8 April 2007
Ospreys and the start of Spring
An Osprey near my flat this afternoon. It was hunting on the tiny nearby river before it got chased off by the local Crows. I wasn't quick enough to catch its' dive into the stream and am still not completely au fait with the camera's settings so this was the best pic I could muster. Ospreys are common summer vistors across the region and most major rivers have a breeding pair (the river near my house isn't big enough to support a pair plus it's bang in the middle of town). I remember the first Osprey I saw. Loch Garten. May 1976 (I think). Just a female's head visible as it was incubating the eggs on the famous nest. I've seen lots since. In Asia, Australia and South America.
A Brown Eared Bulbul. Dirt common at the best of times but now spring is here there are even more as newcomers arrive from down south. This species is extremely noisy. When I first arrived in Japan (June 1999) I had 4 or 5 free days before I started work. So naturally I went on a 4 or 5 day bender. This combined with the jetlag meant my sleeping patterns were somewhat interrupted. I remember being awake at dawn almost every day listening to them screeching and whistling above the noise of the cicadas.
A Grey Heron on the river this afternoon. Overexposed of course. I changed the camera's compensation setting after this shot which meant the Osprey an hour later was underexposed. Other birds on the river today included lots of Teal, Black Backed and Grey Wagtails, Daurian Redstart and Dusky Thrush are still around, Hawfinch, a couple of Bull Headed Shrike (another spring migrant), a female Reed Bunting, ever increasing numbers of Asian House Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and a few Red Necked Grebes offshore.
This over exposed male Pintail was on the river a couple of days ago. There are usually 3 or 4 common species of Duck there, the resident Spotbills plus Teal and small numbers of Mallard and Tufted Duck outside the breeding season. Occasionally they are joined by others like this Pintail. Of course at Kamiso there are loads of Ducks but this was a nice one so close to home.
A not very good pic of the Hokkaido race of the common or garden Bullfinch eating some cherry blossom buds. This was one of a group of 4 feeding next to the local kindergarten.
On Friday I went to the Harlequin Duck spot to see if I could finally get some decent pics of this beautiful and colourful bird. I failed.
Inspired by a similar photo on one of the blogs linked to the right here's a Slaty Backed Gull.
Some pretty good matches last night. All 4 live on TV too. Nice tense one (Chelsea), a satisfying victory (Liverpool) and at the same time another laughably slack Arsenal defeat (ha!). Shame I fell asleep in the second half on the Man U game and missed Rio's own goal. Mind you I'd had 5 beers and a couple of large whiskies. Waking up at 5.30am on the couch with a dry throat and bad head is never nice........
Around April 8th down the years:
1983 (April 8th). The highlight of my school life probably. A 2 week exchange trip to France (Lyon). The usual high school japery. I saw some pretty good birds too. Red Crested Pochard, my first ever Black Kites, White Stork, Apline Chough, Serin, Citiril Finch, lots of Black Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Honey Buzzard..........plus Arctic Skua, Gannet, Fulmar, Manx Shearwater and Common Scoter on the ferry. Here's a pic of me ski-ing near Chamonix.
The only day's ski-ing I've ever done in my life even though I later lived near the Alps for 2 years in my late 20's and now live very close to to some top class slopes. I was wearing jeans! The other thing I remember very clearly was that my host family took me to their relatives deep in the countryside and there was a whole pig being roasted on a spit. And they even let me get drunk on wine and beer (I was only 14).
1984 (April 8th) Walked to Longton Marsh on the Ribble. Whooper Swan, 250 Black Tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Long Eared Owl, Corn Bunting and Shoveler.
1998 (April ?). It was around this time I and some friends went hiking somewhere in the Austrian Tyrol. Can't remember the exact date but I can remember seeing Crested Tit and Chamoix. We hiked quite high and slept in a shepherd's hut (we broke in). That night it snowed outside and was absolutely freezing and my thin sleeping bag was woefully inadequete. I had a huge row with my then girlfriend about something or other and (unrelated) had to take a dump behind a bush which is never a nice thing to have to do. Despite all this I had great time. Bizzarely we also saw a Cappercaillie at the border checkpoint between Germany and Austria.
Unfortunately I lost all my photos of my 2 years in Germany when I moved.......
2003 (April 9th). Hakodate. Grey Headed Woodpecker, Common Crossbill and Osprey.
2005 (April 8th). Hakodate. Common Sandpiper and Red Flanked Bluetail near my flat.
Here's a couple more pics from the feeding staion last Tuesday. The Hokkaido race of Great Tit and a Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker.