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Goshawk & Kestrels

November 9th, 2005

So I finally found the birding spot in Seiseki-Sakuragaoka that everyone’s been talking about. There wasn’t too much action, though there were a ton of birders there. But everyone was spying a Northern Goshawk (Ootaka • オオタカ) that was perching very close by. First, it was obscured by the trees, then (after a 45-minute wait) it came out a bit:

1105-Northern Goshawk2-450

Then if flew to a nearer tree, and I got a better shot at it:

1105-Northern Goshawk-450

There were also a pair of Common Ketsrels (Chougenbou • チョウゲンボウ) across the river, but they were so far away that you couldn’t tell from my photo alone–I had to see them through another birder’s scope.

1105-Common Kestrel-450

They’re not defined enough for me to count this as a “get,” so I won’t add that one to my life list (which I’m limiting to successfully photographed birds, not ones just spotted or heard).

The distance of the birds today reinforced my desire to get a scope with camera attachment, so I looked into it more closely after birding in the morning. However, the camera I have is not good for that–apparently, the scopes work better with cameras that have minimal zoom themselves, and my 10x zoom camera isn’t a good match. The guy at Yodobashi set up my camera on a scope so I could get the feel of what I’d be getting, and it wasn’t very good. The field of view was tiny, I had to zoom the camera all the way in and still there was a vignette (circular shadow) at the edges; it would be impossible to find anything without a small spotter scope. The focus was poor, and for ¥60,000 worth of extra equipment, the additional zoom was hardly more than the total digital zoom using my camera and the 1.6x teleconverter (for a total 50x zoom). Looks like I’ll have to wait until I’m ready to lay out more than a thousand bucks for a whole new system, and that won’t be too soon.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll get by somehow–but I’ll have to curb my optics envy when I’m around other birders.

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