Anyone Can Photograph a Bird on a Stick - Or Can They?
Jul 16, 2020 | By: Japan Dreamscapes Photography Tours
One the hardest photos to successfully capture in nature photography is a bird in flight, but anyone can capture a bird on a stick, or can they? If you are an experienced pro birding photographer, you know the answer to this question, and if you are not a birder or a novice birder and don’t know our planet's bird species, this can be a difficult question to answer. To answer this question, I will be using three bird species, for example.I photograph two of the species annually on my Winter Hokkaido Photography Tour.
The Steller's Sea Eagle is one of the three fiercest eagles on our planet and measures about 85cm - 110 cm (2ft 7in - 3ft 6inches) with a wingspan of 182 to 260 cm (5ft 9in - 8ft 5inches).Their plumage is blackish brown-black all over except on the shoulders, rump, tail, thighs, and forehead, which are white. Their big bill is yellow and wickedly hooked, and with raw force they quickly slice through the flesh of their prey and devour it. The eagles are masters at fishing.It’s incredible to watch as they swoop down and catch fish in their talons. When my clients and I are close enough in Zodiac boats and the eagles are feeding, I can hear them tearing apart the flesh of the fish, and them cracking the bones as they quickly devour their prey.
The second bird species is The Red-crowned Crane, which is among the largest of the crane species, measuring in at 150 to 160 cm (4ft 9in - 5ft 2in) tall, with a huge wingspan measuring 220-280 cm (7ft 3in - 9ft 2in). The Red-crowned Cranes are the only crane species in the world that have white primary feathers. The adult's foreheads and crowns are covered with bare red skin. Males and females are virtually indistinguishable, but males tend to be slightly larger in size. The Tancho's mate for life, and their ritual courtship dance is legendary; they bow to one another, then raise their heads towards the sky and call in unison, as they call they begin to dance.
The third is one the tiny Japanese White-Eye also, known as the warbling white-eye, they are a little bird measuring from 10.16 to 11.43cm to (4 - 4.5inches) in length and weight is between 9 to 12.80 grams.The mejiro, as they are called locally, has a beautiful vibrant green on its back, from anterior to posterior, and is paler on its underside. Its legs and feet are mostly black or brown. Their white-eye has rounded wings and a beautiful slender bill, which tells us its a champion flyer and or very acrobatic. Its wings are a dark color and beautifully outlined in green the contrasts are amazingly colorful.
As you see all three examples are different species, the first two bird species are large birds that I photograph doing my winter Hokkaido photo tour, and the third the Japanese white-eye, I love to photograph during spring on my annual Japan Cherry Blossom Photo tour or during a private spring birding Japan photo tour. All three of these birds species are not easy to capture gallery hanging fine art prints. But to answer your question about photographing a bird on a stick? I can guarantee you will be hard-pressed to photograph the Japanese White-Eye on a stick!But I can guarantee once you learn their behaviors and are able to photograph them like other pro birding photographers or me, they will be your “pandora's box, bonnie of a bird” that loves slurping the sweet nectar of the fresh cherry blossom flowers that have just opened. Firstly you will need to know that the Japan white-eye is extremely shy and don’t like to be seen by people or other wildlife, I nickname them little ninjas due to their jitteriness and extremely fast movement, as soon as they catch wind you are glancing at them they are gone in a flash. Also, they will quickly realize if you have set up a camouflage wildlife watching and photography hide/tent or even an easy pull over your camera LensHide. The Mejiro or Japanese White-Eye know their home region well and will avoid you and your temporary structure. So to capture them, you will have to learn to blend in, I know it sounds preternatural for the birder, but it’s how I photograph this bird on a stick.
Across Japan, more than 600 bird species have been recorded to date. The majority are migratory, more than 60%. Approximately 60 species are endemic or sub-regional endemic. Japan is latitudinally long at over 3,000 kilometers and has 6,852 islands. I have explored over 200 of the Japanese Islands, and I am a regular birding workshop leader on Japan's business-main migration routes in spring and autumn. Still, the difference on my birding workshops is you will probably not meet many other photographers or International birders as my pro team, and I are locals, and we avoid the beaten path locations. Also, we use private boats, or chartered boats, planes, helicopters, SUV’s with business class seating for our means of transport and our hotels are mostly high end 3-4 star, with private bath and shower, and all our lodgings have healing hot springs, that are rejuvenating after a long day of photography, especially in winter wonderland Hokkaido. Japan’s flora and fauna are divided by two ecological lines, the Blakiston’s Line, which is between Hokkaido and Honshu, and the Watase Line, which is just below Kyushu. So if you are on my annual Hokkaido wildlife tour, you are on a route that is internationally recognized for its abundance and diversity so that you can enjoy birding and experience encounters with Ezo Sika Deer, Shima Enaga and many other species on my annual Hokkaido photography expedition. We have several offices in Japan one my teams main offices is located directly between both lines on the busiest route of the migratory birding path during spring and autumn.
Camera Settings, for most the images on this newsletter and the majority of my birding photo's, are between 1/2000 - 1/3200sec, f/8 - f11, ISO 800 - 5000.