Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mission Accomplished

After the short 2 posts below, here comes the full story of my 2-day mission at Shiraki from July 29 to July 30. So after my almost failed attempt to photograph the beautiful White-bellied Green-Pigeons (Treron sieboldii sieboldii) on July 29, I went back there again on the next afternoon. This time, I brought a photography hide I bought in Thailand with me, in the hope that the birds will eventually come closer. As I arrived at Shiraki around 3pm, I was surprised to see some stuff lying on the rocks below. There was a beach bench, some containers and a big umbrella. I scanned the area but saw no one. But then I spotted something moving in the sea close to the rocks, and I realised that there's someone snorkeling! I never expected someone to be snorkeling down here, where just going down from the highway is already life-risking. I think he must be some kind of a researcher rather than an amateur snorkeler. The only way to go down from the highway to the sea below is by climbing down a small ladder built by a homeless person living just below the highway. I even briefly saw him on both day, but he often disappeared after I saw him. I was actually a bit scared, but the desire to get good shots made me overcome the fear. So I set up a hide down there on the rock and waited for the bird. After waiting for about 20 minutes, the birds finally came circling above the hide and landed just about 10 metres away. I was so happy to see that the hide actually worked. The birds didn't seem to care much about the existence of the hide, and I could fire many shots before they quickly flew off as a juvenile Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus japonensis) came dashing in.

Male White-bellied Green-Pigeons (Treron sieboldii sieboldii)

Females are duller with no maroon patch on the shoulder

I even unconsciously held my breath while taking their photos when they came so close to the hide, afraid that they would fly away. It actually turned out that they didn't even care even when I panned my camera from left to right or up and down, so I felt so happy and relaxed while shooting them. More male birds came closer to the hide, so after I went back and checked the photos I've taken, I found that there are many more photos of the male birds than the females. Guess I have to focus more on the females when I go back there next time. It was so entertaining watching them swifting through the sky in large flocks and landed down on the rocks altogether. I also enjoyed looking at their eyes. They're just so amazing, with all those sky blue, deep blue and magenta layers. One of the most extraordinary eyes I've ever seen.
The problematic young Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus japonensis)

The setting sun really brought out the bright yellowish colour of the male.

Some more shots of the male birds

And the duller females
The birds seemed to like this spot.
The birds kept visiting the rocks until it got quite dark. Furuso-san was also there on July 30, and we watched the birds flying up and down the rocks until almost 7pm. It seems like they are most active around 5:30pm - 6:00pm. Unfortunately, I've already packed up my hide and climbed up to the highway since before 5:30, so when the birds began to gather in the greatest number, I was already high up on the road looking down at them with a sad face, as it's so difficult to go down there again.

These are the photos behind the scene. You can see high the road is from the sea. There's a small ladder tied up to the fence, and just below the ladder there's a place for homeless people. I had to climb all the way from the ladder down to the sea below. The birds flew out from the dense forest on other side of the road to the rocky shore below to drink sea water. The juvenile Peregrine often perched on an antenna located on the forest side and waited until the pigeons came down to the sea, then attacked in high speed. Hope the ladder will still be there when I get back to Japan again on October. Otherwise I won't be able to take any photos of the birds anymore.


Stu said...

You were well rewarded for your efforts, these shots are great......

John said...

a really interesting sequence of photos. I think all the Green Pigeons I've ever seen were hiding in green leafy trees..

Russell said...

Wonderful photographs. You are right about their beautiful eyes. Hmmn, I'm not brave enough to climb down anywhere but I'm thinking I'll have to investigate the shores of Niigata.

Phil said...

Great pictures and I am pleased you pointed out their eye colours - extraordinary indeed.

Mark Young said...

Fantastic looking birds! Your images are top notch.