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Hawk eyes

10 Comments

A falconer releases a hawk during a falconry demonstration at Hamarikyu Park in Tokyo on Sunday. Falconry in Japan is steeped in about 1,600 years of history. The art of hawk hunting has been preserved by the imperial family, according to the Suwa falconry preservation society.

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This is great. I only wish I could have attended the demostration. I wonder how many hawks are being trained?

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Beautiful shot !

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Falconary is a beautiful art, but it has a dark side that needs exposing here in Japan. Hawks, falcons, goshawks and other raptors are often taken from the nest illegally and sold on the black market. They are then registered to falconers and then nothing can be done. A friend of mine spent 4 months in a bird hide photographing a pair of Northern Goshawks (ootaka in Japanese) raising chicks, only to have someone come in one night and take the chicks a few weeks before they would have fledged. Heartbreaking for any nature lovers. It happens all over the country. Goshawk chicks can be sold for 2-300,000yen on the black market, and they return to the same nest every year so they don't stand a chance. It is the falconers themselves who need to tighten their own regulations, but of course they don't want to give up their current privileges.

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I agree with you lunchbox, but its better then having them stuffed like a lot of hunted animals that end up on a wall!!!

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Falcons are cool. Fastest animal on the planet. I always admire Falconary. Useless fact. Did you you in both World Wars, Falcons were used to intercept Homing Pigeons? It's true.

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That looks very cool. Where is this?

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Another human "art" depending on abuse of wildlife.

Lunchbox is right. Beware of the dark side. The rules on keeping (wild) birds in Japan are likely to be revised soon, but these "cultural" excuses may continue to find loopholes and blind eyes turned.

Not that Japan is the only place, of course.....

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Lunchbox is right about the darker side of falcon snatching. Sigh. Why not raise them domestically?

Photography question: the photograph suffers from that great Winter Whiteout that the harsh sun imposes. It's hard to see the falconer's face. How to avoid this problem?

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linro, Good point.

Ranger Miffy, Hard task. Golden rule for any decent photographer is that you have to take a good photo, so it's a fight between good angle and good light. I'm no pro but I would say best solution would be to change angle, shoot with the sun behind. 2nd would be to use a flash. Third would be set the white balance to sunny so it gives a softer contrast and cuts out some of the whites and blacks at the extremes of the levels. The last resort would be to shoot in RAW and process it later, which most people do these days. I actually think this photo would look better if it was shot at a higher speed, so the back of the hawk and the guys clothes are actually dark, but instead we can see his face, and we would get the light shining through the primary feathers. Easier sitting here than behind the camera!

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Thanks for your insight, Lunchbox!

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