Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 17, 2015

Niseko Sunny Day

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , , — admin @ 6:19 am


Yesterday the sun came out again. No new snow.

super ridge
Super Ridge


Looking towards Kutchan from up the top of Hirafu.

niseko peak
The peak at Hirafu

niseko peak 2
Hirafu Peak

January 14, 2015

Annupuri Skiing

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 5:47 am

A Sunny Day.

Today it was a sunny day for a change. No new snow but at least the sun was out for a while. The wind was a bit chilly up the top of the mountain but down below it was ok. I took a few photos on my point and shoot. This was last night.


Sean and Mark
Sean and Mark

We took the hooded chair up to the top, then Ace number 4 and traversed across to Annupuri.

Niseko village
Looking towards Niseko Village

We did a few runs down below the quad chair. Then up the Annupuri Gondola to the top of the hill.

Kayo at annupuri

Then traverse back to Hirafu.

annupuri tree
Annupuri tree.

December 22, 2013

First Day Skiing

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:06 pm

Hirafu, Niseko

This was my first day skiing today. I took it very easy, getting my legs in and my balance. All these photos are by my friend Tai.

Me and my friend Tai

There was about ten centimeters of fresh snow but it was icy and hard underneath it.

On the piste at Hirafu

I HATE skiing

It is just so exhausting

March 17, 2013

Birding Osaka-jo

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 9:42 am

Birds of Osaka Castle.

Well, I am back in Osaka once again. I headed off to Osaka-jo (Osaka Castle), hoping to get some photos of the Japanese Waxwings, which i videoed two years ago. But alas, the cherry blossoms had not come out yet so Sakura had not begun. So, no waxwings. But there were plenty of other birds, so it was a good day out.

Brown-eared Bulbul
Brown-eared Bulbul ( Microscelis amaurotis)

More bulbuls. I have seen so many bulbuls on my travels. These Brown-eared Bulbuls are pretty common in Japan.

Grey Heron
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) (Aosagi)

This Grey Heron was in a pond in the castle all by himself with only a tortoise to keep him company. The Japanese names are after the scientific names in the titles under the photos, by the way.

Daurian Redstart
Daurian Redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) (Zyoubitaki)

I do not know anything about these birds. Will research later.

Japanese Tit
Japanese Tit (Parus minor) (Sizyukara)

These are a continuing source of confusion because they keep getting lumped in with the Great Tit.

Varied Tit
Varied Tit ( Parus varius) (Yamagara)

The Varied Tit is much browner than the Japanese Tit.

Dusky Thrush
Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus) (Tsugumi)

White-cheeked Starling
White-cheeked Starling (Sturnus cineraceus) (Mukudori)

The White-cheeked Starling is also known as the Grey starling. They seem to be very closely related to the Acidotheres for my money. They are very similar to the Mynas.

Large-billed Crow
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos japonensis)

There are two types of crows around here. The Large-billed Crow and the Carrion Crow. I saw Carrion Crows up in Hokkaido.

White Wagtail
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens)(Hakusekirei)

The White Wagtail is also called the Black-backed Wagtail or Kamchatka/Japanese Pied Wagtail. It has a black eyestripe and white remiges. They may have a claim to constitute a distinct species. Its range is the Russian Far East and Japan.

Eurasian Siskin
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus) (Mahiwa)

Tufted Duck
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (Kinkurohaziro)

Japanese White-eye
Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus) (Mejiro)

Birds in Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle bird list

Brown-eared Bulbul ( Microscelis amaurotis)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) (Aosagi)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) (Suzume)
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus) (Mahiwa)
Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus) (Tsugumi)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba lugens)(Hakusekirei)
Japanese Tit (Parus minor) (Sizyukara)
Varied Tit ( Parus varius) (Yamagara)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (Kinkurohaziro)
Daurian Redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) (Zyoubitaki)
Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus) (Mejiro)
White-cheeked Starling (Sturnus cineraceus) aka Grey starling (Mukudori)
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos japonensis)

March 16, 2013

Hokkaido Airport Bus

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 2:03 pm

A Busted Fan Belt.

We were heading towards the airport from Niseko, just near the intersection of Routes 97 and 276, About ten kilometers from Kutchan. The bus stopped. I hopped out to have a look around and take some photos. The fan belt was broken.

broken fan belt
The broken fan belt.

A few of the passengers were about to start panicking because they had flights around one o’clock. This is the bus.

Hokkaido bus
The bus

Some guy from the bus stop rang up to see about getting the bus fixed up.

Ringing for repairs
Ringing up for repairs

Another guy inspects the belt. The radiator was getting a bit hot by this stage.

Hmm this belt is stuffed
Inspecting the fan belt.

Everyone stuck their heads into the motor to check it out.

Inspecting the motor
Checking out the motor

Finally the bus driver got some electrical tape and wound it around the belt and put the belt back on. I was totally skeptical and thought it would not last five minutes, if that. We got going and it lasted about half an hour before it came off and we stopped because the water temperature was getting very hot. The bus driver put the belt on again and we repeated the process a few times until a bus stopped behind us with a new belt. They put it on after some hilarious hijinx and we finally made it to the airport. What an adventure!

March 2, 2013

Ranshima Beach

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 12:43 am

Hokkaido Birding 2013.

Yesterday I decided to have a day off from the ski resort and go to Ranshima Beach and hopefully to see the beach covered in snow and maybe photograph a couple of birds I had not seen before. I set off about 9am on the bus to Kutchan and then had to catch the Otaru train. When I got off the train, the station was deserted so I walked down the road towards the beach.

Ranshima Beach 3
Ranshima Beach looking South

When I reached the road along the beach, I could not get onto it because there was about a meter of snow covering it. So I had to walk along the road until I found a track that took me onto the beach. There was some black sand where the tide had come up but the rest of the beach was covered in snow. That was different.

Ranshima Beach 2
Ranshima Beach looking north

There were a few boats at the end of the beach all covered in snow but it was deserted. No-one around at all. I guess the fishing is not so good at this time of year!

Ranshima Beach 1
Coastal cliffs

Towards the south, there are some big cliffs that drop straight into the sea, all covered in snow.

Slaty-backed Gull
Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus)

I think these are Slaty-backed Gulls. There a few gulls up here that are very similar, but this is my best guess.

Carrion Crow
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)

I was hoping to see some Large-billed Crows but this is all they had. Unfortunate name. 🙁

Goosander (Mergus merganser)

They are called Goosander in Asia and in North America they are known as the Common Merganser.

Japanese Tit
Japanese Tit (Parus minor)

The Japanese Tit are a tiny DNA permutation away from the Great Tit, which extends their range to somewhere like Siberia.

Harlequin Duck
Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Ranshima Beach bird list

Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisgus)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
Japanese Tit (Parus minor)

February 13, 2013

Niseko warms up

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:42 pm

Early spring in Hirafu.

This morning I was very tired after a few mornings in a row of fresh powder. There was no new snow so we went up the mountain to take some photos.

Alex turns Miharashi
Alex turns at Miharashi woods

The first run we had down Miharashi woods. The snow was mostly chopped out and there were bits and pieces of soft wettish snow around. Alex and Andreas went over a bit of a jump but Andreas did a back slap.

Alex jumps Miharashi
Alex makes the jump at Miharashi Woods

After a few runs down Miharashi, we went to waterfall. Alex went over a jump there a few times. The snow was even wetter and heavier here. I had to take off most of my t-shirts it was so hot. I was steaming up my goggles I was sweating so much.

Alex jumps waterfall
Alex stomps Waterfall

February 9, 2013

Rusutsu Merry Go Round

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:29 am

Rusutsu Ski Resort.

We went skiing today to Rusutsu. There had been about thirty centimeters of fresh powder and the tree skiing was awesome. But it was too much fun to stop and take any photos. So at the end of the day, the kids had a go on the merry go round at the hotel.

Ange is having fun
Ange having lots of fun

Dane rides a pig
Dano is very excited

There was also a talking tree and an excellent play area for the kids. In the summer time, I think they open up the rides such as roller coaster and a water slide.

February 6, 2013

Niseko Ski Fun

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:06 am

Hirafu, Niseko, Annapuri Ski Resorts.

This morning I headed up the Hirafu Gondola with Alexander and Andreas, my two mates from Sweden. The day was clear and the wind had died down. First up, we skied down to Niseko Village through the trees and down the gullies. Then up the gondola and headed off to Annapuri. We went through Gate 1 and traversed a little bit then went down the fall line. Up top the snow was icy due to the previous days’s wind.

Andreas gate 7
Andreas going down Gate 7

Then we headed up the quad chair and another double and went through Gate 7. Mostly it was tracked out. But there were a few patches of fresh snow here and there.

Alex gate 7
Alex turning it on

After Annapuri, we headed back to Hirafu and headed through Gate 9 to the waterfall run.

Alex gate 9
Alex backhand turn at waterfall

Andreas gate 9

These next photos are by Alexander Ovinder Photography , thanks for letting me use them. 🙂

Andreas jumps
Andreas doing a yump

Andreas at waterfall
Then turning

Finaly I got some photos of me. woohoo.

me turning
Me turning at waterfall

Me at Hirafu.
Me, gone.

February 1, 2013

Niseko Climbing Wall

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:03 pm

Swedish Rock Climbers.

This afternoon my Swedish friends asked me to come along to the climbing wall at Niseko. I was not going to climb any walls but went along to take some photographs.

Niseko Climbing wall
Alex posing at the bottom.

Alex and Andreas started off at the climbing wall. I liked this one because of the contrast.

Niseko Climbing wall 7
The climbing wall

Niseko Climbing wall 6
Andreas tackling the wall

Andreas again

Niseko Climbing wall 4
Rappelling down

Niseko Climbing wall 3
Alex coming up

This one is on the bouldering wall.

Niseko Climbing wall 2
Alex bouldering

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