28 February 2007

End of Winter. Sort of.

A Varied Tit at Onuma this afternoon. Could have been a great pic if the head had been in focus rather than its back but you can't have everything. The usual stuff at Kamiso, Yakumo and Onuma today. All the common Ducks (12 species including large rafts of Scaup on the coast and the first decent size flocks of Black Scoter this winter) and Gulls (7 species with lots of Glaucous and Glaucous Winged) were present at the usual locations, a few Grebes (mostly Black Necked), an unidentified Diver way out at Kamiso plus the usual woodland stuff at Onuma and river stuff at Yakumo.

There was a Peregrine (at Kamiso) but only a few Eagles around. Maybe the mild winter has meant they've headed north a little earlier than normal. 1 adult Stellers and half a dozen White Tailed were all we could find at Yakumo and at Onuma there were 2 White Tailed and an immature Stellers which was sitting all by itself in the middle of the still frozen lake. Here's the best of some lousy Eagle shots. A rather small and weedy looking White Tailed at Yakumo.

This is a Black Kite. The commonest raptor by far in Japan. An abundant resident. Some folks are trying to make this into a separate species (is it the Black Eared Kite? Something eared anyway).

I remember the first time I saw one of these. Somewhere in central France from a TGV window in April 1983. I've seen many since. Lots in Queensland and Kathmandu (where they seemed the commonest bird) and now here in Japan. It's easy to get blase about them. A pair were doing a courtship display flight above my flat last week..........and I was more interested in a distant Hawfinch.

A pic of me hunched over the Scope at Kamiso this morning. There is some minor construction work going on here as there is at Goryokaku Park. This park, near my flat, is (or rather was) a nice little place that is usually good for birds at this time of year but is now basically a construction site (they're building a replica fort for literally millions of $). And there is nobody doing any actual work. Nobody. Just guys napping in trucks or sitting around all day in heated prefabs eating instant noodles and chainsmoking.

It wouldn't be a day out without a Nuthatch pic so here we are.

Around February 28th down the years:
1984 (Feb 25-27). My first trip to East Anglia. Not the tickfest I'd been expecting at the time. 4 lifers. White Fronted Goose at Minsmere and Brent Goose at Felixstowe Ferry (where my friend lost his boot in the mud). Redpoll and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Strumpshaw Fen.

1995. (Last week Feb). I was trekking in the Langtang region of Nepal. Quite an experience. From jungle to Snow, Yaks, exhaustion, stunningly beautiful views and about 10kg lost in weight. I didn't have a decent fieldguide and was too kanckered most of the time to even think about getting my bins out. I did see some nice birds however. Best of all was Lammergeier but others I remember were Black Faced Laughing Thrush Spotted Forktail, Brown Dipper, White Capped River Chat, Plumbeous Redstart, Hill and Snow Pigeons, a very colourful gamebird that may have been an Impeyan Pheasant, lots of Tits including Green Backed and Red Headed, Chestnut Bellied Rock Thrush, Whistling Thrush, Red Billed Blue Magpie, Red Billed and Alpine Choughs, Pied Bushchat and lots of Finches/Babblers/Warblers that I never did ID. This is me at the end of the 8 day trek smoking some local produce.

I need to go trekking in Nepal again. Both times I went I lost loads of weight and had a great time. I don't even smoke tobbaco anymore though.

1999 (Feb 27). Brighton. A Yellow Legged Gull out of my friend's window. I think. Bit of a heavy weekend I recall.

2003 (Feb 28) Hakodate. Male Crossbill singing in the aforementioned Goryokaku park.

2005 (Feb 27th) Hakodate. Good day in Yunokawa. Long Billed Plover, Brown Dipper, Yellow Throated Bunting and Buff Bellied Pipit.

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