29 March 2007

New camera, old birds

I finally got my telephoto lens on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday me and the wife headed up to Lake Toya (a hot spring resort about 2 or 3 hours north of Hakodate). We first visted here back in 2000 a couple of months after the local volcano (Uzu) blew and the town had had to be evacuated (those moronic guys with red batons had a field day).

These are some of the pics I took of the tame Nuthatch/Tits at Onuma. Not drastically different results from digicoping but so much easier to set up. I just take my camera out and start snapping away. Of course I'll still digiscope for long range subjects. I have to work out what all the settings and controls on my (D) SLR actually mean. I just set it in continous shooting in the apperture control and fired off several bursts and hoped for the best. Less post shot editing than digiscoping though.

Signs of spring were around yesterday and today. Woodpeckers drumming and Swans honking. These swans at Yakumo give me a hint of what my new camera may be capable of. Heavily cropped and very heavily edited but quite effective.

A Barn Swallow was around at Yakumo. Very early indeed. Japanese Skylark were singing, Spotted Redshank and Ruff were passing through, Oriental Turtle Dove had returned from the south of Japan and there were huge numbers of Duck on the river and offshore (15 species in all). Best of all was a male Long Tailed Duck mixed in with the Black Scoter. A Japanese first for me. I was checking the Scoter flocks for White-Winged (I couldn't find any) and was delighted to find the Long Tailed..........a common bird in northern Japan but one that had eluded me up to now. Lots of Glaucous Gull looking brilliant white in the spring sunshine plus various Grebes and Divers too far out to ID. 1 adult White Tailed and 1 immature Stellers Sea Eagle were at Onuma, a Great White Egret was at Yakumo, Mandarin Ducks had returned to Onuma and a lone Mute Swan was on Toya.

This is a view from my hotel window. I'd stayed at this hotel in 2004 with my parents. In high season the buffet was great. In low season it isn't.

And this is the same mountain up a bit closer. Mt Yotei. I've actually climbed it twice. Japanese Accentor at the top both times plus my first ever Red Flanked Bluetail.

Thank god I missed the England debacle in Andorra. I think this will be the first time in ages they'll miss out in qualifying for a major tournament. Like USA '94, Euro '84 and Argentia '78. I can remember all of them. It's painful being an England fan. Since beating Poland in 2004 I can't recall a single decent England performance.

Around March 29th down the years:

1984 (March 29th) Penwortham. 2 Long Eared Owls (found by a reader of this blog in fact). Still the only ones I've ever seen (they stuck around a while). 2 days later they were still there along with Whooper and Bewicks Swan, 50+ Black Tailed Godwit and 20+ Golden Pover.

1988 (March 29th) Seaforth. 1 adult Med Gull.

2004 (March 29th) Hakodate. My first ever Ural Owl. Dramatically pursued through temple grounds by 50 hysterical Crows.

2005 (March 30th). Hakodate. A HOOPOE flapping around in the sleet on the rugby field at Yunokawa. Very strong westerlies had presumably blown it over from the Asian mainland. A Rhinoceros Auklet was at the Cape on the 31st.


  1. I am from Hakodate and now lives in London. It gives me a huge pleasure reading your blog. I did now know that Hakodate has so many different birds.....I spotted a woodcock in our garden.. Very unusual...

  2. I used to live in London in my early 20's. I can't recall seeing any birds.............but at that time I was young and stupid and cared more about pubs, nightclubs and live music than about simple pleasures like taking pics of birds. A bit hazy. I think I had a good time though.


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