Tuesday, August 28, 2007


The last couple of weekends has seen a considerable increase in the number of waders passing through Osaka as the "Wader Season" begins to take hold. It's an exciting time for us poor miserable souls suffering the summer heat and humidity. It brings to an end, several weeks of inactivity and dullness. The last couple of weekends have certainly not disappointed.

The weekend before last, I decided to pop down to Nanko on Saturday morning to lead my little group of wannabe birders to the airconditioned (sort of - the windows open to the sea breeze) pleasure of summertime oppression...Nanko Bird Sanctuary in Osaka. Normally the birds are scattered and can be difficult to see but today they were bunched in with the high tide and the species list was impressive: Common Greenshank (see above), Common Redshank, LRP, KP, GT Tattler, Red-necked stint, Long-toed Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper and the usual assortment of egrets and herons. I was very impressed with the number of species but the bird of the day, for me at least as I found it, was a single Broad-billed Sandpiper. Nice. Later that evening, I headed up to Ebie to try and connect with the Great Knot that were seen during the week. Alas, I did not but a party of 6 Common Greenshank were nice.

The following morning I headed out to Ogura with K...K referred to it as Hell during the week. The weather does not make for comfortable birding. The main target of the Ogura trip was Oriental Pratincole. I have searched the previous 2 August months but to no avail. After 4 hours trekking across the polder region of the rice-fields and lotus fields of Ogura, we finally stumbled upon 4 fantastic Oriental Prats (see above)...magic, at last. A lifer for me and one I had been sweating over for a long time (quite literally). The last of my 2 litres of water were drunk in celebration and we decided that with the Prats in the bag, it was time to head to the heaven of air-conditioned SunKus. The supporting cast for that day's birding was also impressive: Pacific Golden Plover (3), Grey-headed lapwing (100), LRP (12), Latham's Snipe (5), Painted Snipe (2), Wood Sandpiper (6), and a Ruddy Crake (a big surprise).

The weekend just past say my return to Nanko after a disappointing sojourn back to Ogura. I received an email from K telling me of the birds present in Nanko that morning and I was stunned. Much the same as the previous weekends but an additional 3-4 species...one of which was a lifer!!! I raced out the door and got to Nanko an hour later. I walked in and calmly hurried to the observation window...boom....there it was, straight out...Far Eastern Curlew (see below for record shot)!!!!! Finally, after all this time and the slagging from ND, I connected with this crazy looking wader. The bill on this bird is so long, it looks strange. I guess it's because I'm used to seeing Eurasian Curlews and Whimbrel. The supporting cast was impressive too: Long-billed Dowitcher (1), Marsh Sandpiper (4), LRP, KP, GTT, Red-necked stint (massive increase 500), Wood Sandpiper (1), Common Greenshank (2), Common Redshank (1), Common Sandpiper (1), Terek Sandpiper (10), Broad-billed Sandpiper (at least 40, incredible, see above), and GTT. A fabulous hour's birding...

Sunday of course was spent at the IAAF Championships...incredible. over 300 photos taken and mindblowing. more on that later.

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

Carmo's Birds: see above...325 for Japan now

Carmo's birds for Byrdy: the English hepathlete Ennis...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer Sonic 2007 - Osaka, Japan

Well, the weekend before last I went to the Saturday of the weekend music festival called Summer Sonic, here in Osaka. It was probably the most well-behaved, organized and cleanest event I have ever attended. It was just surreal. No problems, no drunken louts (except for us) and no queues...at all...for beer, food, or the porta-loos. Incredible. The only queue that formed was for the merchandise! Brilliant. As you can see, I'm still wooing the women with just my mere presence...we got married later on in the day (she was feeding me tequila...whaddya gonna do??!)

We arrived there at about 8.30am and started into our first pint at 9am...it was going to be one of those days :) I went with PJ, YN, and PJ's friend over on hols from Oz, Michael. It was a brilliant day. The venue was split up into 5 stages and all within 10 minutes walking distance from each other. The sun was blazing and it took it's toll on a lot of people at the end of the day. The "Oasis" area was set up for vendors selling food and in the centre of the circular walkabout was a covered-over seating area which was just full of pleasant, calm, and somewhat startled JP people when we sat down next to them. In fact, I was surprised at the lack of gaijin at the gig and to be honest, I was glad. Any gaijins we did meet were up for the laugh and were very nice people indeed.

YN brought a whiteboard for people to scribble a message on for us to pose and take a photo. that was a good laugh and we took advantage of the non-English speakers, predominantly hot women, and so in the spirit of feeling bad in the sober light of day, i won't post them here. If you want a copy, you can email me requests :)

Now, onto the bands. The highlights for me were Bright Eyes, Arctic Monkeys, UNKLE (who were just mindblowing), DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist, Polyphonic Spree (the surprise of the day), and my favorite perfomance was by Jose Gonzalez. He was just unbelievable on his own for 75% of the acoustic set. I skipped Cyndi Lauper to see Jose and I was so glad I did. She was appalling apparently. He played most of Veneer and some new tunes which were top class. I definitely recommend seeing him live.

Polyphonic Spree are a massive band, with 22 members at least on stage, playing symphonic tunes in a cult like fashion. All band members were wearing the same clothing and for a second or two I thought I was at a mass religious rally being brain-washed to believe shite. However, their music is nothing like that. It's just upbeat, massive pop-music. Definitely worth a listen to and if you can catch them live, I'd highly recommend it.

Getting home was a pain in the ass but the orderly queue to the bus was surprising. I arrived back in the de gaff close to midnight after a detour for ramen in Umeda. All in all, a great day...

Last weekend was spent birding and it was a great weekend to boot, despite the searing temperatures that Japan's heatwave is tormenting us with. As the weekends birding deserves a post of its own, I shall post before the weekend. I am off to the IAAF World Championship on Sunday in Osaka!!! I can't wait...


Carmo's Diet: this week, I have mostly been eating seaweed and feta cheese

Carmo's Birds: wait for it...

Carmo's Birds for Byrdy: the tequila chick at Summer Sonic...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Heat, humidity, and more humidity...oh, and Happy B'day Pee Wee!!!

As much as western Europe has been lamblasted with rain, rain, and more rain, Osaka is just being hit with typhoons, earthquakes, and now the unbearable summer heat and humidity. With temperatures averaging 32C with 86% humidity (not much better at night), wearing the suit and tie to work is an uncomfortable experience, and anyone who has worked with me in a bar with just t-shirt/jeans, one can only imagine what I look like....

Birding has been a non-participating sport of late, getting out one morning for dawn to find myself in the company of a dozen egrets, 4 Grey-tailed tattlers, a couple of Mongolian Plovers and common sandpipers, was not worth losing about 2 liters of body fluids in the form of sweat. Roll on the middle of August when it SHOULD get a bit more bearable.

Next weekend is Summer Sonic!!! I am really looking forward to going to this day of music and revelry. Highlights for me will be Arctic Monkies, DJ Shadow, UNKLE, Manic Street Preachers, Kasabian, Bloc Party, Jose Gonzalez, the Offspring, Brett Anderson, Bright Eyes and Cut Chemist. I was going to go on Sunday but I really need to get out there and find Oriental Pratincole and Far Eastern Curlew. Not to mention, I'd probably have to take the day off work on Monday to recover. Roll on the 11th!!!

Last weekend was a good laugh, going to see the fireworks in Osaka while dressed in traditional gimbe costume. A bit like a pyjamas and damn comfortable. Onto to Noon nightclub afterwards where Mick, PJ's buddy from Oz, was woken up by the cleaners at 6am somewhere in the club. Legend. Sunday was bbq day with friends and family of SY. A good laugh but far too hungover to appreciate the good food there. Sexy Da Vihnchi turned up who was a laugh for a bit. It was PJ's b'day but he was a bit in shock at SDV's approaches to have too much fun. Hahaha, that was hilarious.

Now, with a little over 6 weeks to go before I am home, I am relishing the thought of going to Cape Clear for a night of two if the damn Brits don't let the foot and mouth break out cause mayhem like it did the last time and all of Europe was in fear of it spreading to rest of the Eurozone. If that is the case, then my birding when I go home could be seriously curtailed and I will not be a happy man if that is the case. I guess if they couldn't contain it the last time then there's no hope in them containing it this time either....

I am currently reading "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins which is excellent. It certainly cements my belief in atheism and if any christians out there read it, maybe they will be slow to push their incredible beliefs down people's throats and their "good and just god". Anyway, I would urge everyone from devout believers in a supernatural force to those who know it's all trite to read this book. It will certainly spur discussion and amongs the christians out there, disbelief at the heathenist words. Imagine no religion...

Carmo's Diet: this week, I have mostly been eating pistachio nuts

Carmo's Birds: cicada's mostly...they wake me up every morning at dawn

Carmo's birds for Byrdy: Madeline Stowe