osprey in Flight at Kin Dam

These Birds May Live 15-20 Years



And, I just found out today, they might fly over 150,000 miles in a lifetime.

More facts about Pandion haliaetus at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

bird, Osprey, flying

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Pentax F4  300mm

Exposure: f/11   1/500   ISO 100

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  FEB 11, 2015  3:09PM

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kin Town Geese on YouTube with GPS Information

Swan Goose, Bean Goose, image

Go on Your Own Wild Goose Chase



Or, you can just sit at home and watch the video Map It Okinawa created.

With the tricky February weather, we've been having, the video may come in handy.

For those ambitious bird people who want to visit, GPS coordinates are given in the video.


This clip is entertaining to watch and, I enjoy the background music.

Where these geese are located, isn't very flip-flop friendly.

So, I think, I'll just hang around the office and watch the geese where it's dry and warm ! 

You May Also Like: Mysterious Goose Situation in Kin Town

Sometimes a Real Dog Is on the Roof of an Okinawan Home

dog on tiled roof

We all get used to seeing the clay statues on the tiled roofs around here.

Those are called Shisa and, they are supposed to ward off evil, protecting the homes.

Walking the back roads of Kin Town, I met this character.

live dog on roof of home

It wasn't some sort of lucky charm, used to scare wicked things away.

These folks have a real live dog on the roof, to warn them when someone approaches.

How many homes in your neighborhood are equipped with alarms like that ?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Kin Town Geese in a GIF

Swan Goose, Bean Goose, GIF

Scientists Haven't Chirped About It Yet



A few of the bird people have gone out and observed these two geese.

So far all I'm hearing is, Swan Goose and Bean Goose, being tossed around.

It just strikes me as odd, that they hangout together and, eat the same grass.

There's no telling what a Bean Goose is doing around here.

There's no beans, to eat, in that field.

They just waddle around the field eating grass and pooping. 

Did You Ever See a Goose Poop ?



It reminds me of a used car salesman, we used to have around here.

He was a good liar, whenever it came time to sell an old junk car to someone.

We used to say, "He's slicker than goose poop sliding down a tuba" !

Wall Art: Kouri Island's First People

painting, nude children, first two people, Adam and Eve

Photo Taken DEC 2011



Seeing this painting on a building at Kouri-jima got me wondering.

Images of the little kids are printed in a book, for sale, at the location, too.

They must be somebody important but, I never got around to researching the story.

Well, I gotterdun, today.

It seems, Kouri Island has a folktale that sounds similar to Adam and Eve.

They were asking the moon, to keep sending rice cakes so, they'd have something to eat. 

Well, rice cakes quit coming and, they learned to search for food the hard way.

All of a sudden, one day, the boy and girl noticed, their bodies were different.

So, they started wearing vegetation to cover themselves.

Somehow, they started having babies.

Some folks, think these were the first two people in all of Okinawa.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mysterious Goose Situation in Kin Town

male and female wild geese

The Pair Was Spotted Again Today



The feathers on their backs and sides look the same.

Once you get past the base of the neck, it looks like two different breeds of birds.

Everybody wants directions to see these geese, now.

Not too good at giving directions, I'll have to find someone to GPS the spot for me.

Thinking, I could Google Map the place was a mistake.

It looks like the satellite and map people, haven't been there, yet.

geese in flight

These geese, hangout together, eat the same stuff and, fly together.

But, folks are telling me, they aren't the same species.

The big guy, is a Swan Goose. The gal, is some sort of Bean Goose.

Not being any kind of bird expert, I'll let someone else decide, what they might be.

See how the guy bird, is ignoring the gal ?

There's always the possibility, they are a married couple, is what I've been thinking.

From the Handbook of the World, check this out:

It's a scientific description for the female bird, pictured above.

"Taxonomy: Anas Fabalis

Closely related to A. brachyrhynchus, which has been considered a race of present species. Taxonomic treatment of this complex has varied: in addition to recognition of A. brachyrhynchus as a full species, some studies have advanced the case for treating race serrirostris (with rossicus) as a separate species, morphologically and reproductively distinct from the three taiga populations of present species; a subsequent phylogenetic review also recognized three species within the complex, but in this case A. brachyrhynchus, A. fabalis (including rossicus and serrirostris) and A. middendorffii (incorporating johanseni as a synonym). In view of the contradictory findings of these various studies, and the fact that races intergrade to an uncertain extent, it would seem safer for the time being to retain the widely recognized treatment of two species, A. brachyrhynchus and A. fabalis."

Go Birding Europe Give Some Interesting Facts



There are several photos of the Swan Goose and, a bit of history.

One Swan Goose image, shows a bit of orange coloring in the bird's bill.

And, there's a page of Domestic Swan Goose Hybrids but, none like this couple.

That would be alright, if we had a bird from China and one from Russia, visiting here.

If they got hooked up correctly, we may have some goose eggs, lying around somewhere.

And, when they hatch, we'll call them the Ryukyu Goose !

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wildlife Images: Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides)

Bonus on Today's Wild Goose Chase



For the past two weeks the hunt for this birds has been taking place, daily.

Luckily, a good shooting friend, pointed me in the right direction.

If it hadn't been for, Shawn Miller, I'd probably still be searching for this wild goose.

Swan Goose, bird, vunerable

We spotted this rascal in a field, a few days ago.

Equipped with only a 300mm lens, I was disappointed with the few shots I had taken.

male, Swan Goose, lying

Today, I went back with the Sigma 50-500mm lens and a tripod, using the Pentax K3.

male, Swan Goose, standing

Even with the lens stretched all the way out, I like to get as close as possible to the subject.

Swan Goose, talking

There's no telling what he was talking about.  I couldn't hear him.

male and female Swan Goose

Maybe he said, "Come here woman."

Because, all of a sudden, a female Swan Goose arrived on the scene.

female, Swan Goose, lying

Capturing a male and female of this species, was the highlight of today's photography.

They are a rare breed, to be found in Okinawa.

Learn more about the Swan Goose at ARKive

See the difference between wild and domestic Swan Geese at Cornell Edu

Visit Shawn Miller's Okinawa Nature Photography for more wildlife images. 







Here is the latest, concerning the photos of the birds above. 

It appears, the second, subject may not be a Swan Goose, afterall.

Quote from a good bird-expert friend of mine, who is like some sort of Masterbirder:

"Mike-San, top ones the Swan Goose, bottom is a Tundra Bean Goose. (Anser serrirostris) There's still not a consensus on the status of the Bean Goose, some consider it split as two distinct species Taiga Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) and the Tundra as a subspecies (A. fabalis serrirostris). Though they mingle in the winter, they have distinct breeding habitats meaning not much cross breeding. If their not already two distinct species, they're on the way to becoming such."