29 April 2008

A nasty cold

So I had a nasty cold this last few days. Not much to write about, the cherry blossoms continue to blossom. The above shot was taken with my cellphone last Sunday in quite awful weather. Cold, wet and windy. I had a stinking cold too (or did I already mention that?). I met 2 English birders whose cruiser docked for a few hours in Hakodate, on their way to Alaska.

David and Brenda are from near Brighton. David has a UK list of over 500 and a world list of over 5000. Unfortunately he didn't add to the latter at Kamiso and Onuma. There were a few interesting things on the sea (Red Throated Diver, Red Necked Grebe, 7 species of Gull) but Onuma was very quiet, not helped by the lousy weather. A nice day nevertheless, at least they saw some Japanese countryside anyway.....

The migration season continues in Hakodate. An Osprey flew down the local river yesterday and Dusky Thrush continue to be common. Also present are Stonechat, Japanese Bush Warbler, Japanese Thrush, Red Flanked Bluetail and Barn Swallow.

Red Cheeked Starlings have become common but are tricky to get a decent shot of. I have failed so far.

At least they'll be around the whole summer. Lots of stuff flitting around in the bushes.......they invariably turn out to be these things.......Black Faced Buntings.

Not a great week for bird photos so I'm compelled to post some some more cherry blossom ones.

The Chelsea/Man U game was pretty funny...........always nice to see your rivals lose the plot totally. I'll be supporting Man U tonight though (little exposure to Man U fans over the last 10 or so years has mellowed my hatred of the club somewhat). I'm still hoping for an all northwest CL final but I suspect it won't happen.......still you never know.

Right, I'm off to deal with the rivers of green slime living in my nasal passages.

25 April 2008

Foxes and cherry blossoms

The cherry blossoms have opened but I've been mostly stuck inside with work and a sore throat. I did manage it up Mt Hakodate on Wednesday and later made it out to Onuma and Asabu. Spring migration on Mt Hakodate is underway but the deluge hasn't quite begun. Pale Thrush, Whites Thrush, Grey Thrush, Red Flanked Bluetail and Red Cheeked Starling were the main visitors on show. There were also these 2 oddities. A deformed crow and a strange looking Coal Tit.

Is the Coal Tit a fledgling? Surely not in April? Is it covered in yellow pollen? God knows. Here are some not so hot shots of several of the commoner species at Asabu. Black Faced and Chestnut Eared Buntings plus a male Siberian Stonechat.

There seems to be some development going on near the river at Asabu that may not bode so well for the birds. Little Ringed Plover and Osprey were also around and my wife was happy enough buying some of the tasty local mushrooms (maitake and shitake). Over at Onuma we saw quite a lot of birds (including Black Woodpecker) but not many were hanging around to be photographed.........except for the Marsh Tits. So a special thank you to this Red Fox.

The Ural Owl wasn't in its' hole. I hope we didn't spook it last Sunday.

Today (Friday) I popped out and took these shots.........the 100-400 lens isn't ideal for this sort of picture but I can't be arsed changing lenses.

Only a brief foray due to the sore throat, not many birds about at all. A Red Flanked Bluetail flashed around for a few seconds but the only birds I could get on camera were these 2, including a failed takeoff shot.

I couldn't believe Riise's last gasp own goal on Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning here in Japan). It was a real roll your eyes heavenwards muttering 'oh for f**ks sake' moment. I suppose Liverpool got a fair share of luck earlier on in the CL (those 2 red cards for Inter, the penalty decisions against Arsenal) so I'm not going to complain.........but...........oh for f**ks sake.

21 April 2008

Spring springs

Cherry buds and a male Crossbill near my flat.

Very springlike weather in South Hokkaido these last few days and the cherry blossoms have almost started to open. The local populace go nuts over these, it's obsessively reported on the TV (!) and everyone tries to havve picnics under the cherry blossoms when they fully bloom. In Hokkaido the picnic typically consists of 'Genghis Khan', a tough chewy mutton and cabbage barbecue type dish. I usually pass on this but can hack the beer at least.

A female Red Flanked Bluetail and male Black Backed Wagtail, 2 of the many species starting to pass through town now that spring has kicked in. Other stuff around has included Wryneck, Swallow, Japanese Thrush, Siberian Stonechat, Brambling, lots of Black Faced Bunting, Japanese Skylark.........and Teal of course.

We went out to Shikabe yesterday. Not so many birds but the locals were bringing in the catch of scallops. Those little seaweed festooned traps were full of the big shelled and really rather tasty shellfish. Bit smelly mind you. Harlequin Duck were the main bird of interest, here's a female......

We then headed back to Onuma. The usual woodland stuff was about. A male Long Tailed Rosefinch was too far away for a decent shot and the Ural Owl was very very late in the day with my lens wide open and ISO up to 1600.

The feeding log had a four legged visitor.

I've gotten a little tired of the posting the same old Onuma views so here a couple of slightly different ones. Not a mountain in sight........

Still a few Crossbills dotted around town, one of my favourite birds.

So the cherry blossoms will be out fully in 2 or 3 days. Actually one was already open this afternoon as you can see below.

The above pic and the one at the top of the page were both taken with the camera on my snazzy new cellphone.

I'll hopefully get up Mt Hakodate on Wednesday, the warm weather should be bringing in lots of migrants. Plus I need the exercise too. All this after getting up at 3.45am to watch Liverpool v Chelsea. 2-0 to Liverpool I think. Gerard and Hyppia to score. 30 yard screamer from Gerard and towering header from a setpiece by the ageing Finn.

16 April 2008

Back to normality

It took a while but I think I've recovered from that long journey home, it took about 4 whole days to manage that..........must be getting old.

It's been pretty warm this week and I've done a bit of halfhearted birding/photographing in Hakodate and Onuma. Ths Goldcrest was 1 of 2 in the trees near my flat yesterday. I was hoping for some summer migrants but the only ones around were some Asian House Martin.

They nest under a nearby bridge and most of the colony seem to have arrived already. Other stuff around has included Reed Bunting, a lone Crossbill, a few Hawfinch and Dusky Thrush, lots of Black Backed Wagtail, a couple of Bullheaded Shrike and the 2 Goldcrest which provided the best photos.

At Onuma the usual species were around but less of them and less tame and more active....

We drove there today to look for Squirrels. We didn't find any but did see the inevitable foxes and turtles as well as loads of voles(?) of some description.

The snow has all gone and spring is well underway in the forest at Onuma. Green shoots everywhere, flowers and birdsong. Another sure sign of spring is you notice all the garbage everywhere in the forest. Plastic bottles, cans, shopping bags, electrical appliances, old tyres. In winter it's buried under the snow and in summer it's hidden by the greenery. Spring and Autumn are the best seasons but unfortunately these are the times you can see the garbage.

Mt Komagadake hasn't changed since last time.

A singing Japanese Bush Warbler was a first for the year and there were a few Oriental Turtle Doves but otherwise the forest was dominated by the ressident Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Jays and paridae whilst on the lake there were just 3 Whooper Swans left as well as a few small groups of Goosander, some Grey Heron,several Little Grebe and 1 or 2 Great White Egret.

Over at Kamiso there were still a few Ducks and Gulls. Not much else. 11 species of Duck including 4 Mandarins and several Shoveler and 6 species of Gull including several Glaucous of various ages. I did flush a Snipe species but it could have been 1 of 3 or 4 kinds. the Mandarin flew off as soon as I saw them but the Gulls were more co-operative.

So it looks like Emile Heskey has handed Utd the title. I always knew Arsenal never had the bottle to finish top but I was hoping Chelsea would at least prolong a challenge into May. Doesn't matter anyway. Liverpool will win #6 in Moscow and then I can be petty and parochial pretend international football doesn't exist for a while and ignore the Euro Championships (easier to do here than in England of course) and that'll be the 2007/8 season done and dusted.
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