Japan, Okinawa, Photography
Comments 2

In search of the Noguchi-gera

The Noguchi-gera or Pryer’s Woodpecker is a rare bird species, endemic to the forests of northern Okinawa. I’ve been hoping to photograph one for a while but in general you’ve probably got a better chance of spotting a Yeti.

However as is often the case it’s not what you know, but who you know and my friend Ichiro Kikuta is a birdwatching guru living near the northernmost tip of the island. A couple of days ago Ichiro gave me a call saying he’d found a nest and I headed up north to get some shots.

Birder Ichiro Kikuta on lookout for the Noguchi-gera

Birder Ichiro Kikuta on lookout for the Noguchi-gera

We set up  our cameras not far from the tree. Due to the size and weight of my 400mm lens and the addition of a 2X converter I brought along a 20 liter water container and hung it from the underside of the tripod to provide some stability.

Pentax 67 400 EDIF with 2X rear converter

SMC Pentax-M*67 400mm f/4 ED(IF) with 2X rear converter

The Noguchi-gera did appear on several occasions over the course of the afternoon. Unfortunately we were shooting into the sun so although I may have some nice backlit images of the birds I will head back up there soon to get some shots in the early morning.

Another important thing I learned is that we are now in mosquito season. Do not sit in the forest in a T-shirt without any repellant. My arms and neck are currently covered in welts. I hope the little blood suckers enjoyed their meal because next time I’m bringing the DEET.


  1. That setup positively cries for a waist-level finder. You use an external light meter or do you use the prism one?

    • I spot metered on the grey bark of the tree then manually set the exposure. As it is Golden Week I won’t get the film back for over a week.


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