6 February 2008

A morning with some Brent Geese

I walked down to Mt Hakodate this morning to get some shots of Brent Geeese and Harlequin Ducks. The Geese were especially obliging and in much larger numbers than the last time I was here. Actually there are loads of them everywhere this winter.

Lots of Scaup on the sea but not much else. Still no Waxwings despite the fact there are berries eveywhere for them to eat. Lots of Grey Starling, Dusky Thrush, Brown Eared Bulbuls and a couple of Hawfinch were making sure the berries wouldn't be around for much longer and the Waxwings may go hungry if they ever arrive.

There seemed to be 30 or so Brent Geese.

They hung around for a while and then flew off grunting in annoyance about something (probably about me).

The Harlequin Ducks were nowhere near as co-operative. This male was the nearest I could get. It eyed me beadily before slipping off into the sea and out of range.

Not much else around town today. A couple of Redpoll, a Brown Dipper, a few Gulls of various common species. A couple of days ago we went back to the quarry near Menagawa to try and get some Rosy Finch pics. They were extremely flighty and impossible to approach. It didn't help they were being actively hunted by both a male Peregrine and a female Sparrowhawk and 2 Common Buzzard (I have crappy pics of all 3 on my PC). This is the best I could manage.

The wooded cliffside was full of birds actually. Japanese Accentor, Marsh and Varied Tits, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker and several Rustic Bunting. Unlike the Rosy Finches they seem to avoid predation by skulking around. This one showed for a couple of seconds allowing me to fire off a blurry shot.

Also around was a White Tailed Eagle, lots of Glaucous Winged Gulls plus the inevitable seaducks and Brent Geese.

On Sunday I headed out to Kikonai with some new company. 2 other expats who had found this blog in fact. I wanted to show them some good stuff but there wasn't much about. Several Great White Egret, 4 or 5 White Tailed Eagles, a Black Throated or Pacific Diver plus the usual common stuff.

One of them lives up in Niseko and the other here in Hakodate. The former was talking about the booming economy of the Niseko area and afterwards I felt like I was living on another planet (I always feel like that when I meet successful people). The latter went to Yakumo last week on the train and impressively hiked down the river valley (with snowshoes handy) and saw the Eagles............I get my wife to drive and take photos out of the car window.

No pictures of mountains or frozen lakes today. Here's a couple of Hakodate scenes.

The boats are for catching squid in case you were wondering.

Around February 6 down the years:

Ths will be the last time I write this kind of stuff (I started doing it 12 months ago so I've dredged up all the remotely interesting stuff already) so I'll have to think of something else to pad out my posts.

1984 (Feb 2) Marshside. Hen Harrier, Snow Bunting, Twite plus all the usual waders and wildfowl.

2000 (early Feb) Yakumo. My first ever visut to see the Stellers Sea eagles. A wonderful day. They seemed to be feeding very close to the road and I still haven't found that spot again (and trust me I've looked). Very very heavy snow I recall.

2001 (early Feb) Rio Cauro in Venezuela.

I went on a week's trip into the Amazon jungle. There were about 10 of us on a small boat and we camped in local villages. Of course there were no roads. Together with my 2 trips to the Himalaya this was the most interesting place I've ever been. Some random memories from the trip.

I had quite nasty food posoining the first night. As I crouched over the hole in the ground just outside our camp with foul noxious things squirting out of my rectum I heard a humming sound. Oh no I thought. A huge hornet or something is going to sting my arse. But no. It was a hummingbird. It was beautiful, perching a couple of feet from my head and looking at me quizically. It flew off and I don't know what species it was.

A hike through the jungle to some amazing waterfalls. I have some crappy scanned pictures on my hard drive but they can't do it justice. I took a dip and whilst I was stripping off and chaging into my swimming shorts some local women (amazons I guess but they were pretty fat and didn't look much like warrior queens) came to look at my naked body with gasps of awe. OK I made the last part up but they did hang around the bushes reting to get a peek. Honestly.

One day a group of pecaries (pig type things) swam across the river in front of our boat. Our guide asked us if we wanted to eat one. I said ok why not. Our guide leaned over the side of the boat and picked one up by its' hind legs and held its' head under the water until it drowned. He then battered it over the head with an oar to make sure it was really dead. It was the toughest meat I've ever eaten (until I tried Hokka Hokka Bento's Steak Donburi last summer that is).

Me and a Polish guy ran out of cigs. Our guide got us some raw tobacco and some leaves to roll it in. Everyone else looked on in bemusement as we rolled tobacco in the same way we rolled joints back home. It was pretty nasty and gave me a sore throat. We ran out of beer the next evening which was more serious. It was a bad night all round as i also fell out of my hammock later on as I was pi**ed out of my head on cheap nasty rum.

Birds? Absolutely loads and loads but I'm sorry to say I struggled trying to ID most of them. The bird I most wanted to see was the Harpy Eagle. I saw plenty of big (very big) raptors but couldn't get a firm ID on any of them. They probably weren't Harpy Eagles anyway. Macaws were abundant (Scarlet plus Red and Green) as were other parrots and toucans (I have no idea which species). A Bat Falcon was pretty cool as were Swallow Tailed Kites, Black Skimmer, several Caracara species, Large Billed and Yellow Billled Terns, White Necked Heron, Little Blue Heron, Collared Plover and oh lots of other things I can hardly remember. Fulvous Crested Tanager for example. The most common species were Spotted Sandpiper and Olivaceous Cormorant. We also saw those weird Amazon Dolphins and (I think-my mind is a little hazy here) some of those giant Otters. Oh and Pirhana of course..........

2005 (Feb 9) Yunokawa. Goshawk, Glaucous Gull, Red Necked grebe and Buff Bellied Pipit. Shame the construction lobby has completely ruined this area...........


  1. well you could put something about what you would like to be doing 12 months into the future- but may be a bit depressing reading it later!


  2. If the economy is booming in Niseko, and lots of people are moving there, surely they'll need someone to help them get to know Japan, and surely the Japanese people there will want to learn English.. Anyway, is there anything you want to do back in Preston, we may draw a biggy in the q/f of the FA cup, once we depose of Portsmouth, I may end my self imposed exile if we do.

  3. If you can get me a ticket I'll go.

    Things to do back home? A night down the pub and another night at an Indian would be nice.............


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