Thursday, July 22, 2021

Owls Can't Move Their Eyes Like We Do

 Here's A Closeup Look 


This Northern Boobook (Ninox japonica) is an owl photographed in Okinawa, Japan.

The Japanese would call it (アオバズク) Aobazuku. 





It's a medium-sized owl that's a subspecies of the Brown Hawk Owl.

Notice it has a round-shaped head without any ear-tufts sticking out of it.

Bright yellow eyes, some folks think are comical (not me), and yellow talons are noticeable.

Other identifying marks are the dark brown feathers with brown and white streaks upfront.

The bird also has a distinctive black beak.



Hang on for the Eyeball Part!




It took a while for me to get proof from National Geographic that owls can't move their eyes.

They have to swivel their heads around because their eyeballs aren't in sockets like ours.




Here's an animation, made from several photos, of the bird looking around for prey.

It was the morning before a typhoon so, things are kind of misty and windy.

These birds are found in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

They hang out in wooded areas and forests up to 1700 meters in elevation.

The bird is a raptor that catches insects in flight and that's not all they eat.

They've been known to grab smaller birds, lizards, and bats.


See more about this Northern Boobook at:





Thursday, July 8, 2021

Chasing the Cinnamon Bittern of Kin Town

 Okinawa's Rainy Season Ended


Heat and humidity have me getting up and out with the camera before sunup.


My air-conditioned room is usually about 30% humid.  Outdoors it's over 90% after sunrise.




Each morning I hike to an area where two of these birds hang out.

Getting into position before 6:30 gives me time to stretch, exercise, and drink coffee.

Birds aren't on any kind of schedule. They might appear anytime between 7 and 9 AM.





They really don't come just to pose for the camera. They stretch and wiggle around a bit.

It doesn't do much good to cuss and talk to them but, I do anyway.





And, I get this look like, "Is there a problem Mister?"

Nobody wants pictures of stupid-looking birds so, I move on.





This Cinnamon Bittern had a better attitude and a terrific background.

The time was 7:19 AM and the hike home would be over before ten.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Black-crowned Night Heron in Flight

 Just A Second



Here are three photos of this bird taken at 6:55 AM today.







My camera was mounted on a tripod and equipped with a 300 MM lens.







Getting ready to hike farther down the road, I folded the tripod before the bird appeared.

It's a fast mover. I was on auto-focus and used the tripod as a monopod.







In less time than it takes to let out a good sneeze, the bird disappeared.

End of Story

Thursday, May 27, 2021

May 2021 Supermoon Over Okinawa

 Cloudy Skies Didn't Stop the Moon from Showing


They just made it a bit challenging for photographers and moon viewers.

Here are 4 photos depicting this month's Full Moon, an eclipse, and the Supermoon setting.




It was 8:39 PM on May 26th when this eclipse photo was taken.





It would be 9:59 PM before an almost cloudless image of the moon could be captured.






At 4:56 AM on May 27th the moon shined brightly setting over Kin Bay.





At 5:29 AM a parting shot was taken of the moon before it disappeared again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Supermoon APR 2021 Over Okinawa

 Some Call It a Pink Moon



It wasn't exactly pink but, we're glad it made an appearance.








To catch the moon rising over the ocean, we spent a few hours on the east coast of the island.

Heavy clouds interfered with that plan but gave the rising moon some decorative colors.

It was 7:22 PM when this scene was captured.

More dense weather rolled in and the decision was made to leave the wind and beach behind.



Back Home the Moon Made Another Appearance








On the roof of my house, this scene was composed at 8:54 PM.

Too tired to process the day's photos, this old man went to bed.

The plan was to wake up early and hike to somewhere the moon could be seen setting.




The Morning After









By the time I reached the destination where the moon could be captured setting I groaned.


A thick wall of clouds, off to the west, made it impossible to see the setting moon.


All of a sudden I looked towards the Kin powerplant and there it was.


No longer a Full Moon but, a smokestack covered the part that was missing!



End of story.





Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Strange Birds Spotted in Kin Town

Helmeted Guineafowl



These birds are natives of Africa but, some are domesticated in locations around the globe.

How and when these characters arrived in Kin Town, Okinawa is a mystery.






For about a week, I've been tracking them down and observing their behavior.

Early morning and late afternoons they may be seen in different parts of town.




 
On a morning walk with the dog and no big camera handy, we first saw the birds.

Thanks to iPhone 7 and a curious dog this scene was quickly composed.

The mutt is normally afraid of his own shadow but, wanted to see what all the racket was about.

The birds, when they saw him coming, squawked, gobbled, honked, and squealed.

They ran around like a couple of lunatics and as the dog got close, flew a short distance away.

When he approached again, they escaped into the forest nearby.



Getting an Identification



Luckily, a young man was leaving his house and saw me taking shots with the cellphone.

He grabbed his phone and began zooming in on the dog and birds, too.

Asking him if he knew what the birds were, he didn't know. First time for both of us.

He walked back to his front door and showed the photos to somebody.

When he returned he said, they were Horohoro tori.

At home, I did some internet research and found out the birds were Helmeted Guineafowl.



It Was Time for a Real Camera and Big Lens




It didn't take long to figure out, Mr. Canine couldn't be with me as I was photographing birds.

As long as they would squawk and run away, he'd chase them, just for fun.

A little kitten, could raise its back, and be ready to scratch, and the dog would get scared.

But, something runs, and he'll chase!

Hunting without the dog and carrying the Pentax, tripod, and 560 MM lens, worked.





A few things learned about these birds leads me to belive they are alright.

A local, described the meat as tasty. And some on Facebook claim the taste as, gamy.

"Horohoro" in Japanese means, a gurgling bird sound.

The critters eat just about anything, including ticks!

To learn more about Helmeted Guineafowl visit eBird and, you can listen to their sounds.







The only way these birds could have arrived in Kin Town, is somebody brought them here.

The closest zoos are miles away so, I don't think they are escapees.

There is a place in Japan raising Helmeted Guineafowl on Yoron Island.

That's more than a few miles away so, it's unlikely the birds flew here. Maybe, they were pets.

Somebody got tired of them and didn't want to eat them, and turned them loose.




They Also Do Crazy Stuff





On another non-camera walk with the dog, I was in an area the birds aren't normally seen.

On a sidestreet overlooking the ocean, not far from a restaurant, the Guineafowl appeared.

The restaurant's chef was ready to chase the birds away with a broom.

My unleashed canine spotted the birds and ran towards them, chasiing them away.






The chef had noticed a bird, looking at its reflection on the side of a black car.

The creature saw another male bird, looking back at him, and began scratching the car door!

This photo was taken with the iPhone, zoomed and in a rush to shoot before the dog ran it off.

Are there any birds like this in your neck of the woods?



 



Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A Few Words for This Wednesday - Sorta A Gripe

 This Cure Doesn't Work for Everybody


A while ago I could publish hundreds or thousands of words with no difficulty.

Articles, stories, reviews, and travel adventures just rolled onto paper with no effort.

Call it laziness, craziness, or whatever you like. Writing just doesn't get me excited anymore.

New Year's Day I  bought some notebooks to see any writing motivation would come along.

Two spiral-springy book things sat resting on a shelf next to the computer.

Some research was done (for a few months) and, finally, I decided to kick the writer's block.




There must be 100 methods writers can use to get their inspiration for writing fired up.

This one sounded like something which might work for me.

Every morning (for the month of March) I forced myself to write 500 words a day.

Most of the time, it was after looking at the news and social networks, early in the morning.

The house is quiet at 4 AM and I can sip my coffee without any distractions.

About halfway through my 500 milliliters of iced coffee, I'd get inspired and write.

"500 words," It really doesn't take lots of effort to write that piece.  In a few seconds, I was done.

If you have trouble writing, you might want to try this guy's method. It's not for me.

So, I'm thinking of giving myself another month of rest. Maybe, try something new in March!







Thursday, April 1, 2021

Meet the Marmalade Bush Hanging in My Garden

 A Rare Sort of Plant



Most festivals and cultural events have been canceled over the past year due to Coronavirus.

Up in Higashi for the Azalea Festival, we were screened fairly thoroughly before entering.

Temperature checks, tell if you've been out of the country, your name address, and phone number.

The blossoms were sorta so so this year but something caught my attention on the way in.





It was in a hanging planter and the tag on the plant read, "マーマレード, Marmalade."

Not knowing much about flowers, I asked if it was edible. The gal said, 'No."

Because of the bright colors, it's called Marmalade.






At home, the plant got hung in a spot without too much sun or shade.


Researching the brilliant blossoms, I learned plenty.

They say fresh seeds for this specimen are rare - hard to find.

Cuttings would be the way to go if, you want to propagate more plants.


Scientific Name: Streptosolen jamesonii

Another Common Name: Fire Bush

Native Territory: South America




More Stuff Was Learned




The Marmalade Bush needs sun but, can tolerate some shade.


It's a tough character - Bug Resistant.


The flowers may bloom most of the year in warm, humid, tropical environments. Yay!


The plant (growing in the ground) could reach 5 feet tall by 8 feet wide!


Its mild fragrance attracts birds and butterflies.


Some gardeners let the streams of bright flowers trail down walls.


The plants are used in Ecuador and Peru as folk medicine.


However, in California USA the plant may constitute a health risk if, too much is consumed!





We'll probably just keep our Marmalade Bush hanging somewhere in the garden.



REFERENCES







Saturday, February 27, 2021

FEB 2021 Full Moon Setting in Okinawa, Japan

 



 Foul weather hid the full moon as it rose on the evening of February 27th so, I didn't shoot it.

This morning at 0632 here's what I saw as I was leaving my driveway for a morning walk.

The moon appeared gold-colored as it was setting off in the west.

Rather than rotate it, to show the Moon Rabbit, sitting upright, I left the image natural.

Can you handle an upsidedown rabbit?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday Camera Walk in Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

 Springtime Can't Come Soon Enough



Lately, I've been skipping the long walk to a secluded beach for catching the sunrise.

It's better to drink lots of coffee in the warmth of the kitchen before packing up to hike.





It's 7 AM and a few minutes before the sun appears rising over the ocean.






At 8:02 this Light-vented Bulbul made an appearance.





It would be 9:02 before this Grey-faced Buzzard posed for me before the Kin Powerplant.





It was 9:53 when a Zitting Cisticola let me take a rushed shot with the camera.




Finally, 20 minutes from home (and breakfast) a Brown-eared Bulbul showed its face.


The time was 10:41 and I wanted to be home before noon!


After all, Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. Eh?


Thursday, February 11, 2021

It's National Foundation Day in Japan and More!

 That's like the 4th of July in the USA


It's a National Holiday and most people have the day off. Schools are closed.

Some sort of tropical storm is blowing cold wind and rain so, I hung around inside all day.



 

About 4 PM the wife and a daughter returned from a shopping expedition.

And the young one presented me with this ice-cold six-pack of beer.

I'm really not celebrating National Foundation Day for Japan. I'm American.

Naturally, I thanked the daughter for bringing my favorite beer.

Little did she know, I was gonna celebrate New Year's Eve tonight.

First, we must get back to the Japanese holiday.  

They say Japan began (as a country) in 660 BC.

That's all I can tell you. Read the history of Japan HERE if you need all the details.



How Did New Year's Eve Get in Here Today?



When I thanked the daughter for the Orion Beer I told her it's New Year's Eve.

She looked at me like I was crazy so, I had to explain. It's Chinese New Year's Day tomorrow!






Some folks in Okinawa still use the Lunar Calendar. 

And, the stick with the rituals, holiday routines, and planting of the Chinese Zodiac calendar.

Learn all about the Chinese New Year at this Site.


Adding a little more to all this holiday confusion, the daughter handed me another gift.

Some chocolate, as well as the beer, was her gift to me for Valentine's Day!

It's been a long (almost photoless) day. Two quick shots of the beer and I'm done.

One photo from the front and another displaying the top of the six-pack. That's it.

It's getting dark outside and I have some Lunar New Year's Eve business to tend to.

AMEN

Thursday, January 28, 2021

JAN 2021 Full Moon Setting Plus

A Bird and Some Blossoms as a Bonus 



Clouds and cold weather kept the recent full moon inaccessible for the past few nights.

Waking up at 3 AM gave me a chance to capture the moon setting this morning.





It was bright, setting in the western sky and I climbed up on the roof with the camera and tripod.

Before an image could be composed, dark black clouds rolled onto the scene.

Leaving everything set up for another try, I went down to the kitchen for a coffee break.

It would be after 6 AM before a (somewhat) clear shot could be made. AT 6:16, here you go!



Before Sunrise - A Hike with Backpack and Cameras


It was windy and cold with temperatures in the low teens Celcius. It felt like Alaska.

There weren't many farmers in their fields and few birds were in the skies.

By 9 AM the sun was warming things but, it was still windy. Time to head for home.






At 9:05 this Blue Rock Thrush appeared in a tree alongside the road.

It would be the only bird shot taken today.



Some Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) Encountered Enroute


Had the blue skies and sunshine held up, we may have seen some more birds.


Japanese White Eyes (Mejiro) love these flowers and hang out in the branches.






Clouds blocked the sun and no birds were to be seen in the Cherry Tree.

So, the camera was positioned where a white tiled roof served as the background.


Leaving this scene, the sun peeked through the clouds briefly.






At 9:32 AM a quick maneuver of the tripod and camera captured this scene.

May your January be as exciting (or more so) than mine! 

THE END