Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year 2021 Moon Over Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

We Missed the December Full Moon

 The last full moon photographed over this island was on Halloween night, October 31, 2020.

Clouds and rain have kept the full moons hidden for the past few months.

Maybe, this is a sign, things will be better this year. Coronavirus get under control.

And for heaven's sake, USA quit arguing about who's president.

One guy came in first and the other can say he came in a close second!

Camera: Pentax K1

Lens: Pentax 560 MM with 1.4 Converter Focal Length 784 MM

Exposure:  f/16  1/125  ISO 100

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  JAN 1, 2021  6:34 AM

New Year's Eve Afternoon Stroll with the iPhone

 Wet and Cold Winter Weather

Normally, I'm out with the camera, backpack, and dog, early in the morning.

With wannabe typhoon-like winds and rain, I've slacked off doing 10,000 step hikes before noon.

The drizzle stopped for a while this afternoon so, I headed out to do some end-of-year business.

Suddenly I noticed a patch of blue sky with white clouds, directly ahead of me.

A bit of maneuvering got me this shot with no telephone wires in the scene.

Leaving the post office and walking the backroads, I spotted this gem of an attraction.

2020 has been sort of a lousy year and everyone has been stuck at home, social distancing.

It didn't stop this Komatsu family from having a baby!

Heading back across the south side of the highway, I stopped at a local electrical store.

One of the things I've been putting off all year was buying a new computer mouse.

Got that and a new iPhone charging wire to boot, for under 20 bucks.

It turned out to be a Not-so-bad, crappy New Year's Eve, I guess. Hopefully, yours went well, too.

Next, I'll have to Google, "Breaking in your new mouse" and see if there are instructions.

If not, I'll have to see if that can be remedied sometime next year.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Sample Images: Pentax 560 MM Lens

 Some Bird Shots

It will take a month or two for me to write an honest review of this monster lens.

I decided it would be a good idea to post a few photos before they get buried in my files.

This Northern Shoveler, launching into the sky was taken on the morning of November 22, 2020.

Using  1.4 Teleconverter the focal length of this image was 784 MM.

The Great Egret image was taken December 8, 2020, shortly before 9 AM.

Focal Length: 560 MM

Other Equipment

A Gitzo tripod and Wimberly Gimbal with Arca-Swiss quick release plate.

Unless walking a short distance, shouldering the contraption, a backpack is required.

My favorite spots (hiking) for wildlife photography are kilometers away from home.

I backpack the big lens, while I shoulder the tripod and camera with a 300MM lens attached.

Nearing a location where the big lens will be needed, I unpack and build my big rig.

One of these days, I'll have an assistant photograph the old guy hiking with all his gear.

Meanwhile, just use your imagination!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Ducks Can Brighten Up a Rainy Day in Okinawa


Out for a quick four-hour walk in the wind and rain, this was one image I decided to save.

Normally, the dog and I would be out for five hours or longer in better weather.

Lots of time was spent getting shelter from the cold drizzle, beneath a highway overpass.

The ducks (Northern Shovelers) hangout in wetlands, sucking what they eat from the water.

Sometimes a flooded field and other times, this canal they're seen taking flight from.

They migrate here for the winter months and I photograph them almost daily.

It's lots more fun, taking long walks on sunny days with blue skies.

But, any time spent outdoors beats sitting around stuck indoors, on a day in December.

What do you do for excitement on foul-weather days?


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Great Cormorant Flying Over Kin Town, Okinawa

 Photographed Today with Pentax 560 MM Lens

There won't be a review of this new lens until it's been fully evaluated.

Lately, I've been backpacking the monster each morning, as I do my 10,000 daily steps.

Plenty of ducks migrate to Okinawa for winter. They were sort of avoiding me today.

All of a sudden, two strange-looking birds flew overhead and I wasn't sure what they were.

Here's a favorite image of one I used to get an identification. I'm not exactly a bird expert.

So, I wind up jumping through all sorts of Internet hoops, to get you this information.

English Name: Great Cormorant

Scientific Name: Phalacrocorax carbo

Japanese Name: Kawa-u (カワウ)

More of these birds may be seen in this 2012 post from the other side of this island. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Day After Halloween - Sorry No Ghosts

A Juicy Ghost Story in the Making

Research continues on Okinawan Folklore with some ghosts.

Last month, we tried our best to get you a goosebumpy local legend and photos to go with it.

Things don't always turn out the way I want them to so, something else creepy will have to do.

Before sunup this morning I walked along the east coast, looked towards the west, and saw this.

The full moon was going down behind some vegetation lining a hillside behind me.

It's not really creepy, to me but, it could give someone the shivers.

It was going on 8 AM when this gnarly character stuck his big foot on top of the water.

If that big paw and red-eye don't give ya the creeps, you'll just have to wait.

Maybe, before next Halloween, we'll have a real ghost story to share with you.

For those interested in birds, this one's nomenclature would be: Eurasian Coot.

 Scientific Name: Fulica atra

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween 2020 Full Moon Over Okinawa

 Second Full Moon This Month - A Blue Moon

Learn more at Time and Date

Camera: Pentax K1

Lens: Pentax 560 MM with 1.4 Converter Focal Length 784 MM

Exposure: f/11 1/200 ISO 400

Date and Time: OCT 31 2020 6:33 PM

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan


Friday, October 9, 2020

Grey-faced Buzzard - Migratory Visitor to Okinawa



Spotted Today in Kin Town

They've been on the island for a few days now but, this morning was the first time I saw one. 

It's always nice to see these characters, they are raptors and eat bugs, snakes, and mice.

It would really be cool to see one grab a mongoose and fly off with it. Not gonna happen.

Crows don't appreciate these birds coming to vacation for the winter.

This one hopped around on the wire, yelling at the guest about being here.

The buzzard just stared at him like, "How'd you like your face shredded, knucklehead?"

The crow finished his little speech and flew off to be a nuisance somewhere else.


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Ryukyu Flying Fox in Flight Under Blue Skies

 Supposed to Be Nocturnal

Many times you can spot them early in the morning or evening when it's not dark outside.

When I take a long hike, to view the sunrise over the ocean, sometimes I'm disappointed.

Clouds on the horizon blocked the sunrise this morning so I had to find a different subject.

It was about 7:30 AM when I decided to pack up and start the long walk home.

Usually, I'd have taken a few dozen photos of birds but, today nothing of interest appeared.

My backpack was lifted and slung over the shoulders and I was ready to fold the tripod.

All of a sudden this Pteropus dasymallus flew out of a tree right near me!

They're Fruit Bats

Nothing to panic over, these critters don't fly around biting people or their pets.

Fruit farmers get upset with them, for snatching their crops but, they are also helping.

They keep things growing by spreading the pollen of flowers from plant to plant.

They are relatively harmless to humans except for one thing I can think of.

Don't look up in the sky (with your mouth open) when they're flying overhead.

They could squirt something in your face and, I hear it doesn't taste good!

Previous Post: Endangered Bat

Thursday, October 1, 2020

OCT 1 2020: The First Full Moon Over Okinawa


Another Full Moon Will Appear on Halloween

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Sigma 50-500 with 1.4 Converter Focal Length 700 MM

Date and Time: OCT 1 2020 7:04 PM

Location: Kin Town Okinawa Japan

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) Flying in Kin Town

 Some Fast Moving Birds

Not sure if they go by kilometers or miles per hour, all I know is they are speed demons.

These characters don't survive on a diet of fish. They eat bugs, crabs, and even little chicks.

Somewhere in California, one of these Terns lived to be over 20 years old.

Learn more about these birds at Cornell All About Birds.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Endangered Species Images: The Yellow Pond Turtle


Active at Night and When It's Raining

This reptile was out running on the road as I was hurrying to find shelter from the rain.

Yesterday some sudden squalls drenched me and the dog when we were miles from home.

Knowing anyone driving in the storm, wouldn't notice a turtle on the highway, I rescued it.

The plastic bag I carry in my pocket (just in case somebody poops) was the perfect size.

Plenty of times, I come across turtles which have been crushed, on my morning hikes.

Not Really a Turtle Expert

At home, some research had to be done to help identify this critter.

From past experience, I knew a photo of the turtle's underside would come in handy.

Counting the black spots on this character's belly reminded me, I've seen this before.

That specimen was running around on a sunny day in a plowed field.

Some images were uploaded to iNaturalist and, I reported sighting a Yellow Pond Turtle.

Some experts over there confirmed my observation by giving it a Research Grade.

After being such a good model, I thought the turtle deserved some sort of reward.

So, I released it in some natural environment, distant from that dangerous road.

Far enough away that it probably won't have to breed with any immediate family members!

Just in case you didn't know the difference between amphibians and reptiles.

Wordless Wednesday: Wet Dog Walking Home in Rain

dog, Okinawa, rain, walking, Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Ryukyu Women Wearing White Robes

culture, Japan, Kouri-jima, island, Okinawa, robes, rituals, noro, women

What Should We Call Them?

They are a special sort of people, performing important rituals in the Ryukyu Islands.

Pictured above, are five of these ladies on the island of Kouri-Jima, yesterday morning.

Coronavirus has canceled many cultural events on the islands this year but, not this one.

It's obvious, watching these gals, they are praying so, it's some sort of religious event.

There are questions, to be asked, just to satisfy my curiosity and maybe, other folk's, too.

It's such a solemn-looking ceremony, I can't just say, "Hey Lady, what's going on?"

Another Island - More Women in White Robes

Afternoon provided an opportunity to photograph more ladies wearing those white outfits.

Back on the main island of Okinawa, in the village of Ogimi, similar ceremonies took place.

culture, Japan, Okinawa, Ogimi, prayer, beach, rituals, Noro, women, robes

 Many times, I've attended gatherings like this, and the question arises.

Are the gals in the white robes, Kaminchu, Noro, or Yuta?

Priestesses, of some sort, I guess you could call them. I'm sorta a shy individual.

Whenever I want to ask one of them something, I try to be polite and respectful.

"Nene, Can I ask you what that thing is, you're wearing in your hair?" 

To me, they are special people so, I call them Nenes.

Noro or Nuru, would be the terminology a local would consider these women to be.

From Wikipedia:

"Noro (祝女, sometimes 神女 or 巫女) (Okinawanヌール nuuru[1]) are priestesses of the Ryukyuan religion at Utaki. They have existed since at least the beginning of the Gusuku Period (late 12th century) and continue to perform rituals even today. They are distinct from yuta [ja] (psychics), but are classified as kaminchu ("godly people")."

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Second Visit to Neo Park in Nago Okinawa Japan

birds, Grey crowned crane, Okinawa, zoo

Bird Show Is a Must See

On the first visit to this attraction, I forgot all about the bird show advertised on TV.

So, a week later, the second trip to Neo Park was made.

At the ticket counter, the gal told me 11:00 and 14:30 were the showtimes.

With an hour to kill, I wandered around and spotted this brilliantly colored bird.

After returning home, I found out this bird is an endangered species.

More about the Gray crowned crane at National Geographic.

birds, Neo Park, Nago, Okinawa, show

Four or five different birds were displayed, flying from one handler to another.

They fly low, so close to the audience, I thought someone might get hit in the head.

Now, I know why they insisted I sit down on a bench to take photos.

It was so hot and humid (that day) one raptor refused to cooperate and stayed in a tree!

Someday, I'll go back and get better photos, when the light is right and it's cooler outside.

It's best to check the Neo Park website before planning a trip up there.

It closed for two days due to the typhoon but, Google Maps wasn't notified.

Also, Neo Park has an Instagram Photo Contest you may want to check out.

The website may be switched to the English language for information.

Obon in Okinawa Is Here Now Without the Eisa

This is the first year (I can think of) that Eisa got canceled during Obon.

So, I blew a wad of money to get a children's book, to take home.

book, children's, Eisa, dance, Okinawa, Obon

Inside, you'll discover it has English, Japanese, and Uchinaguchi (Okinawan dialect).

But, my favorite part is this:

book, dance, Eisa, Obon, Okinawa

Open some of the pages (wide) and the Eisa characters pop-up in your house!

If, you can't find the book at a local gift shop, Google It.


Well, I have things to do. Happy September and stay safe during this typhoon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Wordless Wednesday: Best Count Birds Before They Hatch

birds, humor, sparrows, flowers, Okinawa, Wordless-Wednesday

Return of the Pacific Golden Plover to Okinawa, Japan

Early This Year

These birds are usually winter visitors to the island. Like November through April.

The year 2020 has pulled a few surprises so, maybe this is just another one.

birds, migratory, Okinawa, Pluvialis fulva, Munaguro

The scientific name for these birds is Pluvialis fulva.

In Japan, they're called Munaguro (ムナグロ).

More about these birds in this previous post.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Bird Photo: Common Greenshank: Tringa nebularia

birds, Cornell, Japan, Marsh Sandpiper, Okinawa

Aoashishigi (アオアシシギ) in Japan

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Sigma 50-500 at 500MM

Exposure: f/11  1/250   ISO 100

Location: Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time: AUG 19 2020 7:59 AM

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Smiling Moon, Scarecrow and Surprises in Kin Town

It Started Around 5 AM Today

Going out the door for my morning stroll I noticed the moon in clear skies.

astronomy, moon, Okinawa, smile

It was interesting enough for me to set up the tripod before sunrise and my usual destination.

The image (during editing) was tilted a few degrees, to straighten the smile a bit.

scarecrow, fields, Kin, Japan, Okinawa

A few hours later and miles from home, I noticed this scarecrow in a field.

The rascal was doing a fairly good job. There were no birds in sight.

About 8 AM I Was Hot and Thirsty

Knowing there's a shaded area and vending machines at Nature Mirai, that's where I went.

Normally, I stop at a 100 Yen drink machine closer to the residential area.

A few bottles of cold water and a can of coffee, get tossed into the backpack.

The darn machine wouldn't operate for some reason so, I traveled without water.

ice cream, machines, Kin, Nature Mirai, Okinawa, vending

Water was found in another vending machine and, while drinking I noticed this.

Just to the left of a coffee vending machine is this Seventeen Ice Cream machine!

Half a bottle of water was enough for me. The dog got to drink the rest.

Green tea, ice cream, Kin, Okinawa, vending

Green tea ice cream in a cone seemed appropriate for breakfast. It's healthy I think.

The stuff ain't cheap. It's 160 Yen for one skinny little ice cream cone. That's over a dollar!

Hey, it's miles away from civilization. A place where people camp and go kayaking.

Blueberry Cheesecake, ice cream, Kin Town, Okinawa, Nature Mirai

My Japanese language skills aren't near perfect but, I figured something out.

The language on the machine (Japanese) told me this was Blueberry Cheesecake.

Who's gonna complain after I spent two or three bucks on ice cream for breakfast?

After munching the ice cream cones down, I stockpiled my backpack with bottled water.

It would be after 11 AM by the time I got home.

A bit of research led me to the website of the makers of this scrumptious ice cream.

Before everyone on the island starts asking for directions to Nature Mirai, look here.

Last Surprise

That ice cream got me thinking the 18,000 steps I took wouldn't be enough exercise for today.

count, steps, iPhone

So, the dog and went for another few thousand steps tonight to burn some extra calories.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Animation: Couple of Eurasian Tree Sparrows

In a Thornless Crown of Thorns

A white building across the street from my porch serves as the background.

Late afternoon sun provides the lighting and makes the red flowers stand out.

birds, Eurasian Tree Sparrows, flowers, Japan, Okinawa

When it's steamy hot outdoors, I can sit in my kitchen and wait for these birds to show up.

The camera is mounted on a tripod and I do some rapid firing to capture the images.

The Cornell Lab, All About Birds, can tell you more about these sparrows.

The bright red flowers are natives of Madagascar where they're sort of endangered.

That's because of losing the natural habitat, tropical jungles. They grow well here.

Learn more about Thornless Crown of Thorn plants at World of Succulents.