Lots of Crows at Kyoto’s Shogunzuka Overlook
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Crow and the Osaka skyline 30 miles away -- Shogunzuka Overlook -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Crow
and the Osaka skyline 30 miles away

As I've been doing lately in hopes of catching a great sunset, I headed up again the other day to the overlook at Shogunzuka, which offers a commanding view of downtown Kyoto.

The sunset was not particularly interesting....

Well, It Was Worth a Try -- Shogunzuka Overlook -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/800 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Well, It Was Worth a Try

While waiting to see how the sunset would develop, I occupied myself by practicing to track focus on crows as they flew around....

Shogunzuka Overlook -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/800 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

I had a 1.7× teleconverter on my 70-200, and with the resulting big zoom, I knew I could isolate the little bit of color the far-away sky did offer, so I tried to catch a bird in front of it. The result is a photo that holds more color and excitement than you actually felt in person (and when you consider just how little excitement the above photo generates, you'll have a good idea of the boring sunset I witnessed. 🙂 )

Crows tend to congregate in that area around sunset, and they alternate between quiet and frenzied. Sometimes for no apparent reason a bunch will take off or a new wave will come in, which feels like it should make for an interesting shot, but doesn't...

Bunch'a Birds yawn -- Shogunzuka Overlook -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/640 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Bunch'a Birds
yawn

This time, though, the crows outdid themselves and sometimes hundreds and hundreds would fly up at once creating a huge, swirling cloud of Hitchcockian proportions....

Shogunzuka Overlook -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/500 sec, f/5, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Shogunzuka Overlook -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/500 sec, f/5, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Lots'a Birds! -- Shogunzuka Overlook -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/500 sec, f/5, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Lots'a Birds!

I wondered what why they were doing that until I was on my way back to the parking lot and I saw this guy...

Slingshot in Hand -- Shogunzuka Overlook -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340 mm — 1/80 sec, f/5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Slingshot in Hand

I chatted with him a bit. He likes to feed the cats that congregate in the area, but the crows eat what he puts out, so he's... er.... “training” the birds that it's in their best interest to leave the cat food alone.


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Crows will gather in huge flocks (called “murders”) at sunset to settle in (roost) for the night. I suspect there is an ideal roosting spot near that mans place and their eating of his cat’s food is incidental to their roosting for the night. At least that is my theory of the moment. I’ve seen such behavior before.

— comment by Grandma Friedl on January 20th, 2009 at 2:04am JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

By the sound of things, it’s lucky it wasn’t a great sunset – even if it had been, it would probably have been ruined by all those crows.

Talking of which, there is a similar problem with taking pictures of Matsushima in Miyagi, because the tour boats are pursued by lots of seagulls. The tourists love feeding them, but they were a right pain when it came to taking pictures of the islands. I did get some great pictures of my wife feeding the gulls, though. Highly recommended if you ever come to visit Tohoku.

— comment by Thorf on January 20th, 2009 at 10:32am JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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