24 January 2007

Stellers Sea Eagles

A Stellers Sea Eagle at Yakumo this morning. This species winters on the Yurrapu River, just over an hour north of Hakodate by car. There are usually 60-70 Stellers and White Tailed Eagles but this winter's mild weather seems to have resulted in slightly less Eagles than normal. They feed on the carcassees of the thousands and thousands of Salmon that spawn upstream in late Autumn. Last year they were not only more numerous but also much easier to photograph. The above pic was the best I could muster today. It was snowing most of the day in Yakumo and no matter where I was looking from there was always a branch or twig in the way.

Yakumo is a good place for birds all year. Upstream, in addition to the Eagles, were Japanese Wagtail and Brown Dipper. At the mouth of the river were Whooper Swan, lots of Glaucous and Glaucous Winged Gull, Slavonian Grebe and various commmon Ducks. We stopped at Onuma on the way back. Nothing terribly exciting here except more Eagles (White-tailed) and a few Smew. This is a not so good pic of a Marsh Tit.

Some interesting stuff in Hakodate last week. The snowy weather brought flocks of Dusky Thrush, Grey Starling and Waxwings. 2 species of Waxwing here-Japanese and Bohemian Waxwing. They are easy to tell part if you get a good view but very difficult if they are flying in the distance. I saw a flock on the 16th but couldn't see which kind. A better view of a flock on the 17th showed the majority to be Japanese Waxwing (yellowish belly, red spots on tail) and an even better view on the 18th showed a few Bohemian Waxwings mixed in with their congeners (plain belly, yellow spot on tail, more white on wing). I haven't seen them since. They arrive every year (or almost every year) in the 3rd week of January and hang around a few days and then disappear. Last year (which was very cold indeed) saw several influxes of both species throughout the winter. They are found exclusively in town, are very restless and perch on TV atennae on top of people's houses so obviously I didn't get any pics with my digiscoping set-up.

I also visted Yunokawa last week. This is an eastern suburb of Hakodate near the airport. It's a slightly rundown hotspring resort (there's a stinky hotspring full of captive monkeys there) but the river often has some good birds.I saw White Tailed Eagle, Goshawk, Brown Dipper, Jay, Marsh Tit, Black Necked Grebe, Brent Goose, Wigeon and Goldeneye.

I watched a torrent of that Borat movie yesterday and was trying to explain to some of the people I teach about the movie. They don't really get sarcasm here. As any foreigner who has lived here knows Japan is ripe for a Borat style movie. Large sections of Japnese society have such a low opinion of foreigners anyway and are so obsessed with their own uniqueness as a nation they'd never cotton on someone was taking the piss.

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