24 September 2008

Autumn begins, kind of.

Another Grey Tailed Tattler, this one at Shikabe this afternoon. I went there today and last weekend to see if I could see any Common Tern. I'd seen some there 2 years ago and by a stupid act of faith assumed they'd be here today too. They weren't. This Tatler was very confiding though.

Not much else around. A couple of Goosander were in one of the fishing harbours. They were in moult and couldn't fly and were fairly approachable.

There were no waders anymore at Kamiso in the morning. Just these gentlemen poking around the seabed for kelp.

It was a nice fresh autumnal day, the first time I've worn long sleeves since early June. Not so may birds about, it was rather windy everywhere so the birds were under cover at Onuma. Beautiful afternoon light here though.

Here a few alternate views of the mountain today.

And this is a warning on a local mountain road telling you to watch out for Bears.

The leaves were showing the first signs of turning up in the mountains. Autumn is a nice season in Hokkaido, much nicer than in England (although England is nicer in Spring than here). Mild clear days and chilly nights mean great views and bright colours. And the first 2 weeks of October are prime migration time, even in the local park and on the crappy little river near my house.

This is where you can give your dog a shower. A bizarre addition to a street corner in the small village of Ono just outside Hakodate.

There must literally be some dirty sons of bitches in Ono.

23 September 2008

So now I'm middle-aged then.

A Grey Tailed Tattler at Kamiso this afternoon. A pretty good day for waders in fact, as there were 8-10 Red Necked Stint around as well as this Sanderling. They look very similar (if paler) to the stints until you see them next to each other, the Sanderling seemed double the size of its' companions.

The Stints weren't as tame as earlier in the month but I got some OK shots, I have hundred of RAW stint shots on my hard drive.

The Tattler was a bit more confiding and I could get fairly close, these shots are hardly cropped (the one on top of the page isn't either).

Not much else around. The first Herring (Vega) Gull of the winter, a lone Kingfisher, no ducks yet and all the Night Herons aseem to have upped and left. This Temincks Cormorant was also at Kamiso.

We went to Onuma yesterday, here's yet another picture from the same viewpoint we always end up at.

Lots of birds in the forest (and still a few mosquitoes too I'm sorry to say). Flocks of Japanese Grosbeak and Japanese White-eye were on the move as well as lots of the regular resident Tits, Woodpeckers and Nuthatches, a poorly seen largeish raptorish bird that freaked all the small birds out (actually it could have been an Ural Owl).

So I'm 40 now. Saturday night was not as maudlin as I expected (actually I don't think I even discussed turning 40 at any point in the evening except when it prompted a couple of free drinks in 2 of the places we visited). Here's the least unflattering picture of me from the night. the rest are (even) much much worse

That's my good friend Don in the background, he's been here even longer than I have.

I got plenty drunk, certainly drunk enough not even to care about Liverpool failing to beat Stoke at home.

17 September 2008

End of the 30's

The yellowing ricefields out at Ono this afternoon. This will be my last post when I'm under 40 years old, a sobering thought (and I am indeed sober as I type this).

The beautiful warm clear weather continued the last week but for various reasons I didn't get out much. We went looking for waders at Kamiso again this afternoon and the only one we found was this Grey Tailed Tattler.

Not a great shot, it wasn't as tame as last week's Stints.

Not much else around to be honest. The main birds in Hakodate recently have been the migrating muscicapa flycatchers. 3 species pass through- Asian Brown (the most common by far), Sooty (pretty scarce) and Grey Streaked (rarest of the 3). They're difficult to get good shots of and they all look pretty similar. Here are 2 lousy heavily cropped record shots. The top one is an Asian Brown and the second one is a Sooty Flycatcher. I think.

Here are 2 familiar views from Onuma.

If anyone had told me a week ago that England would thrash Croatia, Liverpool would beat Man Utd (without our 2 best players) and go on to open up their Champions League campaign with an away win against tricky opposition............I would have said they were f***ing crazy.

So I'm 40 on Saturday. A bit of a downer. It'll be a low-key affair, dinner and a few beers with about half a dozen people. I remember turning 30. It was a Sunday and I flew from Manchester to Thailand. I'd gone out the night before with a friend who lived in Manchester so my 30th birthday was sat on economy class on China Airlines hungover as hell and (due to time differences) by the time I arrived in Thailand my birthday had already finished...............

10 September 2008

More Stints

A beautiful September day in south Hokkaido saw us head up to Yakumo for the first time in ages. I was hoping for some more wader shots but the only waders (10 or so Greenshank and a lone Whimbrel) were way too shy for any photos. Lots of common stuff flitting around in the still-long grass, Reed Bunting, lots and lots of Stonechat and Black Browed Reed Warblers mainly. Also around were Hawfinch, the first Teal of the autumn, 30 or so Grey Heron, Osprey, Goosander and large groups of Swallows and Oriental Greenfinch getting ready to head south...........

On the way home lots of Japanese Green Pigeon were flying down from the wooded cliffs to the beach to drink saltwater, unfortunately on that stretch of road there is nowhere to park and anyway it would be suicidal to stand on the side of the road with trucks belting past on one side and a drop doen to the rocks on the other.

No tame waders at Yakumo today so here are some more shots of the Red Necked Stint a couple of days ago. The beach at Kamiso isn't the cleanest beach in the world.

I think this was the same individual from last week. We checked the beach at Kamiso today but there were no waders at all, looks like it headed south.

Why are Stints so fearless and Greenshanks so timid?

The only bird photos from Yakumo worth keeping were these so-so ones of a distant Kingfisher.

Lots of Asian Brown Flycatcher passing through Hakodate this week. The Glaucous Gull was still around and looked dramatic against a blue sky.

No classic 1970's puppets today but here's a happy memory from 2004, the last time I remember watching England play well. Hope they get a result tonight but I'm not expecting too much. I looked at some of the UK newspaper website and football365, wow what a sea of negativity.

Still, you never know.

7 September 2008

More waders............and some puppet legends

A Wood Sandpiper looking slightly out of place amongst the local Black Tailed Gulls.

Not really a bird I normally associate with sandy beaches, this one was out on one of the beaches near Hakodate Airport. Not as tame as the stints last week alas.

The Wood Sandpiper was sharing the beach with 2 Lesser Sand Plovers. Both species were new to my Hakodate list which is now running at 180-something. I've recently culled 2 or 3 slightly stringy species from the list, hopefully I'll achieve 200 before i leave town for good whenever that may be.

I stayed up to watch England's triumph in Andorra last night. Naturally that was a mistake. My wife came home just before kick-off rather drunk, perhaps I should have got blind drunk too as that seems to be the only way to watch England these days. My wife sensibly headed straight to bed (she hates football).

So on a more cheerful note:2 blasts from the past.

Not the best Basil Brush clip........but it still brought a smile to my jaded face this morning. And what about Hartley Hare? I can't remember him being so, er, fruity.

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