Monday, April 30, 2018

Peeks at the April 2018 Almost Full Moon

astronomy, full moon, Okinawa

99.7 Percent Full

Things were looking dismal for last night's moon photography.

Coffee, camera, lenses, camping chair, tripod and I, were up on the rooftop.

But, the sky wasn't going to cooperate. It was almost a whiteout of clouds.

astronomy, moon, Okinawa

By 7 PM a decision was made. Pack up and go home. Quit wasting time on the roof.

Just in case, I lugged the tripod mounted camera along on my shoulder.

About 8 PM I looked out at the skies from my driveway and, there it was.

Not quite 100% full but, close enough for me.

Just in case the skies cloud up again tonight, here's your April 2018 Full Moon!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Wildlife: Eastern Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonorhyncha)

Karugamo (カルガモ) in Japan

Also known as the Chinese Spot-billed duck, the birds used to be classified Indian Spot-bills.

Since 2008 the Eastern Spot-billed Duck has been recognized as a separate species.

birds, ducks, Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Okinawa, Wildlife

These photos were taken while walking the length of the Okukubi River in Kin Town.

It was early afternoon on a bright, sunny day and, I was hoping to catch some osprey.

No Sea Hawks dove for fish but, these ducks provided some entertainment.

birds, duck, wings flapping, Okinawa, Wildlife, Okukubi River

The birds may be found in freshwater ponds or lakes and brackish waters as well.

The Okukubi River flows from Kin Dam to the ocean at Nature Mirai.

It would be considered brackish; a combination of fresh and seawater.

bird, duck, river, mangroves, Kin Town, Okinawa

The ducks, when frightened, may just seek cover in the mangrove forest.

They are used to tourists kayaking the river and often hide, rather than fly.

birds, ducks, river, mangroves, Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

The best time to walk the length of this river is at, what I call half tide.

That would be about three hours before the full tide.

During low tide, not much activity takes place along the river.

It's so shallow, a person could walk across the waterway and, never get their wallet wet!

birds, Chinese Spot-billed Duck, Anas zonorhyncha, Okinawa

Unfortunately, no in-flight photos were made yesterday, the ducks wouldn't cooperate.

But, I have a few images from 2016 if, you're interested.

More About These Birds in Resources:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Wildlife Photos: Oriental White Stork (Ciconia boyciana)

Endangered Species

Riding around Kouri Island last Monday this creature caught my eye. It was huge.

A large black and white bird was at the top of a dead tree. It looked unreal.

Being a sort of tourist trap island, I figured maybe, it was a gimmick. Like a plastic statue.

We don't have any birds that look like this one, native to Okinawa.

bird, stork, Okinawa

Traveling light Doc Graff and I weren't equipped to shoot distant birds.

We pulled over to the side of the road and took handheld shots with short zoom lenses.

bird, Oriental Stork, Okinawa, Japan

Unsure of the bird's nomenclature, I moved around taking various shots.

Identification would come later, back at the office. A stiff breeze was blowing off the ocean.

The best I could do was take plenty of sport-focused images and hope some were clear.

bird, tree, preening, Ciconia boyciana, Okinawa

The red legs, long beak, feathers, and markings, helped with identification.

For sure that's an Oriental Stork. It's strange, it picked this island to visit.

bird, grooming, stork, Okinawa

The mating season for these storks is the month of April.

During May and June the eggs hatch and both parents, care for the chicks.

During July and August, the birds return to their wintering grounds.

bird, Oriental White Stork, Okinawa

The bird winters in China, Russia and maybe, North Korea.

It's on The IUCN Red List as Endangered because the population is under 3000.

Is this a rare bird for Okinawa or what?

Reference: Wildscreen ARKIVE

Friday, April 20, 2018

15 Photos: Sanguacha 2018 on Henza Island Okinawa

A Springtime Ritual

It's a combination of a parade, religious festival, beach party sort of thing.

Every year, around the third of March (Lunar Calendar) Sanguacha takes place on Henzajima.

fish, festival, Henzajima,island, Okinawa, Sanguacha,shrine

One of the highlights of the festival is a procession, where this fish shrine is carried.

An outcropping of rocks, off the coast of Henza Island, is their destination.

fish, shrine, octopus,hat, costume, Sanguacha, festival, Henza, Okinawa

One of the purposes of this celebration is to pray for a good fish harvest and safety at sea.

Octopus happens to be part of the ocean harvest in this area.

So, a gentleman wearing an octopus hat posed for the camera before the parade started.

culture, festival, parade,Sanguacha, Henzajima, Okinawa, pennant

Skipping the rituals downtown, I headed out on the highway and waited for the parade.

Hundreds of festival goers would be coming down the street, moving towards the sea.

parade, procession, fish, portable shrine, Sanguacha, Okinawa

Going on 2 PM the afternoon sun would be blinding unless the camera was facing the sea.

Knowing this, I was sure plenty of rear-end photos would be collected before calling it a day.

Rear-end photos, sounds better than ass-shots. Don't you think?

parade, banners, flags, Sanguacha, Okinawa

Every age of individuals may be seen at this event, from babies to folks in their 80's.

And, you'll see every color of the rainbow in custumes or, on flags and banners.

parade, procession, festival, Sanguacha, Henza, Okinawa, island

Down the road they go, parading towards the ocean. No faces are visible. Good.

Once a magazine photo editor told me, "Women don't like photos of their fannies."

Hah. That was before Stormy and some president's wife came along!

procession, shore, sea, grass, people, banners, Okinawa

Off the street and on to some grassy knoll, the participants march, heading to the ocean.

From the looks of this scene, you'd never guess an ocean is nearby. 

parade, festival, Henza, island, Sanguacha, banners, flags, people

Please, be patient. Once we pass that blue, wavy roof, you'll see the sea.

It's no fun for me, looking at all the rear ends, either. Blue skies are OK.

festival, Henza Island, Diamond Head,Okinawa, Sanguacha

A brief pause before everyone enters the sea. The tide must be low for the rest of the hike.

The hills to the left remind me of Hawaii's Diamond Head.

We should make a stairway and trick tourists into climbing up there. No?

fish, shrine, parade, festival, Sanguacha, Henza, Okinawa, Japan

One of the things I wanted to photograph, was the fish shrine, under Diamond Head.

A commercial photograph could be made, for the right price and right people.

Just have to get all those people and telephone poles out of there.

corpse, horror, costume, schoolgirl, flags, beach, Sanguacha, Henzajima, Okinawa

One of the spookiest costumes was this corpse of a schoolgirl looking creature.

She was posing for everyone. I took a snap just to keep from being bitten.

procession, festival, Sanguacha, Henza, Okinawa, Diamond Head

Close to 2 PM the procession started marching into the sea, below Diamond Head.

It was fairly windy and, blew the banners so, most of them were backward.

Folks who don't read Japanese would never know the difference. I'm just guessing.

costume, sanshin, music, beach, Okinawa

Another colorful character was this sanshin player on the beach.

It seemed like a young teenager until you got closer and looked at the hands.

Now, I'm thinking the guy was closer to being 70ish, like me!

beach, Henza, island, ocean, low tide, rocks, procession, festival, Sanguacha

The procession, carrying the fish shrine, wade out to a rock outcropping at sea.

One of these years, I may buy some low tide wading shoes and accompany them.

Another thought I had, was get a boat to take me farther out to sea for the photography.

festival, procession, people, Henza, island, Sanguacha, sea, Okinawa

Nanza Rock

The outcropping of rocks, too small to be called an island, is known as Nanza.

The crowd climbs up on the outcroppings and conducts rituals.

Prayers for prosperity and safety at sea, as well as for the farmers, take place.

The fruit of the sea, the octopus is consumed along with some alcoholic spirits, awamori.

The festival-goers return to the beach, where dancing and singing may take place.

By that time, I'm long gone and home downloading cameras.

It might be worth checking in to a nearby hotel on that island, to get the rest of the story!


Ten Photos from Sanguacha 2016

Okinawa Clip Article

Monday, April 9, 2018

5 Images from Iris Fields in Kijoka, Ogimi, Okinawa

Bursting with Purple

The season began 10 days early this year, according to the local news channel.

Luckily, I was watching the evening Japanese news when it was featured.

Otherwise, I may have missed the purple blossoms entirely this year.

April is a busy month, with all sorts of springtime rituals, throughout Okinawa.

flowers, Iris, fields, Okinawa

People Offended by Purple Shouldn't Go Here

One of the things I enjoy about travel writing is, getting people inspired to visit.

A few photos I posted on Facebook were viewed over 8,000 times in the past 12 hours!

Everybody can't love purple but, lots of folks on Facebook do so, here are some more.

purple iris, flowers, Kijoka, Ogimi, Okinawa

Just the day before these photos were taken, we were freezing in Okinawa.

The temperatures dropped down to the low teens for a few days.

Centigrade teens, means turn on the heat and wear layers of clothing in this part of the world.

Luckily, the fields were not flooded and muddy. I had socks on with my flip-flops.

flowers, Iris, purple, Okinawa

Purple happens to be a favorite color of mine because it goes well with yellow.

Those who know me know, I don't wear any other color flip-flops but yellow.

That's a hint, just in case somebody wants to give me a gift. Size 12 would be good, too.

flowers, iris, photographer, fields, mountains, Okinawa

The iris fields are surrounded by green hills and fun to photograph at wide angles.

Another thing I like about this place is, they sell stalks of the flowers, to take home.

They are less expensive than visiting a flower shop and, women love them.

So, I spring for about 10 bucks worth, every time I visit the iris fields in bloom.

It keeps the wife from complaining about my muddy flip-flops, coming into the house.

Parting Shot

flowers, cosmos, daises, iris, hills, field, Okinawa

For the Purple Haters, here are some cosmos and daisies, to distract you from the iris flowers.

But, I still recommend staying away from the Iris Fields of Kijoka. Hah!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Four Blue Moon Images from MAR 31 2018

Final Blue Moon of the Year

Last night I got outside early, just in case cloud conditions would block the full moon.

Using the Pentax K1 and a tripod I shot photos at 420 and 700 MM with different lenses.

Shortly after 7 PM, I posted some photos on Facebook and waited.

The moon wouldn't be 100 percent full until 9:36 PM.

Clouds rolled in and out and, I nearly packed up to go home. But, by 9:30 skies cleared a bit.

full-moon, astronomy, Okinawa, Pentax K1

9:36 PM

full-moon, Okinawa, Japan, March 2018

9:37 PM

astronomy, blue moon, Okinawa, Japan

9:37 PM

blue moon, full-moon, Okinawa

9:41 PM

Great Full Moon Resources

Skywatchers use Space (dot) Com for all the scientific information. 

Time and Date can be used to determine when the full moon will appear in your area.