1 January 2007

My new blog

This is my new blog from Hakodate in northern Japan.It's mainly about birds in case you hadn't guessed.

A very tame Varied tit on my wife's hand at Onuma this afternoon. Onuma is about 30 minutes north of Hakodate by car.This is one of a group of forest birds that feed in a clearing in the forest. 3 or 4 Marsh Tits and several Eurasian Nuthatches join the Varied Tit and readily hop into any hand holding sunflower seeds. They also buzz around my head and perch on my Scope. This is a digiscoped pic of the Nuthtach. Last month's Nuthatch pics were much better alas.

Also around in the forest were Treecreeper, Great Tit plus Great Spotted and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker. The lake was mostly frozen. A few Goosander plus the regular flock of Whooper Swans were present.

The day started at Kamiso, a suburb in the west of Hakodate. The river mouth here is good for seawatching. Usually there are lots of Ducks on the ocean but today there were only a few Scaup, Goldeneye and a lone Red Breasted Merganser. Lots and lots of Grebes though. Great Crested (rare up in Hokkaido), Red Necked, Black Necked and Slavonian were all bobbing up and down on the waves. The river itself held a few more Ducks. About 30 Goosander plus all the common winter Ducks of this part of the world (basically the same as northwest Europe), 3 immature Whitefronted Geese, a lone Whooper Swan and several Grey Heron.

This winter has been extremely mild (no snow in Hakodate and only slush in the countryside) and evidence of the strange weather was on show in Ono, an arable farming area between Hakodate and Onuma. We noticed lots of Crows on the telephone wires. Hundreds of them. On further inspection most of them appeared to be Rooks (a very scarce bird in northern Japan). These are fairly common winter vistors in southern Japan but I've never seen any in Hokkaido. They were joined by 4 Daurian Jackdaws. I've never seen any of those anywhere.

Whilst I was taking some bird photos at Onuma my wife wandered off into the forest to a tree which is known to house a Flying Squirrel. She took this pic and then came dashing back for me and the Scope. By the time I got there it had gone. You have to say it's pretty cute.

This is a map of Hakodate. In the middle of the town you can make out a park with a river just to the west. I live near that park and the unassuming urban concreted river is the "core" of my local patch. The green peninsula to the south is Hakodateyama, a low forested mountain/cape that is excellent for birds but is currently snowbound. It's about an hours walk from my flat. To the east you can make out the airport in Yunokawa, a hotspring suburb of Hakodate and an ok place for birds (I once saw a Hoopoe there). On the far western side of the photo you can see a river in Kamiso (or Hokuto as it has now been renamed). The mouth of the river is consistently good for birds too (American Wigeon is the rarest I've seen here). Onuma and Yakumo, 2 other places I often visit are to the north of the city and not on the map.

My 2006 blog can be acessed via the link on the right.

I'll be watching live football tonight and drinking red wine before my diet starts in earnest tommorrow.

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