Sunday, June 24, 2007

Rainy Season

The rainy season has certainly landed in Osaka with a bang the last week, although Saturday was the best day. I had originally planned on going to Kyoto on Saturday morning to get some shots of Brown Hawk Owl but seeing as I was working until 3.30am Friday night/Saturday morning, that put a dent in my plans so I went to DenDen near Shinsaibashi with PJ instead (see photo left). DenDen town is a "dodgy" area, as YN would say in his Brisbane accent. Full of electronic and porn shops, usually side-by-side. It is a great place to get good "deals" on computers, cameras and the like, but most of the purchases in some of the stores are hot as a tin roof in the middle of a desert. A very interesting place. PJ and I went in to t a porn store for a gander, as you do, and were shocked by a selection of DVDs containing kiddie porn pictures...girls no more than 8 or 9 in bikinis. It was disgusting and sickening. I was so taken aback, as was PJ. For a country that has all these sometimes bullshit rules about not talking loudly on trains, walking up the stairs on the left-hand side etc., the moral code of the place is very questionable at times.

Saturday night a gang of us went to see Gamba Osaka play Tokyo in the last game of the season in the J1 league. Osaka had already won the league but this was a game of pride. Tokyo took the lead after 10 mintues and then doubled that 2 minutes later. Osaka came back before half time and then annhilated Tokyo in the second half, running out 6-2 winners in the end. A good second half but a sloppy first. We were in with the die-hard Gamba fans, all wearing the colors and a particular group wearing t-shirts signifying they were Gamba Ultras. Very hardcore, and very scary. Reminded me of British hooligans really. One guy warned me that if I took photos once the game started, he would get very angry. It was the way he said it to me and the smile on his face that made me think that crossing this guy would not be such a good idea. The ringleader of this group stood for the entire game on a "podium", microphone in hand, directing the songs to be sung. A simple raise of his hand and the crowd would stop singing. A respite of 30 seconds and then he would begin the next chant/song and the entire west terrace would sing again. Madness.

Today, it has just been pissing rain. All I've done is sneeze non-stop...I'm on number 104 as I write this...105. I was going to go to Kyoto but no point in this pissy weather. I took a brieft trip to Shijoniwate to take some photos of the recently hatched swallow chicks but when I got there they had already flown the nest. So, I just hopped back on the train and went to the gym instead. Now, it's to Alias Season 3 and a very early night...

Oh, and for those of you who read this and happen to receive an email to say I've tagged you...accept my sincerest apologies and please delete accordingly. Thanks.

Carmo's Diet: This week, I have mostly been eating crap

Carmo's Birds: not a lot

Carmo's Birds for Byrdy: this incredible chick in Shinsaibashi on Saturday...oh my god

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

for how long more...

I finished work today at 7pm. It was till bright outside, the sun hadn't quite set yet and still had another 30 minutes to go before it slipped in behind the ferris wheel at Hep 5 and disappeared for the day. I stood outside the building I work in and wondered...what the hell do I do now?? The gym was closed because it was the 20th of the month eventhough I brought my gym gear with me, just out of pure habit. I realized that all I do is work. I know you think this is going somewhere all dark and gloomy, but it's not really. I have come to a point now where I have to decide do I just go and wait for work or stay, save more cash and go home when something comes up that I want. So, hence the title...for how long more.

On a brighter note, I spent last weekend birding with Kazu and Sakaguchi-san, heading up to Minoo Park to look for Copper Pheasant (dodgy photo above) and on Sunday, we went to take photos of a breeding pair of kestrels (Photo below). Prior to the Kestrel watch, we drove around Ogura but there was not much there apart from egrets and grey-heading lapwings. Birding in Osaka is now approaching the limit of summer excitement. That is, not a helluva lot around. I will use the summer time to explore the limits of my camera and travel to places I have yet to see in Japan.

Saturday morning I went into Umeda to look at more camera stuff and took some photos of the more interesting buildings. Umeda has some okay buildings but Tokyo has some spectacular buildings. I plan to go there again and spend a lot of time taking photos of those. I bet you all can't wait. JW is off to see Faithless in concert tonight with PW...lucky b'tards!!! I've never seen them live and they are one of my favourite bands. I did, however, get tickets to Summer Sonic which happens in Osaka in August. I also plan to get tickets of the IAAF World Championships which are also in August. The 100m final is on August 26th so I hope there are tickets left that. I need to do that on Saturday.

This Saturday I am going to watch Gamba Osaka play Tokyo in the last J League game of the season. Gamba Osaka are champions so it should be good. Oh, I almost forgot...I'm following in my good brother's footsteps and am on NSAIDs, painkillers and Vit B1 for the 10 days in the hope of ridding myself of back pain....I love trapped sciatic nerves.

Until next time, I bid you all adieu...

Carmo's Diets: This week, I have mostly been eating pharmaceuticals that are only sold in Japan and Argentina

Carmo's Birds: Copper Pheasant; Cattle Egret

Carmo's Birds for Byrdy: Riyo Mori

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Finally, I have a chance to sit down in quiet, unrushed surroundings (my apartment) for the first time in a few weeks. It's a nice feeling, not being rushed. I think I need more of this. I was supposed to go and see a spectacular firefly display last night outside Kyoto but the very violent thunder and lightening storms yesterday morning put a damper on that so it was cancelled. I went to Kyoto anyway and met Seiko for coffee, food and beer. It was a good laugh. It was great being away from work, away from all associated with it for the weekend. The place has been choking me lately and I feel like there's no escape at times. Not healthy to be honest. The last couple of weekends were also a great break.

The weekend before last, I headed up to Ashiu Forest, about 40km north of Kyoto city. It is one of the most beautiful forest I have ever been to. It stretches for miles and covers mountains, with rivers running through the area we were in, along the forest floor, was stunning. We drove around for a few hours at night trying to hear if any owls were calling. We head a couple of Collard (Japanese) Scops owls and probably a Ural owl but still not sure. Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo were singing at night, flying around noisly, as were Jungle Nightjars. A couple of Racoon Dogs were seen which were pretty cool. The following morning, after sleeping in the van, was stunning (see photo above), with Lesser Cuckoo, Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo, Oriental Cuckoo, Eurasian Cuckoo, Easter Crowned Warbler and Blue and White Flycatcher singing to greet the dawn. Plenty of birds were seen, highlights were Hodgon's Hawk Cuckoo, Crested Kingfisher, Japanese Grey Thrush, White-throated Needletail Swift, Green Woodpecker, and Japanese Green Pigeon. The bird of day, had we seen it(!), would have been Ruddy Kingfisher. We heard at least 7 singing birds but just could not find them. We shall return when the young have hatched and flying around. Amazing to hear Kingfishers singing in a forest. There were also plenty of Japanese fire-belled salamander to be seen, as well as Green Tree Frog "nests" (see below). The highlight of the trip though was seeing a Japanese Marten just a few metres away from us...stunning.

Last weekend I went to Tokyo to stay with Richard Carden, a British birder living in Japan. I arrived in Shibuya, Tokyo around 8pm and had a couple of hours to kill before meeting Richard and Kaori. Shibuya was just CRAZY!!! The busiest pedestrian crossing in the world is situated at Hachiko Square, with an estimated 1 million people crossing it per day. I was sitting in Starbucks which overlooks the crossing and took out my camera to take a photo. Just as I was getting ready for the green man to glow, a staff member came over and asked me to put my camera away and not take photos!! I was gobsmacked but he said it was a new rule now. I guess it prevents people from sitting there for an hour taking photos and only buying one cup of coffee. So, I sat there for one hour reading my book drinking one cup of coffee :) I will be going back to Tokyo in September for a wedding so I can take some photos then. I will probably go there again before that though. Here is a photo from someone else (Alexander Orstrom) showing the crossing...

The birding trip around the area was spectacular, with 7 new species for me, bringing my JP total to over 320 now. Highlights around Tokyo/Chiba areas were Great Sand Plover, Chinese Yellow Bittern, Japanese Reed Bunting, Japanese Marsh Warbler, and Great Bittern. We spent a night on Mt. Fuji which was brilliant. Singing Grey Nightjars, Serow deer, which resemble mountain goat than mountain deer, scrambling up the slopes when met with the car's lightbeams, the deafening silence of sitting outside at 2500m and the only noise is the buzz of the quietness ringing in one's ear. I love Mt. Fuji. It is such a peaceful place, no noise, clean air, clear skies, stars, planets, and satelites visible...simply beautiful. We were lucky that above 2000m the clouds had lifted and so we had a clear view of Fuji-san. Kaori-san was delighted and kept taking photos and catching energy from the sacred moutain. We could even see the summit of Fuji-san from across the lake at Hakone. The birds were great too, Nutcracker being the new bird for me on Fuji-san. Melodious Laughing Thrush was a new bird at Hakone. I had a great time with Richard and Kaori-san, and they made the weekend more enjoyable.

Since then, I've just been working and not working out. The belly expands while the buffness shrinks. Time to change the work times, and get the hell outta there by 9pm so I can get my fitness back. This weekend was nice, just realaxing, trying to get some sleep (still not happening). I hope this finds all well. No bird photos today, one can check out my Flikr page link on the left to see them...a collective sigh of relief is deafening...heathens

Carmo's Diet: This week, I have mostly been eating grapes of the sea and eel liver


Carmo's birds for Byrdy: Angelina Jolie

Monday, June 04, 2007

From Tokyo returneth the traveller...

i know, it's been slack of late. No posts and no word how I'm doing. Too busy with work to post and now just home from a weekend in Tokyo...a post will follow in a few days. Lots of birdy stories though as that was the priority of the trip. A boozy trip the a most amazing city is going to happen in the not too distant future. In the meantime, enjoy the picture of the Konoike Cobra bike gang...