Herons, egrets, and a red moon

June 24, 2019   It is nearing the middle of summer, and  the rainy season is late in coming here in Kyushu, Japan. Water levels are getting low in all the local dams and rivers systems, exacerbated this time of year by the planting of the rice fields, which need lots of water to flood the fields.    Wading birds are finding it a bit easier to procure a meal as their prey such as fish and crustaceans have less water to hide in and escape to.

  The following video shows a Grey Heron (Aosagi) capturing, killing, and devouring a  very big bullfrog (ushigaeru). It is a bit graphic, so viewer discretion is advised. 

  I also include a video of a Great Egret (Daisagi) and a Little Egret (Kosagi) searching for prey. the Little Egret shuffles it’s bright yellow feet which flushes prey from the vegetation and river bottom.  The Great Egret’s dark legs, in contrast, are difficult for prey to see as it wades around.

Please click on any image for a larger view.

 The strawberry moon appeared low in the horizon a few days ago, as I was driving home. Also during a total lunar eclipse, the moon can appear red because of the Earth’s atmosphere, but in a different way.  A strawberry moon takes on it’s beautiful red color because we are viewing it through the dust and pollution of the lower atmosphere. On the other hand, the reddish color during a total lunar eclipse, (called a blood moon) is caused by the color of the sunsets around the edge of the Earth projected onto the surface of the moon as the sun’s rays pass through the atmosphere. If there were no atmosphere, the moon would appear black. Amazing!

Thanks for visiting, and be sure to get out there and spend some time with Mother Nature.



First Days of June

June 3rd, 2019    I have been going out almost everyday this last week. The end of May, I returned to a favorite pond of mine for the first time this year. There, I noticed a Common Kingfisher diving into the water from a post over and over, but never coming up with a fish. I thought that was strange, as Common Kingfishers are pretty successful at catching their prey, unless they are juveniles, but this was a mature male. 

  I returned the next morning, and took a slow motion video of him repeatedly diving into the pond. With the slow motion, you are able to see that he was actually wetting his feathers and returning to the post to preen.   You are also able to see exactly how he goes about this. Before entering the water, he opens his beak, just as they do when trying to catch a fish. In this case though, I think it’s the kingfisher’s way of helping to create more resistance as their head enters the water. The dive is shallower than normal, allowing them to reverse direction and spring from the water very quickly, saving time and energy. Just after breaking the water’s surface, the kingfisher does a curious and quite playful-looking maneuver of bouncing on the surface, creating a springboard effect that helps propel them up and out of the water. At natural speed, it is impossible to see this.  He then flies to the top of the post and begins to preen, which is also quite interesting to observe at a slower speed.

  Just a short walk along a path from this pond, is another larger pond where a family of Little Grebes live. The male and female both help in raising their five young chicks, called grebettes, or dabchicks by some. I took a morning, and spent it with them, albeit from a blind. Both parents carry their young on their backs when they feel threatened, and to help keep them warm. 

 Click on pictures for an enlarged view.

  Yesterday was overcast with an occasional shower. A good day to photograph waterfalls, and this time I chose a popular and beautiful one named Nabegataki Falls. I wanted to arrive their just before opening at 9:00 am to avoid the crowds. Even so, the parking lot filled up quite quickly. I was able to get some shots without people for the first 15 minutes, but not after. It is a beautiful falls with a path leading behind the cascade into a hollowed out cave where you can get a unique perspective. Formed by the pyroclastic flows from the great caldera of Mt. Aso 90,000 years ago, it is quite an awesome place. (link attached below)

A sign warning of  the poisonous Japanese mamushi, (pit viper) was posted on the fence at the entrance. I have seen these well camoulflaged snakes on occasion, but they are difficult to spot unless they are on rocks or paths.

Click on pictures for an enlarged view.

  Thanks for visiting, and until the next post, get out there and spend some time with Mother Nature if you have the chance.