27 February 2009


A Hawfinch taking a drink in Goryokaku Park.

Every February Hakodate becomes inundated with finches of various kinds, usually 7 -8 species. Last year it was Redpoll, Asian Rosy Finch and Crossbills as well as the commoner visitors such as Hawfinch and Brambling. This year most of the same species are present plus lots and lots of Bullfinches, they are everywhere munching away on the cherry blossom buds. I hope they leave some for the locals to 'view' in early spring..........

The Crossbills are still around, I spent a brief time with them on Monday lunchtime in very good weather. These photos are from the tiny park near my flat. It's behind the public toilet as a matter of fact but luckily the toilets are closed in the winter. Obviously the local cottagers are not a hardy bunch.

I looked for them in the same place for several days afterwards but couldn't relocate them, there are however some in Goryokaku Park which may or may not be the same group. More Crossbill shots from behind the toilet are here.

Speaking of Goryokaku Park I met not one but four foreign birders there on Wednesday. They were in town for a Pacific Seabird meeting (I'm not quite sure what that entails, I guess they were marine biologists or something). This tame Hawfinch kept us entertained for a few minutes.....

And there were also Redpoll, Long tailed Rosefinch, the aforementioned Bullfinch and Crossbill as well as several Brambling....

More shots from the park are here.

The fact that the park used to be a military fort means some of the ramparts are good for getting almost eye level shots of birds that make it look like I've been lying down in the snow, mud and slush........

Monday was the only really clear weather of the whole week and we managed a couple of hours out at Onuma with the Varied Tits and Nuthatches looking great in the bright winter sunshine.....

This a view from a section of the forest where the 'Onuma International Seminar House' is located.

This is a site with several buildings tucked away in the forest. There is a sign in badly translated English prattling on about how the buildings 'empahsize the harmonious relationship between man and nature' or some such crap. You can also 'cleanse your mind and feel relaxation' there too if you want. However some moron has decided that it was a good idea to attach loudspeakers to the outside of one of the buildings and blast out awful 'jazz' style piano background muzak that completely destroys the peace and quiet. You know the type of music. Endless bland insipid noodlings and repeated refrains that make you want to kill someone if you have to listen to it for any length of time. Actually the type of music is irrelelevant. Whoever decided to blast out any form of music in the middle of a forest should be striped naked and have their private parts basted in honey and sunflower seeds and fed to the Nuthatches and Woodpeckers.

The sun showed briefly again on Thursday, here's a distant Kingfisher on the local river.

Today (Friday) I went to Goryokaku Park, more of the same including a bigger flock of Crossbills, about 40 or so birds. I got some OK shots but this blog entry doesn't need any more Crossbill shots I think.........more photos are here for perusal at your leisure.

So Liverpool did Real Madrid away from home and without Gerard too. I didn't expect that. I got up to watch the second half live and couldn't believe how poor Real Madrid were. Ironic that Liverpool appeared to have more Spaniards in their team than the establishment club of Spain but anyway. So we're not going to win the Premier League but are looking good in the Champions League. Again. So how exactly they can beat Real Madrid but not Stoke City is beyond me. I'll miss their next 2 domestic games. Will Sunderland or Boro be able to do what the mighty Madrid couldn't and hold or beat Liverpool? Yup, probably......

Instead of muttering and cursing at Liverpool on TV I'll be in east Hokkaido this weekend to see (hopefully) Eagles, Cranes and Fish Owls. This will be my 3rd visit to the area and my first in winter. The Kushiro/Nemuro/Shiretoko area is a staple for birding tour groups in winter and is pretty well known across the whole birding world. I often get hits on this blog for people doing searches such as 'birding hokkaido winter'. You'll see my site is at the top on yahoo and # 5 on google. Of course people quickly realise the places I talk about and they've never even heard of are miles away from the famous sites in east Hokkaido and move on thinking 'who's that loser down there in the middle of nowhere?' Anyway I'm off there myself on Saturday for 4 nights. On Monday we have a 5am boat trip out to the sea ice booked, my god it will be cold. Expect a deluge of photos next week both here and on my other blog.

We fly to Kushiro tomorrow afternoon and pick up a car at the airport and drive to Furen-ko (it'll be dark by the time we start driving unfortunately) where we'll stay at Matsuo's Minshuku (I've stayed there twice before, it's a great place for birds). Sunday will be spent around Nemuro/Notsuke and Sunday evening to Tuesday lunchtime will be in Rausu at Washi No Yado with the freezing boat trip on Monday morning and hopefully Blakistons Fish Owl both nights. Back to Kushiro Tuesday afternoon, hopefully to see the Cranes on Wednesday morning before we fly back to Hakodate. I'll be skint for the next few months as a result of this trip but I know it will be worth it.

I may try to update this blog from my cellphone. Perhaps. If the photos are the wrong size/orientation it's because I'm a f**kwit.


  1. Hehehe have a nice trip bro and yes Liverpool won !

  2. Awesome pics as usual!
    BTW, if I ever go to Hakkaido, I rather go to the middle of nowhere, I hate crowded places ;)
    Your pics and posts rock!


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