26 December 2007

Christmas in Hokkaido

Another Christmas Day been and gone in Hokkaido (my 7th in the last 8 years).

Despite my griping about the locals' cheesy, tacky and (if I was a practising christian) disrespectful take on Christmas I don't mind it here at all. Most years we go to Onuma and the area around the lake is very quiet and certainly looks seasonal with the snow, ice, pine trees and berries. We had lunch in an overpriced but pleasant log house style restaurant. I had a pizza. Unseasonal but tasty.

Most interesting species of the day was Rook. This is quite a scarce winter visitor to Japan and there was a flock of over 100 feeding in the fields on the outskirts of Hakodate. They were here briefly last winter too (last winter's flock also contained Daurian Jackdaw which weren't there this time).

Over at Onuma there were 6 Geese in amongst the Whooper Swans and Mallards. 2 Bean Goose and 4 White Fronted Goose. A bit shy, these were the best shots I could get. Grey Geese tend to be scarce around these parts (though they are common enough in certain areas of Japan). I managed to get close up shots of a female Goldeneye and lone Coot.

Also around at Onuma were 2 White Tailed Eagle, flocks of Redpoll, Siskin and Brambling, 4 Smew and the usual common woodland species.

Today we headed east to Esan.

Mt Esan, a broody steaming volcano if you want to sound romantic. Or a mountain with bits of smoke coming out and a smell of rotten eggs if you don't. A few interesting birds on the coast. Groups of Brent Goose every few miles, large rafts of Red Breasted Merganser, Slavonian and Red Necked Grebes, Glaucous and Glaucous Winged Gulls.

Not a vintage day for photos today so here's a couple of crappy shots to give you a flavour of the area. The Harlequin Ducks were bobbing around well offshore (I'd been hoping they'd be perched on rocks just off the road like they weer a few weeks ago) and there's also a pic of the 2 types of Cormorant we get round here. The big one is a Temimncks and the smaller ones are Pelagic Cormorants.

We finished off on a small river just on the eastern edge of Hakodate. Little Grebe, Great White Egret and Whooper Swan were present as was this small unassuming wader. A Long Billed Plover.

So the year is just about to end, maybe 1 full day's birding to be had depending on the weather. I'll probably post my favourite pictures of 2007 before the 31st, if I remember.

I'm getting a bit tired of sorting through photos, deleting the crappy ones (lots of those), choosing the 'best' ones, converting those from RAW files to jpeg, adjusting levels, cropping and sharpening in photoshop where necessary and then uploading. I seem to spend more time processing photos than taking them. Especially when I get home and have 250 similar quality (ie average) photos...........one of my many NEW Year resolutions will be to find a more efficient way of doing this. As well as losing weight, saving money and finally starting that great script/novel I know I'm going to write one day sometime eventually.

If you had a disappointing Christmas just thank the lord you weren't that fellow in San Francisco who get mauled to death by a Siberian Tiger. Maybe it was a Japanese Tiger and the man was carrying a bucket of KFC.


  1. haha, another entertaining post. Great shots of Onuma as usual. Nice shots of the Rooks aswell. You are seeing some nice birds up your way these days!! I really do think there's nothing like birding in Hokkaido in winter. Superb stuff. I hope that 2008 is a good year for you and de missus, and that the birds are a plenty (I have the same problem with my photos too. I spend more time processing them than taking them!)


  2. Thanks Carmo and happy new year to you too...........

    Actually today is 9 degrees above freezing and pi**ing down with rain............all the snow in hakodate has been washed away. Global warming eh?


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