Tag Archives: Japan

Happy Valentine’s Day! Snow Monkey Love :-)

Japan, Nagano: Snow monkey (Macaca fuscata) nursing her baby

Japan, Nagano: Snow monkey (Macaca fuscata) nursing her baby

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you who celebrate it! ūüėČ

This year, my Valentine to my readers is an intimate, misty portrait of a snow monkey (Macaca fuscata) nursing her baby that I took on Japan’s big island, at Jigokudani Yaenkoen National Park. Should you be interested in knowing more about these animals and the place they live in, you can check out my previous snow monkey post that contains information in that regard.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

E=mc2 – Snow Monkey Portrait

Snow monkey (Macaca fuscata)

This is one more image from my trip to Japan, a portrait of a snow monkey (Macaca fuscata) that I took on Japan’s big island, at¬†Jigokudani Yaenkoen National Park. Should you be interested in knowing more about these animals and the place they live in, you can check out my previous snow monkey post that contains information in that regard.

As to the title of this post, I don’t know if it is just me, but whenever I look at this portrait, it vividly reminds me of Albert Einstein! ūüėČ

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Endangered Elegance: Japanese Crane

Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis)

One more image from my photo trip to Hokkaido, Japan: this one is of an adult Japanese crane, also known as Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis).

Japanese cranes are huge birds that are about 5 ft/1.5 mt tall and are the only crane species with white primary feathers. In adult individuals, the majority of the body is white, with black plumage on the neck and face and black secondary/tertiary feathers: their distincitve mark is a red patch on top of the head.

Japanese cranes are well adapted to cold temperatures and mostly feed on fish and grains. During the courtship and mating period, their display is¬†amazing and at times a little goofy ūüôā¬†with much posturing, wing-flapping, unison calling and… dancing, which includes jumping in the air and tossing sticks or grass around. I will publish images of this interesting behavior on a future post.

Japanese cranes are very elegant, beautiful birds, as you can see. Unfortunately, however, their elegance brought them trouble, as at the beginning of the XX century they were hunted to the brink of extinction in Japan so that their plumage could be utilized to adorn hats and other fashion accessories.

Nowadays, only a very small population of Japanese cranes, that is estimated at 2,750 birds, survives in Japan (where the local population is non-migratory and now protected) and in mainland Asia (mostly Russia, China, Mongolia and Korea). Although the population in Japan is stable, the mainland Asian population continues to decline due to loss and degradation of habitat.

As a result, the Japanese crane is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Sources: BirdLife International; International Crane Foundation; BBC Nature; and the IUCN Red List

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Cleared for Landing: Steller’s Sea Eagle in Flight

Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)

The image on this post is of a Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) that I photographed in Hokkaido, Japan. These are large, powerful eagles (just think that their wingspan measures up to 8 ft/2.5 mt)¬†that are mostly dark with a white tail and white accents on the wings and a huge yellow beak.

They are believed to breed only in far eastern Russia, in the Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea regions and particularly on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Each winter, most Steller’s sea eagles migrate south¬†to Japan.

Open water provides these eagles with their main food sources. These birds hunt from a perch or from flight by diving and clutching prey in their talons and sometimes they steal food from other birds. In Japan, Steller’s sea eagles primarily feed on cod and sometimes on crabs or¬†shellfish and small animals.

With a total population estimated¬†at 5,000 adults and declining (mainly due to habitat alteration and industrial pollution, logging and overfishing), Steller’s sea eagles are classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Main sources: National Geographic; BirdLife International and the IUCN Red List.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Juvenile White-Tailed Sea Eagle in Flight… and The World According to Dina!

Juvenile white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in flight

A new gallery with a selection of my bird images is now available on my Web site (feel free to go check it out, if you feel like it!): among other bird shots, it includes several images from my trip to Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s largest island, where in the winter numerous white-tailed sea eagles, Steller’s sea eagles and red-crowned cranes congregate to hunt for fish.

This image of a juvenile white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in flight¬†is one of those rare moments that make the day of a wildlife photographer, when everything comes together just the way you wanted/hoped for! The sea eagle is tack sharp, it has got the fish in its claws, the entire wingspan (which, at over 2 mt/6.5 ft, makes them the fourth largest eagles in the world!) fits just perfectly within the vertical shot with no clipped feathers, and the eagle looked back at just the perfect time: man, what do you want more? ūüôā

Also, a selection of Arctic and Subarctic images of mine has been published in the wonderful, inspirational, educational blog The World According to Dina, that revolves around pretty much everything having to do with the North of the world and her beautiful home country, Norway: please do yourselves a favor and pay my gracious hostess Dina (whom I wholeheartedly thank for inviting me as a guest author!) a visit and check out for yourselves how magical a place her blog is and how masterfully she juxtaposes her beautiful photographs with just the perfect quotes to go with them!

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Snow Monkey Business

Japanese Snow Monkey (Macaca fuscata) in thermal pool

When I traveled to Japan on a wildlife photography trip, one of the highlights was photographing the Japanese snow monkeys.

These monkeys (which are actually macaques – Macaca fuscata) are a species that is indigenous to Japan. On Japan’s big island (Honshu), they live in two main areas, one of which is a mountainous region in the center of the island, by the town of Nagano, at an elevation of about 850 mt/2,750 ft.

There, whoever is interested in observing or photographing the snow monkeys needs to hike to Jigokudani Yaenkoen National Park (which supposedly means “Hell’s Valley”) and then to the thermal pool, which is one of the monkeys’ favorite places to congregate in winter. This is because this region of Japan gets very cold in the winter, with temperatures that drop to -15 C/5 F, and therefore the monkeys seek comfort from the warm waters coming from natural hot springs that are heated by the underground activity of the Shiga Kogen volcano.

Actually, the whole use of the thermal pool by the snow monkeys started relatively recently and marked a discovery in the monkeys’ adaptive skills. While beforehand no snow monkey had been observed in the thermal pool, in the Sixties one monkey ventured into the hot spring waters to collect seeds that had been thrown in by the Park’s keepers. The monkey evidently enjoyed not only the free meal, but also the warm water and this led to imitation by the other monkeys in its troop and eventually by virtually the entire population of that area, that took on the habit.

If you happen to travel to Japan, I wholeheartedly recommend you pay a visit to the snow monkeys, as they are very interesting (and often times downright funny) to observe, with their human-like behavior. Plus, they make for great photo subjects! The one captured in this image reminded me of Planet of the apes, as if it were crawling out of the pool thinking “I’m coming to get you!”

If you want to learn more about the Japanese snow monkeys, I suggest you start by checking this Web site out.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)