24 June 2007
A few crappy pics of roadside birds
Some Asian House Martins nestbuilding around the lights at one of the local filling stations (or gas stands as they're known here). Lots of young birds around recently. Red Cheeked and Grey Starlings, Black Backed Wagtails, Spot Billed Ducks, Carrion Crows, Bull Headed Shrike and Oriental Great Reed Warbler have all seen with youngsters on the river near my flat.
Not much in the way of birding the last couple of weeks. I had an attack of gout. My father (and his father before him too) have it and it looks like I'll have to get used to it as I get older. Too much oily fish (which is supposed to be good for you FFS) and beer in 2007. Fish is a big thing here and I've been eating a lot of Sanma recently. Dunno the name in English but it's similar to sardines. My mother-in-law cooks it wonderfully in a sauce made from soy sauce and sweetened sake. Guess I'll have to cut down. The fish that is. Beer is a different story.
A lot of my recent pics have been snapped from the passenger seat of the car. Common roadside birds are Siberian Stonechat, Black Faced and Chestnut Eared Bunting, Bull Headed Shrike, Red Cheeked and Grey Starling and (in the right habitat) Oriental Great and Black Browed Reed Warblers. The problem is that they're usually perched on wires up above meaning it's very hard to get a good shot if they're silhouetted against a pale sky. I could get out of course but then of course they'll fly away. So here's a selection of crappy roadside birds. The first 2 are pretty poor and no amount of editing can rescue them. The Shrike isn't so bad maybe.
Summer is the slowest birding time around here. It's so overgrown everywhere, the weather is starting to get muggier and in a week or two the birds will stop even perching on overhead wires and get down to the serious business of raising families. And no football on TV. And I'm temporarily off the beer too because of the aforementioned gout. Thank god for torrents then. I watched 28 Weeks Later last night on my PC. A bit crap I have to say. The first movie, 28 Days Later was much better. The follow up was obviously aimed at the US market. American characters and lots of chase and action scenes. One absurd scene with a helicopter pilot mowing down the infected 'zombies' with his helicopter blades was one of the most unintentionally funny things I've ever seen in a movie. And tonight? Scarface extended edition? Greek myth type nonsense in 300? Blake's 7 season 2 episode 8?
Here's a nice summery scene from near Onuma this afternoon that kind of reminds me of Europe.
And here's a 'castle' at Matsumae. Whilst it looks moderately interesting it is, in fact, a fake. The real castle burned down sometime last century. It is however the only vaguely historical Japanese architecture in the whole of Hokkaido (except for a few wooden houses from late Victorian times dotted about). Locals flock there in May to 'view' the cherry blossoms in the castle grounds.
Around June 24 down the years:
1985 (from June 25th). A post O level trip to NW Scotland with my dad and old birding pal Alban. Loch Garten, Insh Marshes, Rhun, Mallaig etc. Birds included Crested Tit, Osprey, Hen Harrier, lots of seabirds including Storm Petrel and Red Throated diver and several White Tailed Eagle too.
1987 (June 27). A 'big day' in Lancashire. Only 86 species. I think we were a bit hungover when we did this and gave up in the afternoon sometime.
1989 (June 22). Very hot summer and I went down to London to work in the long summer vacation between my second and third year at University. I stayed in Ilford/Leytonstone and didn't see many birds except for Great Crested Grebes dodging the rats in Valentines Park.
1990 (June 19-23). Ullswater. Camping with a friend after we'd finished our finals. We stayed near Glenridding, took various intoxicants sitting in front of the tent and did basically nothing. We managed to watch the England v Egypt World Cup game in the nearest pub and another night laughed as we listened to the radio as Scotland went out in the first round yet again. Sobering to think Italia '90 is probably the closest England will get to winning the World Cup in my lifetime. Birds? A male Pied Flycatcher was the only thing worth mentioning. A few days later I graduated and the rest of my life started.
1995 (from June 29). The Isle of Skye. Camping with an old friend named Jon. Surprisingly hot and hardly any midges. A memorable drunk and stoned night in the bar at the Sligachan was one of many highlights. Clifftop camping at Elgol was also very mellow. Why don't I do this kind of stuff anymore? The travelling not substance abuse I mean. Summer plumage Golden Plovers were the birding highlight. This was one of the best holidays in my life I have to say. Here's a pic of me with the Cuillins in the background.
I got that white T shirt at a Bongwater concert sometime in 1991(?) when I was completely wasted and decided that a tenner was a reasonable price to pay for a Bongwater t shirt (that was a lot of money for a T shirt in 1991). It was however my favourite T shirt but like so many things from that time it's now gone forever.
1999 (June 23). I arrived in Japan. I stayed in the crappiest city in Japan. Iwaki. I hated it. I mean really hated it. The city, the job, most of my co-workers, my flat, the weather. There was a river that I birded halfheartedly but it wasn't the best season. Osprey, Fan Tailed Warbler and Little Egret were the only things of interest. I'm sure it would have got much better from autumn to spring but I never got to find out as I transferred to Hokkkaido ASAP and life got better very quickly.