Friday, February 4, 2011

A Cold Morning

The night of Janaury 15th saw a minor snow storm hitting the little town of Beppu. By the morning of the 16th, the city was all covered with white sheet of snow, such a different view. It's not common for Beppu to have such scenery, and I was so excited and headed to Sekino-E to take some photos as soon as possible. I spent a few hours there taking photos of birds and scenery before going to the Mochi (rice cake) festival. My target for the day was actually to photograph the 2 Bean Geese in the snow, which would be something new to the collection, but unfortunately, they kept staying in the river and didn't come up to the snow covered field until the afternoon, when the snow has already melted.

A selection of shot photographed on the morning of Jan 16 and the night of Jan 15
A never before seen view of Sekino-E

Most part of the water in the field was frozen.
I was surprised to see the 2 Bean Geese flew up and circling around the area for about 3-4 times before landing down to the river again. They've never been active in flying before. Guess the spring migration is heating up and they feel the need to exercise... I tried to get some flight shots of them, but for some reasons I often couldn't catch up to them. They were really big, so when they came flying too close, I just couldn't fit them into the frame. Below are a few of the acceptable shots.

Tundra and Taiga Bean Goose

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
A sad flock of Common Snipes and Common Sandpipers were forced to stop feeding as the water in the field was frozen. The snipes looked odd standing in the snow. They still seemed to be trying to camouflage as they always do, but it didn't work at all when they're surrounded by white snow. For some reasons they've also become much more approachable. I wouldn't be able to photograph them this close, if it wasn't for the snow. Maybe they were too cold to move.

A very tame male Daurian Redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus)

Tundra and Taiga Bean Goose

I went back again in the afternoon and the geese were already up in the field. Above are the best I could get with the geese and the snow. I was happy to see that the orange band on the Tundra's bill has become much brighter and clearer cut, comparing to the first time I saw it. Seems like it has already become an adult. It made me happy to know that it chose to spend its first winter here in Beppu. Hope they'll stick around until late March when I come back to Japan again.


Stu said...

Ha, call that snow!!!!!!!!!!

Never seen a Common Snipe in Japan though I suppose a few I see on passage may be that species (or one of the other 3 that all look identical to me).

Nice to see the 2 different races of Bean Goose together........

John said...

It looks really cold - great Bean Goose shots !

Mark Young said...

Shorebirds and snow! I thought the reason they flew down here was to get away from that stuff.

martesorex said...

Nice shot.
Common Snipe canbe seen also in Hokkaido, but it is difficult to approach at short range.

Peng said...

I read somewhere that the Japanese say the Daurian Redstart is 'stupid because it's unafraid of people and easy to catch.' Seems to be pretty true with the one you photographed..?
Lovely landscape shots!