Sunday, May 20, 2007

The week that was...

As promised from a previous post, here is a photo of the koi carp streamers that are hung up all over Japan to celebrate Boys Day during the Golden Week of national holidays. This particular stretch of koi was taken 2 years ago as a group of us were driving around the north-eastern corner of Shikoku that encapsulates the Aya Valley. The Aya valley has definitely been one the highlights for me while in Japan. It is one of the worlds deepest gorges and it is just covered from top to bottom with trees...a truly wonderful sight. So green, so alive. One of the few unspoilt areas left in Japan, well, apart from some of the rivers being dammed and the made "pretty" by carefully landscaped concrete and rock formations to make it look more "interesting" for tourists...honestly.

As for me, well, what can I say really that won't bore the pants off you like it has with me. A lot of my Golden Week was spent drinking and birding. Good actually but being back at work sucked arse big time. My back (i can hear the yawns already) went again and the ability to get more than 3 hours sleep a night is now my Holy Grail. A trip to the doc that thinks all ailments are a result of gout (I kid you not) and asked ME what I thought we should do! Morphine, xanex, vicadin, valium, an epidural, frontal lobotomy, to win the lotto all came to mind, but a sensible and well diagnosed case of muscular spasms lead me to ask for NSAIDs and injections if possible. Well, I am a doctor you know. But anyway, he agreed that that was the best couse of action for now and then proceeded to ask me what qualifications I had and I duly told him. He then continued on about his training in the States in the early 70's and how he thanks them for all he knows. They obviously didn't teach him much if he's asking me for to diagnose my own health problems. NSAIDs don't work people!!! Just give me the goddamn vicadin already!! A trip to him again next week is obviously going to be worth my while.

Apart form that my minds a blank. That's how mundane it is becoming. Now that the weather is starting to get hot and steamy (oh yeah baby), day trips aboot Nippon are in order so there will be many more breathtaking and glorious stories to be told and not pictures of birds!!! Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you're all delighted. Just don't go and talk to your friends about the time when YOU used to read a blog I used to keep and tell them at how you MARVELED at the raw talent and the amazing photographs of birds I used to take in Japan when I'm all famous and living the National Geographic/Discovery Channel guru-life that we all dream about...You can tell them how you used to gasp when my Flikr page used to open and the dazzling array of mind-blowing images would jump off the screen and smack you between the eyes!!! Seriously, check out My Flikr Photos, lots of new photos. Honestly, they're unbelievable...

Maybe my delusional mind needs a where's that vicadin

Today I went out birding in Saidaiji, which is very close to Nara city, and picked up a new lifer...Ruddy Crake. A class bird that I had to wait 90 minutes for before it decided to walk across a small stretch of water between reed beds. In the excitement (delusional some would say this is, but I don't think so) i forgot to take a photo so rattled off few shots but haven't looked at them more closely yet. Oriental Great Reed Warblers were singing everywhere and they were my first ones of 2007. Fantastic song and nice to see. Fan-tailed warblers tick-tick-ticking away, the hoarse call of the Japanese green Pheasant, and singing Japanese Skylarks provided a fabulous score to the chilly early morning dawn. With news of Curlew Sandpipers at Phoenix in Amagaski of Hyogo Prefecture, I hopped back on the train at 9am and got to Amagasaki by 10am to meet Neil waiting at the bus-stop. We ended up getting a cab as the bus was another hours wait so feck that for a game of soldiers. While picking up 3 breeding plumage Curlew Sands, a pair of breeding plumage White-winged black terns bounced over the levee to provide a quite pleasant surprise. Stunning birds and a Japanese tick for both Neil and I. The Curlew Sand was a JP tick for Neil so it was a productive, to start-up Photoshop...

Camo's Diet: This week, I have mostly been eating Herb Chicken with lemon vinagerette...yummy

Carmo's Birds: RUDDY CRAKE; White-winged black tern*; Japanese Paradise Flycatcher; Oriental Reed Warbler; Black-winged Stilt; Red-necked Stint; Long-toed Stint; Siberian Thrush; Fan-tailed Warbler; Narcissus Flycatcher; Oriental Cuckoo. JP list over 310 now I think

Carmo's Birds for Byrdy: Sarah Shahi


Monday, May 14, 2007

Forbidden Son...check them out

Hello and how are you all. I think you must be wondering what is the good Doctor doing with a title like that. I know I would be if I was a total stranger and reading this literary wonder that is CarmoPolice. Well, here is the spiel: my cousin's band is called Forbidden Son and is founded on the roots of heavy metal, some would say heavy heavy metal, but if you read the bio of the lads in the band, the influences in their style of play is eclectic really, ranging from the classic 1970's to the under-rated 1990's and beyond. One of the lads (who shall remain anonymous for now) cites the Bee Gees...Having already penned, recorded and produced their first, self-titled album with producer John Murphy (a well-recognized and accomplished Cork musician), they are currently working on their follow-up album. The debut album is available on iTunes and can also be purchased at their gigs. The gigs sell out very quickly when they play Cork, packing out the Half-Moon and Cruiscin Lan whenever they play there. Whether you like some over-rated media-created J-pop star such as Yui, or are into the amazing disk-spinning of DJ Shadow and the like, check out Forbidden won't be disappointed with the quality and immense talent of this unsigned band.



Thursday, May 03, 2007

Golden Week...strike three

This week in Japan is the celebration of Golden Week, a collection of national holidays spread out over a seven day period. The collection of holidays results in the busiest travelling period in Japan for locals, with the exception of New Year and Obon in August. Golden Week consists of:

April 29 Showa Day (Showa no hi): the birthday of former Emperor Showa, who died in the year 1989. Until 2006, Greenery Day (see May 4) used to be celebrated on this day.
May 3 Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi): On this day in 1947, the new post war constitution was put into effect.
May 4 Greenery Day (Midori no hi): Until 2006, Greenery Day used to be celebrated on April 29, the birthday of former Emperor Showa. The day is dedicated to the environment and nature, because the emperor loved plants and nature. Before being declared Greenery Day, May 4 used to be a national holiday due to a law, which declares a day, that falls between two national holidays, a national holiday.
May 5 Children's Day (Kodomo no hi): The Boy's Festival (Tango no Sekku) is celebrated on this day. Families pray for the health and future success of their sons by hanging up carp streamers and displaying samurai dolls, both symbolizing strength, power and success in life. The Girl's Festival, by the way, is celebrated on March 3. The carp streamers are pretty cool and the bigger the streamer, the wealthier the owners of such streamers. A photo shall be obtained for your viewing pleasure.

So, having spent last weekend in drunken oblivion on Friday night, falling asleep on the first train home on Saturday morning (5am) and missing my stop. Our search for a den of inequity in Kyobashi to celebrate SW's birthday fell on barren ground so a trip to a Karaoke den was undertaken and we sung until dawn. Saturday began at 3pm when I woke up and went to Shinsaibashi for some Mexican food and some more beer in Balabushka, which is a cool bar situated in the Amera Mura district of Shinsaibashi. Not a very heavy night as I had to show an American couple visiting Kyoto some birding spots nearby, and I was accompanied by Kazu so it made for a good morning's birding. The purpose of the birding was snipe, and we were successful in seeing Common and Latham's (Japanese) Snipe but the elusive Swinhoe's and Pintail Snipe were not seen. The b*stards just wouldn't stay still enough on the deck...oh well. Bonus birds were JP Waxwing and VB Starling.

Sunday afternoon entailed a small bbq with PJ and SW out the back of PJ's gaff. A nice relaxed afternoon of eating and drinking in the balmy late spring air. Monday morning, accompanied by DL, was spent in Osaka-jo trying to get some photos of Narcissus and Blue&White flycatchers. Some success was had and it was a really good morning, with the company being very entertaining indeed.

Now, i am off to the mountains in search of Copper Pheasant and Chinese Bamboo Partridge. To my man on the island that is Cleire, happy birthday for the 2nd my good friend. If I have forgotten anyone elses birthday over the last while, please forgive me, but I have known CC for over 25 years so I should know his b'day at this stage!!!

GO ON THE 'POOL!!!!!!! Milan will be ours again.....and the trophy back to it's rightful home....

Carmo's Birds: JP Waxwing; Pale Thrush; Violet-Backed Starling; Latham's Snipe; Kestral; Arctic Warbler; Narcissus Flycatcher; Blue and White Flycatcher; Black-faced bunting; Grey Bunting.

Carmo's Diet: This week I have mostly been eating lemon herb chicken

Carmo's Birds for Byrdy: Kirsten Dunst